Could Christianity and Judaism accept an eternal universe?

Of all the scientific ideas, this is probably the one most harmful to traditional Christian and Jewish theism, though not to some early Jews such as Philo of Alexandria (and I am broadly sympathetic to his idea of God generating creation, or the Logos, as a creative principle eternally in a single act, since it solves the puzzle of a transcendent being acting in a point in time):

https://www.iep.utm.edu/philo/#H9

God is continuously ordering matter by his thought. His thinking was not anterior to his creating and there never was a time when he did not create, the Ideas themselves having been with him from the beginning. For God’s will is not posterior to him, but is always with him, for natural motions never give out. Thus ever thinking he creates, and furnishes to sensible things the principle of their existence, so that both should exist together: the ever-creating Divine Mind and the sense-perceptible things to which beginning of being is given ( Prov. 1.7).

So could biblical language of an absolute cosmic beginning be mere accommodation?

Could Christianity and Judaism accept an eternal universe?

Yes.

The Bible doesn’t actually say that God created the universe. All things actually spoken of in the Bible as God creating are also known to be not eternal.

But not only could Christianity and Judaism accept an eternal universe but the belief that God created the universe would also likely continue even if the universe were shown to be eternal.

But the measurable universe is known to have begun 13.8 billion years ago. So all this is a moot question anyway.

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The concept of time from a physics point of view can accommodate a wide variety of possibilities. For example, with Lambda-CDM Cosmology one prediction of the future (approximately 10^100 years later) is that eventually all processes by which we can distinguish time flowing (or the ‘arrow of time’) will cease and our universe will appear eternal. But yet the time dimension will still be going. There are no actual threats to theism from science nor can there ever be because science is unable to judge spiritual claims.

These are some of the reasons why I remain agnostic about the concept of natural theology.

I assume you mean an eternal universe _with something in it, and eternal in the sense of not having had a beginning (as all Christians presumably accept an eternal never-ending universe).

This Christian could not accept that… if there is anything else that exists entirely apart from or independent of God’s creating power, then he simply is not the supreme, ultimate being of Christian theology. There is something that exists independently of him, operating by its own rules, etc. There are all sorts of difficulties that are introduced.

Next, wed have to ask, Does the universe exist independently from God,

Additionally, then we’d have to ask if God is bound by those physical laws of the universe. Is he bound in time, the same way we are, by the laws of relativity and time, etc.?

And I must also demur from Mitchell’s observation…

When I read that “by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,” that sure seems, to me, to cover pretty much anything and everything that exists or could be. Or, in other words, “the universe.”

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Yes, that is a good reason to believe God created the universe. BUT, the fact is that we can name some things that God did not create, and that leaves in some wiggle room for excluding various things. Remember there is a big counterfactual supposition in this discussion that the universe always existed which could change some people’s mind on the question of creating the universe, even if I am not one of those people.

I’m afraid I’m not following. What are those things we can name that God did not create?

Well one of the most obvious is the separate and distinct person of Jesus. But I think most theologians can come up with other things that exist by necessity like God. Only contingent things are created.

If you are conceiving of the eternal being who was incarnate in Christ as someone entirely distinct, separate, and existing entirely and completely independently of the being we call “God,” then you are describing tri-theism (multiple independent gods), not traditional Trinitarian Christianity.

If that is your belief, then that is fine, but it certainly is not the belief about a triune God as expressed in the historic creeds of the church.

This theologian cannot, nor can any that I am familiar with. All theologians of my familiarity would deny the necessity of anything apart from God alone.

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My belief is the original doctrine of the Trinity that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct persons, but only one God. This is clearly NOT any kind of tri-theism since theism refers to God and thus the only one God means monotheism not tri-theism. My claim that Jesus is not created is simply a rejection of Arianism and others who teach that Jesus is a created being.

I do not believe that “a triune God” is ever spoken of in the historic creeds of the church. This is an alteration by inadequate teachers who end up teaching modalism with their analogies demonstrating only their poor understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.

You have a limited familiarity then – only read the teachings of your own sect do you? Here is a standard discussion of the topic. And before you jump to easy convenient strawmen to with your eagerness to condemn others, I am not in any way shape or form any kind of Platonist but a strong opponent anything even remotely similar to the ideas of Plato.

But if you are wondering where I fit into the spectrum described in that link. I probably don’t fit. I would agree that necessarily existing abstracta are grounded in God. I am a nominalist in the sense that I don’t think universals exist apart from particulars, but that doesn’t mean I am theistic nominalist as described in that article, because I would consider God to be the particular by which necessary abstracta exist. It also doesn’t mean I agree with your claim that God is the only thing which exists by necessity because I reject the teaching of divine simplicity as nonsense.

Very well, then, but then the person of the son is not a separate example, apart from God, of something that exists eternally or by necessity.

Hence, then, to clarify my original question: What, besides God’s own being, are those things we can name that God did not create?

?

Are you objecting to the English word “triune”? It is merely the adjectival form of “trinity”, no? Or is it the language of “one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity” to which you object?

There are various entities which, if they exist, would be candidates for necessary beings: God, propositions, relations, properties, states of affairs, possible worlds, and numbers, among others. Note that the first entity in this list is a concrete entity, while the rest are abstract entities.

This article is discussing the question of necessary abstract ideas and concepts (God being the only candidate for a concrete necessary being). And an interesting rabbit trail, but one I’m not interested in discussing, and one not related to this thread. Certainly there are abstract concepts that many theologians consider to be necessary and thus eternal. But I don’t think that has anything to do with Reggie’s question, or my response, which was limited to the question of merely the universe itself or anything whatsoever within it.

Thus I maintain what I said before, if it seems I need to clarify it: All theologians of my familiarity would deny the necessity of any concrete thing apart from God alone.

No.

If Revelation claims that God is the Alpha and Omega, I’m not sure how that would work for something to predate God.

None of those are in the creeds or in the Bible either.

But now you are the one straying from the topic, which was about the fact that the universe is not something the Bible specifically mentions as something God created. It is conceivable that someone might consider the universe aside from everything in it as something which exists of necessity (something which has always existed). This is a natural part of the discussion topic about the possibility of an eternal universe since clearly we know that the things in the universe did not always exist.

But such are the intellectual knots we are likely to get ourselves into when we embark a discussion of counterfactual possibilities. It is of rather dubious value to sure. The point is however that Christianity as a whole IS NOT so rigid and brainless as some like flat earth society that it cannot handle the scientific facts, even if there are a few so willfully ignorant that they will ignore all the evidence to insist on unreasonable claims which do not agree with the objectively observable facts.

Forgive my confusion; should I assume you don’t consider the Athanasian Creed to be “one of the Creeds”?

Correct. It is not one of the creeds agreed to by an ecumenical council. But thank you for pointing that one out, so now I know where that distortion came from.

Unless the universe was a pre-existing “box”, then God created the box. If it was a pre-existing “box” then it came from a source besides God. The point of necessity for any imaginable item, tangible or abstract is besides the point.

God claims there is nothing in God’s existence beside God. If there are multiple universes, then they are still in the “box” of created items. Jesus did claim there were multiple created “boxes” or one “box” with many aspects.

Saying that God is a Spirit insinuating that spiritual beings are not created is misleading. Everything that is considered spiritual is still an active part of this universe, just unseen/unobservable to physical humans. God is still separate from all this created universe including both physical and spiritual aspects.

To say otherwise, including an eternal universe with out a beginning or end, meaning it may not at any point cease to exist, is placing an item beside God that is of necessity equal with God. Otherwise the universe is one “thought” in the mind of God that can come and go. It was not created, but exist as a thought contained within this eternal being we call God.

I think the western view has been God created a finite universe and is both outside and a sustaining force in maintaining the universe.

Yes and no. Theoretically I would say that science does not differ from theology because they both come from the same source, God. On the other hand we do have instances where there are differences and they need to be resolved which can be either way.

Take the example of the multiverse. I would say that there is a contradiction here between scientific theory and theological fact, but not really because the multiverse has not been verified. It is still speculation, so cannot be consider real or scientifically true.

How is the multiverse in contradiction with a theological fact? Which theological fact is this?

The multiverse, if it would happen to exist, is hidden. We have no way of experiencing it. While God is some sense is hidden, God is basically known in that God reveals Godself to us. We know Who God Is. God is not secretive as Multiverse would indicate. Multiverse conflicts with the character of God as God reveals Godself.

Multiverse weeks to explain how our universe has the large number of constants required to having the living universe that we have. What they came up with the idea that somehow the universes were produces in a random manner so that somehow all of the possible variables were combined in all possible ways so that at least one will work. Hit or miss, but almost entirely miss.

This is a very strange manner for the all knowing and wise God to act! Some people may thank that this is how evolution works, but that is untrue. Our world is not a series of failed worlds, but a series of complete worlds that lead to new and more interesting worlds.

God did not have to use evolution to create us and our world. Most people would probably use this long drawn out process, but God probably does not see it this way. The point is that while God does things God’s own way, evolution is in keeping with God’s character when we look at the big picture, and it is not out of God’s character, while Multiverse is.

We probably can’t experience it. Though perhaps we might have ways of measuring it. Thanks for aiming to clarify what you mean and you’re probably right that some people view the multiverse as a sort of god. But just because some people do that doesn’t mean that the multiverse is like god or has any godlike properties.

The multiverse in itself solves nothing but you specifically need to have a cosmological multiverse of sorts and then some theory like string theory that describes how fundamental constants are determined in the first place. Because the string theory landscape is so large, it is natural to hypothesize that our universe is one of the choices but that might not necessarily be true. And while you might not need any encouragement, there are some atheist physicists that think the multiverse is like a religion (at present at least).

However, it is at least theoretically possible that some of these bubbles collide as they expand. This would mean that what is now our observable universe had, when we look back in time, not one seed, but two or more that later came to join. From the article you cited

The article says that it might be possible that “some” bubbles, if they exist at all, might collide and join together and thus be observable and seems to assume that our universe would be one of them. Lottery anyone? What difference would it make if true?

Why do we “need to have a cosmological multiverse of sorts?” To explain from where the finely tuned constants come? Who says that they cannot come from nothing or from God?

It seems that the string theory does not determine how constants are determined, but points to the structure of our universe, which in turn points to the possible structures of other possible universes. Thus as before the anthropic principle points to the structure of our universe which support supports life, but does not mean that there must be other universes that do not support life.

The article you sited does not say that the multiverse is a religion, but simply that it is not science, which is exactly what I am saying. The only question is why do many scientists insist that the multiverse exists without verification, rather than a simple Big Bang which has scientific, philosophical, and theological verification?