Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
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14-10-2016, 09:55 PM
Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
Here is the deal: I love science and I love learning scientific things, especially about the universe. But I'm about to write something now that I'm aware may make me look absolutely ignorant. Forgive me.

So, when theists say their god is eternal, many atheists or just scientists like to retort with, "If your god can be eternal then why can't the universe be eternal?" It's a defense I've used.

But for some reason I had this thought the other day: If the universe were truly eternal, then how is it that we are able to truly date materials accurately? In other words, I basically understand how carbon/radio-dating works, but if the universe is eternal, wouldn't all matter, in turn, be eternal, regardless of how it was repurposed out of exploding stars?

Even if dating only works to measure through decay, aren't the atoms/quarks/subatomic particles of all organic matter just repurposed? And wouldn't those ultimately be eternal in an eternal universe? Is it that we just don't have the tools/techniques yet to properly measure something that small, and if we ever develop those that we'd finally have the answer to the question of the universe's true age?

Let the flaming begin.

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14-10-2016, 10:29 PM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
I don't know how we would going about demonstrating it, but I have no problem with eternally-existing energy or particles. It just makes more sense than an eternally-existing sentient thing that hates foreskins and bacon.
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14-10-2016, 10:47 PM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
(14-10-2016 09:55 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  But for some reason I had this thought the other day: If the universe were truly eternal, then how is it that we are able to truly date materials accurately? In other words, I basically understand how carbon/radio-dating works, but if the universe is eternal, wouldn't all matter, in turn, be eternal, regardless of how it was repurposed out of exploding stars?

Depends on your version of 'eternal'. If the universe is a series of big bangs and big crunches, a cyclic system, then everything just gets reset after each cycle. The best we could do is measure backwards to the start of the current cycle, the big bang. But nothing is knowable, measurable, or traceable through the singularity itself.

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15-10-2016, 12:03 AM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
We can arrive at dates and ages of things and we can estimate when matter first formed in the universe.

Is that chair you're sitting on, billions of years old ?
No, probably not. The chair was made fairly recently in the past 50 years or so. The material that the chair is made from could be much older. Perhaps some metal pieces or wood, but even those may have been made fairly recently too and are older than the chair itself.

Carbon in the wood and heavier metals were forged inside stars. Those elements are very old, but on the cosmic scale, probably only about 5 billion years or so.

We can determine the age of a structure by looking at how it has changed over time.

Let's look at a black hole. Black holes break down everything that makes up matter and all you have left is gravity. There is no structure left.

It's difficult to put an age on things when there is no structure that changes over time.

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15-10-2016, 05:54 AM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
(14-10-2016 09:55 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  So, when theists say their god is eternal, many atheists or just scientists like to retort with, "If your god can be eternal then why can't the universe be eternal?" It's a defense I've used.

Doesn't the Big Bang theory itself assume the universe is not eternal though? Or maybe the "Big Bang, Big Crunch" cycle counts as an eternal universe.
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15-10-2016, 07:16 AM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
(15-10-2016 05:54 AM)unknowndevil666 Wrote:  
(14-10-2016 09:55 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  So, when theists say their god is eternal, many atheists or just scientists like to retort with, "If your god can be eternal then why can't the universe be eternal?" It's a defense I've used.

Doesn't the Big Bang theory itself assume the universe is not eternal though? Or maybe the "Big Bang, Big Crunch" cycle counts as an eternal universe.

I think you answered your question. Many hypothesize that the Big Bang is just one of a series of them throughout time. But even if it's the only one, that infinitely small, infinitely heavy ball of mass that the Big Bang emerged from would still have been around forever.

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15-10-2016, 08:44 AM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
(15-10-2016 07:16 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  But even if it's the only one, that infinitely small, infinitely heavy ball of mass that the Big Bang emerged from would still have been around forever.

It certainly is a strange notion, if that ball exists, and seems to exist through instantaneous points of nothing (instantaneously timeless? Try to figure that one out! Huh )
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15-10-2016, 08:51 AM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
(14-10-2016 09:55 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  ........."If your god can be eternal then why can't the universe be eternal?"........

It is a seeming paradox. The solution: The True God is timeless, the Universe is not "past-complete". Heart
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15-10-2016, 09:02 AM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
(15-10-2016 08:44 AM)unknowndevil666 Wrote:  
(15-10-2016 07:16 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  But even if it's the only one, that infinitely small, infinitely heavy ball of mass that the Big Bang emerged from would still have been around forever.

It certainly is a strange notion, if that ball exists, and seems to exist through instantaneous points of nothing (instantaneously timeless? Try to figure that one out! Huh )

The physical instant between the instantaneous events is perfectly measurable: zero seconds. Just any history moment, as example, the 09.05.2010, 12.00 PM, one can represent as infinite long (on the paper) instantaneous (in Physics) moment.
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15-10-2016, 09:14 AM
RE: Is an eternal universe possible or detectable?
There are all sorts of theories about the universe. Big Bang/Crunch is one scenario. Another is one where there is a cooling instead of a heating "coalescence". The problem is, while we have some very good descriptions to help us deal with the physical reality we see around us, we still don't have a perfect picture. We have just a good enough picture to manipulate matter and energy without hurting ourselves too much. We have a lot more to learn. There may come a time when we have the full picture, but that is going to be many millenia away, I suspect. The theory of an eternal nature of the universe is subject to alteration as we learn more. Physicists much smarter than I pretty much agree on the Big Bang. I'm not going to worry about it, as it's outside my lifetime, and above my math skills. I'd not use the eternal universe if I were to argue with a theist. Their ideas have no merit, IMO, on this topic, as they know as much about their alleged god as they do physics, in most cases.
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