At 11:29 AM 9/17/97 -0600, Don N Page wrote:
>Since being a cosmologist and former postdoc of Stephen Hawking has led
>me to think about these questions. I should say that although I strongly agree
>that "A vacuum is not 'nothing', it is something," in my opinion (apparently
>not shared by certain others such as Hugh Ross and William Lane Craig), the
>Big Bang is not significantly more evidence for the existence of God than any
>other elegant cosmological models would be if they were instead supported by
I am glad I got that right. :-)
> In other words, I reject the claim that a finite age of the
>universe helps the cosmological argument that there is a Creator. And I
>certainly do not accept the statement that "If the universe were eternally
>past, then God would be useless." By faith I would still accept the
>of the cosmological argument, that the existence of the universe depends
>upon a Creator. (However, I would not, and do not, accept the cosmological
>argument as a PROOF of the existence of God, since it seems logically
>possible, even if perhaps implausible, that this universe could exist even if
>God did not, whether or not this universe has a finite age.)
I am sorry that I am going to have to take a break from the board at the
outbreak of something that looks very interesting. But I will continue as
long as I can.
First I would like to correct something. Neither John nor I used the word
PROOF. That is your word. John asked:
>>Think about it, is there any convincing, supporting
evidence for us in the late 20th century that God exists?" <<
Supporting evidence is not PROOF. So, I agree with you that the Big Bang (BB)
is not proof of God's existence.
However, the implications of an infinitely old universe have been known long
before the BB came into fashion. Many ancient cosmologies believed in the
Eternal Return--a universe which recycled itself every so often. Nietzsche
believed in the Eternal Return and attempted a scientific proof of it. I
quote the Mad Hatter, Frank Tipler. (for those who don't remember, I quoted
this fellow and was told by a gentleman on this list that he was off his
rocker, thus my moniker for Tipler). The Mad Hatter said:
"The attempt by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to prove
recurrence is interesting because it is *almost* a valid argument, given
certain (untrue) presuppositions about the nature of the physical universe.
That is,Nietzsche's proof contains all the essential ideas needed for a
rigourous proofof recurrence of a finite physical system evolving in a
particular chancelike way. Nietzsche began his 'proof' of recurrence as follows:
'...we insist upon the fact that the world as a sum of energy must not be
regarded as unlimited--we forbid ourselves the concept of infinite energy.'
"Thus Nietzsche argues for the finiteness of energy of the universal system.
This is indeed an essential assumption in any valid proof of recurrence.
Nietzsche's argument for finiteness has a parallel in modern physics. According
to general relativity, only in spacetimes where the total energy is necessarily
finite (in the so-called asymptotically flat spacetimes) does 'energy' have
a well-defined meaning. In particular, total energy does not have a meaning
closed universe (and I shall use this fact in my proof that infinite progress is
possible in closed universes).
"Nietzsche also argues that the universe must be infinite in both past
and the future:
'We need not concern ourselves for one instant with the hypothesis of a created
world. the concept 'create' is today utterly indefinable and unrealistic:
it is but a word which hails from superstitious ages...'
Actually, in his 'proof,' Nietzsche does not really need to rule out
'creation' he just needs to rule out the idea that the universe has existed
for only a finite time. Unfortunately for Nietzsche, the evidence for the
Big Bang is
overwhealming. That is, the universe has existed for only a finite time--about
20 billion years--even if it is 'uncreated.'"
. . .
"Nietzsche claims that recurrence of all states follows from the
finiteness of energy (and the space wherein this energy acts), by which he
meant a finite number of possible states of the universe, the infinity of
elapsed time, and a chancelike evolution:
'If the Universe may be conceived as a definite quantity of energy, as a
definite number of centers of energy--and every other concept remains
indefinite and therefore useless--it follows that the Universe must go
through a calculable
number of combinations in the great game of chance which constitutes its
existence. In infinity, at some moment or other, every possible combination
must once have been realized; not only this, but it must once have been
realized in an infinite number of times... If all possible combinations and
relations of forces had not already been exhausted, then an infinity would not
yet lie behind us. Now since infinite time must be assumed, no fresh possibility
can exist and everything must have appeared already, and moreover an infinite
number of times.'" Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality, (New York:
Doubleday, 1994), p 77-78
Now, I am speaking again.
In modern quantum, two particles which are in the same quantum state are
indistinguishable. If the Unvierse is described by a universal quantum state,
then the universe today along with the universe having the identical quantum
state billions of years ago, would also be indistinguishable from ours. They
would have to be indistinguishable universes as the particles are the
indistinguishable. And you would be in that universe also.
Nietzsche realized that the Eternal Return had several implications.
1. No ultimate purpose to life (a merry go round gets you nowhere). Lives, your
life and mine, are repeated ad infinnitum and thus are meaningless, sensless
2. Progress is an illusion. What we think we accompllish will be destroyed and
rebuilt numerous times.
3. God could not exist, especially the God of the Bible. If He created the
universe, then He would be creating the universe over and over and over and
would have a meaningless life like ours. This is one of the reasons Nietsche
came up with the God is dead statement. There would be no God of love, since
God would love us again in a few billion years. He would save us again in a
few billion years. Christ would die again in a few billion years.
The importance of the big bang is in what it does for the concept of the Eternal
Return. The Big Bang allows a universe having room for a God like that
described in the Bible.
> I know it is tempting to suppose that evidence for a finite age of the
>universe is evidence that it was created, especially for Christians now that
>the Big Bang theory has considerable scientific support. But I don't see that
>this particular contingent fact (of finite age, if it is indeed a fact) about
>the universe has any real relevance for the question of whether or not God
>created it. God could just as well have created a universe with infinite
No, then you get the Eternal Return.
> As Hawking himself put it at the end of Chapter 8 of _A Brief History
>of Time_, "So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a
>creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no
>boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be.
>What place, then, for a creator?"
That is indeed is the problem of an infinite universe. An infinite universe
implies at the least a pantheistic God.
> Actually, Hawking's argument is not quite the same as the erroneous
>form of the cosmological argument that I have attacked above, which supposes
>that a universe with a finite age needs a Creator but one with infinite age
Maybe I need to correct my statement about God being needed to create the
vacuum, but I am not sure of this. Since this goes to the heart of the
philosophical question of the gap between existence and non-existence.
Without something, it is difficult to see how nothing could become
something, i.e. the vacuum. Philosphically it is more satisfying to say that
God must have existed to create the vacuum. Without a vacuum you can't have
the Big Bang. If all you have is nothing, then you have no vacuum.
By the way, I tend to agree with you suggestion that "in the beginning...'
may apply to God's thought processes. I believe that Genesis 1 describes
the planning of the universe, not the execution or actualization of the
Foundation, Fall and Flood