Although I first asked, "Where did the universe come from?" and "Where did God come from?", when I was just a child, I never entertained the notion that the universe has always been here; despite, at one time, believing that God had always been here. When I realized that the two questions were interchangeable, it didn't seem so odd to think the universe had always been here.


I thought about that for awhile and realized that creation is an illusion. Nothing is ever created. Things just change form. It's called the First Law of Thermodynamics; the conservation of energy. We really are made from stardust. The universe itself existed as pure energy, in a singularity, before exploding (expanding) into the immense cosmos that awes us at night. The universe transformed from energy to matter; Einstein's E=MC2.


I've always thought of the universe as the cosmos. But in fact, the cosmos is just one form of the universe. The universe also existed (and might again exist) as a singularity. In one form or another, the universe must always have existed -- if the First Law holds true in a singularity (which is something we don't know for sure).


We know the universe exists, so it must have always existed. It's truly eternal. But we don't know, in the same physical way, that God exists. If the universe is truly eternal, God (The Creator) never needed to exist: we already had a universe (singularity or cosmos). If we don't know God exists and the First Law suggests he never needed to exist, then why insist that he does?


When we watch TV, we know that man invented it as well as the videos it displays. We know no other animal invented any of it because the "creator" must be more complex and intelligent than the "created". If God created the universe, he would have to be more complex than the universe. As awesome and mysterious as the universe is, God would have to be even more so. What purpose does it serve to unnecessarily add this supernatural layer of complexity? Isn't trying to understand the natural universe enough?


The following essay summarizes my position on this topic.


Creation and the Conservation of Energy


Creation stories are universal among religions, through the ages. The ineffable mystery of life compelled us to explain our existence. In our primitive ignorance of the world, religion was the best we could do to provide the explanations we craved.


Thanks to science, we’re learning more about the universe and illuminating the dark corners of what was once our ignorance.


The word, "create", means: to bring into existence. Thus, if God created the universe, it had a beginning and can not be infinite in both directions of time: forward, yes; backward, no. But why can’t the universe simply be? Why can’t the universe be infinite in both directions of time: forward and backward? Why must it have a beginning? Why must it have been created by a supernatural God?


The first law of thermodynamics – the conservation of energy – makes it clear that nothing is ever created. Matter might change form but it never simply appears or disappears. For instance, we are nourished and grow by eating plants and other animals. Food is transformed into the energy that sustains us and the cells we are made of; including our DNA. Our parents didn’t create us, they transformed us.


Physics' mathematical models break down in a singularity. It is not known whether or not the first law holds in a singularity. If it does, the first law of thermodynamics strips bare the core question of creation and existence. Either the universe always existed . . . or . . . the universe was created by something outside the laws of physics (i.e. something supernatural). Either the universe is truly eternal or the eternal God created it. It boils down to the natural (physical universe) or the supernatural (God).


We've had plenty of confirmation of Einstein's famous equation: E=MC2. Energy and mass are equivalent. Before the Big Bang, the entire mass of the universe was contained (as energy) in a super singularity. Whether or not ours is the first and only Big Bang, Big Bangs come from singularities. I believe that, in one form or another (singularity or cosmos), the universe simply is and always was. Not only is there no need for creation or for God: the conservation of energy means there could never have been a time when the universe, in whatever form, did not exist. Something doesn't come from nothing without supernatural intervention.


Because nobody has ever seen anything physically created, the pervasive concept of creation must be a human construct in response to the unfathomable immensity of the eternal. The universe has always existed? What do you mean? Everything comes from somewhere, doesn't it? Perhaps. But nothing comes from nowhere.


The first law reduces the source of our existence to either the natural or the supernatural. The notion of a personal God is ridiculous to me. But a cosmic God? I can imagine an eternal energy – infinitely hot, infinitely massive – that created the universe in a single, spectacular, explosive expansion: an eternal energy that still permeates the entire universe. If you want to call that eternal energy -- that potential of our universe -- God, I won't refute you.

Tags: Big Bang, E=MC2, Einstein, conservation of energy, eternity, first law of thermodynamics, infinity, singularity

Views: 18

Replies to This Discussion

Please take a look at this respectful, rational discussion about Homing Pigeons with Rupert Sheldrake, Stephen Jay Gould, Oliver Sacks, Daniel Dennet, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Toulmin - all known, respected, sincere and rational skeptics taking part in a round-table discussion with Dr. Sheldrake about his experiments with homing pigeons:

http://www.nautis.com/2007/06/how-do-pigeons-home/
On a related note, I have done readings from "Irreducible Mind" by Kelly and Kelly et al, in my effort to connect with other people who would like to respectfully discuss the topic of consciousness:


... and part two


I hope you don't find this off-topic. I consider the origin and function of consciousness to be pertinent to "creation" (of whatever sort) and/or evolution.

Respectfully,

Heidi
.
Why, exactly, do you consider explorations into the still unexplained properties of consciousness "another religion"?

What aspect of this exploration do you consider "dogma"?

I find many material reductionists rather dogmatic. So have many exceptional and scholarly free thinkers, like Alfred North Whitehead, William James, F.W. Myers, Ian Stevenson, Edward F. Kelly, Emily Williams Kelly, and yes, Rupert Sheldrake. Therefore, I can mirror your own psychological projection right back to its source.

I find that defensive/aggressive behaviors such as ad hominem attacks are visceral, not logical, and usually indicate insecurity and/or an inability to respond rationally.
Hi Heidi,

I'm about to watch the video.

I'm embedding a video too: it explains my position better than I could.

Heidi,

Dogs don't wear wrist watches and they couldn't tell the time if they did. The fact is, people normally come home within an average span of time. Their dogs become conditioned to expect them home within this range of time. The fact that they exhibit anticipatory behavior does NOT mean that they know their master is on the way home. It just means their excitement level is rising, due to anticipation.

There's logical explanations for many "mysterious" phenomena -- coincidence being chief among them. The hardest to explain away are the ones (as in your case) that involve personal experience.

Heidi, I see your enthusiasm and know that much of it stems from personal experience. Our views are simply too divergent on this topic and I really don't want to array my reasons against yours. We'll have to agree to disagree. I've already embedded a video, about coincidence, in another reply to you (above). I'm going to let that video represent my full position on this topic.
Free Thinker, you may have written your above reply prior to watching Sheldrake's lecture. I think it's the one in which he explains and shows his experiments regarding dogs who know when their masters are on their way home. I hope it's the one which includes his simultaneous videotaping experiment. He carefully constructed the experiment to eliminate the possibility of the dog responding at a typical time of day, or to a familiar automobile.

Two video cameras were employed - one at home, trained on the dog and the door where it got up to wait when it "knew" its mistress was heading home, and a second camera along with the dog's owner and her companion, who decided at random when they would head home. The cameras were synchronized to the second.

Hi Heidi,

Except for the last few minutes (synchronized videos), everything was anecdotal. I watched the actual experiment with interest. Red flags went up in my mind as soon as the dog's owner was interrupted and told that they were gone 3 hours and had to head home. In fact, the assistant appeared to be actively timing their departure.

That violated scientific controls and was completely unnecessary. I'm sure they understand single-blind and double-blind trials and that they would be discredited, within the scientific community, if they violated those standards. The only logical conclusion is that they weren't interested in impressing the scientific community. They were interested in impressing those with a confirmation bias (preaching to the choir).

There are, of course, endless assertions of the paranormal. Not a single one has ever passed the rigor of scientific peer review and scrutiny. Given this history, skeptics will likely scoff at paranormal assertions until a claim is made that actually stands up to the scientific method of confirmation.

There are many college courses in critical thinking and/or psychology which use paranormal claims as a vehicle to understand confirmation bias, observer bias, subjective validation, statistical anomalies, logical fallacies and other impediments to evaluating experience.

As a freethinker, I look to motive, as well as evidence, in this case. What purpose is served here? What does he stand to gain? Notoriety and book sales come immediately to mind. That's not cynical, just skeptical.
Hey there, FT 8-)

I wanted to ponder your feedback for awhile before replying, because I was so surprised by your interpretation of the assistant being used for surprising the dog's owner with a time to return home. My own interpretation is apparently the same as intended by Sheldrake: to make sure that Pam was not thinking about returning home until she was interrupted at a random time of which she was previously unaware. I thought this enhanced the experiment.

Then another thought came to mind: there is no corroborating experimental evidence available to support your hypothesis that Sheldrake and/or his assistant concocted a time in order to somehow fake the results. The camera trained on the dog recorded his awakening of interest in looking out the window within seconds of Pam's being told to proceed home. No evidence has been presented to indicate that the dog was stimulated to do so in any other way or for any other reason.

So lacking scientifically verifiable evidence for falsehood, there remains only motive (book sales). The same exact motive can be imputed to Dawkins, and Hitchens, and any other published atheist with whom you or I or any of us agree. Therefore, I discount "motive" because due to evident bias, it is being selectively imputed to Sheldrake and not to the likes of Dawkins or Hitchens.

Admitting my own bias, I am grateful that Sheldrake published. I haven't spent a penny learning about him and his theories, btw. It is all nicely summarized and further elucidated online at www.sheldrake.org ... one can listen to his lectures and read many of his published papers there for free. His videos are posted on youtube as well.

Finding out about his work made me feel validated, because I have believed for a long time that I receive telepathic input occasionally - much like your recent experience in thinking about a particular song and hearing someone singing it nearby at the same moment. I accept this as excellent anecdotal evidence for Sheldrake's theory of Morphic Fields (which I had thought of as "extended consciousness" and Dr Edward F. and Dr Emily Williams Kelly have labeled "irreducible mind").

For instance, having no reason to assume that you made up a fiction, I accept your anecdotal evidence. Much like the principle: "innocent until proven guilty", my attitude is: "honest until proven dishonest".

I think it is a blatant indication of bias when people habitually assume that anecdotal evidence is dishonest and/or erroneous. Granted, it will never be the "hard" evidence provided by repeatable research.

When Sheldrake says that it is unfortunate to discount such common human (and often, animal) experiences as mere coincidence. I agree with him. I think he's a hero for standing up to all the ridicule from die-hard skeptics and helping to validate through study and experimentation what I and many others have legitimately experienced.

If one is color blind, one must accept the honesty of all the people who claim to see color, and vice-versa. Prior to experiments being developed which enabled us to identify those people who could not see color, the evidence was all circumstantial and anecdotal.

Last year, in Santa Fe NM, some violently angry adversary stabbed Dr. Sheldrake in the inguinal region while trying to stab him in the heart.

And right after I posted info about Sheldrake's experiments and theories on this thread, someone responded with a nasty ad hominem attack. There is tremendous emotional and egotistical investment by some when disregarding all those with whom they disagree.

Science is supposed to be dispassionate and rational...

(Thanks for a good, rational discussion, FT)

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