I’m a big fan of astronomer Phil Plait’s “Bad Astronomy” blog. Plait opens his April 1st article (no joke) titled “At the Heart of the Milky Way Galaxy” like this: Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a ridiculously huge collection of gas, dust, and stars … something like 200 billion stars, give or take. That’s […]
How big is the Solar System?
If you haven’t seen this 7 minute movie on the scale of the universe (which was just released on September 16th) then you need to. It’s amazing. My only quibble is that they placed the edge of the Solar System at Neptune’s orbit (3.5 miles by scale from the Sun) rather than at the heliopause (which […]
A day after Pluto, a look back at the Pale Blue Dot
The other day I picked up Carl Sagan’s classic 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space at a used bookstore. (“Used bookstore” is my euphemism for the bookshelf at the back of our neighborhood Goodwill.) It’s been a great read, both for Sagan’s mellifluous prose and the time-stamped nature […]
The Anthropocentrism Switcheroo?
One of Justin Schieber’s arguments in our recent debate was based on the size and hostility of the universe. Justin argues that the size and hostility of the universe to (human) life favors naturalism over theism because we would expect the universe to be large and hostile to life if naturalism were true but we […]
What are the chances?
A friend of mine sent me this graphic this past week. Not only is it good for a laugh (or at least a smirk), but it also makes an important philosophical point. Just what that point is can be left up to discussion…
Does the Copernican Principle favor atheism?
The other day I linked folks back to an article I wrote three years ago titled “You’re not special because the universe is really, really big.” This resulted in Jeff Lowder taking note of this humble, old article and offering a comment. (As an aside, the article is tickled pink to be receiving all this attention […]
Is Christian-atheist dialogue worthwhile? A commentary on the Dawkins-Kenny-Williams debate (Part 1)
Last year Oxford University sponsored what was billed as a “debate” (though it really was a collegial dialogue) between Richard Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The discussion spanned a range of topics concerning the uniqueness of human beings, the existence of God, and the meaning of life. In addition it was moderated by […]
What place, then, for a creator? An important place, actually.
“In what way,” John asked, “does your god hypothesis account for a universe without a beginning?” This is a good question, not least because there are many people who think that if the universe is eternal then God doesn’t account for much at all. In an eternal universe what place, then, for a creator? It is […]
Can a sane mind believe in a singularity?
In the midst of our ongoing discussion of the origin of the universe and the role that agent causal explanations might play in accounting for it, Joseph Palazzo (in his amiable, diplomatic way) made the following comment: “BTW, do you understand what a singularity [is]? From the context of your post, it doesn’t look like […]
Three bad ways to defend agnosticism
So does the universe has a cause for its existence, and if so is the cause a personal one? It seems like a reasonable question, and one which would be open to the tools of philosophical and empirical investigation. For example, if the universe appears to be finite in existence (it does) and to be […]
If crime scene investigators reasoned like atheists
In my last article I observed how Robert Hayes proposes that the universe could possibly have arisen from a quantum fluctuation. From there he concludes that “science offers no reason to invoke the extra metaphysical baggage some would lay upon us with ‘god’ hypotheses.” Both Adam Hazzard and Joseph Palazzo are impressed with this kind […]
Do you really believe the universe’s origin was uncaused, or were you just speculating?
In my previous article “Komolgorov Complexity…” I presented one atheist scenario to explain the origin of the universe: Atheist scenario: A universe exists as a result of springing into existence uncaused out of nothing. This really bothered Adam Hazzard. At first he accused me of presenting this as the atheist position, which I didn’t. I […]
The size of just about everything
One of my students sent me a link to a fascinating journey through the relative sizes of pretty much everything that exists all the way from quantum foam (which, it turns out, is even smaller than the foam of a rabid chihuahua) all the way up to the extent of the observable universe. Check it out.
God, atheism, and the de-centered universe
My post on Neil deGrasse Tyson laid the foundations for an “argument from cosmic indifference” that I will be considering closely in the week (or weeks) to come. It is a powerful argument (rhetorically if not logically) though it is rarely put into formal terms. I am going to evaluate it closely. But first I […]