July 26th, 2017

Something can come from nothing

By Letter to the Editor on March 18, 2017.

In her letter “Critical thinking or just critical,” March 11, Theresa Teerling draws a false equivalence between creationism and evolution, claiming they are just different interpretations of the same facts.

Critical thinking, which should be the basis of education, draws conclusions from evidence. Those facts, as regards the origins of life, lead us to evolution. Science continues to expand our knowledge of the beginnings of the universe and how we came to be, and so our understanding deepens, evolves, and corrects. We now know there was a “Big Bang” that launched our universe and scientists are working on understanding how that happened and what, if anything, came before. Quantum theory is showing how, indeed, something can come from nothing.

Anyway, if you have difficulty imagining how everything could have come from nothing, how does it help to say a SuperDad in the sky did it? Who made your god, then, and how? You’ve just bumped the problem up one level, without solving it.

What creationists do is to work backwards, starting with an answer and gymnastically manipulating facts, or “alternative facts,” to appear to support their preconceived notion, which is a world-view imagined long ago by desert tribesmen. Lacking knowledge and fearing death, they gave agency to gods to explain everything and then narrowed many deities down to one, conveniently in their own image. They wrote a story that promised life after death, and conveniently wrote rules to keep men in charge while they were at it!

Evolution is our best understanding of how life came to be. This is what should be taught in schools.

It makes far more sense to have faith in the open-ended scientific method than in the closed loop of religion. Creationism is mythology, comforting but just a story, not unlike the flat earth theory, and has no place in any modern education system, public or private.

Tony Pargeter


12 Responses to “Something can come from nothing”

  1. John P Nightingale says:

    Completely agree!

  2. snoutspot4 says:

    Excellent letter! I too, agree completely.

  3. johnny57 says:

    Great letter Tony!..Reminds me of a quote from the the late-great Carl Sagan “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

  4. already extinct says:

    Collection plates are going to be bare after this letter, excellent letter Mr. Pargeter. But what I find most interesting in these discussions everywhere is the simple fact few except notables Salman Rushdie & Ezra Levant are willing to challenge religions other that Christianity.

    I wonder why that might be, Not one single word.

    Is ol’ Rushdie still alive – haven’t heard from him in awhile?

  5. John P Nightingale says:

    Not sure what you are suggesting. Abiogenesis is part of the pre evolutionary theory. That is, life starting from early elements of the young – very young earth.

  6. already extinct says:

    LGLee – thank you for the info, if I had more time and interest in religion I’d investigate further.

    My comment was based on observations, as I cannot recall a time in this or any other forum where any other religion is raked over the coals as consistently as Christianity, and it’s adherants.

    I think a hate crime charge or threat to person would be forthcoming if the same remarks were spewed about some of them. This is part of the record.

    Pay attention – I think you’ll agree. Sort of like racism, there’s only one class of people on the planet who are hung with the racist dog tag and you know who that is – peculiar eh?

    As for Mr. Levant, I’m no hard disciple of him or his ideologies, but he’s as important in the company he keeps, as anyone stumping for, or turning a back on the crime, the corruption, obfuscation, socialism, and world control, of the masses, (through wealth distribution) spreading like a plague, which he often sheds light on! Most are important items of interest and importance his “media party” pals choose not to inform us about. Wonder why that is too!

  7. Jim Linville says:

    The reason Christianity is the target of the majority of critique by non-theists is simply the prevalence of Christianity in our culture. Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion” says he will concentrate on Christianity since it is the religion he is most familiar with and that is a common choice among many anti-theist writers. Dawkins says he can’t be bothered with the differences between one religion or another and that, too, is a common view.
    Islam, of course, gets frequent vilification because of the Islamic terrorism (which is reported far more often in the media than other forms of terrorism), women’s rights under Islam, fears about Sharia, and facets of the life of Muhammad that many in the anti-religion camp find objectionable. Islamic conceptions of God are not as frequently critiqued per se, since many of these objections can also be made about Christianity and in our society it is Christianity’s version(s) of God that have dominated theistic thought and social life.
    Buddhism often gets overlooked in the atheist advocacy literature since Buddhism in the eyes of the West is often portrayed as not threatening to science or “freedom from religion”. Rather, it is often seen as a kind of secular meditative philosophy. A few atheist authors, however, make little distinction between their treatment of Buddhism and other religions.
    Hinduism is often ignored, more because of the lack of familiarity with the tradition and the lack of media reports presence tied to issues of violence etc. but again it is not completely forgotten about.
    A lot of the atheist activism does attack “Religion” in general as a vehicle for sellers of flaky woo, faith-healing, anti-intellectualism, anti-science, regressive (and frequently violent) social values, and a perception that “Religion” is unduly privileged and held to be beyond fair critique. On the last point, secularists often point to the frequent murder or imprisonment of atheists in places like Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, and the existence of anti-blasphemy laws in countries like Canada. Typically, the excesses of one religious group are read into the entire set of religions around world as if there is no difference between them at all.
    Of course, if one really does want to understand how and why people are religious and the role of “Religion” and religions in societies throughout the ages, the differences do matter. And as I often tell my students, there is often a very blurry and broken line between what we might call the “religious” aspects of a society’s culture and the “non-religious” parts.

  8. Dr. GS Hurd says:

    The letter from Tony Pargeter has a few issues that ought to be clarified. The first is that the origin of life and evolutionary biology are separate topics. The only connection is that without life there would be nothing to evolve. Charles R. Darwin even remarked, “It is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter.”

    We do think about the origin of matter these days which is the study of cosmology. Again, cosmology is quite separate from evolutionary biology other than without a universe there would be nothing to evolve.

    Regarding OOL, a good book for non-specialists is;

    Deamer, David W. 2011 “First Life: Discovering the Connections between Stars, Cells, and How Life Began” University of California Press

    The publications on origin of matter, or at least our universe, gets very technical very fast. But two books written for general readers are;

    Krauss, Lawrence 2012 “A Universe From Nothing” New York: Free Press

    Susskind, Leonard 2005 “The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design” New York: Little and Brown Publishers

    The over all issues are that we know that life on Earth appeared at least 3.8 billion years ago;

    Rosing, Minik T. and Robert Frei 2004 “U-rich Archaean sea-floor sediments from Greenland – indications of >3700 Ma oxygenic photosynthesis” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 217 237-244 (online 6 December 03)

    Allen P. Nutman, Vickie C. Bennett, Clark R. L. Friend, Martin J. Van Kranendonk & Allan R. Chivas 2016 “Rapid emergence of life shown by discovery of 3,700-million-year-old microbial structures” Nature 537, 535–538

    Carolyn Gramling 2016 “Hints of oldest fossil life found in Greenland rocks” Science (Online Aug. 31)

    We know that the Big Bang origin of the visible universe happened 13.8 billion years ago;

    (NASA’s excellent website on the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), a microwave space telescope).

  9. already extinct says:

    Thank you all for the education, You all are much better versed than I on theology. I’m going fishing tomorrow.

  10. old school says:

    FYI Tony the big bang “theory” has not been proven yet
    Perhaps you should check the facts.
    When you get the facts present them for every one to see.
    Yes you are entitled to an opinion.

    • Tony Pargeter says:

      The whole point of a theory is that it has not been proven yet. Otherwise it would be a Law of physics. So the Big Bang and evolution are theories, our best explanations so far based on scientific investigation, and subject to refinement and correction as our understanding deepens. Gravity is also a theory. Science can’t yet explain exactly why it works, but since I don’t see you flying off into space it seems a pretty good working hypothesis.

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