The Universe Had A Beginning

An earlier blog post gave the essence of the Kalam argument for the existence of God, which is:

1. Everything that has a beginning had a cause.
2. The universe had a beginning.
3. Therefore the universe had a cause.

The critical premise is (2), that the universe began to exist. The only two options are that the universe began to exist, or it did not. Those two options exhaust the possibilities.

The popular arguments for demonstrating that the universe began use such things as the second law of thermodynamics. In the argument, if the universe had no beginning, it would have run out of energy an infinitely long time ago. It still has energy, therefore it is not infinitely old, and had a beginning. To get around this problem, several arguments have been given by those who believe that only matter exists. My college astronomy text proposed the possibility that hydrogen was entering the universe from no where, injecting energy to keep it going. Notables such as Stephen Hawking have proposed theories where the universe only appears to have had a beginning, but really came from a complex system of multiple dimensions, where the matter in our universe came from another dimension and entered our time and space, thus appearing to us to have come from a singular point, but really this was merely an entry point from another dimension. Hawking was attempting to measure gravity that comes from no source in our dimension, and if he found it, it would allegedly prove the existence of a place beyond space-time existence.

Others have proposed a “big bounce,” saying that the big bang resulted in what looks like an explosion, but eventually gravity will pull everything back together again, resulting in a big bounce, or an oscillating universe. The big bounce is proposed even though all the astronomical measurements show that matter is spreading apart and speeding up. And on goes the speculation.

These systems strike me as complex stories that have no underpinnings. No one has shown that particles appear from nowhere, Hawking has not found gravity appearing from no source, and there’s no evidence of a big bounce. But we do have that pesky second law, that seems to always be hanging around, pointing to a beginning.

Pushing the origin of the big bang to outside of our dimension just amplifies the problem, for now we have a more complex system that must be explained, with more energy sources that seem to have not yet run down. I’m reminded of the tired old joke about the earth being on the back of an elephant. What is the elephant standing on? Turtles. What are they standing on? Well, it’s turtles all the way down, so we don’t need an explanation for what the turtles are standing on.

The absurdity of a finite without a beginning seems to have escaped them. For everything that is finite has an origin. Everything that is finite had a beginning point. Which of course the scientists do not think about because they consider philosophy to be nonsense, and so they do not study logic. Nevertheless, all finites had a beginning, and no infinite ever had a beginning.

The only way around saying that the universe had a beginning is to somehow claim that it is infinite, which some have done. But this too is absurd, for an actualized infinite cannot exist. We can have an abstract infinite that we can attempt to plug into a math formula, but no one can have an actualized infinite……….any material object, added together, would only give us a very large finite.  Everything we see is material and finite, and all finites have to have a beginning. If they had a beginning, they need a beginner.

As William Lane Craig has said, after pointing out problems with several scholarly attacks on the beginning of the universe, “All of the above objections have been offered as attempted justification of the apparently incredible position that the universe sprang into being uncaused out of nothing. But I, for one, find the premises of those objections far less perspicuous than the proposition that whatever begins to exist has a cause. It is far more plausible to deny one of those premises than to affirm what Hume called the “absurd Proposition” that something might arise without a cause, that the universe, in this case, should pop into existence uncaused out of nothing.”

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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4 Responses to The Universe Had A Beginning

  1. s33light says:

    “The only two options are that the universe began to exist, or it did not. Those two options exhaust the possibilities.”

    Maybe not. Causality itself is a cognitive principle we experience subjectively – it’s not necessarily a universal truth. Likewise the conditionality of either/or is a conceit of Aristotelian logic which may not adequately describe all possible phenomena.

    I don’t really understand what’s the point of saying that the Universe had to have a beginning if you’re going to conclude that it could be caused by a divine being who doesn’t have to have a beginning. How is that not just moving the nonsense off one page and on to an earlier page of the story?

    I have my own theories about it which I think potentially offer better understandings. In a nutshell, the Cosmos is not made of matter, it’s made of sense. Order. Subjectivity and objectivity are existentially divided ends of an essentially undivided continuum. Not everything is alive or intelligent in a way we might be able to understand but everything contributes to greater and more meaningful wholes. From the outside, these meanings appear as matter and energy and follow predictable paths of evolution and entropy. From the inside these physical biochemical processes appear to us as teleological experiences in time and space. God or spirit is the projection of the teleological Self onto the exterior world. Atheism is the projection of the material unself into the interior world. Both are complementary parts of an indivisible whole. It shouldn’t be a big deal really, but of course, it is.

    PS Also photons don’t really exist at all and time, space, and energy are intersubjective experiences of ‘matter’ – meaning that the Big Bang is just what it looks like inside the Big Bang from an objectified perspective, when actually it’s more like a Big Brain, building connections and making Sense happen from the inside out. All beginnings and endings, particles and measurements, feelings and experiences are part of the show but the show itself has no cause and all cause. It’s completely random and it’s perfect fate. It’s everything: it’s the universe.

    • humblesmith says:

      Reality exists apart from our experiencing of it. Whether I exist to experience an event does not impact the event, which means that my perceptions do not create reality. Whether or not my perceptions are accurate is another question entirely.

      Regarding your denial of Aristotelian logic, it becomes rather inescapable. While not everything fits into either/or situations, everything does fit into logic. I hope you’re not saying that “It is always false that one should use logic in all situations” for that is self-refuting, using logic to refute logic. In the case at hand, the only two possibilities are that the universe began to exist or did not. Even David Hume, the king of skeptics, who went as far as to deny that we can know any cause-effect relationships, said “I never asserted so absurd a proposition that something could arise without a cause.”

      Regarding God, He is infinite, not finite. Only finite things have a beginning, and anything that is infinite could not have had a beginning. As the blog entry said, anything made of matter is finite, and anything finite had a beginning. God is neither material nor finite, therefore He does not have a beginning.

      Regarding your theory, there’s far too much there to deal with here. I will comment only on one thing. You said: “Subjectivity and objectivity are existentially divided ends of an essentially undivided continuum.” If you are saying that the undivided is divided, this refutes itself. If you are saying that it is true in all cases that true statements are subjective, then your statement can only be taken by me as subjectively true, and therefore it is not true in all cases, at least not in mine.

      Blessings

  2. s33light says:

    “Reality exists apart from our experiencing of it. Whether I exist to experience an event does not impact the event, which means that my perceptions do not create reality.”

    I agree, of course that realities exist regardless of whether we exist to experience it ourselves, but not necessarily in any form we might be familiar with. If there are no other entities capable of experiencing realities as we do, then there is no frame of reference or perspective for coherence to manifest. A sphere is only a sphere if you are experiencing it in a certain relation to it – if you are close enough and small enough, the sphere is experienced as a plane. If you are too far, you don’t experience the sphere as anything. Does the sphere exist in ‘reality’? Only if your reality includes the possibility of spheres. If your perception only includes olfactory and auditory sense, then ‘sphere’ has no meaning and you would have absolutely no opportunity to seek to create instruments to detect or measure objects – but you might have techniques of discerning some information about physical space based on studying odor memories and echo.

    I’m not trying to deny Aristotelian logic, just wanted to point out that we don’t have to assume it’s the only possible valid form of logic. In the case of cosmic ontology, I think it’s important to remember that we view the universe through a very specific neurological structure living on the surface of one tiny object and have no more insight to the totality of being than a fruit fly might have of the workings of a microwave oven.

    As far as God being different from the universe, I see that as rooted in the assumption that the universe is synonymous with matter, which I think clearly is not the case. I would say that the universe is finite matter on the ‘outside’ and ‘nonfinite’ experience on the inside.

    I’m not trying to be zen about the an undivided continuum that is divided, I’m just trying to plainly describe our experience. On the inside, we seem to be made of things like thought, feeling, sensation, and memory..wishes and desire. On the outside we seem to be made of neuroelectric and biochemical material phenomenon containing no trace of sentience or meaning.

    If you want to see more of my ideas on this kind of thing, see my site: http://s33light.org/intro

    Thanks for the blessings. Right back atcha.

  3. Pingback: If Evolution, Why Religion? (Part 2) | Thomistic Bent

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