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Is the universe eternal?

Is the universe eternal?


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I understand that as the universe continues to expand, eventually our supply of hydrogen will be exhausted and then it's "lights out." Is that really going to happen or is there something "eternal" about the universe? It matters because if the universe is eternal, and since we are a part of the universe, we too are eternal as well in some sense.


The metaphysical aspects of your question can't be answered. Our bodies aren't eternal, and astronomy can't answer questions about the soal.

Observations of the universe suggest that it will continue expanding.

As you note, eventually all the stars will run out of hydrogen, collapse to white dwarfs, which then slowly cool. What happens next is rather speculative. At this time there will be nowhere that is warm in the universe. Everywhere will cool to very close to absolute zero. Complex chemistry will no longer be possible, and there will be no life in the universe.

Some stars will fall into black holes. Others will be ejected from the galaxy. If protons decay, then very very very slowly, the matter will break down, leaving only black holes.

If black holes emit Hawking radiation, then they too will break down.

In this model, the spacetime of the universe is eternal, but nothing within it survives.

Wikipedia has a list of some of the events of the far future


The universe is eternal… in a sense. The universe is rapidly expanding, and with that, the amount of space in between everything. The point when astrophysicists consider the universe to have "ended" is when all stars have died and there components are too far apart to create new ones. When the planets of solar systems are too far from their stars to see their light. When our universe is ruled by black holes who swallow up what is left of our once beautiful universe. When (theoretically) the redshift effect would occur on such a vast scale that we would no longer be able to see the light from the stars in the visible universe( by that point we will all have been dead for billions of years). To the point where the universe can no longer harbor life. The universe will still exist in a technical sense, but it will be a cold and unrecognizable universe from the one we call home today.


Is the universe eternal or is it created? A scientific survey

I have always loved astronomy and cosmology and decided to do some research on the current state of cosmology as to what the current scientific consensus is regarding whether the universe is eternal or finite. Did the universe begin to exist? That’s probably one of the big questions of life. A question hotly debated today in the world of science…or so I thought.

To infinity and beyond

From a young age I always thought the universe couldn’t be eternal because of the problems one runs into whenever one deals with a succession of infinite events.

I always thought the existence of an eternal universe would have meant that an actual infinity of successive events would have passed prior to this moment. How is that possible? How could an infinite succession of events have passed? What about in the next 1000 years, surely a greater number of events would have passed compared to now and yet because there has already been an infinite succession of events it would still be infinite. Infinity plus 1000 is still equal to infinity. A clear logical absurdity.

Which is why in mathematics infinity is a concept and not a number – you cannot do with it the normal things you do with numbers or else it lands you in logical absurdities. Which is why David Hilbert one of the most brilliant mathematicians said “If an essential use of infinity occurs as a core part of any explanatory model, it’s not science”. George Ellis, South African world renowned cosmologist in his paper On the philosophy of Cosmology states that “One should remember here the true nature of infinity: it is an entity that can never be attained, it is by definition always beyond reach, so no physical process can create an infinity of anything” [i].

And so it seems my initial thoughts of the impossibility of an actual infinite and therefore a universe in which an actual infinite number of temporal events had occurred is impossible. It seems unavoidable that logically one must hold the position that the universe is finite in space and time.

The Scientific Evidence

Let us turn our attention to the Standard model, the Hot Big Bang – which everyone knows about but so few are willing to live with the implications. In a nutshell the standard big bang model describes the expansion of space-time from an initial singularity predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. It needs to be clear that if the big bang model is true then space-time is absolutely finite, as time tends to zero then the volume of space tends to zero. The singularity is not simply a change in matter or form but rather the absolute beginning of space-time.

Physicist Paul Davies, “If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of space-time itself.” [ii]

Almost everyone believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang”- Hawking [iii]

George Ellis explaining the implications of the Friedman-Lemaitre Universe Singularity Theorem says,

“This is not merely a start to matter — it is a start to space, to time, to physics itself. It is the most dramatic event in the history of the universe: it is the start of existence of everything” [iv]

So that’s one thing that needs to be clear is that the standard model leads to an absolute beginning of space-time, not just a change in pre-existing matter from one form to another – but an absolute coming into being of space-time itself. The point where general relativity breaks down is the singularity, where space-time comes into existence.

Alternatives to the standard model

There are various alternative models to the Standard big bang model however none have the as much as explanatory power, or scientific evidence as the standard model.

Steady state model, Oscillating models, Vacuum fluctuation models, Chaotic Inflationary models, Quantum gravity models, String cosmologies.

The steady state model claims the universe is not expanding and is in a steady state condition. It has been demonstrated to be false because of nucleosynthesis of light elements and microwave background radiation. Light elements could only be created in the extreme conditions of the big bang radiation showed photons were emitted during the hot and dense phase of the universe. [v]

Oscillating models tried to avoid the absolute beginning of the universe by assuming the universe is not the same everywhere (matter is not evenly distributed). The Penrose-Hawking Singularity Theorems showed under generalized conditions, even for inhomogenous universes a singularity is unavoidable.

Vacuum fluctuating models hypothesize that before inflation the universe was eternally existing in a vacuum state. It postulates that the universe is a virtual particle whose total energy is zero and is governed by quantum mechanical phase transitions [vi]. This vacuum has energy fluctuations that constantly occur to produce matter and universes, of which ours is just one of many. These models have no scientific evidence whatsoever and have deep incoherence issues and hence were abandoned in 1980’s. Moreover the inflating universes would eventually have expanded and coalesced into one another if they had existed for infinity and therefore we would be observing an infinitely old universe.

Chaotic Inflationary models propose that the inflationary expansion of the universe did not only occur during the early history of the universe but is eternal, with each inflating universe emerging from a prior inflating one. However the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth (BVG) theorem proved that any universe which has been on average expanding cannot be past eternal in the past but must have a space-time boundary. The BVG theorem is broad and general because it does not assume that gravity obeys general relativity – it would apply for models that have a different type of gravity, such as quantum gravity. Moreover it holds true even for a universe with higher dimensions. Vilenkin and Mathini further confirm this as they say:

“A more general incompleteness theorem was proved recently that does not rely on energy conditions or Einstein’s equations. Instead, it states simply that past geodesics are incomplete provided that the expansion rate averaged along the geodesic is positive: Hav > 0. This is a much weaker condition, and should certainly apply to the past of any inflating region of spacetime. Therefore, although inflation may be eternal in the future, it cannot be extended indefinitely to the past.”[xiii]

Quantum gravity models attempt to explain what occurred prior to the inflation period, when general relativity brakes down. Ellis remarks, we do not have a good theory of quantum gravity so all quantum gravity theories are extrapolating known physics to unknown physics. There are three classes of quantum gravity models string models loop quantum models, semi-classical models.

The most popular quantum gravity model today is the string model which itself includes 3 subset models (Ekypyrotic Pre Big Bang Inflation Multiverse). String theory posits that fundamental matter is 1 dimensional strings of energy vibrating. Ekypyrotic cyclic models are cyclical models that use extra dimensional nature of string theory to produce cycling. String theory requires six extra dimensions which are curled tightly around our normal three dimensional universe making the extra dimensions unobservable. The model proposes that within the extra dimensions lies two three branes which could be our universe. These branes collide and release energy which is converted to the matter that we observe, when the universe reaches its heat death it collides with another brane thereby initiating another universe. The model is still subject to the BVG theorem and therefore cannot be past eternal with an infinite number of cycles.

Pre Big Bang inflation models are asymptotically static models – which means before the Big Bang the universe was in a static state (neither expanding nor contracting) and then transitioned via inflation to an expanding phase. The issue with this model is that the static state itself is not eternal and was created by quantum tunneling process. Secondly it is metastable- any random fluctuation will cause it to escape the static state and therefore could not have existed in that static state for eternity which means the expansion phase would already occurred an infinite time ago. Thirdly the 2 nd law of thermodynamics states in a closed system the entropy of the system increases and reaches a maximum thermodynamic equilibrium where no heat transfer or chemical and nuclear reactions take place. An eternal static state would still obey the laws of thermodynamics and would have reached equilibrium by now, but it hasn’t which means it is finite.

The popular multiverse theory posits our universe is but one of a potentially infinite universe. Ellis has strong reservations about the string cosmologies and multiverse theories he says: “All the other domains considered in multiverse explanations are beyond the particle horizon and are therefore observable” [viii]. Further on he adds “the multiverse is not based on known and tested physics” [ix] and even thinks the multiverse theory actually undermines science, “But the very nature of the scientific enterprise is at stake in the multiverse debate: the multiverse proponents are proposing weakening the nature of scientific proof in order to claim that multiverses provide a scientific explanation” [x]. Moreover the string landscape cannot be eternal in the past because it is subject to the BVG theorem and also encounters problems with actual infinities.

Anyone who resorts to the multiverse as an explanation of the universe does so not on the basis of what is observed or what can possibly ever be observed!

A second category of QG models are the Loop quantum models (LQM) which have two sub-classes: cyclic and asymptotically static. LQM posits that space-time itself is quantized and it attempts to answer what happens at a singularity when general relativity breaks down. It proposes that singularity does not imply a beginning of space-time but something else which is either an asymptotically static past or a true cyclic past. A true cyclic model would increase and conserve its entropy with each cycle and therefore if the cycles had been eternal entropy would be infinite and the universe would have already faced its heat death. Seeing how the universe is not in equilibrium, it has not reached its maximum entropy and therefore cannot have been cycling for eternity.

The third category of Quantum gravity models is the semi-classical quantum gravity models which feature Vilenkin’s own Tunneling and Hawking’s No-boundary models.

Hawking’s No-boundary uses imaginary time to model the universe and therefore the model never has a space-time boundary, but this is simply a mathematical tool. Theoretical chemist Henry F Schaefar says:

“Hawking and Hartle’s no boundary proposal begins by adopting a grossly oversimplified model of the universe. Then the authors make time imaginary, and prove in their terribly restricted model that the universe has neither beginning nor end. The flaw in the exercise is that the authors never go back to real time. Thus the notion that the universe has neither beginning nor end is something that exists in mathematical terms only. In real time, to which we as human beings are necessarily attached, rather than in Hawking’s use of imaginary time, there will always be a singularity, that is, a beginning of time. [xi]

Vilenkin’s tunneling model postulates the universe is a tiny, closed metastable spherical universe filled with a false vacuum. If the universe’s radius is small it will collapse and there is a small chance it will tunnel into an inflationary phase, which would be our big bang. It faces the same problems as an asymptotic static model namely that a metastable universe cannot be stable for eternity. If it were eternal we would be observing an infinitely old universe and it would have reached thermodynamic equilibrium by now.

In the end Ellis says “all the alternative cosmological models proposed are highly speculative, untested physics, and most suffer from mathematical problems such as ill definition, or divergences, or arbitrary assumption of a matter behaviour that is nothing like what we have encountered in a laboratory” [xii].

After a century since it was proposed, the standard model, combined with Hawking-Penrose theorem which predicts a singularity where the universe began to exist remains the most scientifically supported and robust model. To believe that the universe began to exist is a legitimate scientific position to hold. On the basis of the current evidence and observations: standard model of the universe general relativity BVG theorem and the accelerating expansion of the universe due to dark energy the 2nd law of thermodynamics– it is a near certainty the universe began to exist.

The implications of a finite universe do not seem to fit well with naturalism or pantheistic worldviews, however that’s a topic I explore further in another post. For now my brief survey only seeks to show that to claim the universe began to exist, that it is finite, that it is not eternal, is a reasonable and well supported scientific claim.

I think Alexander Vilenkin’s words are worth repeating:

It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”

[i] George F.R. Ellis, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 46, p16

[ii] William Lane Craig and James Sinclair, Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology,

[iii] Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, The Isaac Newton Institute Series of Lectures, p20

[iv] George F. R. Ellis, Issues in the Philosophy of Cosmology, p1190

[v] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, p129

[vii] Alexander Vilenkin, Many worlds in one, p176

[viii] George F.R. Ellis, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 46, p14

[xi] Henry F Schaefer III, Stephen Hawking, the Big Bang, and God, [http://www.leaderu.com/offices/schaefer/docs/bigbang.html]

[xii] George F.R. Ellis, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 46, p17

[xiii] A. Vilenkin, A.Mathini, Did the universe have a beginning?,p1

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6 thoughts on &ldquo Is the universe eternal or is it created? A scientific survey &rdquo

Pardon me for the length, but I had time to read this post of yours (I did say I’d try to do so on my last blog response to you, so here we go…) and I had a lot to say about it.

“Is the Universe Eternal or Is It Created?”

Well the title of your post here is itself a false dichotomy (which you may already know, but I wanted to verify whether you did know this or not (we all make errors, myself included, and correcting them is how we progress intellectually and improve the strength of our arguments moving forward). You could ask if the universe is eternal or not eternal or whether it is created or not created which would be logically consistent dichotomies, but to ask whether it is eternal or created is assuming that those are the only two options which is a false dichotomy (unless proven otherwise). Another possibility would be that the universe is non-eternal and spontaneously formed for example (which would be a simpler explanation than to posit that it was created by some other more complex mystery that was itself not created). So this isn’t an either/or question you’ve posed but rather two of many possible options (until proven otherwise).

“I have always loved astronomy and cosmology and decided to do some research on the current state of cosmology as to what the current scientific consensus is regarding whether the universe is eternal or finite.”

There is no scientific consensus on this question, though it depends on what you mean by “the universe”, “finite”, etc. There is however a scientific consensus on the Big Bang occurring in at least some form, but as Guth and others have explained, this is only a model that explains what happened after the “Bang” not at the moment of the “Bang” nor whether anything occurred BEFORE the “Bang”. The fact that cosmologists are studying and proposing both finite and eternal models is because we don’t yet know one way or the other. So there is a consensus, but only on what most likely happened immediately AFTER the bang, since this is as far back as we can go before classical physics breaks down.

“Did the universe begin to exist? That’s probably one of the big questions of life. A question hotly debated today in the world of science…or so I thought.”

This depends on what you mean by “begins to exist”. And you were right the first time, this is hotly debated, that is whether or not there was any kind of existence BEFORE the Big Bang itself and also how to resolve the singularity problem proposed by the Big Bang model.

“I always thought the existence of an eternal universe would have meant that an actual infinity of successive events would have passed prior to this moment.”

This is one possibility of an eternal universe. Another is that it exists with a finite number of events, eternally, and we are just experiencing a succession of moments in this eternal structure. For example, see the B-theory of time and Eternalism which would posit the possibility of a finite number of events existing eternally with an illusory temporal component that we experience within that eternal block.

” What about in the next 1000 years, surely a greater number of events would have passed compared to now and yet because there has already been an infinite succession of events it would still be infinite. Infinity plus 1000 is still equal to infinity. A clear logical absurdity.”

This isn’t necessarily a logical absurdity because there are different sizes of infinite sets. Cantor proved this long ago with his diagonal theorem in Set Theory. For example, you can produce a series of infinite numbers that are different size sets. Even though both are infinite, some contain more members in the set than others. For example, the number of integers are an infinite set, but the number of real numbers (including decimals of course) are a larger infinite set (because they contain every possible number “in-between” those integers as well as the integers themselves). So keep this in mind when thinking about infinities. Not all infinities are created equally, so there isn’t necessarily any logical absurdity here, even though it may be difficult to wrap one’s mind around the concepts since they are so counter-intuitive (much like the counter-intuitive nature of quantum physics).

“George Ellis, South African world renowned cosmologist in his paper On the philosophy of Cosmology states that “One should remember here the true nature of infinity: it is an entity that can never be attained, it is by definition always beyond reach, so no physical process can create an infinity of anything” ”

What Ellis claimed here has never been proven, but rather he simply asserted it. For example, we don’t know whether or not space and time are infinite (that is an open question), and those would be possible examples of physical processes or parameters that are infinite (we don’t yet know one way or the other). To simply assume that they can’t be infinite is either begging the question or is erroneously based on the fact that all we can infer is that which is within the FINITE spacial region we’re looking in (our light cone) which we theorize extends far past this light cone (perhaps infinitely far), nor anything within the FINITE temporal region we’re able to analyze (since we appear to be theoretically unable to know anything that may have occurred before a fraction of a second after the Big Bang). One could also view the density at the center of a black hole as infinite (if singularities are truly real, and if they are not then the Big Bang model is likely refuted anyway as per QM). So there are a number of possible infinities that exist (such as time and space which haven’t been ruled out) and purported examples of infinities that are physically exemplified in the universe predicted by certain laws of physics (such as Black Hole singularities).

Since Ellis is also an active Quaker (a likely inconsequential detail of course, but potentially relevant to his cosmological biases), that led me to look at your other references that you listed. I don’t intend to ad hominem your sources (because their arguments can be evaluated on their own merit), but if your sources are theists that assume divine creation, you should always take what they say with caution until they demonstrate the validity of their position scientifically and see how that position has been received by peer review, etc. Unfortunately, a number of the references you listed are either Christian/Creationist apologists (i.e. WLC), and/or self-proclaimed Christians and known Intelligent Design proponents (Schaefer), etc. Those that presuppose creation have compromised their scientific credibility on this issue given their positions on the supernatural and their obvious biases toward finite cosmologies (since they are the only models compatible with their theistic worldview). Just a thought worth mentioning if you’re interested in reliable methods of finding the truth rather than merely confirmation of a preconceived notion. If I have time to read more of your posts on science or cosmology, I can only hope that the majority of sources you do list will be more scientifically credible on those particular issues without these kinds of conflicts of interest. Again the arguments can be judged on their own merit but one must be careful about religious biases when looking to sources for arguments and positions on these issues. It doesn’t matter to me whether the universe is found to be finite or eternal because both are consistent with naturalism, but when eternal cosmologies are inconsistent with certain religious or theological beliefs, then people that carry those beliefs are more likely to cherry-pick cosmologies and evidence in favor of their confirmation bias rather than examining the relative validity of the model on its own merit when compared to the rest. One can be misled by these types of sources, so we must be on the lookout for that.

Also, as I mentioned at the top of this comment, keep in mind that “creation” doesn’t necessarily follow from finite cosmologies, as for example the Hartle-Hawking No-Boundary model which has a finite cosmology but no true beginning and is an entirely self-contained model with no need of any other external explanation. There are other models as well that are self-contained and finite, thus requiring no other explanatory mechanisms so keep that in mind. Non-eternal does not mean “created”, though “created” does likely mean “non-eternal” and thus creation “models” are merely a subset of all the possible non-eternal cosmological models out there, and even considering that subset they aren’t technically models since they aren’t well-defined and carry no true explanatory or predictive power. So we can continue to look at non-eternal cosmologies, and see how plausible they are, but even if they turn out to be proven correct (and all eternal cosmologies false), they offer no proof for creation, as that would require a much more specific type of demonstration and one with a significantly higher burden of proof (since it is a far more complex model than those that don’t posit a “creator”). I can only hope that you realize this fact of the matter while moving forward.

“And so it seems my initial thoughts of the impossibility of an actual infinite and therefore a universe in which an actual infinite number of temporal events had occurred is impossible. It seems unavoidable that logically one must hold the position that the universe is finite in space and time.”

This has to be logically demonstrated, not merely assumed. Given the B-theory of time and eternalism, an eternal universe is perfectly consistent with our laws of physics, our conception of time, etc., and it is one that is accepted by most physicists for its parsimony and simplicity.

“It needs to be clear that if the big bang model is true then space-time is absolutely finite, as time tends to zero then the volume of space tends to zero. The singularity is not simply a change in matter or form but rather the absolute beginning of space-time.”

Sort of. The Big Bang model could be true in all aspects except for the singularity and then be compatible with an infinite space and/or time. In fact QM shows that classical physics breaks down at the singularity proposed within the Standard Big Bang Model which is why at the moment of the singularity, the theory itself breaks down (even though it is robust after that point in time). Since the singularities predicted by General Relativity break down because of QM, they can’t be reconciled with the most robust physical framework we’ve discovered thus far (QM) and this shows an inherent problem with the Big Bang model that physicists are trying to address. Loop quantum cosmology and other frameworks are attempts at resolving this problem, but obviously it’s still an open question. And again, even if this were true, it would only point out a finite space-time, not a creator as per your previously mentioned false dichotomy.

“The point where general relativity breaks down is the singularity, where space-time comes into existence.”

Exactly. Which is why physicists doubt the standard model is correct in its entirety. It has to be reconciled with QM to show promise as a viable model since the universe seems to operate under QM, and so it is likely that the origin of the universe must not violate QM (and thus can’t have a singularity).

“There are various alternative models to the Standard big bang model however none have the as much as explanatory power, or scientific evidence as the standard model.”

This is misleading because many of the other alternative models (which are simply revised versions of the standard model) remove the singularity that are likely violating QM, but keep the rest of the model intact, thus supporting those alternative models with the bulk of evidence that supports the Big Bang from the moment AFTER the singularity that was proposed. That is, if some alternative models posit that the Big Bang model is mostly correct, at least from the earliest known periods of space-time (post-singularity) through its subsequent large-scale evolution, but they merely remove the singularity from the model, then they are actually potentially supported with MORE evidence than the Big Bang model, because they get to keep all the evidence that supports the Big Bang from all moments after the “Bang”, and then reconcile it with QM. Some of this comes down to semantics and the terms used here, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

“Chaotic Inflationary models propose that the inflationary expansion of the universe did not only occur during the early history of the universe but is eternal, with each inflating universe emerging from a prior inflating one. However the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth (BVG) theorem proved that any universe which has been on average expanding cannot be past eternal in the past but must have a space-time boundary. ”

The BVG theorem assumes a classical spacetime, and since our universe is governed by QM, this theorem says nothing at all definitive about our universe as it is only a guideline until our classical understanding breaks down and thus can’t prove that a universe governed by QM must have a space-time boundary. Furthermore, what Vilenkin and Mithani confirmed later on (back in 2012) was not a proof that a QM governed universe had to have a space-time boundary. If they did actually prove that, they would have likely won a Nobel prize, but they didn’t prove that at all. They proved that only under certain assumptions (which we don’t know are true for certain) would the universe have a space-time boundary.

“The popular multiverse theory posits our universe is but one of a potentially infinite universe. Ellis has strong reservations about the string cosmologies and multiverse theories he says: “All the other domains considered in multiverse explanations are beyond the particle horizon and are therefore observable” ”

I think you meant to write (or Ellis meant to write) that these other domains, because they are beyond the particle horizon are therefore UNobservable, but that is beside the point. We expect them to be unobservable and outside of this horizon, since they haven’t been observed within our universe. Since inflation would have led to an incredibly fast expansion of space, and since space itself is continuing to accelerate apart due to dark energy, we are constantly losing parts of the observable universe every second because of that light cone limitation.

“Anyone who resorts to the multiverse as an explanation of the universe does so not on the basis of what is observed or what can possibly ever be observed!”

This may be true at the moment, but cosmologists are working to see if we can find some kind of an expected “fingerprint” of other universes, perhaps coming in the form of gravitational waves with certain predicted characteristics. However, even if there can be no trace of other universes, if it ends up being the best natural explanatory model of how our universe came to be the way it is, then it will likely be adopted nevertheless. Creation models are also something that we have no observational evidence for, nor could ever have any observational evidence for, and because it is supernatural and thus far more complex and mysterious, it will always be less probable and less desired than any multiverse model.

“A true cyclic model would increase and conserve its entropy with each cycle and therefore if the cycles had been eternal entropy would be infinite and the universe would have already faced its heat death. Seeing how the universe is not in equilibrium, it has not reached its maximum entropy and therefore cannot have been cycling for eternity.”

Unless something such as the Carroll-Chen model is correct, which shows how the end of every thermodynamic heat death could plausibly lead to a low entropy state for a new universe. See my previous link for details on how that works.

“Hawking’s No-boundary uses imaginary time to model the universe and therefore the model never has a space-time boundary, but this is simply a mathematical tool. ”

It would have to be demonstrated that the Hartle-Hawking model can’t be applied by showing that the imaginary time parameter isn’t possible or isn’t coherent in some way. So far as I’ve seen, this hasn’t yet been done, and so it is a plausible model, self-contained, and therefore a possibility.

“After a century since it was proposed, the standard model, combined with Hawking-Penrose theorem which predicts a singularity where the universe began to exist remains the most scientifically supported and robust model.”

Wrong. Hawking revised his position on the Hawking-Penrose theorem back in 1988 because of quantum mechanics preventing singularities. Instead, what remains the most robust and supported model is everything proposed to occur after the Planck epoch, that is, everything in the model except for the singularity.

“On the basis of the current evidence and observations: standard model of the universe general relativity BVG theorem and the accelerating expansion of the universe due to dark energy the 2nd law of thermodynamics– it is a near certainty the universe began to exist.”

Incorrect for all the reasons I’ve stated in this comment.

“The implications of a finite universe do not seem to fit well with naturalism or pantheistic worldviews, however that’s a topic I explore further in another post.”

They are actually entirely compatible with naturalism (as I mentioned earlier in this comment) because finite doesn’t imply created (though created universe “models” would be a subset of all non-eternal models). Finite models merely need to be self-contained and/or be consistent with what we observe to be naturalistic. So it fits perfectly well with naturalism, though personally, I like the idea of an eternal model of cosmology better because an infinite past actually makes the most sense to me because of the conservation of mass and energy being upheld indefinitely into the past, but I’m perfectly content with finite cosmologies if the evidence points to them more than those that are not. One must go where the evidence leads us ultimately. It was nice to see that you assembled a lot of information in this post anyway, so I appreciate your time and effort in sharing what you’ve read with others. Peace!

A number of things strike me, one stands out: “[Sources] that presuppose creation have compromised their scientific credibility on this issue given their positions on the supernatural….” This is so only because science today is defined to exclude “non-natural” agents. this is, itself, a presumption and arbitrary, the definition of “natural” being exclusive of “supernatural” forces, but those are terms are simply relative.
Anything we define as natural excludes anything we do not define as natural. As I understand how “natural” is defined, it excludes a personal, intelligent agent (intelligence). When we say someone died of “natural causes”, we largely mean that someone died by a cause other than a process set in motion by a personal, intelligent agent. We do not say that a murder was a supernatural occurrence, but we also exclude murder from the definition of natural causes. I do not suggest that the terms are used exactly the same way in science, but the similarities in usage suggest something: that the things we define as “natural” exclude causes that we attribute to mind, intelligence and volition, and causes that we define as natural may not be all the causes that exist. Largely, however, by defining what is natural, and excluding anything that does not fit our definition, we are excluding possibilities arbitrarily.

Although I have not thought this model through, human beings seem to be supernatural. Our minds seem to operate independent of time, space and matter. Our minds and consciousness are not explained by natural causes. The intelligence, volition and sensibilities that we exhibit we do not see in the “natural” world except in ourselves. There must be a cause sufficient enough to produce our minds, which suggests a mind.

All this aside, I wonder, if our minds are truly only the product of irrational, random, material processes, how can we trust them to do science?

I could not agree more. Excluding a supernatural cause from the on set seems to beg the question. If we are asking what natural causes which rely on physical necessity and chance created the universe, it seems we have limited the set of possible causes already.

[ concerning the 5th paragraph]

I think you wrote an unfinished sentence when you said, “And so it seems my initial thoughts of the impossibility of an actual infinite and therefore a universe in which an actual infinite number of temporal events had occurred is impossible.”

Maybe you could say, “And so based on my initial thoughts of the impossibility of of an actual infinite, therefore a universe in which an actual infinite number of temporal events had occurred is impossible.”

Yes thanks for spotting that, I did not word it properly. Basically I was saying my initial intuitive thoughts of the impossibility of actual infinite (in time) universe were shown to be correct.


Isn’t the universe eternal? (Thus doing away with the need for a creator).

A universe with a finite past requires a beginning, which in turn requires a transcendent (or supernatural) cause. This is why our universe must be eternal for atheism to be valid. But Big Bang cosmology has shown that the universe is NOT eternal. In New Proofs for the Existence of God , Robert J. Spitzer (who was assisted by Dr. Stephen Barr of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware) reveals that:

“Prior to Einstein’s publication of the General Theory of Relativity, one could have thought that supernatural design was completely unnecessary because it was believed (in accordance with Newton’s postulates) that the universe existed for an infinite amount of time with an infinite amount of space and an infinite amount of interacting content. Therefore, there would have been an infinite number of ‘tries’ [for randomness to produce an orderly universe] to bring about virtually any degree of complexity.”

“Standard Big Bang cosmology totally changed these postulates, and reduced the total number of ‘tries’ in the observable universe to a very finite number…..This comparatively small number of ‘total possible mass energy interactions in the universe for all time’ revealed the extreme improbability of high degrees of complexity arising out of the universe by pure chance.”

Further, this book also states that “David Hilbert (the father of finite mathematics) has given new probative force and depth to the argument for the intrinsic finitude of past time (implying a timeless creator) in his article On The Infinite.

Hilbert (among the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century) said:

“The infinite [as in infinite past time] is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite…is solely that of an idea.”

Many other contemporary mathematicians (such as mathematicians Frankel, Rotman, Kneebone, Zermelo, and Robinson) draw the same conclusion. Mathematicians Rotman and Kneebone state in The Theory of Sets and Transfinite Numbers:

“The conception of an infinite sequence of choices (or any other acts)…is a mathematical fiction—an idealization of what is imaginable only in finite cases.”

But rather than just taking some highly prominent mathematicians at their word, wouldn’t it be nice to understand for oneself just why infinite past time is mathematically impossible? Fortunately, the mathematical concepts herein are easily accessible to non-mathematicians. Below is an excerpt from The Case for the Creator by Lee Strobel and features an interview the author conducted with William Lane Craig:

“Let’s use an example involving marbles,” he said. “Imagine I had an infinite number of marbles in my possession, and that I wanted to give you some. In fact, suppose I wanted to give you an infinite number of marbles. One way I could do that would be to give you the entire pile of marbles. In that case I would have zero marbles left for myself.”

“However, another way to do it would be to give you all of the odd numbered marbles. Then I would still have an infinity left over for myself, and you would have an infinity too. You’d have just as many as I would–and, in fact, each of us would have just as many as I originally had before we divided into odd and even! Or another approach would be for me to give you all of the marbles numbered four and higher. That way, you would have an infinity of marbles, but I would only have three marbles left.”

“What these illustrations demonstrate is that the notion of an actual infinite number of things leads to contradictory results. In the first case in which I gave you all the marbles, infinity minus infinity is zero in the second case in which I gave you all the odd-numbered marbles, infinity minus infinity is infinity and in the third case in which I gave you all the marbles numbered four and greater, infinity minus infinity is three. In each case, we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with nonidentical results.”

“For that reason, mathematicians are forbidden from doing subtraction and division in transfinite arithmetic, because this would lead to contradictions. You see, the idea of an actual infinity is just conceptual it exists only in our minds.”

And lastly, in 2003, physicists Borde, Vilenkin and Guth corroborated to formulate a proof that demonstrates that an eternal universe is not possible. It is known as the BVG theorem. Alexander Vilenkin is very blunt in regard to the implications of this proof:

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

It should be noted that this proof applies to any proposed “multiverse” or “oscillating universe,” etc. in which our universe may be situated. Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow (the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) echoes Vilenkin’s above comments:

“The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future.

To explore this subject matter in more detail, please read this article .

from http://www.bukisa.com/
“The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created of destroyed, it only changes form. There is still no consensus by scientists as to whether the universe is eternal, or whether there was a beginning of time. Nobody knows, but I can tell you what we do know.

The most popular theory today on the origins of the universe, is that it existed as a singularity of infinite density, in which time did not exist, and then for no apparent reason, it just began expanding, which led to everything we know today.”
Read more: http://www.bukisa.com/articles/334052_is-the-universe-eternal#ixzz1FRhsuAdQ
Dashan says
From a purely scinetific perspective, personally I cant logically see how matter can exist independent of time. Just because time refers to measurable physical events, a motionless changeless object surely must occupy space, no matter how small & exist relative to a future event such as the BB.

I could be wrong too but if light is fleeing into the abyss of infinite space at 300,000km/sec and the universe is also expanding albeit at a much slower rate, then there is no way that such energy will return to recharge the universe which is destined for oblivion as dead stars & planets according to the law of entropy. It seems then “There is no escape, we have to face the problem of a cosmic death” and thus a universe in ruins. Of course this is just what the Bible says will happen about this world fading away but “My love will endure”. Maybe someone can supply the exact Scriptural reference?

Whether or not there is a consensus among scientists as to the universe having a beginning is besides the point. Scientific consensus is not nearly as relevant as the scientific and mathematical facts. I demonstrate in my “Isn’t the Universe Eternal?” post that any cosmology that denies a beginning to the universe runs afoul of the BVG proof and the laws of mathematics (and the second law of thermodynamics as well).

Scientists have a huge psychological motivation to believe in an eternal universe. This article by astrophysicist Robert Jastrow (former director of NASA) demonstrates what I mean.

A failure by some scientists to accept what the laws of mathematics (and other proofs) say should be viewed as a psychological/sociological phenomenon.

If the atheist is brutually honest there are only two choices- God or physicalism also known as naturalism or materialism. By choosing the latter, the atheists becomes content in every part of their being to live as a materialistic reductionalist. They will never admit to a mystery of the design that all scientists allude to. Taking this reductionalist belief to the deepest level and to an indefinite time into the future (and it will always remain indefinite) when “science will know everything” (Peter Atkins) is itself an act of faith which denies that there can be anything unknown to science.
If from nothing nothing comes, the atheists must hold to the fact that matter is infinite in the past (infinity may exist in maths but is an abhorrent concept to the physicist. Look at the insummountable problems facing physics to compromise Relativity with Quantum mechanics. Infinity in an equation make the results meaningless.
My challenge to the sceptics & others is to explain how a infinite series of past finite physical events is possible? I like the analogy that if one had a cosmic video recorder on which ALL past events were recorded how could we ever reach the beginning of the tape if we wanted to view all such events.

Peter Atkins (and other atheist’s) view that eventually “science will know everything” demonstrates a poor grasp of the philosphy of science. Lynn Margulis (a Professor of Biology from Oxford and the University of Massachussetts) has a much more sophisticated understanding of this subject matter. In her book What Is Life?, she says:

“…science is asymptotic. It never arrives at but only approaches the tantalizing goal of final knowledge. Astrology gives way to astronomy alchemy evolves into chemistry. The science of one age becomes the mythology of the next.”

“Asymptotic” is the adjective form of the noun “asymptote,” which is defined as: “A line that continually approaches a given curve, but does not meet it at any finite distance.”

The failure to understand the nature of human knowledge is one of the cornerstone flaws of the atheist worldview. The idea that science will one day know everything reminds me of a humorous TV commercial I once saw where a guy turns off his computer after telling his wife that he “finished the internet.”

I recommend a scientific paper entitled written by 3 atheist theoretical physicists
“Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant,” announced the title of a paper on the Los Alamos National Laboratory Web site.1 So “disturbing” were the paper’s findings that within a few days the British journal Nature ran an online commentary on them as well. Was evidence mounting against a naturalistic model for the beginning of the universe? Without daring to hint at the possibility of supernatural design, commentators suggested, “Our universe is so unlikely that we must be missing something.”2

The MIT and Stanford physicists who authored the original paper had investigated the possibility of replacing a single-creation-event cosmic model with a multiple-beginnings model. Their results said it won’t work: the cosmological constant (self-stretching property of the universe) negates the possibility.

The team had explored a phenomenon called “Poincare recurrences” as a way around the space-time limitations constraining their model.3 This idea offers the theoretical possibility (if the universe is subject to the same limitations event horizons impose on black holes) that after the universe is maximally expanded, it could come back together into one tiny point and then start all over again. The idea died when data showed that the time required between these hypothetical Poincare occurrences would be so absurdly long and the number of necessary recurrences so huge that unless the cosmological constant is wrong, a multiple-beginnings scenario remains both scientifically and philosophically impossible.

The authors also demonstrated that a universe governed by a cosmological constant will—of necessity—manifest extremely low entropy at its beginning. Such a low entropy state, according to the authors, would demand that “an external agent” (external to matter, energy, space, and time) that “intervened…for reasons of its own” in some miraculous way.4 In other words, the researchers conclude that either astronomers are wrong about the cosmological constant or, a specific deity miraculously intervened.

The researchers prefer to believe that astronomers are wrong. But, evidence for the cosmological constant is compelling—as is its implication of a divine Creator. Skeptics wanting more evidence need not wait long. Several independent teams of astronomers already are making measurements that will put cosmic creation to a more stringent test. The words “In the beginning God created…” stand to be affirmed anew.”

So much for science closing the gaps to rule out an external agent/Creator. No doubt there will be some frantic fantasizing by atheists to weavel their way round these facts based on zero evidence o

For those not in the know re. a Poincare recurrence , please consider a large room filled with matter and energy where all the particles and photons undergo random, chaotic motions. The laws of statistical mechanics tell us that if we wait long enough the particles and photons, by chance, will all cram themselves into a cubic micron in one of the room’s corners. This condition, of course, is highly unstable and the particles and photons will quickly disperse throughout the room. The time between all the particles and photons being released from that cubic micron and their return, by chance, to that same cubic micron is called a Poincare recurrence.
So unless the cosmological constant is wrong, a multiple-beginnings scenario (oscillating universes) remains both scientifically and philosophically impossible.

Dashan, this is excellent. I will review this and probably provide a link to it at the bottom of one of my essays.

Is God real? Do you have questions about God. Want to find out the truth. Contact us at [email protected] We can help. Any age. Kid or Adult.

I can’t go past the question. How did God come into existence?

He didn’t. God exists outside of time. Only things that exist within space/time require a beginning.

A prime example of the issue.

Publish your reaction, but suppress the original question.

Were you in the vanguard of the Inquisition in a previous life?

What original question have I suppressed? Go ahead and post it, this is an open forum. I have no idea what you are talking about.

No wonder you have next to no comments on this blog. You are out of touch with reality.

You are frauds masquerading as enlightened intellectuals . Wrap it up any way you like, but spin and dogma piffle is not proof.

On top of that, even a kangaroo court would allow a token comment from the opposing view point to be aired.

OK, Paul, why don’t you bring me back in touch with reality by providing a fact based, logically constructed reply to the arguments presented in this post.

What token comment from the opposing view have I not allowed to be aired? Once again, this is an open forum. You can post anything relevant to this subject matter that you like. Just try to make it something more substantial than a bunch of ungrounded, angry assertions and characterizations such as “frauds” and “dogma” and “kangaroo court.”

Please furnish for me a rationally constructed, fact based rebuttal to the arguments presented on this post. I EAGERLY await your reply.

Whoa… Paul Bradley’s comment on a ‘kangaroo court’ is the best expression i’ve ever heard. I think I’ll try to use it from now on.

One other thing… I’m not sure about Dashan’s comment that the only two choices are ‘God or materialism.’ Buddhists, for one thing, don’t believe in a God, but are clearly not materialists. #

Anyway… this, the cosmological argument, has survived essentially unchanged from Aquinas in C13th. Science has basically confirmed what Aquinas had suggested all along- the universe is almost definitely not infinite.

But I don’t think this requires a timeless God, and the argument all comes down to causality. Once again, these replies aren’t my own but are very old, with many dating to Hume.

1) The Cosmological argument rests on the assumption that the universe is subject to laws of causality. In other words, because other things in the universe operate by cause-and-effect, the universe must do also. But I’m not convinced this is the case. Yes, the universe had a ‘beginning’ (in that it does not stretch back infinitely- remember there was nothing ‘before’ the universe as the universe is the beginning of time itself). But just because everything within the universe that has a beginning has a cause, doesn’t mean the universe itself has to have a cause.

2) Not everything has an obvious cause. Physicists note that subatomic particles can appear and disappear spontaneously.

3) Our observation that things with beginnings have causes is based on our worldy experience. We observe that buildings have been built, for example, so when we see buildings we assume they also were built. But we have no experience of different universes, so we are not in a position to say what rules or sequences the universe must follow.

4) The Cosmological argument assumes that it is acceptable for God to be a ‘brute fact’- or, in other words, containing an explanation of himself within himself. This, Aquinas postulates, is the only way to prevent an infinite regression of causes. But why is it more acceptable to say God is the brute fact than to say the universe is?

And finally… I believe that any discussion about how the universe ‘began’ is fruitless. The universe is, in Russell’s words, just a handy word we use to describe everything we know and understand. All of our experience of causality, logic, mathematics and so on exist within the boundaries of the universe. To try and take a step back beyond the outer boundaries of this universe – as though it were a star or a bacterium, open to observation – is to step beyond the bounds of human experience and comprehension.

Can you provide a scholarly citation which states that there are exceptions to the law of causality? Not having an obvious cause is not the same as not having a cause.

Immanuel Kant effectively responded to Hume’s attack on causality. This article goes into detail.

Why is it more acceptable to say that God is the brute fact rather than to say that the universe is? Well, do you believe that time, space, matter, and energy all appeared spontaneously (in the Big Bang) as the result of a “brute fact” without a cause? Please cite for me some cosmologist or philosopher who endorses this view. Please also read my post entitled “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing.”

This all goes back to my post entitled God Is Real…Why modern physics has discredited atheism. In what is perhaps the ultimate chicken-or-the-egg discussion, science and philosophy have, since the time of the ancient Greeks, wrestled with the question of whether matter is rooted in consciousness or vice versa. Modern physics clearly indicates that matter (and everything else for that matter) are rooted in consciousness. Please read the post.

It is noteworthy that the most prominent atheist of the last 50 years, the Oxford University philosopher Antony Flew, changed his mind and endorsed theism (see his book There Is A God: How the Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind). He did this partly on his acceptance of philosophical arguments which he believes successfully counteract the philosophy of Hume and Russell. You can read an except from this book in my “Why is there something rather than nothing” essay. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.

Flew, as I said, was not just any old atheist. His paper Theology and Falsification was the most reprinted philosophical tract of the last 50 years and served as much of the intellectual basis for modern atheism. It is truly hard to imagine an event that could be more scandalous to atheism than to have its onetime “frontman,” as it were, reverse his views and endorse theism.

Well, if you’re going to demand a ‘scholarly citation’ for everything I say, there’s not much point my arguing, since I have neither time nor inclination to go trekking for quotes from my chosen philosophers.

But my views are hardly new. Hume is the originator, being the greatest critic ever of the common sensical world views, such as that everything including the universe follows causality. Then there is Bertrand Russell (I believe I have mentiond the Russell/Copleston debate from 1948).

It’s ironic that you mention Kant, who himself was opposed to the Cosmological argument (though believed in God for other reasons).

Once again, I’d like to impress on you that it’s completely ridiculous to treat the whole universe, the universe itself, as just another object to be put under a miscroscope. You say, “do you believe that time, space, matter, and energy all appeared spontaneously (in the Big Bang) as the result of a “brute fact” without a cause?” But this is precisely the point: any theist believes that God is a ‘brute fact’. They don’t accept the question you have just posed over the universe: “do you believe that God just ‘is’, without explanation or cause?’ God is the end to the infinite regression, the ultimate ‘brute fact’.

But why, Russell and others posit, not just reduce this chain of regression by making the universe itself the end to the chain? Why can’t the universe be what ‘just is’ any less than God can be, except that ‘God’ has such ‘spiritual’ connotation?

Don’t know anything about Flew, but I am most interested to hear these arguments that he believes counter Russell and Hume. Would you be able to elucidate them please?

Have you read my post entitled “Why is there something rather than nothing?” It is under the “snippets” section at the top and goes into more detail as to why Flew rejected Hume and Russell’s arguments. Please also read philosopher Mortimer J. Adler’s arguments at the bottom.

Here is the pertinent excerpt from Flew’s book There Is A God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind:

“Hume held that there is no cause of the existence of any series of physical beings beyond the sum of each member of the series. If there is a beginningless series of nonnecessary existent beings, then this is a sufficient cause for the universe as a whole. Conway rejected this objection on the grounds that ‘the causal explanations of the parts of any such whole in terms of other parts cannot add up to a causal explanation of the whole, if the items mentioned as causes are items whose own existence stands in need of causal explanation.’ So, for example, consider a software virus capable of replicating itself on computers connected by a network. The fact that a million computers have been infected by the virus does not in itself explain the existence of the self-replicating virus.”

God is the non-contingent cause of the universe that exists outside of time. Please recall that this is consistent with what modern physicists say about consciousness being the ground of reality (as presented in my God Is Real: Why modern physics has discredited atheism post. If consciousness is the ground of reality, then a conscious, eternal being, rather than a non-conscious universe, is the “brute fact.”

Hmm. I am pretty sure that Flew has misunderstood Hume’s objections to the Cosmological argument. To reiterate, the whole is often more than, and different to, the sum of its parts.

All my cells can reproduce through meiosis (nearly) but that doesn’t mean I can reproduce through meiosis.

Each indiviudal human has a single mother. But that doesn’t mean the human species as a whole has a single mother.

Finally, you say “is consistent with what modern physicists say about consciousness being the ground of reality.”

You act as though all physicists are agreed on this point. Have there been any independent surveys to show this?

You are pretty sure that Flew misunderstood? Flew was a Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University and I am sure he looked in to the subject pretty carefully. Can you point out specifically what Flew got wrong rather than just reiterating your previous point and not responding to Flew’s objections?

A whole may be more than the sum of its parts, but the whole still requires an explanation, as Flew and Conway explain. Can you specifically counter this point with a philosophical argument? You have just repeated your previous argument and ignored Flew and Conway’s objections.

I don’t suppose all physicists are agreed on this point. But it is very hard to justify belief in materialism in light of what modern physics knows about the crucial role that consciousness plays in physical reality.

Scott: The idea that science will one day know everything reminds me of a humorous TV commercial I once saw where a guy turns off his computer after telling his wife that he “finished the internet.

Terry: If science knew everything, science would cease to exist. Science is the study and observation of things to find the truth. If they already had the truth there would be no reason to study it. This is why science doesn’t try to study god. They already have the truth. God doesn’t exist.

To try to study or observe something that doesn’t exist would be a complete waste of time. A senseless task more suited to theists. They do waste a lot of time trying to prove something that doesn’t exist is real. Sadly, they can easily convince a large part of the gullible population. You know who you are.

Science does not claim that the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe. They do not call it a supernatural event. They describe what they “think” happened in the first few second of the expansion. They do not try to tell us where this singularity came from or what might have been before that. Even if the singularity was all there was for an eternity, the universe would still be eternal.

Of course I don’t “believe” the universe was an eternally dense lump that started to expand. I “believe” the universe is much larger and more complex than science has the ability to observe. I don’t know this for sure, that is why I call it a belief. Just like the theist doesn’t know if god exist or not. That is why they call it faith. What I do know is the supernatural doesn’t exist. I do know god is supernatural so I do know god doesn’t exist. No matter how you slice it up, without evidence for the supernaturl you have nothing but a bunch of opinions and philosophical poo-poo-ca-ca. Just the facts.

Scott: It is noteworthy that the most prominent atheist of the last 50 years, the Oxford University philosopher Antony Flew, changed his mind and endorsed theism.

Terry: There is nothing noteworthy here. It just means that Antony Flew was never an atheist. He was a confused theist or agnostic. There are a lot of confused theists that claim they are or were atheists. It is amazing how few people know the difference between a theist, atheist and agnostic. Some even “believe” they are atheist/agnostics or agnostic/theists.

Here is a fair definition of atheist and agnostic if you like a bunch of long winded, high brow definitions.
http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_1.htm

You make a lot of assertions that you don’t back up with any logic. You state that “God doesn’t exist,” yet you fail to provide us with anything that would suggest that this is anything more than a stubborn presupposition. You state that “science does not claim that the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe.” And yet science clearly does state that the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe, as I detail in my above essay. Remind me again, what have you done to rebut the points made in this essay and the essay titled Is There A God? What Is the Chance That Our World is the Result of Chance?

You have a peculiar habit of responding to rational arguments with empty assertions. For example, what is your reply to the fact that a past-eternal universe is impossible by the laws of mathematics, as I describe in my above essay?

Great article, thanks for this. It seems ironic that God as a first cause provides a lot of the answers that naturalism/materialism cannot, and not simply as a “God of the gaps” argument. CS Lewis’ quote also comes to mind:

‘If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e. of materialism and astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milkjug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.’

Thanks for this quote. I have realized that it would be a good addition to my essay titled “The No-God Delusion.”

[…] had a beginning…just as described in the first chapters of Genesis…as I describe in Isn’t the Universe Eternal? (Thus doing away with the need for a creator) and Is There a God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of […]


Is the universe eternal? - Astronomy

At first you might think that in order to understand the structure of something as large as the universe, which by definition contains everything there is, you would need some very powerful telescope to see to the farthest reaches of space and a complex theoretical model. Actually, there are some powerful conclusions you can draw from observations with the naked eye. You will explore that first and then move on to conclusions you can draw from extending your eyesight. You will explore the basic questions that human beings have been asking themselves ever since we have walked the Earth: where did we come from and where are we going?

Universe Contains Mass---Why has the Universe Not Collapsed?

Olbers' Paradox and the Dark Night Sky

If the universe is uniformly filled with stars, then no matter which direction you look, your line of sight will eventually intersect a star (or other bright thing). Now it is known that stars are grouped into galaxies, but the paradox remains: your line of sight will eventually intersect a galaxy.

The brightnesses of stars does decrease with greater distance (remember the inverse square law) BUT there are more stars further out. The number of stars within a spherical shell around us will increase by the same amount as their brightness decreases. Therefore, each shell of stars will have the same overall luminosity and because there are a lot of ever bigger shells in an infinite universe, there is going to be a lot of light!

Any intervening material absorbing the starlight would eventually heat up and radiate as much energy as it absorbed, so the problem remains even if you try these "shields". Of course, stars are not points. They do have a definite size, so they can block light from other stars. The total brightness of the universe will not be infinite, but only as bright as the surface of a star (!). You can substitute "galaxy" for "star" in the preceding paragraphs if you want to update Olbers' Paradox for modern times. The way to resolve a paradox like this is to look at the assumptions that are used (the "if" statements) and determine whether or not they are valid.

Universe Is Expanding


Georges Lemaître and Albert Einstein

In 1915 Albert Einstein published his Theory of General Relativity that described gravity as a curvature of spacetime (see the Relativity chapter). In 1917 Einstein applied General Relativity to the universe as a whole and showed that the universe must either expand or contract. Since there was no evidence of such large-scale motion, he added a term to the equations called the "cosmological constant" to keep the universe static. Alexander Friedman (lived 1888 - 1925) in 1922 and then the Belgian priest/astrophysicist Georges Lemaître (lived 1894 - 1966) in 1927 (independent of Friedman) used General Relativity to show that the universe must be expanding. In his 1927 paper Lemaître suggested a relation between the galaxy speeds and distances like what Edwin Hubble would later observe. Einstein disagreed with Lemaître but Lemaître persevered. Einstein would later come to agree with Lemaître on the expansion of the universe arising from General Relativity after Edwin Hubble announced his observations in 1929 that the universe is not static---it is expanding. In later papers and conferences Lemaître argued for a beginning to the universe that would later become the Big Bang Theory described more fully later in this chapter. In 1933 Einstein agreed that Lemaître was correct. [There is now evidence that Lemaître actually derived a value for the Hubble constant using some early distance measurements of Hubble and Slipher's redshifts in his 1927 paper but his work is less well-known than Hubble's because the paper was published in an obscure journal (Annales de la Societe scientifique de Bruxelles) written in French while Hubble's paper (with Milton Humason) in 1931 with better distance data laying out the case for the galaxy motions first announced in 1929 appeared in the more widely-read Astrophysical Journal and the English translation of Lemaître's paper in a 1931 issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Academy of Sciences did not have that derivation of the Hubble constant. It was probably the more convincing observational evidence laid out in the Hubble & Humason paper that led Einstein to admit that Lemaître was correct all along.]

The expansion is enough to resolve the paradox. As the universe expands, the light waves are stretched out and the energy is reduced. Also, the time to receive the light is also lengthened over the time it took to emit the photon. Because the luminosity = the energy/time, the apparent brightness will be reduced enough by the expansion to make the sky dark.

The stretching of the light waves makes the light from galaxies appear redshifted, mimicking a redshift from the doppler effect as if the galaxies were moving through space away from us. However, the galaxies are simply being carried along with the expansion of the space between them---the whole coordinate system is expanding. The expansion of the universe means that galaxies were much closer together long ago. This implies that there is a finite age to the universe, it is not eternal. Even if the universe is infinite, the light from places very far away will not have had enough time to reach us. This will make the sky dark.

The Hubble-Lemaître law, speed = Ho × distance, says the expansion is uniform. The Hubble constant, Ho, is the slope of the line relating the speed of the galaxies away from each other and their distance apart from each other. It indicates the rate of the expansion. If the slope is steep (large Ho), then the expansion rate is large and the galaxies did not need much time to get to where they are now. If the slope is shallow (small Ho), then the galaxies need a lot of time to get to where they are now.


Contents

According to Jains, the Universe is made up of six simple and eternal substances called dravya which are broadly categorized under Jiva (Living Substances) and Ajiva (Non Living Substances) as follows:

    i.e. Souls – Jīva exists as a reality, having a separate existence from the body that houses it. It is characterised by chetana (consciousness) and upayoga (knowledge and perception). [3] Though the soul experiences both birth and death, it is neither really destroyed nor created. Decay and origin refer respectively to the disappearing of one state of soul and appearing of another state, these being merely the modes of the soul. Jiva are classified on bases of sense, so there are of 5 types: 1) with one sense (sparshendriya) 2) 2 senses (1st included and raasendriya) 3) 3 senses (1st 2 included and dharnendriya) 4) 4 senses (1st 3 included and chkshuendriya) 5) 5 senses (1st 4 included and shrotendriya) [4]

Ajīva (Non-Living Substances)

  • Pudgala (Matter) – Matter is classified as solid, liquid, gaseous, energy, fine Karmic materials and extra-fine matter i.e. ultimate particles. Paramāṇu or ultimate particle is the basic building block of all matter. The Paramāṇu and Pudgala are permanent and indestructible. Matter combines and changes its modes but its basic qualities remain the same. According to Jainism, it cannot be created, nor destroyed.
  • Dharmastikaay or Dharma-dravya (Principle of Motion) and Adharmastikaay or Adharma-dravya (Principle of Rest) – Dharmastikāya and Adharmastikāya are distinctly peculiar to Jaina system of thought depicting the principle of Motion and Rest. They are said to pervade the entire universe. Dharmastikaay and Adharmastikaay are by itself not motion or rest but mediate motion and rest in other bodies. Without Dharmastikāya motion is not possible and without Adharmastikāya rest is not possible in the universe.
  • Ākāśa (Space) – Space is a substance that accommodates the living souls, the matter, the principle of motion, the principle of rest and time. It is all-pervading, infinite and made of infinite space-points.
  • Kāla (Time) – Kāla is an eternal substance according to Jainism and all activities, changes or modifications can be achieved only through the progress of time. According to the Jain text, Dravyasaṃgraha:

Conventional time (vyavahāra kāla) is perceived by the senses through the transformations and modifications of substances. Real time (niścaya kāla), however, is the cause of imperceptible, minute changes (called vartanā) that go on incessantly in all substances.

The Jain doctrine postulates an eternal and ever-existing world which works on universal natural laws. The existence of a creator deity is overwhelmingly opposed in the Jain doctrine. Mahāpurāṇa, a Jain text authored by Ācārya Jinasena is famous for this quote:

Some foolish men declare that a creator made the world. The doctrine that the world was created is ill advised and should be rejected. If God created the world, where was he before the creation? If you say he was transcendent then and needed no support, where is he now? How could God have made this world without any raw material? If you say that he made this first, and then the world, you are faced with an endless regression.

According to Jains, the universe has a firm and an unalterable shape, which is measured in the Jain texts by means of a unit called Rajlok, which is supposed to be very large. The Digambara sect of Jainism postulates that the universe is fourteen Rajloks high and extends seven Rajloks from north to south. Its breadth is seven Rajloks long at the bottom and decreases gradually towards the middle, where it is one Rajlok long. The width then increases gradually until it is five Rajloks long and again decreases until it is one Rajlok long. The apex of the universe is one Rajlok long, one Rajlok wide and eight Rajloks high. The total space of the world is thus 343 cubic Rajloks. The Svetambara view differs slightly and postulates that there is a constant increase and decrease in the breadth, and the space is 239 cubic Rajlok. Apart from the apex, which is the abode of liberated beings, the universe is divided into three parts. The world is surrounded by three atmospheres: dense-water, dense-wind and thin-wind. It is then surrounded by an infinitely large non-world which is completely empty.

The whole world is said to be filled with living beings. In all three parts, there is the existence of very small living beings called nigoda. Nigoda are of two types: nitya-nigoda and Itara-nigoda. Nitya-nigoda are those which will reincarnate as nigoda throughout eternity, where as Itara-nigoda will be reborn as other beings. The mobile region of universe (Trasnaadi) is one Rajlok wide, one Rajlok broad and fourteen Rajloks high. Within this region, there are animals and plants everywhere, where as Human beings are restricted to 2 continents of the middle world. The beings inhabiting the lower world are called Narak (Hellish beings). The Deva (roughly demi-gods) live in the whole of the top and middle worlds, and top three realms of the lower world. Living beings are divided in fourteen classes (Jivasthana) : Fine beings with one sense, crude beings with one sense, beings with two senses, beings with three senses, beings with four senses, beings with five senses and no mind, and beings with five senses and a mind. These can be under-developed or developed, a total or 14. Human beings can get any form of existence, and are the only ones which can attain salvation.

Three lokas Edit

The early Jains contemplated the nature of the earth and universe. They developed a detailed hypothesis on the various aspects of astronomy and cosmology. According to the Jain texts, the universe is divided into 3 parts: [6]

  • Urdhva Loka – the realms of the gods or heavens
  • Madhya Loka – the realms of the humans, animals and plants
  • Adho Loka – the realms of the hellish beings or the infernal regions

The following Upanga āgamas describe the Jain cosmology and geography in a great detail: [6]

  1. Sūryaprajñapti – Treatise on Sun
  2. Jambūdvīpaprajñapti – Treatise on the island of Roseapple tree it contains a description of Jambūdvī and life biographies of Ṛṣabha and King Bharata
  3. Candraprajñapti – Treatise on moon

Additionally, the following texts describe the Jain cosmology and related topics in detail:

  1. Trilokasāra – Essence of the three worlds (heavens, middle level, hells)
  2. Trilokaprajñapti – Treatise on the three worlds
  3. Trilokadipikā – Illumination of the three worlds – Description on nature of realities
  4. Kṣetrasamasa – Summary of Jain geography
  5. Bruhatsamgrahni – Treatise on Jain cosmology and geography

Urdhva Loka, the upper world Edit

Upper World (Udharva loka) is divided into different abodes and are the realms of the heavenly beings (demi-gods) who are non-liberated souls.

Upper World is divided into sixteen Devalokas, nine Graiveyaka, nine Anudish and five Anuttar abodes. Sixteen Devaloka abodes are Saudharma, Aishana, Sanatkumara, Mahendra, Brahma, Brahmottara, Lantava, Kapishta, Shukra, Mahashukra, Shatara, Sahasrara, Anata, Pranata, Arana and Achyuta. Nine Graiveyak abodes are Sudarshan, Amogh, Suprabuddha, Yashodhar, Subhadra, Suvishal, Sumanas, Saumanas and Pritikar. Nine Anudish are Aditya, Archi, Archimalini, Vair, Vairochan, Saum, Saumrup, Ark and Sphatik. Five Anuttar are Vijaya, Vaijayanta, Jayanta, Aparajita and Sarvarthasiddhi.

The sixteen heavens in Devalokas are also called Kalpas and the rest are called Kalpatit. Those living in Kalpatit are called Ahamindra and are equal in grandeur. There is increase with regard to the lifetime, influence of power, happiness, lumination of body, purity in thought-colouration, capacity of the senses and range of clairvoyance in the Heavenly beings residing in the higher abodes. But there is decrease with regard to motion, stature, attachment and pride. The higher groups, dwelling in 9 Greveyak and 5 Anutar Viman. They are independent and dwelling in their own vehicles. The anuttara souls attain liberation within one or two lifetimes. The lower groups, organized like earthly kingdoms—rulers (Indra), counselors, guards, queens, followers, armies etc.

Above the Anutar vimans, at the apex of the universe is the realm of the liberated souls, the perfected omniscient and blissful beings, who are venerated by the Jains. [7]


A Cyclic Universe?

By: Alan MacRobert July 23, 2003 0

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Just passing through. When two 'brane' universes intersect, the energy of their collision fills each with a new Big Bang.

S&T Illustration by Steven Simpson

Steinhardt and Turok say their model does all of this just as well as inflation and goes it one better — by naturally incorporating the recently discovered "dark energy," which is making the expansion of the universe speed up. Their theory replaces inflation and dark energy with a single energy field that oscillates in such a way as to sometimes cause expansion and sometimes a recollapse.

As abstract and mind-bending as it is, the cyclic-universe theory may be testable fairly soon. Inflation predicts that the cosmic microwave background radiation should show certain, specific patterns of polarization. The cyclic-universe version of the Big Bang would leave different patterns. The European Space Agency's Planck satellite, due for launch around 2007, is designed to make just such measurements. If it proves sensitive enough, Planck may declare a clear winner in the showdown of inflation versus the cyclic universe before the decade is out.


Is the universe eternal? - Astronomy

Assuming the Big Bang is a valid theory of the creation of Earth and the Universe, then where did the original mass come from, that formed everything that we see today?

First of all, note that mass and energy are equivalent. So, the total mass of the Universe need not be conserved even though the total energy (taking into account the energy that is equivalent of the mass in the Universe) is conserved. Mass and energy are related by the famous equation E=mc 2 . Hence if there is enough energy, photons can create matter-antimatter pairs. This is called pair production and is responsible for the mass in the Universe.

As to where everything came from, there is no conclusive opinion. One idea was that the Universe was created from vacuum. This is because according to quantum theory, the apparently quiescent vacuum is not really empty at all. For example, it is possible for an electron and a positron (a matter antimatter pair) to materialize from the vacuum, exist for a brief flash of time and then disappear into nothingness. Such vacuum fluctuations cannot be observed directly as they typically last for only about 10 -21 seconds and the separation between the electron and positron is typically no longer than 10 -10 cm. However, through indirect measurements, physicists are convinced that these fluctuations are real.

Hence, any object in principle might materialize briefly in the vacuum. The probability for an object to materialize decreases dramatically with the mass and complexity of the object. In 1973, Edward Tyron proposed that the Universe is a result of a vacuum fluctuation. The main difficulty of this proposal is that the probability that a 13.7 billion year old Universe could arise from this mechanism is extremely small. In addition, physicists would question Tyron's starting point: if the Universe was born from empty space, then where did the empty space come from? (Note that from the point of view of general relativity, empty space is unambiguously something, since space is not a passive background, but instead a flexible medium that can bend, twist and flex.)

In 1982, Alexander Vilenkin proposed an extension of Tyron's idea and suggested that the Universe was created by quantum processes starting from "literally nothing", meaning not only the absence of matter, but the absence of space and time as well. Vilenkin took the idea of quantum tunneling and proposed that the Universe started in the totally empty geometry and then made a quantum tunneling transition to a non-empty state (subatomic in size), which through inflation (the Universe expands exponentially fast for a brief period of time which causes its size to increase dramatically) came to its current size.

Another idea is from Stephen Hawking and James Hartle. Hawking proposed a description of the Universe in its entirety, viewed as a self-contained entity, with no reference to anything that might have come before it. The description is timeless, in the sense that one set of equations delineates the Universe for all time. As one looks to earlier and earlier times, one finds that the model Universe is not eternal, but there is no creation event either. Instead, at times of the order of 10 -43 seconds, the approximation of a classical description of space and time breaks down completely, with the whole picture dissolving into quantum ambiguity. In Hawking's words, the Universe "would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE."

So, the origin of mass in the Universe and the Universe itself is quite speculative at this point. If you are interested, you can read Alan Guth's book "The Inflationary Universe", page 271-276. You can also read Hawking's "A brief history of time: From the Big Bang to black holes" page 136.

This page was last updated June 27, 2015.

About the Author

Jagadheep D. Pandian

Jagadheep built a new receiver for the Arecibo radio telescope that works between 6 and 8 GHz. He studies 6.7 GHz methanol masers in our Galaxy. These masers occur at sites where massive stars are being born. He got his Ph.D from Cornell in January 2007 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Insitute for Radio Astronomy in Germany. After that, he worked at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii as the Submillimeter Postdoctoral Fellow. Jagadheep is currently at the Indian Institute of Space Scence and Technology.


“The Eternal Universe?” –Astronomers Zero In On a Signal That Nixes the Big Bang

“Cosmologists have predicted the existence of an oscillating signal that could distinguish between cosmic inflation and alternative theories of the universe’s birth. “The question is whether one can test the entire [inflation] scenario, not just specific models,” said Avi Loeb, an astrophysicist and cosmologist at Harvard University. “If there is no guillotine that can kill off some theories, then what’s the point?”

In a new paper that appeared on the physics preprint site, arxiv.org, continues Natalie Wolchover in Quanta, Loeb and two Harvard colleagues, Xingang Chen and Zhong-Zhi Xianyu, suggested such a guillotine. The researchers predicted an oscillatory pattern in the distribution of matter throughout the cosmos that, if detected, could distinguish between inflation and alternative scenarios — particularly the hypothesis that the Big Bang was actually a bounce preceded by a long period of contraction.

The paper has yet to be peer-reviewed, but Will Kinney, an inflationary cosmologist at the University at Buffalo and a visiting professor at Stockholm University, said “the analysis seems correct to me.” He called the proposal “a very elegant idea.”

“If the signal is real and observable, it would be very interesting,” Sean Carroll of the California Institute of Technology said in an email.

The beginning of our universe – if there is one, as implied by Avi Loeb above– is one of the big open questions in theoretical physics. The big bang is one of science’s great mysteries, and it seems the plot continues to thicken thanks to new research that refutes prevailing theories about the birth of the universe. A classical description of the big bang implies a singularity: a point of infinite smallness, at which Einstein’s theory of gravity – general relativity – breaks down.

To tackle this problem, two proposals were put forward in the 1980s: the “no-boundary proposal” by Stephen Hawking and James Hartle, and Alexander Vilenkin’s theory known as “tunnelling from nothing.” Each proposal attempted to describe a smoother beginning to spacetime, using quantum theory. Rather than the infinitely pointy needle of the classical big bang, the proposals described something closer to the rounded tip of a well-used pencil – curved, without an edge or tip.

While this view has spawned much research, new mathematical work suggests such a smooth beginning could not have given birth to the ordered universe we see today.

A new paper, co-authored by Perimeter Institute researchers Neil Turok and Job Feldbrugge, with Jean-Luc Lehners of the Albert Einstein Institute in Germany, points out mathematical inconsistencies in the “no boundary” and “tunnelling” proposals.

“The no-boundary proposal by Hartle and Hawking and others is an elegant proposal to model the big bang using quantum gravity,” says physicist Job Feldbrugge at Perimeter. Using a new mathematical technique, we can now rigorously investigate this proposal and see what kind of universe it predicts.”

Turok says the previous models were “beautiful proposals seeking to describe a complete picture of the origin of spacetime,” but they don’t hold up to this new mathematical assessment. “Unfortunately, at the time those models were proposed, there was no adequately precise formulation of quantum gravity available to determine whether these proposals were mathematically meaningful.”

The new research, outlined in a paper called “No smooth beginning for spacetime,” demonstrates that a universe emerging smoothly from nothing would be “wild and fluctuating,” strongly contradicting observations, which show the universe to be extremely uniform across space.

“Hence the no-boundary proposal does not imply a large universe like the one we live in, but rather tiny curved universes that would collapse immediately,” said Lehners, a former Perimeter postdoc who leads the theoretical cosmology group at the Albert Einstein Institute.

Turok, Lehners, and Feldbrugge reached this result by revisiting the foundations of the field.

They found a new way to use powerful mathematics developed over the past century to tackle one of physics’ most basic problems: how to connect quantum physics to gravity. The work builds on previous research Turok conducted with Steffen Gielen, a postdoc at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and at Perimeter, in which they replaced the concept of the “classical big bang” with a “quantum big bounce.”

Turok, Lehners, and Feldbrugge are now trying to determine what mechanism could have kept large quantum fluctuations in check while allowing our large universe to unfold.

The new research implies that “we either should look for another picture to understand the very early universe, or that we have to rethink the most elementary models of quantum gravity,” said Feldbrugge.

Concluded Turok: “Uncovering this problem gives us a powerful hint. It is leading us closer to a new picture of the big bang.”

The Daily Galaxy via Quanta and The Perimeter Institute

Image top of page: The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has an awesome new four-laser guide star to aid the observatory’s adaptive optics system


Death by black hole

Black holes are expected to form when a massive star dies. After the star’s nuclear fuel is exhausted, its core collapses to the densest state of matter imaginable, a hundred times denser than an atomic nucleus. That’s so dense that protons, neutrons and electrons are no longer discrete particles. Since black holes are dark, they are found when they orbit a normal star. The properties of the normal star allow astronomers to infer the properties of its dark companion, a black hole.

The first black hole to be confirmed was Cygnus X-1, the brightest X-ray source in the Cygnus constellation. Since then, about 50 black holes have been discovered in systems where a normal star orbits a black hole. They are the nearest examples of about 10 million that are expected to be scattered through the Milky Way.

Black holes are tombs of matter nothing can escape them, not even light. The fate of anyone falling into a black hole would be a painful “spaghettification,” an idea popularized by Stephen Hawking in his book “A Brief History of Time.” In spaghettification, the intense gravity of the black hole would pull you apart, separating your bones, muscles, sinews and even molecules. As the poet Dante described the words over the gates of hell in his poem Divine Comedy: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

A photograph of a black hole at the center of galaxy M87. The black hole is outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon. National Science Foundation via Getty Images


Conclusion

The world looks forward to a dismal fate as the Universe eventually dies in a ‘big rip’, big freeze’ or a ‘big crunch’. Without trust in the Creator and His word the world has no hope. Their only comfort is that the ultimate death of this Universe is expected to be so far off in the distant future it can be ignored. But the Bible describes catastrophic world-changing events not so far off, only a matter of thousands of years, not billions or trillions. God has told us this in His word. And though there are several different interpretations among Christians, the general consensus among those who take God’s words as they were intended to be understood, is that it is only a matter of a thousand years or more before major changes are expected on Earth and even in the Universe.

Only about 6000 years ago this world—the whole Universe—was created. But soon after it was damaged by sin. However, we look forward to the restoration of the fallen world 23 in the new heaven and new earth as promised in the Revelation (Revelation chapters 21 and 22), wherein there is only perfection. The concept of an eternal Universe then fits this concept, as those who are saved live forever with the King of kings and Lord of lords when He rules the Universe from His throne.