Must the universe have a beginning? 

Many if not all human societies have origin myths and they differ greatly.

Several years ago a San Francisco-born-and-raised woman told me she is a materialist.

An hour ago a woman who was raised a Jehovah Witness and has left that faith told me the Big Bang story grew from a human need for a beginning. I agreed.

Can you wholeheartedly accept that the universe had no beginning, that it has always existed?(copied from AU) 

Just don’t think about it: A response

You have met Debilis, our resident apologist whose main occupation is either to attack the claims of materialism or New Atheists without supporting his claims. To engage with him on his posts is usually a slippery affair because one can hardly ever pin point what it is he is defending. Having said that, let us look at this post.

There seem to be two basic explanations for the origin of all physical reality (i.e. the universe):

1. God caused it
2. There is no explanation

He starts with a fallacy of false dilemma, one has to choose either of the two of answers. He is led to this problem by assuming that the sum of all reality must have a beginning. Once on the path he has taken, to get out of it, one has to resort either to superstition or consult reason on his path.

After leading himself on this erroneous path, he creates a strawman. He writes

 in that those making the accusation are generally of the position that “there is no explanation” or “we don’t know, and should therefore change the subject” is the correct answer to this issue.

I don’t know who he has his discussions with, but so far as I can tell, I haven’t met anyone who says there is no explanation or let us change the subject and I think it would only be fair that he provides such links if this discussions are online. But if it just making baseless claims, he can go ahead as this seems to be what he excels in, any way! While at it though, I don’t see anything wrong with saying we can’t know whether the universe had a beginning or if it has existed eternally. We can hypothesize based on the current knowledge as to what could have brought the universe and all that it encompasses into being.

Please tell me, how does positing god did it answer the question he posed? I have said before and I will say again that god is a vague a word without meaning. It’s origin is in the depths of man’s ignorance when he attributed to causes inimical to his state phantoms he called ghosts and those causes that were beneficial he attributed to gods. To therefore make a claim

“God caused it” is not a halt to inquiry at all.

And say it doesn’t halt inquiry is to be intellectually dishonest. It is to ascribe natural causes to phantoms and chimeras that man created out of ignorance and perpetuated through force and violence.

 To insist that all explanation is scientific is to embrace materialism, which presumes that God does not exist. To use this as an argument against God, then, is wholly circular.

Am waiting to be shown how the claims of materialism is circular. In fact, I would want to be told what the author understands by science and why it is wrong to embrace materialism. I would also like to be told what is meant by god and why this author thinks it is necessary that such beings exist.

To accuse others of a cop-out for demanding explanations or definition of terms is simply dishonest. Our author writes

I’ve even been told that God is a vague concept. I think this is mostly owing to our current poverty in theology (to which I cannot claim to be immune). The idea of God has been discussed, defined, argued over, and refined for millennia, to say that this is a vague answer or a “semantic cop-out” is simply to announce one’s own ignorance of the history of western academics.

Correct me where am wrong. Theology simply is the study of the attributes of god. I want to be told since Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, Avicenna, Tertullian, Clement, and other church doctors, what have we learnt of the nature of this supposed god whose existence we are told is necessary? To say that those of us who dismiss theology exhibit a poverty in the same borders on the ridiculous especially if the person making such a claim does not go ahead to define what they mean by the word god.

How did God cause the universe? 
What does that say about his traits?
Has he created other universes?

Dear reader, tell me how any of these questions can shed some light on the question of the existence of the universe? In the bible, which I believe is the source from which Debilis draws his ideas of god, we are told in Genesis 1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.[KJV]

We are unable to learn anything about how this creation was achieved. No matter how long we spend meditating on this particular passage, we shall forever be in darkness with regard to the question. This passage also confounds matters because it doesn’t tell us why there needed to be a beginning in the first place.

I contend in conclusion, contrary to what the author is arguing, that positing a god as an explanation is to confound matters. It is to create roadblocks on the path of honest inquiry. It is to ascribe to causes natural, immaterial origins, it is to suppose phantoms are responsible for the laws of nature. It doesn’t contribute to knowledge. And one must first define god without contradictions and use of words that are devoid of meaning to even continue on such a path.

I end this post with a quote  of W. K Clifford where he admonishes those who hold onto beliefs taught to them in their childhood even in the face of evidence to the contrary. He writes

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it- the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.