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: 20

Replies to This Discussion

I hear you, Larry,

When I read physics books, I try to absorb the math but always give up in the end. I have to take it on faith that physicists aren't laughing up their sleeves as they pass off bogus math to the curious, but math-challenged, masses. LoL. No, really, I have no doubt the math is sound.

I'm fascinated by physics, cosmology and neuroscience. They inspire me and send my mind wandering. Sometimes I write about those musing and risk exposing my ignorance by posting those musings here. It's worth it if I stir discussion and learn something.
Good article, you really put things in perspective.. And stating that all the energy in the universe is synonymous for “god” is even acceptable. To bad that we as a species try to see everything from a human standpoint. We are stardust.

God “the creator” a single dad who sends his only son to earth, and earlier Adam who marries his own rib and populates the earth with his offspring.. the more I think of it, the bible (and genesis) should be classified as a fairytale in stead of a book of truth..
I'm glad you liked it Ammer,

I didn't really say that "all the energy in the universe is synonymous for 'god'" but I guess that's close enough :-). By saying that "I won't refute you" if you do call this cosmic energy "God", I meant only that I have no solid objection to a pantheist point of view. I prefer to think that there's no reason to inject a supernatural God into our natural universe but I see no harm in a cosmic, Creator, God. It's the personal (Abrahamic) God I object to. He's the one causing so many problems in our world. He's a ball-and-chain around the ankle of humanity.
I didn’t mean to scramble your words, but that’s how I interpreted it.. anyhow I first of all don’t believe in a creator, only in the fact that we are here, and putting it how you stated it, I believe that even doubters (people who aren’t convinced of the “right cause” atheism naturally) can relate to it..
I think a force (made of pure energy from which matter formed) is undeniable. (or the force as seen in star wars but without the Jedi mind tricks and such) that is another way to look at it (and even that is better than imaginary friends like Jesus ;)

All thoughts concerning heavens and gods come from us as mankind, we invented them ourselves in times of ignorance and if mankind didn’t evolved to the point that we could think for ourselves and have some imagination about where we came from. We wouldn’t have endless discussions with theists about the big question why are we here, and why is anything here for that matter because that question can only answered in one language and that is of course the language of science, which is the only one language that’s undisputable universal. Keep up the good work by the way, respect!
There is someone whose theories involving intelligence and evolution sound believable to me: Rupert Sheldrake. He calls his theories "Morphogenesis" and "Morphic Resonance"; postulating that a ubiquitous field of intelligence is involved in everything which exists. Our localized, individual experience of intelligence (consciousness) is part of it.

For years I have intuitively believed in a sort of field of intelligence which affects everything... but since everything which lives is basically competitive and often violent and inescapably self-interested (I dislike the judgmental word "selfish") this "intelligence" cannot be benevolent... nor can it be infallible. Therefore, it does not fit the definition of "god" as "god" has been sold to the world of theists and believers.
Hi Heidi,

You know, I like to delve into the mystical sometimes. Quantum physics has some bizarre ideas that almost suggest consciousness as part of the material universe. I don't really understand it but it's definitely bizarre.

Or take the progression of the universe. For 10 billion years, it was ENTIRELY inanimate (as far as we know). Then 3.5 billion years ago, there arose animate beings (single cell life). Then about 200,000 years ago, humans (and their intelligence) made their appearance. It almost seems as if the universe is "evolving" to the point where it can admire itself. :-) It would be such a waste if nobody ever knew the universe was here.
Hi Free Thinker,

I enjoy the way you think and express yourself. This is a fine example of the sort of thought which cannot rationally be reduced to mere material processes.

One of my favorite Rupert Sheldrake qualities is his viewpoint that consciousness is neither mystical nor supernatural. Whatever it is, and whatever its origin and the extent of its properties, it is natural, period. We simply do not entirely comprehend it as yet... much as we once failed to comprehend radio waves and/or magnetic fields.

Had I never experienced myself (and/or someone close to me) "knowing" something that did not arrive via our 5 physical senses, I would no doubt remain a complete skeptic concerning Sheldrake's Morphic Fields, Morphic Resonance, and Morphogenesis. But I have... and so I find his theories plausible, and in some compelling ways, demonstrable.

For instance, he's done some excellent (IMHO) experiments demonstrating that some dogs "know" when their human friends decide to head home; not when they drive up the driveway and the dog can hear the recognizable car - but within seconds of their owner THINKING about heading home, and from a long distance away:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXIrndpVeG0

As an animal owner (and companion/friend) all of my life, I have had many such experiences.

A program on the Science Channel discussed recent discoveries that when the language center of the brain is somehow damaged or disabled, a patient often becomes more intuitive. The theory is that prior to our evolutionary development and subsequent reliance upon language, we had to rely more upon our "sixth sense" and non-verbal communication. It cited apparent group communication between packs of wolves, schools of fish, flights of birds, cooperative societies of ants, bees, etc. Dogs, cats and horses have warned me about dangerous situations that they seemed to comprehend in advance and from a distance. I don't know how they knew, but they knew. Whatever the facts of the matter are that we do not completely comprehend, the "knowing" is not supernatural. It is perfectly natural, just the way Sheldrake says it is.
Thanks for the kind words. :-)

The subject of your first paragraph is very dear to me. The brain is a complex system. When it comes to complexity theory, I can't think of a more complex system than the brain. The mind can be thought of as an emergent property of the brain. Physical reductionists will insist that the mind is the brain: billions of neurons. But I disagree: I believe that complex systems (brain) and their emergent properties (mind) makes the brain more than the sum of its neuronal parts.

Mind is more than brain. The brain interfaces, via our nervous system, the entire body. The body, in turn, interfaces the environment. As a complex system, the brain, body and environment all factor into the emergent property known as consciousness or intelligence.

Feedback plays a transforming role in complex, as well as self-organizing, systems. Mental feedback makes the mind a dynamic, self-directing, phenomena by enabling conscious decisions -- choice.

The mind is dependent on electro-chemical activity between neurons in the brain. But ignoring the bodily and environmental components of consciousness and reducing everything down to neurons is simply wrong-headed in my view.

Anyway, as for Sheldrake, I'm heading off now to Google him and see what he has to say.

Hi Heidi,

Well, I've checked into Rupert Sheldrake, at his web site. I find myself regretting that I promised to check him out and report back. I wish I could say I agree with your impression of him and his ideas -- but I simply can't. It's one thing to indulge whimsical flights of fancy but passing it off as experiment or evidence, as Rupert does, is too much!

Here's a sample of Rupert Sheldrake's experiments:

Can you tell who's calling?
Can you tell when someone is hearing the same music as you?
Can you tell when you are being stared at?
Then there's Rupert’s paper with Aimee Morgana:
Testing a language-using animal for telepathy

On the left column, under "What the skeptics say", are discussions and interviews with various people such as Richard Dawkins, Peter Atkins, James Randi, Michael Shermer and The European Skeptics Congress. If you read the Peter Atkins interview transcript, you'll find it's brief and insubstantial: establishing nothing. The "debate" with Richard Dawkins is recounted by Rupert Sheldrake himself: including and excluding whatever he pleases and, once again, presenting nothing of substance.

Then there's this explanation of Rupert's Theory of Morphogenesis.


The first time in evolution that a particular protein was generated, it could potentially have folded into any number of energetically equivalent forms, but by chance it settled into one form. However, the next time this protein was generated, anywhere in the world, it would, according to Sheldrake, have a significantly elevated tendency or probability of settling into this same form, simply by virtue of morphic resonance and formative causation from the morphogenetic field of the first protein. As more and more proteins eventually adopted similar forms, this set up a very powerful formative causation that, in effect, forced all subsequent (and similar) proteins to take on the same form. An original contingency has become, via repetition, a virtual necessity. The morphogenetic field of this protein now governs the form of the protein, but it is not a field that is given from the beginning. Far from being an archetypal law, it is rather more like a habit, or cosmic memory. Indeed, for Sheldrake, all of the laws (or formal regularities) of the world have been built up, over successive generations, by morphic resonance and formative causation. Put succinctly, the probability that a given form will occur in the present is a function of the number of times a similar form has occurred in the past. That probability field is exactly the basis of the morphogenetic field.


What makes Sheldrake’s theory so radical is that formative causation postulated to act in a nonlocal fashion; that is, it operates instantaneously across space and time. Once a particular form has been learned by a system, it will be more easily learned by a similar system anywhere else in the world, without any spatiotemporal contact. And, in fact, Sheldrake points out that there is already a fair amount of circumstantial evidence supporting this. For example, it is well known that it is extremely difficult to crystallize complex organic compounds for the first time, but once it has been done in any laboratory, it is more easily (more rapidly) done in others. It has also been shown that once rats learn to negotiate a particular maze in one part of the world; rats elsewhere learn that maze more rapidly. And this, according to Sheldrake, is because of nonlocal morphic resonance and formative causation.

This is all double-talk and selective (mis)representations.

In all honesty, I believe Sheldrake is using the trappings of science to sell books.

I respect your honesty, Free Thinker, and I appreciate your reasoned response... no time to reply further right now, but I have more to share and discuss with you later.

What I will say for the moment is that I have personally experienced some of the 6th sense, morphic resonance field phenomena of which Sheldrake speaks, making me much more likely to agree with him.

Best,

Heidi
Thanks, Heidi,

Disagreeing is stressful. You've eased the strain.
First, out of respect for Dr. Sheldrake, I'd like him to speak for himself, rather than relying upon my paraphrasing of his concepts:


I have often known who is calling; when someone important to me has left me a voice-mail message; when someone special is sending me a snail-mail letter (it arrives a day or two later than my perception). I find any suggestion that this is pure coincidence to be far less believable than the obvious answer that some of us do possess telepathic connections with important contacts (friends, pets and family) to varying degrees. IMHO this could be either a more ancient social interaction and cooperation capability among more primitive hominids and other animals, or it could be an emerging capability. Clearly many people never do experience anything like this, and so I cannot blame such people for their disbelief.

Just as we experience varying degrees of visual acuity, hearing ability, and variations in taste perception, so, too do we vary in our 6th sense perception.

I think Dr. Sheldrake is making every effort to refine and conduct his experiments so as to demonstrate whether or not his theories stand up to scrutiny or not. There is no way I think he is deliberately misleading anyone.

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