God and cosmology

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A pretty loaded title for the thread (I know).

I would like to know what are everyone's perceptions/opinions regarding the beginning of the universe (of time) as it relates to the notion of a god or God?
 

nicksauce

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This article of Sean Carroll's accurately reflects my thoughts:

http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/nd-paper/nd-paper.pdf [Broken]
 
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I would like to know what are everyone's perceptions/opinions regarding the beginning of the universe (of time) as it relates to the notion of a god or God?
I think it's irrelevant. If you are looking for God, look outside when its raining and watch the leaves fall to the ground. You either see God there, or you don't. If you don't see God in front of you, then I don't see what difference looking at the Big Bang makes. If you *do* see God when you look outside the window as the rain falls, then again, I don't see what difference looking at the early universe makes

Now I happen to see God standing in front of me, but that's just me.
 
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It's not clear to me that almost all cosmologists *are* atheists.
 

Chronos

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Science functions just fine without injecting belief systems, which creates the impression that scientists are atheists. I believe that is much less common that most people think. There are scientists who flatly reject theology, and theologians who flatly reject science, but, most are somewhere in the middle, IMO.
 

marcus

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in new nonsingular cosmology, time goes back before bang

...opinions regarding the beginning of the universe (of time) ...
You may be making the unjustified assumption that time began at the start of expansion ("big bang" moment). This idea has declined in favor (according to Roger Penrose the turning point came in 2005.)

The idea is being challenged by new cosmology models that do not suffer from a "singularity" or breakdown at the start of expansion.

Check out this book being prepared for release this year:
http://www.springer.com/astronomy/general+relativity/book/978-3-540-71422-4 [Broken]

Beyond the Big Bang: Competing scenarios for an eternal universe


It is written by recognized experts: major protagonists of the new cosmo models. The editor putting the it all together is R.Vaas.

Advance copies have gone out and the book has been reviewed by some prominent people, you can click on reviews and see some of their comments.

This change has already been registered in the professional, technical literature. The book that Vaas is editing is non-technical, written for general readership.

I would suggest you keep your eyes open for new developments and do not assume that time, or the universe, began at the bang moment.
 
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Chronos

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What signatures from prior universes can be detected in our present universe? Until such evidence is obtained, the eternal universe model appears speculative.
 

Chalnoth

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It's not clear to me that almost all cosmologists *are* atheists.
A majority are. Not all, clearly, but definitely a very strong majority. My guestimate would be in the range of 80%-95% (big error bars because obviously my personal experience isn't a terribly good judge....but I haven't personally met a single cosmologist who isn't an atheist, though I have met an astronomer who isn't).

My basic position is that the concept of a god falls into just a couple of categories, depending upon the definition a person uses for the word:

1. Specific definitions: the more specific the definition of a god becomes, the more unreasonable it becomes. Either because it's just more complex, and thus less likely without evidence, or because it starts to contradict itself (e.g. the problem of evil), or because it starts to contradict simple observation of reality. These gods cannot exist, in essence.

2. Vague definitions: in order to avoid being ruled out by simple observation, many attempt to clothe their god in vagueness. But in doing so, they essentially define their god out of existence: what they end up describing may as well be a dumb, unthinking, unfeeling law of nature (such as the 1/r^2 falloff of gravity or some such). To call such a thing "god" seems, to me, a bit ludicrous (though many pantheists would disagree, I suppose). But more to the point, the definitions become so vague that there is no way to determine what these people actually mean by the word in the first place, and so they may as well be saying that snargle slumphs exist (and then not bothering to go to the trouble of stating what a "snargle slumph" actually is).

I have never seen anybody come up with a definition of a god that avoids these two. And even if they did, then there's the next problem: lack of evidence. So yeah, there's just no reason to believe in any god or gods.
 
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Chronos

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Ruling out the need for god does not rule out the existence of god.
 

Chalnoth

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Ruling out the need for god does not rule out the existence of god.
But without any evidence whatsoever, it makes the statement "a god exists" an unreasonable one to hold. This is one big reason why so many theologians and philosophers have attempted to prove, from first principles, the existence of a deity (a non-starter if ever there was one: you can't prove anything about the nature of reality).
 
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"But without any evidence whatsoever, it makes the statement "a god exists" an unreasonable one to hold. This is one big reason why so many theologians and philosophers have attempted to prove, from first principles, the existence of a deity (a non-starter if ever there was one: you can't prove anything about the nature of reality)."

From a theistic point of view, I think the evidence is that the universe exists and that it appears coherent and orderly. I'm not sure what you mean by "you can't prove anything about the nature of reality", most people see science as attempting to do this. I'm not sure exactly what Carrol meant by materialism, but it isn't conventional to use it in contradistinction with theism, and I don't agree that science implies materialism either.
 

Chalnoth

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From a theistic point of view, I think the evidence is that the universe exists and that it appears coherent and orderly.
Intelligent observers can't exist except if these things were true, so it is impossible to make any conclusions one way or the other about what these simple statements mean.

To put it another way, it shouldn't be any surprise that you weren't born in the vacuum of space, because if you were, you'd be dead. So you can't conclude anything one way or the other about the fact that you were born in a habitable environment.

I'm not sure what you mean by "you can't prove anything about the nature of reality", most people see science as attempting to do this.
I meant prove as in mathematics. Science is a means of finding an approximation to the truth. That approximation gets better and better as we learn more and more. But it is only ever an approximation, and we don't always know precisely where the approximation breaks down.

What theologians and philosophers have attempted to repeatedly do is find an actual proof, not just present evidence (because there is none). They've fallen flat every time, mind you. But they've tried.

I'm not sure exactly what Carrol meant by materialism, but it isn't conventional to use it in contradistinction with theism, and I don't agree that science implies materialism either.
He states what he means quite explicitly:

Materialism asserts that a complete description of nature consists of an understanding of the structures of which it is comprised together with the patterns which those structures follow, while theism insists on the need for a conscious God who somehow rises above those patterns.
Science requires a philosophy known as "methodological naturalism", which basically is a statement that science can only discover natural causes. In other words, science can only discern things which adhere to materialism. The fact that science has been incredibly successful, however, lends credence to the statement that there isn't anything else out there that doesn't adhere to some natural rules (that is, the supernatural).
 

Doug Huffman

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I would like to know what are everyone's ... opinions regarding the beginning of the universe (of time) as it relates to the notion of a god or God?
The uncaused cause works for me.
 
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"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Hamlet
 

Chalnoth

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"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Hamlet
That doesn't mean that those who make specific claims about the non-material are making reasonable claims.
 
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If the big bang created the universe, it also created the gods.
Otherwise, there are no gods in this universe.
 
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That doesn't mean that those who make specific claims about the non-material are making reasonable claims.
They could very well do so, who are we to say? is matter all that matters? I think that's why people have faith, don't you have faith?
 

Doug Huffman

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There are two statements of faith. One may have faith in the natural, scientific and falsifiable. One may have faith in the supernatural and unfalsifiable faith in god. That they may be exclusive depends on holding two thoughts in one mind. What is the sound of one hand clapping?
 
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"Intelligent observers can't exist except if these things were true, so it is impossible to make any conclusions one way or the other about what these simple statements mean.

To put it another way, it shouldn't be any surprise that you weren't born in the vacuum of space, because if you were, you'd be dead. So you can't conclude anything one way or the other about the fact that you were born in a habitable environment.
"

It always seems to me that to accept this argument you are implicitly assuming that there are a multitude of other universes which don't follow natural laws.

"Materialism asserts that a complete description of nature consists of an understanding of the structures of which it is comprised together with the patterns which those structures follow, while theism insists on the need for a conscious God who somehow rises above those patterns."

This stance is fully compatible with idealism, dualism, monism, pansychism etc. What I was saying was that it doesn't sound like any standard definition of materialism.

"If the big bang created the universe, it also created the gods.
Otherwise, there are no gods in this universe."


That really doesn't make much sense. If God was transcendent, he would exist outside of space and time and presumably "caused" the universe.
 
A majority are. Not all, clearly, but definitely a very strong majority. My guestimate would be in the range of 80%-95% (big error bars because obviously my personal experience isn't a terribly good judge....but I haven't personally met a single cosmologist who isn't an atheist, though I have met an astronomer who isn't).

My basic position is that the concept of a god falls into just a couple of categories, depending upon the definition a person uses for the word:

1. Specific definitions: the more specific the definition of a god becomes, the more unreasonable it becomes. Either because it's just more complex, and thus less likely without evidence, or because it starts to contradict itself (e.g. the problem of evil), or because it starts to contradict simple observation of reality. These gods cannot exist, in essence.

2. Vague definitions: in order to avoid being ruled out by simple observation, many attempt to clothe their god in vagueness. But in doing so, they essentially define their god out of existence: what they end up describing may as well be a dumb, unthinking, unfeeling law of nature (such as the 1/r^2 falloff of gravity or some such). To call such a thing "god" seems, to me, a bit ludicrous (though many pantheists would disagree, I suppose). But more to the point, the definitions become so vague that there is no way to determine what these people actually mean by the word in the first place, and so they may as well be saying that snargle slumphs exist (and then not bothering to go to the trouble of stating what a "snargle slumph" actually is).

I have never seen anybody come up with a definition of a god that avoids these two. And even if they did, then there's the next problem: lack of evidence. So yeah, there's just no reason to believe in any god or gods.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Barrow
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Ellis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Rees,_Baron_Rees_of_Ludlow

^^Cosmologists off the top of my head that go to church. There are few prominent cosmologists who are atheist in the Sean Carrol sense.

I like Dyson's thoughts on this:

I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension
It appears to me that the tendency of mind to infiltrate and control matter is a law of nature. Individual minds die and individual planets may be destroyed. But, as Thomas Wright said, "The catastrophe of a world, such as ours, or even the total dissolution of a system of worlds, may possibly be no more to the great Author of Nature, than the most common accident of life with us."

The infiltration of mind into the universe will not be permanently halted by any catastrophe or by any barrier that I can imagine. If our species does not choose to lead the way, others will do so, or may have already done so. If our species is extinguished, others will be wiser or luckier. Mind is patient. Mind has waited for 3 billion years on this planet before composing its first string quartet. It may have to wait for another 3 billion years before it spreads all over the galaxy. I do not expect that it will have to wait so long. But if necessary, it will wait. The universe is like a fertile soil spread out all around us, ready for the seeds of mind to sprout and grow. Ultimately, late or soon, mind will come into its heritage.

What will mind choose to do when it informs and controls the universe? That is a question which we cannot hope to answer. When mind has expanded its physical reach and its biological organization by many powers of ten beyond the human scale, we can no more expect to understand its thoughts and dreams than a Monarch butterfly can understand ours. Mind can answer our question only as God answered Job out of the whirlwind, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"

In contemplating the future of mind in the universe, we have exhausted the resources of our puny human science. This is the point at which science ends and theology begins.
To comprehend higher intelligence, you would have to be that higher intelligence.
 
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I think it's irrelevant. If you are looking for God, look outside when its raining and watch the leaves fall to the ground. You either see God there, or you don't. If you don't see God in front of you, then I don't see what difference looking at the Big Bang makes. If you *do* see God when you look outside the window as the rain falls, then again, I don't see what difference looking at the early universe makes

Now I happen to see God standing in front of me, but that's just me.
Exactly, you can study the universe and think you are just studying God's handiwork in whatever you find. That's how Bacon and other greats thought being true to God was. Studying his handiwork accurately. Directly from the source.
 
Maybe god is the universe,god is energy,space,and evrything you see and you cannot see.god was not created,he only exists.so god is out of the ''time''.immagine that time doesn't exist for you:so you don't need to move because you are evryware?or you have to move but the universe will stop its process?so you will always exist,but you don't realy exist,because you are trapped in time,or better,in ''space'' with no ''time''.so what makes you work when the whole univese is stopped?that means you are not a part of that univese,you obey diffent rules even if you think you have no rules to respect.
So you have two choises:1-god is the universe itself
2-god is not a part of this universe
3(even if first i sed 2 choises)-god doesn't exist,you are a prouct of a natural casuality(chaos theory indicates that infinite possibilities indicate infinite products of those possibilietes)and if don't consider time there will be infinite products equal to you.
 

Evo

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Deleted off topic posts.
 
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A majority are. Not all, clearly, but definitely a very strong majority.
My experience is quite different. My guess is that about 60% of cosmologists are atheists. One thing that might make a difference is that I went to graduate school in Texas, and I think you have fewer atheists working as cosmologists at southern universities, because you have a different culture.

Also it's been my experience is that 80% of the people that I know in astronomy vote Democrat.

I have never seen anybody come up with a definition of a god that avoids these two.
But them you end up with "rules for truth." Yes, if you are talking about mathematics, then having a vague undefined concept is a bad thing. But we aren't talking about mathematics.

And even if they did, then there's the next problem: lack of evidence. So yeah, there's just no reason to believe in any god or gods.
Again, you run into the problem of "what constituents evidence." I'm willing to agree with the point that God is not a *scientific concept* and that there is no *scientific evidence* for the existence of God (and I think curiously most Protestant and Catholic theologians would have no problem with that statement).

Where I very, very strongly disagree is the idea that "science is truth, and truth is science" which is why i think that Richard Dawkins is totally nutty. It's really weird because much as I dislike the bad impact that young earth Creationists have on science education, I actually agree with them on some of the philosophical points that they make.
 
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Evo

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This discussion is getting too specific in reference to religious beliefs, which is against our guidelines. Please be careful not to post about any specific religions or their beliefs.

Religious Discussion Guidelines:
Discussions that assert the a priori truth or falsity of religious dogmas and belief systems, or value judgments stemming from such religious belief systems, will not be tolerated. As a rule of thumb, some topics pertaining to religion might be permissible if they are discussed in such a way so as to remain neutral on the truth of, or value judgments stemming from, religious belief systems. However, it is essential to use good judgment whenever discussing religious matters to ensure that the discussion does not degenerate into a messy dispute. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.
 

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