“It’s Turtles all the way down!”

Turtles all the way down

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

This story is often used to mock religious believers who argue for the existence of God, but it also makes the same point about purely scientific beliefs.

Atheists use this to mock the religious belief in an eternal God who was never created. “How can something come from nothing?,” they ask. But the same problem lies with a purely material explanation for our existence.

Some scientists originally argued against the big Bang theory because the notion that there was a moment of creation implied that there was a Creator. (Even Einstein favored a “steady-state” universe that has always existed.) Now that the Big Bang (originally a pejorative name) looks more likely to be true, it’s sometimes used against the notion of a Creator. But the problem noted above with the existence of God also applies to a completely natural creation of the Universe. Where’d everything come from? How could something come from nothing?

It’s occasionally posited that perhaps our universe was created from the remnants of another universe, that is, our Big Bang was the followup to another, preceding universe’s “Big Crunch,” so to speak. Others have suggested that perhaps we’re merely one of any number of universes that exist all at once, and our Big Bang was the creation of a white hole related to a black hole in another universe. Both of these theories evade the question of the ultimate source of all creation. While each new universe coming as a result of a prior universe in some way may meet the inductive step of a traditional proof by induction, this fails to prove the base case required for a proper proof by induction.

The fact is that just as no one claims to know how God came into being, we also don’t know how the universe came into being. Before mocking religious believers for believing in God, who we don’t know how He came to be, they need to remember the exact same mockery can be directed at them for their belief in the natural creation of our universe.

Britain has become a ‘Catholic country’

Roman Catholics have overtaken Anglicans as the country’s dominant religious group. More people attend Mass every Sunday than worship with the Church of England, figures seen by The Sunday Telegraph show.

While it’s nice to hear that another country is becoming more Catholic, it’s not necessarily all good news:

The rise of Catholicism has been bolstered by an influx of immigrants from eastern Europe and Africa, who have packed the pews of Catholic parishes that had previously been dwindling.

The Catholic Church has also suffered a serious fall in the size of its congregations, but the expansion of the European Union in 2004 resulted in its numbers being bolstered by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Poles and Lithuanians.

Attendance at Mass in 1991 was recorded as 1.3 million, a drop of 40 per cent since 1963. But over the past six years it has fallen by only 13 per cent, with the rate of decline slowed by immigrants from Catholic countries.

Even though much of the increase in Catholic attendance was due to immigration from Poland and Lithuania, native British Catholics are still more likely to attend Mass than native British Anglicans:

Churchgoing in Anglican and Catholic parishes had stood at about a million each for the past 10 years, though the relative equality in their numbers over recent years is surprising considering that there are 25 million people who regard themselves as Anglicans, and only 4.2 million Catholics.

This really doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know:

1) British people aren’t all that religious any more.
2) Poles (and Lithuanians) rock!!

(BTW: I’m of both Lithuanian and Polish descent.)

Hat Tip:The Cafeteria is Closed