Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Myth of the Beginning of Time

The Kalam Cosmological Argument goes:

1. Whatever begins to exist, must have a cause of its existence.
2. The Universe began to exist.
Therefore, the Universe has a cause of its existence.

A lot of debate on the KCA has concerned whether 1 can be applied to the universe itself. But 2 seems strongly supported by Big Bang theory. But do developments in string theory suggest that premise 2 is vulnerable? String Theorist Veneziano seems to think so. What do you think?

10 comments:

Alethes Ginosko said...

I think I'll take string theory a little more seriously when there is data/experimentation to back it up and not just speculation & philosophy.

Jason said...

I've maintained for at least a couple of years now, that it would be prudent not to put a whole lot of weight on premise 2 there. The _scientific_ opinions on the matter are looking increasingly spotty to me; and I've always had trouble accepting that in a system of space-time (where one is a different expression of the other), that when observations show reality being more and more focused in its existence the further back one travels in spatio-temporal expansion, the proper conclusion to draw _from those observations_ is that there _is_ a beyond-point.

To say that beyond existence is non-existence, may be feasible; but it is the same as saying that non-existence doesn't exist (and never has). It would be very easy to fall prey to a conceptual illusion, and extrapolate _ourselves_ beyond the evident data.

Put another way: the supernaturalistic theist over here is saying that if he was a naturalist instead (atheistic or otherwise), he wouldn't be much worried about (current) scientific theories about the previous non-existence of Nature.

Victor Reppert said...

Alethes: I wish you would give me some reasons for believing that string theory is just speculation and philosophy. Remember, I am trying to come to terms with an argument that says Big Bang cosmology supports a beginning of time. The string theorist is saying "Not so fast." NSF arguments are relatively easy to defend.

Why couldn't your criticism of string theory apply also to the entire science of cosmology?

Alethes Ginosko said...

VICTOR: Alethes: I wish you would give me some reasons for believing that string theory is just speculation and philosophy. Remember, I am trying to come to terms with an argument that says Big Bang cosmology supports a beginning of time. The string theorist is saying "Not so fast." NSF arguments are relatively easy to defend.

Why couldn't your criticism of string theory apply also to the entire science of cosmology?


Keep in mind as you read this that I do not even necessarily believe that the Big Bang occurred. However, in comparison with String Theory at least there is data involved in the Big Bang interpretation (for example Cosmic microwave background readings) There is no such data that can contribute to a String Theory cosmology interpretation. IF there is, please show me the publication in which it is written b/c I'd love to look at it. String Theory from what I have seen is simply a long string of 'what-if's that turn into a philosophy or belief.

As far as Big Bang cosmology exhibiting a beginning of time; I would say that the data does exhibit a beginning of time. HOwever, I think that the Big Bang interpretation of this data is wrong. Also, think about this; if the data leads to non-existence then waht is the problem? In a YEC point of view I suppose that that would seem true. Nothing existed except God until God created it. (In the beginning was the Word...) Keep in mind these aren't necessarily my beliefs, I'm just bouncing ideas around as they come to me.

As far as origins goes, I favor the white-hole cosmology of Dr. Russell Humphreys. His book 'Starlight & Time,' though a light read, is really interesting.

check this out for a little more info and some white hole theory critiques.

http://www.trueorigin.org/ca_rh_03.asp

Jason said...

{{Also, think about this; if the data leads to non-existence then what is the problem?}}

As a supernaturalist, of course I would see no problem at all with it. Even if I was an atheist, though (a very different thing than being a supernaturalist), I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with it:. It would simply be an indication that something produced (and produces) Nature.

I have conceptual cautions, however, about the notion of determining from spatial observations that 'space' began to exist from non-existence.

For one thing--and maybe this is only intuitive expectation--the progress of the energy level seems to me to be pointing in altogether the wrong direction. If observations indicated the energy level was progressively _less_ the further back we went in space-time, _then_ I could see how such observations _might_ be said to plausibly reach (or point at least) toward a conclusion about zero existence (where zero energy might entail zero physical existence). Instead, the drift is dispersion of energy (entropy increases as space-time increases) from ridiculously concentrated (if not infinite?) energy levels. Or have I missed hearing about some radical new observations on this, against entropy generally increasing over time?

Even if energy concentrations were found to be decreasing (pointing toward zero), however, I'd still have to say that a conclusion of existence _from_ non-existence would necessarily require extrapolation beyond any conceivably possible available evidence. (One can hardly observe a state of non-existence, except in subordination to an overarching system of system. A cat does not currently exist on my desk here in the office--but the desk and office exist to give me some basis for comparison of states. We're supposed to be talking about _NOTHING_, here, however--not even vacuum.)

Alethes Ginosko said...

JASON:I have conceptual cautions, however, about the notion of determining from spatial observations that 'space' began to exist from non-existence.

Nothing is determined. Only hypotheses formed from observation/evidence. This is the drawback of forensic science(sometimes referred to as origins science). One cannot do an experiment to repeat the past, one can only observe what the past produced and observe experiments using these products of past events.

...i had more, but I don't have the time to type it right now

exapologist said...

alethes said: I think I'll take string theory a little more seriously when there is data/experimentation to back it up and not just speculation & philosophy.

me: Yes, this stands In stark contrast to the ex nihilating trinity model, of course, which has abundant data/experimentation to back it up.

Mark K. Sprengel said...

Except that string theory is going up against something in science that does, and which also tends to lend support to arguments for theism. From there, historical data, personal experience, internal coherence, philosophy, etc. can guide us.

Darek Barefoot said...

C. S. Lewis said (unfortunately I cannot remember exactly where) that you cannot answer the old chicken-egg question from inside the sequence. You have to get outside it to find its origin. That admittedly cryptic observation may have some bearing here.

Also, string theory is inferred from mathematical modeling. The difficulties mathematical modeling poses for naturalism are explained at great depth in Mark Steiner's The Applicability of Mathematics as a Philosophical Problem. It particularly focuses on Quantum Theory modeling.

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