Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

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
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook