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Big Bang and the first cause

  1. Nov 19, 2006 #1
    For a cause to effectively be examined, there must be a way to find its cause and its effects. A 'first cause' has no prior cause, thus logic can only deal with its effects, and not the first cause itself, as there is nothing before it to derive its attributes from. Evolutionary theory has prior species to derive base attributes that can be modified through mutations from. Abiogenesis has prior energy to derive the base attributes of life from. What does energy derive its attributes from? Logic cannot help us answer this question unless we discover something to have existed before energy; then it can be posed as to what that effect was caused by.

    You can attempt inductive logic to figure out the attributes of some initial cause...but the chances of you being right, even if you've put every last piece of existence into consideration, is less than worthwhile.

    This idea is akin to 'The tao that is named is not the eternal tao'. Nobody can ever know what started it all, as there is nothing before it to set the stage for examination through logic. It's very much a, 'Alright, something started this ****heap called existence, but we can never know just what it was' sort of deal.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2006 #2
    Either there was a first cause to existence, or not--first this topic must be decided. I think not, imo, there is no "beginning" to existence (note here I do not say there is no beginning to our universe), for it seems to me that only those things that have a beginning require a first cause.
  4. Jan 9, 2007 #3
  5. Jan 9, 2007 #4
    Thank you. But I find what Hegel says here to be false:

    § 171 ... If the world, or anything, is supposed to have begun, then it must have begun in nothing,

    But Hegel errors because it is a false premise that a thing (X) "must" have begun in nothing, for clearly beginning of any thing (X) could be nothing more than ending of any thing (Y), and a thing begun from another thing is not the same as beginning from no"thing".

    So, I find little of value in Hegel here as to topic of "beginnings".
  6. Jan 16, 2007 #5
    You don't read very well or can't understand the argument he makes.

    He clearly states that "since that is incomprehensible" (a begin from nothing) it did not begin.
    The sentence has the word "supposed" in it, so this is to understand for you, he does not state that "as if true". It can be restated as: "If we would have to assume that the world has had a begin, it would have needed to begin from nothing. But since nothing is only nothing and not a begin of any something, I hold that not to be the case."

    Your argument is effectively stating the same, that a begin of any something must be based on a previous something.

    So, a begin in or from nothing, is no begin, because nothing is only nothing, not a begin of any something. That, as Hegel states, is incomprehensible.

    The Hegel quote is in the middle of some ellaborated explenation about being and nonbeing (which Hegel states are the same, when taken as empty abstractions without anything in them determined), so perhaps you read the whole section.

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2007
  7. Jan 16, 2007 #6
    It is trivially (tautological) the case that the world started from a "first cause".

    The "first cause" (without any further ellaboration about what we mean with it) could be stated and for any state the universe is in at any time as the direct past of the "now" (so far that can be uniquely defined, yet any frame of reference has an associated "now").

    Likewise we could also claim that the most ancient relic of the cosmos (the "surface of last scattering"), and everything what goes (in practical unobservable) before it, is contained as the "first cause".

    Yet, with this, we don't have assumed anything about time or eternity contained in "first cause", and for all practicality, it ain't measurable, and ain't of any importance to us now, so why do we care and why do we want to know?

    Any reasoning about it, has no bearing on our life here and now, and is for the most part something which goes well beyond falsification (theoretical constructs like "strings" of size well below the measureable - both practical and theoretical - idem dimensions above the normal 3+1 which are identically unobservable, and regimes of inflation and/or instantons, which can only make some rough estimates on how the world now looks like, which although they make some falsifiable predictions, also make a lot of predictions - multiverses for example - which are equally undetectable even in principle) is more like discussing how many angels can dance on top of a needle, then has any practical significance.
  8. Jan 19, 2007 #7
    There was never "nothing." There has always been "something."

    It is absurd to think that something can come from nothing without cause or reason.

    Therefore, something is eternal, without beginning and without ending.

    Therefore, there is no "first cause." First cause inevitably leads to infinite regression which is meaningless, and therefore, logically absurd.
  9. Jan 19, 2007 #8
    Heusdens claims: "It is trivially (tautological) the case that the world started from a "first cause"

    Royce claims: "There is no first cause".

    I side with Royce. I see no possibility for a dialectic union of the two viewpoints--am I incorrect ?
  10. Jan 20, 2007 #9
    IMHO, both viewpoints are vertually saying the same thing.
  11. Jan 20, 2007 #10

    My "first" cause is not to be understood as a single moment in time, since I argued that the whole history leading up to now, can be thought of as "first cause".
  12. Jan 20, 2007 #11

    Hegel would claim that Pure Being and Nonbeing are the same.

    The truth of both is Becoming as the Unity of Being and Nonbeing.
  13. Jan 20, 2007 #12
    I do not argue here against his overall "argument" on being vs nothing (another topic), I argue against the symbolic logic of this sentence he wrote.

    Hegal claims (using an if-then statement):
    § 171 ... If the world, or anything, is supposed to have begun, then it must have begun in nothing, (Hegel)

    You say he really claims this:

    "... "If we would have to assume that the world has had a begin, {then} it would have needed to begin from nothing..."

    But this is not a valid statement (that is, the conclusion does not follow from the premise), because even if we have to assume that [A] has a begin, it does NOT logically follow that [A] "must" (his word) or "would have needed" (your word) only begin from nothing . It is equally logical that [A] begin from another something we call [C]. I say nothing more or less about Hegel but that his above statement (and your modification), using rules of symbolic logic, is NOT VALID.

    And now another comment about Hegel. Clearly Hegel holds:
    “Becoming” contains “being” [e] and “nothing” [n], thus symbolically
    b= {the set of e + n}

    but, being a good Hegelian, what then is ~ (not becoming), how does Hegel explain the dialectic between and ~ , for if no explanation is found, neither is a valid philosophy, only a meaningless tautology--is this not correct ?
  14. Jan 20, 2007 #13
    To me, this is saying that B = ~B. Logically this is a contradiction or oxymoron.

    This statement is beyond me. I do not understand it at all.

    Nonbeing has no beginning hence no end. Nonbeing is the same as nothing. It does not exist. It may be; but it is unchangeable; there, literally, is nothing to change. Nonbeing, nothing, cannot have a becoming as this implies change of state i.e. nothing becoming something and a beginning.

    According to my understanding of Hegel nothing cannot become something and therefore there can be no beginning or first cause.

    BTW I never have thought much of Hegel or his so called logic. I have always thought that this was why Marx and communism cling so tightly to him. Both are illogical and incomprehensible. IMHO
  15. Feb 8, 2007 #14

    The truth is that It is valid. Your C can not exist, it is already contained in A.

    {the world = everything that exists }

    You may read it as: if everything would have had a begin, then it would have begun from nothing.


    I think you would state that as being and non-being are distinct moments of becoming.

    The anti-thesis of becoming is of course ceasing-to-be.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2007
  16. Feb 8, 2007 #15
    It sure looks like a joke, but Hegel was quite certain on it.

    Well let me try to explain.

    First Being and Non-being are realy empty and abstract descriptions.

    What they have in common is that they are each others opposites.
    And that in fact, since they do not contain any determination, means they are the same (abstraction).

    Non-being and Being are equal that both of them are unchangeble, if taken as absolute seperate (isolated) as well as empty.

    Being can neither change state, because also that means Non-being (of past state).
    So Being (on itself) is changeless and without beginning, and without determination, so in fact equal to Non-being!

    Not quite right, there is not an absolute seperatedness between being and non-being.

    You can not have either one isolated from the other.

    If there just was being, then equally there would be no possibility of change.

    In that manner also, you can reflect on it that being and non-being are the same.


    Well it is understandable, but you have first to swallow it, and if you past that, it will cling on.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2007
  17. Feb 10, 2007 #16
    I do not agree, "my" [C] is not already contained in the [A] of Hegel, my [C] is the antithesis of the Hegel [A], and it is this fact that falsifies Hegel, because his thinking cannot allow for "my" [C] to exist, when it may.


    the antithesis of this statement:

    ...if everything would have had a begin, then it would have begun from nothing...


    ...if everything would not have had a begin, then it would have begun from something,

    which is an impossibility, to both not have a begin, and to have begun. So, I hold to my claim that Hegel's thinking leads to an invalid argument via the "trivial principle"---"If an argument has all true premises but has a false conclusion, then it is invalid"

    But I wait for you to correct my error in thinking.
  18. Feb 10, 2007 #17
    If you prefer that the world has a cause in something else, then the world has a begin, so to say.

    But mind you, this is not the same as saying that all being has begun from some different being, which is clearly nonsensical.
  19. Feb 15, 2007 #18
    Hegel makes many claims and substantiates none. He uses antiquated terminology and makes little effort to write clearly (assuming what he wrote was translated correctly). Having died in 1831, he had no knowledge of Relativity, QM, DNA, or BB cosmology. In trying to understand Reality, we should reject such terms as 'pure being' and 'nonbeing' (both pure and impure), 'The Absolute', and 'becoming' (in a metaphysical sense). Replace them with mathematical terms, scientific terms, and use the term 'nothing' instead of 'nonbeing'. Use 'matter/energy' instead of 'being'. Leave 1831 and enter the 21st century.
  20. Feb 24, 2007 #19
    The notions of Hegel are for sure rather abstract, but therefore not incomprehensible.

    I think Hegel would have rejected the notion of the Big Bang as the begin of the universe.... and he was right (as currently cosmology seems to acknowledge also!).
  21. Mar 2, 2007 #20
    Hi ReggieB. Interesting discussion on what determines determinism. :smile:

    Good question! I tend not to view energy as having a definite beginning and end. I think of it being more like a circle.

    Perhaps it’s our limited human perception that constructs the illusion of creation & destruction in our mind.

    The philosopher and scientist, Spinoza, had insightful ideas on the infinite nature of the universe and its deterministic quality. Einstein was quoted as saying he agreed with Spinoza’s reasoning.

    I'd like to know your thoughts.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2007
  22. Mar 2, 2007 #21
    Assuming that you are still monitoring this thread, I apologize for the late response.
    I agree that Non-being is an empty and thus non-changeable abstraction.

    I do not agree that Being is empty nor non-changeable.
    If we look at Being as a pure abstraction and the only alternative or change to the concept of Being is Non-being, then, yes, Being is non-changeable as is Non-being.

    However, while Non-being implies, and can only imply, Nothing; Being implies Something and thus cannot be empty in abstraction or in reality.

    Something can have the ability or property to change into something else and is thus changeable with no change in its abstract state.

    Therefore: While they may have abstract properties in common, they are not and cannot be equal even in the abstract.

    Words are symbols and are themselves abstractions. They also have meanings and implications. If we abstract the meanings and implication out of these symbols then yes they become equal, equally meaningless and no longer symbols or words.

    This, in my mind, is what Hegel has done and also did to his logic. They are meaningless abstractions and thus all valueless. I equate it with reduction to the point that they become null-symbols with no referent. They then of course are equal, equally meaningless, and thus logically absurd.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2007
  23. Mar 3, 2007 #22
    Here is how you can conclude that Being and Nonbeing are in fact the same.

    Take in mind some determinate being. Let us say: a coffee cup.
    The coffee cup has determinate being, it has distringuishable properties.
    However - in regard to being - none of these properties are relevant to it's being. It would be a different coffee cup, or not a coffee cup at all, but it's being would not change at all.
    Further, take in mind this same coffee cup, but now as nonbeing (imagine the coffee cup has not yet been manufactured). It has the same distinguishable properties as the coffee cup which has being.

    Therefore being and nonbeing differ in nothing, and altogether are nothing.
    Yet, being is also different from nonbeing, and directly opposite to it.
    The only reality of being and nonbeing is becoming in which both pass over into the other.
  24. Mar 6, 2007 #23
    heusdens, I have delayed responding to this last post because I have read it four times and still have trouble understanding it.

    First the word "Being" implies, to me anyway, a conscious, aware, living entity. I realize that Hegel and you are using it, "being", as "existing."

    In your example a cup is not a being but a thing that exists. It is made of material that has existed in one form or another since the beginning if there is a beginning. The cub is simply another shape or form of something that has existed billions of years.

    In one line of thought the cup, its material or matter, has always had the property of being. It has simply changed form. This is a property that non-being does not have and can never have. It does not have the property of being nor does it have the property of changeability, becoming. In this way of thinking being and non-being have nothing in common not even "becoming."

    I realize Hegel's premise of all of existence coming from nothing, the basis of materialism, is where we differ fundamentally. I reject the possibility of something coming from nothing. Even the Buddhist philosophy, that Hegel refers to, of the unchangeable Void as being the foundation of the universe is illogical. If it is forever unchangeable and the unchanging foundation of all that exists, how, then, can it change, become something.

    Hegel is addressing this contradiction by saying that; therefore , non-being and being must be equal, must be the same. We and the universe are all nothing, come from nothing and will eventually return to nothing. Again from the Buddhist.

    This is IMO the fundamental illogic of materialism and Buddhist philosophy of the Void. In order for it to hold Being must equal Non-being, B = ~B. This is logically absurd IMO.

    I have been to the void while in deep meditation and it is not empty. A number of other westerners have experienced and reported the same thing. True, there is no material thing existing there, neither matter nor energy, but it is full of spiritual being and energy and thus ever changing. I have made some Buddhist angry when I have mentioned this. Others have dismissed me as totally ignorant of such things and thus not at all enlightened. A typical materialists and physicalist response to any claim or philosophy of Duality or Spiritual existence.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  25. Mar 6, 2007 #24
    Correct. (although in the terminology of Hegel "being" and "existence" mean something else).

    You refer to the matter of which the cup is made.
    But being (in determinate form) refers to something in specific.

    Being and Nonbeing belong together, and one turns over into the other.
    They pass over into another because they are not absolutely seperate.

    "Coming from nothing" is clearly a misnomer and your reference to it is essentially telling you did not grasp the idea of Hegel.
    And by the way, Hegel was an Idealist (primacy of consciousness), not a Materialist (primacy of matter).

    Hegel regards (pure) Being and Nonbeing essentially in their dialectical unity. Outside of that unity, both are meaningless. Like positive belongs to negative and the northpole belongs to the southpole.

    Let's take another example.
    In the early universe massive clouds of hydrogen turn itself into stellar systems.

    In other words the Being of the hydrogen cloud turns into Nonbeing and at the same time the Nonbeing of the star turns into Being.
    [ and remark that this does not mean that being turns into nothing either as that nothing becomes something. ]

    That is the proper way of looking at it, and in this sense, you see how being belongs to nonbeing and can not exist seperately. Their unity is the process of becoming.

    Like I said before: Being and Nonbeing belong to each other (as a dialectical unity of opposites), not seperately, because they are meaningless then.

    I think you simply didn't get it.

    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  26. Mar 6, 2007 #25
    (That was quick)
    I didn't. I think that I was looking too deeply nor did I know that Hegel was an idealist. Your last example with the gas clouds seems to clear it up for me. I think now that I understand. In this sense then Being and Non-being are linked and share the property Becoming as you and he said. (but, I might add, only in our minds.)
    To a die hard realist this is of course nonsense. Which is probably why I couldn't get it. It is a major paradigm shift from realistic to idealistic thinking. Thanks for you help and patience with me.
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