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: 19

Replies to This Discussion

. . . or . . . the universe was created by something outside the laws of physics (i.e. something supernatural).

... or it was created by something outside the known laws of present-day physics (i.e. something not necessarily supernatural) ?
Hi Jaume,

Yes, science is the question, NOT the answer. Unlike religion, it has never claimed to have all the answers. However, I can't wait for science to decide the question. I'm basing my essay on what we know now.
Hi Steve,

Yes, I was aware that the latest scientific consensus understands our universe to be expanding at an accelerating rate. The end-game is one of a cold, infinitely-dispersing, lifeless, universe.

That's the prognosis, at least, for now.

Who knows what's next from a fledgling science, only 500 years old? :-)

Seriously, the fact that the universe might end with a whimper instead of a roar has nothing to do with eternity. If the universe spends the rest of eternity spreading its ashes ever thinner, that's still an eternity.
Hi Larry,

Yes, that scenario would make time too nebulous to nail down. But I don't know of any such theory of time.
Hi Larry,

The best minds in the world have no idea what understandings we'll have in a hundred years or two. And there's nothing to say that those future understandings won't be supplanted by "higher" understandings. As I've remarked earlier, I'm simply going with what we know (or think we know) now.
This same topic has been posted to the member forum at AtheistExile.com. I found the following reply, from Dafyyd Alwyn, to be very interesting.

I almost passed on commenting to this thread because I didn't think I had anything to add. Then I started thinking about the eternal.

Let us assume the universe is eternal in both directions of time and the universe expands and contracts forever.

It is my understanding that the duration of the expand-contract cycle of the universe is in the order of tens of billions years, certainly under 100 billion years at any rate [not that it matters]. I don't think it will ever be possible to know which cycle we are currently in. The first one? The tenth one? The millionth one?

Those were my thoughts when I remembered the eternal is infinite. If we somehow knew how many cycles has already occurred, we would in effect be identifying the beginning of the universe (it started X cycles ago). This is not possible with an eternal universe! The reason eternity makes no sense to us mortals is because it makes no sense mathematically and logically. We have no other means of understanding the eternal. The eternal is an article of faith whether you mean it to be the universe or God.

So when Exile says the universe is eternal, what does that really mean? Just because I can't understand it, I won't deny it. But I don't think anybody understands it!
Hi Larry,

The snake biting its own tail -- the circle -- is kind of an unsatisfying symbol for the eternal, don't you think? It's so . . . finite. Time isn't like a circle. Time doesn't loop. If you extend the 2-dimensional circle to a 3-dimensional sphere, you will still get an unsatisfactory model. In this case, time circling the sphere will frequently intersect itself: another impossible paradox. At least, that what I immediately think of.

Everything I've read from physicists on this topic supports a physical basis for the linear "direction of time". Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, Michio Kaku, all seem to take it for granted.

I understand that the circle can simplify the concepts of eternity and infinity by illustrating "no beginning" and "no end" but I don't feel it helps much in understanding the eternal in context of the directional, linear, progression of time cited by the authors I mentioned above.
Make time an helix (looks like a circle when seen from its axis) and your disagreement will disappear. Isn't geometry fantabulous?
Hi Jaume,

Helix . . . as in spiral or spring shape? Are you joining the ends of the spiral? I'm not sure I get you.
Infinite spring, of course, therefore no ends, therefore no need to join them. Still looks like a closed circle when you look at it from the right angle. So you've got the best of your 'conflicting' views.
Jaume,

Infinite helix . . . infinite time . . . what's the difference? You lost me.
Never mind. It was a kind of joke. I was just trying to reconcile your view of a 'linear time' with Larry's 'circular time'. I sort of thought an 'helix time' would allow for both.

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