God vs The Multiverse

Click here for God vs The Multiverse: a rational argument for the Existence of One God who intelligently designed one universe.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

God vs The Multiverse (Part 1: Introduction)

We want it to be clear that we are not making any claims based upon religion, as the rational argument for God's Existence is not contingent on the belief in religion.  Try to keep this in mind when you read the comments on this first post, as our regular readers who do believe in the Torah, discuss the issue of the religious implications of a rational proof from science for God's Existence.

The common impression that modern day scientists convey to the world is that God is unnecessary. Science has demonstrated that only religious fools still believe in God.  The purpose of these posts is to show that the opposite is true.  Modern science has in fact supplied compelling evidence for the rational belief in the existence of God.

We want to make it clear from the outset that we are not seeking to prove Divine Providence from any of these arguments.  While it is obvious that the idea of an Intelligent 
Cause for the universe is consistent with a belief in Providence, the proof from the constants only establishes that there is an Intelligent Designer, not that He relates to mankind in a unique manner.

For someone whose belief in God is rooted in blind faith, scientific knowledge is not relevant.  But there are many others who seek a genuine knowledge that God exists, and are perplexed by the "conclusion" reached by atheistic scientists who deny God.  They realize the difference between knowledge and faith; that you can "will" yourself to have faith, but you cannot will yourself to have knowledge.  Knowledge demands an investigation into the nature of reality with an open mind, searching for the truth.  It is for these people that we wrote these posts.

We will present a proof for One Intelligent Cause for the universe.  This is the basic concept that the term 'God' will refer to in the context of these posts, until we elaborate upon it more in Stage Three.  We want to stress that the argument is not contingent upon any prior religious beliefs.  This proof is contingent only upon scientific knowledge (which we will support by citing major scientists) and philosophical reasoning.

In the proof, we will use inductive reasoning from the fine tuning of the constants in nature and the initial conditions of the big bang, to infer an Intelligent Designer of the universe.  What we mean by 'proof' is that a reasonable person would logically draw the same conclusion after understanding the arguments.  We do not mean 'proof' in the sense of a mathematical proof or deductive reasoning, but rather in the sense of a rational argument.

No proof from current science is absolute. Any proof from science is subject to the radical doubt that one's current model of reality is totally wrong.  Nevertheless, it is rational to use your mind to the best of your ability to establish what you believe to be true.  We are not trying to disprove skepticism.  We are assuming the reader accepts the human mind, its ability to reason correctly about reality, and the validity of the scientific method in reaching true conclusions.  To say it succinctly, if you do not think that science has proven that the sun will rise tomorrow in the east, then you will not think this is a proof.  This proof will not exceed the reality you grant to scientific knowledge in general.

Our main objectives are to show a path in studying the deep wisdom in the creation as revealed by modern science, and also to present a proof of God from the constants and initial conditions.  Because of this dual objective, we will be including many interesting ideas from modern science that are related to the proof, even though it is not contingent upon them.  We will try to be clear about what is necessary for the proof, and what is only to provide a direction to understanding the great wisdom in the universe, as revealed through modern scientific knowledge.

Unfortunately, it is anathema to most scientists to recognize a non-physical, intelligent cause.  So they deny it. The prevalent trend in explaining away the proof is the theory of the multiverse Reading Stephen Hawking's article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Why God Did Not Create the Universe, as well as an article in Discover magazine entitled Science's Alternative to an Intelligent Creator, will be helpful in gaining background for some of the issues that we will be discussing.  Many top physicists and cosmologists believe in some version of the multiverse, and it seems that every year, more and more join the ranks of believers.  By some accounts, most physicists currently have faith in it.

In general, the proofs that scientists use for the multiverse are, in fact, the best proofs for God.  There is a part of a person which initially doubts that there is a proof from science simply based upon the fact that most scientists don't believe in God.  However, one's conviction in the reality of the true God can be qualitatively increased when he sees what many scientists are compelled to believe in an effort to deny an Intelligent Cause.  The greatest minds of our generation's scientists would not posit something as wildly speculative as the multiverse, were it not for the fact that the necessary alternative is an Intelligent Designer.

The proof is predicated upon a person recognizing that the universe that we observe is special, in the sense that it is highly structured and ordered on all scales of magnitude and complexity; that it has incredible beauty, symmetry, and simplicity from its most fundamental laws to the complex organisms that inhabit it.  We have never heard any scientist argue this point, and we think everyone who has basic scientific knowledge understands this point.  This amazing interactive site helps convey an appreciation of this idea.

We have embedded videos in many of the posts, as well as linked to scientific articles.  While it is not necessary to watch and read everything, we highly recommend the videos in particular, as they will greatly enhance you appreciation for the main points in the posts.  We will also include many links to Wikipedia articles that further elaborate on the points and provide some background information.  Don't get overwhelmed by the Wiki links (the first paragraph generally has the relevant information needed to follow the post), as the videos and articles are the main sources.

We will try to keep these posts as short and clear as possible, and we encourage you to click on the more significant links in order to deepen your understanding of the issues involved.  We will not be able to take up every point in the articles and videos we link to.  However, we will try to answer specific questions you have in the comments section of each particular post.  If you have any questions on what we say, or if you want to add any points that we missed, feel free to do so in the comments.  We hope that an active discussion about the ideas of these posts, with us and between the readers themselves, will help illuminate the many nuances of the proof.

We will only mention a few of the many constants that science knows are fine tuned.  You can find a more detailed explanation of the fine tuning of specific constants in the book Just 6 Numbers by Martin Rees (who also happens to believe in the multiverse), which is intended for the general reader.  There are many other good sources on the web and You Tube, should you choose to pursue the matter further.

There will be three stages to the proof.  In Stage One, we will be following along with the scientists.  We are well aware that we are not world renowned physicists, and we do not expect you to accept the facts of modern science based on our authority. (While one of us does have a PhD in mathematics, and the other has a Bachelor's degree in physics, we know that does not make us experts by any stretch of the imagination.)  We will be presenting well established science throughout Stage One, using the scientists themselves in videos, articles, and Wiki links.  We will also provide explanations of the material, so that you can understand the arguments first hand, to the best of your ability.

We will depart from the scientists in Stage Two of the proof, when they argue that the evidence points to a multiverse.  We will argue clearly and persuasively (we hope), that the multiverse is not a viable alternative explanation to an Intelligent Designer.  In Stage Three we will present a formulation for the Intelligent Designer of the universe, that stands up to all the numerous questions that atheistic scientists lodge against God.

54 comments:

  1. How can the proofs employed by the scientists which establish the existence of the Multiverse also/contrarily establish the existence of God (or whatever you want to call an intelligent first cause) ?

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  2. It seems like some of the approaches are not dealing with getting rid of God, but rather the strangeness of quantum mechanics (see e.g.
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/r8/and_the_winner_is_manyworlds/
    and specifically the posts to get a taste for his approach:
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/q8/many_worlds_one_best_guess/
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/q3/decoherence_is_simple/ )
    What are your thoughts?

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    1. there are many different versions of the multiverse. the many worlds interpretation simply means that reality splits and divides into parallel universes at every quantum interaction (or some version of this). this particular version of a multiverse has no real bearing on the problem of the constants as all the different worlds would have identical constants.

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  3. Without jumping the gun could you clarify if by "multiverse" you mean only the level 3 (and possibly higher) universes? (see the multiverse link you provided for definitions). Level 2 seems to be a different kind of theory from what it seems the topic of this investigation is, or is it?

    Also, and I think this IS jumping the gun, the section in that link from Tegmark responding to the question of Occam’s razor seems a reasonable answer your main point. Do you plan on addressing him in a future post?

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    1. I think part of the issue is clarifying how occam's razor works, Tegmark seems to be using a mathematical/algorithmic version, but I don't know if that is the real scientific/philosophical idea.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsimony

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    2. Also, can you explain what chaotic inflation is?

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    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaotic_inflation

      we will have a separate post later on dedicated to explaining how eternal chaotic inflation is being used to "prove" the multiverse

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    4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor#Science_and_the_scientific_method

      the basic answer is that the razor allows you to choose between different scientifically valid theories. it does not allow you to conjure up in your imagination the simplest way you can imagine reality being, and then posit that it is correct based on the razor (metaphysical solipsism is a good example of an extreme misapplication of the razor)

      in reference to misuse of the principle of simplicity, Einstein said (this is from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein)

      It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.

      There is a quote attributed to Einstein that may have arisen as a paraphrase of the above quote, commonly given as “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” or “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

      This may seem very similar to Occam's razor which advocates the simplest solution. However, it is normally taken to be a warning against too much simplicity. Dubbed 'Einstein's razor', it is used when an appeal to Occam's razor results in an over-simplified explanation that leads to a false conclusion.

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    5. Ok thanks. To be clear in this post when you talk about the multiverse are you referring to only a level III or higher universe or even a level II?

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    6. what about level 1?

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    7. while there are major issues raised by an actual physical infinity which level 1 proposes (it's certainly reasonable to speculate that the universe is bigger in a finite manner than the observable universe), so long as a theory does not contradict the cosmological principle, it has no bearing on the fine tuning of the constants, even if it posits an infinitely big multiverse. not every type of multiverse solves the fine tuning problem.

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  4. Many years ago Rebbi explained that throughout history hashgachah assures that there is sufficient information about the physical world for people to rationally conclude the existence of God. Rebbi also stated in the same shiur that the process of deriving/supporting the existence of God from the evidence of the physical world is an obligation.

    Perhaps though, this evidence is never absolute or incontrovertible, so that free will is maintained and one can choice to reject the reasonable conclusion of God's existence as the "multiversers" seem to be doing.

    R.Borah

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    1. as incredible as it seems, empirical observations of humans has revealed that we are still free to deny that which is obviously true according to our rational minds. there are people who genuinely have faith that 3=1.

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    2. This seems like a bold idea. I can see how a complete and accurate picture of physics should point towards God. However, truth seeking scientists can sometimes reasonably follow a wrong path or work with incomplete facts. Why must this path point towards the existence of God?

      Also, after the fall of Aristotelian physics and before the fine-tuning problem did Nature indicate the existence of an intelligent cause?

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  5. Relevant quote from Rebbi ( “Yichud Hashem: Discussion Tape #235)

    “Every person has to avail themselves of the knowledge, of the examples, of the scientific examples he finds at the time that he lives in. The concept that the Rambam is mentioning is not a matter of planetary motion. The concept is that the universe can never be self-explanatory. That is the principle of yehadis. That the universe can never be self-explanatory. That no matter how science advances you will never be able to have a universe that explains itself without God. There will always be something that is missing. Today it’s not the motions of the planets. Once the discovery was made by Hubble, the astronomical discoveries were made that the galaxies are moving apart it became clear there was a point of creation. This is something that the Rambam could not have known. Yehadis does not teach physics. At Sinai we did not receive physics….In today’s scientific world it is the expansion of the universe that shows there was a point of origin. Whatever the science, a person studying the universe will never reach a point that the universe is self-explanatory. That is what the Torah is teaching and that is the mitzvah. The Rambam says that knowing this is the mitzvah of Anochey Adoshem Elochechah. I believe that the Rambam is saying that yehadus demands that we study the universe. It demands that we recognize God from the fact that the universe is not self-explanatory. Now, at every generation this is going to be at a different point. But the same conclusion will always be arrived at. “

    R.Borah

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    1. What about in the "Newtonian" clock-work universe?

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    2. While it's true that the fulfillment of the commandment to know God can only be completely fulfilled through a proof from the creation, that does not guarantee that one can directly prove the existence of God from the science of their generation. There are many commandments we are obligated in, yet we are unable to fulfill completely because of external circumstances. We are fortunate to live in a day and age where scientific knowledge has progressed to the point where one can make solid, legitimate inferences to the existence of God. Only because our generations scientific knowledge is properly developed is this possible.

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    3. that doesn't seem to fit with Richard's Rebbi's point

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    4. 'self explanatory' presumes a viable scientific model of the universe. there is a middle ground between having a scientific model in which you can infer an intelligent creator and one in which the universe is self explanatory. that middle ground is simply an insufficient model. there is no guarantee that the science of the times will be developed to the point that one is able to infer anything of any significance at all.

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  6. Rebbe explained that Avraham Avenu, according to our mesorah, was successful in observing the physical world and deriving the existence of God. This was before he received prophecy. The case of Avraham Avenu is a strong support for the idea that the hashgachah has provided the opportunity to carry out this investigatory process at all times in history. The great advantage today is that an individual does not have to carry out the process alone, like Avraham. We can borrow on the genius of others and benefit from widely publicized, highly developed scientific knowledge.

    R.Borah

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    1. How can one deduce from the fact that Avraham Avenu successfully observed the physical world and arrived at the existence of God that there is a general principle of hashgacha that guarantees that this will be possible at all times? I don't see the "strong support".

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    2. If you accept Avraham Avenu as being able to make valid conclusions about the existence of God from observing the physical world, it is strong support for the point that modern times has not presented a unique opportunity due to current level of development of science. This opportunity has always been available. Rebbi stated that the mitzvah of Anochey Hashem Elochecha requires the a person rationally infer God's existence from the physical world. It follows, therefore, that a person would have to have the ability to do that at all historical times. Otherwise how could the mitzvah be commanded?

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    3. We are commanded in mitzvos that involve the mikdash. There is no special hashgacha in place that guarantees we will be able to fulfill them. Similarly here, it could be the case that this mitzvah is fulfilled through a person rationally investigating the physical world. However, the science of one's time might not necessarily be developed enough to lead him to this conclusion. I don't see why one must posit a principle of hashgacha that prevents such a scenario from happening.

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    4. There is a meaningful distinction between the fulfillment of the mitzvot of the mikdash and the ability to hold that God exists, the latter being a fundamental of fulfilling all other mitvot as well as being the basis of Judaism. I also don't understand how you understand Avraham's successful estabilishment of God's existence. He lived in a "pre-science" time and yet we certainly hold he was able to do it.

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    5. The fact that Avraham Avenu lived in a time before the existence of what we would call science is not relevant to what I'm saying. He presumably observed the world, used his mind and came to certain principles about how Nature operates. These concepts led him to the conclusion that there was a God.

      Through further experimentation and observation each generation gains more knowledge about the way the world works than the last. Contemporary scientific concepts are modified or revamped to explain these new facts. We moved from Aristotelian physics to Newtonian mechanics to relativity and quantum mechanics. Intrinsically I don't see why these new concepts should have to point towards the existence of God. Just because they did in Avraham Avenu's day doesn't mean that as we learn more about the world and new scientific concepts emerge that they will also point towards the existence of God.

      That is, unless you want to posit that there is a principle of hashgacha operating here that guarantees that the concepts that a person will arrive at through investigating Nature at all times throughout history will point towards the existence of God. I am not saying that this is logically impossible but that it is a rather bold/presumptuous claim to make. Especially in light of the fact that I have not seen evidence supporting it. As explained above, the fact that Avraham Avenu had concepts that led him to the conclusion that there was a God does not mean that as these scientific concepts evolve they will point to this conclusion as well. Further, I think there is good reason to believe that under the regime of Newtonian mechanics one would not have come to this conclusion.

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    6. In fact, at the above referenced shiur, Rebbe was asked the question about Newton's time and said that if you exist at a time where science has no clear proof of God's existence, then you would not be able to fully fulfill this mitzvah. He didn't seem to hold that there was such a hashgacha.

      Either way, it seems the main focus should be on nowadays and whether such a proof is afforded by our science.

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  7. Regarding the validity of the multiverse hypothesis, I think it fails to pass the philosopher AJ Ayers' test for a meaningful statement.

    Ayer explains that the principle of verifiability may be used as a criterion to determine whether a statement is meaningful. To be meaningful, a statement must be either analytic (i.e. a tautology) or capable of being verified.

    According to Ayer, analytic statements are tautologies. A tautology is a statement that is necessarily true, true by definition, and true under any conditions. A tautology is a repetition of the meaning of a statement, using different words or symbols. According to Ayer, the statements of logic and mathematics are tautologies. Tautologies are true by definition, and thus their validity does not depend on empirical testing.

    Synthetic statements, or empirical propositions, assert or deny something about the real world. The validity of synthetic statements is not established merely by the definition of the words or symbols they contain. According to Ayer, if a statement expresses an empirical proposition, then the validity of the proposition is established by its empirical verifiability.

    Propositions are statements that have conditions under which they can be verified. By the verification principle, meaningful statements have conditions under which their validity can be affirmed or denied.

    Since it is not possible to verify the truth or falsity of the multiverse, it is not, according to Ayers, a meaningful statement.

    I don't necessarily agree with AJ Ayers, but empiricists, which, I would guess includes the multiversers, would need to address this flaw in the multiverse hypothesis. Not only is the position far-fetched, but also meaningless according to this empiricistic standard.

    R. Borah

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  8. Not sure if this is the right post of the blog for this comment, so if this should be addressed later I apologize. I just thought of another problem with the multiverse.

    The question the multiverse is attempting to answer is what caused (or calibrated) the constants. The reason this question is troubling and not mere curiosity is that our specific calibration imputes design, and the human mind always looks for causes behind design. In other words because the constants impute design the question of how they were selected is a kasha. However were the constants not calibrated with a discernable design we could still ask a sh’ela of how they were selected. (Obviously there would be no one around to ask this sh’ela, nu that’s one kasha). At is its core then the question the multiverse is trying to answer is the sh’ela, not the kasha. The kasha is simply why we are impelled to answer the sh’ela.

    Given this it does not seem the multiverse accomplishes what it set out to do. Let’s say there are indeed infinite universes, each representing a different calibration of the constants. We can still ask about each of these universes, why or rather how were the constants in this universe selected to be what they are? The multiverse then does not address the question of what causal mechanism selects the constants, which is the very question it purports to answer.

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    1. To answer your last question, multiverse theory posits an unknown mechanism that randomly selects numbers. We will deal with questions on the multiverse in later posts.

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  9. there is a fudamental issue that needs to be brought up and out. Does yahadus maintain that one can PROVE GOD from science or does it maintain that one can see GOD in science?

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    1. the Rambam says it is a mitzva to know that God exists

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  10. agreed and what is the role of science? is it to prove that GOD exists OR that idea preceeds and one can SEE GOD through the study of science? I know you understand the difference i do not know why you are being evasive.

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    1. We think both are true. They are not mutually exclusive.

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  11. i hope you know what proof means and have success making that happen b/c the followers of your blog are putting their faith in your success.

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    1. Those followers who are putting faith in their success should reread this post - particularly, paragraph beginning with the word "You."

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  12. Agur, thats my point. Many of the followers are following b/c of their shame of doubt and are "praying" that the writters of this blog can remove their doubt

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  13. At the request of the RAZ/REF I am moving the discussion from post 3 to here. I will try summarizing the questions.
    1. RAZ/REF claims that everyone must know how to prove God from modern science. How do you understand the Rambam which puts these topics under davar gadol, which means they are only appropriate for a small minority of the population.
    2. Is 2nd hand scientific knowledge really knowledge of science? And if the person is merely trying to arrive at rational second hand knowledge of God what is lacking in the proof from Sinai?
    3. (tangential to this post but came up in discussion of post 3) according to the rambam does one need science for ahavat hashem, or can one have ahavat hashem through talmud torah (i.e. davar katan which is accesible to everyone)?

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    1. 1. We understand the Rambam to mean that the fulfillment of the mitzva on the highest level includes knowing God from science.

      We understand the Rambam to mean that there is level of understanding in these areas that is not for most people, of which he did not write down in either the Mishna Torah or the Guide, which were released to the public.

      The Rambam in Y.H. 2:2 says what he wrote it as an opening and doorway for a person to pursue the matter further in order to love of God. (For example, the Rambam includes the idea that God is One and is not physical, in the first chapter, which is something he says has to be explained to every single individual of any level intelligence. You simply can not argue that the entire content of teh 4 chapters are beyond most people.

      In Teshuva 10:6 the Rambam says every person according to their abilities, should pursue the matter of knowing his Owner through studying the sciences as he explains in Y.H, in order to enhance his love of God.

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    2. 2) Second hand knowledge really is a form of knowledge even though it has a certain inferiory compared with first hand knowledge. It really depends on the area you are dealing with.

      In this case, we don't think knowledge through Totah MiSinai gives you the same appreciation of the infinite wisdom inherent in the creation of the Creator of the Universe. It therefore, does not engender the same type of Love in response.

      Second hand knowledge from scientists, also suffers to a degree in causing a person to fully appreciating the infinite wisdom, as compared to first hand knowledge of the science itself. (According to your abilities. Rambam Teshuva 10:6.)

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    3. 3) We're not really sure. There is a contradiction in the Rambam between the Sefer Hamitzvos (where he includes both Torah and science) and the Mishna Torah (were he only says science).

      Certainly, a major part of the mitzva of loving God includes the study of science. It would seem to us that the study of Torah does also engender a love of God, as a person can see the infinite wisdom manifest in the Torah. We don't really understand why the Rambam left it out of his final formulation in the Mishna Torah.

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    4. The main question I had is not about Ahavas Hashem but about Yedias Hashem. But not yedias hashem in so far as how do u fulffil the mitzvah which is explained by Rabbi Chait....but in terms of an obejctive measure of your yedias hashem.

      If Yedias Hashem is tied directly to your scientific knowledge/understanding of a "creator" than people living today with a far more advanced understanig of the universe would seem to have a greater yedias hashem than the Avos, or tannaim, or anyone else living hundreds or thousands of years ago?

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    5. We think that we answered this question in the last comment on post 3. If not, please explain.

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  14. As I understand it the last comment on post 3 addresses the halachik way to fulfill the mitzvah which is the same no matter what generation we are in.

    The question I have however is a philisophic one: If yedais hashem of a "first cause" is through science, then today our understanding/proof of this is much much greater than the avos, tannaim, ect...which would mean we have a much greater yedias hashem in the ultimate/philisophic sense (not halachik).

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    1. Their knowledge of God was based upon their scientific model which was sufficient for them to know that God exists.

      We think you are confusing the knowledge of God with knowledge of the creation. Hopefully in stage three, when we explain the idea of God being One, you will clearly understand the answer to your question.

      It is a good question. Hold it until then and then ask it again if you still don't understand.

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    2. Okay, I will hold and think about it. Can you clarifiy for me though whether you are trying to prove god's existence or that god is the creator or both?

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    3. We are trying to prove the existence of One, non-physical, Intelligent, Existence who created the laws of nature, chose the values of the constants, and is the cause of the initial conditions of the big bang.

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  15. There are three groups of people we think can benefit from this proof. 1) Those who already accept Torah based on rational argument. 2) Those who already accept Torah based on faith. 3) Those who do not accept Torah.

    1) To group one, we are adding something to the rational evidence you already have (i.e. Torah Mi'Sinai). Not only will you know God exists through a different source and type of knowledge (which is the highest fulfillment of the first mitzva according to the Rambam), but hopefully you will be able to appreciate the Infinite Wisdom of the One who gave the Torah when you see the wisdom inherent in His works.

    For that reason we have included many links, videos, articles, and our own explanations so that these posts should serve as an opening to increase your love of God, each according to their ability. If you don't ultimately accept or follow the proof, it should not change your prior conviction in the veracity of the Torah.

    2) To group two, we are presenting the opportunity to have knowledge that God exists, in addition to your faith. There are verses that openly state that knowledge of God's Existence is valuable. (The Jews at Sinai certainly had knowledge, not just faith that God exists.) If you are against such an idea or think it is prohibited, we are not forcing you to keep reading. Stop now!

    If you don't ultimately accept or follow the proof, it should not change your prior faith in the veracity of Torah. A bad proof of God does not shake a person's faith (as there are many bad proofs out there already).

    3) To group three, this proof is independent of any argument regarding the truth of religion or Providence.

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  16. From this comment on is after we revised the introduction.

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  17. Could you label each post with which of the three stages it belongs to and whether it is essential to the proof or 'merely' added insight into science, This might help keep a focus on the proof so that we don't lose sight of where we are up to.

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    1. We will sum up the essence of the argument in stage one in post 6, which will mark the break between stage one and two.

      Non-essential ideas are either relegated to the first comment of a post, only linked to, or are clearly indicated in the posts themselves. (The part on post 4 we said could be skipped, the cyclic universe part, the origin of life problem itself aside from the weak anthropic principle.)

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  18. I am not sure if you are aware that the link you provided for Stephen Hawking`s article in the wsj can only be read if you sign in or subscribe to the wsj.

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    1. Sometimes links go stale, but if you Google the name of the article, some version of it should come up.

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