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Does the beginning of the universe require a cause?

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Alexander Vilenkin

A philosophical question to wake you up. A reader directs our attention to a 2015 piece by cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin at Inference Review (2015):

THE ANSWER to the question, “Did the universe have a beginning?” is, “It probably did.” We have no viable models of an eternal universe. The BGV theorem gives us reason to believe that such models simply cannot be constructed. More.

He offers the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin (BGV) theorem by way of evidence:

Loosely speaking, our theorem states that if the universe is, on average, expanding, then its history cannot be indefinitely continued into the past. More precisely, if the average expansion rate is positive along a given world line, or geodesic, then this geodesic must terminate after a finite amount of time. Different geodesics, different times. The important point is that the past history of the universe cannot be complete.

An outline of a mathematical proof of BGV is appended to the article.

Vilenkin goes on to assert that

Modern physics can describe the emergence of the universe as a physical process that does not require a cause.

He explains,

If all the conserved numbers of a closed universe are equal to zero, then there is nothing to prevent such a universe from being spontaneously created out of nothing. And according to quantum mechanics, any process which is not strictly forbidden by the conservation laws will happen with some probability.

A newly-born universe can have a variety of different shapes and sizes and can be filled with different kinds of matter. As is usual in quantum theory, we cannot tell which of these possibilities is actually realized, but we can calculate their probabilities. This suggests that there could be a multitude of other universes.

He concedes,

The theory of quantum creation is no more than a speculative hypothesis. It is unclear how, or whether, it can be tested observationally. It is nonetheless the first attempt to formulate the problem of cosmic origin and to address it in a quantitative way.

William Lane Craig

Apologist William Lane Craig takes issue with the argument (2017):

Grant the supposition that the positive energy associated with matter is exactly counter-balanced by the negative energy associated with gravity, so that on balance the energy is zero. Vilenkin’s key move comes with the claim that in such a case “there is nothing to prevent such a universe from being spontaneously created out of nothing.” Now this claim is a triviality. Necessarily, if there is nothing, then there is nothing to prevent the universe from coming into being. By the same token, if there is nothing, then there is nothing to permit the universe to come into being. If there were anything to prevent or to permit the universe’s coming into being, then there would be something, not nothing. If there is nothing, then there is nothing, period.

Vilenkin, however, infers that “no cause is needed” for the universe’s coming into being because the conservation laws would not prevent it and “according to quantum mechanics, any process which is not strictly forbidden by the conservation laws will happen.” (Vilenkin assumes that if there were nothing, then both the conservation laws and quantum physical laws would still hold. This is far from obvious, however, since in the absence of anything at all, it is not clear that the laws governing our universe would hold.) But even granted that the laws would still hold, why think that, given the laws of quantum mechanics, anything not strictly forbidden by the conservation laws will happen? … the conservation laws do not strictly forbid something’s coming into existence, but neither do they forbid nothing’s coming into existence, but both cannot happen. It is logically absurd to think that because something is not forbidden by the conservation laws, it will therefore happen.

Finally, Vilenkin’s inference that because the positive and negative energy in the universe sum to zero, therefore no cause of the universe’s coming into being is needed is hard to take seriously. This is like saying that if your debts balance your assets, then your net worth is zero, and so there is no cause of your financial situation! More.

We likely haven’t heard the last of this question but it is nice to see it debated outside of the three-ring circus of crackpot cosmology.

See also, other philosophical questions; Did the universe never have a chance?

Does the size of the universe sweep us toward atheism?

Philosopher: If there is something rather than nothing, questions around God cannot be ignored Waghorn: “Firstly, that on the most plausible demarcation criterion for science, science is constitutionally unable to show theism to be a redundant hypothesis; the debate must take place at the level of metaphysics. ”

Is zero even?

Absolute zero proven mathematically impossible?

Is celeb number pi a “normal” number? Not normal. And things get worse. Surely this oddity is related in some way to the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics.

Durston and Craig on an infinite temporal past . . .

Physicist David Snoke thinks that Christians should not use the kalaam argument for God’s existence

and

Must we understand “nothing” to understand physics?

Why is space three dimensions anyway? Why not six? A new theory is offered. They want to test their theory?  What a great idea! In an age of wars on falsifiability, that’s a refreshingly new/old idea.

 

45 Replies to “Does the beginning of the universe require a cause?

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    It is logically absurd to think that because something is not forbidden by the conservation laws, it will therefore happen.

    This is wrong: the reality is more nuanced. If something is not forbidden by the conservation laws, then presumably that means that it has a non-zero probability of occurring. In that case, as the sample space increases, the probability of it not occurring approaches 0. A wrinkle is that for some processes the expected “time” to occurrence may be infinite, but I’m not sure that is relevant here.

  2. 2
    asauber says:

    Bob O’H,

    Are Unicorns forbidden by conservation laws?

    Andrew

  3. 3
    harry says:

    Cause and effect is the bedrock of the scientific method; the creation of hypotheses and the conclusions drawn from experiments depend upon the notion that cause and effect can be observed. Science rendered irrational by atheism has now gone so far as to reject the very bedrock of the scientific method — cause and effect — in order to defend atheism. Vilenkin’s “Modern physics can describe the emergence of the universe as a physical process that does not require a cause.” is a striking example of this irrationality. Let me explain:

    From nothing, nothing comes. By nothing is meant the absence of space, time, matter, energy, and the laws of both classical and quantum physics. The list includes the laws of physics because if there is no time, space, matter or energy, there are no laws governing the behavior of that which doesn’t exist. Consistent behavior being observed is precisely described and becomes a law of physics. Such laws themselves don’t and can’t do anything. They only exist in a mind’s comprehension of the consistent behavior.

    Stephen Hawking’s assertion that “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing” demonstrates the confusion. A law of gravity did indeed exist before the Universe, but only in a mind; in this case it existed in a preexisting Mind’s comprehension of what would be the consistent effects of the curvature of spacetime.

    It becomes more evident all the time that Max Planck got it right:

    All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force… We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.

    Cause and effect is still in effect. The natural Universe – time, space, matter, energy, and the laws of physics — had a beginning. That beginning had a cause. Its cause had to be a supernatural one because the natural didn’t exist yet and is what was brought into being.

  4. 4
    Mark from CO says:

    “Modern physics can describe the emergence of the universe as a physical process that does not require a cause.”

    I am not a trained philosopher or cosmologist. But I have enough life experiences to see when someone is trying hard to ignore possibilities they don’t want to consider, or are totally ignorant of other logical arguments. Many (most?) cosmologists are not at all well versed in philosophy. Philosophy has much to say on issues that science pretends are in its domain, but really aren’t. A causal agent for the universe is one such issue.

    Vilenkin says there may be a physical process that caused the universe. There may well be. But to say this physical process has no need of a cause is to state a philosophical thesis, not a scientific one. The argument only kicks the can down the road (physical processes have actualities and potentialities to address, as well as related contingent/necessary arguments, lack the metaphysical simplicity that philosophical arguments must attribute to a first cause, etc.).

    In short, too many very bright scientists are afraid to confront the possibility of a great first cause and look to camouflage or ignore facts.

  5. 5
    KD says:

    Normally, in physics, you have equations that contain variables such as m, t, d, and so forth. So I’m a bit puzzled as to how you can get a universe from an equation of nothing (i.e., there are no variables). Is he saying that 0= the universe? Or is he saying that the special equations he is using refer to absolutely nothing at all? or that there are no actual variables such as t representing time, or anything at all like that? I have to admit, this just sounds like a fancy “Emperor has no clothes” scam.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Alexander Vilenkin appeals to probabilities in quantum theory to try to get around a cause for the universe:

    “And according to quantum mechanics, any process which is not strictly forbidden by the conservation laws will happen with some probability.”

    and

    As is usual in quantum theory, we cannot tell which of these possibilities is actually realized, but we can calculate their probabilities. This suggests that there could be a multitude of other universes.

    And yet, in the instrumentalist approach to quantum mechanics, we find that, as Steven Weinberg himself points out, “In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,”,,,

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    Many people may object that, due to methodological naturalism, we cannot allow agent causality into physics.

    As, again, Weinberg himself noted:

    “we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans.”

    Yet I hold that forsaking agent causality, via methodological naturalism, leads to catastrophic epistemological failure. For instance, if methodological naturalism is true then nobody has ever written an e-mail, the laws of physics are responsible for writing them:

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism – Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: “Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism (MN). If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.
    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.
    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?
    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,,
    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.,,,
    some feature of “intelligence” must be irreducible to physics, because otherwise we’re back to physics versus physics, and there’s nothing for SETI to look for.”,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....90071.html

    Likewise, if methodological naturalism is true, then Einstein did not discover relativity but the law of physics did:

    Physicist George Ellis on the importance of philosophy and free will – July 27, 2014
    Excerpt: And free will?:
    Horgan: Einstein, in the following quote, seemed to doubt free will: “If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the Earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord…. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will.” Do you believe in free will?
    Ellis: Yes. Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.
    I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense. Physicists should pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation – if they have the free will to decide what they are doing. If they don’t, then why waste time talking to them? They are then not responsible for what they say.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....free-will/

    Of humorous note to methodological naturalism vs agent causality, Dr. Craig Hazen, in the following video at the 12:26 minute mark, relates how he performed, for an audience full of academics at a college, a ‘miracle’ simply by raising his arm,,

    The Intersection of Science and Religion – Craig Hazen, PhD – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....qlE#t=746s

    Many people may claim that methodological naturalism is just the way we do science and that it has been very productive to science, but I say HOGWASH! The Christian founders of modern science certainly did not presuppose the laws of nature to be ‘natural’ but presupposed the Agent Causality of God to be behind the laws of nature.

    “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
    – Isaac Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
    http://gravitee.tripod.com/genschol.htm

    “At the same time I think that each individual man should do all he can to impress his own mind with the extent, the order, and the unity of the universe, and should carry these ideas with him as he reads such passages as the 1st Chap. of the Ep.(Epistle) to Colossians (see Lightfoot on Colossians, p.182), just as enlarged conceptions of the extent and unity of the world of life may be of service to us in reading Psalm viii, Heb ii 6, etc.,,,”
    – James Clerk Maxwell
    http://silas.psfc.mit.edu/Maxwell/maxwell.html

    “for the book of nature, which we have to read is written by the finger of God.”
    – Michael Faraday
    http://silas.psfc.mit.edu/Faraday/

    “As a physicist, that is, a man who had devoted his whole life to a wholly prosaic science, the exploration of matter, no one would surely suspect me of being a fantast. And so, having studied the atom, I am telling you that there is no matter as such! All matter arises and persists only due to a force that causes the atomic particles to vibrate, holding them together in the tiniest of solar systems, the atom.
    Yet in the whole of the universe there is no force that is either intelligent or eternal, and we must therefore assume that behind this force there is a conscious, intelligent Mind or Spirit. This is the very origin of all matter.”
    – Max Planck, as cited in Eggenstein 1984, Part I; see “Materialistic Science on the Wrong Track”.
    https://withalliamgod.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/max-planck-on-god/

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, the dogmatic imposition of methodological naturalism onto science, prior to any investigation being done I might add, far from being productive for science, is completely antagonistic to modern science:

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – 39:45 minute mark
    https://youtu.be/8rzw0JkuKuQ?t=2387
    Excerpt: Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God.
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    Paper with references for each claim page; Page 34:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pAYmZpUWFEi3hu45FbQZEvGKsZ9GULzh8KM0CpqdePk/edit

    Thus, although the Darwinist firmly believes he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    As far as experimental evidence is concerned, there simply is no reason to, a-priori, via methodological naturalism, exclude the “Mind of God” from consideration in physics. In fact, I would hold that advances in Quantum Physics now demands that the infinite “Mind of God” to be considered very much a viable option.

    For instance, prior to measurement, the quantum wave is mathematically described as being in an ‘infinite dimensional state’:

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    Why do we need infinite-dimensional Hilbert spaces in physics?
    You need an infinite dimensional Hilbert space to represent a wavefunction of any continuous observable (like position for example).
    https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/149786/why-do-we-need-infinite-dimensional-hilbert-spaces-in-physics

    ,, an infinite dimensional state that also takes an infinite amount of information to describe properly.

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (quantum) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the superposition of the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Infinity – Max Tegmark
    Excerpt: real numbers with their infinitely many decimals have infested almost every nook and cranny of physics, from the strengths of electromagnetic fields to the wave functions of quantum mechanics: we describe even a single bit of quantum information (a qubit) using two real numbers involving infinitely many decimals.
    https://www.edge.org/response-detail/25344

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, Richard Feynman was only able to unify special relativity and quantum mechanics into quantum electrodynamics by quote unquote “brushing infinity under the rug” by a technique called Renormalization

    THE INFINITY PUZZLE: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe
    Excerpt: In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored. Richard Feynman, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for this breakthrough, referred to this sleight of hand as “brushing infinity under the rug.”
    http://www.americanscientist.o.....g-infinity

    In the following video, Richard Feynman rightly expresses his unease with “brushing infinity under the rug.” in Quantum-Electrodynamics:

    “It always bothers me that in spite of all this local business, what goes on in a tiny, no matter how tiny, region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now how can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman – one of the founding fathers of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics)
    Quote taken from the 6:45 minute mark of the following video:
    Feynman: Mathematicians versus Physicists – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obCjODeoLVw

    I don’t know about Richard Feynman, but as for myself, being a Christian Theist, I find it rather comforting to know that it takes an ‘infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do’:

    “Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman

    John1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John 1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is also the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

    The reason why I find it rather comforting is because of John 1:1, which says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ‘The Word’ in John 1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos also happens to be the root word from which we derive our modern word logic.

    As well, in further establishing the centrality of “Mind” in quantum mechanics, Albert Einstein was proven wrong in his claim that “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.”

    “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.”
    – Albert Einstein
    Quote was taken from the last few minutes of this following video.
    Stanley L. Jaki: “The Mind and Its Now”
    https://vimeo.com/10588094

    The ‘experience of the now’ contrary to what Einstein thought possible for experimental physics, is practically one of the primary defining attributes of quantum mechanics that makes it so ‘weird’ for people who first encounter quantum mechanics. As Scott Aaronson noted: “the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”

    “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    – Scott Aaronson – MIT associate Professor quantum computation – Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables
    http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec11.html

    The following video goes into a bit more detail of the experimental evidence that falsifies Einstein’s claims against ‘the experience of the now’ as well as the evidence falsifying his claims against free will.

    Albert Einstein vs. Quantum Mechanics and His Own Mind – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxFFtZ301j4

    As to free will in particular. Free will, like the experience of the now’, finds a deep relationship in our understanding of the universe in quantum mechanics.
    As leading experimental physicist Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    Moreover, in regards to free will, it is important to point out that although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God. C.S. states it as such:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    And exactly as would be expected on the Christian view of reality, we find two very different eternities in reality. An ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with General Relativity and a extremely orderly eternity associated with Special Relativity:

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKggH8jO0pk

    Moreover, when we rightly let the Agent Causality of God “BACK” into the picture of modern physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned, then an empirically backed reconciliation between Quantum Theory and General Relativity readily pops out for us in Christ’s resurrection from the dead:

    Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw

    Verses:

    John: 23-24
    Then He told them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. That is why I told you that you would die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

    Psalm 118:22
    The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

  9. 9
    FourFaces says:

    asauber @2:

    Bob O’H,

    Are Unicorns forbidden by conservation laws?

    Andrew

    LOL. I love it. The best way to counter the idiocy of evolutionists and materialists is to fling their fecal matter right back at them.

  10. 10
    LocalMinimum says:

    It seems the only way to have materialism is to just hack off causality at some point; otherwise, precedents reach back into that terrifying unknown beyond mortal reason.

    Of course, materialism doesn’t handle non-causality, as causality is the mode of our understanding, and materialism is nothing more than a subset of reductions of reality to our understanding (as the special-non-special projective origin of reality (everything that can be necessarily emerges from some variety of ape-brain, of course)).

    So we just factor the abominable anomaly into a set of terms, push those to the other side of the blackboard and cover one eye.

    In this case, it’s the accidental universe generating field whose origin, laws, distribution and symmetries we need never consider beyond it doing what we need (because it becomes useless the moment we do).

    Materialism is a bad joke that gets poorer with every retelling.

  11. 11
    Bob O'H says:

    asauber @ 2 – as far as I’m aware, no.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, WLC nailed it:

    Grant the supposition that the positive energy associated with matter is exactly counter-balanced by the negative energy associated with gravity, so that on balance the energy is zero. Vilenkin’s key move comes with the claim that in such a case “there is nothing to prevent such a universe from being spontaneously created out of nothing.” Now this claim is a triviality. Necessarily, if there is nothing, then there is nothing to prevent the universe from coming into being. By the same token, if there is nothing, then there is nothing to permit the universe to come into being. If there were anything to prevent or to permit the universe’s coming into being, then there would be something, not nothing. If there is nothing, then there is nothing, period.

    Vilenkin, however, infers that “no cause is needed” for the universe’s coming into being because the conservation laws would not prevent it and “according to quantum mechanics, any process which is not strictly forbidden by the conservation laws will happen.” (Vilenkin assumes that if there were nothing, then both the conservation laws and quantum physical laws would still hold. This is far from obvious, however, since in the absence of anything at all, it is not clear that the laws governing our universe would hold.) But even granted that the laws would still hold, why think that, given the laws of quantum mechanics, anything not strictly forbidden by the conservation laws will happen? … the conservation laws do not strictly forbid something’s coming into existence, but neither do they forbid nothing’s coming into existence, but both cannot happen. It is logically absurd to think that because something is not forbidden by the conservation laws, it will therefore happen.

    Nothing — non-being — has no causal capability. Were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain. We are seeing incoherent circles of rhetoric dressed up in a lab coat that effectively want to pull a cosmos out of a non-existent hat.

    Poof-magic on steroids.

    KF

  13. 13
    willspeaks says:

    I’m just a layman, but it seems to me that a Law must have Something to govern. If there is Nothing, is there even a Law of Conservation?
    It’s almost as if the author is trying to make the argument that “Before the Universe, there was the Law, and the Law, by not speaking, spoke the Universe into existence”
    Hummmmm?

  14. 14
    willspeaks says:

    Which begs the question, Who wrote the Law?

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    of related note to the Mind of God as the cause for the universe.

    The Quantum Zeno Effect is particularly interesting to look at.

    The ‘Quantum Zeno Effect’ is, to put it simply, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.

    Quantum Zeno Effect
    The quantum Zeno effect is,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Zeno_effect

    ‘Zeno effect’ verified—atoms won’t move while you watch – October 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Graduate students,, created and cooled a gas of about a billion Rubidium atoms inside a vacuum chamber and suspended the mass between laser beams.,,,
    In that state the atoms arrange in an orderly lattice just as they would in a crystalline solid.,But at such low temperatures, the atoms can “tunnel” from place to place in the lattice.,,,
    The researchers demonstrated that they were able to suppress quantum tunneling merely by observing the atoms.,,,
    The researchers observed the atoms under a microscope by illuminating them with a separate imaging laser. A light microscope can’t see individual atoms, but the imaging laser causes them to fluoresce, and the microscope captured the flashes of light. When the imaging laser was off, or turned on only dimly, the atoms tunneled freely. But as the imaging beam was made brighter and measurements made more frequently, the tunneling reduced dramatically.,,,
    The experiments were made possible by the group’s invention of a novel imaging technique that made it possible to observe ultracold atoms while leaving them in the same quantum state.,,,
    The popular press has drawn a parallel of this work with the “weeping angels” depicted in the Dr. Who television series – alien creatures who look like statues and can’t move as long as you’re looking at them. There may be some sense to that. In the quantum world, the folk wisdom really is true: “A watched pot never boils.”
    http://phys.org/news/2015-10-z.....-wont.html

    Interaction-free measurements by quantum Zeno stabilization of ultracold atoms – 14 April 2015
    Excerpt: In our experiments, we employ an ultracold gas in an unstable spin configuration, which can undergo a rapid decay. The object—realized by a laser beam—prevents this decay because of the indirect quantum Zeno effect and thus, its presence can be detected without interacting with a single atom.
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2.....S-20150415

    The reason why I am very impressed with the Quantum Zeno effect is that Entropy is, by a wide margin, the most finely tuned of initial conditions of the Big Bang:

    “An explosion you think of as kind of a messy event. And this is the point about entropy. The explosion in which our universe began was not a messy event. And if you talk about how messy it could have been, this is what the Penrose calculation is all about essentially. It looks at the observed statistical entropy in our universe. The entropy per baryon. And he calculates that out and he arrives at a certain figure. And then he calculates using the Bekenstein-Hawking formula for Black-Hole entropy what the,,, (what sort of entropy could have been associated with,,, the singularity that would have constituted the beginning of the universe). So you’ve got the numerator, the observed entropy, and the denominator, how big it (the entropy) could have been. And that fraction turns out to be,, 1 over 10 to the 10 to the 123rd power. Let me just emphasize how big that denominator is so you can gain a real appreciation for how small that probability is. So there are 10^80th baryons in the universe. Protons and neutrons. No suppose we put a zero on every one of those. OK, how many zeros is that? That is 10^80th zeros. This number has 10^123rd zeros. OK, so you would need a hundred million, trillion, trillion, trillion, universes our size, with zero on every proton and neutron in all of those universes just to write out this number. That is how fine tuned the initial entropy of our universe is. And if there were a pre-Big Bang state and you had some bounces, then that fine tuning (for entropy) gets even finer as you go backwards if you can even imagine such a thing. ”
    Dr Bruce Gordon – Contemporary Physics and God Part 2 – video – 1:50 minute mark – video
    https://youtu.be/ff_sNyGNSko?t=110

    “This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.”
    Roger Penrose – How special was the big bang? – (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)

    “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”
    Roger Penrose – The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them?
    http://irafs.org/irafs_1/cd_ir.....enrose.pdf

    For another thing, it is interesting to note just how foundational entropy is in its explanatory power for actions within the space-time of the universe:

    Shining Light on Dark Energy – October 21, 2012
    Excerpt: It (Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,,
    Even gravity, Vedral argued, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy.,,,
    The principles of thermodynamics are at their roots all to do with information theory. Information theory is simply an embodiment of how we interact with the universe —,,,
    http://crev.info/2012/10/shini.....rk-energy/

    In fact, entropy is the primary reason why our physical, temporal, bodies grow old and die,,,

    Entropy Explains Aging, Genetic Determinism Explains Longevity, and Undefined Terminology Explains Misunderstanding Both – 2007
    Excerpt: There is a huge body of knowledge supporting the belief that age changes are characterized by increasing entropy, which results in the random loss of molecular fidelity, and accumulates to slowly overwhelm maintenance systems [1–4].,,,
    http://www.plosgenetics.org/ar.....en.0030220

    And yet, to repeat,,, “an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.”

    Quantum Zeno effect
    Excerpt: The quantum Zeno effect is,,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.
    per wikipedia

    This is just fascinating! Why in blue blazes should conscious observation put a freeze on entropic decay, unless consciousness, i.e. the Mind of God, was and is more foundational to material reality than the 1 in 10^10^123 entropy is?

    Verses and Music:

    Colossians 1:17
    And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

    1 Corinthians 15:55-57
    O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”
    For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Touch The Sky (lyric video) – Hillsong UNITED
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1RQciil7B0

  16. 16
    Origenes says:

    Vilenkin’s idea seems to be:

    (positive energy associated with matter) - (negative energy associated with gravity) = zero = "nothing"

    This can only be true if being can be something negative. This notion seems nonsensical to me. Something exists or does not exist — equals zero —, but it cannot be the case that something exists in a negative way.

    One cannot make an apple “nothing” by subtracting a “negative apple.”
    Negative apples is an incoherent concept.

  17. 17
    groovamos says:

    I have a request to bornagain77 and to Barry. Large chunks of the post @15 are lifted directly from posts by the same contributor on past threads, for example here: https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/an-interview-with-quantum-physicist-and-consciousness-researcher-henry-stapp/

    I have long assumed this about these posts and thought to check it with google. It seems as if contributor has a master document from where big chunks are repeatedly lifted and patched in here. I’m always having to scroll and scroll to get past these posts to get to stuff that is novel. Is there some way to convince you guys that this is a drag on the discussions here?

    BTW I just contributed to the website which I encourage everyone to do.

  18. 18
    jdk says:

    re 17: Thank you for pointing that out. I’ve noticed the same thing as well. Most of those long posts are copy-and-pastes from previously written and published documents, and often have been posted here multiple times.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    groovamos, despite your grievances that I reposted something from 2014, I posted that information for newcomers who are not familiar with the material. ,,,

    I find the material very informative particularly for a debate that is focused precisely on the exact cause for the universe.

    This site is more than what you personally want to read. It is about educating newcomers as well.,, In fact, I hold education, not personal entertainment, to be far and away more important.

    Of final note, I find it a bit ironic that the only other people who have ever griped about my (and kf’s) posts are atheists.

    Strange bedfellows.

  20. 20
    asauber says:

    The best way to counter the idiocy of evolutionists and materialists is to fling their fecal matter right back at them.

    FourFaces,

    Bob O’H covers himself in it. He doesn’t know the difference.

    Andrew

  21. 21
    LocalMinimum says:

    Of final note, I find it a bit ironic that the only other people who have ever griped about my (and kf’s) posts are atheists.

    Strange bedfellows.

    Requests against repetition and volume in posting format to the source are valid. So is a response towards explanation and justification. I don’t feel this last portion was productive, though.

  22. 22
    Bob O'H says:

    Oh hi, asauber! So why did you ask about unicorns? I assume there was a reason (other than to hurl abuse).

  23. 23
    Mung says:

    I like Bob.

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    per 19, Moreover, there is new information in the current post at 15,, new information that was not in the 2014 post (for instance the Bruce Gordon quote and the interaction free experiment).

    Rather than just repeating the same stuff over and over, I seek to make my arguments stronger and stronger over time by adding better references and deleting weaker references.

    And if we are going to start griping about repeating stuff, I want to air my grievances against the atheists on UD who repeat the same lies over and over again after they have been exhaustively addressed and refuted.

    I would certainly like to see, not only trolling, but such repetitive trolling by Darwinian atheists, come to an end on UD.

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    Nothing — non-being — has no causal capability.

    This has not yet been confirmed by observation and testing.

    Were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain.

    ok, but what would cause utter nothing to forever obtain?

  26. 26
    asauber says:

    So why did you ask about unicorns?

    Bob O’H,

    Because the Laws of Conservation didn’t prevent me from doing it.

    Andrew

  27. 27
    harry says:

    bornagain77 @24,

    BA, you should keep posting and, repeat posts for all the reasons you mentioned. In fact, I wish you would post some of your great material on other web sites. More than once I have been in an evolution debate with atheists on other sites and wished bornagain77 would start adding devastating-to-atheists posts to the discussion.

  28. 28

    harry @ 27: I agree entirely. Long live bornagain77.

  29. 29

    BA77 @ 24: “I would certainly like to see, not only trolling, but such repetitive trolling by Darwinian atheists, come to an end on UD.”

    Agreed. The repetitive a/mat trolling on UD is really annoying. Where’s the outrage over that? I am convinced that a/mat trolls are just haters seeking to ruin somebody else’s good experience.

  30. 30
    harry says:

    Truth Will Set You Free @29, BA @24

    One thing the repetitive a/mat trolling does for those following the discussion over a period of time, is to reveal the shallowness and absurdity of the a/mat position. A/mats are their own worst enemies. I think people on the fence who frequent this site soon realize the irrationality of Darwinian atheists. That is a good thing.

    Although I will admit some people are so blatantly evil they shouldn’t be given a forum at all. User Zachriel appeared to me to be such a person. I haven’t seen any posts by him here in a while. Maybe the moderators saw him the way I did.

  31. 31
    Origenes says:

    The name “Bornagain77” before a post is a hallmark of top quality.

  32. 32
    asauber says:

    I am convinced that a/mat trolls are just haters seeking to ruin somebody else’s good experience.

    I agree TWSYF.

    Even the rare conversations that sometimes first appear to be semi-rational invariably resolve into the same stupidity.

    Andrew

  33. 33
    bornagain77 says:

    Well, since I usually either invoke resentment from atheists or admiration from Theists, I must be doing something, however feebly and haphazardly, right.

    As to atheists constantly, and repeatedly, claiming that they see no evidence for God from science, I can only echo Wernher von Braun’s sentiment “must we really light a candle to see the sun?”

    “Some people … still maintain that since science has provided us with so many answers the day will soon arrive when we will be able to understand even the creation of the fundamental laws of nature without a Divine intent. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun?”
    — Wernher von Braun, rocket pioneer, 1972 – genius behind Apollo program

    “Although I know of no reference to Christ ever commenting on scientific work, I do know that He said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Thus I am certain that, were He among us today, Christ would encourage scientific research as modern man’s most noble striving to comprehend and admire His Father’s handiwork. The universe as revealed through scientific inquiry is the living witness that God has indeed been at work.”
    Wernher von Braun, rocket pioneer, leader of Apollo program. – 1976.

  34. 34
    Bob O'H says:

    Well, since I usually either invoke resentment from atheists or admiration from Theists, I must be doing something, however feebly and haphazardly, right.

    Mentioning resentment & admiration, for a start. 🙂

  35. 35
    Allan Keith says:

    BA77,

    Well, since I usually either invoke resentment from atheists or admiration from Theists, I must be doing something, however feebly and haphazardly, right.

    I think that you are mistaking amusement for resentment. 🙂

  36. 36
    bornagain77 says:

    AK, and how many times have you been banned for trollish behavior?

  37. 37
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @LocalMinimum

    “It seems the only way to have materialism is to just hack off causality at some point; otherwise, precedents reach back into that terrifying unknown beyond mortal reason.”

    Oh, I think after all those devastating “But WHO MADE GOD?!?!” arguments they’re going to have to do a little better than “Nothing prevented God from existing so God was inevitable.”

    And they call themselves atheists …

  38. 38
    LocalMinimum says:

    ScuzzaMan @ 37:

    Bravo, sir! That totally escaped me.

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    It still irritates me that Vilenkin would appeal to quantum mechanics to try argue for a ‘spontaneous’ creation of the universe. And that Craig would, basically, play along and offer, IMHO, such a weak response.

    Quantum Mechanics is simply devastating to Materialistic presuppositions. Materialism has been dead for decades and recent experimental research only reconfirms this, as this following video ‘The Death of Materialism’ shows. This video was reviewed by physicist Fred Kuttner and Richard Conn Henry. A few other physicists reviewed this but asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

    The Death of Materialism – InspiringPhilosophy – (Material reality does not exist without an observer) video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM0IKLv7KrE

    Should Quantum Anomalies Make Us Rethink Reality?
    Inexplicable lab results may be telling us we’re on the cusp of a new scientific paradigm
    By Bernardo Kastrup on April 19, 2018
    Excerpt: ,, according to the current paradigm, the properties of an object should exist and have definite values even when the object is not being observed: the moon should exist and have whatever weight, shape, size and color it has even when nobody is looking at it. Moreover, a mere act of observation should not change the values of these properties. Operationally, all this is captured in the notion of “non-contextuality”: ,,,
    since Alain Aspect’s seminal experiments in 1981–82, these predictions (of Quantum Mechanics) have been repeatedly confirmed, with potential experimental loopholes closed one by one. 1998 was a particularly fruitful year, with two remarkable experiments performed in Switzerland and Austria. In 2011 and 2015, new experiments again challenged non-contextuality. Commenting on this, physicist Anton Zeilinger has been quoted as saying that “there is no sense in assuming that what we do not measure [that is, observe] about a system has [an independent] reality.” Finally, Dutch researchers successfully performed a test closing all remaining potential loopholes, which was considered by Nature the “toughest test yet.”,,,
    It turns out, however, that some predictions of QM are incompatible with non-contextuality even for a large and important class of non-local theories. Experimental results reported in 2007 and 2010 have confirmed these predictions. To reconcile these results with the current paradigm would require a profoundly counterintuitive redefinition of what we call “objectivity.” And since contemporary culture has come to associate objectivity with reality itself, the science press felt compelled to report on this by pronouncing, “Quantum physics says goodbye to reality.”
    The tension between the anomalies and the current paradigm can only be tolerated by ignoring the anomalies. This has been possible so far because the anomalies are only observed in laboratories. Yet we know that they are there, for their existence has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, when we believe that we see objects and events outside and independent of mind, we are wrong in at least some essential sense. A new paradigm is needed to accommodate and make sense of the anomalies; one wherein mind itself is understood to be the essence—cognitively but also physically—of what we perceive when we look at the world around ourselves.
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/should-quantum-anomalies-make-us-rethink-reality/

    The Incompatibility of Physicalism with Physics: A Conversation with Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk-UO81HmO4

    Divine Action and the World of Science: What Cosmology and Quantum Physics Teach Us about the Role of Providence in Nature – Bruce L. Gordon – 2017
    Excerpt When we consider the fact that the structure of reality in fundamental physical theory is merely phenomenological and that this structure itself is hollow and non-qualitative, whereas our experience is not, the metaphysical objectivity and epistemic intersubjectivity of the enstructured qualitative reality of our experience can be seen to be best explained by an occasionalist idealism of the sort advocated by George Berkeley (1685-1753) or Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). In the metaphysical context of this kind of theistic immaterialism, the vera causa that brings coherent closure to the phenomenological reality we inhabit is always and only agent causation. The necessity of causal sufficiency is met by divine action, for as Plantinga emphasizes:
    [T]he connection between God’s willing that there be light and there being light is necessary in the broadly logical sense: it is necessary in that sense that if God wills that p, p occurs. Insofar as we have a grasp of necessity (and we do have a grasp of necessity), we also have a grasp of causality when it is divine causality that is at issue. I take it this is a point in favor of occasionalism, and in fact it constitutes a very powerful advantage of occasionalism. 118
    http://jbtsonline.org/wp-conte.....ressed.pdf

    “The concept of the objective reality of the elementary particles has thus evaporated…”,,,; “The idea of an objective real world whose smallest parts exist objectively in the same sense as stones or trees exist, independently of whether or not we observe them,,, is impossible.,,, We can no longer speak of the behavior of the particle independently of the process of observation”
    – W. Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, Harper and Row, New York (1958)
    https://www.neuroquantology.com/index.php/journal/article/download/802/694

  40. 40
    ScuzzaMan says:

    When you talk to some people about Newtonian Mechanics, you often get this odd blindness to the distinction between a theory as an observation about “how things behave” and a theory as a description of “why and what things are”.

    For example, in pointing out that Newtonian Mechanics was once the “settled science” of its age, these people reply that NM is still very useful, on a human scale and for calculating trajectories in our world, etc, it’s accurate enough to BE useful. It’s not wrong, they will claim, within its appropriate context.

    Well, true enough, as an observation of how things on a human scale behave it’s accurate enough to be useful.

    As an explanation for why and what things are, it utterly fails. It was Quantum Mechanics that largely replaced it as an explanation.

    Those experiments that cause problems for quantum mechanics as an observation about how things behave, likewise call into question it’s accuracy and thus usefulness as an explanation for why and what things are.

    But let’s not conflate or confuse the two.

    The idea that the moon has no mass when you’re not trying to measure it’s mass is hard to reconcile with, for example, it’s rather consistent orbit around our planet. Just because QM has mass problems due to observation at a very small scale, doesn’t imply what it looks like is being inferred.

    And for the christian who believes in a God who created a world that consistently obeys physical laws, as an artifact of his consistent character, the logical inference is that there’s things going on that we simply do not understand, and not that there’s no such things as objective reality because a theory (QM) that we know is imperfect has problems with observation at a subatomic scale.

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    39:00 minute mark:
    “Mass turns out not to be an intrinsic property of matter either”
    – Bruce Gordon: –
    The Incompatibility of Physicalism with Physics: A Conversation with Dr. Bruce Gordon
    https://youtu.be/wk-UO81HmO4?t=2344

  42. 42
    Origenes says:

    ScuzzaMan @40

    The idea that the moon has no mass when you’re not trying to measure it’s mass is hard to reconcile with, for example, it’s rather consistent orbit around our planet.

    It seems to me that the claim “if you do not measure the moon’s mass, it has no mass” cannot be true, given that there are so many ‘yous’ out there. However, the claim “if no one measures the moon’s mass, it has no mass” can be true.
    The latter claim simply states that at least one consciousness agent — contrary to necessarily “you” — must observe matter to make it actual.

  43. 43
    bornagain77 says:

    per Patrick McGuire on facebook:

    “The ultimate observer: “and God saw that it was good”.”

  44. 44
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @Origines

    COULD be true, but IS IT?

    I don’t think so.

    And there’s something of a bait and switch between nobody observing it and nobody measuring its mass. The original point I was addressing was that mass is not objectively independent of measurement.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, that which begins to exist is contingent. That which is contingent has a cause. KF

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