I am not a determinist. I consider myself a rational observer of physical events.If you think about the examples you presented, I assume you would agree that all raw materials for any quantum event are already present in order for the event to occur. The fact that we do not know the instigation of an event does not preclude a cause. there are many events the human mind cannot scientifically describe or does not understand at this point. As we learn more about physical laws, we learn more about the causes of arcane occurrences which are not readily evident at first blush. I do not know of an uncaused event, and this leads me to believe the universe was created. The Big Bang was an event of creation, or else one must believe that gravity, light, quantum mechanics, spin, orbiting, and all repeatable physical events and laws are just a series of coincidences, occuring at random at the same time, but not changing for the last 14 billion years. Since your friends join you in your beliefs, perhaps someone could explain how DNA originated and how it works, or define what life is, or describe at what particle level life exists? Maybe you could tell me what the ancestor of man was about 9 million years ago, or why did man become a man and the ape remained an ape even though they have been around for the same period of time?
You are correct that our not knowing what causes something does not mean that there was no cause. I would go on to say that not knowing what causes something does not mean that the cause was supernatural. This is why not knowing what caused our universe is not evidence for any kind of deity. As you say, there are many things we cannot yet scientifically describe or do not understand, and we continue to learn more about the causes of arcane occurrences — so it seems hasty to me to try and fill those gaps of knowledge with magic.
When you say that the Big Bang was either an act of creation or the laws of physics are a random occurrence, I believe you are creating a false dichotomy. There are other options. It is possible that the workings of reality are such that the laws of our universe are not as random as some might think. It is also possible that we only observe “fine tuned” laws because without them we wouldn’t be here to observe them.
There is still scientific investigation into how life originated, so it is not a settled question. How DNA works is pretty well understood, considering how young a science it is. Defining life is difficult because there are some things on the border of the definition (like viruses), but I don’t see how this impacts our discussion. I think there are false assumptions built into the question of at what particle level life exists, since life does not appear to exist on the particle level.
I don’t know enough about human evolution to say what humanity’s ancestor was 9 million years ago. Asking why man is man while apes are apes — which I believe you’ve asked before — seems to show a misunderstanding of evolution. Humans and modern apes are both evolved from a common ancestor. Modern apes are not identical to humanity’s ancestors. And evolution is filled with examples of single species that evolved into multiple species. Asking why all apes didn’t evolve into humans is like asking why all birds didn’t evolve into ostriches.
I’d like to end by asking what you mean when you say that you are not a determinist. My understanding is that a determinist is someone who believes that everything that occurs in nature has a natural cause. Can you give me some examples of things that you do not believe have a natural cause? Thanks!