How the universe came to be?

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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How the universe came to be?

#1

Post by Blob » Tue Sep 20, 2005 10:58 pm

Byblos wrote:Not as a religious person, but a person who appreciates science, how do you think the universe came to be? Let's start with that and see where this leads.
Hi Byblos! And welome to you too.
why don't we start a discussion with a simple question
...
how do you think the universe came to be?
I'd hate to know what you think a difficult question is! lol

I'll ask a question of my own then address yours, if I may: Do you think the issue of "how the universe came to be" should be the foundation upon which a person decides whether there is a god ot not?


I have to confess I groaned slightly when I saw your question. I know your answer: you turn to the ideas of Christianity and the answer is "a creator god". You know my answer: I turn to the ideas of cosmology and the answer is... well I have a choice of options as I shall briefly explain.

Of course there are other tools of human thinking than Christianity or cosmology one could to turn to such as, for example, Jainism. Jains believe...

the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. It is eternal but not unchangeable, because it passes through an endless series of alternations or swings.Source

Perhaps it is annoying to hear such obscure ideas brought up and suspect I am trying to confuse the issue. But I have known Jains and and been to a Jain wedding (of a colleague). Jains and Jainist origins ideas are alive in the world today.

But neither Christianity nor Jainism nor any other "traditional" ideas do it for me. I prefer instead to turn to the ideas of cosmology.

Of course, I sacrifice certainty and may only speculate by doing so; I sacrifice neat, bite-sized answers like "god" or "alternations"; I sacrifice being able to answer why and must make do merely with how; I sacrifice setting my answer in stone and must keep up to date with cosmology during my life to "upgrade" it. But for all that it is cosmology that hits my spot and fills me with awe and wonder.

I consider cosmology to be "informed confusion" and religious answers to be "naive clarity" and therein lies the former's strength.

We see strong evidence for the inflationary Big Bang model. Yet the Big Bang did not start the universe - it is an inflationary description of how the universe expanded. You can see a description of the first three minutes here (click Astrophysics then Weinberg's First three minutes). But it tells us nothing about what happened at time = 0. As Brian Greene says, it does not tell us what banged in the big bang.

There are differing ideas. Greene himself speculates that the bang was a kind of quanutm fluctuation which he calls cosmic inflation. Stephen Hawkings talks of m-branes which, he argues, account for dark matter and are a truer picture of the big bang. There are other ideas but I'm really not up to date and certainly am no expert. The Elegant Universe has been on my shelf for two months and is almost due back to the library and I just never found time to read it this summer.

These strange, developing and inspiring ideas suggest that perhaps it is meaningful to talk about beyond or even before the known universe, afterall.

Perhaps, then, the Jains have had it right all along. I seriously doubt that but who knows?

BTW I do not expect you or anyone to go and actually read the links I provided. Personally I find it annoying when someone just says "read all this then get back to me". I'm just evidencing that I am not making all this up out of thin air, however rusty and erroneous my grasp of cosmology might be.


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#2

Post by Byblos » Wed Sep 21, 2005 7:07 am

Blob wrote:Hi Byblos! And welome to you too.
Thanks.
why don't we start a discussion with a simple question
...
how do you think the universe came to be?
I'd hate to know what you think a difficult question is! lol
Well, it is a rather simple question of what you believe. I wasn't asking for proof or anything. It is either the universe has always been here and always will be (as you mentioned later with the Jainist beliefs) or it was created from nothing. There really is no 3rd option that I'm aware of, is there?
I'll ask a question of my own then address yours, if I may: Do you think the issue of "how the universe came to be" should be the foundation upon which a person decides whether there is a god ot not?
See now you're complicating it more than I intended. Again, I did not ask the question from a religious perspective but rather from a scientific viewpoint.

I have to confess I groaned slightly when I saw your question. I know your answer: you turn to the ideas of Christianity and the answer is "a creator god". You know my answer: I turn to the ideas of cosmology and the answer is... well I have a choice of options as I shall briefly explain.
LOL, sorry. I didn't mean to cause you any discomfort but there you go again, presupposing what my intention was when I clearly stated it (eye through science, not religion).
Of course there are other tools of human thinking than Christianity or cosmology one could to turn to such as, for example, Jainism. Jains believe...

the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. It is eternal but not unchangeable, because it passes through an endless series of alternations or swings.Source

Perhaps it is annoying to hear such obscure ideas brought up and suspect I am trying to confuse the issue. But I have known Jains and and been to a Jain wedding (of a colleague). Jains and Jainist origins ideas are alive in the world today.
Not annoying at all. We're not looking to change anyone's beliefe system through this friendly discussion and certainly the Jains are entitled to theirs. Now whether or not the universe has always been here and goes through a series of alterations, science has already proven without any doubt that the 'current' universe did have a beginning. Can we at least agree on that?
But neither Christianity nor Jainism nor any other "traditional" ideas do it for me. I prefer instead to turn to the ideas of cosmology.
Which is fine with me, let's just keep looking at it from purley a cosmological viewpoint.
Of course, I sacrifice certainty and may only speculate by doing so; I sacrifice neat, bite-sized answers like "god" or "alternations"; I sacrifice being able to answer why and must make do merely with how; I sacrifice setting my answer in stone and must keep up to date with cosmology during my life to "upgrade" it. But for all that it is cosmology that hits my spot and fills me with awe and wonder.
Yes, it is inspirational, isn't it? (sorry, was that a religious comment?)
I consider cosmology to be "informed confusion" and religious answers to be "naive clarity" and therein lies the former's strength.
WOW, those are some deep concepts. My line of thinking is much too simplistic. I just look at what science has answered in the past, what it can answer today, and what it might be able to answer in my lifetime.
We see strong evidence for the inflationary Big Bang model. Yet the Big Bang did not start the universe - it is an inflationary description of how the universe expanded. You can see a description of the first three minutes here (click Astrophysics then Weinberg's First three minutes). But it tells us nothing about what happened at time = 0. As Brian Greene says, it does not tell us what banged in the big bang.
Well I will submit to you that any theory about the origin of the universe is just that, an unproven theory. However, with whatever science can prove today, we have some solid leads as to the most plausible theory (IMO). And that being the Big Bang. Although the theory tells us where our universe came from by looking backwards to mere nano-seconds before the big bang, you are right it does not tell us how the big bang was initiated to begin with, because that would contradict many laws of physics, chemistry, and so on. And that is because any theory on how the big bang actually started would pre-suppose the creation of something from a void.
There are differing ideas. Greene himself speculates that the bang was a kind of quanutm fluctuation which he calls cosmic inflation. Stephen Hawkings talks of m-branes which, he argues, account for dark matter and are a truer picture of the big bang. There are other ideas but I'm really not up to date and certainly am no expert. The Elegant Universe has been on my shelf for two months and is almost due back to the library and I just never found time to read it this summer.
Again, theories abound; Every day someone else comes up with a new theory: it was aliens, a parallel universe, no, it's always been here. But which one is more generally accepted by the scientific community? There's only one. I mean, if we are to question our surroundings and not take everything for granted, why not turn to the best available tools we have, science? And for one who looks to cosmology for answers, I would think you would appreciate that better.
These strange, developing and inspiring ideas suggest that perhaps it is meaningful to talk about beyond or even before the known universe, afterall.

Perhaps, then, the Jains have had it right all along. I seriously doubt that but who knows?
Yeah, I doubt that too. You must admit, there's a definite order to the universe, from its unimaginable vastness all the way down to its microscopic detail such as the uniform twist direction of protein chains in DNA.
BTW I do not expect you or anyone to go and actually read the links I provided. Personally I find it annoying when someone just says "read all this then get back to me". I'm just evidencing that I am not making all this up out of thin air, however rusty and erroneous my grasp of cosmology might be.
You are right, they are most annoying and that is why I posted none. I know you are not making your evidence up. My contention is that your evidence does not disprove the influence of a higher being (but that should be left for a religious discussion).

If you start looking at it from a purely objective point of view, not one mired with doubt or certain pre-suppositions, you must admit there's overwhelming scientific evidence that the universe did have a beginning, and if it did have a beginning, it had to have sprung from a void (for if there was something, then that would contradict the fact that it had a beginning to start with). And if it came from a void, how did come to be?

I will end my post with this as I think this is more than enough for now. I will await your comments.

Byblos.

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#3

Post by Blob » Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:05 am

Hello again Byblos.


I'm afraid I need to start with a couple of comments I did not appreciate nor deserve.
See now you're complicating it more than I intended. Again, I did not ask the question from a religious perspective but rather from a scientific viewpoint.
...
LOL, sorry. I didn't mean to cause you any discomfort but there you go again, presupposing what my intention was when I clearly stated it (eye through science, not religion).
...
WOW, those are some deep concepts. My line of thinking is much too simplistic. I just look at what science has answered in the past, what it can answer today, and what it might be able to answer in my lifetime.
...
If you start looking at it from a purely objective point of view, not one mired with doubt or certain pre-suppositions,
Given that I am an atheist in a christian forum, and the fact that this is my thread for "questions about my atheism", I feel somewhat insulted to be told I am "presupposing" your intent was theological, that "there I go again" with my "discomfort". This thread is for me to express my atheistic responses, not to teach science.

And indeed your intent turns out to be neither a desire for a mutual science debate nor a sincere interest in my opinions:
My contention is that your evidence does not disprove the influence of a higher being (but that should be left for a religious discussion).
Apparently I am to disprove higher beings, and what's more have failed in my unspoken task!

What's more, when I did talk science - specifically about the cutting edge work of famous and internationally renowned cosmologists Greene and Hawkings (originator of Big Bang theory) - the science was dismissed as obscurist passing frenzy without any comment on the actual science I was refering to:
Again, theories abound; Every day someone else comes up with a new theory: it was aliens, a parallel universe, no, it's always been here. But which one is more generally accepted by the scientific community? There's only one.
If my science views were your sole interest why ignore the actual nitty-gritty of the science I discussed and yet pick up on every other point?




On to addressing your points (and without LOLing at what you say, accusing you of pre-suppositions, or any other disrespect).
It is either the universe has always been here and always will be (as you mentioned later with the Jainist beliefs) or it was created from nothing. There really is no 3rd option that I'm aware of, is there?
The known universe has always been there or it had a beginning are certainly two obvious options, but how do you know there are not others beyond the grasp of the human mind? I do not see how you can know for sure there aren't other possibilities, unless you know everything.

Furthermore, to have been "created from nothing" is one possible beginning but there others such as "created from something" or, as I mentioned, "cosmic inflation" and indeed "m-branes". Once again there might be other possibilities beyond our ken.

So not only is there a 3rd option but a 4th and a 5th and... who knows how many?
Now whether or not the universe has always been here and goes through a series of alterations, science has already proven without any doubt that the 'current' universe did have a beginning. Can we at least agree on that?
Certainly - the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of a beginning to the known universe. I am convinced of this and so I agree. However it is not proved - science is not in the habit of proving things. But in fact you made that comment as a rebuttal to Jainist cosmology, which states:
the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. It is eternal but not unchangeable, because it passes through an endless series of alternations or swings. How do you know the Jains meant "known" universe when they talked of the universe? Perhaps an "alternation" is what we call the known universe? I really don't see how you can dismiss their ideas so quickly without knowing at least the ins and outs of those ideas.
with whatever science can prove today, we have some solid leads as to the most plausible theory (IMO). And that being the Big Bang. Although the theory tells us where our universe came from by looking backwards to mere nano-seconds before the big bang, you are right it does not tell us how the big bang was initiated to begin with, because that would contradict many laws of physics, chemistry, and so on.
In fact the Big Bang theory is not in a healthy state. That is why other theories like cosmic inflation and m-branes are making an attempt to refine it into a new, better theory. For example, Hawkings is concerned because the Big Bang does not satisfactorily account for dark matter as I mentioned in my previous post.

But are you suggesting that these theories should be abandoned because the Big Bang will do? I'm unclear as to why your disapprove of going beyond our current infationary model. Was not the Big Bang theory also highly speculative and theoretical initially?
You must admit, there's a definite order to the universe, from its unimaginable vastness all the way down to its microscopic detail such as the uniform twist direction of protein chains in DNA.
A rather strange question for a science discussion - to mention DNA in the midst of cosmology. Why do you think there should be a correlation between the ideas of cosmologists and the ideas of bio-chemists?
you must admit there's overwhelming scientific evidence that the universe did have a beginning, and if it did have a beginning, it had to have sprung from a void (for if there was something, then that would contradict the fact that it had a beginning to start with).
Why must I "admit" the known universe had a beginning when I said it myself? -("We see strong evidence for the inflationary Big Bang model.")-

Your interpretation of m-branes and cosmic inflation seems to be "it had to have sprung from a void". In what sense is suggesting I am saying or advocating that position not a straw-man?


For all your complaints about my presuppositions you are the one wishing to impose upon me what it is I think. I kindly ask you to refrain from doing so in any further response.


All the best,

Blob
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#4

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:00 am

There there, Blob.

Let me put you in this cup, you're getting all bent out of shape.
=)

I know how you feel.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#5

Post by Blob » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:37 am

:lol:

I certainly am getting bent out of shape.

Perhaps Byblos should start his own thread and cut out the middle man. He can ask a question, provide the answer and then show why the answer is untenable.

It would at least save the hassle of putting words in my mouth, which will start to bore me if it continues.
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#6

Post by Byblos » Wed Sep 21, 2005 11:00 am

Blob wrote::lol:

I certainly am getting bent out of shape.

Perhaps Byblos should start his own thread and cut out the middle man. He can ask a question, provide the answer and then show why the answer is untenable.

It would at least save the hassle of putting words in my mouth, which will start to bore me if it continues.


Nowhere did I put words in your mouth. In fact, it was the other way around. That is precisely why I re-stated my intentions.

In any case, here's my intent again: it was to have a friendly discussion and not to insult or provoke you in any way, or hijack your thread for that matter. If you took it that way or I appeared to do so I assure you there was no basis for it, at least not on my part.

I will refrain from posting in this thread as I do not believe it is conducive to a civilized discussion.

Good luck in your quest, whatever it is (and I do mean that sincerely).

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#7

Post by Believer » Wed Sep 21, 2005 11:04 am

Blob, I have questions and I am not going to try to sound harsh, BUT, if you are ignorant like you stated in saying that you WILL NOT embrace religion and remain an atheist with not being open to come here and try to embrace religion, why be here? You stated 3 options to turn to religion, heaven, hell, or Jesus approaching you in this life. That is being ignorant. Reread the forum guidelines. Basically this is pointless.

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#8

Post by Blob » Wed Sep 21, 2005 11:05 am

Thank you, Byblos.

I agree we should perhaps leave the discussion there.

See you around the forums, Byblos.
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#9

Post by PHIL121 » Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:03 pm

One of the more solid proofs forthe Big Bang theory is the 3 K (as in Kelvin) background radiation. NASA put a a satellite (COBE-COsmic Background Explorer) a fews years back to study it.

I'm sure if you google it, it should have alot of info on it. :wink:

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#10

Post by Blob » Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:57 pm

Hi PHIL121!

Yes that is right - although technically COBE data is evidence for the Big Bang not proof, albeit very strong evidence indeed. COBE has now been superseded by WMAP.

Here's a picture of the early universe from COBE and WMAP. You can see the resolution difference.

Image
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#11

Post by PHIL121 » Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:55 am

Nice pics there, Blob.

Just to expand a liitle bit on what it all means.

The 3 K background radiation is what is predicted to remain from the Big Bang, so it does present rather strong proof for the theory.

Theories always gave more credence when they predict something that is later found to be true.

Relativity (I forget whether it was Special or General) was quickly accepted when the 3 proofs proposed by Einstien were discovered to be correct.

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#12

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:05 pm

PHIL121 wrote:Nice pics there, Blob.

Just to expand a liitle bit on what it all means.

The 3 K background radiation is what is predicted to remain from the Big Bang, so it does present rather strong proof for the theory.

Theories always gave more credence when they predict something that is later found to be true.

Relativity (I forget whether it was Special or General) was quickly accepted when the 3 proofs proposed by Einstien were discovered to be correct.
Just nit-picking.
Actually its not the fact that its 3K, the evidence is the fact that the energy is so smoothly distributed everywhere.
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#13

Post by Blob » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:09 pm

Thanks PHIL121.

I maintain it is evidence not proof, however.
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The universe

#14

Post by Jbuza » Thu Sep 22, 2005 3:13 pm

Nice Images. Just have a question though. Are they, the images, or is this concept, which I admit I would need some help understanding, any more evidence of the big bang than they are evidence of an instant of creation of the universe? The scientific evidence doesn't make one any more probable then the other does it? Doesn't the theory of creation point to a primative heaven created in Genisis 1:1, the sun and moon and stars are created later. I see the evidence but it doesn't point me toward a big bang any more than it points toward creation.

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Re: The universe

#15

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Thu Sep 22, 2005 4:52 pm

Jbuza wrote:Nice Images. Just have a question though. Are they, the images, or is this concept, which I admit I would need some help understanding, any more evidence of the big bang than they are evidence of an instant of creation of the universe? The scientific evidence doesn't make one any more probable then the other does it? Doesn't the theory of creation point to a primative heaven created in Genisis 1:1, the sun and moon and stars are created later. I see the evidence but it doesn't point me toward a big bang any more than it points toward creation.
The image is a graphical representation of temperature differentiation of measurements taken by a special sattelite for this expressed purpose.

You're right the measurements taken do not count out the creation of the universe by God. But this is not in the realm of science. Science cannot assume any more than observable evidence and naturalistic explanations.

All the measurements show is that the innitial expansion was very uniform in composition and that the formation of galaxies and quasars came afterwards.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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