So I got a bit muddled with what I was doing this week and last week so I had to email my uncle as he was unavailable this week (oops) but here are the first few questions (I will be emailing him/talking to him later on in the summer as I think of more questions).
1) In your opinion, what are the most significant scientific discoveries (in this field) since 1900?
That’s difficult and depends a bit on exactly what you are asking – if you are looking for evidence that the world had a beginning as opposed to being eternal then perhaps discovery of red shift indicating an expanding universe together with the discovery of background radiation that gives clues as to the structure of the early universe. If you are looking for evidence of design in the creation then this could be any number of things – there are many constants in physics such as the gravitational constant or the strength of the nuclear forces that have to be precisely as they are for the universe to even exist (and when I say precisely I mean really exactly as they are) and this to my mind is very strong evidence of design (see pages 87 – 91 of my book).
2) What would you say is the strongest argument against intelligent design?
I don’t think there is one! – in my view people react against intelligent design because it conflicts with their naturalistic presuppositions rather than the evidence – what people will say is that there is simply an appearance of design and that, they claim, is not evidence of actual design. They will probably claim that we live in a multiverse – that is that there are an infinite number of universes and therefore one of them is bound to have the properties that allow a physical universe to form that allows the development of life (and there is some evidence that the existence of a multiverse is consistent with current physical theories though no evidence that there actually are any other universes) but even if the theory is true it doesn’t actually evade the issue – because the universe ‘generator’ would still show signs of design.
3) How would you counter it?
See above – and note that not all scientists (even atheistic ones)are resolutely against intelligent design in the universe even though that is what some people would have us believe – both in the physical and biological sciences scientists are increasingly struck by the challenge of apparent design – Anthony Flew – who was one of the most respected and prominent atheists of the last century – decided that the evidence of design pointed firmly towards the existence of God and died believing that a God exists (though sadly not the God of the Bible as far as I know)
4) How do most atheistic scientists react to the undeniable logic and credibility of the Cosmological Argument?
Some recognise it as a challenge that needs to be addressed – others insist that it must be incorrect simply because they disagree with its conclusions – their hearts are hard and their eyes blind – you ask about ‘most’ atheistic scientists – I think that the reality is that probably ‘most’ of them have never heard of it – I think is a mistake to think that scientists think about such issues much more than anybody else – they just assume a position based all the same sorts of factors as most other people – but I do understand the question – I asked it of our philosophy professor with regard to the argument from consciousness – it seems so obvious that you wonder how they can possibly avoid the conclusion that God is there.
5) If everything that exists has a cause, who created God? (I have already looked at this but thought it would be good to get another view)
In my view the strongest forms of the cosmological argument start with the premise that whatever begins to exist has a cause – Jews and Christians have always held that God is eternal and therefore never began to exist – it therefore follows that he needed no cause – and note that until recently most scientists had no problem believing that the universe itself is eternal, so should have no problem with the concept of eternal existence.
6) What is the most commonly accepted view on why the Big Bang happened (apart from intelligent design)?
Probably that there was a ‘fluctuation in the quantum vacuum’ – (there is actually an article on this in this month’s ‘Focus’ magazine – I am sure that Peter would lend it to you if you are interested) – of course this assumes the prior existence of the quantum vacuum and presumably of the laws of physics – so it is not an answer as to ultimate origins even if it proves to be an explanation of this universe (and I am highly skeptical).
I will be leaving for Newday on Monday so won’t be able to post next week but when I come back I’ll have some very insightful notes.