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Sean Brennan
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Science lessons for atheists

10 July 2015, 12:57


Throughout history the misuse of the concept of space has wreaked havoc in physics. Judging by the many strange comments on articles at MyNews24, confusion about this insidious ‘thing’ called space is rife.

Before I begin, I wish to state unequivocally that space is nothing.  I also wish to also state that I am not saying that there are no known or as yet undiscovered particles in our universe amongst the spaces between larger entities.

To understand how we think of space, let us look at the history of the concept.

The ancient Greeks had assumed that the universe was finite. But when the Greek atomists put forth the idea of empty space as a separate reality, distinct from matter, they were driven to accept the idea of an infinite universe. For what could possibly limit the extent of empty space?

If empty space was nothing and yet a reality, there didn’t seem any sense to the claim that it could stop. After all, nothingness has no edge or boundary, so what could possibly stop, or end? Those clever Greeks didn’t want to look like idiots and say that the nothingness only extended so far and beyond that; was really, really nothing,(like their present economic situation)

Go to this link, and ask yourself; what is all that black stuff, outside of the galaxies, stars and space that surrounds this artists inflating universe depiction?

Many misconceptions arise because the people that study our universe have to think of it as an entity in order to get their heads around this thing and depict it as such to explain their theories.

I think that they cause more confusion than anything else when it comes to the common man’s understanding of the concept of the universe. Does keeping the common man happy and correctly informed rank very highly on theoretical physicists agendas?

It was Aristotle that recognized that we do not start off with the concept of empty space. We rather start off by observing entities, (objects), their relative arrangement, and the changes in the arrangement. These observations then give rise to the concept of place, or position. The concept of space then merely means a sum of places.

Let’s look at an example. You have an empty room, and you ask your wife what she wants to do with the space. This is a perfectly valid use of the concept of space. What you mean is; you have a sum of places; how are we going to place items in respect to one another within the surrounding walls of the room. What you definitely don’t mean is; that we have space here, do we want to move this space to the kitchen, where more space would be handier, or should we leave it where it is!

This example may sound stupid, but Aristotle showed that it was this very same silliness that characterized his predecessor’s views on space. They treated space as if it were a thing with its own separate existence apart from bodies. What really is happening; is that the concept of space derives from the earlier concept of place, which refers to relationships among physical entities. Space does not exist apart from bodies (objects), simply because relationships do not exist apart from entities that are related. The distance between the tip of your nose and your screen as you read this, is a space.

What exists, are entities, (objects). Attributes, actions and relationships are attributes, actions and relationships of entities. Talk of empty space that exists independently of entities makes no more sense than talk of movement without things that move, or colour without things that are coloured. There are no regions containing disembodied relationships; a place is always a place of something.

In addition to rejecting the idea of a void, Aristotle rejected the possibility of actual existing infinities. Infinity is not a quantity; it implies the existence of something indefinite, without identity. To say that there are an infinite number of atoms, or an infinite amount of space, makes no more sense than to say that you have a jar of sweets that contains no particular number of sweets. To be; is to be something in particular - so infinity is out. “The universe”, is a finite term. This is the essence of Aristotle’s view, whom I think had it all pretty much worked out and correct.

Later on in history we find claims being made as to the attributes that space is said to possess. See if you recognize these attributes. It is independent of matter; it is ubiquitous, but not perceived; it is infinite, eternal and immutable. Now where have we heard this before? Does this remind you of anyone? Think on this, it doesn’t’ have to be someone you know personally :) Yip, you got it - God. Is this just another name for the concept of nothing?

If you think of the universe, as you would of an apple, or the artists impression of the mathematical big bang model you viewed, with nothingness around all of the stars and galaxies; with you sitting there ‘outside’ looking in on it, you have a really lousy concept of the universe. You are taking a perspective of being outside of ‘everything’; this is not a helpful picture. Where would you even get an idea like this?

This is what William Lane Craig and other theists do when making their Kalam argument claims, where they conclude;” Therefor the universe was created by an uncaused cause outside of space and time ”. How can these people rationally take a perspective of anything being outside of the universe? Don’t their followers and fans think?

What could the boundary of man’s concept of everything possibly be made of, for these idiots to claim the existence of an “outside”? Lines an artist has drawn of a mathematical concept? Did they spend too long staring at women’s breasts?

The universe is the total of that which exists—not merely the earth or the stars or the galaxies, but everything. The word ‘universe’ defines what we humans refer to as everything. Obviously then, there can be no such thing as the “cause” of the universe, or something outside, of the universe.

The universe is not a philosophical entity. It does not exist as a being. Rather the universe is the conceptual set of all material beings. The claim that ‘the universe had a beginning’ implies that the universe is both an entity in itself and an entity humanly knowable as an entity in itself. It is not, if you believe it to be, then please direct us to a diagram or drawing of this thing called a universe which we all recognize as such.

No one claims that the universe is now an entity in itself. No human has even sense knowledge of the universe as a thing. The universe, as the set of material things, is an abstract concept, not an entity of human experience and knowledge.

If something is said to be ‘outside’, like this proposed God; this God must be a something, rather than a nothing, and must be somewhere, rather than nowhere. It is then obvious that the proposed entity, (God) is a distance away from something else, (that is part of everything). Therefore the static distance between these entities becomes space and part of “the - everything”, which we refer to as the universe.

Do theists realize that they credit their God for building an eternal prison that He himself cannot escape from?

Is the universe then unlimited in size? No. Everything which exists is finite, including the universe. What then, you ask, is outside the universe, if it is finite? This question is invalid. The phrase “outside the universe” has no referent.

The universe is everything. “Outside the universe” stands for and means “that which is where everything isn’t.” There is no such place. There isn’t even – nothing, “out there”: there is no -“out there.”

As science has pushed on in its understanding, theists have moved their God from a place called heaven in the sky above the Promised Land,(a rocky barren dry place in the middle east without oil) ; to what they foolishly believe is a safe place, that is not a place at all, a place away from rational inquiry.

I do not know whether, “a God” exists or not. But what I can be sure of is that the God of William Lane Craig and others that is claimed to exist outside of space and time cannot exist. This is not something we must merely believe, we can actually KNOW it, because it is impossible that such an irrational thing exists, as impossible and irrational as the existence of cubic spheres.

Next i will look into Einstein’s space, and the concepts of space-time and fields.


What is Space by David Harriman. (Lecture/adaptation)

Leonard Peikoff. “Philosophy: Who Needs It” (book)

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