On the eternity of the universe (or lack thereof)

How do you define “before” if there is no time? Makes my brain hurt to think about it. :smile:

Thank you, Chris @aarceng. God is not a thing, as we talk about things.

We have basically two choices. Either the universe is eternal, which you seem to support, or God the Creator is eternal. You can have whatever opinion you choose. The evidence, scientific, logical, and theological, indicates that the universe is not eternal and God, Who is eternal, created it through the Big Bang.

I don’t think there’s particularly good evidence for or against either of these choices, much less for narrowing my options down to only the two of them. Eternality seems like an exercise in imagination any way we think about it.

The evidence, scientific, logical, and theological, indicates that the universe is not eternal and God, Who is eternal, created it.
I would agree that God’s creation probably could be described as A big bang but I think the scientific evidence does not support THE Big Bang.

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Please be more specific in saying what evidence does not support the Big Bang.

The “Open Letter on Cosmology” sets out concerns scientists have with The Big Bang model.
Originally signed by 34 scientists it has since garnered many more signatures.
See Open Letter on Cosmology

First paragraph;
“The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed – inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.”

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Fair enough. I have amended my post #26

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What is wrong with using one’s imagination?

Nothing whatsoever. :smile:

Eternity is not a “very long” period of time, if there is no time. Eternity is existence without time, space, and matter. Religion does not exist either in eternity, just God. If existence has time, it cannot be eternal. The proof is that time cannot exist without space and matter. Nor can physical reality exist without time. God is neither space matter, nor time. God may be what is “physical” light. Can light be eternal, or exist without time, space, and matter?

I think Roger is trying to point towards the absurdity of a universe beginning to exist at T0 without any cause outside of itself.

The initial singularity is weird to say the least. I’m of the conviction that the causal principle should be enforced universally. So thus, Also on the singularity/big bang.

Most models seem to rely on a beginning. But then what sort of beginning are we actually talking about?

Wow there is an awful lot of wrong in that document. And of course it’s not actually evidence that supports one of the most well substantiated theories of all time over its competitors, its just funding and dogma. And of course Halton Arp is one of the signers despite having ideas that also have failed with improved observations.

You cite nothing to show that there is an awful lot wrong. In the first paragraph the document says;

The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed – inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples.

As far as I know there is no direct observational evidence for any of these. They remain hypothetical.

Then an ad hominem attack on Halton Arp. So some of Arp’s ideas have failed? The same could be said for many of the best scientists. But never mind, you still have 33 other original signers of the open letter to criticise, plus the 426 who have added their names since publication.

Would it be a good use of my time overall? Lerner is kind of an odd case who espouses his own version of plasma cosmology which cannot explain the evidence that we have. He doesn’t actively publish in the cosmological community (which at least Arp did before passing) about his ideas. The reason Lerner’s ideas are ‘suppressed’ is because they can’t stand up to scrutiny. Nobody is touting the Big Bang Theory just because of dogma or the reputation of the older professors. All cosmologists would love to come up with something new- something that turns cosmology upside down on its head- and then go collect their Nobel prize a few decades later! I’m also not sure how Lerner is any friend to any YEC because his cosmos is infinitely old and definitely not created 6 kya, let alone ever.

I mentioned Arp specifically because he is represented extensively in YEC literature in their attempt to deal with the redshift being from the expansion of space. Unfortunately his ideas also didn’t stand up to scrutiny (with his variable mass mechanism finding little support) and more supernova not in active galactic nuclei (hundreds of thousands of them) falsifying his main argument that is still repeated in many YEC circles as good evidence against the redshift expansion of space.

I’m not sure who else is on the list, what their expertise is, what positive evidence they actually have for their own pet universe models but having a list of people sign a document that is full of errors is not how scientific ideas are decided. They are argued out in scientific meetings, through the careful collection of data and testing of models - they need to explain the data we have and do it better than the Big Bang Theory - but they also need to understand what the evidence actually is they are arguing against. What do they do with the measured redshift? The Friedmann equations? The Cosmic Microwave Background? It’s anisotropies? How about general relativity? What about the evidence from stellar evolution? Or evidence from radionuclides? We can measure the universe as a whole evolve over time with galaxies changing, star formation rates rising and now decreasing- observe the large scale structure changing over time and more. How does one aim to account and explain these phenomenon? And so on and so on.

It can be great to have dissenting voices, hundreds of them is wonderful, but we could probably find hundreds of people just named Steve alone with doctorates in astrophysics (or at least Physics) who affirm the Big Bang Theory to adequately explain our universe. There are things we do not yet know, but that certainly doesn’t falsify the very strong evidence we do have for the model.

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Interesting question. I don’t think it does, but I don’t know.

Just saying that everything has a cause doesn’t mean we can or should be able to know what everything’s cause was. I suppose as far as the beginning of the universe goes I’m fairly agnostic.

But also I never meant to get into a serious debate of these things here, so I hope you will both excuse my brevity on the issue.


I am going to give an inch here, so please do not take it for a mile. From my limited perspective as a lay person, the big bang seems less well defined in the details that other theories such as, say, relativity. For instance, the extent of inflation, if any at all, still seems a live discussion. Dark matter and dark energy, well we are not even sure what that stuff is yet. Did primordial black holes form and did they play a role in nucleating galaxies? There is a tonne we do not know and therefore a lot of room for debate, and a few individuals with some ideas really on the fringe.

This situation can lend weight to the human tendency to get fixated on some detail while ignoring the big, contextual picture. Pretty much all working research cosmologists agree the universe is expanding, and an academic industry keeps busy narrowing the error bars for the Hubble constant. Big Bang decoupling remains the only valid explanation for the cosmic microwave background. The proportions of elements observed in the universe match predictions. So there is a mountain of supporting data for the Big Bang even if, to extend the metaphor, we are still to far removed to discern the details of all the trees and leaves.

I also think it may be a little dodgy to appeal to authority of scientists who may attack aspects of the Big Bang, but are promoting alternatives which are directly antithetical to the real position you might hold. Correct me if I am wrong, but I do not believe any of these individuals lend support to a young cosmos. Some early resistance to the Big Bang was from cosmologists who disliked a defined start to the universe because it smacked too much of divine creation. Halton Arp was an athiest who supported a steady state cosmology which removed the requirement for a beginning.


But the fact remains that we are yet to detect dark matter directly. This doesn’t particularly bother me, as physics has a history of particles that have taken decades to directly detect. If we haven’t detected it 20 years from now I may be concerned, but for now I’m betting that dark matter is the real deal.
Why do astronomers believe in dark matter?


According to Stacy McGaugh, an astronomer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland

One huge problem is that while dark matter theory is ‘confirmable’ it is not ‘falsifiable’ as a scientific theory should be.

“There is no clear way to know [that] what you’re looking for — but failing to find — doesn’t exist at all,” said McGaugh. “If you’re convinced it must [exist], you’ll go on looking forever.”

I’m going to have to disagree if that is something that she said. Now I know that she works on some modified gravity models and made a splash whenever she and some others found an interesting pattern amongst the rotations of galaxies and the amount of visible matter. One of the problems with theories of modified gravity is that it’s good to come up with some kind of empirical fit to data, but we would like to understand why gravity might behave differently. And that means working out some kind of broader theory that simplifies to general relativity.

You can easily do away with dark matter if we find out the gravity works differently and that you can actually explain the evidence that dark matter explains. You can easily get rid of it if one can show where are equations of gravity are wrong or how one gets the peaks of the cosmic microwave background without any more matter in the universe. Or one can explain why it is we measure the universe to be pretty close to flat and where the rest of the energy density would be coming from if it’s not coming from dark matter. It’s just that there are all these converging lines of evidence for dark matter and it is challenging to overturn them but it’s not impossible. That would be silly to say that it’s impossible to falsify dark matter. It’s just not easy.

Also these things are determined within the scientific community by other experts. Like here is one paper that is a direct challenge to some of her evidence that claims her explanation is ruled out at 10-sigma! (that is we are 99.9999999% confident she is wrong):

But at the same time, she and others can challenge back and we will see which models end up explaining the data present and future better.

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