Out From Under the Umbrella

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Something from Nothing ~ The Big Bang

60 Comments

Because of a recent debate – if you can call it that – about the origins of the universe I’ve been looking into cosmology.  Since I’m one of the participants, I’m not sure you can call it a debate because I know next to nothing about cosmology.

When I say I know nothing about cosmology I mean it in the classical sense of nothing.  Zip. Zero. Nada. Emptiness. A giant void.

In an effort to educate myself a bit about this I’ve listened to two discussions between William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss.

This one:

Annnd this one:

I’ll be the first to admit this goes over my head to a large degree.  And I can’t listen to much more of either of these guys because they both become whiny sounding.

I’m now (as in as I type this) listening to this:

But if anyone wants to know what preceded the Big Bang and how something can come from nothing, here it is:

There was nothing in my head about cosmology.  Having listened to this stuff for a few hours my head is about to explode.  Stand back:  you’re about to see something come from nothing!

Seriously:  If anyone has good recommendations of any youtube videos or other material that talks about this stuff in somewhat elementary, backwoods, layman’s (whatever you wanna call it) I’d be happy to hear them.

Thanks!

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60 thoughts on “Something from Nothing ~ The Big Bang

  1. Um. Can’t help. Would this be related to the god didn’t create the world after all theory? Because, that is all you need to know 🙂

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  2. Minute Physics (you tubby) has excellent, short vids.

    The only honest answer, though, is this: we don’t know what was happening before the BB, or even if the BB is actually the best explanation under an inflationary model. All physics breaks down, so anyone claiming to know is bullshitting in a colossal way.

    The failure of the cosmological argument is that no theist has ever been able to answer a very simple question without collapsing into special pleading: if you’re willing to grant an exemption to the rules of causality to your god, why then not grant the exact same exemption to the universe itself?

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    • I totally agree with that. I’ve even said that; just not so eloquently. But because I can’t speak the lingo with all the big fancy words it becomes obvious I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about and then I think it’s assumed that someone who can bullshit a little bit better can cram things into my head.

      In which case: Kablooey!

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  3. Don’t have time right now to watch these, but I will. Also, I don’t know if you saw the recent Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, but I found that to be extremely worthwhile and easy to follow. If you missed the series, it’s probably available on demand on cable or you can get the DVD of the shows.

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  4. Here’s one for ya’

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  5. Call me naive, or whatever term you care to use, but I don’t see why we concern ourselves so much with how everything got started. I suppose it’s just natural human curiosity.

    However, for me, I’m just thankful I’m here and a part of this world. Especially when one considers the vastness of the cosmos (see my blog posting).

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  6. Ay yi yi. If time started at the big bang, how did the big bang know when to happen? If you go out to the edge of the universe, what lies just beyond? If there is a first cause, how or why is it in existence to BE the first cause?

    It all breaks down. Theists want to apply common sense logic out beyond where common sense applies. Non Euclidean geometry is just as valid as the classic geometry. Quantum entanglement is simply wild.

    Now your classic religious ploy is to say that since you have to go with ‘I don’t know’ while I have the sure conviction that God did it, I win. All I can say is you win in your own mind, whatever that is worth.

    My own concoction is the 3 whys theory. Usually asking why 3 times is sufficient to reach a place where our understanding does not yet reach. As we learn more and more, hopefully this will need to be modified into the 4 whys theory and beyond (if we don’t render the planet uninhabitable first, I am not particularly sanguine as I view what is happening).

    But crowing that scripture beats science because science needs to be modified and was previously less accurate is simply ludicrous. Science rests on observations and logic and modifies itself to accommodate new discoveries. Theism rests on iron age documents produced in a superstitious time by unknown authors and is vastly less adaptable (there is some adaptability, hence the some 40,000 variants of the one true faith).

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    • It all breaks down. Theists want to apply common sense logic out beyond where common sense applies. Non Euclidean geometry is just as valid as the classic geometry. Quantum entanglement is simply wild.

      This seems to be the crux of the matter. That prior to inflation of the Universe all the mathematical equations break down. What is logical in the post-expansion Universe is not logical in the pre-expansion Universe (or whatever it was).

      Philosophers turn this on it’s head and make into an existential problem. But is it? I’m not sure. Another thing Krauss said in that round table discussion that kind of hit me was that he see’s it as miraculous that there was ever “nothing”. The question in his head was not “why is there something” but “why was there nothing”. And his “why” is not an existential question but more of a “how was there nothing”.

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  7. I’m not a huge fan of Krauss for exactly that reason – he’s kinda whiny. It always seemed to me like he was a little pissed that he didn’t make it into the four horsemen.

    That said, he’s a smart cookie.

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  8. Ruth: ” Stand back: you’re about to see something come from nothing!”

    Crack me up, rothflol . . . out loud really. It’s likely the pain meds I’m on but oh this was good.

    Back in the days when my estrogen levels were higher I cared about all of this . . . now? *chirp*

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    • Haha! I’m glad somebody found that funny. That’s how it felt; like there was gonna be a big bang and all this nothing in this head of mine was going to expand exponentially.

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  9. Ruth, this http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/12/28/the-universe-beyond-our-reach/ should help. The author of this blog presents it in not very technical terms.
    And it is impossible to talk of a before the Big Bang. All the measurements we have are for Planck time after the beginning of inflation. There is nothing before that time. As it stands at the moment, we don’t know what the state of the universe was before Planck time.

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  10. All I know is I wouldn’t like William Lane Craig to babysit my kids.
    That guy is just too damn creepy.

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  11. Ruth, I know my husband has a science section on his YouTube channel (you can find it through http://jerichobrisance.com/). He has a few from potholer54 that are really short and sweet. 🙂

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    • Oh, thanks Janelle!

      I knew I’d seen something of this sort somewhere, but couldn’t remember where. Thanks for the link!

      Also, I’ve been reading the series over on Matt’s blog. I’ve commented just to let you guys know I’m reading, but that last one…words fail. You have such a beautiful family. 🙂

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  12. Ruth, I am a physicist (although not a cosmologist) so I have read plenty on this subject both in university study and just for my own pleasure. I think the best book I have read that is suitable for a general audience is “Big Bang: The origin of the Universe”, by Simon Singh. It is not dumbed down do much that the meaning becomes to vague to understand properly (a very common problem with much popular science writing), and it does not get muddled in math and details. One of the strengths of the book is the way Singh shows how the Big Bang theory developed, how we know what we know, and how the Big Bang model along with competing models are tested for validation. Terrific book – if you are interested in this topic, I cannot recommend this book strong enough!

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    • I am very interested in this topic. If this conversation with Mike on the “Finding Truth” blog hasn’t done anything else, it’s sparked my interest in this topic.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

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  13. “When I say I know nothing about cosmology I mean it in the classical sense of nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Emptiness. A giant void.”

    I think you are doing fine and getting a hang of the issues. Better yet you are doing a fine job of putting that neanderthal in his place. I even believe if the jerk would admit it he likes your style even though you definitely disagree. So I suggest you give him hell. Why not give him a taste of the place he believes in but unfortunately (shucks) will never experience because as you know it doesn’t exist.

    Who knows the idiot might even drop in here and tip his hat to you before you get into round two. I’ll try to see if I can make it happen……..

    Man I’m good.

    He just did and I even got him behaving himself over here.

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    • Heh! Wait…did you just say you like the style of an atheist?!? And here I thought you hated us all and thought we were all eeevvvillll. You might not be so bad after all. 🙂

      I might not believe in a fiery pit of eternal destruction but I sure do think we put ourselves and other people through plenty of hell here on the blue dot.

      Thanks for the h/t. Now can ya behave yaself when you go back over there?

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      • “Heh! Wait…did you just say you like the style of an atheist?!? And here I thought you hated us all and thought we were all eeevvvillll.”

        Why would you think that? Wait ? are all atheists over on Nate’s blog? I knew you were in the minority but not by that much 🙂

        “Thanks for the h/t. Now can ya behave yaself when you go back over there

        nah now you are just being too demanding. I’ll have to double down now that you are thinking I might not be so bad. I gots a rep to protect missy.

        and yes I said I like your style (some of the time). What are you going to do about it? Quantum fluctuate me?

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        • nah now you are just being too demanding. I’ll have to double down now that you are thinking I might not be so bad. I gots a rep to protect missy.

          I don’t think I can watch. All that bickering was doing my head in.

          What are you going to do about it? Quantum fluctuate me?

          Hahaha! I don’t have enough hot air! 🙂

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  14. I’ve become interested in this recently too (since before the messes, though). I’m not sure if this is quite what you’re looking for, but I’ve been enjoying the Cosmology and astronomy videos at Khan Academy recently.

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