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The portrait is Charles Darwin, age 31, in 1840

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Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on January 20, 2009 at 5:24pm
My note on WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE BIG BANG I put on to this discussion site on 16 September 2008 (q.v.) It is based on Dr. Vic Stenger's thinking that uses currently-known quantum phyysics to suggest an answer. I am copying it out to put it here:

It is an extended version of what I prepared in reply to a Daily Telegraph reader’s question below, but the Telegraph did not publish it. The Telegraph Editor is regrettably a god-believer.


SIR—Glenys Roberts (Daily Telegraph, September 12, 2008) asks, “Surely the really interesting thing is what happened BEFORE the Big Bang?”

A possible answer derives from a merging of quantum physics and high-energy particle physics with cosmology and astrophysics. Knowledge of advanced theoretical and experimental research is required for a full understanding of the necessary principles. I summarise what follows from a book that I have been writing and is nearly complete.

"In the beginning was the void. Time and space were nothingness.

Vic Stenger, physicist, explains how quantum mechanics provides a purely natural mechanism for the transition empty Universe to non-empty Universe.
Physics, in all its powers, resolves that the Universe was instantly self-created, uncaused, from an unstable void or false vacuum—a timeless quantum void—with the property that incipient, virtual particles were omnipresent. It was timeless chaotic emptiness.
For quantum uncertainty is all pervasive, throughout the world and the Universe, even unto the void. In short, either an unstable void or its alter ego the Universe is all there is to contemplate.

Yet in REAL TIME universes are all there can be.
They are eternally present, forever existing, because their absence would imply an unstable state of the void that cannot exist in time.

Thus, our Universe simply is . . .
. . . . because at least one universe is always necessarily present.
For if not, there would be a void instead—but a void being truly unstable, a universe would instantly replace it. Therefore, a universe–or universes—must be. THEY ALWAYS WERE; AND ALWAYS SHALL BE.

Therefore too, because time cannot exist prior to universes, universes cannot have a first cause. With no first cause, there is no primary origin, no creation. Therefore postulations of the supernatural are superfluous, dispensable and worthless. Theism results from inadequate knowledge of science, and people’s gods exist only in their heads. Atheism is the natural condition of the Universe into which we are all born, and innocently persists until indoctrination into some ‘faith’ is pressured upon, most usually, children.

“The nothingness ‘before’ the creation of the Universe is the most complete void we can imagine. No space, time or matter existed. It is a world without place, without duration or eternity . . .” Heinz Pagels, physicist.

Although, like the stars, the void may not be humanly approachable, its physics is within human reach, because it is entrenched in the theory of cosmological inflation which has abundant empirical evidence supporting it.

Charles Darwin said: ““Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science”. The Descent of Man.
Comment by Alex Donovan on January 20, 2009 at 3:33pm
Seriously, marc...take a few deep breaths and try to relax.
Comment by Marc Draco on January 20, 2009 at 3:24pm
That should clear this up - I am MARC - not MarcUS not MarcO... just plain Marc. Atheist, Liberal, former journo. Generally, I don't believe in anything that defies logic, description or scientific scrutiny; and religion is B/S.
Comment by Marc Draco on January 20, 2009 at 3:02pm
Seriously Alex, why did you infer I was ever upset? Perhaps you have been debating too much with conservatives too much of late?

I've written a whole chapter in my current book about Big Bang, in fact! Looking back, I guess I chose the wording poorly saying "given". Our physical laws came into being at Big Bang (or shortly afterwards). This does not imply a creator just a creation event: which is an entirely different thing.

What we don't know - and so far cannot accurately infer - is what came before Big Bang (assuming anything did!). I have never seen a convincing argument for a creator and rather doubt I ever will. I was demanding to know who created the creator before I hit my teens.

In the same way, we could all be brains in jars - or I might be brain in a jar and all this is provided for my amusement.

I can't find Dr. Meaden's article discussing how we might project back before Big Bang - there might not have even been a before; and even there was, I see no reason to assume that the physical laws existing before the BB event were in any way like our own.
Comment by Alex Donovan on January 20, 2009 at 2:37pm
Marc, seriously, there's no need to get so upset.
It's not an argument for a creator. Glad you see that.
Comment by Marc Draco on January 20, 2009 at 11:47am
Calm down? Whatever made you imagine I wasn't calm? ;-)

How is big bang creating our laws an argument for a designer?

I am aware of the anthropic principal (and the arguments both for and against).
Comment by Alex Donovan on January 20, 2009 at 10:36am
"But before the Big Bang, there were no laws of physics as we understand them; or at least, we can't be sure of any. Space-time as we understand only came into existence at Big Bang. "

Calm down, and I'll try to explain...
What you see as 'laws of physics' are a property of the Universe as it exists now. This is just a variation on the teleological argument. The next logical question is this: "What designed the designer?"

As for the Anthropic Principle, what it states is that no god is necessary to explain the universe: We're here to ask the question, no matter how improbable our existence may be, because circumstances lined up correctly for it to be possible. This doesn't mean that a 'god' did it. It just means that even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while.
Comment by Marc Draco on January 20, 2009 at 9:47am
But before the Big Bang, there were no laws of physics as we understand them; or at least, we can't be sure of any. Space-time as we understand only came into existence at Big Bang.
Comment by John on January 20, 2009 at 9:25am
Marco, the "laws of physics" simply are. I wouldn't say they were given to us as much as they are an inevitable result or an inherent function of the universe.

That is a very good argument against a persistent god though. The universe exists now in a state that can be measured and studied to a staggering precision. A god in the current universe is simply not necessary. I agree with you Dr. Meaden, Vic Stenger has a most interesting position on this. I read your link and it is quite interesting.
Comment by Marc Draco on January 20, 2009 at 9:11am
Didn't the Big Bang give us the laws of physics that we know now?

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