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Vilenkin’s verdict: “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”

Did the cosmos have a beginning? The Big Bang theory seems to suggest it did, but in recent decades, cosmologists have concocted elaborate theories – for example, an eternally inflating universe or a cyclic universe – which claim to avoid the need for a beginning of the cosmos. Now it appears that the universe really had a beginning after all, even if it wasn’t necessarily the Big Bang.

At a meeting of scientists – titled “State of the Universe” – convened last week at Cambridge University to honor Stephen Hawking’s 70th birthday, cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University in Boston presented evidence that the universe is not eternal after all, leaving scientists at a loss to explain how the cosmos got started without a supernatural creator. The meeting was reported in New Scientist magazine (Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event, 11 January 2012). I’ve quoted a few brief highlights below.

In his presentation, Professor Vilenkin discussed three theories which claim to avoid the need for a beginning of the cosmos.

One popular theory is eternal inflation. Most readers will be familiar with the theory of inflation, which says that the universe increased in volume by a factor of at least 10^78 in its very early stages (from 10^−36 seconds after the Big Bang to sometime between 10^−33 and 10^−32 seconds), before settling into the slower rate of expansion that we see today. The theory of eternal inflation goes further, and holds that the universe is constantly giving birth to smaller “bubble” universes within an ever-expanding multiverse. Each bubble universe undergoes its own initial period of inflation. In some versions of the theory, the bubbles go both backwards and forwards in time, allowing the possibility of an infinite past. Trouble is, the value of one particular cosmic parameter rules out that possibility:

But in 2003, a team including Vilenkin and Guth considered what eternal inflation would mean for the Hubble constant, which describes mathematically the expansion of the universe. They found that the equations didn’t work (Physical Review Letters, DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.90.151301). “You can’t construct a space-time with this property,” says Vilenkin. It turns out that the constant has a lower limit that prevents inflation in both time directions. “It can’t possibly be eternal in the past,” says Vilenkin. “There must be some kind of boundary.”

A second option explored by Vilenkin was that of a cyclic universe, where the universe goes through an infinite series of big bangs and crunches, with no specific beginning. It was even claimed that a cyclic universe could explain the low observed value of the cosmological constant. But as Vilenkin found, there’s a problem if you look at the disorder in the universe:

Disorder increases with time. So following each cycle, the universe must get more and more disordered. But if there has already been an infinite number of cycles, the universe we inhabit now should be in a state of maximum disorder. Such a universe would be uniformly lukewarm and featureless, and definitely lacking such complicated beings as stars, planets and physicists – nothing like the one we see around us.

One way around that is to propose that the universe just gets bigger with every cycle. Then the amount of disorder per volume doesn’t increase, so needn’t reach the maximum. But Vilenkin found that this scenario falls prey to the same mathematical argument as eternal inflation: if your universe keeps getting bigger, it must have started somewhere.

However, Vilenkin’s options were not exhausted yet. There was another possibility: that the universe had sprung from an eternal cosmic egg:

Vilenkin’s final strike is an attack on a third, lesser-known proposal that the cosmos existed eternally in a static state called the cosmic egg. This finally “cracked” to create the big bang, leading to the expanding universe we see today. Late last year Vilenkin and graduate student Audrey Mithani showed that the egg could not have existed forever after all, as quantum instabilities would force it to collapse after a finite amount of time (arxiv.org/abs/1110.4096). If it cracked instead, leading to the big bang, then this must have happened before it collapsed – and therefore also after a finite amount of time.

“This is also not a good candidate for a beginningless universe,” Vilenkin concludes.

So at the end of the day, what is Vilenkin’s verdict?

“All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”

A supernatural Creator?

I’ve always been a bit leery of the kalam version of the cosmological argument, which says that since (1) whatever begins to exist has a cause, and (2) the universe began to exist, therefore (3) the universe has a supernatural cause. Of cousrse, I don’t doubt the first premise, and as Professor William Lane Craig, who is a noted defender of the argument, points out, neither did the skeptical philosopher David Hume. Hume wrote in 1754: “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause” (The Letters of David Hume, Two Volumes, J. Y. T. Greig, editor: (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932), 1:187; quoted in Craig, Reasonable Faith, Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, revised edition, 1994, p. 93). And as philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe has pointed out, if you think about how you’d go about determining that an object which just appeared out of nowhere had actually come into existence or had just been very rapidly transported from some other place where it had existed previously, the only way you could settle the issue would be to identify something which was reponsible for generating it, as opposed to merely transporting it. In other words, you’d need to identify a cause. (In the case of virtual particles which come into and go out of existence over very short time periods, that cause is the quantum vacuum, which, because it has a specified energy level and can be described by scientific laws, is a genuine entity in its own right, pervading the universe of space.) In short: methodologically, there seems to be no way in principle of showing that something which appeared out of the blue actually came into existence without a cause, and our ability to imagine it doesn’t make it really possible (after all, I can imagine winged horses too).

But I’ve always been a bit doubtful about the second premise until now. Cosmologists themselves seemed to have lots of ideas as to how the universe might be eternal, and it seemed to me that as fast as one idea was refuted, another one sprang up.

So when I see a leading cosmologist such as Vilenkin admit that “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning,” I sit up and take notice.

Suppose Vilenkin is right. What follows then? The universe had some kind of cause – obviously not a natural cause, so you’d have to call it supernatural. But where does that take us?

A Personal Creator?

Professor William Lane Craig goes on to argue that this supernatural cause of the cosmos must be personal. According to Craig, every kind of explanation is either a logico-mathematical explanation (which, because it is abstract, is incapable of explaining the fact that something comes into existence), a scientific explanation (which can explain events occurring within the universe, but not the coming-to-be of the universe itself) or a personal explanation, involving an agent doing somrthing for a reason. Personal explanation is the only schema that can explain the coming-to-be of the cosmos, reasons Craig.

Professor Craig defends the notion of a personal Creator in a post entitled, Is the Cause of the Universe an Uncaused, Personal Creator of the Universe, who sans the Universe Is Beginningless, Changeless, Immaterial, Timeless, Spaceless, and Enormously Powerful?

See also the following:

Job Opening; Creator of the Universe by Professor Paul Herrick.
Background reading: Lecture notes and bibliography from Dr. Koons’ Western Theism course (Phil. 356). Highly recommended. Dr. Koons’ lecture notes provide an excellent overview of the cosmological argument, as well as replies to philosophical criticisms.

The evidence from fine-tuning

Those readers who are still unpersuaded by Craig’s arguments might like to consider the additional evidence (which I’ve summarized in recent posts of mine) for the reality of cosmological fine-tuning, not only within our universe, but even at the level of the multiverse. I’ve endeavored to explain why this fine-tuning points to an Intelligent Creator whose Mind is capable of creating a world of startling mathematical beauty:

Is fine-tuning a fallacy?
Is this the Dumbest Ever “Refutation” of the Fine-Tuning Argument?

“The universe is too big, too old and too cruel”: three silly objections to cosmological fine-tuning (Part One)
“The universe is too big, too old and too cruel”: three silly objections to cosmological fine-tuning (Part Two)
(Part Three is in the works, folks.)

So you think the multiverse refutes cosmological fine-tuning? Consider Arthur Rubinstein.
Why a multiverse would still need to be fine-tuned, in order to make baby universes

Beauty and the multiverse
Why the mathematical beauty we find in the cosmos is an objective “fact” which points to a Designer

What assumptions does the fine-tuning argument make about the Designer?

And beyond?

Finally, for those who want to go beyond scientific arguments, and get into the metaphysics of classical theism, I’d recommend this post:

Classical theism by Professor Edward Feser.

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28 Responses to Vilenkin’s verdict: “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”

  1. Can someone please tell me if the “multiverse” is a hypothesis or a theory? Also, are there working theories (right now) that support the multiverse? I was under the impression that the “multiverse” wasn’t even a true scientific hypothesis because it doesn’t meet the two requirements demanded, that is, it would have to be testable as well as falsifiable…

  2. KRock, my personal opinion is that the multiverse is purely a imaginary conjecture, with zero empirical support, that some atheists have concocted and latched onto instead of facing what reality, or at least the best knowledge we currently have of reality from our observations, is telling us! i.e. the universe had a completely transcendent origin. Moreover this imaginary conjecture,(escape hatch), actually comes back a bites the atheists hard. First off the multiverse concedes the necessary, but controversial, first premise to the Theists in the ontological argument:

    God Is Not Dead Yet – William Lane Craig – Page 4
    The ontological argument. Anselm’s famous argument has been reformulated and defended by Alvin Plantinga, Robert Maydole, Brian Leftow, and others. God, Anselm observes, is by definition the greatest being conceivable. If you could conceive of anything greater than God, then that would be God. Thus, God is the greatest conceivable being, a maximally great being. So what would such a being be like? He would be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and he would exist in every logically possible world. But then we can argue:

    1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.
    2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
    3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
    4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
    5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
    6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
    7. Therefore, God exists.

    Now it might be a surprise to learn that steps 2–7 of this argument are relatively uncontroversial. Most philosophers would agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then he must exist. So the whole question is: Is God’s existence possible? The atheist has to maintain that it’s impossible that God exists. He has to say that the concept of God is incoherent, like the concept of a married bachelor or a round square. But the problem is that the concept of God just doesn’t appear to be incoherent in that way. The idea of a being which is all-powerful, all knowing, and all-good in every possible world seems perfectly coherent. And so long as God’s existence is even possible, it follows that God must exist.
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....ml?start=4

    Thus the atheists have actually, in the appealing to the infinite probabilistic resources of the multiverse, made the necessary concession to the ontological argument of God’s existence even being possible.

    i.e. As well, this hypothetical infinite multiverse obviously begs the question of exactly which laws of physics, arising from which material basis, are telling all the other natural laws in physics what, how and when, to do the many precise unchanging things they do in these other universes? Exactly where is this universe creating machine to be located? Moreover, if an infinite number of other possible universes must exist in order to explain the fine tuning of this one, then why is it not also infinitely possible for a infinitely powerful and transcendent Creator to exist? Using the materialist same line of reasoning for an infinity of multiverses to ‘explain away’ the extreme fine-tuning of this one we can thusly surmise; If it is infinitely possible for God to exist then He, of 100% certainty, must exist no matter how small the probability is of His existence in one of these other infinity of universes, and since He certainly must exist in some possible world then he must exist in all possible worlds since all possibilities in all universes automatically become subject to Him since He is, by definition, transcendent and infinitely Powerful.,,, To clearly illustrate the level of absurdity of what materialists now consider their cutting edge science: The materialistic conjecture of an infinity of universes to ‘explain away’ the fine tuning of this one also insures the 100% probability of the existence of Pink Unicorns no matter how small the probability is of them existing (Though since a pink unicorn is a ‘contingent being’, instead of a ‘necessary being’ like God, this means that pink unicorns will only exist in ‘some’ possible worlds in the multiverse scenario). Thus it is self-evident that the atheistic materialists have painted themselves into a inescapable corner of logical absurdities in trying to find an escape from the Theistic implications we are finding for the fine-tuning of this universe.

    further note:

    It is interesting to note that atheists commit intellectual suicide with their imaginary multiverse conjecture:

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory & The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    http://vimeo.com/34468027

    Here is the last power-point slide of the preceding video:

    The End Of Materialism?
    * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all.
    * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as a explanatory principle.
    * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose.
    * Scientific materialism is (therefore) epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.

    further notes:

    The Ontological Argument (The Introduction) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJRQmsuEksc

    Ontological Argument For God From The Many Worlds Hypothesis – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4784641

    I like the concluding comment about the ontological argument from the following Dr. Plantinga video:

    “God then is the Being that couldn’t possibly not exit.”

    Ontological Argument – Dr. Plantinga (3:50 minute mark)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCXvVcWFrGQ

    As weird as it may sound, this following video refines the Ontological argument into a proof that, because of the characteristic of ‘maximally great love’, God must exist in more than one person:

    The Ontological Argument for the Triune God – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVYXog8NUg

    Verse and music:

    1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”;

    Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill How Great thou Art – 720P HD – Standing Ovation!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLLMzr3PFgk

  3. bornagain77:

    Thank you so much for the info, you’re a great help.

    I was having an online discussion with someone who had pointed out that: Quote: “the multiverse hypotheses are NOT made up out of whole cloth. They are based on working theories, and can thus be potentially used to build new theories once more data comes in. This is totally different from GOD, which is NOT a viable theory.” End quote.

    I was simple trying to explain the difference between a scientific hypothesis and a theory and the fact that a scientific hypothesis has to be testable as well as falsifiable and as far as I can tell, the multiverse fails in the falsifiable department, rendering the multiverse to be a non-scientific hypothesis.

    Anyway, thanks again for the info..

  4. KRock, actually God, contrary to what your friend may think, is the only current ‘theory’, for the origin of the universe and life in it, with actual empirical support;

    First information, which is the ONLY entity we know of to be completely transcendent of space-time matter-energy is found to be foundational, and indeed even dominant, of space-time matter-energy, just as ‘predicted in John 1:1, and thus becoming, empirically, the only known entity with the capacity to create the universe;

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.”
    Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    Moreover consciousness, as weird as it may sound, is found to be EVEN MORE foundational to reality than information is;

    The argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    references:

    Quantum mind–body problem
    Excerpt:Parallels between quantum mechanics and mind/body dualism were first drawn by the founders of quantum mechanics including Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Niels Bohr, and Eugene Wigner
    - Wikipedia

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”
    Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

    Here is the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries:

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

    What drives materialists crazy is that consciousness cannot be seen, tasted, smelled, touched, heard, or studied in a laboratory. But how could it be otherwise? Consciousness is the very thing that is DOING the seeing, the tasting, the smelling, etc… We define material objects by their effect upon our senses – how they feel in our hands, how they appear to our eyes. But we know consciousness simply by BEING it!
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-411601

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

  5. What kind of characteristics, at a minimum, would a cause of the universe like ours need to have? In addition to being independent of all matter, energy, spatial dimensions and time, the cause of the universe would need to be

    Purposeful: The cause of the universe must be purposeful. The universe didn’t have to exist, yet it does. In other words, independent of matter, energy,space and time itself, the universe was chosen to exist. Any cause that is independent of time, is purposeful and chooses to create a universe uniquely suitable for intelligent life on earth must also have had intelligent life in mind from the beginning.

    Intelligent: If such a cause was not incredibly intelligent,then the universe would not exist because the universe’s extreme fine tuning for it to exist and for intelligent life requires a careful, delicate, ordered, planned design. Designing, planning, careful arranging…These are all actions that have their source in a mind. How intelligent of a mind? Estimates of the required fine-tuning for the expansion rate of the universe are about 1 part in 10>120th power. The precision of this extreme fine tuning of the expansion rate of the universe exceeds the precision of mankind’s most sophisticated, designed object, MIT/CalTech’s particle wave detector….by a factor of 10>97thpower. This means the cause responsible for the creation of the universe and of it’s fine tuning for intelligent life, is at least 10>97th times more intelligent than CalTech’s most intelligent scientists.

    Loving: If the cause of the universe was not loving, then the living conditions for life to exist on earth would be less ideal than they are. After all, what evil creator would allow such a well designed environment for intelligent life to both comprehend and enjoy? Yet we know that the universe is not completely inhospitable, since we are alive today to both comprehend and enjoy it, and we do enjoy an environment well suited for both simple and intelligent life to exist. It follows then that the designer of the universe must also be a loving creator.

    This purposeful, intelligent and loving cause that is independent of all matter, energy, space and time is the only cause that of all the world’s religions, happens to match the description of the God of the Bible.

  6. Heb 3:4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.).

    This passage clearly establishes that complex things that require a plan or blueprint (like a house) are “built” are done by “someone”, a person, incorporating the nature of a mind…not nature. However, ultimately, God is the builder of all material things since all matter began by His word when the universe began. This passage alone is analogous to a design theoretic, since we have a working knowledge base that demonstrates that nature does not make plans, is not forward-thinking, does not have and is not a mind. Things that come to mind that require planning, are for example, bringing a universe into existence, complete with finely-tuned physical laws….The digital information contained in the DNA coded plans for life….How interesting that the writer of Hebrews would be so consistent with what our intuition rightly suggests and what modern science consistently demonstrates….that specified complexity always comes from a mind. How could the writer of Hebrews have come up with this scientific principle, 2000 years before modern science?

    Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

    There are many things that are not visible to the naked human eye, but matter itself is generally considered visible. What is not visible are the quantum level components of what matter (that which was made) consists of, which are the components that would have been in abundance before actual matter formed. How would a 1st century Messianic Jew know scientific information like this?

    Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    There is sufficient evidence of God’s creative work in nature so that those who choose not to believe have no excuse for their unbelief. Big Bang cosmology understates this, since an absolute beginning of all matter, energy, space and time is continually being strengthened with new evidence every year. In summary, the absolute beginning of the universe (all that is natural) cannot reasonably be objected to on the basis of scientific evidence.

    Rather than continue to look for naturalistic excuses or concoct strained, contrived naturalistic scenarios that cannot be observed or tested, it is more reasonable to believe that the evidences we observe in the fine-tuning of the universe to exist, for intelligent life on earth to observe, comprehend and enjoy, are the result of a Being’s purposeful, creative action. After all, we have an existing knowledge base that intelligence begets intelligence.

    And there is no evidence that the universe had to be. It follows then, that the universe, being a contingent event/object with intelligent beings, had to have been chosen to be and purposefully brought into existence by a mind, from nothing. This forward-thinking action requires a creative, powerful and loving Being independent of all matter, energy, space and time. And of all ancient religious texts, only the Bible presents the creator of the universe as having these attributes.

  7. Here’s Roger Penrose’s own words on whether M “theory” is really a theory or not http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg_95wZZFr4

  8. KRock,

    Your discussion partner is right and bornagain77 is wrong. I wish BA77 would spend more time learning science and less time harvesting links and videos for his propaganda spamfests.

    Brian Greene discusses nine distinct multiverse hypotheses in his excellent book, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. All nine of them emerge from the mathematics of existing theories. None were invented to explain away God, no matter how much BA77 would like to pretend otherwise.

    You wrote:

    I was under the impression that the “multiverse” wasn’t even a true scientific hypothesis because it doesn’t meet the two requirements demanded, that is, it would have to be testable as well as falsifiable…

    It may not be possible to directly observe other universes. However, this does not mean that the underlying theories are untestable or unfalsifiable. If a theory predicts the existence of a multiverse and also makes distinct predictions about our own universe, then it is testable and subject to falsification. Greene addresses this issue head-on in his book. I highly recommend reading it.

  9. KRock, contrary to champignon’s reassurance that the multiverse is not blatant pseudoscience grounded solely in the fantasies of nihilistic atheism, the fact is that champignon is trying, with smooth rhetoric, to mislead you with deception. For instance this deception of his:

    If a theory predicts the existence of a multiverse and also makes distinct predictions about our own universe, then it is testable and subject to falsification.

    Yet much like neo-Darwinism, Atheists simply refuse to accept any falsification criteria, much less do they accept the much more important fact that that their theory destroys the rationality of science itself.,,, Moreover, what tests have been performed to date always go against their fantasies of multiverses and parallel universes, and the tests that are said to confirm a ‘prediction’ are actually ‘post-dictions’ that atheists try to mislead gullible people with;

    This Week’s Hype – November 3, 2011 by Peter Woit (Ph.D. in theoretical physics and a lecturer in mathematics at Columbia)
    Excerpt: the LHC has turned out to be dud, producing no black holes or extra dimensions,
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~.....ss/?p=4118

    String Theory Fails Another Test, the “Supertest” – December 2010
    Excerpt: It looks like string theory has failed the “supertest”. If you believe that string theory “predicts” low-energy supersymmetry, this is a serious failure.
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~.....ss/?p=3338

    The Ultimate Guide to the Multiverse – Peter Woit – November 2011
    Excerpt: The multiverse propaganda machine has now been going full-blast for more than eight years, since at least 2003 or so, and I’m beginning to wonder “what’s next?”. Once your ideas about theoretical physics reach the point of having a theory that says nothing at all, there’s no way to take this any farther. You can debate the “measure problem” endlessly in academic journals, but the cover stories about how you have revolutionized physics can only go on so long before they reach their natural end of shelf-life. This has gone on longer than I’d ever have guessed, but surely it has to end sooner or later, – Peter Woit – Senior Lecturer at Columbia University
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~.....ss/?p=4194

    This Week’s Hype – August 2011
    Excerpt: ‘It’s well-known that one can find Stephen Hawking’s initials, and just about any other pattern one can think of somewhere in the CMB data.,, So, the bottom line is that they see nothing, but a press release has been issued about how wonderful it is that they have looked for evidence of a Multiverse, without mentioning that they found nothing.’ – Peter Woit PhD.
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~.....ss/?p=3879

    Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law:
    Peter Woit, a PhD. in theoretical physics and a lecturer in mathematics at Columbia, points out—again and again—that string theory, despite its two decades of dominance, is just a hunch aspiring to be a theory. It hasn’t predicted anything, as theories are required to do, and its practitioners have become so desperate, says Woit, that they’re willing to redefine what doing science means in order to justify their labors.
    http://www.amazon.com/Not-Even.....0465092756

    This recent paper is of interest:

    Many of Victor Stenger’s “no fine-tuning” claims dubbed “highly problematic” (in new peer reviewed paper) – January 2012
    Excerpt: We will touch on such issues as the logical necessity of the laws of nature; objectivity, invariance and symmetry; theoretical physics and possible universes; entropy in cosmology; cosmic inflation and initial conditions; galaxy formation; the cosmological constant; stars and their formation; the properties of elementary particles and their effect on chemistry and the macroscopic world; the origin of mass; grand unified theories; and the dimensionality of space and time. I also provide an assessment of the multiverse, noting the significant challenges that it must face.

    Here is a layman friendly review of the preceding paper:

    Is fine-tuning a fallacy? – VJT – January 2012
    Excerpt: Well, it seems that the great Stenger has finally met his match. Dr. Luke A. Barnes, a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Astronomy, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, has written a scathing critique of Stenger’s book. I’ve read refutations in my time, but I have to say, this one is devastating.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....a-fallacy/

    Further notes:

    ‘What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science.” – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’ the exact quote in the following video clip:

    Roger Penrose Debunks Stephen Hawking’s New Book ‘The Grand Design’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5278793/

    Moreover it has been known for decades that this ‘mathematical fantasy’ of M-theory and string theory, which can predict everything and therefore predict nothing in its abstract multiverse construct, will forever be ‘mathematically’ incomplete;

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Further critique of the multiverse;

    Bayesian considerations on the multiverse explanation of cosmic fine-tuning – V. Palonen
    Conclusions: ,,, The self-sampling assumption approach by Bostrom was shown to be inconsistent with probability theory. Several reasons were then given for favoring the ‘this universe’ (TU) approach and main criticisms against TU were answered. A formal argument for TU was given based on our present knowledge. The main result is that even under a multiverse we should use the proposition “this universe is fine-tuned” as data, even if we do not know the ‘true index’ 14 of our universe. It follows that because multiverse hypotheses do not predict fine-tuning for this particular universe any better than a single universe hypothesis, multiverse hypotheses are not adequate explanations for fine-tuning. Conversely, our data on cosmic fine-tuning does not lend support to the multiverse hypotheses. For physics in general, irrespective of whether there really is a multiverse or not, the common-sense result of the above discussion is that we should prefer those theories which best predict (for this or any universe) the phenomena we observe in our universe.
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/pap.....2.4013.pdf

  10. Cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University in Boston presented evidence that the universe is not eternal after all …

    However,

    According to Craig … a scientific explanation … can explain events occurring within the universe, but not the coming-to-be of the universe itself …

    I agree with Craig here — cosmologists like Vilenkin cannot draw any proper scientific conclusions about the coming-to-be of the unverse – such as its having a beginning and a cause.

    Therefore, Craig’s premise that the universe had a cause needs to be established on some other grounds besides cosmology.

    Cheers

  11. And I remember reading large parts of Greene’s book and coming away with the impression that it’s a bunch of nonsense. He heaps hypothetical over hypothetical. It’s hardly more than refined scientific rhetoric.

  12. PaV,

    Your criticism is misplaced. Greene scrupulously emphasizes the speculative nature of multiverse hypotheses:

    The subject of parallel universes is highly speculative. No experiment or observation has established that any version of the idea is realized in nature. So my point in writing this book is not to convince you that we’re part of a multiverse. I’m not convinced — and speaking generally, no one should be convinced — of anything not supported by hard data. That said, I find it both curious and compelling that numerous developments in physics, if followed sufficiently far, bump into some variation on the parallel-universe theme.

  13. Sean Carroll channels Giordano Bruno – Robert Sheldon – November 2011
    Excerpt: ‘In fact, on Lakatos’ analysis, both String Theory and Inflation are clearly “degenerate science programs”.’
    http://procrustes.blogtownhall.....runo.thtml

  14. OT via Randall Niles:

    Just told I was ignorant and illogical (and something worse) for believing in a Creator God… So, help me with this logic, Mr. Smarty-Pants: Something from nothing; Life from non-life; Order from disorder; Rationality from randomness; Consciousness from chaos; Design from destruction; Information without intelligence… This is the enlightened “logic” on which you base your life. Rock On!
    http://www.facebook.com/randal.....2514861354

  15. BA77 quotes Robert Sheldon:

    In fact, on Lakatos’ analysis, both String Theory and Inflation are clearly “degenerate science programs”.

    Lakatos died in 1974, when string theory was still in its infancy and inflation hadn’t even been proposed. The above should read:

    In Robert Sheldon’s opinion, both string theory and inflation are examples of what Lakatos would have called “degenerate research programs”.

  16. champignon, to solidify the “degenerate science programs” observation that Dr. Sheldon drew out,

    In the case of Inflation, it is an attempt to explain the enormous amount of information in the small-scale Earth coupled to the “flat” or informationless distribution of matter in the Big Bang. One of them must be an illusion, and inflation has gone through multiple versions that attempt to find a spontaneous answer to flat space-time that is highly contingent. As Bruce Gordon observes, it is completely dependent on fine-tuned “inflaton” forces that are even more contingent than the Georges Lemaitre’s Big Bang cosmology. The goal is to replace the contingent Creator with a self-emergent autonomous contingent creation.

    In the case of StringTheory, it attempts to modify these point-like particle things into 2-D strings or n-D “branes”, but the intent is the same–to find something that is eternal and unchanging and mindless. The appropriation of “landscape theory” to “inflation” is an attempt to make each “inflaton”-generated Big Bang a different flavor of string, so that every possible flavor (10^500) is expressed. Why? Just because, like Bruno, this eliminates the need for a Creator again, replacing it with a cosmic Monte Carlo casino. Since there is absolutely no evidence that a casino is a better model than a Creator, I prefer to call this the worship of the “Chaos” god, who shows up in Greek mythology only to be vanquished by the Olympians.

    I would say Sheldon’s (and Dr. Bruce Gordon’s) observation of the absurdity of inflation and string theory is pretty astute! i.e. Any theory that is ‘made up’ to ‘explain away’ evidence, instead of ‘naturally’ derived from the evidence that comes forth is severely begging the question! Moreover, predictions, which you somewhat briefly alluded to trying to support your multiverse fantasy, are a very big part of Lakatos’s separation of pseudo-science from science. (Not ‘post-dictions’ that string theory and inflation are infamous for; Woit: Not Even Wrong) So let’s look at some fairly startling predictions that you, as a nihilistic atheist, have to ignore, or rationalize away, so as to hold on to your cherished pseudoscience of materialism:

    Predictions of Materialism compared to Predictions of Theism within the scientific method:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc....._5fwz42dg9

    Excerpt from preceding article::

    The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    The materialistic and Theistic philosophy make, and have made, several natural contradictory predictions about what evidence we will find. These predictions, and the evidence we have found, can be tested against one another within the scientific method.

    Steps of the Scientific Method
    http://www.sciencebuddies.org/.....thod.shtml

    For a quick overview, here are a few of the contradictory predictions:

    1. Materialism predicted an eternal universe, Theism predicted a created universe. – Big Bang points to a creation event. -

    2. Materialism predicted time had an infinite past, Theism predicted time had a creation. – Time was created in the Big Bang. -

    3. Materialism predicted space has always existed, Theism predicted space had a creation (Psalm 89:12) – Space was created in the Big Bang. -

    4. Materialism predicted that material has always existed, Theism predicted ‘material’ was created. – ‘Material’ was created in the Big Bang.

    5. Materialism predicted at the base of physical reality would be a solid indestructible material particle which rigidly obeyed the rules of time and space, Theism predicted the basis of this reality was created by a infinitely powerful and transcendent Being who is not limited by time and space – Quantum mechanics reveals a wave/particle duality for the basis of our reality which blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. -

    6. Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe, Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9)-

    7. Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind – Every transcendent universal constant scientists can measure is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. -

    8. Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe – Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe. -

    9. Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. -

    10. Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) -

    11. Materialism predicted a very simple first life form which accidentally came from “a warm little pond”. Theism predicted God created life – The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) -

    12. Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11) – We find evidence for complex photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth -

    13. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. – The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. -

    14. Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record – Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record, then rapid diversity within the group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. -

    15. Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man himself is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. -

    references for each of the 15 predictions:
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1ubha8aFKlJiljnuCa98QqLihFWFwZ_nnUNhEC6m6Cys

    As you can see when we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy, from the scientific method, and look carefully at the predictions of both the materialistic philosophy and the Theistic philosophy, side by side, we find the scientific method is very good at pointing us in the direction of Theism as the true explanation. – In fact it is even very good at pointing us to Christianity:

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy & The Shroud Of Turin – (updated video)
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    ,,,for a far more detailed list of failed predictions of neo-Darwinism see Dr. Hunter’s site here:

    Darwin’s Predictions
    http://www.darwinspredictions.com/

    Here is a site that has a recording of Lakatos laying out his falsification criteria against ‘degenarate science programs’

    Science and Pseudoscience – Imre Lakatos – exposing Darwinism as a ‘degenerate science program’, as a pseudoscience, plus, using Lakatos’s rigid criteria for falsification of Darwinism
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LpGd3smTV1RwmEXC25IAEKMjiypBl5VJq9ssfv4JgeM/edit

    “nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin can be described as scientific” – Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922 – February 2, 1974) a philosopher of mathematics and science, , quote was as stated in 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture

    Thus champignon, basically you have to ignore, or rationalize away, the theistic ‘predictions’ that the entire universe, in all its glory, suddenly came into being ex-nihilo, which is a confirmed prediction that completely dwarfs all other predictions in science, plus you must ignore all the other stunning successful predictions I listed, all simply so you can believe that all life and the universe are completely without meaning and purpose!!! Without getting into the sheer absurdity of you trying to use ‘transcendent logic’ to prove to others that life, and the universe, are meaningless, just please tell me exactly why I should not consider you completely insane for neglecting, indeed fighting against, so great a witness for God???

  17. Next time an atheist claims the universe came from nothing, by nothing and for nothing, just ask her or him…

    “What part of nothing do you know the most about?”

    I can guarantee you, they will pause and think about it.

  18. OT: Atheists Are Irrational = from Brad Stine’s DVD ‘Tolerate This!’ – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyKAr-gxxFE

    oldie but goodie

    Dane Cook – Sneezing Atheist – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXtVzj9y-bo

  19. Hi Claudius,

    Thank you for your post. What’s your alternative? A universe that comes into existence without a cause?

  20. Thanks for the link…

  21. (1) whatever begins to exist has a cause, and (2) the universe began to exist, therefore (3) the universe has a supernatural cause.

    I have trouble with all three but I will concentrate on the first.

    (1) whatever begins to exist has a cause

    Quotes from famous philosophers are not proof.  Anscombe’s point seems rather weak.  The difference between something coming into existence or merely being transported surely depends on criteria for identity, not causality.

    I think there are two big problems here:

    (a) Our experience of causality is entirely based on our experience which is by and large confined to our objects and events of a certain size and a certain timescale.  We are already discovering that when we move into the very small or very large, very long ago or very short timescales – then common sense goes out of the window.  What we thought was absurd can happen. The beginning of the universe is such an event and any argument on the lines “an event without a cause” or “something coming from nothing” is absurd is just inadequate.   It is not a proof or evidence.

    (b) I think it is based on an over simple view of causality.  A causes B can mean so many things – consider the difference between:

    Pulling the trigger caused the gun to fire

    Gravity causes the moon to orbit the earth

    A blocked drain caused the water to overflow

    In each case the cause is a totally different kind of thing – an event, a law, an existing condition.  When someone says everything that comes into existence has a cause or that the beginning of the universe must have a cause – what type of cause are they looking for?

     

  22. Mark, the objections you raise have been dealt with quite extensively in craigs work. You can find a reply to these objections in the various articles in this link: http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....tence.html

  23. Hi markf,

    Thank you for your post. Quotes from famous philosophers aside, my justification for premise (1) is that a beginning of existence is an event which cannot explain itself, because a thing cannot be prior to itself – either logically, ontologically or chronologically. It is therefore reasonable to look outside that event for an explanation of its occurrence.

    One could of course refuse to even attempt to explain the event itself, but that would violate a fundamental rationality norm: that it is perfectly proper to ask a question unless someone can show that there is something obviously wrong with the question itself.

    There is nothing wrong with the question: “What caused the beginning of the cosmos?”

    Recent scientific discoveries have overturned a number of our common-sensical views, but not as much as some people would have us believe. Notions such as “substance” and “cause” are still perfectly legitimate; it’s just that the scope of what we now regard as things has enlarged considerably. A quantum field pervading the universe is something, not nothing. If it were truly nothing, its description (Kolmogorov complexity) would have zero-length.

    In fact, I think that’s how I’d define nothing: that whose Kolmogorov complexity equals zero.

  24. vj

    There is nothing wrong with the question: “What caused the beginning of the cosmos?”

    But that doesn’t prove there is answer. It is legitimate to ask who was president of the USA before George Washington.

    Perhaps you could address my second objection. What kind of cause did you have in mind for the beginning of the universe – and why?

  25. kuartus

    There are a lot of articles on that page. It is not clear from the comments which one address my objections – particularly the second one. Perhaps you could direct me to a specific article – even better the part of a specific article which addresses my objection?

  26. What does the existence or non-existence of other universes have to do with ID?

  27. Hi vjtorley

    (Sorry for the delay — currently in the middle of a beach holiday!).

    Well, I don’t think we can rule out the possibility of a beginningless universe, based only on our empirical knowledge of what goes on inside the universe. I believe that would be a kind of composition fallacy.

    Apparently, Craig agrees. Accordingly, the premise that the universe began to exist is not substantiated.

    Cheers

  28. Are Vilenkin’s views being accurately depicted?

    “But if there are other universes whose space and time are completely disconnected from ours, those are not included.”
    Dr. Vilenkin

    SOURCE:
    https://debunkingwlc.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/universe-kalam-and-equivocation/

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