ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN

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ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN

We debate origins of the Universe, life, Earth, humans, religion, atheism, using common sense, evolution, cosmology, geology, archaeology, and other sciences, to repel biblical creationism and other religious beliefs.

Location: Oxford University, England
Members: 4158
Latest Activity: 10 hours ago

The portrait is Charles Darwin, age 31, in 1840

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A Merry Newtonmas to You All on Atheist Nexus from Terry

Started by Dr. Terence Meaden. Last reply by Dr. Terence Meaden yesterday. 6 Replies

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Comment by Marcus Tullius Cicero on January 21, 2009 at 12:37am
Andrei Linde has been a proponent of the theory that consciousness is organic to the universe. This is really no more or less metaphysical in conception than is the statement that the laws of physics simply are. Equally so with the juxtaposition of the question "What designed the designer?" with the question "What caused the Big Bang?". Neither is more clever than the other. Neither is provable. Both posit something out of nothing.
Comment by Richard Francis on January 20, 2009 at 8:14pm
Please pardon my ignorance (this is my first post, hooray!!) but I still get confused over why people assume that there had to be a beginning. As far as I know, there isn't a single example of an actual beginning (from nothing to something) anywhere in the universe. There is simply a transition/development/evolution or progression. Perhaps we are still living under the cloud of "In the beginning...."

Why couldn't the universe have always been here, just in one form or another? This is not rhetorical. I am not a scientist so I would like to know what is wrong with this idea. It seems too simple.
Comment by Steve Greene on January 20, 2009 at 6:05pm
Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist, has similar ideas about universes being "regions" of "spacetime", with various different physical properties/laws, some of which may have the kind of physical properties such that they also produce other universes. He discusses these ideas in his 1997 book Life of the Cosmos. Of course, you can google his name and find articles online by him too.
Comment by Marc Draco on January 20, 2009 at 5:48pm
Are you trying to be funny Alex? I'll confess that I'm not entirely sure I follow your train of thought on this. If you really are a therapist then you'll know that treating adults (particularly autodidacts) as ignorant children is likely to offend them.

I find it condescending when you say: "It's not an argument for a creator. Glad you see that."

Since I have, at no point, ever postulated otherwise.

You have also, on a couple of occasions suggested that I calm down - yet you have absolutely no way of knowing my state of mind.

Is this really the sort of behaviour I can expect here? If it is, I'll take my insatiable thirst for knowledge elsewhere and thank Dr. Meaden for that educated post regarding Big Bang.
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.

WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE BIG BANG?

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).
 

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