Many if not all human societies have origin myths and they differ greatly.

Several years ago a San Francisco-born-and-raised woman told me she is a materialist.

An hour ago a woman who was raised a Jehovah Witness and has left that faith told me the Big Bang story grew from a human need for a beginning. I agreed.

Can you wholeheartedly accept that the universe had no beginning, that it has always existed?

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There is an enormous vacuum of data. We cannot possibly say with even a slighter degree of certainty that one is more likely than the other (beginning or no beginning).

We can draw on other phenomena to understand how a beginning or no beginning is possible.

Beginning:

Things emerge from nothing
The planet we live on had a beginning
Our life as a thinking agent had a beginning

No beginning:

And endless future is not at all difficult to imagine (there's no reason it cannot apply the other way)

Time is a construct and behaves differently depending on the agent and the context

Things behave strangely (though in an elementary and unconvoluted way) at the sub-particle extreme...there's no reason to rule out the same applies to space and time at a macro level.

As for comprehending infinite space yet with boundaries...we need only think about the surface of an extremely enormous sphere. One can keep walking forever yet there is a limit to its area. If it is so big that no one has ever traveled or explored more than 5℅ of it...then it seems as though it ought to be infinite and perhaps go on forever. No imagine the sphere is expanding, increasing the surface area yet still with a clear limit...and the likelihood that no one will ever circumnavigate that sphere unless they learn to bend space with some burbletrominator-gizmo technology. Now apply that to one dimension up...and its pretty much the same for our universe as we perciev it. Once it was explained to me lime that...I had absolutely no problem understanding it and I don't know anyone else who couldn't get it.

Davis,

Things emerge from nothing. Religious folk have no trouble with that idea.

The planet we live on had a beginning. The relevance of that to the universe?

Our life as a thinking agent had a beginning. Your life had a beginning. So did mine. Your "Our" is a plural pronoun and your "life" is a singular noun. I don't get your meaning.

Relevance to the universe? Its simply a trick to help people conceive how something enormous can still have a beginning. It shouldnt be taken as an argument for "we had a beginning so there must be a beginning!" As for our life...I use it as an uncountable noun...as in "living things...life itself" and I useour as in belonging to all the readers here. Its similar to saying "our free time" as opposed to "free times". Only in this case you can substitute

My life
Our lives
Our "live on Earth"

and it makes no difference.

Well, the preponderance of evidence to date is that the universe did indeed have a beginning.  So I'd be with @Reg and say "No", there's no way I can "wholeheartedly accept" the alternative.

In cosmology, there is definitely a sense that there are some folks who don't like the notion of a Big Bang.  People have been coming up with various eventual contraction theories for years, in spite of all the contrary evidence from the astronomers.   We see other attempts now in terms of things like holographic projection space-time theories or bubble universe theories from those who have philosophical problems with an apparent "beginning" of space-time.   The evidence isn't there at all, but the theories are sometimes interesting.

In the end, all of us in science earn Ph.D.s - doctorates in Philosophy.  Our philosophies do influence how we think about the universe, and in the end our theories are an expression of philosophy.  What's hard is to be open to the universe telling us we're wrong.

The KNOWN universe had a beginning, the big bang is the common name for that scenario.

The rest of the universe we had no actual data for, but the evidence regarding ours seems to indicate that we are mostly limited by our ability to observe it as opposed to it not being there.

:D

And confusion regarding time being a loop, and space curving back on itself, etc, is not an accurate representation of what it appears to be of.

Those terms refer to the way that a curved surface can have "a short cut between two points" that crosses through the volume of the formed sphere...as an analogy.

That does not mean that if you start travelling in a straight line you will end up where you started...in time or space.

:D

There is no evidence of 3,000 year old theories that say gods did it, etc, are correct.

The evidence of the big bang is very very strong.  All of the predicted outcomes it requires were found, experimentally, to be the case.

There may be some tweaking, etc....but, so far, its the best explanation we have.

AND, it doesn't mean there was nothing before it either...just that the STUFF we see now, started THEN.

The stuff that MADE that stuff we see now existed previously, and fueled thew bang as it were....and, OUR bang, after its run its course, will, based upon the data thus far, likely fuel the next one, and so forth.

:D

That does not mean that if you start travelling in a straight line you will end up where you started...in time or space.

Hey Tom. I that's what I have read multiple times...that if you could travel at speeds exponentially faster than the speed of light (with tiny corrections made frequently) you'd eventually arrive where you started. If that's not the case...then I am hopelessly confused again and don't understand infinite size universe with limits.

Yeah, Davis, reading is believing.

Oh how I like your snark!! What I read were written by respected physicists...including Stephen Hawking ranging from the Taurus model to the closed universe curving back on itself.

But assuming they are wrong...can you explain an infinite universe with limits...yet still being able to travel at warp 1,000,000 in any direction without ever getting any closer to your departure point always traveling further away from it. Is it like the kind of limits to infinity per the infinite rooms in a hotel thought experiment?

Davis, bible thumpers and others who read and uncritically believe walk into snark.

Explain  an earth gravitationally attracted to where the sun was eight and a fraction minutes ago.

Snark is a good thing. The more snark the better. And you seem to have pulled a Dr. Bob andavoided my question...I am asking you after all because I want to understand this. I dont have the skills to read physics books critically...Im a philosopher not a sciebtist/engineer/mathemetician and I rely on the authority of reputable scientists and the dumbed down books written by then that I've read. So before I attempt to answer your question.. Could you first answer my question please? If all these guys as wrong...then please help me understand the problem.

Davis, I have neither the range nor depth of knowledge your question requires. Send it to Dr. Bob.

The KNOWN universe had a beginning, the big bang is the common name for that scenario.

Well, OK.  But the unknown universe may well be inhabited by leprechauns and unicorns for all we know.  I thought you were an atheist.  Isn't the most logical thing to believe there's no such thing as an unknown, unobservable universe?

I think you're somewhat overestimating the evidence for a Big Bang.  I do believe the evidence is pretty strong; strong enough for almost all of us to proceed with that as an accepted theory for now.  It's not, however, incontrovertible, and it's dependent on some other underlying theories that may turn out to be incorrect.

There is no evidence at all that there will ever be a next Big Bang.  All of the available evidence indicates that this universe of ours will continue to expand to its eventual heat death, and that will be that.   The Big Bang was a singular phenomenon; any other conclusion is embracing the existence of the unprovable doG. <g>

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