Friday, January 15, 2016

An Explanation of Fr. Serpa's words on "Mother of God"

by R. de la Rosa

Fr. Serpa, O.P. said:

"[When] we say that Mary is the mother of God. Again, it is appropriate to say this in so far as we mean that SHE IS THE MOTHER OF HIS HUMAN NATURE and not His divine nature."

Similarly, Bishop Louise Morrow said:

"Because there is but one person, it is true to say that God died for us (though ONLY HIS HUMAN NATURE DIED), or that Mary is the mother of God ( though SHE GAVE HIM ONLY HIS HUMAN NATURE). He who created the world, and he who was born of the virgin and died on the cross are one and same person" (My Catholic Faith, p. 75)

Below is my explanation:

When protestants reject the statement (A) "Mary is the mother of God," and then assert that (B) "Mary is only the mother of the human nature of Jesus," the common response of Catholic apologists is to say that the protestant statement is wrong and is a Nestorian heresy. The sad consequence of this is that many newbee apologists, not having solid foundation in theology, recieved the impression that statement B ("Mary is the mother only of the human nature of Jesus") is really wrong or is not acceptable for the Catholic. But this is certainly a mistaken notion.

We know from Fr. Serpa, O.P and Bishop Louise Morrow and also from St. Thomas Aquinas that statement B is perfectly correct. Fr. Serpa even said that the statement "Mother of God" is appropriate to say so long as we mean that she is mother only of the human nature of Jesus. In other words, statement B is an explanation of statement A.

So what is the cause of the confusion then? The answer is the wrong manner apologists respond to the protestant objection. In their excitement to defend A, they immediately condemn B just because it is used by protestants as a conflicting alternative. So what should be the proper catholic response?

The intelligent apologist should know that the two statements are not really in conflict. He should tell the protestant that he is committing the fallacy of false dichomoty, that is, making two things contrary when they are not. He should respond that the protestant is being illogical since to say that B is true is to also accept A. It is true that Mary is mother only of the human nature of Jesus, but that is precisely the reason why she is the mother of God. For natures cannot exist without persons. Once we say that Mary is mother of the human nature of God, we can strictly logically say that Mary is the mother of God because that human nature is assumed by a divine Person and because the mother-son relationship is between persons. So the protestant error is to stop with statement B and reject A. But this move is competely non-sensical for how can Mary be mother of the human nature of God and yet we can't say that she is mother of God? As a doctrine in metaphysics, natures don't have an act of being in itself. They exist only as constituent of the suppositum/person.

So the protestant is not wrong in saying that "Mary is mother only of the human nature of Jesus", but they err when they reject that "Mary is mother of God." And the basis of their rejection is the lack of reflection on the logical implication of statement B. Again, statement B implies A because human nature can't exist apart from the person. To affirm B is always an affirmation of A. To say that Mary is the mother of the body of God is to say that Mary is the mother of God. Even if Mary gave birth to a dead child Jesus (a mere corpse), we can still call Mary as mother of God since the human nature of Jesus was assumed by God/Christ during the moment of conception.

What about Nestorious? Apologists immediately identify protestants' rejection of A as a Nestorian heresy. This is also a mistake. First, protestants are not Nestorians for they don't accept that Jesus is in two persons. The error of Nestorious is not because he might have preffered B. His error is really to say that there are two persons.

But affirming B does not mean we divide Jesus into two persons. This is a naive thinking. Fr. Serpa and Bishop Morrow certainly never thought that Jesus are two persons. On the contrary, affirming B is to affirm A. To reject B is to reject A because B is the correct explanation of A.

Rejecting the the correct explanation of a dogma or denying the correct statements that specify it is to reject the dogma. To do so is equally heretical.

For Fr. Serpa's statements click these:

For Bishop L. Morrow's words, see attached photo.

For Aquinas words, click this:

For an example of a wrong way of responding to protestants:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Discussion with Don Paez on God’s Knowledge of the Future

Don Paez tagged my name in an FB thread where he was discussing with some theists concerning our oral debate last year. The specific topic was about whether the future is an actual infinite in the mind of God.
There is good reason why Don is confident to talk about this topic since during our oral debate, I seemingly failed to addressed this particular objection. Don asked the question whether the future is infinite or not. I said that it cannot be infinite since it is impossible for time, being a series, to traverse infinity; hence, the future will always remain to be finite. In the mind of God, the future will always be finite. Then, Don objected that if the future is finite, then God’s knowledge will also be finite.
During our debate, I was unaware that Don was considering this point in the debate as his best moment. It was only after I watched the video that I realized that that moment was a critical point for me. Don (and one of audiences), as seen in the video, is nodding and appeared happy at the turn of the events, thinking that I stumbled upon a contradiction when I was trying to explain that the future is finite in the mind of God. Unfortunately, I was not facing at Don did not noticed him nodding, and I was not paying attention to the reactions of the audience (this is actually a defect on my personality – I’m always inside myself).
But the thing is, during the debate, I didn’t consider Don’s objection as a serious one and assumed that Don and the audience have seen the obvious fallacy in his follow up objection. My disposition during the debate was not contentious. I was there for friendly discussion, and I was too condescending and never thought of seizing moments where I can humiliate Don. I never took advantage of the many fallacies (obviously wrong and superficial arguments) Don committed during the debate. 

But now, I’d like to repeat and emphasize here that during the debate, I didn’t consider Don’s objection serious. It was actually, in my mind that time, another of atheists’ “should-be-ignored-mistake-due-to-their-misunderstanding-of-theism.” Atheists have many of this kind of mistaken beliefs about theism and religion. And the professional should forgo them as something trivial because they are just products of atheists’ excusable ignorance.
But since Don and many of his mates think that his point was not trivial, I decided to elaborate here.
First, Don concluded that if the future is finite in the mind of God, then this will make God’s knowledge also finite or limited. To be honest to Don, I really find this objection unserious, since I never expected that he, being educated in philosophy at UST, should fail to see the simple idea about God is the principle of knowledge and being. Classical theism, which I believe is as basic as 1+1 for UST philosophers, says that God is knowledge Himself so that the existence of creatures do not really add anything to the knowledge of God. God’s knowledge is absolute, complete, and perfect, simply because He is the principle of knowing and being. Even before God created anything, He knows everything, that is, every being. He knows every being because He is the source of all beings. By knowing Himself, everything is known. Only nothingness is unknowable to God, precisely because nothingness is not being.
God’s Essence is the origin of all essences (beings), His knowledge is commensurate or identical to His Essence, that is, whatever His Essence is, He knows; and whatever He knows, is also His essence. So whatever has an essence (being) is known by God by knowing His very own Essence. Unlike us, we know things because they are. But in God, things are because God knows Himself. Only nothingness is not known by God because it has no essence.
Is Don saying that before God created anything, God knows nothing? Don could not say this, given his UST philosophy background. Hence, I could not believe he was serious when he objected that God’s knowledge will be made finite if the future is finite.

Going back to the Kalam
The Kalam argument succeeds in leading us to logically infer the existence of God as a necessary Being to explain the contingency or finitude of the physical order. So the conclusion of the Kalam is a necessary Being as the cause of the existence of contingent physical order. God is the unconditioned explanation of the conditioned reality. We cannot escape inferring the unconditioned Reality because conditioned reality exists; otherwise, we fall into the absurdity of believing that the conditioned reality is caused by nothing or into believing the equally absurd idea that the conditioned reality is eternal in time. There is no escape for the above conclusion except irrationality or skepticism about reason (Don Paez and some of his mates have actually come to this point).
Now, part of the idea of unconditioned or necessary Reality (God) is that this Reality (God) is the source or principle of being and knowing. If this is not the case, then this reality would not be necessary and unconditioned. If we will not conceived God as the principle and source of being and knowing, then we have not met the requirement of the conclusion of the Kalam. If God is not the principle of being and knowing, then he is also a contingent being. But the Kalam logically concludes that God is the necessary Being, hence, God is also the principle of being and knowing.
This means that God does not know reality as something external, as if reality is the cause of His knowledge. Our knowledge is increased because there are realities (beings/things) outside. But the creation things and their indefinite existence in the future do not really add anything to the knowledge of God. God does not comprehend things by intuiting reality. Rather, He knows beings because He is Being and Knowing Himself. In God, to know is to exists. While we exist and we know, the nature of God’s existence is knowing. He knows therefore He exists; and He knows His own self, and by this, He knows everything thing. The laws of nature and all the details of contingent things are understood by God because He is the principle of knowledge and being. He is knowledge and being Himself. These are all implied in the idea that God is the necessary being to explain the universe' conditioned being.
So the future is finite, but whether things exist or not, God’s knowledge is infinite because He knows Himself who is infinite.
For by Him all things were created.., all things have been created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1: 16-17)
For in him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17: 28)
For further reading on the nature of Divine knowing, read my article.
In what follows is my recent conversation with Don. Minor editions are made.
RD: This means that whatever is in the future is known by God, because whatever that is an “is” (being) has being only in so far as God is Being. Hence, God does not know the future by knowing the future in themselves. This is an imperfect type of knowledge. As I have explained in my debate with Don Paez (which no one in the audience really understood), God knows all things even the possible by knowing Himself. By comprehending Himself, He knows everything. This is not an actualized infinity of the future in the mind of God. In Don's argument, he starts with a premise that God's mode of knowing is like human knowing, that is, we know things because they are. That is why he objected that if the future is always finite, then it will mean that God's knowledge is also finite. But this is false since even before God created anything, His knowledge is infinite simply because He is the principle of knowing and being.
DP: So Red, you are saying that god's knowledge of eternity is an actual infinite?
RD: It is an actual infinity because God is an actual infinity. But this is not the same with the actual infinity negated by the Kalam. The Kalam negates an actually infinite sequence. But God's knowledge of the future or His knowledge of His creatures are not accumulations but a simple comprehension of His very own Being.
DP: Remember that the reason why the kalam rejects an actual infinite sequence is because an actual infinite is impossible. The point still stands whether the actual infinite is a sequence of events or not.
RD: That's not correct. What is impossible is to traverse infinite sequence.
DP: Is that so? Maybe it would be nice if we could post the justification for premise #2...
*Argument based on the impossibility of an actual infinite.
-An actual infinite cannot exist.
-An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
.:Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.
*Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition
-A collection formed by successive addition cannot be an actual infinite.
-The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
.:Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.
Notice that the two impossibilities are derived from the unqualified premise that an actual infinite is impossible. This means that an actual infinite is impossible regardless of the kind of infinity.
It ought to be noted that the kalam does not distinguish between qualitative and quantitative infinity. It just says that an actual infinite cannot exist. So if we pair that with Red's claim...
An actual infinite cannot exist (kalam)
God is an actual infinite (Red)
.: Therefore God cannot exist.
RD:         //-An actual infinite cannot exist
-An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
.:Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.//
Don, the meaning of "actual infinite" in premise 1, which is the justification for premise 2 is actual infinite sequence. One example of this “impossible actual infinite sequence” is the subject in premise 2. In other words, actual infinite in premise 1 is the generic term for all types of infinite sequence. It does not include the idea that God is an actual infinite.
DP: Nope, that's not true Red. Otherwise Craig would have simply stated that an actual infinite series of events cannot exist, instead of deriving it from "an actual infinite cannot exist" and "an infinite sequence of events is an actual infinite." As it stands, the unqualified statement "an actual infinite cannot exist" forms part of the premises, and any conclusion involving an actual infinite, whether a sequence of events or not, would conflict with it.
Were we to take it further, we could even derive: 
An actual infinite cannot exist
God's attributes imply the existence of an actual infinite
God's attributes cannot exist.
RD: Well, for me there's no other meaning for "actual infinite cannot exist" except infinite series. Craig knows that, of course, unless we say that he doesn’t understand what he is saying after all years of study and research. God's attributes are infinite not because they amount to infinite number of things. But because these attributes are the unconditioned principle of conditioned realities.
If contingent creatures (us) are capable of knowledge, then being the creator of human intelligence, we ought to attribute intelligence to God. And since His essence is the origin of all essences/beings, His knowledge is commensurate or identical to His essence, that is, whatever His essence is, He knows; and whatever He knows, is also His essence. So whatever has an essence is known by God by knowing His very own Essence. Only nothingness is not known by God because it has no essence.
DP: For you, yes. But that's not what the argument logically implies. I suggest that he could simply reword it to cover only quantitative actual infinities.
RD:  //to cover only quantitative actual infinities.//
Actually, It cannot cover anything other than quantitative infinities simply because only “actual infinite series” are impossible. When you put "impossible" to it, you limit the extension. "Impossible actual infinities" obviously only cover quantities.
DP: "Obviously" does not compute. A statement is universally applicable unless qualified and/or quantified.
RD: Yes it's universally applicable. But the what is meant by universal application refers only only to the correct application of the term used in a proposition. The universal application of the term, “impossible infinites,” are only those subjects falling under series or quantities because they are the only correct extension of the term. Universally applicability does not include what is outside, so don’t include God.
DP: Then it should have been specified from the start. As it is right now it isn't, so logically it also applies to non quantitative actual infinities.
RD: Yes, it's better to specify it. But I didn't find it necessary until now.
DP: Ok, so you're saying that the kalam argument as it is classically written is flawed?
RD: No. there's nothing wrong with it. The Kalam starts with what is supposedly uncontroversial. That “infinite series is impossible” is uncontroversial. So what the kalam really meant by impossible actual infinite is nothing else than infinite series. If premise 1 could mean more than infinite series, then there's no point using it as a principle for deduction.
DP: It seems that you're just unnecessarily interpreting a term and qualifying it for the sake of convenience. If the premise could mean all actual infinities whether infinite series or not, then it would conflict with even a qualitatively infinite god. Sorry man, that's just how logic works. On the other hand, if you try to edit it, it may be improved, but that wouldn't be the kalam anymore, just as the kalam is distinct from the classical cosmological argument.
RD: It only includes series. Period. You can interpret it in your own way but then, you'll be just attacking a straw man.
DP: Perhaps. But then again by limiting an explicit universal statement and replacing it with a qualified version, you'd be guilty of shifting goalposts. There is quite a big difference in logical distribution between "an actual infinite cannot exist" and "an actual infinite series of events" cannot exist. The former is distributed far more than the latter, and even encompasses all actual infinites which are not series of events, such as qualitative infinities.
RD: //But then again by limiting an explicit universal statement and replacing it with a qualified version, you'd be guilty of shifting goalposts.//

Your understanding of universal applicability is wrong Don. The subject "actual infinity" is universally applicable to its logical extension. The logical extension depends according to the meaning it is used in a proposition. The meaning of "actual infinity" in the proposition (premise 1 of Kalam) is actual infinite series. So the proposition applies universally to all series. To extend the application to God is going beyond its universal logical extension. Example, If I say "the Paez clan are good," and if the meaning of "Paez clan" in my proposition refers only to the clan where you directly descended, then its universal extension applies only to all members of your clan. You don't include all individuals in the Philippines just because their surname is Paez.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The “Malicious-Protestant” Fallacy: Protestant Logic 101

The “Malicious-Protestant” fallacy is similar to other more common fallacies such as Non-Sequitur, Ignoratio Elenchi and Missing the Point.

This fallacy is committed when one concludes or implies that a particular doctrine or practice is false, pagan, or evil because the name, circumstance, and history of that doctrine or practice/custom can be derived or associated to a pagan teaching or practice.

The Malicious-Protestant fallacy is a logical fallacy because the fact that the name, history, or circumstance of a doctrine or practice is factually or incidentally derived or associated with a pagan teaching or practice doesn’t logically mean that the doctrine or practice is also pagan. Hence, it is actually similar to Non-Sequitur (“It does not follow”) fallacy. In other words, the conclusion that “a Christian or Catholic teaching or practice is pagan” doesn’t follow from the premise that “it is associated to a pagan practice.”

I call this fallacy “Malicious-Protestant” for the following reasons. First, it is called “malicious” because to accuse something as pagan or evil one must first demonstrate that that thing is intrinsically or in itself pagan or evil. For instance, if a particular church teaches or allows divorce, we can rightly call, without committing fallacy, that that teaching is pagan and evil because divorce is intrinsically evil and against the will of God. Or if a particular church practices human sacrifice then we can call that practice evil since human sacrifice is intrinsically evil.

But to accuse something as pagan or evil simply because the name and circumstance of that practice is associated from pagan practice is simply malicious, dishonest, contrary to Christian charity, and is an insult to the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of truth.

For instance, to accuse that Christmas is a pagan celebration because December 25 is the same day some pagan feasts are celebrated; or to call Easter pagan because the name is derived from the name of a pagan god, manifests ones malice, dishonesty, and corrupt mind. It is like calling your neighbor a prostitute just because you saw her walking around a night bar. This attitude is a grave sin prohibited in the Bible – remember the 9th Commandment!

Christian honesty, purity of mind, and charity requires one to be very strict in his reasoning. One must first prove that a practice is made in honor of a (non-existing) pagan god before one concludes that it is indeed pagan. 

To prove that Malicious-Protestant fallacy is indeed fallacious, one only needs a counter example. Protestants use ring during marriage yet this is originally a pagan practice. Should we then call protestant marriages pagan? Of course not! To do otherwise is malicious and dishonest.

Another example is the name Saturday. Saturday originally means “Saturni dies” or “day of Saturn” in honor of the Roman god Saturn. Sunday also is “day of the Sun”, in honor of the Sun god. Should we then say that Seventh-day Adventists are worshiping the pagan god Saturn? Of course not! To say so is unfair, malicious, dishonest, and logically fallacious.

Second, this fallacy is called “protestant” because almost all Protestants use it repeatedly, and sadly, without the least discomfort of conscience.

So, the next time a protestant or non-Catholic commits this fallacy, tell him that he is committing the Malicious-Protestant fallacy and give him the link to this article.

Another Interesting Example

For the benefit of my readers, I will discuss briefly one example of this fallacy.

1. "The Pope is the anti-Christ because it fits with an interpretation of the book of Revelation."

Although, this is obviously a libelous slander unworthy of the name, Christian, still some Christian leaders (like SDA) have no qualm in teaching this to their members and to the public as a matter of official doctrine. Notice that the claim is a claim of fact. In logic, an argument on fact is correct only if what is being claimed is established, without doubt, as fact. However, one cannot really factually establish that the Pope is the anti-Christ. Only persons who lack modesty, decency and intellectual honesty and who are bent on deceiving people can proclaim to the public that the Pope is an anti-Christ on the basis of a questionable assumption.

Sadly, the Malicious-Protestant fallacy works! This is especially true if the target member of the Christian group employing this dirty tactic are those whose behavior are so inclined to gossips and hearsay.


Friday, April 4, 2014

The Atheists’ Last Stand

Below is how atheists will ultimately argue for their position when all their arguments are proven to be wrong. This is based on my experience of personally debating atheists.

The following is a summary of the Cosmological Argument (CA) and how atheists will make their last stand against it.

+ + +

The CA starts with an observation that the physical/natural order is in time. And what is in time has beginning in existence since time, by its very nature, cannot regress to infinity. Hence, the entire universe has beginning in existence. The CA, then asks; if the universe has beginning in existence, what causes it?

Now, we cannot answer that it came from nothing.

Next, we cannot say that the universe is eternal since it is obviously in time. And what is in time has beginning in existence.

If we answer that it came from pre-existing natural/physical things then we are simply extending our problem since all these things are still in time. And since they are in time, they too have beginning in existence. And what has beginning in existence requires a cause.

Intelligent scientists and atheists have realized this already. If they propose anything which is still in space and in time, then they are not really addressing the problem the CA raised. Whatever naturalistic explanation they propose will always remain in time and space. And whatever is in space and time will require a cause since it too will have a beginning in existence. So they figure out a solution: simply take away time and space from the natural mechanism!

Their latest attempt is to propose that there is such a primordial physical state which is “spaceless” and “timeless” but is capable of producing space and time. Thus, we hear from some that strings are bands of pure vibrating energies which are spaceless and timeless. Some have proposed a so-called UGM (Universe-Generating-Mechanism), which is spaceless and timeless yet can spontaneously produce space and time.

At least now the atheist has finally conceded to the theist that the ultimate Cause must be spaceless and timeless. This is the necessary or inevitable conclusion that the CA requires.  The theist called this spaceless and timeless Cause God.

The theist can only think of a personal God as the only candidate for “spaceless” and “timeless” Cause; since it is the only logically coherent solution. Only (persons) intellect and will can be outside space and time and yet have efficacy. If the universe have beings which are intelligent and free, then it is also more reasonable to infer that the spaceless and timeless Cause is intelligent and free.

I can imagine that I am simultaneously seeing all the things in the universe in all their details. This is one power of the human intellect which atheists have taken for granted. The fact that I, a mere human, can imagine myself to have this power shows that there’s no logical contradiction to say that an omniscient Intellect exist. And since it is omniscient, it is outside time. To be outside time is defined by classical philosophy as to know everything. When one knows everything, one is outside time since everything is present to him.

On the other hand, the atheist is pleased to deceive himself by believing that unknowing and unconscious natural mechanisms or strings which are vibrating, occupying a Planck area, or energies which moves and travels, or the UGM can be spaceless and timeless.

But the theist will object that the atheist alternatives are ridiculous since they involved intrinsic contradictions for natural mechanisms are always in space and time. I can conceive myself to know simultaneously everything in the universe in all their minute details and so I can conceive myself to be outside time; but I cannot imagine or conceive an unthinking natural thing to be outside time and space.

Thus, the atheist, not being able to deny his plight, will give his final and ultimate shot against the CA. He will exclaim: science has proven that our idea of causality is wrong and we cannot rely on logical or rational intuition! 

But even this last argument is a pretense. Time actually is only our reckoning of motion. So there really is no time; only motion. Thus, whatever is in motion is in time because we can reckon its motion as having a before and after the motion. This is precisely the reason why natural mechanisms are in time because they are in motion. 

Atheist will claim that science has proven that effects can occur even before the cause. But this is utterly ridiculous since if time is "motion reckoned", then an effect occurring before the cause would mean that the motion of something could occur before that something actually moves.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Eternal Universe and Science

by Redentor de la Rosa

At the end of his article The Eternal Universe, Garrick Bercero, former president of the Filipino Freethinkers, said:

It was perhaps impossible to have been an intellectually satisfied atheist until the discovery of relativity and quantum mechanics. The refutation of the Kalam heavily depends on the evidence that supports these theories.
Wow, that’s amazing! At last, atheists now are respecting theists and are ready to confess the rational cogency of belief in God. This is a great progress since it’s quite contrary to their prejudicial attitude in the past which is due to their illusionary belief that religion is pure fanaticism.

My guess is that Mr. Bercero’s realization that the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God is really solid is only recent and that his atheism was originally inspired by not having really understood the Cosmological argument (CA) according to St. Thomas Aquinas’ thought.

Now that he had listened to how some theists defend and explain the CA (First Cause argument in Aquinas), he is ready to admit that, because of the CA, “it was perhaps impossible to have been an intellectually satisfied atheist…” But he quickly assured his atheist friends that that is true only “until the discovery of relativity and quantum mechanics.”

In other words, Mr. Bercero is saying that, although reason and logic support theism than atheism, still there is hope for atheism in this modern age – thanks to relativity and quantum mechanics.

But are the evidences which Mr. Bercero extrapolated from modern science really support his atheism? My main objective here is to show that his alleged scientific arguments prove nothing of his claims. To accomplish this, it is enough to distinguish quantum mechanics from Mr. Bercero’s “pop science”. My second objective is to refute his other logical objections.

Not everything that begins to exist has a cause

To say that something pops into existence without a cause is to say that nothingness causes it. This is irrational and is a logical contradiction (a violation of Principle of Non-Contradiction). The proposition, “nothingness causes something to exist,” is analytically false. If, in the first place, a thing is nothing (non-existent), then it remains nothing unless something causes it to existence. Hence, logically, this premise is full proof. To deny this is pure irrationality.

But good thing Mr. Bercero is honest to rationality and logic. Thus, the only strategy left to him is to attack the premise on the ground of science. Thus, he claimed that the Kalam or CA argument is not sound on the ground that its premises are now proven false by science.

He starts by claiming that not everything that begins to exist has a cause. He appealed to two examples in physics to prove this. First, he said:

When an electron increases in energy to an excited state and returns to its ground state, a photon appears. This appearance of the photon occurs spontaneously and is not a deterministic consequence. That is to say, in Stenger’s words, it is “without cause.” The same is true for the radioactive decay of the atomic nucleus. We can know the probability of decay but it is impossible to say exactly when the decay will occur.
Note that Mr. Bercero should be proving that coming into existence from non-existence without being caused is possible. But his example, which is about “spontaneous occurrence from a natural process”, is a completely different thing. Perhaps, Mr. Bercero is just too obedient to the physicist, Victor Stenger, who said that the photon emission is “without cause”. Certainly, obedience is a virtue, but it’s unworthy of the name “freethinking”.

Now here’s the science:

Electrons orbit (as standing waves) around the nucleus.  Each electron has discrete orbital or energy level (ground state). When an object is hit by light/photon (electromagnetic energy), the electrons in the surface of the atoms absorb the photon causing them to vibrate/oscillate in higher energy levels. The electrons are therefore excited. But the electrons immediately return to their original energy levels or ground state (de-excitation) and re-emit the photons. The frequency of the photon re-emitted is the same with the frequency of the original photon/light.

Light Absorption and Emission

For opaque materials, they re-emit those lights that correspond to their colors while others are absorbed and transformed into random kinetic energy, thus, causing them to become slightly warmer. Hence, materials with blue colors (pigments) re-emit the blue spectrum of light while absorbing the rest. A red rose, for instance, will re-emit the red spectrum and absorb the others.

The process obeys the law of conservation of energy. The light/photon, which came from a vibrating source (e.g., the Sun), hit an object and causing its electrons to vibrate, and are then re-emitted. The photon already existed. It was the cause of the excitation/oscillation of the electron. Nothing in this phenomenon speaks about existence without a cause! (In lamps, electrons are excited to higher energy levels by the electric energy/current).

Mr. Bercero’s second example is atomic decay (radiation). However, this phenomenon also speaks nothing about non-causal existence. Remember what he said: “we can know the probability of decay but it is impossible to say exactly when the decay will occur.” I find it mind-boggling how the probabilistic (non-deterministic) nature of atomic decay should prove his claim that “not everything that begins to exist has a cause”.

Concerning “probabilistic causes”, Mr. Bercero confuses “probably this will cause that sooner or later” with “probably it has cause or it has not.” The former is quantum physics while the latter is pop science. Bercero interpreted “probable cause” as “without cause.”

Here’s the science:

We need to understand what is happening inside the atom in order understand atomic decay. The nucleus of an atom is composed of neutrons and protons. Protons in the nucleus mutually repel each other because they are all positively (electric) charged. But protons don’t fly away because they are held together with the neutrons by the strong nuclear force.

However, atoms with nucleus having a number of protons greater than 82 are unstable. This is because the electric force between the protons may overcome the nuclear force which could lead to emission of three radiations, namely, alpha, beta, and gamma. Alpha radiation is composed of two protons and two neutrons, which is actually the nucleus of helium. The release of protons will turn the atom stable but also makes it into a different atomic element. So alpha particles already exist inside the atomic nucleus.

Mr. Bercero made another inference from the probabilistic nature of atomic decay which I rather find strange for someone reputed to have high capacity for freethought. However, I have to respond to this since it carries the illusion of scientific sophistication. He said:

…probabilistic causes, if they are “causes” at all, are possible mechanisms for the beginning of the universe. This severely weakens the notion that a personal God predetermined the moment of creation with a purpose.
Mr. Bercero seemed to be oblivious that the Cosmological Argument (argument from First Cause in Aquinas original version) does not only apply to the origin of our universe but to the entire physical order as well. If natural mechanisms exist before the universe, then the CA applies to them as well. They too have beginning in existence since they are still under time; and time cannot regress to infinity.  And the fact that Bercero’s favorite scientists can talk about their probabilistic mechanism as akin to atomic decay shows that they too are subject to the laws or description of quantum physics.

For instance, the highly imaginative and fluctuating “random quantum fluctuation” theory of the origin of the universe/multiverse, first proposed by physicist Edward Tryon and popularized by evolutionary physicist Victor Stenger, is not immune to the CA or First Cause argument. It actually offers absolute zero argument for atheism. This fluctuating quantum vacuum is imagined to have, at least, a sea of negative energy and electromagnetic energy (photons). But electromagnetic energy is a wave that travels. And what travels is in time. And in as much is this is in time and that the “quantum vacuum” is a physical entity since scientists are theorizing about it using quantum physics, it couldn't have existed eternally. They too must have been caused; and God is required ultimately.

The first cause (God) is personal, not because He is the “particulizer” to decide to create the universe at that moment and not a moment before (William Craig’s argument). Rather, the first cause, as Aquinas explained, is personal because only a personal act is capable of creation, so to speak, creation (ex nihilo) is a personal act – an act of the will. Natural mechanisms act mechanistically; hence, they act according to their nature/laws and they can only have effects which are essentially the same with their nature/laws.

If natural probabilistic mechanisms are the cause of the universe, then these natural mechanisms still belong to the temporal order. Hence, they are still finite and have beginning in existence. In order to avoid this ad infinitum dilemma, the physical order must have been created, that is, its existence was simply willed. Only in this way is producing something out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo) is logically conceivable.

Natural mechanisms necessarily operate through some pre-existing material. Without a material, the mechanism will have nothing to apply its mechanism or will have nothing where its mechanistic process is definable. The nature of mechanism intrinsically includes the process that operates or is applicable to a given material. There is no mechanism over nothing. Mechanism is always mechanism over something. A mechanism produces its effects through its mechanism, but if there’s nothing its mechanism can work on to, then there’s nothing to produce its effect. On the other hand, willing that something should come into being requires no pre-existing materials. Thus, the first cause is a personal creator.

The universe began to exist

The premise that the universe has a beginning in existence is not actually based on the Big Bang. Rather, as St. Thomas Aquinas argued, it was based on the fact that time cannot regress to infinity. In the Summa Theologica, Aquinas actually explicitly said the key to his first three arguments (motion, cause, and contingency): “it is impossible to go on to infinity.”

To say that the universe has no beginning in existence is to say that it has existed for an infinite range of time. But an infinity, by definition, means “can’t be reached”. Hence, infinity cannot be actualized nor completed. The proposition, “actual infinity can’t exist,” is analytically true. To say that time has reached infinity is a contradiction in terms and I have already proven this point here in detail.

Thus, the claim that the universe (or the multiverse) can regress to infinity is not only “counter-intuitive” (whatever that means) but is also a clear logical contradiction. However, Mr. Bercero focused only on the word “counter-intuitive” and ignores the more glaring fact that it is an unequivocal logical contradiction. He then gave his “scientific” objection:

It is important to note, however, that counter-intuitive results show up in science all the time. The greatest example of this is the discovery of wave-particle duality. A particle can be at many places at the same time. A particle can have many states at the same time. It is therefore not true that counter-intuitive results are necessarily impossible.
Unfortunately for Bercero, what he meant by science is not real science but pop science. In real quantum physics, the particle-wave duality is not “counter-intuitive”. It is perfectly logical. It doesn’t mean that a particle has both wave and particle properties at the same time and in the same respect. Rather, it means that at certain circumstance, it is best to describe or model it as a wave (when traveling for instance); at other times, it is best described as a particle (when detected for instance). 

Here’s the science:

Each single photon has wave properties as well as particle properties. But the photon displays different aspects at different times. A photon behaves as a particle when it is being emitted by an atom or absorbed by photographic film or other detectors and behaves as a wave in traveling from a source to the place where it is detected. So the photon strikes the film as a particle but travels to its position as a wave that interferes constructively (italics in the original). [Paul G. Hewitt. Conceptual Physics, 10 ed. Pearson Education, 2006. 607].
The same author explained further:

The Danish physicist Niels Bohr, one of the founders of quantum physics, formulated an explicit expression of the wholeness inherent in this dualism. He called his expression of this wholeness complementarity.  As Bohr expressed it, quantum phenomena exhibit complementary (mutually exclusive) properties – appearing either as particles or as waves – depending on the type of experiment conducted. Experiments designed to examine individual exchanges of energy and momentum bring about particle-like properties, while experiments designed to examine spatial distribution of energy bring out wavelike properties… Which part is emphasized depends on what question one puts to nature (emphases in original). [Ibid., 613].
This one is from the book The Ideas of Particle Physics: An Introduction for Scientists 3rd ed. (Cambridge  University Press, 2006) by Guy D. Coughlan, et. al.

Adoption of de Broglie’s idea requires the comprehensive assimilation of particle-wave duality. For any entity in the microworld, there will be situations in which it is best thought of as a wave and situations in which it is best thought of as a particle. [p. 19b].
What do we really mean by counter-intuitive? Does it mean counter to or against our intuitive hunches? Hunch is an intuitive feeling about something says Encarta dictionary. But we’re not talking here of hunches. The statement “infinity cannot be actualized” is not merely intuitive (whatever that means). It is purely a logical statement. It is true logically. It is like saying 2 is not 1. A circle is not a square. Infinity is not finite; hence, it cannot be reached. Only finitude can possibly be actualized. To say that science can have counter-intuitive results is to say that it can have illogical or irrational results. To say that we can accept counter-intuitive results like infinity being reached, is actually to say that we can accept results like 2 is 1 or a square is also a circle. They are all false not because we have an intuition of their falsity but simply because they say something false by their very meaning. If words mean what they mean, then a statement is false by virtue of its meaning and not because they are “counter-intuitive”; otherwise, we are just talking non-sense!

After giving his “science as having counter-intuitive results” argument, Bercero shifted the discussion by appealing once again to another “scientific” theory which claims that “the standard model of cosmology does not necessarily see the universe as beginning from a single infinitely dense point—a singularity.” Mr. Bercero said:

Taking into account the physics of quantum mechanics, which would dominate at the extremely small scales of the earliest moments of the Big Bang, Hawking says, “There was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe.”
It is completely possible, as Hawking suggests in A Brief History of Time, that the universe has no boundary in time. This means that t = 0 (where t = time) is merely in the middle of a continuous line of imaginary time (a concept necessary to describe quantum tunneling), like how the South Pole is not the end of the Earth, but just another point along the longitudes… It therefore stands to reason that time need not have a beginning, as a singularity would suggest.
Contrary to Bercero’s confidence, this theory, however, offers no argument at all against the premise that physical infinities cannot be actualized. Regardless of whether there is singularity or not, time, as explained by St. Thomas Aquinas, cannot go on to infinity. Even if the t=0 of our universe is just “the middle of a continuous line of imaginary time,” still this “imaginary time” cannot be infinite for the simple reason that infinite regress or progress cannot be reached. Even if we grant the fantasy that our universe came from particles of another universe “tunneling” to our dimension,[1] still that universe and all the other universes (including the primordial quantum vacuum) have a beginning in existence since we cannot regress to infinity. Hence, Mr. Bercero’s conclusion that “it stands to reason that time need not have a beginning, as a singularity would suggest” strike us as mindless.

The universe has a cause

Here, Mr. Bercero offered a counter logical argument against the premise that “actual infinities cannot exist”. He argued that:

This would also apply to God. God cannot have existed through an actual infinite addition of events going back to nowhere. To get around this, theologians can assert that God is eternal not in the infinite number of events sense but because he is timeless. Unfortunately for the theist, since God is timeless, there would also never have been a time when God did not create the universe. The eternal universe would also be timeless in the same sense.
While he is correct that the eternity of God is not to be understood as an actual infinite sequence of time (since actual infinite sequence is impossible), his conclusion that the timelessness of God would mean that the universe itself is also eternal is quite na├»ve. Strangely, it appears for Mr. Bercero this is his strongest argument. It led to his final argument: “there has never been a time when there was no universe.”

Actually, Bercero’s inference is simply false. St. Augustine (whom atheists may find to be primitive) already resolved this question. If God is timeless, then His acts are also timeless; hence, the universe, as an act of creation, is timeless. St. Augustine introduced the idea of “emanation”; meaning to say, the universe emanated as a temporal effect of an eternal act.

The same is true to all acts of God in relation to creatures.  Answered prayers, for instance, does not mean that God enters into a new act (from not-granting to granting of prayers). Rather, they are realizations in time of the eternal will of God. All acts of God in relation to creatures are included in the eternal creative will of God which absolutely comprehends all things together with all their details in a single or simultaneous and undivided act.

The “relational view of time” is not actually a new idea introduced by science or by Albert Einstein. It was, as a matter of fact, the traditional view of St. Thomas Aquinas. For Aquinas, time is “motion reckoned”. In the Summa, Aquinas explained: “the fact that we reckon before and after in movement, makes us apprehend time, which is nothing else but the measure of before and after in movement.”

Thus, on the part of God, creation is eternal (active creation); but on the part of the universe, as an effect, its moment of existence is the beginning of time (passive creation). This also explains why William Craig’s argument for the personhood of the Creator is wrong. There was no time before the universe and God did not decide on what moment in time He would create the universe since there are no moments in God and there were no moments before the universe was created.

Towards the end of his article, Mr. Bercero made his final argument. He said:

The eternity of the universe is also supported by the dependence of time on space. In other words, without the universe, there was no time. Without time outside the universe, there was never a time without a universe. Hence, the universe has always existed and a creator is unnecessary to explain its existence.
Unfortunately for Mr. Bercero, his argument holds no water. It only requires average IQ to see that his conclusion commits the fallacy of equivocation. He equivocates the meaning of “there was no time” with “eternity”.

It is true that before the universe, there was no time (if we accept that there are no prior universe existing) and there has never been a time when there was no universe. However, that is entirely different from saying that the universe has always existed (eternal). The universe did not always exist. It has beginning in existence; and it began with time and in time. The universe began to exist and that’s the start of time. From that historical moment up to today, time is counted finitely. Hence, the age of the universe is finite and is not eternal.

God is outside time because He is eternal. The universe began with time and in time. The universe is not outside time so it is not eternal.

All images here fall under "fair use" since this article is not for commercial use.

[1] There is absolutely nothing in the science of quantum tunneling that justifies even the possibility of particles, waves energy, or whatever tunneling out of an ontologically prior quantum vacuum or UGM or "neighbor" universe to produce our parallel space-time universe. Neither logic nor physics justifies such assertion so that it qualifies as a pure fantasy. Again, the problem with Mr. Bercero is he took his science from pop sci articles or atheist physicist authors, whose main intent in their books is to avoid God even at the expense of reason, rather than reading books in physics whose authors still possess the professional modesty of saying only those things that are allowed by empirical evidence and the allowed logical implications of those empirical evidence.

Quantum tunneling refers simply to the probability that a particle, modeled as wave, may tunnel through a very thin barrier. Tunneling occurs with barriers of thickness around 1-3 nanometer and smaller (Lerner; Trigg (1991). Encyclopedia of Physics (2nd ed.). New York: VCH. p. 1308). Electrons can tunnel because the the barrier is not pure solid. Atoms in a material have holes or empty space between them with diameter which can be thousand times bigger than the electron. For higher and thicker barriers, the probability decreases exponentially. And even if the probability is greater than zero, this does not mean that it can happen in reality. Probability is only a statistical number while reality is reality.

In many pop sci articles, tunneling is illustrated using bigger objects like a baseball. But this is actually an embarrassment to real quantum mechanics. While Louis de Broglie is correct in saying that all particles, including macro objects, have wave properties, the wave model is negligible in macro-objects. The wavelength, for instance, of the swiftest bacterium is billion times smaller than itself. However, in pop sci, the baseball is illustrated as if it has a wavelength longer than the width of a mountain so that it is said to possibly tunnel through it.

Not infrequently, we can even hear intolerably irrational assertions like the “universal-generating mechanism” (UGM), which is timeless and spaceless, can spontaneously produce space. And what is more intolerable is that Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is invoked to back up such bizarre assertions. But Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle has nothing to do with these claims. On the other hand, it only manifests atheists pretentiousness, gullibility and ignorance.