How can the universe exist without time?

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  • #1
Zantra
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Ok there's a contradiction here I can't grasp. It's postulated that time began at the creation point of the universe. If this is so, then how did it begin? We've established that in order for an event to occur, time must exist. So in order for the universe to be created, and events to move forward along that axis, time must have existed before the creation of the universe. Because in order for the big bang to occur, something had to set that in motion, so we can assume that time existed prior to the big bang. Thus, we must assume that something existed before the big bang.

Am I missing something here? because it makes perfect sense to me.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Tyger
398
0
Time is a quantity we use to express how things change in the world. If there was nothing in the world before time zero then nothing was changing either. There was no need for the concept of time "then". Another point of view that makes perfectly good sense. But how do we know which one is correct?
 
  • #3
Zantra
781
3
So what you're basically saying is that time may have existed, but since no events were occurring, it not needed. But I'm not comfortable with the concept of just "starting from nothing" Weather through nature's design or another entity, something had to set events in motion. So something had to exist the big bang. If the singularity existed, there were conditions within that singularity. What created the singularity? Just posing that question leads to an assumption that "something" created it because events had to cause it to come into existence. I won't even venture a guess on what that could have been, but based on what we know, everything springs from something, and everything is set in motion through the events of something else: ie cause and effect. So based on that, we must assume that the universe is not the oldest thing in existence.
 
  • #4
Tyger
398
0
Originally posted by Zantra
So what you're basically saying is that time may have existed, but since no events were occurring, it not needed. But I'm not comfortable with the concept of just "starting from nothing" Weather through nature's design or another entity, something had to set events in motion. So something had to exist the big bang. If the singularity existed, there were conditions within that singularity. What created the singularity? Just posing that question leads to an assumption that "something" created it because events had to cause it to come into existence. I won't even venture a guess on what that could have been, but based on what we know, everything springs from something, and everything is set in motion through the events of something else: ie cause and effect. So based on that, we must assume that the universe is not the oldest thing in existence.

I can really only express my views on the subject. My viewpoint of Nature is purely mathematical, and the one that you expressed, a very common one, is pretty much mechanical. My viewpoint is that the only real "cause" is that the world fits together in a logical way and everything else is consequence. My view is probably not easy for most people to grasp but it makes sense to me.

Perhaps others will tell us what their thinking is.
 
  • #5
Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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Someone should mention that the big bang theory states that the universe has been expanding since some point in time when it was extremely packed together, but at that time the conditions are so extreme that they go beyond the domain of applicability of our physical theories, so we can't say anything before that point in time. (In particular, big bang theory does not postulate that the universe started out as a point, or there was nothing then something... but it does not say those are impossible either)


In relativistic theories, "time" is as much a part of the universe as "position" is, so if there's no universe, there's no time, it makes no sense to speak about before.
 
  • #6
Zantra
781
3
Originally posted by Hurkyl
Someone should mention that the big bang theory states that the universe has been expanding since some point in time when it was extremely packed together, but at that time the conditions are so extreme that they go beyond the domain of applicability of our physical theories, so we can't say anything before that point in time. (In particular, big bang theory does not postulate that the universe started out as a point, or there was nothing then something... but it does not say those are impossible either)


In relativistic theories, "time" is as much a part of the universe as "position" is, so if there's no universe, there's no time, it makes no sense to speak about before.

Well as you said, physics can't describe the conditions of a singularity prior to the big bang, so nor can we exclude the possibility that time existed within that singularity. It may be that consciousness in some form existed within the singularity, it may be that the universe existed on a much more microcosmic scale, and that a cataclysmic sequence of events set off the big bang. Much as we can't determine the conditions of a black hole, we can neither do that with the singularity. It's all speculation of course, but we just don't know. And following that, comes the obviousness that we can't exclude time predating the big bang.

EDIT:

It would also stand to reason that whatever existed prior to the big bang would not be subject to our current laws of physics and mathmatics, which is why it can't be explained mathmatically.
 
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  • #7
maximus
495
4
Originally posted by Zantra
Ok there's a contradiction here I can't grasp. It's postulated that time began at the creation point of the universe. If this is so, then how did it begin? We've established that in order for an event to occur, time must exist. So in order for the universe to be created, and events to move forward along that axis, time must have existed before the creation of the universe. Because in order for the big bang to occur, something had to set that in motion, so we can assume that time existed prior to the big bang. Thus, we must assume that something existed before the big bang.

Am I missing something here? because it makes perfect sense to me.


i have said it before, and i'll say it again: the term "before the big bang" has no meaning whatsoever. if there was no time before the big bang than the very term "before" is useless, because it would imply there was a time before. we can imagine it to be an infinite "time" (and i use this term loosely) before the BB of no "time" at all. the fact is, that humans lack the linguistic ability to describe an arena in which there is no time or space.

any speculation into the events (or lack thereof) before the big bang is just that: speculation.
 
  • #8
Gale
676
2
this is what i was trying to get at in my post in the philosophy section... and i posted it there because i knew the possibility of time before time couldn't be explained mathematically. But, I've been considering this, and it makes sense logically, to me,

..ok, time obviously could not exist before time, (and time did not necessarily begin with the big bang) but consider the definition of time. one definition in the dictionary is time- An interval separating two points on this continuum using this definition, one point alone has no 'time.' if you could assume that time began at some point, then really, time wouldn't have begun until the second point. the first point is just that, a point in which time does not exist. from that point onward, time exists and continues to travel seemingly in one direction.
 
  • #9
Zantra
781
3


Originally posted by maximus
i have said it before, and i'll say it again: the term "before the big bang" has no meaning whatsoever. if there was no time before the big bang than the very term "before" is useless, because it would imply there was a time before. we can imagine it to be an infinite "time" (and i use this term loosely) before the BB of no "time" at all. the fact is, that humans lack the linguistic ability to describe an arena in which there is no time or space.

any speculation into the events (or lack thereof) before the big bang is just that: speculation.

Ok and what is the basis for this assumption? I'm not saying I can back up my claim either, but I'm just trying to point out the possibility that the assumption that nothing existed before bb is false. But you're right: I'm speculating- but so are you. However I'm basing this speculation on the premise that based on what we know of things, that something must have cause the existence of the universe through cause and effect. Asking us to assume that the universe "just is" and "just happened" for no reason is, well... a leap of "faith":wink:

I'm doing nothing more than asking that we acknowledge the possibility
 
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  • #10
Zantra
781
3
Originally posted by Gale17
this is what i was trying to get at in my post in the philosophy section... and i posted it there because i knew the possibility of time before time couldn't be explained mathematically. But, I've been considering this, and it makes sense logically, to me,


right, and I brought it here because it more at home in this forum. - or not..it's a toss up.
 
  • #11
zoobyshoe
6,551
1,287
Interesting question.

Since time as we know it is, in
fact, only time as we know it(i.e.
a result of the way our brains
process the imput recieved) Marcus
is correctly confused about the
notion that there was no time
before the Big Bang.

Perhaps, in fact, since every-
thing in the universe now was
once packed together in that
singularity, including conscious
ess, everyone in this thread
once made a pact to get together
and compare notes after the
event, and we all synchronized
our watches to be here now.
 
  • #12
Chagur
33
0
Oh, the nothingness of 'nothing'!

There was nothing ... no thing ... as we know it.

All that we know, have become aware of, came into
being when, and after, the event we refer to as the
'Big Bang' occurred ... Including 'Time'!

And, no doubt, some of the things we have yet to
become aware of.

What's so difficult about that?

No Universe = No Time.
No Time = No Universe.
 
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  • #13
Zantra
781
3
Originally posted by Chagur
Oh, the nothingness of 'nothing'!

There was nothing ... no thing ... as we know it.

All that we know, have become aware of, came into
being when, and after, the event we refer to as the
'Big Bang' occurred ... Including 'Time'!

And, no doubt, some of the things we have yet to
become aware of.

What's so difficult about that?

No Universe = No Time.
No Time = No Universe.


And I would say to you do we just go "poof" and exist? Do plants, and animals and trees just go "poof" and exist? did the Earth the moon and the stars of the universe just go "poof" and exist? Well unless you're religious, I think not..

My point is that everything springs from something else. So following that logic, it doesn't make sense that the universe went "poof" and was there. Regardless of time, something made the universe. And since nothing can exist without time, that means that time existed prior to the universe existing.
 
  • #14
zoobyshoe
6,551
1,287
Zantra:
I have to reiterate my agreement
with your question.

I also want to apologize for ref-
ering to you as Marcus. If it was
a Freudian slip it was in your
favor because I enjoy his posts
alot.

Zoob
 
  • #15
Zantra
781
3
So I think we've shown that like many things in the universe, my theory can niether be proven or disproven. But we've established as a valid hypoythesis. Progress is made
 
  • #16
Eh
746
1
You only run into a logical problem if you start with a prior timeless state. Start with the first moment, and not some state before it, and there is no difficulty.
 
  • #17
Chagur
33
0
Zantra,

You have neither a 'point' or a 'theory'!
All you have is an illogical supposition.

You have 'shown' nothing except an inability to think logically.
 
  • #18
Chagur
33
0
Thank you, Eh.

Nicely presented.
 
  • #19
brum
81
0
could it be that the universe (the same one we are in now) collapsed, formed a singularity, and the Big Bang resulted

universe: shrink --> collapse --> singularity --> Big Bang --> expand --> rinse & repeat, ad infinitum


So -- the universe has existed forever.
Collapsing, Big Bang-ing, Collapsing, Big Bang-ing, Collapsing, Big Bang-ing, etc.
-------
This would also help to prove the hypothesis that the universe will NOT expand forever, but is instead doomed to collapse.
 
  • #20
Chagur
33
0
Current thought appears to be that the
Universe will continue to expand for
reasons not yet understood.
 
  • #21
Zantra
781
3
Originally posted by Eh
You only run into a logical problem if you start with a prior timeless state. Start with the first moment, and not some state before it, and there is no difficulty.


Yes I suppose from that point of view it all makes sense. Of course I've never been one to just "accept things" either. Basically that's what you're proposing I do. Just "accept" that "poof" the universe is.
All sounds pretty "godlike" to me...

I'm completely open to logic. So far all I've see are ambiguous hypothetical assumptions that the universe just blinked into existence. I've presented my logic earlier in this post. Read back. Perhaps you could point out the obvious flaws in my logic, because to me it makes sense that the universe can't just exist without reason. That flies in the face of all current physics, yet it's accepted. We accept it merely because we don't have an answer.

Or maybe "god" just blinked it into existence with a "poof"?:wink:

Again, regardless of the state of time, I refuse to simply accept that there was nothing, then poof. If anything, I'm more inclined to lean towards the infinitely expanding and contracting universe theorem then simply accept that which contradicts science.

But let's simplify this. I've heard some good theories about the beginning of the universe. If I'm wrong, and nothing existed before the big bang, prove it.
 
  • #22
Zantra
781
3
Originally posted by Chagur
Zantra,

You have neither a 'point' or a 'theory'!
All you have is an illogical supposition.

You have 'shown' nothing except an inability to think logically.



Again, nature has shown us that everything in existence comes about through a cause and effect. Everything that we known to exist was created through other events. So based on that available evidence, we cannot exclude the possibility that the universe was also created through cause and effect. Which leads to the assumption that something must have created the universe. Explain to me how that is illogical.
 
  • #23
Chagur
33
0
Zantra,

'Nature has shown us'?
You must be kidding!
I don't really think so.

Have a nice day.
 
  • #24
Zantra
781
3
Originally posted by Chagur
Zantra,

'Nature has shown us'?
You must be kidding!
I don't really think so.

Have a nice day.


If that's the best response you have then have a nice day indeed
In my previous posts I gave specific examples. It seems you haven't even bothered to read them. You also sound like you're very close-minded on a very open-ended issue, and as if I'm debating weather the sky is blue. So far you haven't put forth a single productive thought, only disdain and contempt.

Post something productive or don't post at all
 
  • #25
Zantra
781
3
People we don't seem to be making progress here. I've been told by several different people that I'm wrong, but not a single one can present a valid reason why.

Let's try this a different way. Pretend that I know nothing about the universe or it's rules or principals, or the assumptions of physics.
Now you tell me that the universe just "was".

How? why? So far I've been told that I "HAVE" to to think in terms that there was no time before BB, and that it makes sense. Why do I need to accept this? because it's accepted theory? Because there is no other answer?

Now I'm just annoyed because this is the physics forum where logic is supposed to be first and foremost- I believe it says in the rules that you should be prepared to back up your arguments. I feel that I've follow logic drawing a conclusion based on imperical data such as the fact that cause annd effect is what brings new things into the universe. We've also established that events cannot occur without time progression, thus I draw my conclusion that time MIGHT have existed prior to BB.

All I get in response is that I'm not allowed to think that, and that I'm an idiot- No contrary evidence, nothing, just that.

CAN ANYONE present evidence or logic as to why we must assume that time and the universe are not infinite and that before BB there was jut a timeless void?

ANYONE?
WHY?
 
  • #26
Chagur
33
0
Zantra, you just don't get it, do you?

My initial post said it all:

No Universe = No Time.
No Time = No Universe.


Even with Eh's post referring to your lack of logic, you persist.

"I refuse to simply accept that there was nothing, then poof."

Believe whatever you want, but don't expect, no, demand,
that others concur.

I believe someone once said it is better to remain silent
than open your mouth and prove that your are an idiot ...
or words to that effect.
 
  • #27
Zantra
781
3
Originally posted by Chagur
Zantra, you just don't get it, do you?

My initial post said it all:

No Universe = No Time.
No Time = No Universe.


Even with Eh's post referring to your lack of logic, you persist.

"I refuse to simply accept that there was nothing, then poof."

Believe whatever you want, but don't expect, no, demand,
that others concur.

I believe someone once said it is better to remain silent
than open your mouth and prove that your are an idiot ...
or words to that effect.



And apparently you don't get it either. I've been saying all along that something may have existed before the universe. A microcosmic existence perhaps even within the singularity. You're besically ignoring everything I've said to support your view.
While I don't expect everyone to support my view, it does follow logic. Let me outline them for you again, since you're having trouble following this discussion.


1. I propose that something existed before the Big bang, as some event or chain of events could have caused this through cause and effect.

2. It is possible that something existed prior to the big bang, weather it be another form of existence, or an existence within the tightly compancted singularity.

3. If something existed prior to BB, it stands to reason that time existed as nothing can occur with the demension of time

4. My idea contradicts your belief that there was no universe prior to BB.


Chagar these are some POSSIBILITIES that I am presenting. Last time I checked, BB, the singularity, and everything associated with it were a working THEORY, NOT FACT. So don't propose to condescend to me like some infantile child who can't understand what the adults are talking about. Your view has no more stable ground than mine does. All of the presuppositions are based on contigencies that have not been proven.

IF there was a void time is meaningless
IF the universe began at BB then my idea is flawed.
IF IF IF IF IF

FACT: No one knows for sure.

Is what I'm saying making sense to you, or do I need to use a pie chart and a diagram??

And yes, it was Confucious who said that sometimes it is better to remain silent and to let people think you are an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Yet for some reason you keep posting...

Actually, I don't know why you keep posting, All you've said is "you're wrong, I'm right" No explanation, no counter argument to the refutation of the theory that nothing else existed before BB. Sorry son, but just saying "you're wrong, I'm right" won't cut it here.
 
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  • #28
Chagur
33
0
FACT: No one knows for sure.

True, that is why most people accept a 'Creator';
they, like you, can not accept not 'knowing'.

I do not have that problem, as you may have gathered,
and contend only that your position is illogical. I
do not demand that you accept the BB Theory, only that
you stop referring to 'before the BB' as if there were
a prior 'Time' as we experience it.

Maybe a different Time ... I don't know, and would not
even attempt to hypothicate what such a 'Time' would be
like.

'Son'? Aren't you being a bit presumptuous?
Do check my profile.
 
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  • #29
Zantra
781
3
Originally posted by Chagur
FACT: No one knows for sure.

True, that is why most people accept a 'Creator';
they, like you, can not accept not 'knowing'.

I do not have that problem, as you may have gathered,
and contend only that your position is illogical. I
do not demand that you accept the BB Theory, only that
you stop referring to 'before the BB' as if there were
a prior 'Time'as we experience it. Maybe a different
Time ... I don't know and would not even attempt to
hypothicate what such a 'Time' would be like.

'Son'? Aren't you being a bit presumptuous?


I can accept not knowing if you can :wink:. But you seem to KNOW that there was nothing before BB. I stand corrected. Apparently you know something the rest of us don't. As for me, yes I do question everything that is not factually proven. No I'm not religious, but I won't accept theories that have not been proven without question.

And "son" is no more presumptuous than your insinuation that I'm a fool for my contradictory ideas:wink:
 
  • #30
Chagur
33
0
I do not equate being a fool with maintaining an illogical
position. If I did, I would not have replied after my
initial post.

Did you take the time to check my profile?
 
  • #31
Eh
746
1
Originally posted by Zantra
[Yes I suppose from that point of view it all makes sense. Of course I've never been one to just "accept things" either. Basically that's what you're proposing I do. Just "accept" that "poof" the universe is.
All sounds pretty "godlike" to me...

There is no "poof" if there is no prior state when the universe did not exist. However, you can take that to mean the universe is a brute fact, which would still apply to an infinitely old universe.

I'm completely open to logic. So far all I've see are ambiguous hypothetical assumptions that the universe just blinked into existence. I've presented my logic earlier in this post. Read back. Perhaps you could point out the obvious flaws in my logic,

The flaw is that you are attacking a strawman. No one is proposing that one moment there was nothing, and then there was a universe.

Again, regardless of the state of time, I refuse to simply accept that there was nothing, then poof.

And there is the strawman. What part about "no prior state" do you not understand? The claim you are attacking is very different, and in no way is an argument against a beginning to time. No more strawmen, please.

BTW: I propose a duel to see who may keep that neat little nuke avatar. Otherwise, I'll have to search the net for a better mushroom cloud. Take that, avatar thief!
 
  • #32
Zantra, start from this premise. Time does not exist at the speed of light according to GR.

What exists at the speed of light? Both light and the forces exist at the speed of light. Thus without time, they are eternal. They are neither created nor destroyed.

Thus, energy and forces must have existed prior to the creation of time, space and matter. It seems logical that the big bang originated from timeless energy and forces. The cause would have to be non-physical and independent of time.
 
  • #33
Eh
746
1
Light and energy require a background of spacetime to exist.
 
  • #34
Chagur
33
0
And here I thought the avatar was of a
venting vulcano! C'est la vie.
 
  • #35
Eh, I am not convinced that is true. Would you expand on the basis of energy/forces requiring space/time for existence? From what I have read, it appears the reverse may be true. Space is dependent on forces for its existence.

For example, the gravity force warps and shapes space. A black hole would be a good example of how gravity affects space. Note space disappears or is changed beyond our comprehension and yet gravity remains.

PS: I won't be able to respond for several hours.
 
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