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Third Rejoinder - Shandon L. Guthrie


I am grateful for Mr. Hodge's contribution on the argument I presented, but I must confess that I grow increasingly incredulous as to the things that he says. Let me review his responses.

First, Hodge wants to maintain that so long as the universe is just a collection of finite objects, then he does not feel obligated to think that the universe is, therefore, a singular entity. Frankly, I am not sure why this is even relevant. But I really cannot imagine that anyone would want to intentionally parade this line of reasoning in order to avoid a finite universe because the problem is rather clearer in distinct objects in the universe over and above the universe itself! Suggesting that the universe is a collection of parts and not a singular entity makes Hodge's position more untenable. If there is anything scientists can be most certain of it is the finitude of discrete objects within the universe because all space-time objects have expended energy and, as such, all objects within the universe are wallowing in their own entropy. But this just makes my second premise stronger because this is easier to prove.
The second contention about this idea is that Hodge thinks that one must prove that everything began at the same time. Again, this is just incredible. The fact that different objects within the universe began at different dates does not suffice as a defeater to the Big Bang but, rather, shows that objects within the universe were born later or earlier than others. This is part of the Big Bang expansion model. So, of course we would find some galaxies older than others. Even stars are categorized by age since some have reached supernova or white dwarf status while others have already collapsed into black holes. I think Hodge's notion of the universe as a finite collection of objects simply undergirds my second premise.

Secondly, Hodge wants empirical evidence to prove God. Now, this is an archaic way of demanding evidence since philosophers do not generally think that empirical evidence is the only evidence. Even the statement "There must be empirical evidence for something before it is considered true" itself does not enjoy any empirical evidence. Similarly, and most interestingly, science itself cannot be proven by empirical evidence since rational realistic notions of science are themselves philosophical assertions.

Thirdly, as seen in previous posts, Hodge questions the Big Bang model. This does not surprise me since, in Hawking's words, it "smacks of divine intervention." But Hodge has no alternative either. He simply maintains that the universe could be another model. But if he is going to claim to know this, he would shoulder the burden to prove a competing model. As such, I wholly agree that I must demonstrate why the Big Bang is true. So far I have argued from the observation of redshift and from consensus. Hodge does not like what the vast majority of astronomers say, but the redshift issue is an important one that is blinked at in Hodge's last post. It's simply true that if observations of galaxial redshift is occurring, then the universe is expanding outward. The criticism that the universe would not expand equally in all directions in an expanding universe from our observational standpoint is utterly false. Think of a balloon expanding. It would make no difference where an observer was in the balloon, she would see the expansion equally in all directions. Thus, since the universe is expanding then by going back into time we would see the universe receding, eventually coming to a singular point. Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle points out that the universe was "shrunk down to nothing at all" (Hoyle, Astronomy and Cosmology, p. 658). But Hodge is left to deny the Big Bang, no matter how incredible that might be, so that it does not confirm Hawking's analysis that it "smacks of divine intervention."

It must be noted at this point Hodge still has not objected to my philosophical argument against an actual infinite. If he agrees, then all of these scientific points are moot anyway.

But Hodge objects that the other models are not so easily dismissed. He attempts to support the cyclical model by appealing to dark matter. The problem is that dark matter is a theoretical answer to the problem of the universe's mass. But recent observations show quite clearly that the amount of deuterium in the universe is extremely deficient and is not enough to reverse the expansion rate toward a big crunch. At any rate, I still suggested that a cyclical model would not work since there is no known physical law that could provide for a re-expansion, and this had not been addressed.

Fourthly, Hodge tried previously to object to the quasi-syllogism I presented because "cause" is equivocated in the premises. I answered that this is not the case if cause refers to something that brings about the existence of something else. Until Hodge refutes this, I see no reason to think that cause is anything but univocal.

Fifthly, Hodge objected to the attribute of immutability for God on grounds that God was not always the creator prior to the universe. I responded that creating is not a necessary property and Hodge retorted with the idea that while creating is not a property, being a creator is. But Hodge does not seem to understand the force of my objection. In order for God's immutability to be in question, he has to show why being a creator is a necessary property of an immutable being. If it is not a necessary property then it does not impugn the immutability of God and serves to be an accidental property. Hodge has to affirm and prove why God must necessarily create.

Finally, Hodge wants to know why an immaterial being must have created the universe. As I spelled out in my first post on the subject, I explained why this is so since anything beyond space is necessarily non-spatial. Materiality implies spatial existence, which the cause of all matter, energy, and space would necessarily not have.

I have to say that if Hodge rejects theism on grounds that the consensus of astronomy and the evidences for the Big Bang are wrong, then I would be shaking in my boots. Since I believe that God caused the universe, I do not have to do Hodge's philosophical gymnastics in order to explain, in the words of Anthony Kenny of Oxford University, how "the universe came by nothing and from nothing" (Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas' Proofs of God's Existence, p. 66).