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For sake of argument, let's assume that everything has to come from something. In this case, our universe must have come from something, lets call it 'thing 1'. 'Thing 1' in turn must have come from 'thing 2' giving us an endless series of things.

So, from this we can conclude that no matter how hard we try, we can never know the true origin of the universe, because according to the above logic there is no beginning? From this logic, we can perhaps conclude there is no end either...

Which philosophers have talked about this idea of the origin of the universe; in particular, which (if any) philosophers discuss alternatives to the idea that everything must have come from something prior (that there must've existed at least one thing that itself was uncaused)?

closed as not a real question by Niel de Beaudrap, Rex Kerr, iphigenie, Ben, Joseph Weissman Mar 19 '13 at 3:09

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    We can never know, but we can speculate. – Mozibur Ullah Mar 15 '13 at 11:06
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    This doesn't seem to actually be a question. What are you asking, and is there any particular reason why you assume that "everything has to come from something"? – Niel de Beaudrap Mar 15 '13 at 15:11
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    @MarcusJ: Finding an answer would presuppose asking a question. The title of the post may have a question mark in it, but this does not mean that the post itself contains any questions, either to answer or to be left unanswered. Even if the OP turned the post into a question in the obvious way, it's not clear how that question would avoid being equivalent to "have I applied modus ponens correctly?". – Niel de Beaudrap Mar 15 '13 at 16:25
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    "I assume that everything has to come from something, So, our universe must have come from something"... "there is no beginning". The wording is confusing, I had to interpret what is the doubt. I think it is the classic: Why is there something rather than nothing? – Annotations Mar 15 '13 at 17:24
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    The only way this question survives as a question is if it's actually a question, which I've fixed for you. I think the topic not out of the scope of philosophy and I (hope I) stayed true to your original thought process, but made it a better fit for the site. I reckon most of your responses will come from philosophy of religion and perhaps causality/determinism, as I've otherwise never heard about anyone talk about the 'origin of the universe' or some sort of 'first cause' outside of those contexts. That said, I left those tags out, as they aren't necessarily intrinsic to the question. – stoicfury Mar 16 '13 at 14:43
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I assume that everything has to come from something. So, our universe must have come from something, lets call it thing1. Thing1 in turn must have come from thing2 giving us an endless series of things.

Why could Thing 1 not just be eternal? That would helps us in understanding why Thing 1 does not need Thing 2.

So, can we conclude that no matter how hard we try, we can never know the true origin of the universe, because according to the above logic there is no beginning. Maybe there is no end either.

This is not in accordance with the prevailing opinion of cosmologists. Also you seem to be invoking a infinite regress of causes. Which I'm not completely sure why you would do. Thomas Aquinas posited that we should not invoke a infinite regress and that further this first cause of the universe is God.

Here is a interesting article from Dr. Stephen Hawkins website on why we should think the universe has a beginning.

http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html

  • Not a bad read but still doesn't get us anywhere. The infinite regress remains an issue. And unfortunately, given the idea, it can never be solved; that's the whole point of an infinite regress: they're infinitely unresolvable. To be clear, we may very well know from physics the time when our universe came into existence. But as to anything that is beyond that, i.e. what caused our universe, we may find that out but then we will ask what caused the causer, ad infinitum. Regarding that question, Stephen Hawking's knowledge of it is no more valuable than a termite's. – stoicfury Mar 17 '13 at 5:29
  • This comment of Hawking is telling: "Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang." – Baby Dragon Mar 24 '13 at 5:33
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Once we remove ourselves from the concepts of causality and consensus, which have bogged us down since we have been on this planet, we can't know.

As long as we agree, we are not moving forward, we stagnate.

Change or Knowledge never comes from a consensus, it comes from individuals.

So, "I" already know, but the "we" don't. The "we" will never know. It is only the "I" that knows.

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“When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the big bang, so there is no time for god to make the universe in. It’s like asking directions to the edge of the earth; The Earth is a sphere; it doesn’t have an edge; so looking for it is a futile exercise.” “If the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end.” - Stephen Hawking

Why is there something, the universe or God, rather than nothing? This is an illogical nonsense question because impose an impossible explanatory demand, to deduce the existence of something without using any existential premises. The Big Bang theory is only one of possible cosmologies other is the quantum and string cosmologies. We do not know yet if the best model, but there are good reasons to think that the big bang is not necessarily the absolute beginning.

The "universe has a beginning" can be a composition fallacy: “Everything in the universe has a cause or beginning, then the universe has a cause or beginning”. Everything in the universe has a localization, but the universe hasn't a localization: it is a composition fallacy."The universe has a cause" can be a ignorance fallacy too: "There is no evidence for a universe without beginning, therefore, a cause must have existed".

Some have argued that because the universe is like a clock, there must be a clock maker. This is a slippery argument, because there is nothing that is really perfectly analogous to the universe as a whole, if your question is about the whole, because everything is just a part of universe.“The universe has a beginning, therefore the universe has a cause”, begs the question, a classic fallacy. Begging the question or assuming the point at issue is an informal fallacy. An argument begs the question when it assumes the controversial point not conceded by the other side. If “The universe began to exist” or not is the point at issue, not the premise.You can not give a imaginary definition of attributes of God or a flying pink unicorn, as timeless or out space being or an uncaused being, as proof of existence. If everything has a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just be the universe as God. Of all the approaches to God’s existence, the deduction is the strategy that we would expect to be successful there were a necessary God. But there isn't a valid deduction of a non logical existence, then we can conclude that there isn't a necessary God.

  • Hawking is using sleight of hand here. Where is the edge of the sphere (the earth) - has an answer: edge is not meaningful; but change the question where is the boundary? You're standing on it. And what does it separate? It separates the interior of the earth from the exterior that is the universe. So one has found the universe. Edge vs Boundary are they so different? – Mozibur Ullah Mar 15 '13 at 21:39
  • Hawking used a metaphor because people generally do not have good intuitions about time and space. – Annotations Mar 16 '13 at 0:44
  • @Bevilaqua: I understand his approach. I'm just pointing out its not the full picture. Not that I'm claiming that picture I'm giving is correct either, but that it gives a larger vista to conjure with. I can see that the general audience may have problems with picturing space & time. But the idea that time itself has a beginning crops up surprising often within metaphysics. For example, the ash'arite theological school took the greek idea of atoms one step further and atomised space & time so they had a beginning for Creation which included a beginning for time. – Mozibur Ullah Mar 16 '13 at 2:39

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