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dildenusa On March - 29 - 2010

In a new book called “Endless Universe, Beyond the Big Bang” by Theoretical Physicists Paul J. Steinhardt and Neil Turock published in 2007, they use the String Theory of matter/energy to put forward a new theory of the origins of the Universe. It still uses the concept of a big bang but says that there is an endless cycle of expansions, contractions, and bangs and that the universe recycles matter/energy every trillion earth years or so. I have just finished reading this book and I am fascinated by this. I am fascinated by the concepts of matter/anti-matter, “Dark Matter,” and “Dark Energy,” and the role these things might play in the Universe to recycle matter/energy. Do they really exist or are they just theoretical constructs to explain what we see when we look up in the night sky?

In a way I feel pity for those in our society who would look up in the night sky and not be curious about Nature. Knowledge is power, so why would someone simply deny the accumulated knowledge of humanity because it doesn’t fit their religious belief? So is denying the accumulated knowledge of humanity, ignorance? Apparently not, according to Christian fundamentalists who will say it is the irreligious who are ignorant. But knowledge based on a theistic belief, is not knowledge, it’s dogma. So if knowledge is power, is ignorance bliss? Of course it’s not. It’s an emotional weakness based on 5,000 years of brainwashing.

We need to return to a time before the concept of God or Gods entered our vocabulary. Did the concept of God or Gods enter our vocabulary when we gradually stopped being nomadic Hunter-gatherers and we became agriculturalists? It seems likely to me. Hunter-gatherers did not see themselves in competition with Nature. They saw themselves as part of Nature and their survival depended on Nature. Agriculturalists see Nature as a competitor that must be placated or battled if they are to survive.

I was born to secular Jewish parents, however, my beliefs have evolved to what atheists would call Naturalistic Pantheism ( http://www.pantheism.net/ ). My own opinion on atheism is that if one does not believe that a hairy old man lives in the sky and watches over our lives, then one is an atheist, end of story. Beyond that, anything goes. So if I want to believe that we are sitting on this ball of matter we call Earth, for some higher purpose than just surviving or existing, I can. After all, knowledge is power and ignorance is emotional weakness. My sincerest hope is that the higher purpose of our evolution and the evolution of the Universe is altruistic and is based on a society that does not abandon or victimize its vulnerable members. And I can believe that there is a transcendent reality that permeates the Universe. And I don’t care if hard core atheists say I’m not an atheist, because I believe in a transcendent reality.

56 Responses so far.

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  1. TheRarestPatriot says:

    I remember once being totally high with a group of friends pondering the imponderable of universal existence, like most stoners do from time to time. We started with the typical…’Hey, maybe we’re all just bacteria in a larger life-form’…sort of thing and then moved on to multi-dimensions and that all things that ever happened are still happening, etc….that’s why we see ghosts…certain conditions occur that allow the veil to be lifted briefly and we see into other dimensions…blah….blah…
    Of course, the older and more sober I have become, I hold a bizarre cache of ‘what ifs’ and personal theories about just about everything. This genre of study intrigues me above all others. I, too, had years of Catholic school that totally filled my life with..’huhs?’ and WTFs?
    Is it not conceivable that since we are on the cusp of learning big universal secrets through the work at CERN that since we have a ‘concept’ of time travel that this project is the touchstone for that information? Does it not seem plausible, albeit a stretch, that if all eventualities exist, we have and continue to travel through time to alter, adjust and amend history? Perhaps in the future, school students take field trips into the past to simply observe history..ie, UFOs, USOs, and the like? I feel that some individuals either stay in out times to effect change without exposing themselves, think, Da Vinci, Nostradamus, Cayce and my favorite example, the Man in the Balcony known as The Professor during the writing and ratification of our Constitution. This is a wickedly weird story about a man that appeared in the balcony of the house chambers from time to time to give advice and direction to our Founding Fathers and actually steered the wording of the document. No one present ‘knew’ this man. They only referred to him as The Professor and after signing he was never seen again. He had no residence, no background yet was considered an ‘angel’ of the House. Pretty weird, huh? There are countless stories just like this throughout history if you look with open eyes.
    Anyone wanna break out the bong? LMAO

  2. PepeLepew says:

    This post reminded me of the non-science public affairs Bush appointee at NASA who insisted that NASA scientists always refer to the Big Bang as a “theory” because they might offend certain people otherwise(He also pressured scientists to water down their global warming assertions.). This guy was a real dirtbag. He eventually got fired because he lied on his resume about being a Texas A&M graduate.

    “Theory” is just such a loaded word for the fundamentalists. They don’t know what it means in the scientific context.


    • KQ says:

      Any good science that predicts what happens in the natural world is a theory. Because even if a theory predicted a certain outcome (of course now we know that science can only predict the probability of an outcome) the observer would have to observe all of existence through all time for a theory to become a law.

      I argued with a troll once who said Newton discovered the law of gravity. I found that hilarious because Einstein discovered early in the 20th century that Newton’s “laws” were not accurate when he came up with the theory of special relativity. Not mention physicists have moved a few steps past Einstein at this point and theorized hypotheses like quantum gravity. So saying any scientific understanding is anything other than scientific theory is utter nonsense.

      • Questinia says:

        Yet classical physics is nevertheless how many scientists explain things re our perceptions of the universe, i.e. as human beings standing outside of the universe and observing it. What about quantum physics of the self? I wonder whether our consciousness is as a result of quantum fields.

        What do you think, Mr. Mu

  3. Vituperation says:

    My favorite topic: God. I have come the long way to arrive at my destination which is the beginning of my journey. A wise astrophysics professor that taught my astronomy class in college put it simply:

  4. KQ says:

    Adlib if the LHC does create a big bang event that ends the planet who’s right the scientists that predicted the big bang or end timers who predicted the Apocalypse?

    That sounds like a Steven Wright joke.

    • KQ says:

      Now I remember you were the one that brought up this theory before. I read through the pdf for what it was worth. Much of the maths were beyond my comprehension so I must read the book as well.

  5. AdLib says:

    This is surprising. Bill Maher’s Religilous is on Google Video and embeddable. It does have its flaws, Maher can be glib and elitist about religion, rude and flippant towards some of those in the film but there are many interesting sections. So, if you haven’t seen it or want to watch it again, enjoy:

  6. KQ says:

    Excellent post and points to ponder. I think the current concept of God comes from our anthropomorphic look at existence. The thought that a supreme being is just a more advanced being that formed us in his image comes from the way mankind feels superior to every other species on the planet. In many minds we are planetary gods so to speak so whatever made us and gives humans purpose has to be human-like as well. That’s why I’m an atheist based on the current concept of God as well.

    I believe that purpose and existence is bound to the very fabric of the universe. That’s why like you I think mankind should hunger for understanding the universe because that’s were I believe all the answers are.

    I believe you are the second person who mention

    • whatsthatsound says:

      I think you are absolutely right, KQ, and I also think it’s pretty much inevitable that this would be the case. To illustrate, probably it wouldn’t be all that hard for my ferret to buy into the concept that me and my family are her “gods”. We feed her and take care of her, we can pick her up with one hand, we love her. We are godlike to her, in any frame of reference that we ourselves use. Yet, I’m speculating that if she were to draw a picture of us, we would look a lot more like ferrets than we do like us! We can’t really know how we seem to her, but it makes more sense that her view of us would derive more from her way of perceiving, her DNA, than anything that we provide her with. She might not even be aware that we wear clothes, for example.

      That’s a reason I really don’t like those videos that show trained elephants painting kids’ versions of elephants on paper. Who knows what an elephant looks like to an elephant, and why should they be taught to paint them how WE see them? So that WE can be entertained? Religions basically end up doing exactly that, taking a person’s ability to wonder, while they are still a small child, and channeling into a belief system that is chosen for them, for purposes not endemic to them.

  7. AdLib says:

    From an article on the Hadron Collider:

    The extra energy in Geneva is expected to reveal even more about the unanswered questions of particle physics, such as the existence of antimatter and the search for the Higgs boson, a hypothetical particle that scientists theorize gives mass to other particles and thus to other objects and creatures in the universe.

    Scientists hope also to approach on a tiny scale what happened in the first split seconds after the Big Bang, which they theorize was the creation of the universe some 14 billion years ago.

    Heuer said researchers hope by the end of this year to make discoveries into the dark matter that scientists believe comprises 26 percent of the universe. The better understood visible matter makes up only 4 percent of the universe.

    Dark matter has been theorized by scientists to account for missing mass and bent light in faraway galaxies. Scientists believe it makes galaxies spin faster.

    A separate entity called “dark energy,” making up the remaining 70 percent of the universe, is believed linked to the vacuum that is evenly distributed in space and time. It is believed to accelerate the expansion of the universe.

    Other possible candidates for discovery are hidden dimensions of space and time.

    Physicists have used smaller, room-temperature colliders for decades to study the atom. They once thought protons and neutrons were the smallest components of the atom’s nucleus, but the colliders showed that they are made of quarks and gluons and that there are other forces and particles.

  8. PepeLepew says:

    I’m not a religious or even a spiritual person — years of Catholic Sunday School ruined that for me..

    But I know the joy of wonder, the joy of discovery, the joy of insight, the joy of watching a 9-year-old’s face light up as she sees the Seven Sisters, the Great Red Spot and the rings of Saturn for the first time through her 130mm telescope.


  9. Khirad says:

    I started to use Orthodox Agnostic for this very reason. I’m all but an atheist but got turned off by many going by that name. Sticklers may say that I should go by atheist still, but even if I am 95%+ atheist, technically I would stick by my assertion to define myself by agnosticism. Besides, I have a passion for the study of religions and a penchant to mystical dabbling generally seen as verboten or just plain ‘silly’ by hardline atheists.

    For every new discovery new mysteries are opened. Even so, I find an odd struggle within. Part of me reveres knowledge and the pursuit of science. The other part of me yearns for the “primitive” gazing into the stars and of imagination being the only limit to our reality -- a boundless mystery of being. Whilst many look down on superstition, the idea of gods of all sorts around us, and fairies I find, well, awe-some. Part of me really does find the “how big is a fairy wing” interesting (along with Folklore studies in general). Then, of course is the middle ground. Of myth as metaphor, which in my personal experience the stainless steel formulaic gods of science have a hard time comprehending. It’s too abstract and philosophical.

    Of course, I don’t mean to stereotype the “hard” scientists anymore than they can all people interested in such things as I am -- as hippy-dippy New Agers. I know many like KQ have a much broader, nuanced view. I’m just saying that a certain type of them can be every bit as dogmatic as any other fundie.

    By the way. Does this book mention Hinduism? A Universe being destroyed and recreated anew in cycles is a core belief. I find that the West, the Abrahamic religions in particular are ones of those who have settled -- who box cities in walls, and till the same soil in plots. That they started to delineate boundaries, and that this affected their thought processes and the fundament of their worldview down to almost a genetic/neurological level. Hinduism is a m

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I hear what your saying, but I have no self control this late. Abrahamic religions were developed by nomads, yet they seem suited to farmers. Maybe that’s why they lasted.

      • Khirad says:

        No, totally my bad, Cher. You socked me in the stomach on that. Why should you hold back on that? That was my carelessness.

        The key to that is that they were *developed* by nomads. There’s a poetic theory that there is a correlation between wide open spaces and monotheism. And, they tend to have settled down and adapted. This is seen even in the Old Testament, or am I wrong on that?

        The key here is that the Abrahamic faiths themselves went through stages.

        I should have said gatherers. I think much of Hinduism, for instance, and pantheism can be tied to gathering societies in lush environs.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Jeebus, that’s the last thing I wanted was to sock you in the stomach! I was just thinking about that same poetic theory you mentioned and had to open my yap.

          Well, that’s what comes of blogging while tired. Sorry Khriad, really. I think it’s time to turn in.

          Don’t stay up to late-- I am old enough to be your mother, so obey! 😀

          • Khirad says:

            I didn’t want my guilt to make you feel guilty!

            Yes, I will try to get to sleep earlier tonight. 😉

            Can’t help but add to our little discussion though briefly.

            The Lingayats throw a wrench in such broad generalizations as I was making. Darn inconvenient facts!

  10. AdLib says:

    This theory of the universe destroying then recreating in an infinite cycle has been around for some time and as unimaginable as it is, has a scientific basis that is easy to comprehend and accept as a possibility.

    Scientists do generally concur that the expansion of the universe is slowing, some postulate that once it expands fully, it will contract and in essence lead to the opposite of The Big Bang where all matter is drawn together…and so unstable in it’s intense compression that it would create another Big Bang and create the universe once again.

    The analogy would be like a wave that crashes on a beach, expands out then draws back into the ocean, only to be formed into another wave that again crashes on the beach. The cycle could be infinite and self-sustaining.

    It is disappointing that some see science and religion as mutually exclusive. The issue for those folks is often the need for the Bible to be literally true in every aspect. More open minded people who are not fundamentalists about the Bible can hold both the concepts of God and science at the same time.

    As for going back to a time before humans had a belief in God or gods, I don’t think such a time ever existed. Even early humans would look up at the stars and sun and moon and wonder what they were, where did they go, why did they exist…not to mention why they themselves existed.

    Fear, superstition and curiosity are primal to humans, as is the desire to comprehend. Mix these all together with existence and it explains why there hasn’t been one society of note in human history where there were not religious or superstitious beliefs of some kind about the world around them, life and death.

    Even Richard Dawkins will explain that he can’t say with 100% certainty that there is no God (he claims that it is his detractors who claim to have exclusive ownership of the absolute truth of existence). To those who seek truth, not validation of their existing beliefs, one must accept that even the most unlikely possibility in their mind with regards to God is still a possibility.

    And this will always be the case because we will never be able to get a notarized statement from God confirming exactly the way things are or which belief is right.

    As for your being criticized by atheists as not being their definition of an atheist, they would be just as guilty as those they disagree with if they had such fundamentalist beliefs of what atheism is.

    • PepeLepew says:

      Here’s what fundamentalists don’t get about science. Science doesn’t attempt in any way, shape or form to explain “why” the Big Bang happened. Science just tries to explain how it happened. Nothing more.

      • AdLib says:


        That’s what tickles my imagination, questions that no one can answer.

        What if anything existed before the universe and The Big Bang? Where did that particle come from if there was no existence before The Big Bang?

        Science can’t answer that nor many other mind bending questions like what is there beyond the expanding edge of the universe?

        There is enormous room for God and spiritual beliefs all around what science offers and explains. The only problem for some is that they would have to accept that the Bible is wrong about Earth being close to 6,000 years old…and the fear of the domino theory knocking down the Bible after that makes them blindly resistant to scientific facts and theories.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        But why can’t they just accept that God caused the Big Bang? why can’t they see God’s hand in evolution? Is it because, as AdLib says, they MUST accept the bible as literal or their whole system comes crashing down? I guess so. I remember that great scene at the end of “Inherit the Wind” when Clarance Darrow (Spencer Tracy) decimates William Jennings Bryan (Frederic March) in the Scopes trial. (Man, half of all I know I learned from movies!)

        • PepeLepew says:

          Because you can’t prove or disprove God.

          That isn’t how scientists work!

          They will say it isn’t their job.

          • AdLib says:

            Exactly, science is not about disproving religion while some religions are about disproving science.

            God can’t be disproved but representations in The Bible, such as the Earth being 6,000 years old, can be.

            For those who aren’t fundamentalists, there can be God and science. For those who are, science is a threat and must be rejected if their faith is to remain intact.

            • PepeLepew says:

              That’s why if I ever became practicing again, and I’m not saying I ever will, I’d be an Episcopalian or a Methodist, because most of them say, “Oh, c’mon, these are just STORIES.”

            • PepeLepew says:

              Yes, true, but I have issues with the Catholic Church!

            • Khirad says:

              I thought Catholics were one of the most accepting of evolution (albeit with caveats)?

          • Khirad says:

            I sorta thought Cher was talking about fundie Christians.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            No, no Pepe, I get it about how scientists feel, but I don’t get fundies.

            • PepeLepew says:

              I misunderstandimated.

              OK, now I get it.

              Because, the fundies insist on a LITERAL interpretation of Scripture, which is ridiculous. As bad as Catholics can be, even they have said, “Oh, c’mon, some of this is just fable.”

  11. nellie says:

    Dildenusa, does the book discuss why there is anything at all? It makes sense to me that the universe would cycle, replicate, mirror. But I have to wonder, because I think things come from something. And perhaps that is my human limitation.

  12. Chernynkaya says:

    Yes, Dildenusa, I agree, when we became farmers and needed to make nature submit, and we couldn’t, we needed a serious GOD. We were more dependent than ever on rain gods and sun gods and the god that made the seeds grow. Usually an Earth Mother. Of course, hunters had gods too, but the weren’t “Sky Gods.” And Sky Gods tend to be warlike gods.

    I am a religious person and many scientists are too. Einstein for one. What baffles me is how the fundamentalists see science and religion as incongruent. Why can’t their tiny and puny god be the ground of being for every phenomenon? It seems that they have no imagination and the god they worship is so small. So limited.

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