Before the Big Bang
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14-01-2014, 04:18 PM
RE: Before the Big Bang
(14-01-2014 10:19 AM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  As a (relatively) new atheist, I still find myself struggling with the concept of the "first cause" argument. Recently, I have read some books that have helped me develop some understanding of the issue (especially helpful were Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time as well as Atheist Universe -- I forget the author's name). I'm no expert on the subject and I don't pretend to be.

This morning a thought occurred to me that I'm sure has occurred to other, more talented minds in the past, so I thought I'd present it here and see if I can learn something new.

Here's my thought: Time is relative. We know that. Time depends on the observer, and two observers with two different circumstances will experience time in different ways (the twins paradox).

Now, if time is a dimension, and space-time is curved as Einstein suggests, would it follow that there is no such thing as "before" the Big Bang?

Picture it like this: If I started traveling north, I would eventually reach the North Pole. If I continued traveling in the same direction, straight ahead, I would be traveling south. Even though I had not changed direction, I would be traveling north with one step and south with the next.

Would going backward in time work the same way? I can keep going back and back and back until I reached the "temporal north pole," aka, the Big Bang, and if I continued in the same direction, I would suddenly find myself moving forward in time. The reason we cannot fathom "before the Big Bang" is that there literally IS no "before the Big Bang," just as there is no "one step further north" than the North Pole.

Thoughts?

TwoCultSurvivor

I think you may also misunderstand the claim about first cause equivocated with the big bang.
The general claim is not that the big bang *IS* the first cause but a very early stage of the universe which is visible to US.
Creation Ex Nihilo "something from nothing" doesn't make sense and it is more logical to assume something always existed - it may not be the universe as we know it in the last 14 billion years of the observable past (within the limits of the event horizon) - but something always exists.
The exact theory & details are under investigation and there is a possibility we will never know, after all we evolved in the savannah as hunter gatherers not selection pressure for the best cosmologists. There may be eternal sequences of universes, multiple simultaneous universes, bubbles of universes with different dimensions - much of this will be speculation because some of the evidence may have been eliminated forever either in light which will never reach us or under the enormous pressures & heat of the early universe we are investigating.

In any case - the fact we don't know the exact story does not give free license to make up a God to fill the gaps !!!

My personal opinion is nothingness is always in contrast to something i.e it does not make any sense to state "only nothing exists" because it presupposes something. Even during a "nothing phase" there will be potential for something - therefore there was never really only nothing !!!!
If we consider the universe to be the totality of all that exists - then this is the ultimate something and will always exist. It does not matter what the exact details are i.e whether there are parallels universes, multiverses, bubble universes, M theory, strings - whatever......all of it can be considered as "the grand totality of all that exists" which will be eternal as the energy need not be created or destroyed.

Now your question about the first cause is redundant - there is a first cause for parts of existence, parts of reality, parts of the universe and the big bang might be just one of those parts. However "the entire set" has no first cause.

Again, no need for a God to fill in any gaps. I am also not the first to consider this to be the most reasonable & logical scenario - it was considered by Aristotle, Plato, Spinoza, Bertrand Russell, numerous scientists (Eg Paul Davies) and numerous philosophers. (The details might be different for example Aristotle did consider a first cause more like deism but rejected an ex-nihilo creation God presupposing some sort of arrangement of pre-existing chaotic substance - i.e there is always something - it just changes form (the big bang may just be one of those phase transitions into the universe we see today)

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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14-01-2014, 04:29 PM
RE: Before the Big Bang
(14-01-2014 04:15 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  I never said the universe was curved. I said space-time is curved.

Right, which is why I explained spacetime only curves with matter's gravity, so I was taking it to the next step for you, wondering if that was what you meant. And we don't know for sure the universe is curved, in case that was what you were getting at, too.

The universe's timeline and spacetime are not the same thing because one explains the evolution of our universe and the other explains the fabric of said universe.

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14-01-2014, 04:46 PM
RE: Before the Big Bang
(14-01-2014 04:06 PM)LostLocke Wrote:  
(14-01-2014 03:45 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  it's infinite and thus likely flat.
...not sure we know that...

L. Krauss seems to think so.




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14-01-2014, 04:53 PM (This post was last modified: 14-01-2014 04:57 PM by JesusChrist.)
RE: Before the Big Bang
(14-01-2014 04:16 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  
(14-01-2014 04:06 PM)JesusChrist Wrote:  Space time and the Universe's timeline are two different things amigo.

What does that even mean? What distinguishes the universe's timeline from space-time? That's an honest question. My goal is to learn something. Wink

Well,
There are different theories of what time is.
I. Newton's definition, and an opposing stance that "holds that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be travelled." When we're thinking of Newtonian time; we're think of time as a "thing" not relative to WHERE we are in the universe. Spacetime is relative to everything in the universe.

Refer to the first two paragraphs regarding spacetime.

Also, I don't necessarily agree with Newton completely.

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14-01-2014, 04:55 PM (This post was last modified: 14-01-2014 05:01 PM by WillHopp.)
RE: Before the Big Bang
Right, there were some stories in September that said the universe may be curved, but I'll stick with flat until it's a theory. Smile

Krauss says it's flat at around the 41-minute mark.

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14-01-2014, 04:58 PM
RE: Before the Big Bang
(14-01-2014 04:15 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  I never said the universe was curved. I said space-time is curved.

Why wouldn't directional travel "circle back"? It's already been posited that if I shot an arrow straight up and the arrow kept going straight up, it would ultimately come up under my feet (of course, by the time it did that, a bajillion years would have passed). So why not even envision what I'm proposing here (not that it's much of a proposal, and it is all in ignorant fun).

That would depend on whether the geometry is open or closed - which is a separate question to whether it's infinite or not - which is a separate (but quite related) question to whether it's curved or not.

Since the universe is four (plus) dimensional this is all usually analogised with two-dimensional cases. A plane is infinite and flat. A sphere is closed and positively curved (which just means that it closes). It can still be infinite, if it's infinitely large - in which case, no, you can't ever go "around" it. A saddle is infinite and negatively curved.

(14-01-2014 04:16 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  
(14-01-2014 04:06 PM)JesusChrist Wrote:  Space time and the Universe's timeline are two different things amigo.

What does that even mean? What distinguishes the universe's timeline from space-time? That's an honest question. My goal is to learn something. Wink

Well, space-time is what the universe is and its timeline is its history - what's happened to it.

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14-01-2014, 05:01 PM
RE: Before the Big Bang
(14-01-2014 04:53 PM)JesusChrist Wrote:  
(14-01-2014 04:16 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  What does that even mean? What distinguishes the universe's timeline from space-time? That's an honest question. My goal is to learn something. Wink

Well,
There are different theories of what time is.
I. Newton's definition, and an opposing stance that "holds that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be travelled." When we're thinking of Newtonian time; we're think of time as a "thing" not relative to WHERE we are in the universe. Spacetime is relative to everything in the universe.

Refer to the first two paragraphs regarding spacetime.

Spacetime is a fancy way of saying that events are separated. The glib definition - "time is what keeps everything from happening at once" is still pretty much the best.

And it's only really defined in terms of discrete events - there's a reason the second is defined by counting atomic oscillations.

Space, then, is a consequence of time insofar as there needs to be a reason why duration is observable...

(14-01-2014 04:53 PM)JesusChrist Wrote:  Also, I don't necessarily agree with Newton completely.

And well you shouldn't, since he's been an incomplete picture since Lagrange's day!
Tongue

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14-01-2014, 05:04 PM
RE: Before the Big Bang
I did not mean to imply that the First Cause argument and the Big Bang were equated. I simply meant that thinking about the First Cause argument often leads me to thinking about the Big Bang, for reasons that should be obvious (I hope)
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14-01-2014, 05:08 PM
RE: Before the Big Bang
Reads like the Hartle-Hawking "no boundary" proposal...

The geometry of the no-boundary universe would be similar to the geometry of the surface of a sphere, except it would have four dimensions instead of two. You can travel completely around Earth’s surface, for instance, without ever running into an edge. In this analogy, unfolding in imaginary time, Earth’s North Pole represents the Big Bang, marking the start of the universe.

...which has depreciated.

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14-01-2014, 05:20 PM
RE: Before the Big Bang
That Hawking quote is precisely what led to my (ignorant) conjecture.

Then again...

   
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