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What you're saying is that Jesus is irrelevant to Islam by Christian standards... That is not a valid argument.
By the same measure, one could say that Jesus is irrelevant to Christianity by Muslim standards, because the Christian account of Jesus does not fit exactly the same bill as the Muslim account of Jesus.
Please try again.
Math is the language used to communicate Science. The Science is still there, with or without Math, the question is whether it can be understood or communicated. Math, on the other hand, is a construct used to convey Scientific understanding. Without Science, Math would be useless. That is why the Nobel Prize is not offered for Math, although it is for various Scientific and Economic realms.
Moreover, the majority of the most famous Mathematicians were, in fact, Scientists. Math was created by Scientists to explain Science.
I don't know much about Richard Dawkins, but I do know that he considers deists to be atheists. In the most literal sense of the word, yes, deists are a-theistic. But, by every other measure, deists are not atheists. Many people consider themselves to be spiritual, but not religious. Again, Dawkins uses the most literal interpretation and classifies these people as non-religious.
Setting Dawkins interpretation of the facts aside, and looking at the facts themselves, the truth is much more complicated. More educated people tend to be less religious, but more spiritual -- that is, attending religious services more often but having less faith in organized religion.
The way you have worded your arguments is very good. I agree with the questions you ask, which I unfortunately failed to articulate so concisely as you. There is no proof as to whether the universe had a beginning or has always been, but from a logical (and philosophical) standpoint, I believe it is more likely that the universe did have a beginning. The most logical explanation -- which I personally believe -- is a divine Creator.
On a personal note, I believe a near eternity could spent digging and vesting more and more into a strictly scientific explanation of the universe. The reasoning behind this comes from the philosophical and spiritual side of me, which I could not possible articulate here. However, it also seems consistent with a trend emerging within the scientific community.
Another vein of my argument notes that, while matter is very predictable, the mind is not so much. People who have studied the mind, and indeed people who have tried to reproduce the mind through mechanisms such as genetic algorithms and artificial intelligence, have all encountered a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in quantifying the mind. (With my degree in Electromechanical engineering, I've worked a fair amount in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence, specifically as applied to machine vision algorithms.) So much mystery surrounds the mind and what it means to be alive, just as so much mystery surrounds the beginning of the universe, the end of the universe, and the ultimate question of why? I cannot help but see the similarities, draw parallels, and reach such a conclusion as some sort of divine presence behind the scenes.
As we are establishing, the existence of God is possible. Here is where I argue it is moreover plausible.
Do you mind if I ask what your credentials are? For the record, I have a Bachelor's degree in Electromechanical engineering. I work full time as an engineer. I tutored lower division, Calculus-based physics for four years. I did not take any upper division physics courses while in college.
First of all, the current Big Crunch theory relies on more than gravity. There is evidence that the universe is expanding with increasing velocity. (Read up on the Hubble Volume if you don't believe me.) Dark energy was hypothesized to explain this, but it lacks scientific evidence. Any legitimate scientific, modern theory dealing with the beginning or ultimate fate of the universe must reconcile this -- including the Big Crunch. (The Big Crunch in its present form reconciles this with an assumption that dark energy will eventually have a reverse effect.) The only reason I afforded some exceptions is that there are alternative explanations to dark energy which I've not read up on. Still, dark energy is the most widely accepted among the scientific community.
What's more, String Theory / M-Theory suggests that gravitons are not contained to our readily perceivable universe. Gravity, contrary to what you imply, is one of the least understood physical phenomena. The difficulty reconciling gravity with the other fundamental forces is what ultimately stumped Einstein, and eludes us to this day. (This is where String Theory / M-Theory has gained its popularity, as it has come closest to being a unified field theory.)
Second, you're arguing semantics, based on just one Blogger's post -- and distorting what he says at that. If, as Mr. Philen says, possible means it does not violate logical or physical law, then it is possible that a banana could spontaneously appear in front of me. According to String Theory / M-Theory, it is possible that some number of strings could suddenly constructively interfere and produce matter in front of me that wasn't there a second ago.
Mr. Philen says, "To say that something is plausible is to indicate that it has a higher probability than the merely possible - it is believable, it makes sense." That a banana might appear in front of me, though possible, is nonsensical -- it is not plausible. The existence of God, on the other hand, does have some logical merit.
However, the existence of God lacks evidence. Therefore, it is certainly not proven. You will also note that Mr. Philen groups probable and proven, because probable is a statistical likelihood of something happening or existing.
Third, when did the Second Law of Thermodynamics become the Conservation of Matter? At any rate, no. The Conservation of Matter only applies to Classical Mechanics. That matter can be converted to energy, and vice versa, is at least part of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. And the Theory of Relativity, unlike everything else we've discussed up to now, has been proven.
But at any rate, I think you're missing an important point. The creation of physics does not need to follow the same physical laws. After all, did the Big Bang follow the same laws of physics of our universe? That's like binding the hands of a writer by the rules of his book.
I'm no expert in this field, but to the best of my knowledge, the Big Crunch theory, as well as most other theories regarding the beginning and ultimate fate of the universe, rely on the existence of dark matter and dark energy. My point is that both of these things have not been shown to exist -- they have been hypothesized to explain what we cannot otherwise explain scientifically. This is where I see similarity.
Please correct me if I'm wrong.
As for providing evidence that God exists, I have never pretended to be able to do that. My argument is simply that, as things stand now, the existence of God remains plausible.
So, you're arguing that the watchmaker argument is invalid, because it fails to answer who created the watchmaker? In this case, the idea of a Creator seems extraneous. In this case, the universe has always been. Logically, it might always be, as well. This is a valid scientific theory.
However, the watchmaker argument is arguing something very similar. Rather than a universe that always is, the watchmaker argument suggests that there is a watchmaker that always is.
So, ultimately, we're arguing for either something that has always existed, or for someone that has always existed. Both arguments are completely valid, and altogether not very dissimilar.
What you're arguing is a point I touched on previously. We don't know that there was a Big Crunch necessarily. We can conjecture that the universe will expand and collapse, but the scientific evidence to prove that, or that the universe is in any way cyclic, is as non-existent as the proof for God. However, it has logical merit, and there is no evidence to disprove it -- therefore, it is considered a valid scientific theory.
But, the existence of God also has logical merit and no scientific evidence to disprove it. And, that parts of the Bible may be scientifically incorrect, or that certain cultural impressions of God may be logically without merit, does not change this.