I was wondering about the different theories Atheists have about how our Universe came to be, what happened before the big bang? Or did that even happen? Obviously a theist generally believes God made everything happen, what are your thoughts?
I don't believe anything. I think the sun will appear in the eastern horizon based on my personal observations, the observations of millions of other people, plus an understanding of how the solar system works. The same with my car, I think, not believe it will start because it is a well maintained Toyota with a good battery. Etc., etc. I believe nothing.
The same goes for evolution. I cringe when I hear "do you believe in evolution" or any variation of the same. No, I don't believe in evolution or evolutionary theory, but I THINK the theory provides the best explanation for the wide variety of life that we observe on this earth. As far as actual evolution is concerned, it is a fact that has been observed in nature. This cannot be denied. Belief has nothing to do with fact and evolution is a fact as well as a theory. Unfortunately, the individuals who could most benefit from these facts have their fingers jammed in their ears, their eyes shut and are murmurring "Is Not!", while embracing baseless belief.
"Tell me what you think, not what you believe" should be on the lips of every non-theist and skeptic. As far as I am concerned, the words belief and believe can be expunged from the English language. If someone believes that a prophet rose from the dead after three days, I want to know why they THINK this happened. What data points you to this conclusion? It is certainly not the tens of thousands of cemeteries, containing millions of former human beings, now quite dead. A book, written by someone in an era of primitive animal herders? That's hardly data, especially considering the absurd content that does not in any way, form or fashion match up with what we observe today. Millions of others who believe the same thing? Again, that is not data pointing to a conclusion. Millions of people used to think that the sun rotated around a flat earth too, but this belief had no impact on the actual facts. What we think should be based on evidence. Evidence is data that will point to a conclusion, regardless of the belief of the person viewing the evidence.
A very prevalent bumper sticker down this way reads "IT'S IN THE BIBLE, I BELIEVE IT, AND THAT SETTLES IT". Many, many Americans think this way, somehow compartmentalizing religious skepticism as being a subject that is off limits for discussion. Religious belief is fueled by nothing but ignorance and fear, but mainly fear. People don't want to go to hell, and who would, but shut down their brains when asked to consider what an absurd concept hell is, not to mention the unworthiness of worship of a god who would create such a place.
I'm pretty certain that we can have no proof of what there was before the Big Bang incident, but I love to to think about the possibilities. My latest thoughts on the subject: What if just as all matter in our universe is made up of basic particles (e.g. atoms, sub-atomic particles), our universe may join with other universes on a whole other scale to form the matter of a whole other universe, which in turn may be a basic particle in yet another larger universe, ad infinitum. In short, by this line of thought, the creation of our universe is no more (or less) spectacular than the creation of a "simple" atom.
I guess I'm aware that this is not original thought. I never really put much thought or credence into this actually being a possibility. It's not until the last week or so that I've really been thinking about this idea in more depth. I've read quite a bit of SciFi and actually have a fairly impressive Philip K. Dick book/pulp mag collection.
I believe in an oscillating or frothy multiverse. I can't believe in a singular Big Bang for the same reason that I can't believe in a god (or an It, thank you BSG). The problem is the infinite regress as nicely explained by Bertrand Russell in his essay "Why I am not a Christian". As a kid I gravitated (no pun intended) to Hoyle's Steady State/Continuous Creation model for the same reason. Once the Big Bang via Inflation was on solid ground those of a similar bent extended the idea to prevent the very difficult tasks of conceiving and explaining a beginning. It is easier for "us" to consider the time arrow extending in both, if not more, directions. There is recent theorizing about capturing information from before the Big Bang. That would be the Big Crunch in the Oscillating model. But if Inflation does prevent the BC, we have the frothy thingy to fall back on.
But then we come to that pesky word 'believe'. That we are hard-wired by evolution to have faith in something is clear. What article of faith can an atheist have? We have neither 'no faith' nor faith in nothing. Speaking for myself,at least, it is the faith that logic and replicative science are valid and meaningful. I insist that beyond hard-wiring such 'faith' requiring a leap beyond our childhood teachings is qualitatively different from the faith of our fathers .
Science is the exploration of truth, but nobody has said that science has found all the answers yet. If you look how far we have come in the last 100 years, then just in the last 10 years, our understanding of the physical world is growing exponentially.
All we have right now are a few theories that attempt to explain the beginning. The Big Bang theory explains how the universe formed, but what was before that and what let up to the Big Bang. Lawrence Krauss has an awesome theory about this HERE.
I think that we are still in an adolescent phase as a species, and we have not met our full potential. I do not "Believe" in anything, until can see unequivocal evidence of that thing. Maybe I will see this when they finally figure out dark matter/energy at CERN. Until then, I choose to hold off and wait to have an opinion on this particular topic.