Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Cause


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As it seems to me there are three competing theories for the origin of the material universe.  1) One all the material for the universe is eternal.  2) The existence of material is cyclical that is to say that some future event caused the material to appear in the distant past.  3)  That the material has a beginning.

At the present time it would seem that evidence is point to the fact that our universe had a beginning.  It also looks like it will have an end.  The end will either be a cooling off and dying or at some point collapsing upon itself.  This would make the material of our universe not eternal, but keeps open the possibility that other universes have loaned our present universe eternal matter. 

It is this evidence that to me presents the strongest case that the material universe is not eternal.  If present observable universe is not eternal then something has caused it to exist.  There are a few theories.  Singularity which is the predicted initial state of the universe.  The best non-technical way to describe it is a black hole on a massive scale in which the entire contents of the universe exists in a tightly compacted point.  A second theory is that proceeding the "Big Bang" there was a "Big Crunch" and that the universe has always existed in a state of expansion or collapse in a never ending cycle of death and rebirth.  A third is that our universe is actually one of many.  The beginning of our universe was created at the collision of other universes. 

Each of these theories contains their own particular difficulties.  The problem with each of these theories is that they are beyond science.  They rely on observing the universe as it is now and modifying the theory to conform to the present data.  What ends up happening is a system in which most of what we know about the physical universe does not conform to the scientific laws that have been established.  So the theory becomes more and more complicated to account for new information.  What is also interesting is that you find scientists using a peculiar word more and more frequently.  "I believe that..."  It is this that leads me to think that scientific cosmology at some point becomes an article of faith.  That is to say we reach the limit of what is knowable and have to accept the resulting explanation by faith.  Most will deny this and say they are making predictions based on what they are observing.  Funny though when someone with an alternate cosmology suggests they are doing the same they are closed out of the game so to speak. 

So here are the competing explanations for our universe which is nearly unanimous that it had a beginning.  1) The universe existed in a very tightly condensed point so tightly condensed that we cannot even begin to imagine it.  It then violated every conceivable physical law that we know of (or rather the laws did not exist yet) and exploded.  Over time it expanded fast enough to escape the singularity and cooled.  As it cooled the physical properties and laws begin to take shape.  And all of this was random unguided chance.  2) the universe has always existed in an expanding or contracting form.  We are currently in an expanding form.  At some point in the future the universe will not be able to continue to expand and will be pulled back into itself in a grand collapse.  Only to start the rebirth of a new universe.   This one is a bit more challenging in that it uses physical laws to collapse the universe, but violates nearly all of them to create it.  3) Ours is not a unique universe.  In fact there are many universes that have always existed and when they collide in random fashion they create new universes (of which our is a product). 

In short we either have a random purposeless unguided process, which violates nearly every thing we know about the physical universe which explodes or collides into existence.  Or a supernatural intelligent creator that has spoken out of nothing all that is into existence.  He builds out of nothing a universe that is orderly and purposeful. 

As you might expect I am partial to the second story.  But given that at some level each of these explanations must be taken by faith (belief) I really wonder why anyone would rather have a random, unguided, purposeless universe.  I suppose the greater question for me is that if the universe is random, unguided, and purposeless, then why should there be any order at all.  It seems quite contradictory that out of an early existence in which no physical laws exist that this chaos should form something orderly.  In that respect it is God creator ex nihilio (out of nothing) that seems to me to be the most reasonable explanation of our existence and the order contained within it. 

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