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New cosmology paper by skeptical scientists lends support to the fine-tuning argument


There has been much talk in scientific circles recently about a 2013 paper by Anna Ijjas, Paul J. Steinhardt and Abraham Loeb, titled, Inflationary paradigm in trouble after Planck2013. The authors of the paper question the cosmological theory of inflation, which postulates that the universe underwent a period of extremely rapid expansion shortly after the big bang, and that it has been expanding at a slower rate ever since. What I think their paper does instead is lend powerful support to the fine-tuning argument, which claims that the physical constants, initial conditions and laws of the universe were designed by God. This conclusion follows naturally if we assume that the Intelligent Designer of the cosmos wanted to not only make a universe that is hospitable to intelligent beings like ourselves, but also to send a clear signal of His existence to these intelligent beings.

What is the theory of inflation?

In this post, I’m going to quote some non-technical excerpts from the new paper by Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb, in order to convey the gist of the authors’ argument. But first of all, I’d like to say a little bit about the theory of inflation, which Wikipedia, summarizes as follows:

In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation, or just inflation is the extremely rapid exponential expansion of the early universe by a factor of at least 1078 in volume, driven by a negative-pressure vacuum energy density…

The inflationary hypothesis was originally proposed in 1980 by American physicist Alan Guth, who named it “inflation”. It was also proposed by Katsuhiko Sato in 1981…

Inflation answers the classic conundrum of the Big Bang cosmology: why does the universe appear flat, homogeneous, and isotropic in accordance with the cosmological principle when one would expect, on the basis of the physics of the Big Bang, a highly curved, heterogeneous universe? Inflation also explains the origin of the large-scale structure of the cosmos. Quantum fluctuations in the microscopic inflationary region, magnified to cosmic size, become the seeds for the growth of structure in the universe…

The basic process of inflation consists of three steps:

  • Prior to the expansion period, the inflaton field was at a higher-energy state.
  • Random quantum fluctuations triggered a phase transition whereby the inflaton field released its potential energy as matter and radiation as it settled to its lowest-energy state.
  • This action generated a repulsive force that drove the portion of the universe that is observable to us today to expand from approximately 10−50 metres in radius at 10−35 seconds to almost 1 metre in radius at 10−34 seconds.

Following the inflationary period, the universe continued to expand, but at a slower rate…

Readers with a strong background in mathematics who would like a short summary of the theory of inflation can find one here, and another one here.

The mission of the Planck satellite

Max Planck (1858-1947), the founder of quantum theory who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1918. This picture was taken by A.B. Lagrelius & Westphal at the Nobel ceremony, and was published in Sweden in 1919. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Planck satellite (pictured at top, courtesy of NASA and Wikipedia) is a space observatory operated by the European Space Agency (ESA). Named after the Nobel Prize-winning German physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) who founded quantum theory, the satellite was designed to observe and measure the tiny non-uniformities in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at microwave and infra-red frequencies. The satellite was launched in May 2009, and after completing a successful survey, it commenced a second all-sky survey in February 2010. On 21 March 2013, the mission’s all-sky map of the cosmic microwave background was released. In the paper cited below, this new data is simply referred to as the Planck2013 data.

What did the Planck satellite find out?

And now, without further ado, let’s have a look at the new paper by Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb. The authors get to the nitty-gritty of the matter in their two opening paragraphs:

The Planck satellite data reported in 2013 [1] shows with high precision that we live in a remarkably simple universe. The measured spatial curvature is small; the spectrum of fluctuations is nearly scale-invariant; there is a small spectral tilt, consistent with there having been a simple dynamical mechanism that caused the smoothing and flattening; and the fluctuations are nearly Gaussian, eliminating exotic and complicated dynamical possibilities, such as inflationary models with noncanonical kinetic energy and multiple fields. (In this Letter, we will not discuss the marginal deviations from isotropy on large scales reported by the Planck Collaboration [2].) The results not only impose tight quantitative constraints on all cosmological parameters [3], but, qualitatively, they call for a cosmological paradigm whose simplicity and parsimony matches the nature of the observed universe.

The Planck Collaboration attempted to make this point by describing the data as supporting the simplest inflationary models [4, 5, 6]. However, the models most favored by their data (combined with earlier results from WMAP, ACT, SPT and other observations [7]) are simple by only one criterion: an inflaton potential with a single scalar field suffices to fit the data. By several other important criteria described in this Letter, the favored models are anything but simple: Namely, they suffer from exacerbated forms of initial conditions and multiverse problems, and they create a new difficulty that we call the inflationary “unlikeliness problem.” That is, the favored inflaton potentials are exponentially unlikely according to the logic of the inflationary paradigm itself. The unlikeliness problem arises even if we assume ideal initial conditions for beginning inflation, ignore the lack of predictive power stemming from eternal inflation and the multiverse, and make no comparison with alternatives. Thus, the three problems are all independent, all emerge as a result of the data, and all point to the inflationary paradigm encountering troubles that it did not have before.

This sounds like very bad news for the theory of cosmological inflation. But as we’ll see, it’s nothing of the sort: it’s actually good news for the theory that the cosmos was fine-tuned for intelligent beings like ourselves.

The authors preface their discussion of the problems confronting inflation theory with a summary of the new Planck satellite data:

Planck2013 has added impressively to previous results in three ways. First, it has shown that the non-Gaussianity is small. This eliminates a wide spectrum of more complex inflationary models and favors models with a single scalar field.

…[A] second contribution of Planck2013 [1] has been to independently confirm the results obtained previously by combining WMAP with other observations. The data disfavors by 1.5-sigma or more all the simplest inflation models: power-law potential and chaotic inflation [8], exponential potential and power-law inflation [9], inverse power-law potential [10, 11]. Third, the r-ns plot favors instead a special subclass of inflationary models with plateau-like inflaton potentials

An obvious difference between plateau-like models like this and the simplest inflationary models, like V(φ)=λ.φ4, is that the simplest models require only one parameter and absolutely no tuning of parameters to obtain 60 or more e-folds [or a factor of about 1026 – VJT] of inflation while the plateau-like models require three or more parameters and must be fine-tuned to obtain even a minimal amount of inflation.

At this point, I imagine readers may be feeling puzzled. The new satellite data rule out the simplest models of inflation and instead support a model that requires a lot of tweaking to make it work. To many people, that sounds inelegant: surely, a Deity Who was a Master Mathematician wouldn’t make a cosmos like that. Or would He?

In their paper, Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb describe the three main problems that the new satellite data poses for the theory of inflation.

Problem #1: inflation can only smooth out the universe if it’s already very smooth to begin with

Back in the 1980s, the theory of inflation was supposed to be able to turn any old lumpy universe into a smooth one. That’s what the theory was designed for in the first place. Now, in the light of the new satellite data, it turns out that inflation can only smooth out the universe if it starts off very smooth in the first place! In other words, the initial conditions of the universe are not random, after all: they have to be tweaked for inflation to work.

As originally imagined, inflation was supposed to smooth and flatten the universe beginning from arbitrary initial conditions after the big bang [4]. However, this view had to be abandoned as it was realized that large inflaton kinetic energy and gradients within a Hubble-sized patch prevent inflation from starting. While some used statistical mechanical reasoning to argue that the initial conditions required for inflation are exponentially rare [23, 24], the almost “universally accepted” [25] assumption for decades, originally due to Linde [8, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34], has been that the natural initial condition when the universe first emerged from the big bang and reached the Planck density is having all different energy forms of the same order.

After Planck2013, the very same argument used to defend inflation now becomes a strong argument against it. [B]eginning from roughly equal kinetic and gradient energy, gradients and inhomogeneities quickly dominate and the combination blocks inflation from occurring…

In sum, by favoring only plateau-like models, the Planck2013 data creates a serious new challenge for the inflationary paradigm: the universally accepted assumption about initial conditions no longer leads to inflation; instead, inflation can only begin to smooth the universe if the universe is unexpectedly smooth to begin with!

Problem #2: the inflationary models favored by the satellite data are models which are highly unlikely if inflation theory is true

The second oddity uncovered by the Planck satellite data is that the version of inflation they support is one that involves so-called plateau-like models, which themselves require a lot of fine-tuning in order to make them work. This is odd, because other things being equal, another version of inflation, called power-law inflation, is exponentially more likely then plateau-like inflation. What’s more, power-law inflation doesn’t require any fine-tuning to make it work, either. Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb find this all very perplexing:

All inflationary potentials are not created equal. The odd situation after Planck2013 is that inflation is only favored for a special class of models that is exponentially unlikely according to the inner logic of the inflationary paradigm itself. The situation is independent of the initial conditions problem described above; even assuming ideal conditions for initiating inflation, the fact that only plateau-like models are favored is paradoxical because inflation requires more tuning, occurs for a narrower range of parameters, and produces exponentially less plateaulike inflation than the now-disfavored models with power-law potentials…

…[G]iven the much larger field-range for φ, and larger amount of expansion, inflation from the power-law side is exponentially more likely according to the inflationary paradigm; yet Planck2013 forbids the power-law inflation and only allows the unlikely plateau-like inflation. This is what we call the inflationary unlikeliness problem.

The authors derive an important scientific lesson from the new satellite findings. It isn’t enough, they say, for a theory to agree with the observations predicted by a mathematical model of the theory. In addition, they say, that model itself has to be one which we’d expect to be true, on the basis of the scientific paradigm (or basic assumptions) contained within the theory itself:

Therefore, post-Planck2013 inflationary cosmology faces an odd dilemma. The usual test for a theory is whether experiment agrees with model predictions. Obviously, inflationary plateaulike models pass this test. However, this cannot be described as a success for the inflationary paradigm, since, according to inflationary reasoning, this particular class of models is highly unlikely to describe reality. The unlikeliness problem is an alarm warning us that a paradigm can fail even though observations favor a class of models if the paradigm predicts the class of models is unlikely.

I hope by now that some readers will have spotted the flaw in the authors’ scientific reasoning. What they are illicitly invoking here is the question-begging principle of methodological naturalism: the idea that we should do science as if the universe were a self-contained entity. According to this principle, scientific theories are meant to explain everything about our observations, without any need to invoke the supernatural. On this logic, any scientific theory which needs to be supplemented by extraneous ad hoc assumptions in order to make it work is a bad theory, which should be jettisoned. Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb are arguing that inflation is just such a theory.

Problem #3: inflation, once it starts, gives rise to a multiverse where anything can happen, but the new data agrees perfectly with the most naive predictions, which ignore the multiverse

Grace Kelly in High Society. Studio publicity still, 1956. Image courtesy of MGM and Wikipedia.

But there’s more. The whole logic of inflation theory is that it implies the existence of a multiverse, a vast (and perhaps infinite) ensemble of universes, including our own universe. But in a multiverse, where the parameters can vary in any possible way, you would never expect to find a universe whose parameters all had typical values.

In order to see why, let’s think about faces. Faces vary in many ways that we can measure – height, width, ratio of nose length to chin length, and so on – and each of these quantities has an average value. But hardly any face is perfectly average: nearly every face has some irregularity or oddity about it, which makes it different from the norm. Interestingly, faces that are perfectly average turn out to be surprisingly beautiful, like the face of Grace Kelly (pictured above).

The odd thing about the new satellite data is that all of the parameters measured for our universe agree with the values that one would naively expect them to have. None of them are odd, or unusual. And that in itself is an oddity. It’s not what one would expect, given a multiverse: instead, we’d expect a universe that was off-kilter in some way. Instead, it seems we live in a “Grace Kelly” universe:

A well-known property of almost all inflationary models is that, once inflation begins, it continues eternally producing a multiverse [36, 37] in which “anything that can happen will happen, and it will happen an infinite number of times” [38]. A result is that all cosmological possibilities (flat or curved, scale-invariant or not, Gaussian or not, etc.) and any combination thereof are equally possible, potentially rendering inflationary theory totally unpredictive. Attempts to introduce a measure principle [39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44] or anthropic principle [45, 46, 47] to restore predictive power have met with difficulty. For example, the most natural kind of measure, weighting by volume, does not predict our universe to be likely. Younger patches [48, 49] and Boltzmann brains/babies [50, 51] are exponentially favored.

Planck2013 results lead to a new twist on the multiverse problem that is independent of the initial conditions and unlikeliness problems described above. The plateau-like potentials selected by Planck2013 are in the class of eternally inflating models, so the multiverse and its effects on predictions must be considered. In a multiverse, each measured cosmological parameter represents an independent test of the multiverse in the sense one could expect large deviations from any one of the naive predictions. The more observables one tests, the greater the chance of many-sigma deviations from the naive predictions. Hence, it is surprising that the Planck2013 data agrees so precisely with the naive predictions derived by totally ignoring the multiverse and assuming purely uniform slow-roll down the potential.

But if our universe was intelligently designed, instead of being just one of countless universes in an infinite multiverse, this agreement with “naive predictions” is precisely what we might expect to find. What it tells us is that the universe was designed to be beautiful.

Is there any escape from these new problems?

The authors of the paper consider ways in which one might try to retain the theory of inflation, and at the same time avoid the three problems they have raised. One thing they are quite adamant about, however: invoking the anthropic principle won’t help. According to the anthropic principle, the universe has to have the properties it has, because if it didn’t, we wouldn’t be living it. On a very strong version of this principle, the universe was intentionally designed to be hospitable to life. Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb won’t have a bar of it. Even if that were so, they argue, we’d still expect the simplest (power-law) models of inflation to hold true instead of the plateau-like model, because power-law models are (as far as we know) perfectly compatible with the existence of intelligent life-forms, like ourselves:

In the previous sections we introduced three independent problems stemming from the Planck2013 observations: a new initial conditions problem, a worsening multiverse unpredictability problem, and a novel kind of discrepancy between data and paradigm that we termed the unlikeliness problem. It is reasonable to ask: is there any easy way to escape these problems?

One approach that cannot work is the anthropic principle since the new problems discussed in this Letter all derive from the fact that Planck2013 disfavors the simplest inflationary potentials while there is nothing anthropically disadvantageous about those models or their predictions.

The authors go on to dismiss other proposals for avoiding the problems generated by the new satellite data, and conclude that it is the theory of inflation itself which needs to be junked:

The multiverse-unpredictability problem has been known for three decades before Planck2013 and, thus far, lacks a solution. For example, weighting by volume and bubble counting, the most natural measures by the inner logic of the inflationary paradigm, fail.

By contrast, one might imagine the unlikeliness problem first brought on by Planck2013 could be evaded by a different choice of potential… [N]one of these … cases evades the unlikeliness problem. At the same time, it is clear that none does anything to evade the new initial conditions problem caused by Planck2013. In each case, the plateau-like inflation begins well after the big bang, enabling kinetic and gradient energy to dominate right after the big bang.

…If the only way the inflationary paradigm will work is by delicately designing all the test criteria and data into the potential, this is trouble for the paradigm.

Is the Designer trying to send us a message? If so, what kind?

Back in 1993, Walter Remine published a book called The Biotic Message. Evolution versus Message Theory (see here and here for reviews), in which he argued that life was designed in order to convey a simple message: that life was created by a single Designer.

What I’m suggesting here is that the universe was designed not only in order to be hospitable to intelligent life, but also to convey a message: that the Designer exists. And that’s it. Nothing more. It s reasonable to suppose that if an Intelligent Designer created a universe fit for intelligent life-forms like us, that Designer would want these life-forms to be aware of the Designer’s existence. Notice that I am not assuming here that the Designer wants our thanks, prayers, love or adoration. All I am assuming is that the Designer wants to be known.

Assuming that, what would be an ideal way for the Designer to make himself known? A very good way to do that would be to design a fine-tuned universe, which was balanced on a knife-edge, and whose physical parameters and initial conditions needed to be very carefully tweaked, in order for it to have developed the way it did, and in order for it to support life.

In my post, Night Vision: A new version of the fine-tuning argument (February 22, 2013), I discussed a new version of the fine-tuning argument, proposed by philosophy professor John T. Roberts, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In jargon-free language, the argument goes like this:

Premise 1+: we already know that life exists in our universe.

Premise 2+: if we already know that life exists, then the probability that life would require fine-tuning is higher if there’s a Designer than it would be if everything is ultimately the product of blind chance.

Step 3: since we know that life exists in our universe, it follows that the probability that life would require fine-tuning is higher if there’s a Designer than it would be if everything is ultimately the product of blind chance.

Conclusion: therefore the discovery of fine-tuning favors the hypothesis that there’s a Designer over the hypothesis that everything is ultimately the product of blind chance.

The crucial step in this argument was premise 2+, which said that the probability that life would require fine-tuning is higher if there’s a Designer than it would be if everything is ultimately the product of blind chance. Roberts’ justification for this premise was that even if it were unlikely that a Designer would make a finely-tuned cosmos that was balanced on a knife-edge, rather than another kind of cosmos, the occurrence of fine-tuning is still more likely if the parameters describing our universe are set by a Designer than if the parameters are set by chance. Which is fair enough, so far as it goes, but it still leaves us with a nagging question: why would a Designer make a fine-tuned universe, in the first place?

If the proposal I am making is correct, then the answer is very simple: the Designer wants His existence to be known, and to that end, He has created a universe whose fundamental parameters are set up in such a way as to point to the existence of a Designer.

(Some atheists might want to ask at this point: “If that were the case, wouldn’t there be an even better way for the Designer to make His existence known – such as writing messages in the sky?” Perhaps. But someone might wonder if the messages were being written by mischievous aliens. If, however, the very warp and woof of the universe itself appears to be fine-tuned, then we have to posit a more Fundamental Cause: the Cause of the universe itself. In that respect, fine-tuning is a better signal. And as I have pointed out previously, even if our universe turns out to be one of many inside a larger multiverse, that multiverse would itself need to be fine-tuned.)

If my proposal is correct, then we shouldn’t expect the Designer to make the simplest possible universe. Instead, we should expect him to make the simplest universe which at the same time is capable of clearly conveying the message that it was intelligently designed – i.e. fine-tuned.

More trouble for inflation from the Large Hadron Collider?

Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector for the Large Hadron Collider. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

In their paper, Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb hint that experimental results from the Large Hadron Collider might spell more trouble for the theory of cosmological inflation:

Thus far, we have only focused on recent results from Planck2013, but recent measurements of the top quark and Higgs mass at the LHC and the absence of evidence for physics beyond the standard model could be a new source of trouble for the inflationary paradigm and big bang cosmology generally [57, 58]. Namely, the current data suggests that the current symmetry-breaking vacuum is metastable with a modest-sized energy barrier ((10^12 GeV)4) protecting us from decay to a true vacuum with large negative vacuum density [59]…

The predicted lifetime of the metastable vacuum is large compared to the time since the big bang, so there is no sharp conflict with observations. The new problem is explaining how the universe managed to become trapped in this false vacuum whose barriers are tiny (by a factor of 1028!) compared to the Planck density when it is obviously much more probable for the field to lie outside the barriers than within them… Even in the unlikely case that the Higgs started off trapped in its false vacuum and inflation began, the inflaton would induce de Sitter-like fluctuations in all degrees of freedom that are light compared to the Hubble scale during inflation. These tend to kick the Higgs field out of the false vacuum, unless the Hubble constant during inflation is smaller than the barrier height [62]. Curiously, a way to evade the kick-out is if all inflation (not just the last 60 e-folds) occurs at low energies where the de Sitter fluctuations are smaller than the barrier height. This would be possible if the only possible inflaton potentials are plateau-like with sufficiently low plateaus: the very same potentials that have the initial conditions and multiverse problems.

In the light of the suggestion I made above, we can now see that these discoveries, far from disconfirming inflation, provide support for inflation, set up by a fine-tuning cosmic Designer.

Alternatives to inflation?

According to a recent article in New Scientist magazine, titled, No need for inflation if cosmos was a bouncing baby by Lisa Grossman (New Scientist, 23 October 2013), Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University and his colleagues have developed a new alternative to inflation: the cyclic universe:

In their theory, a previous universe went through a phase of slow
contraction, crunching space-time. Then something reversed the process and it expanded again to make a new universe.

Compression explains cosmic smoothness without the need for inflation, because high pressures during the crunch would iron out most wrinkles. However, tiny quantum fluctuations could be carried over from the previous universe to provide the seeds of large-scale structure.

Previous studies had shown that these “before” and “after” pictures work mathematically. But no one was sure what was happening during the bounce. Some models require the universe to shrink to a singularity before rebounding, and we would need something we don’t have – a complete theory of quantum gravity – to describe it.

Now Steinhardt and his colleagues have built a model where, before the universe can collapse to a point, an unknown field with negative pressure shoves everything back outwards. The team used a “ghost” field, a physically unrealistic but mathematically simple field with negative kinetic energy.

“Programming a more realistic energy source would not change the outcome, but would require more complicated equations that would slow down the simulation,” says Steinhardt.

The ghost field is weak enough that it can be ignored, except during the bounce, when the universe is very small and dense. Using the ghostly equations, computational tools that describe space-time under general relativity show that tiny fluctuations from the dying universe can indeed be carried over into the reborn cosmos (Physical Review D, doi.org/pcd).

“Paul’s paper shows that things go through beautifully,” says Burt Ovrut at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “It means that these alternatives to inflation are alive and well.”

Steinhardt admits that this bounce model has its demons. For one, the ghost field is just a placeholder, and the true nature of the one that gave us a push is as mysterious as whatever would have driven inflation.

Well, it seems to me that Steinhardt and his colleagues have given up God for … a ghost. They’ve produced some very nice mathematics, but it would be folly to call it science.

What do readers think?

Here's a piece to the puzzle, JGuy. According to the Big Bange theory . . . The early inflation of the universe was much faster than the speed of light. The majority of the red shift is believed to be the result of inflation, not movement. Thus, light that seems to have been in transit for billions of years, would actually have been in transit for a much shorter period of time. By definition, most galaxies would indeed be about the same age, but the light from the farthest ones (which is what we see) would be considered to have been emitted when they were very young. See http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/1023/Most-distant-galaxy-ever-found-a-glimpse-into-universe-s-mysterious-dark-ages-video Querius
vjtorley I understand the basic idea of the big bang, but I'm really not well read on the technical aspects of the big bang at all. I've read/heard that one has to consider the expandings universe in a way where there is no center of the bang...all points in space are like a point on a balloon that is being inflated. If that is correct, then aren't all localities (e.g. galaxies) the same age across the universe? Unfavored in degree of development. And if that is true, the most distant galaxies should appear less evolved it seems - because of light travel time. But since I read that the most distant galaxies are suppose to appear older, I'm probably missing something... since that seems like it would only be true if our galaxy is nearer the center of an expanding spherical universe. JGuy
vjtorley: I've taken the time to look at the Ijjas, Steinhardt's paper more closely. It looks like you have a very good handle on their analysis and conclusions. It does, indeed, look bad for "inflation." As to their dismissal of the "anthropic principle" as a solution, though, I think what they're saying is that since Planck 2013 delimits inflation theories to those that are "plateau-like," this class of theories suffer from being "totally unpredictive," and (apparently to Steven Weinberg and Leonard Susskind in ref's 45-47) which cannot be remedied by use of the AP. But, in the end, if 'inflation' is no longer tenable, then 'eternal inflation' would also be out, and the problem of 'initial conditions' would then remain--a situation that bespeaks the need for a "Designer." I agree completely with you that it appears that we live in a universe 'designed' so that we can detect the 'Designer.' PaV
Hi JGuy, In answer to your question, I was referring to the appearance of age. Regarding how age is measured: red shift would be the obvious way, but you might object that this is question-begging. Other ways of distinguishing old and young galaxies might relate to the spectra of their stars (Population I stars won't contain any metals; Population III stars should be metal-rich) and the proportion of old stars. This article looks interesting: The Age of Cluster Galaxies from Continuum Colors by Karl Rakos et al. (The Astrophysical Journal 677 (2008) 1019). vjtorley
Hi tjguy, Thank you for your post. Sorry for not getting back sooner, but the backlight on my computer monitor is dead, which means I can't use my PC at home until I get it fixed. I think PaV made a good point when he alluded to the striking predictions made by the Big Bang theory, which have been verified. As you rightly point out, it doesn't do a good job with galaxy formation, which throws one of the four pillars mentioned in the Wikipedia article into doubt, but to my mind, that doesn't warrant tossing the theory on the scrap-heap. I'll take a look at the series of articles you alerted me to. Thanks very much - they sound very interesting. vjtorley
I looked at the link to the AIG article, which includes this quote.
This suggests a fundamental uncertainty about the universe that runs counter to the Christian view of the world and an omniscient God. An omniscient God would presumably know the outcome of any experiment, an idea that is supported by the predetermined world of Newtonian mechanics . . . This ability is called determinism. It would appear that quantum mechanics leads to a fundamental uncertainty that even God cannot probe. - AIG
The author then goes on to try to reconcile these issues. I wish people, both Judeo-Christian and their opponents, would be more careful about what they claim should be a Judeo-Christian world view, and what God can and cannot do. This leads only to complications and paradoxes that we cannot comprehend. For example . . . If God was omniscient, then He would know which slit light passes through in EVERY double-slit experiment. We know that when we observe which slit that the light goes through, the wave pattern collapses. Therefore, God is not observing these interactions, is not omniscient, and does not exist. right? Wrong again. While some people feel that Newtonian determinism allows God to know everything, determinism has also been used as an argument to shut out God from any intervention, leading to the view that God created the universe, wound it up like a pocket watch, and stepped back. This view also highlights the apparent paradox between predestination and free will, including the bitter question, "If God predestined me, how can He possibly hold me accountable for what I do and send me to hell?" (According to the Bible, God doesn't want anyone to go to hell.) Even Albert Einstein, in his objection to non-deterministic aspects of quantum mechanics famously said
God does not play dice with the universe.
To which he received this playful admonition from his friend, Danish physicist Niels Bohr
Einstein, stop telling God what to do.
We can look to the words of Jesus to get a hint of what's going on.
For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed! - Luke 22:22 (NASB)
The "but" seems to indicate that certain things are predetermined, and other things are not. We should bear in mind the obvious:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)
This is why that God often seems to be saying to us in the Bible, "Please trust me." Querius
VJT @ 23
By the way, how does creationism explain the fact that galaxies near us are measurably different from remote galaxies, which are older?
There may be some explanations possible with white hole cosmology, but just wanted to ask - I'm risking assuming that by measurable difference you mean varying 'appearances of age' - How do we know how old a galaxy looks without having observed even one evolve over time? JGuy
tjguy: As I said, the Big Bang DOES have some explanatory power, but many theories can have some explanatory power and still not be true. I understand your desire to hold on to the Big Bang a little longer because of the explanatory power that it does have. What has not been mentioned so far, and which is very important to know and consider, is the whole notion of CMB: Cosmic Background radiation. The distribution of this background radiation points back to the singularity we know as the Big Bang. I think it was Penzias and Wilson (?) who discovered it in the 60's while working for Bell Labs. George Smoot won the Nobel Prize in 2000/2001 (IIRC) for validating this background glow. So it's not only GR, but the CMB that both point to a "Big Bang." We shouldn't lightly walk away from this 'reality'. PaV
how does creationism explain the fact that galaxies near us are measurably different from remote galaxies, which are older?
VJ, that is a good question. There are a number of issues that YEC cosmologists need to solve or explain. I'm not claiming the YEC side has it all together, but I just don't think that evidence that is presented as contradictory to the Big Bang should be turned into evidence supporting ID Big Bang theory. I think a more accurate and honest response to that would be to distance yourself a bit from the big bang. Otherwise, how do you know when to just add God to the mix and when to ditch the theory? That is my main point. As I said, the Big Bang DOES have some explanatory power, but many theories can have some explanatory power and still not be true. I understand your desire to hold on to the Big Bang a little longer because of the explanatory power that it does have. But I do wonder how long it is feasible to hold onto it. At what point are problems finally seen as evidence against the Big Bang instead of bringing God into the picture to plug the holes in the theory which then becomes evidence of the Creator's handiwork? It's a bit fuzzy to me and I doubt any real criteria exist for the breaking point. I did have one question about your post though. In the quote from wikipedia, galaxy formation was listed as one of the four pillars for the Big Bang, but then you admitted that galaxy and star formation are still problems for the big bang. At least that is how I read it. My guess is that wikipedia is a bit inaccurate on that point, but whatever, that's a minor thing. Earlier this year, Dr. Danny Faulkner, a retired cosmologist at the university of South Carolina Lancaster (now Distinguished Professor Emeritus) wrote a series of web articles entitled "Universe By Design". It is aimed at the lay person so that is good for me. In it, he gives a good history and background of cosmology and the current secular and creationist attempts to explain things. Chapter 4 is especially instructive in that it gives a good explanation of the current problems the Big Bang faces. The article VJ reported on is new information that could possibly be included in the article. Much of it is a simple read, but some sections get a bit technical. He also discusses creationist cosmologies as well. Dr. John Hartnett's theory though is notably absent. Not sure why. Dr. Faulkner lists the following three things as the main evidences for the Big Bang: One evidence is the Cosmic Background Radiation, the expansion of the universe and the abundances of the light elements. Anyway, anyone interested in a good summary of cosmology, the strengths and weaknesses of the standard model, and an assessment of creationist cosmology, might want to take a look at this short series of articles. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ud/twentieth-century-cosmology tjguy
Um, move the "c" in "onces" back into "bakwards" . . . my spelling is not that bad! :-/ Querius
Eric Anderson, The "big bang" term can mislead someone into believing that some tiny ball of something blew up in outer space, forming the stars. A better term might have been the "big stretch" that includes space, time, mass-energy, and probably other stuff. This ball of everything didn't expand *into* anything, but it grew larger over time. One reason cosmologists came to believe in the big bang is that they noticed a "red shift" in the light from stars: the light frequency associated with Sodium, in particular, was moved toward the red side of the spectrum, which seemed to indicate that the star was receding from us as evidenced by the doppler effect (not with stretching sound, but instead with light). The problem was that ALL stars seemed to be receding from us, the furthest onces going the fastest. The best explanation was that space itself was expanding. A convenient analogy is to think of a balloon with tiny dots all over it. When you blow up the balloon, ALL the dots are moving away from each other, the farthest ones the fastest. Incidentally, this expansion was faster than the speed of light! Next, cosmologists imagined this process in reverse. They extrapolated bakwards in time until everything was concentrated in a tiny dot. This indicated a Beginning of the Universe, which was not as satisfying as a steady state theory, where the universe was never changing (although individual stars were dying and being born). This is because cosmologists would now have to explain how the universe began. Also, there was the problem with explaining entropy (disorder). As you move forward in time, entropy increases until everything turns into heat. But when you move back in time, everything becomes more orderly and complex until . . . well, that's what we're not sure about. The problems with this model involves extrapolation (always risky), an infinitely small point that contains everything in the universe (scientists like to avoid tiny points), what started the event, and as I mentioned, the entropy question. The next idea was that maybe the universe was expanding, but eventually it would all fall together in "big crunch" and the whole process would start over---the oscellating universe. The problem was that some scientists figured out that everything was expanding too fast (and accelerating) to ever be drawn together again (presumably by Gravity, something else that no one understands). Dark matter was theorized because galaxies were all rotating at about the same speed regardless of their luminosity (number of stars), which was unexpected. Dark energy was theorized as a mechanism to drive the expansion of the universe. Not wanting to gave to rely on God to start this whole thing, Stephen Hawking came up with the idea that the universe was started by *another* universe, a special Mommy universe that started lots of other, baby universes and used string theory. This satisfied Hawking who didn't have to answer where the Mommy came from (or whether there was a Daddy), because this one had special laws. Here are some of his quotes:
“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”
As you can see, this reasoning is indistinguishable from mythology and magic, but has the attraction of not having to believe in God, which is always a problem for some people.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. - Isaiah 40:22 (NIV)
Hi Eric Anderson, I think the questions you ask about the Big Bang are entirely legitimate ones. It may turn out that the Big Bang needs to be supplemented with periodic bursts of Divine intervention, which facilitate galaxy and star formation. That sounds a bit messy, but on the other hand, it seems to be that galaxies do have a real history. They weren't just born yesterday. Consider this photo, courtesy of Wikipedia: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f6/Antennae_galaxies_xl.jpg/604px-Antennae_galaxies_xl.jpg Caption:
The Antennae Galaxies are a dramatic pair of colliding galaxies. In such a collision, the stars within each galaxy will pass by each other (virtually) without incident. This is due to the relatively large interstellar distances compared to the relatively small size of an individual star. Diffuse gas clouds, however, readily collide to produce shocks which in turn stimulate bursts of star formation. The bright, blue knots indicate the hot, young stars that have recently ignited as a result of the merger.
What's your take on that? vjtorley
Hi tjguy, Thank you for your post. You've asked some very penetrating questions. As I understand it, the Big Bang theory makes some very specific predictions, which have been borne out: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang#Observational_evidence .
The earliest and most direct observational evidence of the validity of the theory are the expansion of the universe according to Hubble's law (as indicated by the redshifts of galaxies), discovery and measurement of the cosmic microwave background and the relative abundances of light elements produced by Big Bang nucleosynthesis. More recent evidence includes observations of galaxy formation and evolution, and the distribution of large-scale cosmic structures,[63] These are sometimes called the "four pillars" of the Big Bang theory. (Wikipedia)
That's why I take it seriously as a scientific theory. On the other hand, I have to admit it has some major holes, too. There's no direct observational evidence for dark matter or dark energy, and there's no good model for galaxy formation or for star formation. Does that mean the Big Bang is a false theory or an incomplete theory? There might turn out to be no scientific theory of the formation of the universe. Still, that's a possibility I'd rather not accept until the causal inadequacy of existing theories is clearly demonstrated. By the way, how does creationism explain the fact that galaxies near us are measurably different from remote galaxies, which are older? vjtorley
The CMB shows we are on 'Flat' universe, so total has to add up to 1. Matter accounts for 0.30,the rest(0.70) has to be something, but the damn Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment has turned up nothing. Planck and LUX data are too sophisticated to be wrong. So it seems to be a dead end. The new Planck 2013 has confused the issue further. It suggests a e-folds of ~17 eliminating the explosive inflation scenario. What the heck is going on? I am as restless as the Physicist/ Cosmologists. selvaRajan
tjguy: So far, they have not been discovered. So, we have a whole cosmology built on the hoped for existence of as of yet unseen undiscovered stuff that may or may not exist. If I'm correct in my musings, then what scientists posit as an "inflation field" will turn out to be a kind of 'matter field' accounting for both Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Since scientists are looking only for "particles", they will not find them since we're dealing with a scalar field (which has no "direction" as do "particles"). And they're not looking for it because they are in a way 'blinded' by their 'materialist' approach, which doesn't permit anything 'in' from the 'outside.' I know I'm being cryptic; but, that's all I can do for right now. It's sort of like looking out into the future, and wondering how long it will take scientists to discover what, for all purposes, seems to be right underneath their noses. tjguy, you're likely a YEC. Here's what someone pointed out to me a long time ago: the first and second "days" happened without a "sun" existing. So what kind of a 'day' are we talking about? It's certainly not a '24-hour long' day. If you answer that it's a 'day' to God, then I would agree. But, then we have the words of Scripture, and of St. Peter: "For God, a thousand years are like a day, and a day like a thousands years." This is all Scripture. A cohesive answer to all this is, I believe, inconsistent with YEC. The authority of the Bible rests in God, not its supposed "inerrancy." It is God who inspires the writer, AND, God who inspires the 'listener.' Otherwise, you have nothing. One confirms the other. And both give witness to God in our hearts and lives. PaV
Let's go immediately to the vulnerable underbelly of this beastly model that Steinhardt and Randall propose: we're basically looking at what physicists would call a 'simple harmonic oscillator.' Potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, and then K.E. into P.E. But here's the problem: you'll never end up with as much P.E. that you started with. Why? The 2nd LoT. (Second Law of Thermodynamics). Hence, how do we know that we're not on the 'last' cycle? How do we know if there's enough P.E. left, or if the "ghost field" will produce enough K.E. Likewise, with any given SHO--like a pendulum--somehow that oscillator has to be put into a "non-equilibrium" position. IOW, something (Someone) has to supply the initial P.E. This is all, sort of, scientific daydreaming. It's so undisciplined. No one starts with first principles. Alas. This said, the supposed "ghost field" fits in quite nicely with my own thoughts on the origin of matter, and with it, the origin of the universe. If I'm correct, then scientists will have a much more difficult reality to deal with than just the Big Bang. For clear thinkers, it will almost be a "proof of God." But, of course, we all know you can "lead a horse to water, but you ......." Anyway, my criticisms have been duly noted. PaV
Thanks, tjguy. I'll try to check out the links when I get a chance. Interesting times . . . Eric Anderson
Eric @ 14
And I’m still trying to get an answer as to how a Big Bang explosion could result in galaxies, stars, and planets as a general matter. Any takers?
Actually Eric, that is a very good challenge. It is very rare that any observations match theory in cosmology. There are lots of special conditions that would have been necessary for this stuff to coalesce as envisioned. I don't think scientists really understand how stars do form. There are still many basic questions and problems to be solved, but many cosmologists talk as if everything is under control - just like biologists claim they have evolution all figured out. This is a problem in all areas of evolution! The following articles from crev.info point out some of these problems. The author of this site used to work at JPL Laboratory and is well versed in cosmology and he does not buy into the Big Bang. He sued JPL for firing him for giving out ID videos a few years ago, but lost the suit. http://crev.info/2013/04/major-cosmic-questions-remain-unanswered/ http://crev.info/2013/10/no-dark-matter-down-here/ Dark matter and dark energy are two as of yet undiscovered entities that must exist if the Big Bang has any prayer of being accurate. So far, they have not been discovered. So, we have a whole cosmology built on the hoped for existence of as of yet unseen undiscovered stuff that may or may not exist. I'm not saying we shouldn't be looking for this stuff, but at what point do we go back to the drawing board and admit that the stuff may not exist? I don't know. It's like evolutionists looking for the elusive answer to the problem of the origin of life. At what point should they just recognize that there is no solution to the problem? You could theoretically go on looking for an eternity for something that does not exist while believing all along in your theory that is based on this non-existent stuff. tjguy
Thanks VJ for addressing my concerns. Thanks too for pointing out my error. I meant to say 700 million years. I still think that defies theory. So basically when it comes to cosmology, we are still at a loss as to what happened and when. At least that's how I see it. I stand with Eric and would warn against trying to read into Scripture a scientific idea devised from a methodological naturalism based idea that has lots of holes. When it falls, what will all its biblical supporters say? We should learn our lesson from the Church of Galileo's time. They took the accepted current in vogue scientific theory of their day as fact and found verses they could use to support it. When it was proven wrong, it made the Church look bad. From that point on, many people began to give science precedent over the Bible. Scientists have done a good job of blaming the Church for this. But that is a different topic. At least I think we should hold to the Big Bang lightly and certainly should not claim that the Bible teaches that. VJ, you said the reason you are loathe to give up on it is because you would have no scientific understanding of the history of the universe if you did. You also said you don't think the evidence against it is critical YET. While I understand the problem, I'm not sure if you really have any scientific understanding of it now. The feeling that you do might be nice, but is a faulty theory or a theory with holes in it any better than having no theory? If we don't know, why don't we just admit that we don't know? I know the Big Bang still has some explanetary power, but that doesn't make it true. Darwinian evolution has SOME explanetary power as well. And, here is another genuine question: How do we know there is a scientific explanation of the history of the universe? If God created the sun, moon, and stars on day 4 like He said He did, then it would have to have been a miraculous event that is beyond science, so I think one needs to at least allow for that possibility. I think it is also instructive to remember that for evolutionists, an old earth/universe is absolutely non negotiable, so I don't see secular scientists giving up on the Big Bang very easily. The discovery here in the article reported on here brings into question of whether inflation is really viable. Inflation itself was added to the original theory to prop it up when a problem was found. If inflation doesn't work, then neither does version 99.2, the current version of the Big Bang. So things might be a little more serious than you think - unless you just add God to the mix to keep it afloat. Anyway, big things to think about. About Darwinian evolution: It is true that if you add God to the mix, the Darwinian part of evolution is negated, but others want to front load the process to make it work, thereby preserving the long history of life evolving from one cell. That seems like an ad hoc solution to prop up a scientific theory that has holes, so I don't go for that. tjguy
vjtorley. Sorry, the last post was a response for you. I misread and thought your post was by Sal. JGuy
However, I wouldn’t agree that the values of the physical constants can vary from 0 to infinity: as I understand it, there are certain values that are more “natural” than others, given scientists’ fundamental theory of physics. (Of course, one can always ask: why does this theory hold true, and not some other theory?) Still, the range of permitted values is very large, often spanning dozens of orders of magnitude.
That would fall into my category 2 above. My wording was not the best. Maybe it could have been better worded this way: If what must be true of reality defines it as a life permitting universe, then what must be true is still against all odds when compared to all imaginable possibilities - not actual possibilities. Otherwise, it would be like saying in a primitive sense that life must be a true part of reality.. It's still kind of hard to nail down in words for me. Anyway. I think you approached that point loosely when you said one could then ask 'why does this theory hold true, and not some other theory?' JGuy
If someone could show me that there were galaxies around only 700,000 years after the beginning of the universe, then of course I’d give up the Big Bang theory.
And I'm still trying to get an answer as to how a Big Bang explosion could result in galaxies, stars, and planets as a general matter. Any takers? Eric Anderson
tjguy: I'll put myself in the category of someone who has never bought into the Big Bang. At least not fully. At least not in terms of it being some kind of powerful evidence for this or that deity. I'm willing to follow the best scientific evidence wherever it may lead on this point, and don't have a philosophical dog in the Big Bang fight. So for many years I have -- tentatively and based on the general consensus -- been willing to grant the possibility of the Big Bang. But the more I think about it and the more I read, it seems there are some real problems with the theory. As a result, your question is very important. How long does the idea get to hang around in its current form? Are we just learning a few new nuances here and there that help strengthen our understanding, or are we really at the point where we are now adding ad hoc epicycles to salvage the idea? If someone were stepping back and looking at all the evidence from a fresh perspective would they come away thinking that the Big Bang is the best explanation for the evidence as a whole? I do think people should be very cautious about latching onto the Big Bang as though it is some kind of confirmation of, say, Genesis. There are very cogent interpretations of "Let there be light" that don't depend one iota on whether or not the Big Bang is true. Someone who has a theological viewpoint should not, in my opinion, hang their hat on the Big Bang as confirmation. Eric Anderson
Hi scordova and bornagain77, Thanks for your kind comments, and thanks for the video links, bornagain77. vjtorley
Hi tjguy and JGuy, JGuy is perfectly right in saying that the fine-tuning argument can be made without the Big Bang. (See my post, Is fine-tuning a fallacy? for more details.) However, I wouldn't agree that the values of the physical constants can vary from 0 to infinity: as I understand it, there are certain values that are more "natural" than others, given scientists' fundamental theory of physics. (Of course, one can always ask: why does this theory hold true, and not some other theory?) Still, the range of permitted values is very large, often spanning dozens of orders of magnitude. In answer to tjguy's question, one important difference between the Big Bang and Darwinian evolution is that the former can be shown to work, if the physical parameters and initial values are fixed in advance. The latter could not work without lots of miracles - and then it wouldn't be Darwinian evolution anymore, as Darwinian evolution by its very nature rules out Divine intervention. I do realize that there are observational results that the Big Bang theory does not explain well, or even at all. However, none of these strike me as fatal for the theory - yet. The reason why I'm loath to give it up is a simple one: without it, I'd have no scientific understanding whatsoever of the history of the universe. If a creationist could construct an alternative theory and show that it accords better with our observations, then I'd adopt that. By the way, tjguy, the first known galaxies formed 700 million years after the Big Bang, not 700,000. If someone could show me that there were galaxies around only 700,000 years after the beginning of the universe, then of course I'd give up the Big Bang theory. vjtorley
correction. my last post should read: "2. If that range MUST be what it is, then there is this uncomfortable situation where the physical reality MUST be life prohibitive permitting. How amazing! The infinite uknown possibilities happen to be confined to a finite possibility in favor of life. Best explanation: Intelligent Design." JGuy
And even without the Big Bang, I think we have an argument for fine tuning, although probably not as strong.
Before I ever heard of the fine tuning argument. I had already conceived of the notion. And it didn't require the BBT. It only required understanding that things that are, are already very unlikely. Just the concept of a universe with atoms is mind blowing. We live in a giant Lego set. The same forces all still need to be balanced. And even so....the ultimate in fine tuning: For every possible life permitting universe, there are literally an infinite number of ways to break it (make it life prohibitive). The catch 22 for atheists: For any even modestly fine tuned variable that permits life. One can consider: 1. That variable could be one of an infinitely large range of values. Say, a range from either 0 to +/-infinity, or -infinity to +infinity. If the tuning is even coarsely tuned variable with a wide but finite life permitting range, the ratio of life permitting to life prohibitive universes is literally an infinitely against life. In other words, life would be an impossible gamble. Best explanation: Intelligent Design. 2. If that range MUST be what it is, then there is this uncomfortable situation where the physical reality MUST be life prohibitive. How amazing! The infinite uknown possibilities happen to be confined to a finite possibility in favor of life. Best explanation: Intelligent Design. There is no Goldilocks value for any tuned parameters of the universe where an atheist could feel comfortable in his/her position. Conclusion: the BBT isn't needed at all for a very strong fine tuning argument. JGuy
One more addition to the previous post. More contradictory evidence was recently announced as well. Just a few days ago, a report of fully formed galaxies at the 700,000 year mark of the universe was posted here on Uncommon Descent. I don't think this fits with theory either. http://crev.info/2013/10/findings-that-comport-with-genesis/ tjguy
OK guys, let me play the devil's advocate here for a minute. You know I'm on your team and believe strongly in a Designer, but I'm not on the Big Bang Bandwagon so I see no need to prop it up in light of growing evidence against it. So, here's my question: Couldn't all this evidence that contradicts the Big Bang be seen as just that - contrary evidence that challenges the whole Big Bang scenario? Is it really necessary to add God to the mix to save the Big Bang? When do you take contrary evidence and allow it to challenge the paradigm and when do you take contrary evidence as evidence of the Designer's role in the process? It seems from this article that there is a growing body of evidence that challenges the Standard Model. How long do we hold on to the Big Bang and use God as it's Savior? What would it take - how much contrary evidence would it take for IDers to abandon the Big Band Bandwagon? I realize that holding on to the Big Bang and claiming that the Creator made it possible adds up to a nice argument for ID theory. Hugh Ross has some great statistics in his book showing that, but that doesn't make it true. And even without the Big Bang, I think we have an argument for fine tuning, although probably not as strong. The parameters necessary for life to exist on a planet for example would be one illustration of the fine-tuning argument that need not call on the Big Bang for support. Anyway, it is just confusing to me what criteria IDers use when it comes to cosmology. Somehow, it seems like the Big Bang is taken as a given. So, if the Big Bang happened - and IDers believe it did - all evidence that to the contrary is flip flopped into positive evidence of the Designer's role in the Big Bang. But do we really know this to be true or is this simply what we want to believe? A friendly question from a creationist. tjguy
On a tangent . . . After looking at bornagain77's video recommendations, I clicked on this one: What Caused the Big Bang? by Tony Darnell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uabNtlLfYyU Tony narrates
It is from this starting point that everything we are familiar with came into existence: protons, neutrons, stars, galaxies . . . even space and time itself are here . . . For many, "God caused the big bang" is a perfectly reasonable response. This seems to help many cope with the unsatisfying prospect of an event without a cause. The problem, of course, is that one is then immediately forced to ask, "From where did the creator come?" If the answer is "He always existed," then we have a situation from a causality standpoint that is no more satisfying than the universe that springs forth from nothing. A creator that has always existed is an entity that somehow exists without a cause . . ."
Yes. A cause for existence necessitates a time before existence. But Tony forgot that he had said earlier that "time itself" began with the big bang. So before the big bang, time did not exist, rendering his objection meaningless. Tony might as well have claimed that God can't exist because before the big bang, he would have had no air to breathe. ;-) However, there is something that I can't comprehend, and that is mind (logos) without time, making a decision to create the universe. This is completely beyond me. Querius

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