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It is often said that it is illogical to have something come out of nothing. Therefore could the period before the Big Bang be the same as the period after death or before birth which cannot be described as nothing or something.

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    Sure, you can compare anything but that's poetry - specifically metaphor - not philosophy. Welcome to philsophy.SE! – Mr. Kennedy Apr 20 '17 at 19:26
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    To have something come out of nothing may or may not violate the laws of nature, but it is not illogical, there is no logical contradiction there. Under some theories Big Bang was preceded by Big Crunch of the previous cycle of the universe, on other theories "time before Big Bang" is a meaningless phrase, because once time emerges as a physical entity the (appearance of) Big Bang is already in place. See the no boundary proposal of Hartle-Hawking:"...near what might have otherwise been the beginning, time gives way to space". – Conifold Apr 20 '17 at 20:28
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    Sure, you can compare anything but it may not be suoper helpful – user25714 Apr 21 '17 at 10:11
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    To pull out part of the above for clarification: from the POV of relativity, time is part of the 4-D structure of the very thing created at the Big Bang. There is no period before it. Time did exist before you were born -- ask your parents. So no, don't compare nothing to something. – jobermark Jun 19 '17 at 21:08
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    I'd say yes. The gnostic Jesus says, 'Blessed are those whose end is before their beginning'. Whatever is unchanging is unaffected by the Big Bang and this has to be our origin. Whether it is also our end is much debated, but the perennial philosophy would say that it is. It would be very relevant that this state cannot be called something or nothing, and it would explain why it makes no sense to us that the world started with something or nothing. – PeterJ Aug 19 '17 at 11:51
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It seems a good question to me and I would answer in the affirmative. But the idea needs tweaks. The word 'before' for the BB is okay in ontology (prior, or 'reducible to') but cannot be given a temporal meaning.

What emerges from the practices of Yoga is the very idea you put forward, that the source of consciousness is prior to the space-time world thus prior to the BB. This Source would be free of phenomenal attributes (cf. Kant's thing-in-itself), thus it would be incorrect to call it Something or Nothing.

This would be an explanation for why it makes no sense that our Origin is Something or Nothing, as philosophers have always found. The view you are asking about is probably 'non-dualism', which is the rejection of all positive metaphysical theories and which some would call the 'perennial' philosophy.

If this is your speculation then you have a lot of support for it. To turn it from speculation to knowledge would be no easy task, however, so the case for it usually best argued in metaphysics, where the idea that the world begins with Something or Nothing is famously unworkable.

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Time started to elapse at Big Bang. Therefore, if this is the only universe in both the concurrent and succesive senses, there was no "period before the Big Bang", period (pun intended).

The alternative possibilities are based on hypothesizing the existence of other universes in the concurrent and successive senses respectively, and are:

Multiverse: The observable universe started as an inflationary bubble in a larger-scale universe, the "metaverse", presumably having its own metatime. In this case, the "period before the Big Bang" refers to that metatime, not to time of this universe.

Cyclic universe: The Big Bang was really a Big Bounce from a previous contracting universe, so that each successive instance of the universe has its own time. In this case, the "period before the Big Bang" refers to the time of the previous instance of the universe.

To note, since 1998 several independent observations have led to infer that the expansion of the universe has been accelerating during the second half of its history (since Big Bang), the first of said observations, on supernovae Ia, being the basis for the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. Therefore the cyclic universe hypothesis must postulate that some presently unknown mechanism will change the accelerating expansion into decelerating expansion, stop, and then contraction. Alternatively, it must postulate that something changed between all previous instances of the universe and this instance, whereby all previous instances decelerated and reversed their expansion whereas this instance will not.

Bottom line: the cyclic universe hypothesis is logically untenable since 1998 unless you believe in magic. But it offers a possibility of publishing papers, which is conducive to earning a living in academia.

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As Kennedy said in the comments, you could speak poetically about the period before the expansion of the universe in terms of before birth or after death.

That aside, there are many philosophical thoughts about the big bang and what came before - or if it even makes sense to speak in those terms.

Some that I would suggest you looking into:

Eternalism

Presentism

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I think it's a bit different to what you are claiming. Before we were born and after we do die the universe will still exist — unless you are something like a solipsist or think that once you stop perceiving things with your mind then they are not there. That would mean that the entire universe and everything exists depends on your mind. That's pretty extreme obviously. To us, we have no conception of what it was like before we were born or what it will be like after we die, as we can't know what this is like — our brains only developed the capacity for memory after a certain age; that is, unless you believe in a spiritual realm which you can access whilst you are a human.

This is why it's a bit different to asking about what happened before the big bang. It is possible that space and time did not exist at all before this time. So there is no "before" the big bang and the question is meaningless. Some physicists, however, think that the universe may be static and eternal or that the big bang may have come out of another universe which is part of a multiverse (such as brane cosmology). Others think the universe cycles through periods of contraction and expansion. That would mean that empty space is not actually "empty" or "nothing". There is some energy in empty space called vacuum energy etc. We also can't give a full account of dark energy and dark matter and the precise role that it played in the big bang.

There are many questions that in theory can't be answered about what happened before the big bang. The reason being is that physicists can't set up experiments which probe the plank scale with the level of technology we have to simulate the conditions of the early universe. It is also questionable whether this is even possible for humans to ever be able to do this — some physicists think this would entail building a particle accelerator the size of the galaxy. Nobody knows what happened before the big bang. There are some theories but we will likely never know with much confidence. Hence why this question is very problematic: why is there something rather than nothing? Either way, if you don't think there is an afterlife, it won't make a single iota of difference to you after you die, as you think it would be impossible to have any knowledge of this. Just like you have no knowledge of what it was like before you were born.

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It is not so logical that something can be created out of nothing. The period before Big Bang can be considered as the "darkness" period where there was no organized matter. But there was some matter present. Remember, matter can not be destroyed or created out of nothing. It can only be changed/change its shape.

  • Welcome to Philosophy SE. Your answer is well formed (especially given the question) but your explanation of 'before the Big Bang' needs some work. Scientists generally describe the Big Bang as the point at which our knowledge of physics can no longer explain what's going on. We don't even know if time exists in its current form before then, so it's not safe to say whether it was either dark or devoid of matter. – Tim B II Dec 18 '17 at 22:06

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