I like science as much as the next Atheist, but I'm no expert and don't have the background to expound on the details of scientifically based Atheism. And frankly, the more science that comes up, the more questions arise for me. Such as:

How can the universe be infinite if there is an origin starting with the big bang? A "start" automatically discounts the concept of infinity because infinity neither starts nor ends.

Let's say the Big Bang did start the universe. What was the universe contained in? Nothingness? The fact that the Big Bang occupies a defined geography means that the universe can not be infinite because it has different geography with borders.

etc. etc.

I guess I'm just frustrated because I would like a to be an atheist without being an astro or theoretical physicist or philosopher.

When someone asks me about the origin of the universe, I'd love to say, "Beats me."

Where do we go when we die? "Beats me. Maybe into nothingness. Maybe not"

Call me Pollyanna, but the only thing I understand as an Atheist is that I am in the present. Everything else is a question mark and gets clouded by deep scientific analysis. That being said, I do believe in evolution, but that's not related to the deeper questions about the universe and existence.

Do we all need to be scientists?

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It is my understanding that the universe IS finite, but continually expanding (for now, anyway). As atheists have no more answers to the mysteries of our universe than the next guy, it would seem quite acceptable to say "Beats me." when confronted with a difficult question. We do not pretend to know everything about life/existence. Science changes & corrects itself, if necessary, as our understanding grows; religion/dogma does not seem to possess that option.

Begging the question but how do you know its finite? We can't see beyond what we observe so how does it follow that it's finite?

Maybe logic fails us in a situation like this, but logic tells me that if something is expanding, it ipso facto is NOT infinite. On the other hand, Neil DeGrasse Tyson says that while he doesn't know the answer, in the meantime one must assume that it IS infinite.

...in the meantime one must assume that it is infinite.

Minor correction. He said "we assume", not "one must assume". The difference is important (to me) because I don't like implying that everyone must assume it. The larger point about science, reality, truth, and so on is that we are allowed to have our own ideas and beliefs, but one should always be open to new, falsifying evidence. (Most of us know this... I'm mostly speaking to readers who may be coming from outside of TA, or outside of tolerant systems of belief.)

Dang, I don't remember the code to decypher the significance of what I wrote up there. Most readers should just skim or skip it. Anyways, here's more about "infinity" that might help others think they understand it like I think I understand it...

WRT the whats-its-name paradox, where you drop something and check its progress every time it's half as close to the ground as it was the last time you checked it. I.e. check its progress when it's fallen halfway (i.e. 1/2 way up from the ground), 1/4 way from it, 1/8, 1/16, and so on. Problem is you'll be checking new halfway points up to an infinite number of times, and so how is it even possible that the object ever actually hits the ground?

Answer... you measure each halfway point twice as fast as you measured the previous point, up until you reach an infinite number of measurements. Simple, right? So "infinity" might be hard to define, but it must exist in theory, even if your model/scenario is physically impossible.

Now for pi: Multiplying a circle's diameter by pi gives us the circle's circumference. It's similar to multiplying the length of a side of a square by 4 to get its perimeter, except that a circle cuts off the corners. Now try to visualize the corner cutting by using this infinite series of rounding off corners to approximate a circle's circumference, starting with a square's perimeter divided by the length of it's side (i.e. "approximate diameter", as it were):

4/1 - 4/3 + 4/5 - 4/7 + 4/9 - 4/11 + 4/13 - 4/15... and so on

That calculation calculated out to 4/infinity equals "pi". In fact the equation itself proves that pi must be irrational.

Of course in this case, most of you already know what I'm talking about, even if you don't have the secret code that translates my poorly communicated intuition.

Sometimes I just stare at my wall until I figure it out :-)

Wow, that's hard on the eyes. Almost like...

Maybe because a universe which is infinite but also expanding is a nonsensical and illogical idea?

It may seem illogical or contrary to common sense, but with deeper understanding, we could say (e.g.) that our logical/common sense notions of time and space need correction or refinement in the context of space and time in the universe at large.

I think this argument goes back to discourse about whether or not the universe is "closed". Or what if our context is that of a multiverse, where it's purportedly impossible to cross from one universe into another without losing organizational integrity at the atomic level, and therefore (e.g.) a multiverse traveller becoming nothing more than random matter/energy during a transition from one universe to another?

Yeah, I'm making some of this up. I'm just saying, layman explanations are insufficient at this time in history of comprehensively understanding our universe, much less understanding the possible ramifications of whether or not infinity is comprehendible.

Maybe because a universe which is infinite but also expanding is a nonsensical and illogical idea?

Why would that be nonsensical or illogical?

For one thing, there is a LOT of doubt that there's any such thing as a real infinity. Infinity, they say, is a conceptual/mathematical concept and not a reality, much like its opposite number, zero. There's no real zero. It's just an ideal allowing for certain sorts of calculation. Infinity seems to be much the same thing.

Then, assuming the universe is infinite, in the sense of occupying all of an infinitude of space, where does the additional space come from? An expanding universe seems to suffer from being paradoxical.

To speak very simply, space stretches.

That's what cosmological redshift is.  It's not (just) that more distant galaxies are moving away from us faster, it's that during the time light has been traveling space has stretched, and therefore its wavelength has become longer.

One can have an infinite universe and still have spacetime that stretches.  It's not at all paradoxical.


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