ray, comfort, atheism, atheist, quantum, physics, liar, stupid,
If I have taught you anything in my time blogging, I hope it is this: when you see a claim that seems extraordinary, you should investigate it. Obama's bust to be added to Mount Rushmore immediately led me to discover that a large bust of Obama has been traveling the country, and will end up at a park near Mount Rushmore, for example.
Another good example of this is Ray Comfort's latest post, which reveals nothing but Ray's inherent dishonesty:
"[Ray wrote] 'If you think that's bad, try this: there are crazies out there that truly believe that women are related to primates, and those primates came from nothing.' "All women, and all men, are primates by biological definition. Acceptance of this biological definition is not evidence of mental instability, thus your accusation that such individuals are 'crazy' is wholly unfounded. Who, specifically, holds a belief that primates emerged from 'nothing'? Please identify specific individuals, and cite statements from these individuals." Dimensio
1. "It is now becoming clear that everything can -- and probably did -- come from nothing." Robert A. J. Matthews, physicist, Ashton University, England
I found the article. Matthews was talking about the habit things have of appearing out of nowhere at the quantum level, which is a well established phenomenon.
New theoretical work on the nature of matter suggests we may now have to regard even ourselves to be manifestations of the quantum vacuum.
All atoms are made up of electrons plus a far more massive central nucleus, made up of clusters of particles called quarks. It seems obvious that the mass of the nucleus must be the sum total of the masses of its quarks – but that reckons without the effect of the quantum vacuum. It turns out that the quarks account for only a tiny fraction of the total mass of a nucleus. By far the bulk comes from the subatomic “glue” that binds its quarks together. And this glue takes the form of vacuum particles flitting in and out of existence.
2. "Space and time both started at the Big Bang and therefore there was nothing before it." Cornell University "Ask an Astronomer."
Typical of Ray, I had to supply the link. Here's what Karen Masters, whose name Ray didn't even bother to post, had to say:
We can define the universe as everything there is, so in that case there is nothing outside of it. We also say that space and time both started at the Big Bang and therefore there was nothing before it.
Another definition for the universe is the observable universe - which is the part of it that we can technically see. We cannot know what is outside of that (since we can't observe it), but we think that physics works the same everywhere and so we think that it should be very similar to the observable universe. We actually think that the universe might be infinite in extent, and so goes on forever, even though we can only see a finite part of it.
We can speculate in meta-physics or in religion about what was before the Big Bang, but again, we cannot use science to tell anything about it as physics as we understand it breaks down at that point.
3. "Some physicists believe our universe was created by colliding with another, but Kaku [a theoretical physicist at City University of New York] says it also may have sprung from nothing . . . " Scienceline.org
What existed before the Big Bang?
Armed with string theory, Kaku and others speculate that before our Big Bang, there were simply more universes. “Our universe could have either popped into existence or collided with another universe,” he says. Imagine a bubble bath where each bubble represents a universe. In this multiversal tub that existed before our Big Bang—and still exists today—universe bubbles are colliding, popping, budding new bubbles, expanding and contracting. If this scenario really exists, “Big Bangs happen all the time,” says Kaku.
Some physicists believe our universe was created by colliding with another, but Kaku says it also may have sprung from nothing: a completely empty eleven dimensional universe with no spin, no charge and no energy. This seemingly tranquil nothingness universe was actually unstable and some physicists believe that a fluctuation in the vacuum caused our universe to pinch off from its empty existence without time and space to a universe that was large enough to expand. Like a bubble in a bath, our universe had to grow instantaneously in order to survive and escape the collapsing fate of small bubbles.
This “quantum leap” involved four of the dimensions of the empty universe, which now frame the universe we live in. Expanding suddenly, this event sparked the Big Bang and caused the further expansion which created matter and continues to push the galaxies apart today. Meanwhile, the seven remaining dimensions shrunk to an almost inconceivable size, much smaller than an atom.
4. "Even if we don't have a precise idea of exactly what took place at the beginning, we can at least see that the origin of the universe from nothing need not be unlawful or unnatural or unscientific." Paul Davies, physicist, Arizona State University
Yet another treatise on the oddities of quantum physics that Ray clearly does not understand:
Mostly, quantum events occur at the atomic level; we don't experience them in daily life. On the scale of atoms and molecules, the usual commonsense rules of cause and effect are suspended. The rule of law is replaced by a sort of anarchy or chaos, and things happen spontaneously-for no particular reason. Particles of matter may simply pop into existence without warning, and then equally abruptly disappear again. Or a particle in one place may suddenly materialize in another place, or reverse its direction of motion. Again, these are real effects occurring on an atomic scale, and they can be demonstrated experimentally.
A typical quantum process is the decay of a radioactive nucleus. If you ask why a given nucleus decayed at one particular moment rather than some other, there is no answer. The event "just happened" at that moment, that's all. You cannot predict these occurrences. All you can do is give the probability-there is a fifty-fifty chance that a given nucleus will decay in, say, one hour. This uncertainty is not simply a result of our ignorance of all the little forces and influences that try to make the nucleus decay; it is inherent in nature itself, a basic part of quantum reality.
The lesson of quantum physics is this: Something that "just happens" need not actually violate the laws of physics. The abrupt and uncaused appearance of something can occur within the scope of scientific law, once quantum laws have been taken into account. Nature apparently has the capacity for genuine spontaneity.
It is, of course, a big step from the spontaneous and uncaused appearance of a subatomic particle-something that is routinely observed in particle accelerators-to the spontaneous and uncaused appearance of the universe. But the loophole is there. If, as astronomers believe, the primeval universe was compressed to a very small size, then quantum effects must have once been important on a cosmic scale. Even if we don't have a precise idea of exactly what took place at the beginning, we can at least see that the origin of the universe from nothing need not be unlawful or unnatural or unscientific. In short, it need not have been a supernatural event.
5. "Assuming the universe came from nothing, it is empty to begin with . . . Only by the constant action of an agent outside the universe, such as God, could a state of nothingness be maintained. The fact that we have something is just what we would expect if there is no God." Victor J. Stenger, atheist, Prof. Physics, University of Hawaii. Author of, God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
I can find that quote on Ray's blog, and other Ray related websites, but I can't find it anywhere else, including numerous site devoted to Stenger. This, and the ellipses, make me very suspicious. Oh, and "atheist" is not a title, any more than "Jew" or "Christian" are titles. Unless you are in the habit of introducing people as "Mr. ibn la Ahad, Muslim", don't use "atheist" that way.
6. "Few people are aware of the fact that many modern physicists claim that things --perhaps even the entire universe -- can indeed arise from nothing via natural processes. Creation ex nihilo -- Without God (1997), Atheist, Mark I. Vuletic
Would you like to see what the very next sentence is? This document is an attempt to compile quotes that explain how all of this is supposed to work.
followed by: Eventually, I would like to write an article assessing the value of quantum vacuum fluctuations as a means of producing universes, but for the time being, I will just let the scientists speak for themselves and leave evaluation to the reader.
Again, proof that Ray doesn't understand that quantum physics is a very different thing from the world we interact with every day. Yes, in our world "everything from nothing" seems like a ridiculous proposition. In the world of quantum physics it's business as usual.
7. "To understand these facts we have to turn to science. Where did they all come from, and how did they get so darned outrageous? Well, it all started with nothing." --"Fifty Outrageous Animal Facts," Animal Planet
Animal Planet? srsly?
8. To the average person it might seem obvious that nothing can happen in nothing. But to a quantum physicist, nothing is, in fact, something." Discover Magazine "Physics & Math/Cosmology"
I'm surprised Ray didn't include the name of this article: Guth's Grand Guess, by
Start, Guth says, by imagining nothing, a pure vacuum. Be careful. Don't imagine outer space without matter in it. Imagine no space at all and no matter at all. Good luck.
To the average person it might seem obvious that nothing can happen in nothing. But to a quantum physicist, nothing is, in fact, something. Quantum theory holds that probability, not absolutes, rules any physical system. It is impossible, even in principle, to predict the behavior of any single atom; all physicists can do is predict the average properties of a large collection of atoms. Quantum theory also holds that a vacuum, like atoms, is subject to quantum uncertainties. This means that things can materialize out of the vacuum, although they tend to vanish back into it quickly. While this phenomenon has never been observed directly, measurements of the electron's magnetic strength strongly imply that it is real and happening in the vacuum of space even now.
9.* "It is rather fantastic to realize that the laws of physics can describe how everything was created in a random quantum fluctuation out of nothing, and how over the course of 15 billion years, matter could organize in such complex ways that we have human beings sitting here, talking, doing things intentionally." (Alan Harvey Guth theoretical physicist and cosmologist). Discover Magazine, April 1, 2002
From the exact same article as No. 8. Clever, Ray, but you're talking about quotes by the same person in the same article.
And what about the conservation of energy? According to Einstein's theory of relativity, the energy of a gravitational field is negative. The energy of matter, however, is positive. So the entire universe-creation scenario could unfold without breaking conservation-of-energy laws. The positive energy of all matter in the universe could be precisely counterbalanced by the negative energy of all the gravity in the universe.
This also is more than theory. Observations are consistent with the idea, and calculations totaling up all the matter and all the gravity in the observable universe indicate that the two values seem to precisely counterbalance. All matter plus all gravity equals zero. So the universe could come from nothing because it is, fundamentally, nothing.
"It is rather fantastic to realize that the laws of physics can describe how everything was created in a random quantum fluctuation out of nothing, and how over the course of 15 billion years, matter could organize in such complex ways that we have human beings sitting here, talking, doing things intentionally," says Guth, leaning, if possible, even farther forward.
None of those quotes means what Ray thinks they do. You and I understand that Ray is, essentially, a liar. I don't truly believe he is stupid enough to put up those quotes without reading the paragraphs they are in, or the ones immediately preceding and following them. However, for all that Ray clearly doesn't understand quantum physics, he does understand his audience. They don't care what the truth is, as long as their faith is confirmed for them. And if that means quote mining or outright lying on Ray's part, they don't care.
*originally, this post had 10 quotes in it, but two of them were exactly the same. i guess someone pointed it out to Ray and he fixed it.