What is uncreated?

This is a spin-off from this thread:

which was getting hijacked by a discussion between Libertarian and myself, which I would like to continue here.

The question under discussion was the origin of the universe, and specifically whether the universe itself could be uncreated. There are two possibilites:
A. Everything is created. There is nothing that is uncreated.
B. There is at least one thing that is uncreated.

Now, anyone who claims that the universe was created by an uncreated being/thing/force must admit that B holds. However, once you admit B, you have to allow for the possibility that the universe itself is (one of) the uncreated thing(s).

Libertarian’s answer is that the universe cannot be uncreated

“Supernatural” as defined by Libertarian means

a definition which says nothing about being created or uncreated. I deduced that there was a missing premise in Libertarian’s argument, and it should run as follows:

  1. Only supernatural things can be uncreated.
  2. The universe is not supernatural.
  3. The universe cannot be uncreated.

I asked Libertarian to provide support for (1) and (2). His response was

Apparently the “onus” is on me not only to fill in the missing premise in Libertarian’s argument, but to provide evidence for or against it. :rolleyes:
OK, Libertarian, it’s your turn: either show me what’s wrong with my argument, or patch the holes in your own. Please remember to

  1. Provide support for your assertions.
  2. Avoid concealed premises.
  3. Avoid red herrings such as energy, unless you are prepared to explain what they have to do with the debate.
  4. Oh, yeah, and do something about that […stunned stare…], it’s unbecoming.

With regard to the word “temporal”, I assumed you meant it in the sense of “pertaining to time” rather than “limited by time”. Going back to your original statement


I would change my objection as follows: Do “changes in state” imply “limited in time”? What support do you have for that assertion?

My goodness. This is extraordinary. On so many levels.

To begin with, our discussion was entirely on topic in the other thread, where it dealt with opinions and theories about cosmological origin. Second, this is eerily analogous to efforts by Materialists to push the question of origin ever further back; and nowadays, it seems, there is an effort underfoot to push it outside the universe (or outside the thread!) altogether and pretend that that’s “natural”. Finally, as I have explained repeatedly, the assertion on the table is not mine, but yours.

If you don’t like the standard dictionary definitions that I’ve offered you of both “supernatural” and “temporal”, then supply definitions of your own so that we can share a common frame of reference. Continued discussions about matters upon whose basic meanings we disagree is futile beyond hope. Debating with you is like chasing a greased cat.

I’ve already told you the problem with your assertion and the model that it describes. You. Must. Explain. Where the energy came from for your singularity spontaneously to tunnel into its primary state.

The question of energy is no red herring, and you know it, or should know it, unless you don’t know what you’re talking about when you set up the analogy to an electron fluctuation. That process requires energy.

Barring a miracle, of course. But then, that would be supernatural. At least, as I understand the term.

First of all, I have accepted your definitions of “supernatural” and “temporal” and have rephrased my objections in different terms. You have not responded to said objections.

Secondly, I apologize if starting a new thread was incorrect. I simply didn’t want to monopolize the discussion there, which was in the nature of a poll, with an extended discussion on a particular topic. I didn’t intend to hide or flee from the discussion.

Thirdly, thank you for mentioning Quentin Smith. I was not aware of his writings. I am finding them interesting. But my own argument was much simpler. Perhaps so simple you didn’t understand what I was saying. Let me try it again.

I’m simply listing the logical possibilities:

A. Everything is created. There is nothing that is uncreated.
B. There is at least one thing that is uncreated.

We can ignore A since the discussion has been entirely about B. Under B we can identify two further possibilites:

B1. The universe is one of the uncreated things.
B2. The universe is not one of the uncreated things, i.e. the universe is a created thing.

This is all I’m saying. I’m simply listing the logical possibilities. I am not arguing for any particular model of cosmological formation. I am simply saying that B1 cannot be ruled out a priori.

Now, if you want to rule out one of these possibilities, I am happy to read your arguments. But so far, I have seen no arguments, only unsupported assertions.

Again, I apologize if this has all been hashed out somewhere before. If so, kindly point me to the thread or web page where you think the argument is well stated. Otherwise, please stop the insults and start giving some kind of logical argument.

Just a couple of comments Lib.

To boil this down, I believe you are saying that it is logically impossible for something to come from nothing and that the universe can not be uncreated. FriendRob is saying that this is not ruled out logically.

I won’t spend a lot of time on this since I get the impression that you are tiring of the debate and may not want to continue.

It is possible that the energy content of the universe is zero if the negative gravitational energy exactly balances with the positive energy and matter in the universe. Since there are only three “natural” numbers (0, 1, and infinity), perhaps this is the case.

If you are arguing that a quantum fluctuation requires energy to occur, you will need to prove that. If you do, I’m pretty sure that there’s a Nobel prize with your name on it. (I am aware that virtual photons have to borrow energy from the quantum vacuum, but that is not the same thing as saying that a quantum fluctuation itself requires energy.)

Concept of Nothing. A dictionary definition isn’t going to cut it here. In this context it is difficult, if not impossible to accurately define “nothing”.

Temporal arguments. Forget classical physics for the moment. If space and time are quantized, then the common concept of “time” and “beginning” loses it meaning at some very small scale where a space/time foam would rule. The “arrow of time” would cease to have any preferred direction. Terms like “before” and “after” would not apply.

I don’t believe that it would ever be possible to rule out FriendRob’s argument for the logical possibility of an uncreated universe.

What about:

C: There is nothing created; everything is uncreated.


What? I can get an uncreated computer. That’d sure save me a lot of money. :wink:

Well, if everything is uncreated then at least one thing is uncreated? So this is a special case of B.

In what sense does a virtual photon ``borrow’’ energy from the vacuum? You are implying that, for example, energy is conserved after a virtual photon has been emitted but before it is absorbed in some subsequent step in a multiphoton process. I do not believe this is the case.

Also, how do events at the Planck scale have anything to do with arrow-of-time (i.e. Second Law) issues? It has always been my impression that the conflict between the reversability of mechanics and the Second Law can be resolved at the classical level, e.g. by appealing to the extreme length of Poincare’ recurrence for macroscopic systems.

Thanks, cgrayce for pointing out my tenuous grasp of all this. :slight_smile:

You are quite right that I was a bit sloppy with some of my comments.

First, I should have said virtual particles rather than specifically virtual photons. I wasn’t really referring to messenger particles, the details of which are a bit beyond me in the details. But I believe that you are right in that messenger particles do not conserve energy in the way that you describe. I was referring to virtual particles in empty space. When I mentioned borrowing energy I was thinking along the lines of this:

Since Lederman has a Nobel prize and I don’t, you will need to get any further details from him!

My point about the arrow of time has to do with cosmic cosmology as space and time tend toward zero (i.e., the Planck epoch). Rather than the singularity of classical physics, it may be the case that space and time become fragmented into a quantum space-time “foam”. Or as Stephen Hawking has said:

Of course, all of this is speculative stuff, but the point being that just because we don’t understand everything at present, we can’t start calling an uncreated universe a logical impossibility.

Oh, and I’m not familiar with “the extreme length of Poincare’ recurrence for macroscopic systems” so if you’d like to clue me in, feel free. Or perhaps I’ll do a search on it later. But since we’re not talking about macroscopic systems here, I’m not sure that it would apply.

What the heck is this “uncreated” stuff?

Uncreated, to me, would mean “brought into a state of nonexistence”. Do you perhaps mean “non-created”?
Non-created: The laws of physics are intrinsically true. They were discovered, not created. They are non-created items.

Uncreated: In the ending, God uncreated the heavens and the earth. They therefore became without form, and void.

First, define “created”.

What a factory “creates” a computer, it isn’t making the atoms for that computer out of scratch. It’s just rearranging already existing matter into a different form. Same when you build a house, write a book, or give birth to a baby. The mass/energy of the universe is conserved, just re-arranged into different forms by agents within that universe.

If we refer to the the universe as a whole as “created”, we obviously don’t mean it in the same sense as saying my computer was created in a factory. Which is why the discussion usually comes down to “caused” versus “uncaused”, but that has the same fundamental problem.

I’d argue that the concepts we’re using to discuss this (“created”
or “caused” versus “uncreated” or “uncaused”) are fundamentally inapliccable to the question of the nature of the universe as a whole. Causality is a consequent of the laws of time and space, which are properties of the universe itself. Withough the universe, cause and effect do not nesseccarily apply.

So fundamentally, we don’t and can’t know if the universe was created or uncreated.

In this context it means “Existing of itself; uncaused.”

In Taoism

In Buddism

In Christianity

In Islam

In Hinduism