Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 65 (9073 total)
566 online now:
nwr, PaulK, Phat, Tangle (4 members, 562 visitors)
Newest Member: MidwestPaul
Post Volume: Total: 893,343 Year: 4,455/6,534 Month: 669/900 Week: 193/182 Day: 26/47 Hour: 1/9

Announcements: Security Update Released


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Author Topic:   universe- why is it here?
Beercules
Inactive Member


Message 91 of 144 (136771)
08-25-2004 12:01 PM
Reply to: Message 88 by 1.61803
08-24-2004 10:11 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
quote:
Saying the universe has no cause would assume you do not exist, and since you are reading this something 'caused' you.

Doesn't follow. My reading this forum was caused by prior events. The current event has been caused by others, but that chain of events doesn't necessarily drag out into an infinite past. The big bang event, but it wasn't necessarily caused by any prior events. It is quite possible the whole casual chain begins there.
quote:
If something caused you then would it not be logical to think that something caused the universe as well.

Likewise, this doesn't follow.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 88 by 1.61803, posted 08-24-2004 10:11 PM 1.61803 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 93 by 1.61803, posted 08-25-2004 1:34 PM Beercules has taken no action

  
happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 4153 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 92 of 144 (136782)
08-25-2004 12:22 PM
Reply to: Message 88 by 1.61803
08-24-2004 10:11 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
I still see no logical way to think of the universe as having a cause, since the concept "before the big bang" has no logical meaning whatsoever. There can be no "before" time, since the very degree of freedom that time is measured relative to would not be in existence. If there is no point in time when the universe didn't exist, what meaning can does the word "caused" have? The only way I can think of reconciling the universe with some cause would be if time stretched back before the big bang. I seem to remember seeing a show on the BBC (Horizon) that dealt with that possibility. I don't know how well supported the idea is though.

quote:
And by the way great thought provoking post.
Thanks It's something i've always wondered about, but when I saw that Stephen Hawking shared my view that it was possibly illogical to talk of the unvierse being caused I gave it a little more credence. He mentions the idea somewhere in A Brief History of Time.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 88 by 1.61803, posted 08-24-2004 10:11 PM 1.61803 has taken no action

Replies to this message:
 Message 97 by Tony650, posted 08-26-2004 7:36 AM happy_atheist has replied

  
1.61803
Member (Idle past 744 days)
Posts: 2928
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004


Message 93 of 144 (136795)
08-25-2004 1:34 PM
Reply to: Message 91 by Beercules
08-25-2004 12:01 PM


Re: Causation and the universe

beercules writes:

It is quite possible the whole casual chain begins there.

If that is the case then the Universe 'caused' the universe. Saying the universe has a cause seems to indicate a 'causer' which tends to get some atheist attention. It is my opinion that it is unknown. The big bang caused the universe yes or no? And if so how? If no one knows the how, then speculation is all we have to go on. My speculation is just as unfounded as the next speculator. I say I dont know the answer, but I do not say causality is illogical.


"One is punished most for ones virtues" Fredrick Neitzche

This message is a reply to:
 Message 91 by Beercules, posted 08-25-2004 12:01 PM Beercules has taken no action

Replies to this message:
 Message 94 by happy_atheist, posted 08-25-2004 6:11 PM 1.61803 has replied

  
happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 4153 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 94 of 144 (136841)
08-25-2004 6:11 PM
Reply to: Message 93 by 1.61803
08-25-2004 1:34 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
Oh I don't think causality is illogical in all situations. I think it is only applicable within time though. A cause comes before and determines the effect. If "before" doesn't exist then I simply don't know how causation would apply. I may be missing something important(which is why I brought up the question). Is causation possible without a "before"?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 93 by 1.61803, posted 08-25-2004 1:34 PM 1.61803 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 95 by 1.61803, posted 08-25-2004 9:17 PM happy_atheist has replied

  
1.61803
Member (Idle past 744 days)
Posts: 2928
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004


Message 95 of 144 (136869)
08-25-2004 9:17 PM
Reply to: Message 94 by happy_atheist
08-25-2004 6:11 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
HappyAtheist writes:

Is causation possible without a "before"?


I do not know. Human terms and comprehension of phenomenon that transends time throw even atheist into the realm that many theist fall into when trying to comprehend God. It is ineffible, humans have no words or descriptions that can explain that which transends the constructs of time and causality itself. Thats it in a nut shell, we just dont know. And anyone who claims to know is either a idiot, insane, or a liar or all three.


"One is punished most for ones virtues" Fredrick Neitzche

This message is a reply to:
 Message 94 by happy_atheist, posted 08-25-2004 6:11 PM happy_atheist has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 96 by happy_atheist, posted 08-26-2004 7:11 AM 1.61803 has replied

  
happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 4153 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 96 of 144 (136976)
08-26-2004 7:11 AM
Reply to: Message 95 by 1.61803
08-25-2004 9:17 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
Well causation as we understand it requires a "before", therefore it would be silly to say the universe has a cause because it would going beyond human experience. To apply anything from human experience to the situation that is totally unlike anything we've experienced (such as saying the big bang has a cause or the universe has a creator) is wrong

This message is a reply to:
 Message 95 by 1.61803, posted 08-25-2004 9:17 PM 1.61803 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 99 by 1.61803, posted 08-26-2004 12:29 PM happy_atheist has replied

  
Tony650
Member (Idle past 3272 days)
Posts: 450
From: Australia
Joined: 01-30-2004


Message 97 of 144 (136977)
08-26-2004 7:36 AM
Reply to: Message 92 by happy_atheist
08-25-2004 12:22 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
happy_atheist writes:

I still see no logical way to think of the universe as having a cause, since the concept "before the big bang" has no logical meaning whatsoever. There can be no "before" time, since the very degree of freedom that time is measured relative to would not be in existence. If there is no point in time when the universe didn't exist, what meaning can does the word "caused" have?

It's funny you should ask this; I just finished reading Paul Davies' How to Build a Time Machine, in which he deals with causality and closed time loops (among other things). There is a paragraph which I think is pertinent to your question. I will quote it from the book.

Davies writes:

Gott has become so enthusiastic about time machines he even goes so far as to suggest the entire cosmos may be one, pointing out that the universe would then be able to create itself. Just as a time traveler could, in principle, go back and become his own father (or her own mother), so the universe could loop back in time and bring itself into existence in a big bang without the need for a mysterious origin from nothing. In that way the universe will in some sense always have existed, even though time itself remains finite in the past.

One of the things Davies discusses in the book is the notion that closed time loops, such as this, need not necessarily be paradoxical; they can form completely self-consistent causal loops in which A leads to B which leads back to A. He says that despite our everyday "common-sense" regarding cause and effect, there is nothing inherently contradictory about something being its own cause.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that I think this is how the universe came about. But I thought it was relevant to your question.

It is, at the very least, a model that solves the problem of a cause existing in an epoch that had no time in which a cause could exist. In this model, the universe would have a cause. At the moment of the big bang, the cause would simply not have happened yet.

This model would appear to answer your question about causality. Whether or not it accurately describes the reality of the universe, though, is a different matter. Either way, it's food for thought.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 92 by happy_atheist, posted 08-25-2004 12:22 PM happy_atheist has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 98 by happy_atheist, posted 08-26-2004 10:29 AM Tony650 has replied

  
happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 4153 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 98 of 144 (136996)
08-26-2004 10:29 AM
Reply to: Message 97 by Tony650
08-26-2004 7:36 AM


Re: Causation and the universe
It certainly is food for thought, and it would certainly be a nice solution if it were true. One thing I definately agree with from the extract is that the true nature of the universe is unlikely to be anything like we comprehend it. We only really comprehend macroscopic effects, and whenever anything strays into the quantum world a whole host of weird and wonderful things that are counter intuitive become common place.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 97 by Tony650, posted 08-26-2004 7:36 AM Tony650 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 100 by Tony650, posted 08-26-2004 4:01 PM happy_atheist has taken no action

  
1.61803
Member (Idle past 744 days)
Posts: 2928
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004


Message 99 of 144 (137032)
08-26-2004 12:29 PM
Reply to: Message 96 by happy_atheist
08-26-2004 7:11 AM


Re: Causation and the universe
happyatheist writes:

(such as saying the big bang has a cause or the universe has a creator is wrong.

well that is your opinion of which you are entitled.
Happyathiest writes:

Well causation as we understand it requires a "before', therefore it would be silly to say the universe has a cause because it would going beyound human experience.

Ya silly, perhaps as silly as saying you could drop an anvil on your foot and it quantum tunnel through it and cause you no harm. Or perhaps a silly as saying there is a species of marine worm that the female harbors the males of the species inside they're own body. Or as silly as suggesting a photon could be both a wave and particle. Or as silly as Bells theorm, quantum entanglement. Life is stranger than fiction. But even Quentin Smith states the universe possibly CAUSED itself. I say I dont know, you are the one making extravagant claims of knowing the universe has no cause. Can you support this claim of yours? If not see my previous post last paragraph. *I included the link to give another point of view, it does not mean it is my point of view.

This message has been edited by 1.61803, 08-26-2004 11:43 AM


"One is punished most for ones virtues" Fredrick Neitzche

This message is a reply to:
 Message 96 by happy_atheist, posted 08-26-2004 7:11 AM happy_atheist has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 101 by happy_atheist, posted 08-26-2004 5:03 PM 1.61803 has replied

  
Tony650
Member (Idle past 3272 days)
Posts: 450
From: Australia
Joined: 01-30-2004


Message 100 of 144 (137124)
08-26-2004 4:01 PM
Reply to: Message 98 by happy_atheist
08-26-2004 10:29 AM


Re: Causation and the universe
happy_atheist writes:

It certainly is food for thought, and it would certainly be a nice solution if it were true.

My sentiments exactly. Personally, I don't believe that it's an accurate description of the actual state of reality (and in fairness, I don't think Davies does either), but it would be an elegant solution to the problem of the first cause. What a shame the universe rarely turns out to work in such neat, easy-to-comprehend ways, huh? Instead, it hits us in the face with such perceptual nightmares as quantum indeterminacy.

happy_atheist writes:

One thing I definately agree with from the extract is that the true nature of the universe is unlikely to be anything like we comprehend it. We only really comprehend macroscopic effects, and whenever anything strays into the quantum world a whole host of weird and wonderful things that are counter intuitive become common place.

Yes indeed. Quantum theory is replete with apparently nonsensical concepts that defy our everyday instincts. Yet that seems to be how things work at the lowest levels, so who knows what the universe's true nature is? It would be nice to have a definitive answer to some of these questions and perhaps someday we will. Unfortunately, I somehow doubt that it'll be within my lifetime.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 98 by happy_atheist, posted 08-26-2004 10:29 AM happy_atheist has taken no action

  
happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 4153 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 101 of 144 (137156)
08-26-2004 5:03 PM
Reply to: Message 99 by 1.61803
08-26-2004 12:29 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
All i'm saying is that it would be illogical to say the universe has a cause, because it would go against the definition of causation. If something DID cause the universe then our idea of causation is wrong (or at least incomplete), and it isn't going to work in the way we currently think causation does. Take the idea posted above as an example, the idea that the universe caused itself. That is not how most people think of causation.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 99 by 1.61803, posted 08-26-2004 12:29 PM 1.61803 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 102 by 1.61803, posted 08-26-2004 5:06 PM happy_atheist has taken no action
 Message 103 by Tony650, posted 08-26-2004 8:35 PM happy_atheist has replied

  
1.61803
Member (Idle past 744 days)
Posts: 2928
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004


Message 102 of 144 (137160)
08-26-2004 5:06 PM
Reply to: Message 101 by happy_atheist
08-26-2004 5:03 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
Ok.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by happy_atheist, posted 08-26-2004 5:03 PM happy_atheist has taken no action

  
Tony650
Member (Idle past 3272 days)
Posts: 450
From: Australia
Joined: 01-30-2004


Message 103 of 144 (137208)
08-26-2004 8:35 PM
Reply to: Message 101 by happy_atheist
08-26-2004 5:03 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
happy_atheist writes:

Take the idea posted above as an example, the idea that the universe caused itself.

*takes a bow* Thank you, thank you.

Heh, but seriously, I can't take credit for that one; I just read it in Davies' book. And in fact, it's not even his idea; it is theorized by J. Richard Gott, III.

happy_atheist writes:

That is not how most people think of causation.

That's a good point. Perhaps we need to redefine the term.

It seems to me that if (and I say if) there is a cause, then it doesn't really make any difference which scenario is correct, it cannot be a "cause" in the generally accepted sense. Just using the three very general concepts of past, present and future...

The concept of a cause before the big bang is a no-brainer, as there was no "before" (at least, not as pertains to any familiar meaning of the word).

I can't really see a cause occurring with its effect i.e. at the same time. Who knows, perhaps it can but I really don't see how.

Which just leaves the future. Honestly, if we are to invoke a cause, this is the only way I can see it happening. I'm not convinced that this is an accurate model, myself, but it is a consistent model; it's plausible. A leads to B leads to A.

Which of course brings us back (no pun intended) to your point; this is not what a "cause" is generally understood to be. I think the problem is that our definition is perhaps too limiting, in this regard. In the common vernacular, a "cause" is assumed to always occur before its effect. But if it turns out that the "effect" can precede the "cause" then the common definition may be insufficient.

The problem is that I really can't think of any other way to define it without running into exactly the same problem. I could say that a cause is that which leads to an effect, results in an effect, or is the origin of an effect.

The problem is that "leads to", "results in" and "is the origin of" all prompt in us the same intuitive sense of uni-directional causality. In fact, I really can't think of any words to define it that aren't intrinsically linked to our perception of past, present and future.

So I'm afraid I'm not sure how we could define the term to accommodate this idea. Unless of course we were simply to specify that "cause and effect may occur in either direction along a timeline; from past to future, or future to past." That's the only way I can think to get around it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by happy_atheist, posted 08-26-2004 5:03 PM happy_atheist has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 104 by happy_atheist, posted 08-27-2004 1:56 PM Tony650 has replied

  
happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 4153 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 104 of 144 (137394)
08-27-2004 1:56 PM
Reply to: Message 103 by Tony650
08-26-2004 8:35 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
An excellent post Tony, thats pretty much what i've been trying to say from the past few posts but I wasn't able to quite articulate it properly! I guess that'll all part of the problem of talking about something that we currently don't have a word for, leading to us trying to force square words into round concepts so to speak.

Anyway, I'd like to put forth Star Trek The Next Generation as evidence that future events can cause past effects (STTNG, that tome of scientific truth ). In the very last storyline before it ended they had Captain Picard causing life on earth to never form. He discovered a temporal anomalie, and fired something at it in an attempt to get rid of it. What he fired ending up making it worse, but because it was a temporal anomalie it got worse in the past. It ended up that it got so bad so far in the past that it destroyed the first semblences of organic molecules forming on earth as they were about to create life.

Obviously it all ended ok, because a Jean Luc from a different time sent a message to himself in the future to make stop destroying life. And there you have it, STTNG proves that causation is very much different to what we think it is lol.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 103 by Tony650, posted 08-26-2004 8:35 PM Tony650 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 105 by Tony650, posted 08-28-2004 5:02 AM happy_atheist has replied

  
Tony650
Member (Idle past 3272 days)
Posts: 450
From: Australia
Joined: 01-30-2004


Message 105 of 144 (137588)
08-28-2004 5:02 AM
Reply to: Message 104 by happy_atheist
08-27-2004 1:56 PM


Re: Causation and the universe
happy_atheist writes:

An excellent post Tony...

Why thank you, happy!

happy_atheist writes:

...thats pretty much what i've been trying to say from the past few posts but I wasn't able to quite articulate it properly!

I know the feeling. I have the annoying habit of being drawn to concepts I have no hope of ever understanding. As such, I often find myself trying to find words that I simply don't have. It's frustrating on so many levels.

happy_atheist writes:

I guess that'll all part of the problem of talking about something that we currently don't have a word for, leading to us trying to force square words into round concepts so to speak.

Yes, and sometimes even creating new words specifically for particular concepts isn't sufficient.

Take for example "ana" and "kata" which I brought up in my thread, Dimensional Discourse (shameless plug). These terms were coined for the expressed purpose of naming the other "direction" present in four dimensional space. You can go up and down, forwards and backwards, left and right, ana and kata.

Now that's all well and good but even creating these new terms doesn't give me any actual comprehension of that direction. It's nice to have something to call it, but this doesn't help me understand it any better because the concept of "direction" itself is firmly ingrained in my mind as always being within three dimensions of space. I think we face a similar problem here, in the sense that the concept of "cause" is likewise ingrained in our minds as that which comes first, before the "effect".

So we find the idea that something which happens today, for example, could conceivably be "caused" by something which will not happen for another hundred, thousand, million, etc years contrary to our common experience, just as we find the idea that the directions "ana" and "kata" can exist contrary to our common experience.

happy_atheist writes:

Anyway, I'd like to put forth Star Trek The Next Generation as evidence that future events can cause past effects...

Hey, a fellow Trekkie! I love you!

happy_atheist writes:

...(STTNG, that tome of scientific truth ).

Are you saying that Star Trek ever has anything but good science? Why I oughta...

As a friend of mine says (who is also a Trekkie, incidentally), you can actually use Star Trek to prove that any engineering, electrical, etc problem can always be solved by "reversing the polarity."

Incidentally, nice work thinking of that episode; it's a good example of what we've been talking about. The one you're referring to is All Good Things (terrific episode, by the way).

To explain the relevance (and yes, I know it's "Trek-science" but I think it's still a good illustration of the point)...

They scan the anomaly with an "inverse tachyon pulse" in the three time periods that Picard is jumping to (past, present and future). At first, he can't understand why it's more widely spread the further back in time he is. He later discovers that it's because it is an eruption of "anti-time" colliding with normal time, therefore its "effects" travel backwards through time.

It's finally discovered that they are the ones responsible for the anomaly; it was in fact their own tachyon pulses converging at the same co-ordinates in space, in the three different time periods, that did it. To use Data's words, "We may have created the very anomaly we've been looking for."

Of course in the end, there's the big, climactic scene where the Enterprise (in all three time periods) has to fly into the anomaly to collapse it at its focal point. At which stage, all the timelines collapse into one, revealing the ships together, at the same place and time, shortly before the anomaly collapses, destroying all three of them.

For anyone interested, take a look at http://www.startrek.com/imageuploads/200303/tng-277-picard-orders-o-brien/320x240.jpg (You may have to copy and paste it to the address bar, sorry about that.)

As with most time travel stories, paradoxically speaking, it's a nightmare, but they get around it by making the three time periods causally separate; nothing in one period would affect the other two, except where they physically intersected each other, at the anomaly.

Anyway, I hope this won't be deemed off topic. I think it's a cool illustration of the concept of reverse causality, myself. And again, I realize that it's Star Trek physics, but the point wasn't to suggest that it's scientifically accurate.

happy_atheist writes:

And there you have it, STTNG proves that causation is very much different to what we think it is lol.

Damn right! If it happens on Star Trek, it must be true!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 104 by happy_atheist, posted 08-27-2004 1:56 PM happy_atheist has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 106 by happy_atheist, posted 08-28-2004 8:47 AM Tony650 has replied

  
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.1
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2022