I agree with you: "I contend that "time" has no beginning and no end (except in a personal sense). At least none in a 4 dimensional universe (where time is considered a 'dimension')."
That's what makes sense to me, too. Infinity - no beginning and no end. As soon as we presume a beginning, the agent(s) of the beginning cannot help but crop up, and along comes all the nonsense again... and all those pesky questions about where all the "matter" and "energy" came from.
Perhaps the difficulty is the realization that time is part of the universe. Let that sink in. Time is part of the structure and geometry of the universe just like space is. We are accustomed to thinking about time-slices at various instants of time: each of which give us the 3D world we see around us.
The easiest analogy I can come up with is a collection of expanding balls. The *radius* of the balls corresponds to time. Each ball corresponds to all of space at that time. The common center is the 'Big Bang'. But notice that it is NOT in 'one place'. It is at 'one time'. Also, there is no 'previous time' since we don't have negative radii.
When we talk about things comming from nothing, we are essentially invoking some sort of 'conservation law'. For example, the law of conservation of mass was an old view that held that mass was never created or destroyed-only converted from one form into another. There was also a law of conservation of energy. Now, we know that the two can be interconverted in some circumstances, so we have a law of conservation of mass-energy. But what these laws say is that the total amount of mass-energy at one time is the same as at any other time.
Did you see that? The amount at any *time* is the same as at any other *time*. In our analogy, this is like saying that the amount at one radius is the same as at any other radius. But now, the 'contradictions' involved in the lay-person's view of the Big Bang vanish. The conservation laws only apply to positive radii. There *is* no negative radius. There is no 'center of expansion' as a location: only as a time in the past. It is *space* that expands as time proceeds, not some expansion of things moving through space like an explosion.
Thank you Polymath. I appreciate your explanation.
I was on board with: "...so we have a law of conservation of mass-energy. But what these laws say is that the total amount of mass-energy at one time is the same as at any other time." - which seems consistent with "matter can neither be created nor destroyed" except that it now includes "energy". OK. That makes sense to me. So far, so good.
But matter, time and/or energy appearing out of nowhere makes no sense to me absent a creation of some stripe... and I do not believe in a "creator". I have no problem believing in infinity... but a beginning out of nothing and nowhere???
The symbolic use of spheres expanding over time feels like a construct designed to allow for the statement that nothing existed prior to positive radii.
OK... so how and why did nothing exist prior to positive radii? And how were positive radii brought into existence? How were time, matter and energy brought into being?
When you say 'a beginning out of nothing and nowhere' and 'brought into being', you are implicitly using the concept of time. It's probably better to think of spacetime as 'simply being'. It did not 'come out' of nowhere because there is no 'before' to come out of.
As for the expanding spheres construct, it is actually very close to the mathematics involved in the actual science. The problem, at least in general relativity, is that time cannot be extended past the Big Bang. Now, there *is* a possibility for such if we include quantum effects, but we don't have a good quantum description of gravity yet, so it is at best speculation. Some quantum versions don't allow the extension of time either. We just don't know.
how and why did nothing exist prior to positive radii', think of it like this, mass and energy cause a curvature of spacetime. This is a known and measured effect. As we move backwards in time, the density of mass and energy increases, so the curvature increases also. If the curvature is large enough, the coordinates cannot be defined in a consistent way. It's like asking what is north of the north pole. The north pole is as far north as you can go. Similarly, there is (may be) no 'before the Big Bang'. The Big Bang is literally (as far as we know) as far back as time goes.
Thanks Polymath. I was keeping up with the concept right up through your description of the curvature of space time... and the density of mass and energy increasing.
But as soon as it all moves "north of the north pole" and sort of ... uh... disappears, I can't grasp the disappearance of all that increased density of mass and energy which was so immense that it was actually able to curve space and time... and then it's just suddenly "nowhere"?! It makes me think that all this math just leads people to an illogical result, which we're supposed to accept because it just... um... does.
Forgive me... I'm not trying to be snotty or sarcastic... just honest.
That reminds me of Genesis in a rather uncomfortable way... i.e.... "Just take our word for it, OK? 'Cause WE know and you can't possibly understand." Aaaarrrgh.
I can relate to what Stephan Goodwin wrote, below:
"The nature of the universe at the moment of the big bang, and the nature of matter and energy in the singularity before the big bang is unknown to us."
I agree. But as to this later part of Stephan's statement:
"In current physics, to my understanding (I'm a biologist so I'm limited on this front) we can't know about "before the big bang" because as this video states there's no time as we understand it."
It makes more sense (to me) to assume that time has always existed, and that prior to the Big Bang, we just don't know where all the matter and energy was and what form it took, and what caused it to explode and become our universe.
I like the following aspect of Stephan's statement:
"But that's the rub: we don't understand it. Where did the matter and energy that makes up the universe come from? The singularity in the model we can understand would be timeless. What caused the big bang to occur? We don't know."
I completely agree. I don't see how we can possibly find out, either. Try applying for a grant and admitting that... lol.
Or, you could recognize that surface similiarites between disparate things, while common, are not necessarily evidence of similar underlying mechanisms, and thus avoid leaping to unwarranted conclusions based on faulty parallels.
The nature of the universe at the moment of the big bang, and the nature of matter and energy in the singularity before the big bang is unknown to us. In current physics, to my understanding (I'm a biologist so I'm limited on this front) we can't know about "before the big bang" because as this video states there's no time as we understand it.
But that's the rub: we don't understand it. Where did the matter and energy that makes up the universe come from? The singularity in the model we can understand would be timeless. What caused the big bang to occur? We don't know.
What can be shown is that for any gods to exist in the universe, they can't be the creators unless they have a way to enter a universe from another one. This gets us nothing, as then you have to explain their universe.
So, we have to postulate a god outside the universe. This is in fact possible to some extent, depending on how you define "god". However, such a god could not be matter or energy in this universe, and presumably could not interact with it by any known route.
Science, in essence, disproves all gods but the deist kind. But you still have to take the deist kind on faith. And hence the god hypothesis fails.
But what if it's not a "god" at all... deist or otherwise?
What if it is just "intelligence/consciousness" - not infallible; not benevolent; not a single personality responsible for everything and having an agenda... but an aggregate of all of the "intelligence" in the universe which has ever been or ever will be. Timeless, ubiquitous; omniscient; ever changing (evolving)... and something of which we are all a part, and have always been a part... changing through time.
Science has seemingly invented an ineffable substance called "dark matter" to allow for influences on matter and energy in the universe. What if this is just "intelligence/consciousness"? What if our problem is just that as single human incarnations we are so limited by our biological vehicle and brain/filter/receiver that while incarnate we are unable to grasp such a thing without altered states of... consciousness?
What if the cause of the universe was a hitherto unidentified or named "force", like compressed gravity or density? It does not make sense to call this force "god", either deist, theist, mono or plural. We might as well call the known force of gravity "god", too.
The problem with theists, and even most deists, is that they want to imbue the cause with a mind and a consquent intentions to act. There is no reason, apart from the human drive to anthropmorphize things, to give a force an identity, a personality and a communicative language.