Debate with Atheist Ockham's razor

So I’m debating with an atheist on which is a simpler Ockham’s Razon theory.

Atheist Ockham’s:

  • The universe exists, and follows these mathematical laws"
    ** “The universe exists, and follows these mathematical laws. Oh, and God set it up like that.”

Therefore * is a simpler theory.

My argument is that the mathematical laws cannot precede the creator, so here is my reply.
No, this is not good logic, 1) you are assuming the mathematical laws precedes the creator (whatever that is) , 2) you are ignoring that the multiverse also had to have beginning

*God created the universe =>How it was created

Beginning <Multiverse created the universe => how it was created`

Therefore * is simpler, sinsce the multiverse can’t be beginningless or eternal in the past is that the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem applies to it as well as to our mini universe within it, any universe that is in a state of cosmic expansion on average over its history cannot be past eternal and that is true of the multiverse as well, it is true that it is in a state of expansion on average over its past history so that can’t be extrapolated to past infinity and that’s why this theorem shows that even trying to resort to the multiverse to escape the beginning of the universe will not work. So it doesn’t matter what atheists try to do they still need to deal with a beginning, so I think it’s naturalism that’s really in trouble through the multiverse hypothesis rather than theism…

And here is his reply, does it make sense?

I am comparing two theories:

  • certain mathematical laws exist, and explain all the physical phenomena we observe.
  • God exists, and created certain mathematical laws, which now exist, and explain all the physical phenomena we observe.

To claim that the latter is a simpler explanation , you must demonstrate how the mathematical laws can be deduced from God. Not just state that “oh, God made them”, but show why some concept of God implies the necessary existence of the particular laws that we have.

Suppose you want to explain why the absorption spectrum of Hydrogen has a particular pattern.

You could say “Schroedinger’s equation”, work out the maths, and you’d find that it perfectly predicts the pattern.

You could say “God made Schroedinger’s equation”, work out the maths, and you’d find it’s exactly the same maths as if you left God out, and perfectly predicts the pattern. God’s creation of the equation is superfluous to the explanation of the pattern in the spectrum, it’s an extra, needless detail tacked on. Ockham’s razor suggests we cut off that detail.

What you can’t do (and this is the point you need to address to persuade me) is say “God”, and work out the maths. No traditional religion contains enough detail about God to deduce the lines of the Hydrogen atom absorbtion spectrum. “God” fails as an explanation of this physical phenomenon - a valid “explanation” should be a thing that exists (or might exist), from which the existence of the thing to be explained could be deduced.

“God” isn’t an explanation for how things are. He’s a psychological hook to make us think things have been explained when they haven’t. He’s a “just so story” a la Rudyard Kipling.

If you think I’m wrong about this, show how someone could start with statements about God, and deduce physics. Including the mathematical detail. Be careful not to just tack the mathematics on to “rescue” God as an explanatory power, when it’s actually the maths doing all the explaining. Deduce the maths from God if you want to use it.

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The basic premise of his answer is that laws create things. Laws never create anything, they merely describe what already exists.

“Mathematical entities like numbers, sets, and equations are non-physical and abstract. They can’t cause anything. Yet, for some reason, the physical universe operates…mathematically.” - William Lane Craig

Point him at this article and see what he thinks.

John Lennox also explains that laws do not create anything; and to have to choose between God and physics is a false alternative; both physical or mathematical law (how it works) and personal agency (who put it there) are required.

Because Hawking has both an inadequate concept of God and of philosophy, he blunders into a further series of errors by asking us to choose between God and the laws of physics. Here he confuses two very different things: physical law and personal agency. The choice he asks us to make is between false alternatives. This is a classic category error. His call for us to choose between physics and God is as manifestly absurd as demanding that we choose either the laws of physics or aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle in order to explain the jet engine. Both explanations are necessary: they do not conflict, but complement one another.


his reply lol

The basic premise of your answer is that laws create things.

Nope, the basic premise is that the laws are sufficient to describe what is, and make predictions about what will be; and that “God” adds nothing at all as an explanation.

Didn’t read the rest of your reply, since you got my basic premise wrong.

it must be difficult to converse sensibly with someone that won’t bother reading your entire answer. I wish you luck with it. :slight_smile:

agree completely. laws are an abstract way of describing the physical universe that already exists, and what will be from a cause and effect point of view, but laws can’t create anything. The question remains for the atheist: What is the cause of the universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? Do you believe in a self-creating universe? That is a logical contradiction, as Lennox points out.

Take, for instance, Hawking’s statement quoted above: “Because there is a law of gravity the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” Clearly, he assumes that gravity (or perhaps only the law of gravity?) exists. That is not nothing. So the universe is not created from nothing.

Worse still, the statement “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” is self-contradictory. If I say, “X creates Y,” this presupposes the existence of X in the first place in order to bring Y into existence. If I say “X creates X,” I presuppose the existence of X in order to account for the existence of X. To presuppose the existence of the universe to account for its existence is logically incoherent. One might add for good measure the fact that when physicists talk about “nothing” they often mean a quantum vacuum which is manifestly not nothing. Could this be “much ado about nothing”? Hawking here is using the same incoherent “argument” as Oxford chemist Peter Atkins, also a well known atheist, who believes that “Space-time generates its own dust in the process of its own self-assembly.”

Atkins dubs this the “Cosmic bootstrap” principle, referring to the self contradictory idea of a person lifting himself by pulling on his own bootlace. His Oxford colleague, philosopher of religion Keith Ward, is surely right to say that Atkins’s view of the universe is as blatantly self-contradictory as the name he gives to it, pointing out that it is “logically impossible for a cause to bring about some effect without already being in existence.” Ward concludes: “Between the hypothesis of God and the hypothesis of a cosmic bootstrap, there is no competition. We were always right to think that persons, or universes, who seek to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps are forever doomed to failure.”(4) What this shows is that nonsense remains nonsense even when talked by world-famous scientists.
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@quilotte, this thread really struck my curiosity as I’m about to do a worldview interview for the RZIM Core Module with an atheist friend. :blush: Thanks, @matthew.western for what you shared!

A couple thoughts from what your friend shared here:

I think this to be a misconception of who God is. He is not a formula to solve an equation but rather the mastermind behind it.

The maths or physics and laws of nature and science can give us an explanation of how something works, but only with God do we find and come to understand the whys behind the how’s.