Episode Three – The Universe and the Big Bang

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Dwayne
Let us consider the concept of the “universe”. Properly speaking, it refers to the “totality of all existence”, that is everything that exists. It does not refer to a “super-entity”, it is a collection of entities, in a similar way to how a “soccer team” has no physical existence, other than each member of the team of soccer players.

The “soccer team” is not a physical thing. It is simply a way to refer to all the players which make up the team.  In a similar way, the concept “universe” refers to all the things that exist. Everything that exists.

Does the universe have a cause? No, it does not have a cause.

What does one mean by asking whether the universe has a cause?  Perhaps one means: Is there is a reason the universe exists, and if so, how did the universe come to be?

Ashna
But again, the universe is not a physical thing. It is not something that “came to be”. It simply refers to the things that exist.  It makes no sense to discuss the cause of “the totality of all the things that exist”.

What does it mean to ask “what is the cause of the universe”?  What is the cause of “everything that exists”? The only actual subjects of that question are the things that exist.

Universe
The things shown here are some of the things that are included in the concept “universe”.

Dwayne
Right, remember, when it comes to the universe, there is no “it”. The universe is not a thing, we are simply referring to all the things that exist.  It would make more sense to ask whether or not those individual things that make up the universe had a cause.  But, that is a very different question.

Ashna
Yes, perhaps one means to ask whether or not there was a time where no entities existed, and if so, what happened to cause the very first entities to come into being.  In other words, when did nonexistence become existence?

Dwayne
Well, hopefully, one can see several problems with that. The question poses a meaningless false alternative, an alternative to existence. There can be no causes, no actions, independent of entities to act. An event, including the Big Bang, if it happened, is simply the actions of one or more entities.

It is meaningless to discuss actions without entities to act. Try to talk about billiard ball motion, without billiard balls to act, and you might begin to see the problem!

There are no actions, hence no events, without entities. Actions are the actions of entities. There is no alternative, there is no escaping this axiomatic fact.

What is true of entities, is true of the universe, which is simply a collection of entities. There was not a point during which the first entities arose out of nothingness. There were no actions of nothingness, no disembodied actions of an empty nonexistence which somehow lead to the first entities existing.

There has always been a universe,  that is to say, there has always been something that exists. There can be no cause of this fact, cause something that exists,  presupposes existence. To claim that nonexistence can cause existence is a contradiction.

Ashna
Okay, but one might sensibly wonder if the universe has always existed in its current configuration?

By the “form”, or “configuration” of the universe, I mean how the entities that exist are related to one another.

Dwayne
This question is no doubt, a valid, and important question. To which, I have no complete answer and anyway we are not here to discuss the physics, remember. It is a question which physics, not philosophy, might attempt to answer.

The point is that assuming the Big Bang occurred, prior to it there was a universe, which is just another way of saying that something existed. Then, actions occurred that lead to the Big Bang, and as a result, the configuration of the universe changed and took the form we know now, roughly.

Well, the point of this episode is not to debate whether or not the Big Bang occurred. The point is that if it did happen, then it was not the genesis of existence, it was not the creation of the universe. It was at most, a very dramatic reconfiguration of the universe, a rearrangement of the things that exist.

Ashna
So, in short, the Big Bang was at most, the genesis of the universe in its current configuration. Prior to the Big Bang, again supposing it occurred, there was a universe, there were entities that existed in some configuration. Existence exists. No escaping it, is there?

Alright, we are just about done for now. Before, we wrap up though, a few more things.

AI
A little preview of our next episode on AI.

If you have not done so already, please check out the website on metaphysicsofphysics.com.

You are welcome to send in questions about any of the things talked about in this episode or about irrational stuff in physics or the philosophy of science in general. Send them in to questions@metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Dwayne
You can also use the same email address to send in topic suggestions or requests. You can also use contact@metaphysicsofphysics.com

In the upcoming episode, we will be discussing artificial intelligence and the meaning of the word “possible”.

Thanks for listening! Please tune in for the next episode and start thinking of some questions! Until then, stay rational!

Ashna
Stay rational!

2 thoughts on “Episode Three – The Universe and the Big Bang”

  1. “There is no way to perceive or think about non-existence. To perceive is to perceive something. That which does not exist cannot be perceived. There is no way to imagine non-existence. To think is to think about something.”

    There is always polarity. Existence must have an opposite in order for itself to exist. I know that sounds rediculous but so does dark matter and anti-matter.

    Reply
  2. No, existence does not need an opposite for itself to exist.

    What could possibly qualify as an alternative to existence? For it to be an alternative to anything it must first exist. And if it exists, it is part of existence and therefore it cannot be an alternative to existence!

    Unless you mean that for existence to exist one must be able to imagine an alternative. But, you cannot imagine an alternative to existence. There is nothing to imagine or even conceive of. The imagination of non-existence is a contradiction in terms.

    Even if you could imagine it, existence exists regardless of the content of your mind, including your imagination. As evidenced by the fact that the universe existed long before there were beings capable of imagining anything!

    Some things do have an opposite. But the existence of something does not necessarily require the existence of an opposite. Nor does the fact something exists necessitate that its opposite must also exist.

    Existence is not even a physical thing. It is a concept which subsumes everything that exists. It can have no opposite since everything that exists comes under the concept of “existence”.

    Furthermore, not all concepts or physical things have opposites. What is the opposite of a book? Not a book? No. What is the opposite of a person? Not a person? No. To have an opposite means that there exists something with similar qualities that exist on different ends of a scale of measurement or viewpoint. But, this does not apply to some physical objects or concepts and most certainly not to existence.

    The claim that there is always polarity is therefore without any basis and logically invalid.

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