Many if not all human societies have origin myths and they differ greatly.
Several years ago a San Francisco-born-and-raised woman told me she is a materialist.
An hour ago a woman who was raised a Jehovah Witness and has left that faith told me the Big Bang story grew from a human need for a beginning. I agreed.
Can you wholeheartedly accept that the universe had no beginning, that it has always existed?
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Some of my thoughts on this:
- One hypothesis for me for most of my life has been that it is possible that the universe (by which I mean everything, not just the latest human civ definition of everything they know of) has always existed and always will exist.
- There is some counter-argument in my view, or at least some cloudiness on one or more points... perhaps related to or a variant of the Fermi Paradox.
If the universe has been around literally "forever", then it seems a bit odd or questionable (IMO) for us to be an incipient civilization and, so far, without really clear indication of the Gazillions of googles of years worth of gazillions of organisations that would logically already have preceded us and be established, or have existed before wiping themselves out (and if infinite numbers of them had arisen, then I think at least a few of them would possibly have got past the earlier Paradox stages). A counter-counter argument here is they are just waiting for us to grow up, by some sort of Star-Trekish Prime Directive rule, and further that it may take another few decades or centuries for our primitive technologies to detect a high number of ambient civilization signs in our neighborhood.
Also, separately, I am having trouble wondering if there might be logical contradictions that might arise which might be an indicator that there are finite limitations here, or perhaps complications and nuances I do not understand. We are talking about a literally infinite number of years, right (not just "a lot")? And so I think we are perhaps talking about an infinite number of civilizations, no? And perhaps an infinite amount of space? I have heard some attempts by physicists that seemed (if I understood correctly) to try to claim infinite and finite aspects of reality, such as in their conceptions of our defined "universe". I don't know, I don't understand properly on that point.
- I do very much like your creation of a toe-hold for this topic. I am wary of your final point about "wholeheartedly accept". Maybe you did not mean it this way, but I am wary of any peer pressure that unless I "fully" believe in this or that, then I must not be on the right page. As I say, possibly misunderstanding.
- I do agree with seeing some human need here, historically, to believe in certain things. I see some of the history of science and belief in this matter (what little I know of it) as arguably, at least partially, some sort of psychological issue. Why does there have to be some sort of initial creator? Or an initial start? I see these basically as rhetorical questions, but I do think the questions are worth discussing and pondering honestly.
- More to my own thinking on this, a pet peeve for me is that the history of science seems to involve recent human scientists going from a "bottom up" approach in counting the size, age, mass and other universe characteristics. I can't draw a time line or reference a link, but it has at times seemed to me that humans will say "we thought the universe was this old, but now we think it's that old". And "we think the universe has this many suns, but now it is that many". And "we thought there was this much matter, but now we need to posit even more matter or anti-matter or some-such to account for this and that". And the pet peeve for me is to ask if we could please look at this process and acknowledge that we seem to keep finding that we are wrong on the low side in some ways. Is it possible that what we see of the Big Bang is just our "Big Bang neighborhood"? Might there be many more (or infinite) such things? When scientists proclaim that the "Universe" is 13bn or 15bn (or whatever) years old, will they then someday come back with:
"Oh yes, well, we didn't really mean "everything" when we said "universe", we meant only that which we could detect evidence of at the time, but it seems now we can detect more or have posited more, so we're going now to hypothesize that there's a lot more and it's a lot older, and either we made a mistake, but now please take what we say as "right" and anyway, it wasn't really a mistake because if you look here in some spot we didn't *really* mean "everything" when we said "universe""?
I don't know what will happen with real science in this area, and I'm totally leaving the door open to one possibility being that I am insufficiently understanding, or updated on, present science on the matter, even for just a layman's discussion. Maybe I am not understanding what many thoughtful professional scientists are presently telling us in these areas. I did though want to lay out my own thoughts on a for-what-its-worth basis using the toe-hold you provided.
Hi Tom, I don't think I understand your point, or perhaps I just disagree. Fermi's articulation of the paradox along with the work done by so many others in that area both before and after Fermi's point, all seem quite useful to me in a straightforward way - no need to be cynical or as critical as you've been, that I can see.
The Fermi paradox or Fermi's paradox, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence and high probability estimates, e.g., those given by the Drake equation, for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.
What's your point, Tom? We don't know enough about the universe to make a deduction, nor an inductive theory. We're all just throwing out questions, proposals, guesses, and theories.
Nobody knew anything about the universe until recent times, and in fact we know very little at all. A starter for me is that there is no direction as we know it here. Once you get away from the sphere of the Earth how would you even accurately define direction? Any reference to direction would have to take our Earth into consideration. To start understanding the universe we have to first overcome this problem to even know what we are dealing with. After that comes the figuring everything out phase.
All of this first and Buybull thumpers claim their book has all the answers. Impossible. So far we don't even know the questions.
It is surprising to me that amidst all this discussion of inductive and deductive reasoning, hypotheses and theories about the Bang, everyone seems to have missed the point of the science. Of course the Bang is NOT a theory. Theory is a tested and verified body of knowledge (to the current limits of ability). The Bang is a hypothesis, a reasonable starting point to begin scientific study. It is a DEDUCED question to be tested by the evidence (INDUCTIVE) based reasoning. If it can be examined and tested then it develops scientific credibility and validity. If it can't be tested then it is a poor hypothesis and is scientifically invalid, equal only to an opinion. The Bang is merely a hypothesis , a place to begin asking questions. That IS the point. That is the nature of science. Now, I admit, many seem to have accepted the Bang as Tom calls it on faith and deductive reasoning alone, given the scant real evidence. However, acceptance of the reality of things based on deductive reasoning can be quite valid. All depends on the validity of the observations leading to the deductions. Again, it is a starting place to ask questions. See above- That's the point. All science depends on observations leading to deductions(hypotheses) followed by inductions (observational and experimental evidence). It is when faith or clinging to demonstrably false ideas becomes the order of the day that I get nervous. Of course the "Bang " isn't proven,equally nor is it disproved (argument sound familiar?).. That is why it should be considered a valid topic for scientific inquiry.