Origins of Energy and Matter

jmm
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Origins of Energy and Matter

I have 2 very basic questions:

1)  Where did energy come from?

2)  Where did matter come from?

 And please, don't just throw a bunch of links at me.  I want to know your opinions in your own words.  


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Because the laws of

Because the laws of mass-energy conservation preclude an ex nihilo appearance of mass-energy, the only conclusion which harmonizes with this well-established scientific principle is that mass-energy always existed in one form or another. Whether such a conclusion is psychologically comfortable to us is of no concern to science. You have incorporated false assumptions into your questions. Contrary to popular misconception, Big Bang cosmology does not prescribe an ex nihilo appearance of mass-energy just prior to universal expansion.

David Mills


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  The origin of energy is

 

The origin of energy is not known, but it is reasonable as Mills pointed out to deduce that it always existed according to the Law of Conservation of Energy. Matter is the condensation of energy, the ultra-compression to the point where it becomes contained. Theoretical physicists differ on this, but matter is thought to be an 11-dimension membrane of rotating oscillation electromagnetic current which comprises of quarks, which make up electrons and protons (fermions and bosons depending on half or full interger spin), which makes up atoms. The Big Bang does not speak of matter formation, only of the energy necessary for the expansion of the univese. The formation of space-time and the energy-matter that results has interesting consequences for the universe. I had one guy argue that God must exist because the universe is infinte otherwise what would be "at the edge of the universe. He was an idiot. The hyperbolic curvature of space-time means there is no edge. You will get to a certain point then curve around. Obviously the universe is so vast this is completely and utterly imperceptible, much like the curvature of the Earth to someone standing on it.

 

By the way, to the first poster, are you really David Mills, the Author of Atheist Universe?

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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I was the second poster

I was the second poster but, yes, that's me.

David

 


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Nice to meet you, man. I

Nice to meet you, man. I thoroughly enjoyed your book.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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Thank you so much!!!

Thank you so much!!! Everyone here is so very friendly. I really love this site and everyone on it. I went into the Stickam chatroom the other day and tried to use my twenty-year-old microphone to talk to everyone. I got tangled up in the cord while trying to make some adjustments under my computer desk. I probably looked like that movie of the Three Stooges trying to move a grand piano down a staircase. Maybe we can talk in the chatroom some time (if I can get my act and hardware together).

David


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Nice to see you on the

Nice to see you on the forums, David!

By the way, I really enjoyed listening to your show being recorded last weekend.  Very fun night.

 I just got your book from Amazon this afternoon.  Can't wait to get into it.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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One of the (tested)laws of

One of the (tested)laws of conservation states that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Therefore I do not believe there is an origin to matter and energy.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Yellow_Number_Five
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First of all, I want to

First of all, I want to give David Mills credit for inspiring me to think along these lines, years ago. In college, I understood the concepts of thermodymanics and applied them every day, but it was David's book "Atheist Universe" that got me thinking and helped me to put it all together in a philosophical sense, and it was my knowledge of thermo and fascination with cosmology that let me put my own flavor on the the thing.

David's argument is great, but I've attempted to take it a step futhur. 

Anyways, many of you have seen it before, but here goes:

There was never literally nothing. That would violate the first law of thermodynamics and overturn all of physics as we understand it. Somthing NEVER comes from literally nothing.

It is theists who insist upon a creation ex nihlo, from literally nothing. Are you now positing that God didn't create the universe from nothing, that He didn't simply say "Let there be Light" and make it so, or that God Himself must have had a creator? No, I think not.

The theist position IS one of creation ex nihlo - it MUST be, an atheist wouldn't be caught dead believing something that foolish.
What baffles me, is that you've actually answered your own question here, and are simply too thick to realize it. You've simply projected your own problems onto the atheist, which is sadly typical.

Atheists are very well aware of the first law of thermodynamics, and it is this very concept that makes what theists propose, a creation ex nihlo, ridiculous.

Creation ex nihlo is a classic failure of human perception.

No painting comes to exist without a painter, no building is built without an architect, etc. Seems logical enough, but do these people create from literally nothing or is it more accurate to say they assemble existing materials? For no painter starts with nothing - they start with blank canvass and paint. No builder starts with nothing, they start with brick, mortar and blueprints. Something never comes from literally nothing.

Looking at things from the perspective of a First Cause argument, which theists are quite fond of, for something to exercise influence on the universe this causal agent must have already existed. Something nonexistent can't serve as a causal agent; thus causality must assume existence. Theists arguing for a creation of the universe ex nihlo, however have their logic backward - that existence assumes causation.

What the atheist can offer is a scientific explanation that meshes with conventional logic.

If we take matter-energy to be eternal, uncaused - as our best science seems to suggest (see the first law again), then existence is simply axiomatic. The universe just is, and the Big Bang becomes more or less a transitional event. The universe as we know it began with the Big Bang, but the matter-energy was always there, it must have been - to say otherwise turns all of physics as we understand it on its head.

We know that matter-energy is conserved - always, in every instance we have ever observed or theorized about. It is but a simple and very reasonable extrapolation to then say that matter-energy has always been, and it is empirically evident. There is no need to postulate a creator or a creation ex nihlo.

Not only does science point to existence being axiomatic, but simple logic does as well, because "nothing" is an incoherent concept. "Nothing" is not lack, not empty, not the void, not darkness, not the absence of anything, because the absence of anything would still be something. So again, the concept of creation from literally nothing makes no sense, because "nothing" quite literally cannot exist.

In the end, the theist is reduced to demanding to know why there is something rather than nothing, but this too begs the question, because it presumes that nothing or non-existence ought to be the natural state of things. This is like presuming the sky is supposed to be green and then citing the fact that it is blue as evidence for a Creator.

A scientist does not ask "why is there something rather than nothing", but rather "why SHOULDN'T there be something rather than nothing". There isn't anything about the universe that suggests it shouldn't be here and be exactly as we observe it be.

All of that aside, current quantum theories may in fact have room for our universe coming from what would be perceptually (not literally) nothing. Such theories include the universe arising from a quantum vacuum fluctuation that propagated itself, proposed by Ed Tyron in the early 1970s and a variation upon this proposed by Alex Vilenkin in the 80s that was dubbed quantum tunneling.

One of the most lucid theories going at the moment is proposed by Stephen Hawking and James Hartle, and is often dubbed the "no boundary proposal". Their view provides a description of the universe in its entirety, viewed as a self-contained entity, with no reference to anything that might have come before it - pretty much what I've laid out above. For Hawking, this description is timeless, for as one looks at earlier and earlier times, they find that the universe is not eternal, but has no creation event either. Instead, at times of the order of Planck time (10-43 seconds), our classical understanding of space-time is reduced to quantum soup. In Hawking's exact words:

"The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary. The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE." - A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 136.

We don't know exactly how the Big Bang happened, and nobody was there to record it - but that does not me we do not have evidece for it.

Personally, I'm currently a fan of Lee Smolin's theory of fecund universes. This is a multiverse threory that essentially says that each black hole is the nexus of a new universe. We see many of the same events and properties in black holes that we believe were present at the big bang. It really is a fascinating theory, as it employs a form of natural selection in it - i.e. universes that have a proclivity to produce black holes and that don't collapse in upon themselves are selected for, and thuse spawn similar universes.

Now, I admit, that's some wild stuff, and it needs to be fleshed out, but I have a feeling Lee's on to something here.

And no, my feeling and your feeling about God are NOT the same. We have evidence for black holes, we have no evidence for the supernatural or deities. ANY natural proposal, no matter how far fetched, will ALWAYS be more probable than a supernatural explanation. Simply because we actually have evidence for the natural world.

We have empirical evidence like cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) which pervades the observable universe. This CMB was predicted as a result of Big Bang theory, it is a remnant of the very young and VERY hot infant universe and was first observed in 1965 by radio-astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson who shared the Noble for their discovery.

Then there is the fact that galaxies are moving away from us at speeds proportional to their distance. This is called Hubble's Law, named after Edwin Hubble who discovered this phenomenon in 1929. This observation supports the expansion of the universe and suggests that the universe was once compacted.

Then there's a little thing called Olber's Paradox, which is why the night sky isn't filled totally with starlight and as bright as the sun. The only plausible explanations for this are that distant stars are red-shifted into obscurity because they are traveling away from us at enormous speeds, or that the light from very distant stars hasn't reached us yet. Both explanations support the inflationary Big Bang model of the universe.

Then there's the homogeneity and isotropy of the observed universe - gobs of data showing that our location in the universe is not special or central and that the universe looks the same in all directions; more support for the Big Bang.

And there's time dilation in supernovae light curves! This was a direct prediction of the inflationary Big Bang model and has been directly observed several times.

We trust such data on the basis of scientific peer review. This is an indisputed way to check the facts and observations of scientific findings. One person says they found X, so another researcher attempts to repeat their experiments or collect the same data. When they find the same same things, that's pretty solid evidence for the experiment, and support for the principle.

In terms of fossils or geological observations, we do the same thing. Independent researchers look for the same things. If they find them in predicted geological strata or at predicted distances from earth at predicted intensities, it is evidence for the finding.

And before you bring up the argument from the law of entropy (because I can smell that smack from a mile away), let me smack you down before you humiliate yourself. The law of entropy has NOTHING to do with the existence of the universe in its present state. It does not prevent planet or star formation or evolution. Only the ignorant maintain such.

The Big Bang most certainly does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, nor does evolution (I never get tired of hearing that one). Theists and creationists would do themselves a gigantic favor to stop pontificating on subjects they clearly have no understanding of.

First of all, entropy is not a measure of order or disorder, per se, nor does it stipulate that ordered systems are not possible, even for a closed system.

Let me assure you that what follows is greatly simplified, but I wanted to take a look at the actual energy states of the universe, pre and post Big Bang.

The total mass-energy of the universe is constant (1st law of thermodynamics). Entropy is simply the spread in the distribution of energy over quantum states (from a quantum standpoint) or phase space (from a classical standpoint) over time. In more basic terms, entropy is a measure of the "quality" of heat or available energy. It is essentially the thermodynamic principle that gives us equilibrium and states that systems tend to move toward equilibrium - i.e. a hot or cold object tends to reach the temperature of the environment it is in. (Note that while in general systems move toward equilibrium, it is still possible to move away from equilibrium at points within the system where there are energy gradients).

The only cosmological implication I can think of that results directly from the 2nd Law is the theory of the "heat death" of our universe - that once our universe reaches equilibrium it will be cold, dark and desolate (if there is not enough dark matter in the universe to halt its expansion and quantum fluctuations don't become large players, that is).

The theory goes that once the universe reaches maximum entropy that there will be no more free energy to sustain motion or life and the temperature of the universe would be around absolute zero. It is important to realize what "heat death" means here - we are talking about maximum entropy for a given state and temperature. It is very possible and indeed many theorize that before the universe began its current expansion that it was also at "heat death" - albeit at a different, state and temperature. We are not necessarily talking about temperature, but free energy - the amount of work that can be extracted from a system
If the system is at maximum entropy it is at equilibrium for that particular state by definition. Change the state (temperature, pressure, volume, etc) and you move away from equilibrium.

Now for some math and thermodynamics, brace yourselves:
Free energy is the amount of work that a system can do - you can think of it as the amount of useful energy in the system; energy that can cause motion, or heat things up. There are two kinds of free energy - Helmholtz and Gibbs.

Gibbs free energy is defined as:

G = H - TS

where G is the Gibb's energy, H is enthalpy*, T is temperature and S entropy.

Any natural process will occur spontaneously if and only if the associated change in G for the system is negative. This means that, a system reaches equilibrium when the associated change in G for the system is zero (ΔG = zero), and no spontaneous process will occur if the change in G is positive (ΔG > 0).

*-enthalpy is heat content.

Helmholtz free energy is defined as:

A = U-TS

where A is the Helmholtz energy, U is the internal energy of the system, T is the temperature and S is entropy.

The total work performed on a system at constant temperature in a reversible process is equal to the change in Helmholtz free energy.

Now, let's do some math.

(In the below <= and >= will be greater than or equal too and less than or equal to. dX will be the partial derivative of the property X.)

The second law states that in a closed system, equilibrium is reached when entropy is maximized:

dS >= dQ/dT

Now, let's examine "heat death". Let's say for simplicity?s sake that prior to the universe expanding, it was at a constant temperature and volume.

A little algebra allows us to write the 2nd law as:

dQ - TdS = 0

One can combine the 1st and 2nd laws in a well known equation (I'll derive this if you are really interested, but it should be well known to people in engineering and physics fields):

dU = TdS - pdV

substituting in the Helmholtz equation:

dA = dQ - TdS - pdV - SdT

If the universe were at constant temperature and volume (say prior to the big bang) we get:

dA(T,V) = dQ - TdS <= 0

So at constant T and V the Helmholtz free energy will seek a minimum - this means that for a spontaneous process to occur the net change in free energy must be zero (equilibrium) or decrease (not yet at equilibrium). Alternatively, one could expand the system and reduce the temperature - and this is what we think happened and is happening now.

So now we have an expanding, cooling system. Similarly we can substitute the Gibb's equation and get:

dG(T,P) = dQ - TdS <=0

This means that as our universe cools and expands to a constant temperature the Gibbs energy seeks a minimum. For a spontaneous process to occur the change in Gibbs energy must be negative (if not yet at equilibrium) or zero (if at equilibrium).

In the two cases I've described - two states of the universe, there would be no free energy available to do work and the system would be essentially static.

That the universe will reach another state of heat death depends on whether or not there is enough dark matter-energy in the universe to halt its expansion. Why the universe began to expand in the first place is a bit of a mystery, but ample empirical evidence tells us that this expansion did indeed occur.

As far as earth goes, it is not a closed system. We have constant input energy from the sun.

If the objection from the second law via entropy were valid for evolution or the Big Bang, it would ALSO have to be valid for a mother's womb. The same principles apply, as a mother's womb is also an open system.

Please understand a scientific concept before trying to use it in an argumentative fashion. Educate yourself.


 

 

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Thanks for the replies. By

Thanks for the replies.

By the way, I wasn't trying to be facetious or set anyone up by asking those questions.  Going back and reading my initial post, it seems as though I may have came across that way, and that was definitely not my intent.

I asked them because energy and matter are currently an interest of mine.  Sort of an intellectual sticking point, if you will.  I am kind of familiar with the laws of thermodynamics, but I wanted to ask the questions for the purpose of getting some condensed info as well as some references for further reading.  I got both, and I am grateful.

 


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David Mills wrote: Because

David Mills wrote:

Because the laws of mass-energy conservation preclude an ex nihilo appearance of mass-energy, the only conclusion which harmonizes with this well-established scientific principle is that mass-energy always existed in one form or another.

Ex Nihilo arguments (something out of nothing) are usually arguments for a magical creation of the universe. However, there are ex nihilo cosmological arguments that do NOT violate physics.

But where would the matter come from?

"While there would be no matter prior to the big bang (according to an ex nihilo account), the big bang would release an enormous amount of energy in the form of light, which comes in discrete packets called photons. When photons have enough energy, they can spontaneously decay into a particle and an antiparticle. This is easily observed today, as gamma rays have enough energy to create measurable electron-antielectron pairs (the antielectron is usually called a positron). This would explain the existence of matter."

http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=631

 

But this only pushes the problem one step back: where does the energy come from?

As for the source of the original energy? There are several theories:

a) Edward Tryon has put forth the idea of a vacuum fluctation, which is NOT a violation of physical law, as the original source. Alan Guth's Inflationary Model explains the rapid expansion of this energy. The source for this account is The Inflationary Universe by Alan Guth. Tryon makes the point that the total sum of positive and negative energy in the universe may well be ZERO, indicating again, that no physical laws are violated by the big bang event. As Tryon writes: "Im my model, I assume that our present universe did appear out of nowhere 10 to the 10th power years ago. Contrary to the popular belief, such an event need not have violated any of the conventional laws of physics. Source: The Inflationary Universe by Alan Guth. Note: this version is akin to ex nihlio creation, except that it does NOT violate any laws of physics and does not require a 'miracle'.

b) Alex Vilenkin proposed, in contrast to the Hartle-Hawkings boundless model, an initial state of no dimensional nothingness that is overcome by vacuum tunneling to a dimensional state. As per his model, 'eternal nothingness' is an absolute impossibility.

See my audio file on this: http://www.candleinthedark.com/exnihilo.mp3

 

 These comments come from this short essay that I have posted on the site:

 http://www.rationalresponders.com/common_cosmological_misconceptions

 

 

Quote:

 Contrary to popular misconception, Big Bang cosmology does not prescribe an ex nihilo appearance of mass-energy just prior to universal expansion.

David Mills

 

Yes. 'Big bang' theory is only a description of our present universe, from planck time. 

"A common misconception is that the big bang provides a theory of cosmic origins. It doesn't. The big bang is a theory, partly described in the last two chapters, that delineates cosmic evolution from a split second after whatever happened to bring the universe into existence, but it says nothing at all about time zero itself. And since, according to the big bang theory, the bang is supposed to have happened at the beginning, the big bang leaves out the bang. It tells us nothing about what banged, why it banged, how it banged, or, frankly, whether it ever really banged at all."

- Brian Greene "The Fabric Of The Cosmos."

 

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jmm wrote: I have 2 very

jmm wrote:

I have 2 very basic questions:

1)  Where did energy come from?

2)  Where did matter come from?

I have one very basic question: Why do you assume that matter/energy had to 'come from' anywhere?

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Yellow_Number_Five

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

There was never literally nothing. That would violate the first law of thermodynamics and overturn all of physics as we understand it. Somthing NEVER comes from literally nothing.

I really hate to piss in the punch bowl, but physicists such as as Edward Tryone, Alex Vilenkin and Alan Guth are open to the possibility of 'no dimensions' - i.e. nothingness, as well as the possibilty of ex nihilo creation. There models do not violate physics.

On the other hand, Vilenkin's argument for quantum tunneling may show, however, that nothingness (no dimensions)  is in fact impossible. If it is true that vacuum tunneling will turn a 'non dimensional state" (forgive the oxymoron) into a dimensional state, and, if it is true that there is no time in a dimensionless state (and this seems to be a given) then, in a sense, it follows that 'nothingness' is in fact impossible; vacuum tunneling will shift the zero dimension into 3 dimensions without any passing of time..... 

So, if you think this through, this is the same as saying there was never nothing. Odd, I know.

Quote:
 

 It is theists who insist upon a creation ex nihlo, from literally nothing.

Yes, theists make this demand, but some physicists/cosmologists have entertained the notion and have even shown a potential way for it to occur, without violating physics.

However, we must differentiate this from theistic ex nihilo models, which are in fact appeals to magic. (i.e. they violate physics and logic)

Quote:
 

The theist position IS one of creation ex nihlo - it MUST be, an atheist wouldn't be caught dead believing something that foolish.

As long as you amend this to 'magical ex nihilo' I would agree.

Quote:
  

Creation ex nihlo is a classic failure of human perception.

Theistic models are, yes.

Quote:
 

No painting comes to exist without a painter, no building is built without an architect, etc. Seems logical enough, but do these people create from literally nothing or is it more accurate to say they assemble existing materials? For no painter starts with nothing - they start with blank canvass and paint. No builder starts with nothing, they start with brick, mortar and blueprints. Something never comes from literally nothing.

As far as we know, yes, this is true. All of these analogies to 'creation' are in fact not literal creation, but manipulation of pre existent entities.

Ex nihilo creation would require a causeless move from zero dimensions, to 3 dimensions. Quantum tunneling may provide a rational means for this to occur. Appeals to magic (theism) do not.

Quote:
 

 Looking at things from the perspective of a First Cause argument, which theists are quite fond of, for something to exercise influence on the universe this causal agent must have already existed. Something nonexistent can't serve as a causal agent; thus causality must assume existence. Theists arguing for a creation of the universe ex nihlo, however have their logic backward - that existence assumes causation.

 

I agree.... the only way for their account to work is if the universe is created, from zero dimensions, without a cause.

 So, unless the theist wishes to pray to the alter of quantum tunnling, he's out of luck.

Quote:
 

 What the atheist can offer is a scientific explanation that meshes with conventional logic.

If we take matter-energy to be eternal, uncaused - as our best science seems to suggest (see the first law again), then existence is simply axiomatic.

I want to make something clear here: the axiomatic nature of existence does not imply that the universe is eternal. It only applies that, from the fact that we are sentient, we know something must exist.

 

Quote:

The universe just is, and the Big Bang becomes more or less a transitional event.

There are many physicists and cosmologists who would agree with this. I'll mention 2.

The theory of Stephen Hawkings holds that the universe is finite, but boundless, without any "beginning point" http://www.lfrieling.com/univers.html

"In his best selling book, A Brief History of Time, Professor Hawking suggests that in order for the "Big Bang" to work, the mathematics requires that the condition of the Universe at the beginning must have been finite and boundless. There must have been no edges, or points of discontinuity. Without this assumption, the laws of physics could not be used to explain the activity and state of affairs in the first moments of the creation of the Universe. By assuming that the Universe was and is finite, yet boundless, physicists are able to avoid the problems created by discontinuities."

In Hawkings "Universe in a Nutshell" he furthers this argument, by hold that a universe that his finite but boundless has no beginning or end point, and no need for a creator. Hawkings himself declared that this point would not possess any 'special' status. It would be akin to any other point in a circle - or more accurately, a globe. Hawkings states rather plainly that his model proposes a boundless, yet finite universe - without any special points in space or time. He covers this in Universe in a Nutshell.

Another third scenario option: Brane Theory

The Myth of the Beginning of Time String theory suggests that the big bang was not the origin of the universe but simply the outcome of a preexisting state By Gabriele Veneziano

More on the theory:

'Brane-Storm' Challenges Part of Big Bang Theory "

The new idea would not replace the Big Bang, which has for more than 50 years dominated cosmologists' thinking over how the universe began and evolved. But instead of a universe springing forth in a violent instant from an infinitely small point of infinite density, the new view argues that our universe was created when two parallel "membranes" collided cataclysmically after evolving slowly in five-dimensional space over an exceedingly long period of time." This collision would provide the original energy. Brane theory holds that there would be no beginning or end to existence.

 

Quote:

 The universe as we know it began with the Big Bang, but the matter-energy was always there, it must have been - to say otherwise turns all of physics as we understand it on its head.

Actually, this is not true. Yes, the matter may well have been there, in some form, eternally. However, there are several theories that do not violate physics in any way that hold that the matter in our universe was created.

1) Ex nihilo models - Tryon, Viliken

2) Brane theory - our universe was created from zero point energy from a megaverse.

These two types of accounts are alterantives that do not violate physics in any way.

Quote:
 

 We know that matter-energy is conserved - always, in every instance we have ever observed or theorized about. It is but a simple and very reasonable extrapolation to then say that matter-energy has always been, and it is empirically evident. There is no need to postulate a creator or a creation ex nihlo.

This is true! However, we can imagine other scenarios without violating physics.

My key point here is that it is only the theist accounts of ex nihilo creation that violate physics.  

Quote:
 

 Not only does science point to existence being axiomatic, but simple logic does as well, because "nothing" is an incoherent concept. "Nothing" is not lack, not empty, not the void, not darkness, not the absence of anything, because the absence of anything would still be something. So again, the concept of creation from literally nothing makes no sense, because "nothing" quite literally cannot exist.

Sorry, I must disagree here, in the hopes of strengthening your argument.

1) The axiomatic nature of existence is not proof that existence is eternal.... 

2) Using the fact that the term 'nothing' has no ontological statuas as a reason for eliminating it as a possiblity is a word game. Cosmologists like Guth hold that zero dimensions is a coherent and possible 'state'. The fact that we cannot provide a positive ontology for 'nothing' only points to a limit in our language, not the actual impossiblity of 'nothingness'

Quote:
 

 In the end, the theist is reduced to demanding to know why there is something rather than nothing, but this too begs the question, because it presumes that nothing or non-existence ought to be the natural state of things.  

Excellent point! So often, it is the theist who asks "why something?'. Why not ask "how can there even be nothing?"

It is a fallacy to assume that nothingness is the fallback position.... the reality is that we do not know if nothingness is even a possible state.

Quote:

All of that aside, current quantum theories may in fact have room for our universe coming from what would be perceptually (not literally) nothing. Such theories include the universe arising from a quantum vacuum fluctuation that propagated itself, proposed by Ed Tyron in the early 1970s and a variation upon this proposed by Alex Vilenkin in the 80s that was dubbed quantum tunneling.

I am glad you are citing the same sources I am citing... but I disagree with your claim that they are not in fact talking about literal nothingness. Guth holds that they are in fact talking about zero dimensions and ex nihilo creation.

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One of the most lucid theories going at the moment is proposed by Stephen Hawking and James Hartle, and is often dubbed the "no boundary proposal". Their view provides a description of the universe in its entirety, viewed as a self-contained entity, with no reference to anything that might have come before it - pretty much what I've laid out above. For Hawking, this description is timeless, for as one looks at earlier and earlier times, they find that the universe is not eternal, but has no creation event either. Instead, at times of the order of Planck time (10-43 seconds), our classical understanding of space-time is reduced to quantum soup. In Hawking's exact words:

"The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary. The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE." - A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 136.

We don't know exactly how the Big Bang happened, and nobody was there to record it - but that does not me we do not have evidece for it.

 

Thanks for mentioning Hawkings. 

 

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Personally, I'm currently a fan of Lee Smolin's theory of fecund universes. This is a multiverse threory that essentially says that each black hole is the nexus of a new universe. We see many of the same events and properties in black holes that we believe were present at the big bang. It really is a fascinating theory, as it employs a form of natural selection in it - i.e. universes that have a proclivity to produce black holes and that don't collapse in upon themselves are selected for, and thuse spawn similar universes.

Now, I admit, that's some wild stuff, and it needs to be fleshed out, but I have a feeling Lee's on to something here.

Thanks for citing Smolin too. 

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We have empirical evidence like cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) which pervades the observable universe. This CMB was predicted as a result of Big Bang theory, it is a remnant of the very young and VERY hot infant universe and was first observed in 1965 by radio-astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson who shared the Noble for their discovery.

Then there is the fact that galaxies are moving away from us at speeds proportional to their distance. This is called Hubble's Law, named after Edwin Hubble who discovered this phenomenon in 1929. This observation supports the expansion of the universe and suggests that the universe was once compacted.

Then there's a little thing called Olber's Paradox, which is why the night sky isn't filled totally with starlight and as bright as the sun. The only plausible explanations for this are that distant stars are red-shifted into obscurity because they are traveling away from us at enormous speeds, or that the light from very distant stars hasn't reached us yet. Both explanations support the inflationary Big Bang model of the universe.

Then there's the homogeneity and isotropy of the observed universe - gobs of data showing that our location in the universe is not special or central and that the universe looks the same in all directions; more support for the Big Bang.

And there's time dilation in supernovae light curves! This was a direct prediction of the inflationary Big Bang model and has been directly observed several times.

We trust such data on the basis of scientific peer review. This is an indisputed way to check the facts and observations of scientific findings. One person says they found X, so another researcher attempts to repeat their experiments or collect the same data. When they find the same same things, that's pretty solid evidence for the experiment, and support for the principle.

In terms of fossils or geological observations, we do the same thing. Independent researchers look for the same things. If they find them in predicted geological strata or at predicted distances from earth at predicted intensities, it is evidence for the finding.

And before you bring up the argument from the law of entropy (because I can smell that smack from a mile away), let me smack you down before you humiliate yourself. The law of entropy has NOTHING to do with the existence of the universe in its present state. It does not prevent planet or star formation or evolution. Only the ignorant maintain such.

The Big Bang most certainly does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, nor does evolution (I never get tired of hearing that one). Theists and creationists would do themselves a gigantic favor to stop pontificating on subjects they clearly have no understanding of.

The big ban does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, even if it is an ex nihilo event! 

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First of all, entropy is not a measure of order or disorder, per se, nor does it stipulate that ordered systems are not possible, even for a closed system.

Let me assure you that what follows is greatly simplified, but I wanted to take a look at the actual energy states of the universe, pre and post Big Bang.

The total mass-energy of the universe is constant (1st law of thermodynamics). Entropy is simply the spread in the distribution of energy over quantum states (from a quantum standpoint) or phase space (from a classical standpoint) over time. In more basic terms, entropy is a measure of the "quality" of heat or available energy. It is essentially the thermodynamic principle that gives us equilibrium and states that systems tend to move toward equilibrium - i.e. a hot or cold object tends to reach the temperature of the environment it is in. (Note that while in general systems move toward equilibrium, it is still possible to move away from equilibrium at points within the system where there are energy gradients).

The only cosmological implication I can think of that results directly from the 2nd Law is the theory of the "heat death" of our universe - that once our universe reaches equilibrium it will be cold, dark and desolate (if there is not enough dark matter in the universe to halt its expansion and quantum fluctuations don't become large players, that is).

The theory goes that once the universe reaches maximum entropy that there will be no more free energy to sustain motion or life and the temperature of the universe would be around absolute zero. It is important to realize what "heat death" means here - we are talking about maximum entropy for a given state and temperature. It is very possible and indeed many theorize that before the universe began its current expansion that it was also at "heat death" - albeit at a different, state and temperature. We are not necessarily talking about temperature, but free energy - the amount of work that can be extracted from a system
If the system is at maximum entropy it is at equilibrium for that particular state by definition. Change the state (temperature, pressure, volume, etc) and you move away from equilibrium.

Now for some math and thermodynamics, brace yourselves:
Free energy is the amount of work that a system can do - you can think of it as the amount of useful energy in the system; energy that can cause motion, or heat things up. There are two kinds of free energy - Helmholtz and Gibbs.

Gibbs free energy is defined as:

G = H - TS

where G is the Gibb's energy, H is enthalpy*, T is temperature and S entropy.

Any natural process will occur spontaneously if and only if the associated change in G for the system is negative. This means that, a system reaches equilibrium when the associated change in G for the system is zero (ΔG = zero), and no spontaneous process will occur if the change in G is positive (ΔG > 0).

*-enthalpy is heat content.

Helmholtz free energy is defined as:

A = U-TS

where A is the Helmholtz energy, U is the internal energy of the system, T is the temperature and S is entropy.

The total work performed on a system at constant temperature in a reversible process is equal to the change in Helmholtz free energy.

Now, let's do some math.

(In the below <= and >= will be greater than or equal too and less than or equal to. dX will be the partial derivative of the property X.)

The second law states that in a closed system, equilibrium is reached when entropy is maximized:

dS >= dQ/dT

Now, let's examine "heat death". Let's say for simplicity?s sake that prior to the universe expanding, it was at a constant temperature and volume.

A little algebra allows us to write the 2nd law as:

dQ - TdS = 0

One can combine the 1st and 2nd laws in a well known equation (I'll derive this if you are really interested, but it should be well known to people in engineering and physics fields):

dU = TdS - pdV

substituting in the Helmholtz equation:

dA = dQ - TdS - pdV - SdT

If the universe were at constant temperature and volume (say prior to the big bang) we get:

dA(T,V) = dQ - TdS <= 0

So at constant T and V the Helmholtz free energy will seek a minimum - this means that for a spontaneous process to occur the net change in free energy must be zero (equilibrium) or decrease (not yet at equilibrium). Alternatively, one could expand the system and reduce the temperature - and this is what we think happened and is happening now.

So now we have an expanding, cooling system. Similarly we can substitute the Gibb's equation and get:

dG(T,P) = dQ - TdS <=0

This means that as our universe cools and expands to a constant temperature the Gibbs energy seeks a minimum. For a spontaneous process to occur the change in Gibbs energy must be negative (if not yet at equilibrium) or zero (if at equilibrium).

In the two cases I've described - two states of the universe, there would be no free energy available to do work and the system would be essentially static.

That the universe will reach another state of heat death depends on whether or not there is enough dark matter-energy in the universe to halt its expansion. Why the universe began to expand in the first place is a bit of a mystery, but ample empirical evidence tells us that this expansion did indeed occur.

As far as earth goes, it is not a closed system. We have constant input energy from the sun.

If the objection from the second law via entropy were valid for evolution or the Big Bang, it would ALSO have to be valid for a mother's womb. The same principles apply, as a mother's womb is also an open system.

Please understand a scientific concept before trying to use it in an argumentative fashion. Educate yourself.

I only have one point vis-a-vis thermodynamics: I do believe it is evidence that the matter in our universe could not have been in its present state, eternally.  This means that either

1) The matter was created (From energy) that always existed in some form

2) The matter/energy was created ex nihilo

3) The matter/energy was created from zero point energy from a megaverse theory (Smolin or Brane theory) 

4)  one of Smolin's other options other than A:

* [A] There is still a first moment in time, even when quantum mechanics is taken into consideration.

* [B] The singularity is eliminated by some quantum mechanical effect. As a result, when we run the clock back, the universe does not reach a state of infinite density. Something else happens when the universe reaches some very high density that allows time to continue indefinitely into the past.

* [C] Something new and strange and quantum mechanical happens to time, which is neither possibility A or B. For example, perhaps we reach a state where it is no longer appropriate to think that reality is composed of a series of moments that follow each other in a progression, one after another. In this case there is perhaps no singularity, but it may also not make sense to ask what happened before the universe was extremely dense.

 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


todangst
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jmm wrote: Thanks for the

jmm wrote:

Thanks for the replies.

 

I asked them because energy and matter are currently an interest of mine. Sort of an intellectual sticking point, if you will. I am kind of familiar with the laws of thermodynamics, but I wanted to ask the questions for the purpose of getting some condensed info as well as some references for further reading. I got both, and I am grateful.

 

 

Glad to hear it. 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


Mjhavok
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As Richard Dawkins and I

As Richard Dawkins and I believe JBS Haldane have said "The universe is not just stranger than we suppose but perhaps stranger than we can suppose".

 

Also it maybe stranger than our brains can understand. Dawkins talks about how humans have evolved in "middle world" and find things like quantum physics and the beginnings of the universe strange and confusing because we just haven't evolved to understand things like that.


Unfortunately some people in their child like and egotistical way think if something is too strange and difficult for them to understand that means it can't be correct and true.

 

The truth isn't subjective. The truth is true if we like it or not.  

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. "
- Carl Sagan

"Tantum eruditi sunt liberi"

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the