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Old 03-11-2007, 03:33 PM   #1
Ambrose
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Disproving the idea of an infinite universe

To start off, it's probably best to say that I'm Catholic. In terms of debating the existence of God, what that means is that I'm usually inclined to argue my case more on the grounds of reason than my Evangelical brothers, who are more likely to condemn science altogether. To make this point better understandable, I'll pose an example. I, as a Catholic, believe in evolution; that it was a process set in motion by God which eventually resulted in the creation of the human race, His children. Evangelicals discredit evolution altogether, as well as the idea of the Big Bang, etc.

Now that such a distinction has been drawn, I'd like to address a more specific concept. Many atheists, when asked how the Universe was created, state that they believe that it was never created, but rather, has existed for an infinite amount of time.

Now, I'm just in high school, but even with my very crude understanding of Physics, I figured out that this is an absolute impossibility, given the laws of Physics.

Using the second law of thermodynamics, commonly known as entropy, the impossibility of the Universe and matter's allegedly infinite age can be quite easily proven.

The second law of thermodynamics, commonly called entropy, can be explained in a nutshell as the basic rule that all things in the universe are now and have always tended toward a more chaotic state. In a more scientific sense, it is stated that whenever work is done in a system, some of that work is lost to heat, and eventually in the distant future, all available energy in the Universe will be lost to heat. For more detailed and scientific explanations on entropy, just type it into wikipedia.

Anywho, now that that's established...

The Universe cannot have been around forever due to this law. Think about it. If the Universe is steadily progressing to a state of greater and greater entropy, and has been since the beginning of time (which, according to many atheists, was an infinite measurement of time ago), then not only would we have reached the final state of entropy by now, but we would have reached it an infinite number of years ago.

Make sense? Clearly, since entropy amounts are obviously not at their maximum level in the Universe, the Universe must have had a beginning a finite amount of time ago.

Furthermore, scientific tests conducted on heavenly bodies such as stars (regarding red and blue light, the tests themselves aren't particularly relevant) have shone that the matter in the Universe is expanding, which seems to back up the Big Bang theory that all matter that has ever existed originated at a single fixed, tiny point before exploding and expanding, eventually forming the Universe as we know it today. This explosion was triggered by an obvious law of physics- high concentration (and obviously all the matter in the Universe condensed to such a high density, as given by the Big Bang theory, has a huge concentration) tends to expand to fill areas of low concentration (completely empty space surrounding said point). Basically we have the instance of near-infinitely high concentration surrounded by literally zero concentration. Explosion waiting to happen.

However, it is impossible for matter to have existed in such a small point with such a high concentration for any measurable period of time, and there is no possible way for it to have been condensed in such a manner without some external force of near-infinite magnitude, which simply could not exist since everything around this point was empty space. Clearly, since this clump of matter cannot have conceivably existed for greater than an immeasurable fraction of a second, it must have had a definite origin.

Thoughts on this? Be gentle, this is my first year in physics


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Old 03-11-2007, 04:48 PM   #2
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Well, techincally the universe isn't created per se. It merely appeared into being, via the Big Bang. What caused the Big Bang? Why, maybe the Big Crunch? Maybe the universe CAN occur in a infinite cycle.

Entrophy is when we use up all energy, and "heat death" is my most cherised way of seeing the whole human race get exploded, a pretty nice "Apoc" that fits all my views of the End of the World (Earth getting brunt and mountains melting...check!). However, energy does not destroyed, the energy that we lose merely get converted...into Heat. We can't use that Heat, but oh well. Slowly, we will have prehaps enough Heat that...well, what? I suppose prehaps that Heat energy may come and clump back together, reforming itself into power, and causing that infinite cycle ago. Just because we can't access the Heat doesn't mean the Heat is gone, it could easily reform itself.

So, an infintite universe can occur (at least, I think). But what's the problem? If the universe is infinite, we may have just found out who God, the infinite being, actually is.


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Old 03-11-2007, 05:45 PM   #3
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Well, techincally the universe isn't created per se. It merely appeared into being, via the Big Bang.
Either way, the fact is it had a definite beginning. Many atheists are inclined to think that it didn't, because if they admit that the universe has a beginning, they'd have to go about explaining the cause for that effect.

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Maybe the universe CAN occur in a infinite cycle.
There is no scientific evidence for an infinite cycle. It's contradictory to the laws of physics.

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But what's the problem? If the universe is infinite, we may have just found out who God, the infinite being, actually is.
One of the main tenants of Christianity is that God is older than everything, and most especially the Universe, given that He created it.


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Old 03-11-2007, 05:57 PM   #4
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Gah! It's been almost 10 years since my last physics course.

Ok, first to split hairs: Atheist != Scientist and vice versa. If you're asking atheists about the origin of the universe, you might get a correct scientific answer but then again, you might not. Similarly, if you ask a theistic scientist the same question, you might get a recap of the creation myth (especially if they are not a physicist). Sorry, pet peeve of mine

I don't know many physicists that will say that the universe has been around forever. The evidence seems to point to a singularity that expanded for reasons we aren't clear on into the present universe. Whether that universe will expand infinitely or eventually reach some limit and then begin collapsing back in onto itself (called The Big Crunch) is up in the air.

The 2nd law of thermodynamics only applies to closed systems. Most people accept that our universe is a closed system, however future support of the multiverse theory might turn that around.

To summarize, you ask some very good questions here. The problem is that the crux of your inquiry seems to point more toward the cutting edge of physics rather than the safe and stable body of established physics (at least to my limited understanding).

The book is a little old, but you might want to check out The Last Three Minutes by Paul Davies
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Old 03-11-2007, 05:59 PM   #5
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Being an evangelical type, I have to take a little bit of issue with the characterization of evangelicals. It is far more heterogenous than the press would like people to think, and I've not heard any evangelical dispute the Big Bang theory (in fact, most view that as even greater proof for God).
There is a wide range of beliefs on evolution/creation--this ranges from the 6-day literal creationists (which is what I think you're thinking of), to progressive creationists (God created individual species over a very long time) to guided evolutionists (God used evolution and guided it in a specific way to come to where we're at today)

In regards to Big Bang, I'd agree, and add in that you have to get that stored energy from somewhere in order to convert it into the kinetic energy for that explosion. That energy didn't come about out of nowhere--it had to get put into the system somehow as potential energy.


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Old 03-11-2007, 06:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Being an evangelical type, I have to take a little bit of issue with the characterization of evangelicals. It is far more heterogenous than the press would like people to think, and I've not heard any evangelical dispute the Big Bang theory (in fact, most view that as even greater proof for God).
Jae, perhaps some sort of break down of different sub-groups of evangelicals would be helpful in dispersing such misconceptions.

I have a hard time blaming the OP for the opinions expressed, especially when sites such as this make is easy to hold such seemingly false perceptions.
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Old 03-11-2007, 06:20 PM   #7
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Being an evangelical type, I have to take a little bit of issue with the characterization of evangelicals. It is far more heterogenous than the press would like people to think, and I've not heard any evangelical dispute the Big Bang theory (in fact, most view that as even greater proof for God).
Every evangelical I know here in SoCal is the type who hears the word "science" and automatically gets defensive, so I assumed (falsely, it seems) that that's just the way evangelicals are in general. Sorry if I was wrong, it's hard to keep track of who believes what since there's so many individual protestant sects.

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There is a wide range of beliefs on evolution/creation--this ranges from the 6-day literal creationists (which is what I think you're thinking of)
That's precisely what I was thinking of.

So to clear this all up, how about we just assume that every time in this thread I said "evangelical" i meant "fundamentalist"?

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In regards to Big Bang, I'd agree, and add in that you have to get that stored energy from somewhere in order to convert it into the kinetic energy for that explosion. That energy didn't come about out of nowhere--it had to get put into the system somehow as potential energy.
Exactly- the idea that all mass converged on a point so small is contrary to matter's natural properties, so there must have been some external force.

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The 2nd law of thermodynamics only applies to closed systems. Most people accept that our universe is a closed system, however future support of the multiverse theory might turn that around.
For the intents and purposes of this debate, multiverse and God may as well be the same thing. All I'm trying to prove here is that the universe / matter can't have been around forever.


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Old 03-11-2007, 06:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambrose
Exactly- the idea that all mass converged on a point so small is contrary to matter's natural properties, so there must have been some external force.
External to what? We have to be careful not to create bogeymen when we find a concept that is difficult to wrap our heads around.

All the scientific writings I've studied agree that the laws of physics, as we know them, seem to break down the closer we get to the singularity. I think it's hubris to assume that we will never understand and I think it's fallacy to assume that the default answer "must be God".

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For the intents and purposes of this debate, multiverse and God may as well be the same thing. All I'm trying to prove here is that the universe / matter can't have been around forever.
I don't know if I can agree to that assumption. The multiverse hypothesis (at least the one that I'm familiar with) states that the big bang was more like a big suck. The rapid and uniform expansion of the universe might be explained by the introduction of a huge vacuum (kinda like expanding inside a baloon, or how your lungs expand inside your chest when your diaphragm moves). Therefore if there was one bubble, it might be that there are lots of bubbles in a "foam", leading to the idea of there being lots and lots of universes (a multiverse). How this makes the leap to being equivalent with God is not clear to me.

If you point is to show that the universe could not have been around forever, then I'm afraid that you might be chasing windmills. The scientific community generally accepts that the universe is about 13 billion years old. The YEC community accepts that the universe is between 6 and 10 thousand years old. I personally have never heard of any contingent that states that the universe has "always existed".

The closest thing I've heard to that are the fringe physicists that hypothesize that our universe might be on an endless Big Bang/Big Crunch cycle, but even they admit that our current universe is about 13 billions years old.

Last edited by Achilles; 03-11-2007 at 06:53 PM. Reason: said "theory". should've said "hypothesis". Fixed it.
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Old 03-11-2007, 06:51 PM   #9
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External to what?
All the matter that was converging. That could be any number of things, I suppose, but it couldn't have been anything from this Universe, as everything in this Universe was that which was doing the converging.

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All the scientific writings I've studied agree that the laws of physics, as we know them, seem to break down the closer we get to the singularity. I think it's hubris to assume that we will never understand and I think it's fallacy to assume that the default answer "must be God".
Didn't say it "must be God." I simply said that something contrary to the laws of the universe that we live in was responsible for the sudden presence of matter in the universe.

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If you point is to show that the universe could not have been around forever, then I'm afraid that you might be chasing windmills. The scientific community generally accepts that the universe is about 13 billion years old.
In my chats with people on the topic, their stance has generally been that "the universe as we know it" has been around for 13 billion years, ie the Big Bang occurred 13 million years ago, but matter has existed forever. The law of entropy disproves that, however, and the only way out of the physical impossibility is to assume that something outside the system intervened somehow, perhaps by placing matter in the Universe.

Whether you think of that something "outside the system" as being God or a different universe isn't what I'm getting at. It's simply to prove that there is something outside the system.


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Old 03-11-2007, 07:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambrose
All the matter that was converging. That could be any number of things, I suppose, but it couldn't have been anything from this Universe, as everything in this Universe was that which was doing the converging.
I think this is an example of the bogeyman that I referenced earlier. It very well may be that the singularity had to have an "external" source, but we don't have any evidence to support that. What we do have is a big, fat question mark so in our lack of understanding, our tendency is to assume that "this or that" has to make sense.

For example, trying to conceptualize what there was before time. Well, the answer is nothing. Ok, well what about 1 second before time. What would that be called? Nothing, because time didn't exist then. But it had to be something. Nope, it was nothing. This is usually the part where my head starts hurting and I comfort myself by sucking my thumb or eating crayons.

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Didn't say it "must be God." I simply said that something contrary to the laws of the universe that we live in was responsible for the sudden presence of matter in the universe.
Fair enough. My apologies for assuming that's where you were going with that.

In the mean time, I stand by the idea that if we lack the tools and/or understanding to comprehend the singularity, we should just leave the box unchecked until we a) develop enough to find the answer or b) abandon the theory/hypothesis when a better one is presented. Trying to shoe-horn it into our current paradigm doesn't serve anyone.

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Originally Posted by Ambrose
In my chats with people on the topic, their stance has generally been that "the universe as we know it" has been around for 13 billion years, ie the Big Bang occurred 13 million years ago, but matter has existed forever. The law of entropy disproves that, however, and the only way out of the physical impossibility is to assume that something outside the system intervened somehow, perhaps by placing matter in the Universe.
No offense to your friends, but this sounds like more shoe-horning. I've not read anything that proposes that matter has always existed. That would mean that time would have also existed and then we're no longer dealing with a singularity. I'd ask for sources, if I were you.

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Originally Posted by Ambrose
Whether you think of that something "outside the system" as being God or a different universe isn't what I'm getting at. It's simply to prove that there is something outside the system.
I don't think our understanding of science is sophisticated enough for that at this time. The good news is that it sounds like you have a long and promising career in theoretical physics in your future
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Old 03-11-2007, 07:15 PM   #11
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theoretical physics in your future
God, I hope not.

Anywho, looks like this was over before it began. I guess my post was just a product of hanging around atheists who happen to be scientifically uninformed


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Old 03-11-2007, 11:43 PM   #12
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There is no scientific evidence for an infinite cycle. It's contradictory to the laws of physics.
I think Stephen Dawkins came up with the idea of an infinite cycle. Abliet, it is just a hypothesis, with no proof, but it is possible.


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