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Could everything have existed forever?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Felix
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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by Felix » May 22nd, 2019, 2:16 pm

devans99 wrote: "Eternal time. Everything experienced at one. Always existed. Causality does not apply."

RJG wrote: "Here it seems that you agree that something has "always existed", but yet you continue to argue that "always existing" is an impossibility??


devans is saying that material causal reality cannot be eternal but any physicist will tell you this is false. The transmutation of energy into matter and vice versa can be a perennial cycle - a cycle within cycles.

My opinion is that you are both right: the subject/object relationship is an enduring one. However, I agree with Tamminen that subjective or self awareness is primary, which is why we have free will. If the reverse were true, if objective reality was primary, as materialists claim, self awareness would be superfluous and we would not have free will. It should be obvious that Self awareness is not superfluous. The objects of awareness, however, are superfluous, they wink in and out of existence, as we see in Nature.

Tamminen: "The idea of its (the Subject) possible nonexistence is absurd. We just have to see this, and when we see it, it becomes obvious. I have not found any logical path to prove this though."

There is no logical path to prove a mystery, just as there is no logical path to prove the existence of the Supreme Mystery, a.k.a, God. Only Self Realization, which is alogical (not illogical) can prove it to you.

To quote the Tao Te Ching:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of the ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

devans99
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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by devans99 » May 23rd, 2019, 1:14 am

Felix wrote:
May 22nd, 2019, 2:16 pm
devans99 wrote: "Eternal time. Everything experienced at one. Always existed. Causality does not apply."

RJG wrote: "Here it seems that you agree that something has "always existed", but yet you continue to argue that "always existing" is an impossibility??


devans is saying that material causal reality cannot be eternal but any physicist will tell you this is false. The transmutation of energy into matter and vice versa can be a perennial cycle - a cycle within cycles.

My opinion is that you are both right: the subject/object relationship is an enduring one. However, I agree with Tamminen that subjective or self awareness is primary, which is why we have free will. If the reverse were true, if objective reality was primary, as materialists claim, self awareness would be superfluous and we would not have free will. It should be obvious that Self awareness is not superfluous. The objects of awareness, however, are superfluous, they wink in and out of existence, as we see in Nature.

Tamminen: "The idea of its (the Subject) possible nonexistence is absurd. We just have to see this, and when we see it, it becomes obvious. I have not found any logical path to prove this though."

There is no logical path to prove a mystery, just as there is no logical path to prove the existence of the Supreme Mystery, a.k.a, God. Only Self Realization, which is alogical (not illogical) can prove it to you.

To quote the Tao Te Ching:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of the ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
I think physics/cosmology is mainly in support of matter/energy having a definite start:

- The BB theory has a definite start
- The dominant pre-BB theory is eternal inflation has a definite start
- There are some past eternal cosmological theories but they are not too popular

I do not believe we have free will; we are just machines; our inputs (sense data) completely determine our outputs (words and deeds). Not quite sure I understand your point about subjective/objective reality. Just because we have different subjective realities does not seem to grant us free will; its just we have different input/sense data to process so we produce different results/outputs. That in itself is not enough to count as free will.

Free will would be two instances of an identical person with identical input/sense data behaving differently each time; an experiment that is impossible to ever set up unfortunately.

I believe we can proof the existence of a God, for example Thomas Aquinas's arguments are quite convincing, but that is probably best left to another post.

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Felix
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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by Felix » May 23rd, 2019, 2:35 am

devans99: "I think physics/cosmology is mainly in support of matter/energy having a definite start."

Science has no solid evidence to support the hypothesis that the Big Bang marked the ultimate beginning of our Universe, in fact it is more likely that it did not. The BB theory is based on a mathematical model that relies on incomplete data. To quote a prominent physicist: "In Einstein's formulation, the laws of physics abreak down before the singularity is reached. But scientists extrapolate backward as if the physics equations still hold. So when we say that the universe begins with a big bang, we really have no right to say that."
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by devans99 » May 23rd, 2019, 2:49 am

Felix wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 2:35 am
devans99: "I think physics/cosmology is mainly in support of matter/energy having a definite start."

Science has no solid evidence to support the hypothesis that the Big Bang marked the ultimate beginning of our Universe, in fact it is more likely that it did not. The BB theory is based on a mathematical model that relies on incomplete data. To quote a prominent physicist: "In Einstein's formulation, the laws of physics abreak down before the singularity is reached. But scientists extrapolate backward as if the physics equations still hold. So when we say that the universe begins with a big bang, we really have no right to say that."
Time slows down more and more the closer we get to the BB due to intense gravity fields so that is suggestive of a start of time. I'm not sure it started with a bang exactly but all the matter seems to come from the same incident; it looks like the universe has a distinct start.

There is the singularity but that has not stopped cosmology from coming up with pre-BB physics - eternal inflation is the favourite and that also has a distinct start. There are a few past eternal cosmologies like:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conformal ... _cosmology

But I don't buy them. Its a cycle of big bang / big crunch - the cycle time would surely decrease each time and we'd end up with one big black hole. That is a challenge for any past eternal model - how to avoid equilibrium of some form - seems impossible if time is infinite. Also how to explain the low entropy of the universe seems impossible.

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by Felix » May 23rd, 2019, 2:59 am

Astrophysicists have convincing counter arguments for every point you raised, pardon me if I trust their professional opinion over yours.

"Its a cycle of big bang / big crunch - the cycle time would surely decrease each time and we'd end up with one big black hole."

Actually a black hole is one of the proposed catalysts of the Big Bang - there are a great many possibilities.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by devans99 » May 23rd, 2019, 3:53 am

Felix wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 2:59 am
Astrophysicists have convincing counter arguments for every point you raised, pardon me if I trust their professional opinion over yours.

"Its a cycle of big bang / big crunch - the cycle time would surely decrease each time and we'd end up with one big black hole."

Actually a black hole is one of the proposed catalysts of the Big Bang - there are a great many possibilities.
The astrophysicists in the ascendency are in agreement with me - the universe has a start, see the BGV theorem for example (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOyQFkB1AGM).

Nothing can escape a black hole not even light, so black holes don't explode. Also it is space itself that is expanding; its not just objects moving further apart, the space in between is growing - no ordinary explosion would cause that.

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by Felix » May 23rd, 2019, 2:08 pm

As I said, our mathematical knowledge becomes insufficient and unreliable in the moments just before and after the Big Bang, and we pass into the realm of theoretical quantum mechanics, which is still an open book at this point. You might want to ask yourself why you are attached to the idea that the Universe is finite?

Re: free will, there are many threads on the subject in this forum so best not to discuss it here. I'll only say that it is a natural consequence of self awareness, so your statement (quoted below) is irrelevant.

devans99 said: "we are just machines; our inputs (sense data) completely determine our outputs (words and deeds)."

Machines are not self aware, do not possess subjective awareness, and do not and cannot interpret the binary data fed to them, only perform whatever actions it dictates.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by devans99 » May 23rd, 2019, 2:49 pm

Felix wrote:
May 23rd, 2019, 2:08 pm
As I said, our mathematical knowledge becomes insufficient and unreliable in the moments just before and after the Big Bang, and we pass into the realm of theoretical quantum mechanics, which is still an open book at this point. You might want to ask yourself why you are attached to the idea that the Universe is finite?
It is true that we may need QM for the singularity. But I'd argue we are dealing with a macro system before and after the BB so macro arguments are more enlightening than micro arguments (10^52 kg of matter involved in the BB so it seems a macro question).

I do not have a huge amount of faith in QM. It strikes me that the uncertainty principle is wrong (use two detectors; the particle hits the first detector then the second. That way you gather more information than the uncertainty principle says is possible). I do however have faith in concepts like cause and effect, entropy and equilibrium. These all point to a start of time.

I believe the universe is finite in part because I am a hard core finitist. The universe is surely a creation and creating anything infinity large is impossible; not enough time / would never finish. Creating anything infinity small is impossible; no matter how small it is made, it could still be smaller. Only in our minds can things continue ‘forever’; in reality this would surely be akin to magic.

If actual infinity does not exist then that is the simplest argument possible that time must have a start.

I will pass on free will so we can stay on topic.

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by RJG » May 23rd, 2019, 5:21 pm

devans99 wrote:The astrophysicists in the ascendency are in agreement with me - the universe has a start.
These poor astrophysicists are not wise logicians. Logicians would simply say "Something can't exist before it exists. You can't start a universe without a universe to start in. And X<X is a logical impossibility". Therefore:

If the universe exists, it has "always existed" ...ain't no way to avoid this simple truth.

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by Felix » May 23rd, 2019, 9:28 pm

RJG, If you really want to demonstrate to her that your love is eternal, say it in Latin: ex nihilo nihil fit.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by RJG » May 23rd, 2019, 10:17 pm

"From nothing comes nothing". Thanks Felix :wink:

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by Tamminen » May 24th, 2019, 8:06 am

The question of physical past is indeed very interesting. Kant has this to say about it in CPR:
Thesis:
The world has a beginning in time.

Proof:
For if one assumes that the world has no beginning in time, then up to
every given point in time an eternity has elapsed, and hence an infinite
series of states of things in the world, each following another, has passed
away. But now the infinity of a series consists precisely in the fact that
it can never be completed through a successive synthesis. Therefore an
infinitely elapsed world-series is impossible, so a beginning of the world
is a necessary condition of its existence
Antithesis:
The world has no beginning...but is infinite.

For suppose that it has a beginning. Since the beginning is an existence
preceded by a time in which the thing is not, there must be a preceding
time in which the world was not, i.e., an empty time. But now no arising
of any sort of thing is possible in an empty time, because no part of
such a time has, in itself, prior to another part, any distinguishing condition
of its existence rather than its non-existence (whether one assumes
that it comes to be of itself or through another cause). Thus
many series of things may begin in the world, but the world itself cannot
have any beginning, and so in past time it is infinite.
Kant's antithesis presupposes that there is empty time before the start of existence, but he seems to have missed the possibility that time starts with existence.

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by devans99 » May 24th, 2019, 10:27 am

Tamminen wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 8:06 am
The question of physical past is indeed very interesting. Kant has this to say about it in CPR:
Thesis:
The world has a beginning in time.

Proof:
For if one assumes that the world has no beginning in time, then up to
every given point in time an eternity has elapsed, and hence an infinite
series of states of things in the world, each following another, has passed
away. But now the infinity of a series consists precisely in the fact that
it can never be completed through a successive synthesis. Therefore an
infinitely elapsed world-series is impossible, so a beginning of the world
is a necessary condition of its existence
Antithesis:
The world has no beginning...but is infinite.

For suppose that it has a beginning. Since the beginning is an existence
preceded by a time in which the thing is not, there must be a preceding
time in which the world was not, i.e., an empty time. But now no arising
of any sort of thing is possible in an empty time, because no part of
such a time has, in itself, prior to another part, any distinguishing condition
of its existence rather than its non-existence (whether one assumes
that it comes to be of itself or through another cause). Thus
many series of things may begin in the world, but the world itself cannot
have any beginning, and so in past time it is infinite.
Kant's antithesis presupposes that there is empty time before the start of existence, but he seems to have missed the possibility that time starts with existence.
Yes, the possibility of a start of time was missed by Kant; not surprising really, he had no relativity and no Big Bang theory to guide him. It is probably not natural to think of time having a start or even being a 'thing' so I think he can be forgiven.

'But now the infinity of a series consists precisely in the fact that it can never be completed through a successive synthesis' - not quite sure what he means by this? Perhaps that it is impossible to count to infinity so the past infinity of time cannot be traversed? I would have instead argued that an eternal in time world has no start so cannot be.

It seems likely to me that matter was created / entered time at the point of the start of time (the BB singularity probably). I am not sure if matter 'preexisted' the BB timelessly or was created in the BB (by the zero energy universe hypothesis - energy/matter in exchange for negative gravitational energy); the very early stages of the BB are still mysterious to physics.

I think to me the most enlightening piece of philosophy on the origin of the universe is Thomas Aquinas's 3rd way, the argument from necessary being:

‘The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence — which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.’

He identifies that something must have permanent existence - 'the necessary being'. I would extend Thomas's argument to say the 'necessary being' is timeless (as permanent existence within time is impossible - no start / coming into being event - so the being could not exist). Realising that nothing can exist at all without this permanently existing, timeless fixture seems an important step to me. Does not tell us whether matter preexisted the start of time though...

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by Tamminen » May 24th, 2019, 12:36 pm

devans99 wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 10:27 am
He identifies that something must have permanent existence - 'the necessary being'. I would extend Thomas's argument to say the 'necessary being' is timeless (as permanent existence within time is impossible - no start / coming into being event - so the being could not exist). Realising that nothing can exist at all without this permanently existing, timeless fixture seems an important step to me. Does not tell us whether matter preexisted the start of time though...
I see the universe as an organism with a start and possibly no end, and the essence of this organism is the subject's existence. This is the necessary being you and Thomas speak of. This is what I mean by saying that the essence of the subject explains its necessary existence and also the necessary existence of the universe, because the existence of the universe is the subject's way of existing concretely. So the necessary being, the subject, causes the being of the world. But as I said, I do not think we need any supernatural being to explain our existence. Each of us is a manifestation of the subject, the necessary and eternal being. This eternal being must have a start in subjective time, and also the world seems to have a start. I do not see any reason to believe that matter somehow pre-existed the start of time though.

It is also clear that if we ask what caused the existence of the universe, the answer is not that the universe is an infinite causal chain of events, because that infinite chain of events needs a reason for its existence in the same way as a finite chain of events.

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Re: Could everything have existed forever?

Post by devans99 » May 24th, 2019, 1:44 pm

Tamminen wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:36 pm
I see the universe as an organism with a start and possibly no end, and the essence of this organism is the subject's existence.
If eternalism and finitism are true, then the universe would have an end. It might be that the end corresponds to the start, as in Big Crunch meets Big Bang. That would at least neatly deposit all the matter/energy back where it started. It is also neat because then every moment has a moment prior to it, even the start of time. We'd live the same lives over and over (eternal return).

I can't quite imagine a true end of time; where would all the matter go? The universe will probably find its way into equilibrium of some sort if time has no end. Maybe heat death. Maybe one big black hole. I wonder if that is what the necessary being had in mind? A universe that renews itself periodically seems preferable to a dead universe in the long run.
Tamminen wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:36 pm
This is the necessary being you and Thomas speak of. This is what I mean by saying that the essence of the subject explains its necessary existence and also the necessary existence of the universe, because the existence of the universe is the subject's way of existing concretely. So the necessary being, the subject, causes the being of the world. But as I said, I do not think we need any supernatural being to explain our existence.
I'm a little unclear here; are you proposing something similar to pantheism?

The necessary being seems to need intelligence (in order to cause an effect without itself being effected). Supernatural can be interpreted in two ways:

- In possession of magical powers like the 3Os. This is not likely and not required. The 3Os are not logical IMO. I pity theologians who have to defend the case for a supernatural God endowed with the 3Os. My favourite counter argument is against omniscience - 'know thyself' - if you see what I mean.
- Or it could mean from beyond nature. If the necessary being created spacetime, it is from beyond spacetime, so could be considered supernatural.
Tamminen wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:36 pm
This eternal being must have a start in subjective time, and also the world seems to have a start. I do not see any reason to believe that matter somehow pre-existed the start of time though.
There are different states with relation to time that the eternal being could be in:

1. Existing solely and eternally within time. This seems impossible; the being would have no 'coming into being' event so could not be
2. Existing timelessly and eternally. Existence within the 'eternal now'. Implies the being would see our past, present and future in one.
3. A hybrid. Perhaps existing timelessly to start with then entering time on its creation. William Craig Lane has a model like this

There is the conservation of energy. Where did all the energy come from for the Big Bang? If that energy always existed timelessly and was somehow put into the Big Bang then that would respect the conservation of energy. Or maybe the energy was somehow created in the Big Bang. I am not sure.
Tamminen wrote:
May 24th, 2019, 12:36 pm
It is also clear that if we ask what caused the existence of the universe, the answer is not that the universe is an infinite causal chain of events, because that infinite chain of events needs a reason for its existence in the same way as a finite chain of events.
Yes a first cause is required, it itself must be uncaused, which seems to require timelessness. Thomas Aquinas's second way, the argument from causation, is a classic expression of the need for a first cause:

‘The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.’

The way I like to think of it is that any system of causality can be imagined as an inverted pyramid. The first cause / necessary being is at the tip of the pyramid and current events make up the base of the pyramid. The break off shot in pool is a good example of this (cue hits white is the first cause, the scattering of the pack make up the base of the pyramid). Causality always needs a first cause and the universe is just a system of causality. This view of causality is very much supported by the 2nd law of thermodynamics - entropy increases and cause and effects multiply.

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