Prepare to have your minds blown. Edit: answered first question

P.S. Pruett will be answering to my answers, as well as my husband's and others, to 10 Questions for Atheists. Keep your eyes open for the responses.

First question

I'm thinking that my answer was probably the weakest one on the list. Check out his other rebuttals on his blog.
Alison Randall takes (in my mind) the sensible position that "nothing does not and has never existed . . . because you can't have anything come into existence from nothing."{1} This serves to underscore the problem of our current observation that all space, time, matter, and energy burst onto the scene at a finite point in history.

No, it's not. That is not "our" current observation. The singularity means that all the stuff of the universe existed. He seems to be saying here that I just made my own theory. I did no such thing.

If it can ever be said to have come from "nothing," or no prior state can be identified, then materialism will have hit a dead end in one of its most important avenues of justification.

Right. Wait. I don't think I need to justify materialism. I'm not the one claiming an object of non- universal "stuff" exists.

Randall then goes on to postulate that "everything always existed . . . as a dense singularity of energy-matter." Here's where we could get into an arcane scientific discussion and I could ask things like, how "infinitely small" (as the singularity is often described) is distinguishable from "nothing,"

Good question.I misstated that. He said "infinitely small. Not me. Argh! He made me think I made a stupid mistake! Luckily, I caught it. Of course it's not "infinitely small. That's not the theory of the Big Bang. I forget sometimes that trying to make a scientific explanation of something one knows only a little bit about means you're heading into dangerous territory of using words to describe a vague feeling about something--you're using words that have scientific definitions. Thanks for catching me on that. He extrapolated here, saying "it's often described" as "infinitely small. I don't know any such thing. I don't know "how big" the singularity was.

how something natural could exist prior to the space-time continuum in which existence is defined, and why a gravity well isn't happy eternally staying that way.

--yeah. Happy. Spooky, isn't it. (It's 3 am.)

But I don't need to go here, because there is not even agreement on the idea of the origin of the singularity. For instance, inflationary theory, which is the prevailing big bang model, says that the singularity was generated by something like a "quantum fluctuation." Membrane theory doesn't even have a place for a singularity, and one of its advantages is the very fact that it doesn't have to wrestle with the difficulties associated with one. As this physics article explains about one of the big bang models that require a singularity, The problem with the Big Crunch/Big Bang model is that the mathematical laws of classical general relativity do not work at a singularity. And if scientists cannot mathematically understand the singularity, they cannot, in theory, fully understand the geometry of spacetime, either before the Big Crunch or after the Big Bang.

I don't know a lot about the Big Bang. It's possible he's right that "mathematical laws don't work." I didn't know he was a mathematician, a physicist, or an astronomer. I'm none of those things, so I don't have an answer for his questions. I do know, however, on a less sophisticated scale, that "God Did It" is not and cannot ever be a coherent answer.
Randall continues her response:
I don't pretend to know a lot about it, but [the Singularity/Big Bang model] seems to be one of the best explanations we have right now, along with other ideas . . . like string theory, multiverses, and such.

Umm, which theory was it that is the "best explanation?"

Got me again. I'm a terrible writer. The Big Bang is one theory, and String Theory is a different theory about the universe entirely. "Um"...sorry.

She lists these other things because there is NOT an explanation right now, only theories,

I may not be very good at explaining scientific theories, but at least I know what a theory is. A theory IS an explanation. We already know the Big Bang happened. The theory is its explanation.

else we wouldn't have other contenders vying for dominance.

I don't know this.

I think Randall knows this, but she adds this parting shot to show where her preferences lie:
The theories that are made from observable evidence are a lot more juicy and intriguing than ancient mythologies.

Unfortunately, the only observations and evidences we have say nothing more than that there was a beginning to this universe. There are not so much theories made from observable evidence as there are only theories seeking evidences as to how that happened by "natural" means. This is exactly why there is so much excitement over things like the Large Hadron Collider and Planck satellite, which are hoped to offer supporting evidence for one or another idea (though how we can prove the nature and events of something "outside" this universe using observations born of the laws contained within it I do not know).{2}

My "preferences" are for observable fact. The fact that I find observable fact more interesting may seem suspect, I guess. His use of quotation marks around the word "natural" also show where his preferences lie.

There's a premise there: "God Did It." If there is a theory in response to the presupposition, I have yet to have heard it. Since I have owned up to my careless misuse of scientific terms, I must demand that they should be used consistently, as with the word "theory." Am I supposed to be seeing a supernatural contender vying for dominance? If so, what is the God Did It theory? HOW did "God," an undefined term, "create" the universe, from nothing, and with what did it create? What IS create, in a supernatural sense?

I know I have a lot to learn, and may have more educated friends chomping at the bit. I welcome your feedback.

Speaking of which, Francois added a comment to the page:

I am following with great attention your series of answers here. I must note with great disappointment that you've turned an a priori interesting question into the "god of the gaps"/presuppositionalist syndrome that many of your other questions suffer from. The trouble with questions that veer into a "god of the gaps"/presup argument is that there is not much to say in answer except "your failure (or our failure) to understand does not entail a philosophical problem on our part." Ignorance of some fact is not a philosophical problem for materialism. The fact that we don't know "every single detail" about the origins of matter as we know it does not create a problem on our part, although you seem to believe it does, for some reason. it is not clear from your entry what that reason is exactly. You just claim that it is. To me, that basic flaw will reflect badly on all your answers of the presup variety.
Another point I'd like your position on:

"If the atheist will not allow an eternal God to stand as an acceptable first cause, even in theory, then the atheist has no grounds to lean upon an eternal universe (or energy) either."

Can you justify this statement?

As Franc says, the "grounds" are that we know the universe exists, but we don't know that a god does. What is accomplished here by his assertions? Note that he states that God Did It is a "theory." But since now I must insist on consistent use of terms (i.e. my "infinitely small singularity" panic), then we know "God Did It" is not a theory at all. Again, we cannot accept or even consider a theory that is not there. Show Me The Money.
Stay Tuned.

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