I don't know if I have used the word "creation" correctly here. What I do mean, is the starting of everything.

Forgetting about life, planets, galaxies and others, and even about big bang. How would "big bang" happen if there was no "raw material" ?

I am wondering if there are any metaphorical thoughts, hypothesis, etc. regarding this from the perspective of atheists. I hope not everyone says that it shouldn't be a matter of concern and why should they care how it started.

  • One option is that there was no absolute beginning, but that time fades into relative vagueness the farther removed it is from possible experience (perception or at least thoughts informed by perception). So someone before the Big Bang might cross our vague zone, and have a vague threshold of vagueness pastwise again, etc. Sep 23 '20 at 4:54
  • Big bang as "creation" is considered to be a mathemtical artifact of general relativity and quantum theory still not being unified, so atheists have little reason to take it seriously. There is cyclic model, where it is simply a dense state formed by preceding collapse, Hartle–Hawking proposal, where spacetime is not fundamental and singularity is an illusion, Hoyle's steady-state model, universes emerging from quantum fluctuations, etc
    – Conifold
    Sep 23 '20 at 4:56
  • @KristianBerry - "One option is that there was no absolute beginning" - would you consider this to be the same as saying that time extends infinitely into the past? I mean, it seems like that's what you're saying, just don't want to assume. Sep 23 '20 at 18:31
  • I tried to word it to try to get around that image; I was parsing together Kant's A edition claim about everyone having their own form of time, sort of, with the B edition (idk if it's the same in A) stuff about time being "indefinite" pastwise. Sep 23 '20 at 19:24
  • @KristianBerry Thanks. I'm not familiar with Kant's A/B editions, so I have some reading to do. Are those like McTaggert's A/B series? Anyway, I'm not sold on resorting to vagueness - if time is infinite into the past, how did we get here through A-series time? Seems like B-series could work, though. I would want something more concrete to deal with "no-beginning" plus A-Series time. Sep 23 '20 at 19:33

First, if you want to explain the existence of the world, explaining it by assuming a creator does not solve the problem since you still have to explain the existence of the creator.

Then, if there is no need to explain the existence of a creator, then why would there be a need to explain the existence of the world?

Still, if you want to say that a creator is different, then you need to explain how you could know anything about it. Maybe our universe has been created by a creator which is just yet another dumb universe.

And, the argument that everything has a cause is wrong, but if it was true, then it would apply to the creator itself and so you would need to explain the creation of the creator.

This argument that everything has a cause is wrong essentially because it assumes that we know reality, when in fact while we know a part of it we certainly don't know whether what we know is the whole of reality. Thus, even if it was true that everything in the known universe had a cause, it would still be possible that things outside the known universe had no cause. In fact, this would not even imply that the universe itself would have to have a cause since, physically speaking, the universe is not in the universe, and only possibly in something larger.

Science is investigating as far back as possible consistent with logic and fact. That in itself means diddly squat about what would have existed before, or indeed whether anything existed prior to that.

The logical fallacy is to pretend that such beliefs as first cause and creation are logically necessary when they are not.

Sometimes, it is enough to admit that we don't know and probably will never know, and that we don't understand and probably will never understand.

Of course, we may still want to investigate. If you want to investigate whether there is a God that created the universe, why not, but it is still fallacious to claim that a creator is necessary to explain the creation of the universe because, in fact, you don't know that the universe had to be created to begin with.

  • "explaining it by assuming a creator doesn't not solve the problem since you still have to explain the existence of the creator" Hmmm, perhaps. It could change the nature of the problem to solve - that is, a Universe that is constrained by time, vs. a creator who exists outside of time in some way. Things with a beginning usually have a cause in our experience, but things without a beginning? I have less experience with those. ;) Sep 23 '20 at 18:37
  • @DonBranson We can believe or simply imagine all sorts of scenarios, but the point is that the existence of the universe does not imply that the universe was created. Whatever laws as may apply within the universe may not apply to outside the universe if any outside, and if no outside, then no creation anyway. Creation itself also does not imply a creator God. Sep 24 '20 at 9:44
  • I'm really asking about your claim that "explaining it by assuming a creator doesn't not [sic] solve the problem since you still have to explain the existence of the creator" - what supports this claim in the case where the creator/agent is timeless, or what rules out the case of a timeless agent? Or does this claim take as a premise that an agent could not be timeless? Sep 24 '20 at 14:42
  • @DonBranson I don't need to prove anything. You may believe that existing universe implies creator, but you cannot prove it. You may believe that created universe implies divine creator, but you cannot prove it. You can believe what you please, but there is no logical necessity and so you cannot support your claim with a logical argument. This is entirely a logical point. None of us will ever exhibit empirical proofs. So, given what the words involved mean, there is nothing logically to support a divine creator. Possible, sure, anything is possible to the ignorant. But necessary? No. Sep 24 '20 at 15:42
  • @DonBranson "timeless agent" Any agent is possible and none is ruled out. The point is, none is logically necessary. We can imagine all sorts of alternative, such as that each universe came out of a previously existing universe, or all universes randomly come out of a timeless, dimensionless and mindless singularity. There are literally zillions of possibilities and nobody can tell which one is the correct guess. Thus, a divine creator is simply an arbitrary belief unsupported by empirical evidence and unsupported by logic. Sep 24 '20 at 15:48

Every atheist I ever met turns to science to explain the creation of the Universe (there seems nowhere else to turn besides a God or science). Science does not yet have a handle on the answer, but it has some ideas. Theories tend to fall into two main camps, Big Bang and Eternal Creation, although there are several crossovers. Some invoke metaphysical elements, but those are of course dismissed by atheists.

The Big Bang theory, in which the Universe inflated from a minuscule quantum state, is the best known. But how can Time just pop up out of nothing? One theory is that the Universe has (or then had) zero total energy and began as a quantum fluctuation simply because it could.

Hawking famously produced a more elegant theory in which (mathematically) Imaginary time leads to a picture where spacetime is smooth across the Big Bang, just the way the Earth is smooth across the South Pole; It is only when we perceive (mathematically) Real time, or try to plot a course South of the South Pole, that the illusion of a problem appears. I say more about its impact at the end.

Eternal Creation originally appeared as a credible hypothesis in the model of Hoyle and (I think) Chandrashekar, in which Hubble's expanding Universe is continually replenished with new matter to fill in the voids. But there is no supporting evidence for such creation.

Modern theories are based on various forms of higher-dimensional Multiverse, in which ours is just one of infinitely many "branes". The theory of Eternal Inflation proposes that vast numbers of universes are constantly spawning as quantum fluctuations in some "M-space" and inflating into existence, along with their own space and time independent of each other's.

Hybrid theories include cyclic universes in which the Universe and Time are periodically rebooted. Some hazard a "Big Crunch" as the precursor to each reboot, but the evidence to date is against this. The Conformal Cyclic Universe of Penrose is a more considered approach in which it is not the eternally-expanding spacetime itself that reboots, but merely the scale at which it can be quantified. A more mundane hybrid is the current standard model, incorporating both paradoxes - a singularity at the origin, followed by an infinite period of expansion.

The twin paradoxes of the infinitesimal origin vs the infinite eternity dog almost all these models. The Hawking-Hartle model of an underlying Imaginary Time goes a long way to resolving them, especially for the current standard model. Its philosophical impact is famously summarised as, "The boundary condition to the Universe is that it has no boundary" (especially not a metaphysical Creation). This expression is particularly significant for the philosophy of science because any boundary condition to the Universe represents a hard limit to scientific knowledge, creating an unanswerable "how did that happen?" paradox. Both the Moment of Creation and Eternity represent such bounding paradoxes, so by avoiding them the Hawking-Hartle model provides unmatched philosophical cleanliness. But, for other more mundane technical reasons, it has not gained wide support.

I have probably missed plenty out.

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