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

God and cosmology

  1. Feb 6, 2010 #1
    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?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2010 #2

    nicksauce

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

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

    http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/nd-paper/nd-paper.pdf [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Feb 7, 2010 #3
    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.
     
  5. Feb 7, 2010 #4
    It's not clear to me that almost all cosmologists *are* atheists.
     
  6. Feb 7, 2010 #5

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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.
     
  7. Feb 7, 2010 #6

    marcus

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    in new nonsingular cosmology, time goes back before bang

    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.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Feb 7, 2010 #7

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What signatures from prior universes can be detected in our present universe? Until such evidence is obtained, the eternal universe model appears speculative.
     
  9. Feb 7, 2010 #8

    Chalnoth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  10. Feb 7, 2010 #9

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Ruling out the need for god does not rule out the existence of god.
     
  11. Feb 7, 2010 #10

    Chalnoth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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).
     
  12. Feb 7, 2010 #11
    "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.
     
  13. Feb 7, 2010 #12

    Chalnoth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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 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.

    He states what he means quite explicitly:

    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).
     
  14. Feb 7, 2010 #13

    Doug Huffman

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The uncaused cause works for me.
     
  15. Feb 7, 2010 #14
    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Hamlet
     
  16. Feb 7, 2010 #15

    Chalnoth

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    That doesn't mean that those who make specific claims about the non-material are making reasonable claims.
     
  17. Feb 7, 2010 #16
    If the big bang created the universe, it also created the gods.
    Otherwise, there are no gods in this universe.
     
  18. Feb 7, 2010 #17
    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?
     
  19. Feb 7, 2010 #18

    Doug Huffman

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    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?
     
  20. Feb 7, 2010 #19
    "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.
     
  21. Feb 7, 2010 #20
    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:

    To comprehend higher intelligence, you would have to be that higher intelligence.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: God and cosmology
  1. IF God (Replies: 41)

  2. Gods (Replies: 22)

  3. God ! (Replies: 2)

Loading...