Inflation

One of the theories related to cosmology, specifically the Big Bang, is inflation. In the first microseconds following the big bang, the universe is thought to have expanded extremely quickly from an infinitely small point to a rapidly expanding space full of matter and energy. This expansion is thought to have burst forth essentially from nothing growing at super luminal speeds. (Note, while it is thought that nothing an travel faster than light through space, space itself can actually expand faster.)

The aspect of expansion theory that makes it so fun with regard to religion and atheism is that it offers opportunities for both to support their independent goals. One outgrowth of expansion theory is the possibility of multiple universes. The anthropic principle makes a single universe with life, but without God incredibly unlikely (not win the Powerball Lottery unlikely. More like win the Powerball a few thousand times in a row unlikely.) Inflation posits that there may be an infinite number of universes. In a multiverse with an infinite number of universes, one that can support life, while rare would not be unique, and no God is necessary to explain its existence.

On the other hand, expansion theory also gives God a place to live. If the universe burst into existence from a singularity, expanding rapidly in a uniform blast of space, energy and matter, there would be no universe as we understand it. Matter and energy would be dispersed uniformly across space, expanding ever outward and away from all other energy and matter. But that is not what happened, of course. Matter and energy are, thankfully clumped into regions of space, therefore able to form galaxies swimming in galaxy clusters where stars and planets and life can form. Such non-uniformity of the universe could be the result of quantum fluctuations in the singularity prior to, or just following the big bang. It seems also that the uniformity of the laws of physics and common constituents of matter and energy would be supported by this notion. An intelligence outside our universe, perhaps a scientist in a physics lab creating micro-black holes, could control these fluctuations to determine the eventual make up of the entire universe. Further, at a quantum mechanical level, cause and effect are often reversed or decoupled. An intelligence that arose from the birth of the universe, could actually cause the birth of the universe. This possibility arises from a very strange aspect of quantum mechanics.

Essentially, matter and energy at the very smallest levels seem to be effected by our very act of observing it. Further, these effects can be instantaneous over space and even have retroactive effects in time. One of the explanations for this is the multiverse theory. If a photon, or electron exists as a wave, it does not so much exist in the way we understand, but rather it exists as a set of possible states of existence. When we observe them one of two very peculiar things seems to happen. In some theories, every possibility exists. Every fork in the road, from the spin of a single electron to what you ate for breakfast births another universe. There are universes of universes spawning ever more. For every action, for every possible path of a single photon, there exists a universe in which every possible outcome occurs. Each possible outcome spawning additional universes, billions upon billions of times per second. This sounds crazy, but it appears that the only other option is that mind effects reality. That the very act of observing something can change the universe around us and in so doing, change the universe as it ever was and ever will be. By extension if mind can effect reality, and there exists a mind greater than we can understand, then this intellect could create the universe from nothing but variations in the quantum singularity before the big bang. Further such an intellect could theoretically do this after it came into existence as a result of the bang because in the quantum world, effect can precede cause.

Interestingly, in some theologies, including Christianity God does not exist in linear time in the way we perceive the universe. Rather he exists in an eternal now. An intellect that exists outside of time, with the ability to observe existence could be both the cause and effect of the quantum fluctuations that resulted in the creation of the universe. Further the idea of an eternal now, rather than linear time is interestingly a very good description of many quantum effects.

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Skeptic

1. a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of accepted beliefs

The term skeptic originally referred to a philosophy of challenging the status quo, of thinking beyond the commonly held beliefs of the majority. Today, however the vast majority of individuals claiming to be skeptics are anything but. When we speak today of skeptics, we are generally referring to individuals who espouse a dogmatic adherence to the belief system of rational materialism or scientific reductionism.
In truth, the so called skeptics are generally nothing more than dogmatic zealots of their own faith system. This faith system has a very simple creed, which an be summed up as “There is nothing in this universe but that which science has proven. There is no God, no ghosts, no aliens, no psychic effects or afterlife. Nothing that is outside of modern scientific thought has any validity. Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.”
Real skeptics are agnostics with regard to anything that has not been proven. Self described skeptics tend to be dogmatic and closed minded, the exact opposite of the traditional meaning of the term. They are skeptical only of claims or evidence that support one of the phenomenon which the so called skeptical faith system rejects. Very often, skeptics sound more like Agent Kay from Men in Black explaining a massive UFO sighting with “All right, Beatrice, there was no alien. The flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.” Any explanation will do, so long as it doesn’t involve any “woo” (as the skeptics call anything outside of rational materialistic experience).

Salvation by Faith

Salvation by faith is a belief espoused by some religious traditions, specifically Protestant Christian sects. Stripped to its essence it means if you believe in Christ you will go to heaven. If you don’t you burn in Hell. The followers of this creed essentially take the following quote John 3:15 “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” as the be all and end all of religious life.
So if you are a selfish scum bag bastard, but you believe what you are told without questioning, God loves you. If you think for yourself and analyze the information, he hates you and will cast you into a pit of eternal torment to be sodomized by demons till the end of time. Whether you are a good, loving person who serves your fellow man and never kicks puppies or eats children is irrelevant. Just to be clear, God gave man the intellect to think for himself, then casts him into Hell if he uses it?
Further, if you are born in Saudi Arabia and are taught that Jesus was a great guy, good with kids and a wise teacher, but not the son of God, it’s into the pit with you. Seems to me that God, if he exists he would be the God of everyone. Smart and naive alike. People born in Alabama and people born in Bagdad.
I find it hard to believe that the creator of the universe would base the eternal fate of your soul upon whether you believe a story about a man who lived two thousand years ago, for whom there is very little historical documentation. Maybe he is the son of God. Sure, I’m not going to say he wasn’t. I quite like most of his teachings, but I can’t just accept his story verbatim without question. I mean come on, George Washington lived two hundred years ago, and he had wooden teeth (no he didn’t) threw a dollar across the Potomac (no he didn’t) chopped down a cherry tree (no he didn’t) crossed the Delaware in a little row boat (no he didn’t).