The Big Bang and Faith

I did a search for a thread about this, but I got so many hits that it would take several days to sort it all out so I’ll just ask.

Where exactly did the ‘matter’ (or whatever it was) of the big bang come from? And since you can’t scientifically prove where it came from, wouldn’t you have to take it on faith that it was ‘just there’, the same way religions take it on faith that God is ‘just there’?

Nope. You just admit you don’t know, and entertain plausible guesses as the evidence trickles in.

Well put, Lux.
Actually I don’t know if we’ll ever get good evidence about what happened before the Big Bang. But it seems to me the difference is, you are admitting something is unknown. And possible unknowable. But when you call it God, you are pretending to know something. That it is an entity. That it is conscious. That it has a personality. That, possibly, it has some connection to Yaweh and the Ten Commandments. Religions don’t say God is “just there”, they say something about him. That’s the difference.

Book recommendation:

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

He explains in almost simple language why asking “What happened before the Big Bang” is like asking “What is north of the North Pole.” The question is meaningless.

We observe virtual particle pairs form from vacuum now, so long as they annihilate each other within a reasonable amount of time they are not a violation of any Law of Thermodynamics or conservation. The observable Universe itself may be just a larger example of the same phenomena.

Science has no problems with questions it cannot answer yet. There is a style of Fundamentalist apologetics known as the “God of the Gaps” argument. Basically, they attempt to shoehorn a simple “Goddittit” into any space still unanswered by scientific inquiry. Five hundred years ago, God was responsible for the motions of the planets and lightning strikes. Science has found “natural” explanations for these, and the only way God has been diminished is in the minds of some of His more simple and literal-minded followers. Present “gaps” in scientific knowledge may be filled in the future, and anyone pointing to those gaps as “proof” of God’s existence will have a lot of explaining to do at Judgement. Faith should not be tied to the accidents of Man’s knowledge.

Very well said, Dr. Fidelius.

The atoms just do what the atoms just do. They are contextless. They are a closed set in a vacuum. They mean nothing. And they imply nothing about God. It is we that, as Spiritual Beings, supply context as we act out our moral play.

excellent responses!

Science readily accepts that some things are unknown.
The Unknown fuels research.
There’s no need to make something up to fill a gap.

In the ongoing science/religion debate, I’ll just reiterate that the Big Bang Theory says nothing about the existence of God. So it’s possible to have faith in God and still accept the Big Bang.

Also, not only matter came from the Big Bang, but also all energy, space, and time.

… so I’ll do it myself.

Why do we assume the Universe was created?

The first Law of Thermodynamics states (para-phrased, of course) that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Even at such extreme points, such as the Big Bang or inside of a blackhole, this Law apparently holds, even when all other theories “fail” (are unable to predict the circumstances).

I believe the Universe alternates between Big Bang and Big Crunch. While the data for this is tentative at best, so is the data for any other theory about the Universe.

Philisophically, I feel this theory is best. The Universe cycling between its two extremes. It “feels” right. I freely admit I may be wrong. It’s certainly no sillier or better than any other explaination.

One paradigm for the Big Bang would suggest that it originated in vacuum fluctuations – two “virtual particles” simultaneously created that failed to coalesce in time to move back into the vacuum background.

There is also the mind-stretching idea that our concepts of space, time, and causality are simply a framework within which to understand matter and energy, created by them in the Big Bang, so that asking “what was before the Big Bang?” is like asking “what’s colder than Absolute Zero?” or “what’s below the center of the Earth?” – questions that appear meaningful but have no referent in the real Universe.

There is no reasonable argument against a hypothetical God working totally through natural processes; it merely adds one “unnecessary entity” (in the Ockhamic sense) to the explanation of why things are as they are. For one that works primarily but not exclusively through natural processes, a variety of questions arise:
[li]How do you distinguish His work from that which would have happened without “divine intervention”?[/li][li]How do you distinguish His work through natural processes from natural processes in the absence of His activity?[/li][li]Are the previous two questions even meaningful in terms of a First Cause envisioning of such a God?[/li][li]Distinguish causation, coincidence, and divine intervention. Extra points for an ethics-based analysis of the distinctions.[/li]
It gets excessively complex. The idea that for a reasonable Christian (or Jew, Moslem, or other monotheist), science says how and religion says why, has always been one that I’ve felt relatively comfortable with, although I suspect there can be problems with a strict analysis of the idea.

I agree that it’s as good a philosophy as any. When and how do you believe the cycles started?

No assumption. Rolling back the observed timeline shows a beginning in time and space. Although the cyclic universe is certainly a valid possibility (scientifically speaking), the current evidence indicates that the universe is not “closed” (i.e., will not collapse into a Big Crunch).

I have to disagree with the cycling universe as a valid possiblity. Or I would at least disagree it would be probable, scientificly speaking, even if we lived in a closed universe. It would take a cosmologist to explain it correctly, but I’ll give it a shot. In a closed universe the density of the universe would increase as it contracted. Stars and galaxies would collect to form black holes. Black holes would merge to form fewer, larger black holes. Eventually the universe would be one big black hole. There would be no rebound effect. More technically stated, the entropy of the universe is always increasing and there is no known way to reduce the enropy of the universe at least in the positive time direction.

Lib wrote:

I agree that it’s as good a philosophy as any. When and how do you believe the cycles started?

Good question. shrug When? No way of telling. Nothing can survive thru the Big Crunch that would indicate the existence of previous intelligences. How? See my following response…

Dr. Lao wrote:

I have to disagree with the cycling universe as a valid possiblity. Or I would at least disagree it would be probable, scientificly speaking, even if we lived in a closed universe. It would take a cosmologist to explain it correctly, but I’ll give it a shot. In a closed universe the density of the universe would increase as it contracted. Stars and galaxies would collect to form black holes. Black holes would merge to form fewer, larger black holes. Eventually the universe would be one big black hole. There would be no rebound effect. More technically stated, the entropy of the universe is always increasing and there is no known way to reduce the enropy of the universe at least in the positive time direction.

Hrm… question then: if ALL the matter and ALL the energy were forces into a singularity (a black hole), isn’t that a pretty accurate description of the Universe right BEFORE the Big Bang? Even if the Universe were at “heat death” an overall ambient temperature was even (no warm or cold spots for energy to flow; maximum entropy) there’s still gravity keeping things tightly compacted.

Can we get Stephen Hawkings on the phone? :slight_smile:

Concerning the Big Crunch, a good book would be The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene. Using supersting theory it is hypothesize that the Universe would not shringk down to a singularity but into to a bundled dimensional package to a Very small size known as the Planck length. This is significant as singulariies imply infinities of energy which physicists take as a red flag that a system is not explained correctly. I am not a cosmologist of a physiscist, so this is all a pop versoin of what I read, so take that with a grain of salt.

The description is accurate in many respects, but not in a crutial one. A black hole is always absorbing energy and matter while the Big Bang is always expelling matter and energy. It is impossible to get anything out of a black hole and is impossible to get anything into the Big Bang. You can think of the Big Bang as a “white” hole. It is a singularity of matter and energy, but they are trying to escape the singularity. And right now there is no known mechanism for a black hole to become a white hole, and it is believed this transformation will violate the second law of thermodynamics. So some pretty funky stuff would have to happen for this to occur.

Black holes and white holes are only defined within the context of spacetime…the Big Bang created spacetime itself. There is no event horizon for space itself (at least, that would be one explanation why the universe was able to expand from a single point).

Since we can obtain no information from “outside/before” this universe, a cyclic universe would be a unverifiable speculation under a valid closed universe model.

Recent findings seem to question the idea of a big bang/crunch cycle. The universe seems to not only be expanding but accelerating.
From the BBC Horizon programme From Here to Infinity

Old, but appropriate, joke:

How do we know God is a horrible lay?
Cause you can’t have both God and the Big Bang.

[sarcasm: ON]

Oh just FLIPPING great! Here I have this wonderful theory about how the universe works and you all go point out the facts and ruin everything for me! sigh Guess there’s nothing left to do but go back and believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn!

[sarcasm: OFF]

Seriously, this is fascinating as no one’s ever explained things like this to me. Guess I’ve been asking the wrong people.

One thing that’s always bothered me about the Ever-Expanding universe theory is that eventually, everything gets swallowed by a black hole and these black holes just keep getting larger and larger, concentrating gravity. Eventually, they’d start attracting each other IF there’s enough matter in the universe to cause gravity to counteract the initial blast of force that flung them apart (the Big Bang itself).

I’d also think these black holes few black holes, when the collide, something’s got to give. I mean, c’mon, you’re talking about squeezing a significant fraction of the matter in the universe into a singularity. Not just a sun or a galaxy or even a galactic cluster, this is 1/10th or greater of the total matter we’re talking about.

Can anyone get me Stephen Hawking’s email addy? I’d like to throw this question at him. :slight_smile:

True, I may have stated it inelegantly. However, I think my intial point is still valid: the final singularity of the Big Crunch will be significantly different from the Big Bang singularity. And if it is no longer valid from the information I have given, I haven’t given enough information, because I’m fairly sure that this is the consensus among cosmologists. I’m sorry, I do wish I knew more about this, but I don’t.

In the ever expanding universe, very few black holes would collide. In this model, after the stellar fuel has run out black holes will begin to dominate. However distant black holes won’t come together because they will be too far away and moving away too fast. Even if you had an especially large black hole, it wouldn’t be able to collect a significant percentage of the universe’s mass becasue most of it would be too distant. This is the definition of an open universe, I believe. If all the black holes could come together, that would no longer be an ever expanding universe and it would be considered closed.

Its hard to imagine what this would look like. First the black holes would orbit each other like the suns of a binary system. Their orbits will decay rapidly because the energy lost due to gravitational waves would be enormous. The two singularities would then more together at a fanastic speed and slam into each other with great force. All the energy released within the event horizon would remain there. As a result, I’m not sure if anything would be visible from the outside once one of the singularities enters the event horizon of the other. I agree, we need to get someone who knows more about this. Stephan Hawking would be great but I’d settle for a physics grad student studying cosmology and black holes.

I forgot to mention that while the first quote in my above response was from Phobos the other two were from Freyr. I just realized that the way I posted it, it would be very confusing to someone who just jumped into the discussion on my post.