Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the origin of the universe

I have been following a discussion in the Filipino Freethinkers Forum regarding the origin of the universe. Well the thread (about why do people decide to become atheists) was not really about the origin of the cosmos but it suddenly turned into this topic. A deist, named innerminds, posed a question to atheists regarding the origin of the cosmos. He asked,

Can I pose a slight variant to the question why people decide to become atheists? I'd like to ask: Why do atheists believe that either the universe had always existed in one form or another for all eternity or was an accident in nature?

And please don't answer with "Because the idea of a creator is absurd". Remember, the 'real' atheists do not simply not believe in God but altogether rejects the idea of God, so please don't include God in your answers.
This question is basically geared towards atheists. I think that atheists (around the world) could have different views regarding the origin of cosmos. I mean one must not really expect that all atheists around the world would only either believe in an ever existing universe or an accidental universe. Other atheists also have other ideas and/or theories regarding the origin of the universe. Anyways I answered the question by saying that it is more simpler to suppose that the universe do not have a cause than it was caused by some entity, called God/Deity (which I will further discuss in another post). And yes, I mentioned the word "God". LOL. I am not supposed to mention it based on his 2nd paragraph but, my bad, I was too attached by the question in bold. And also I thought that his intention to that question is to trap atheists into believing or making atheists realize that the universe (logically speaking) must have a cause.

Upon thinking and pondering on the question (in bold) and also considering his 2nd paragraph (to answer it w/o mentioning God), I thought that it was kind of difficult to answer. It is because, as an atheist (agnostic atheist to be exact), I always tend depend on the flaws of the arguments (and stupidity of "some") of the believers. I base my answers/arguments/even my non-belief to the flaws of the believers. And that's the one of the very reason of my non-belief.

But what if there's no religion, no churches, no "divine" messengers? (Of course there would also be no believers and atheists:) What would be my theory of the origin of the universe? Assuming ceteris paribus, I would still believe in the Big Bang theory. Simply because its the only theory about the origin of the universe that I am familiar with and because it is the only(?) theory that is being widely accepted by scientists today. Believers argue that the Big Bang singularity begs for a cause/creator which is un-atheistic. Thus a contradiction (me being an atheist believing in a singularity). But we (including believers) simply do not know what caused the Big Bang. We simply do not know because science do not have enough evidence to point or explain what really happened before the Big Bang. 

Now, believers (theists/fundies/deists) use this singularity to argue the existence of a creator or cause. This is also logical. But is it really sound? I will answer this question in my next (or next, next) post. :) 


19 comments:

innerminds said...

Discreet Infidel: "I mean one must not really expect that all atheists around the world would only either believe in an ever existing universe or an accidental universe. Other atheists also have other ideas and/or theories regarding the origin of the universe."

- Give me one, just one 'godless' theory/philosophy about the origin of the universe that doesn't fall under either or both of the two I mentioned (accidental universe or eternal universe).

Discreet Infidel: "Anyways I answered the question by saying that it is more simpler to suppose that the universe do not have a cause than it was caused by some entity, called God/Deity"

- Ah, Occam's Razor, my favorite 'logical tool'. Newton's Law of Gravity is simpler than Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, and therefore Newton's Law must be able to describe planetary orbits more accurately, right? Right?

Occam's Razor states that "entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily". The operative word is 'unnecessarily'. As for the origin of the universe, it is indeed simpler to imagine the universe existing eternally than having an eternal deity create it. However, there seems to be an over-application of Occam's Razor here. What I would deem having an extra unnecessary step is something like this: "The universe was created/caused by 'another universe' that existed eternally." But when you say a deity caused it, that's hardly unnecessary because an ethereal deity - an intelligent and powerful being - is supposed to have different qualities from a corporeal universe that simply unfolds in accordance to certain laws embodied in it. Of course, no one can prove or disprove this because, like I said before, this is in the realm of philosophy, not science, and we are only talking about Occam's Razor.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but so far what I've heard is that the atheists believe that the universe had existed for all eternity simply because it is a simpler explanation than having an eternal deity cause it. Can you not come up with a single justification other than your much-revered Occam's Razor? It's like you're saying, "I'm going to vote for Noynoy Aquino because there is the issue of the C5 scandal with Manny Villar." Can you not say, "I'm going to vote for Noynoy because he has integrity, etc."? Can you not say, "I believe the universe had existed in one form or another for all eternity because the preponderance of evidence points to..."?

Discreet Infidel: " But we (including believers) simply do not know what caused the Big Bang. We simply do not know because science do not have enough evidence to point or explain what really happened before the Big Bang.

Now, believers (theists/fundies/deists) use this singularity to argue the existence of a creator or cause. This is also logical. But is it really sound?"

No, it is NOT logical to argue the big bang singularity as basis for the existence of a creator. It is, however, logical to argue that it 'allows for the possibility' of the existence of a creator'.

Discreet Infidel said...

Innderminds:Ah, Occam's Razor, my favorite 'logical tool'. Newton's Law of Gravity is simpler than Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, and therefore Newton's Law must be able to describe planetary orbits more accurately, right? Right?

-I'm not really familiar with Newton's Law of Gravity vs Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Yes, it may seem that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity may seem a little complex than Newton's Law of Gravity but Einstein's Theory of Relativity solves the problem of Newton's Law. This is like Evolution vs. Creationism. Some people see Creationism as simpler than Evolution because some see Evolution as complicated (science-cy). But Evolution is really the simpler in the two because Evolution really explains how life began (step by step) based on evidences and scientific method unlike Creationism who uses "magic" or power of God (which can't be explained, thus making it complicated).

Innerminds:However, there seems to be an over-application of Occam's Razor here. What I would deem having an extra unnecessary step is something like this: "The universe was created/caused by 'another universe' that existed eternally."

-Who said that the universe was caused by another universe? I never said that it was caused by another entity/something. I dint even said that it was eternal.

Innerminds:Of course, no one can prove or disprove this because, like I said before, this is in the realm of philosophy, not science, and we are only talking about Occam's Razor.

-How can one disprove it if no one can prove it? Hehehe. But 'logically' speaking, can you prove that such being (intelligent and powerful) exist?

Innerminds: Correct me if I'm wrong, but so far what I've heard is that the atheists believe that the universe had existed for all eternity simply because it is a simpler explanation than having an eternal deity cause it. Can you not come up with a single justification other than your much-revered Occam's Razor?

-You are assuming here that all atheists believe in an eternal deity. But its not. There are some atheists (in fact most) I know that also believes in the Big Bang (including me). Now what seems to be the problem if I choose the simpler one? I mean, I can't explain the eternal qualities of a deity and the mechanism as to how that deity created the universe (can you?) so why would I to choose that option? I believe that the universe do not have a creator/cause simply because there is not enough evidence to point that it has.

Discreet Infidel said...

Correction (last paragraph):
From:You are assuming here that all atheists believe in an eternal deity.
To: You are assuming here that all atheists believe in an eternal universe.

innerminds said...

Discreet Infidel: "I'm not really familiar with Newton's Law of Gravity vs Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Yes, it may seem that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity may seem a little complex than Newton's Law of Gravity but Einstein's Theory of Relativity solves the problem of Newton's Law."

That's exactly the point. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is a lot more complex than Newton's Law of Gravity, and yet Relativity describes planetary orbits more accurately than Newton's Law of Gravity. So where is Occam's Razor now?

Discreet Infidel: "Who said that the universe was caused by another universe? I never said that it was caused by another entity/something. I dint even said that it was eternal."

You did not say that. I said it as an example of what would be an 'unnecessary' extra step. You might want to review what I said in my previous comment.

Discreet Infidel: "But 'logically' speaking, can you prove that such being (intelligent and powerful) exist?"

I cannot 'prove' it. In fact, in my previous comment I said: No, it is NOT logical to argue the big bang singularity as basis for the existence of a creator. It is, however, logical to argue that it 'allows for the possibility' of the existence of a creator'.

You still haven't answered my question regarding this:

Discreet Infidel: "I mean one must not really expect that all atheists around the world would only either believe in an ever existing universe or an accidental universe. Other atheists also have other ideas and/or theories regarding the origin of the universe."

- Give me one, just one 'godless' theory/philosophy about the origin of the universe that doesn't fall under either or both of the two I mentioned (accidental universe or eternal universe).

Discreet Infidel said...

Innerminds: That's exactly the point. Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is a lot more complex than Newton's Law of Gravity, and yet Relativity describes planetary orbits more accurately than Newton's Law of Gravity. So where is Occam's Razor now?

-As ive said, I'm not yet familiar with both of the theory. But as far as i know, Newton's Law of Gravity have some problems in which Einstein's Relativity solves. Yes, Einstein's Relativity may seem complex (I mean its sciency and a layman could not understand it) but my point is that it explains things or it describes well (or better) our surroundings (or universe) compared to Newton's. (I mean, what do you think is the reason why is it that Einstein's Relativity is accepted today?)Just like my example above about Evolution vs Creationism.

Innerminds: You did not say that. I said it as an example of what would be an 'unnecessary' extra step. You might want to review what I said in my previous comment.

-Still I don't understand that unnecessary step. I do not understand as to why would another universe would cause another. Why not show to me as to how believing that a creator did not cause the universe/Big Bang takes unnecessary step if one'll will use Occam's Razor Principle.


Innerminds: I cannot 'prove' it. In fact, in my previous comment I said: No, it is NOT logical to argue the big bang singularity as basis for the existence of a creator. It is, however, logical to argue that it 'allows for the possibility' of the existence of a creator'.

-Again, I am asking you to prove it "logically". I am not asking for any scientific evidences here. I am interested with the "logical" evidence of an intelligent and powerful entity (Deity).


Innerminds: Give me one, just one 'godless' theory/philosophy about the origin of the universe that doesn't fall under either or both of the two I mentioned (accidental universe or eternal universe).

-An atheist who believes neither of the two option yet still believes in Big Bang.



You too dint answer this one:
Now what seems to be the problem if I choose the simpler one? I mean, I can't explain the eternal qualities of a deity and the mechanism as to how that deity created the universe (can you?) so why would I to choose that option?

I still dint understand that unnecessary step you were talking about.

innerminds said...

Discreet Infidel: "Still I don't understand that unnecessary step. I do not understand as to why would another universe would cause another. Why not show to me as to how believing that a creator did not cause the universe/Big Bang takes unnecessary step if one'll will use Occam's Razor Principle."

Occam's Razor states that "entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily". If I say that our universe had a beginning and it was caused by another universe that existed eternally, that's an unnecessary extra step because why not just say that our universe existed eternally? Why do we need to add 'another' universe when it is still just a universe? But if the 'extra' step we add is an eternal deity, if I say that our universe had a beginning and it was caused by a deity - there's no 'unnecessary' extra step because an intelligent and powerful deity is supposed to have very different qualities from a physical universe that just unfolds in accordance to certain laws embodied in it.

Discreet Infidel: "Again, I am asking you to prove it "logically". I am not asking for any scientific evidences here. I am interested with the "logical" evidence of an intelligent and powerful entity (Deity)."

How about 'there is order in the universe', and that the total mass of the universe appears to be in equilibrium with the expansion rate so as to preserve a certain order?

How about 'DNA is a code'? I'm sure you've heard about the 'atheist riddle'.

Again, these are 'evidences', not proofs. But you were only asking for 'evidences', not 'proofs', right?

Discreet Infidel: "Now what seems to be the problem if I choose the simpler one? I mean, I can't explain the eternal qualities of a deity and the mechanism as to how that deity created the universe (can you?) so why would I to choose that option?"

There's no problem if you choose the simpler one. But what if, hypothetically, you never heard of about any talk of God or creator. What would your idea be on what happened 'beyond' ('before') the big bang?

It's like you're saying, "I will vote for Noynoy Aquino because Manny Villar has an issue with the C5 scandal." Now what if Noynoy runs unopposed, what will your reason be for voting for him?

Innerminds: Give me one, just one 'godless' theory/philosophy about the origin of the universe that doesn't fall under either or both of the two I mentioned (accidental universe or eternal universe).

Discreet Infidel: "An atheist who believes neither of the two option yet still believes in Big Bang."

You seem to have misunderstood my question. The big bang is a given. We all believe that. Where we differ is on our beliefs on what happened 'before' the big bang (or 'beyond' the big bang since 'before' denotes time, and time did not exist 'before' the big bang). The deists believe that the big bang was caused by an eternal deity. And then I said that the atheists believe that either:

1) the universe had existed eternally
2) happened as an accident in nature

So again, I challenge you to come up with a single possible logical scenario for what happened 'before' the big bang that doesn't fall under either of those two.

innerminds said...

Let me add "in one form or another" to "the universe had existed eternally".

Also, 'happened as an accident in nature' refers to the big bang, as in "The Big Bang is an accident in nature."

Discreet Infidel said...

Innerminds: Occam's Razor states that "entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily". If I say that our universe had a beginning and it was caused by another universe that existed eternally, that's an unnecessary extra step because why not just say that our universe existed eternally? Why do we need to add 'another' universe when it is still just a universe? But if the 'extra' step we add is an eternal deity, if I say that our universe had a beginning and it was caused by a deity - there's no 'unnecessary' extra step because an intelligent and powerful deity is supposed to have very different qualities from a physical universe that just unfolds in accordance to certain laws embodied in it.

-But I never argued and said that another universe created our universe. You are attacking a straw man here.

Innerminds:How about 'there is order in the universe', and that the total mass of the universe appears to be in equilibrium with the expansion rate so as to preserve a certain order?

How about 'DNA is a code'? I'm sure you've heard about the 'atheist riddle'.

-Yes there is order in the universe but there is also chaos in the universe. Earth is also vulnerable to asteroids just like other planets. Also Earth is the only planet we know that have life forms in this wiiiiiide (can't even imagine how big our universe is) universe. Do you think that is purposely and intelligently designed or created? Design implies purpose.

As to the DNA Riddle, it does not mean that atheists do not know the answer, we can already point God as the reason. I mean, we may not know what it is today but it will still be known. Getting answers is a process. Here's a good site I found about that Atheist Riddle, http://www.atheistpropaganda.com/2008/08/atheists-riddle-oh-no-im-so-scared.html

Innerminds: There's no problem if you choose the simpler one. But what if, hypothetically, you never heard of about any talk of God or creator. What would your idea be on what happened 'beyond' ('before') the big bang?

It's like you're saying, "I will vote for Noynoy Aquino because Manny Villar has an issue with the C5 scandal." Now what if Noynoy runs unopposed, what will your reason be for voting for him?

-I do not know what happened before that because we do not have evidence. I think you also do not know what happened before the BB (of course assuming that there's no God/religion). Do you know what happened before it (w/o mentioning God?)?

Now as to the Noy2x Aquino analogy, I can say (if ever I'll vote for him) his contributions (if he has any) or any positive attribute/trait/character as my reason for voting him. I have reason and I can argue/defend it because we can see and know his contributions. The point is that we see and know the reasons as to why one should vote or not Noy2x. Unlike what happened before the Big Bang, we do not know. Yes, you can say that there's a possibility that there's a cause, but we also know that it faces some problems.

Innerminds: You seem to have misunderstood my question. The big bang is a given. We all believe that. Where we differ is on our beliefs on what happened 'before' the big bang (or 'beyond' the big bang since 'before' denotes time, and time did not exist 'before' the big bang). The deists believe that the big bang was caused by an eternal deity. And then I said that the atheists believe that either:

1) the universe had existed eternally
2) happened as an accident in nature

There's still a third and valid option, we don't know. :))

Discreet Infidel said...

Correction (last sentence):

There's still a third and valid option, an atheist don't know. :))

innerminds said...

Discreet Infidel: "But I never argued and said that another universe created our universe. You are attacking a straw man here."

I was not attributing that to you. It's something 'I' came up with as an example to what would be an 'unnecessary' extra step.

I've already read that link on the counter arguments against the atheist riddle. The difference between me and the one who wrote that 'atheist riddle' is that while he claims that DNA is 'proof' that their is an intelligent 'programmer', for me it is merely an evidence.

Discreet Infidel: "I do not know what happened before that because we do not have evidence. I think you also do not know what happened before the BB (of course assuming that there's no God/religion). Do you know what happened before it (w/o mentioning God?)?"

I've already said quite a few times before: we DON'T KNOW what happened 'before' the big bang. My question was, what do you THINK happened 'before' the big bang, and what is the logical basis for such idea.

If you really think about it, I bet you will realize that a godless scenario would boil down to either an eternal universe or an accidental universe.

Discreet Infidel said...

Innerminds: I was not attributing that to you. It's something 'I' came up with as an example to what would be an 'unnecessary' extra step.

-Its your example. And I cannot still see the relationship of that example to my stand. Where do you think I made the extra unnecessary step when I used Occam's Razor?

I've already said quite a few times before: we DON'T KNOW what happened 'before' the big bang. Innerminds:My question was, what do you THINK happened 'before' the big bang, and what is the logical basis for such idea.

If you really think about it, I bet you will realize that a godless scenario would boil down to either an eternal universe or an accidental universe.

-My answer,,,I do not know what happened before the Big Bang. I have thought before about a cause that caused the Universe but still, its much way simpler to believe that there's no cause.

innerminds said...

Discreet Infidel: "How can one disprove it if no one can prove it?"

- Oops, I used the wrong term. I should have said 'falsify' instead of 'disprove'.

Innerminds: "If you really think about it, I bet you will realize that a godless scenario would boil down to either an eternal universe or an accidental universe."

Discreet Infidel: "My answer,,,I do not know what happened before the Big Bang. I have thought before about a cause that caused the Universe but still, its much way simpler to believe that there's no cause."

Hmmm...so you believe that this extremely dense and hot 'thing' (call it 'particle' or 'mass' if you will) from which unfolded all of our universe...you believe that it existed in one form or another for all eternity?

I suggest you read Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time before continuing this discussion so we're on the same page when we talk about what could be 'before' the big bang. :)

Discreet Infidel said...

Innerminds: Hmmm...so you believe that this extremely dense and hot 'thing' (call it 'particle' or 'mass' if you will) from which unfolded all of our universe...you believe that it existed in one form or another for all eternity?

I suggest you read Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time before continuing this discussion so we're on the same page when we talk about what could be 'before' the big bang. :)

-I believe in the Big Bang singularity. I just do not believe that it was started/caused by a deity as I reasoned above.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

Based on my recent comments which I have posted in various blogs, I have now postulated a hypothesis. Theoretcal Physics describes four fundamental forces of nature viz., weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force, electromagnetic force and force of gravity. Here we can present an analogy. Weak and strong nuclear forces represent pancha-bhutas or the five elements. Electromagnetic force represents force of current of mind which mainly works through sensory organs and force of gravity represents supra-causal state of Consciousness. We know that during advanced stage of practice of meditation and yoga pancha-bhutas or five elements merge into mind and mind into supra-causal state of Consciousness and ultimately Individual Consciousness merges into Cosmic Consciousness. This is the state of Perfect Bliss or Self-Realization. Likewise during the reverse process of Cosmic Evolution i.e. Perfect Dissolution of the Universe, weak and strong nuclear forces merge into electromagnetic force and electromangnetic force merges into force of gravity.

In the beginning, the enetire Creation came into existence from this Single Force Current which later on manifested into many force currents during the process of Cosmic Evolution.

Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator, this paper I presented at the 1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, held at The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), Lonavla, Pune in 2006. The Abstract of this paper is given below:

The Universe includes everything that exists. In the Universe there are billions and billions of stars. These stars are distributed in the space in huge clusters. They are held together by gravitation and are known as galaxies. Sun is also a star. Various members of the solar system are bound to it by gravitation force. Gravitation force is the ultimate cause of birth and death of galaxy, star and planets etc. Gravitation can be considered as the cause of various forms of animate and inanimate existence. Human form is superior to all other forms. Withdrawal of gravitational wave from some plane of action is called the death of that form. It can be assumed that gravitation force is ultimate creator. Source of it is ‘God’. Gravitational Field is the supreme soul (consciousness) and its innumerable points of action may be called as individual soul (consciousness). It acts through body and mind. Body is physical entity. Mind can be defined as the function of autonomic nervous system. Electromagnetic waves are its agents through which it works. This can be realized through the practice of meditation and yoga under qualified meditation instruction. This can remove misunderstanding between science and religion and amongst various religions. This is the gist of all religious teachings – past, present and future.
.

No Guy in the Sky said...

Discreet - I would answer the question like this. At this time we do not know. We have speculations that there was a Big Bang or there was an oscillating universe or there was one great unknown quantity of energy but none of those are proven yet. So in my mind the only answer is we do not know yet. Any answer that includes God is childish. I do not need God to explain anything in my life that is unknown. God has not been shown to be the answer in any problem yet.

Innermind - Using Occam's razor to compare Newtons Law and Einsteins Theory is like comparing a dictionary to a definition. Newtons Law covers a very narrow aspect of gravity. Eisteins Theory covers a great deal more.

Eternal universe or an accidental universe are your choices. Are there more? How many? What about combinations? Eternal multiverse that accidentally happened. I do not know. When Christians like to go down that road or that line of questioning. I simply state I do not know. That is the honest thing to do.

Telling someone to read Stephen Hawking's book is obnoxious. Stephen does not know yet. Nobody knows yet.

Anirudh - I find it funny that you said "electromagnetic waves are agents through which it works. This can be realized through the practice of meditation and yoga under qualified meditation instruction."

I wish you would have meditated on the fact that through meditation you can delude yourself. You obviously have. You have not found God. You have found a psychosis.

innerminds said...

@ No Guy in the Sky: Yes, any combination of an eternal universe and an accidental universe is actually a logical answer, and it is simply a variation of the choices I offered. What Discreet Infidel is proposing, however, is that there could be 'other' possible scenarios, none of which he was able to provide.

As for telling someone to read Stephen Hawking, it's only obnoxious if I tell him that the answer to the origin of the universe is in that book. The reason I wanted Discreet Infidel to read A Brief History of Time, however, is to make him see the basic concepts of time and space so that we will be on the same page when talking about the universe, and discussions will have an effective structure.

Lastly, thank you for sharing your thoughts and for truthfully answering my question instead of avoiding it. :)

innerminds said...

@ No Guy in the Sky:

Even if we limit our discussion to gravity, Einstein's General Theory of Relativity still has a more complex explanation (which involves the curvature of space-time) than Newton's Law (which only deals with masses and distances). Now, is that "like comparing a dictionary to a definition", to use your own words?

Also, I just realized that you didn't really answer my question. You said that you "don't know". However, I wasn't asking what you 'know', because, well, NO ONE KNOWS (how many times do I have to repeat that?). I was asking what you 'think'. Now if you haven't really pondered about what happened 'before' the Big Bang, just say you haven't thought or don't want to think about it. Don't say that you "don't know", because I already know that you don't know. :)

Allow me to share with you the most 'satisfactory' answer I got, given by http:suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com:

"My personal opinion is that the universe has existed eternally in one form or another. Be that by the multiverse theory, or expansion and contraction, or just existing as an unstable singularity until 14 billion years ago…I don’t know."

Even if in the end he said "I don't know", at least he gave his personal opinion - that the universe has existed eternally. :)

No Guy in the Sky said...

innerminds - When I grew up the universe was a concept like infinity. Now it seems to be more of a thing with boundaries. So with a HUGE "I do not really know" I think it is an eternally infinite thing. Any more information than that falls under. Since I do not know and it is not relevant to my life. I do not care.

@:-D

innerminds said...

@ No Guy in the Sky:

Now THAT is more like it. Thank you. :)

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