Before the Big Bang

Is there a god? What is the meaning of life?
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steven lloyd
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Before the Big Bang

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From "The Quantum And The Lotus"

The reason why "nothing" can't become "something" is that in order to do so, the "nothing" would be done away with. But how is it possible to get rid of something that does not exist? Nothingness is a mere concept defined in relation to existence. It does not have the slightest reality on its own, because it cannot be conceived in the absence of existence. Nothingness cannot be transformed. If something appears, it means that the potential for manifestation was already present.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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steven lloyd wrote: May 12th, 2023, 1:49 pm From "The Quantum And The Lotus"

The reason why "nothing" can't become "something" is that in order to do so, the "nothing" would be done away with. But how is it possible to get rid of something that does not exist? Nothingness is a mere concept defined in relation to existence. It does not have the slightest reality on its own, because it cannot be conceived in the absence of existence. Nothingness cannot be transformed. If something appears, it means that the potential for manifestation was already present.
What is nothing? And what is meant when someone describes nothing?
How many years, back in time, do we have to go before we find people describing air as being nothing?

I agree though. Nothing can't become something. I just wonder if we truly understand what nothing is. What if nothing is actually something, and when it "becomes something", it's actually just changing forms?

Before the big bang, was there actually nothing? And if so, who's definition of nothing is being used to describe it?
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steven lloyd
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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youjustcomplain wrote: May 12th, 2023, 10:44 pm Before the big bang, was there actually nothing? And if so, who's definition of nothing is being used to describe it?
Quantum physics suggests two possibilities. One is the existence of an "infinite vacuum" with no time or space - both conditions that didn't exist until after the Big Bang. The other is that our expanding universe (how can something that is infinite be expanding, and if it is not infinite then what exists beyond its boundaries?) will ultimately fall back in on itself and explode again - a process that has been occurring infinitely and will continue to occur infinitely and that it has always been.

Hmmm 🤔
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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This is deep.

Having invested time pondering thoughts such as these (not so much anymore, it makes my head hurt) one of the ways in which I was able to rationalize the concept of "ex Nihilo" rested more in the knowledge that our intellectual abilities are finite.

Staring into a room which is utterly and completely void of light and "knowing" that there is something in it but also knowing that from where we are in that moment, we cannot know what it is but maintaining the conviction that todays reality is unlikely to be tomorrows is where we will see the impossible become possible.

The idea of light speed travel was incomprehensible not so long ago but today, there are some serious minds saying that maybe yes but,,,,,.

We are, as of now, limited by what is possible and what is achievable.

We are limited by our ability to comprehend that which is incomprehensible.

As long as we are able to admit that we "don't know what we don't know" while allowing for the possibility of the impossible, maybe all things can be true.
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steven lloyd
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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mexi cali wrote: As long as we are able to admit that we "don't know what we don't know" while allowing for the possibility of the impossible, maybe all things can be true.
Heady stuff to be sure, considering the nature of existence and the universe(s) and the scientific possibility of a purposeful universal force (that some would call "God")

Returning to "The Quantum And The Lotus", ...

Perhaps the Big Bang can be interpreted as the process of the world of phenomena springing forth from an infinite but nonmanifest potential - metaphorically called "particles of space" in Buddhism.This term doesn't refer to particles in the sense of bits of matter, but rather to space's potential (energy?). The potential could perhaps be compared to the vacuum of physics (infinite vacuum) ... so long as we don't invest the potential with any form of concrete or independent "reality".

Later, the authors return to Leibniz's famous question: "Why is there something rather than nothing? For nothing is both simpler and easier than something. Moreover, assuming that things must exist, there must be a reason they exist such and not otherwise".

Science, in the form of quantum physics, postulates that not only is the universe infinite but that there are an infinite number of universes and that everything everywhere is connected at a sub-atomic level and that there must be some sort of force "holding it all together ". Does the universe have purpose? It is not that we need to or could ever know what that purpose is beyond what we've already observed. It's simply whether we accept and believe that there is purpose.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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Here is a discussion with Brian Keating & Jordan Peterson in regards to ‘before ‘ the big bang. Going back in time as we know classical physics today, and our inability to pass thru the great ignorance horizon. It is only a 9 and a half minute chunk, and there are a few.The metaphysical questions will likely confound people forever.

There are numerous questions surrounding the origins of the universe, and the origins of consciousness. Was the big bang also when time began? Even a simple question as that has very hairy implications.



Lord Kelvin - When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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That is an interesting discussion. As Keating notes, most of his colleagues accept the notion that time time began with the Big Bang (this is the accepted notion of theoretical physicists such as Einstein and Hawking) but, of course, this is essentially unknowable. On the other hand such a question does raise some interesting questions on what state existed before the Big Bang (as does the absence of time). If there was time that could support the idea of an expanding and then collapsing universe where there have been an infinite number of Big Bangs with the process of creation repeating itself every thousand billion years or so, and that this process, and time, has been continuing infinitely.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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Jlabute wrote: May 14th, 2023, 7:01 am There are numerous questions surrounding the origins of the universe, and the origins of consciousness. Was the big bang also when time began? Even a simple question as that has very hairy implications.
Here is another interesting piece from the book "The Quantum And The Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet" referencing the theory of the cyclical nature of creation (or the Big Bang)

Buddhism envisages a cyclical universe. Each cycle is made up of four periods: formation, continuity, destruction, and the "nonmanifest" state, which is the intermediate void between two universes. Partials of space (potential) ensure that there is continuity between one universe and the next. This cycle has neither and end nor a beginning.

Modern cosmology (scientific theory) also contains the idea of a cyclical universe. If there is enough matter in our universe, then the force of gravity will, at a certain time, stop the universal expansion and pull the galaxies the other way. We will then have a Big Crunch, the opposite of a Big Bang. The stars will evaporate in the intense heat, and matter will fall apart into elementary particles. The universe will end it's life in a blinding implosion into an extremely small, hot, dense state. Can a universe that has collapsed into itself be reborn, phoenix-like, from its ashes with, perhaps, different physical laws(and attributes)? No one knows. Modern physics loses it grip at Planck time (the closest point in time to the Big Bang that can be measured extrapolating backwards using physics), and can't deal with such extreme temperatures and densities.

Quite an interesting book. Always good to go for a nap after reading a chapter or two.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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steven lloyd wrote: May 14th, 2023, 7:56 am That is an interesting discussion. As Keating notes, most of his colleagues accept the notion that time time began with the Big Bang (this is the accepted notion of theoretical physicists such as Einstein and Hawking) but, of course, this is essentially unknowable. On the other hand such a question does raise some interesting questions on what state existed before the Big Bang (as does the absence of time). If there was time that could support the idea of an expanding and then collapsing universe where there have been an infinite number of Big Bangs with the process of creation repeating itself every thousand billion years or so, and that this process, and time, has been continuing infinitely.
I have not read The Quantum And The Lotus. I see it has relatively good reviews. You like it so far?

The currently accepted notion is the 'big bang' theory with expanding universe, or the big cycle. lol. You should trade-mark that. JWST has given theorists quite a run for their money lately over expansion rates.
Carl Sagan wrote: if God has always existed, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always existed?
I find that surprising from Carl Sagan. Some have commented that you probably can't infinitely go back in time, otherwise you would lose a handle on present time. Is the universal expansion synonymous with time dilation, and soon contraction? Personally, I am not into the idea that time has already covered infinite ground, or that time would run backwards. Can creatures survive while time runs in reverse? Is there a notion of existence? Perhaps some less likely notions are created in order to avoid talking about God. Would I consider a cyclic universe? Maybe, but doesn't it have the same problem of a universe having to always have existed? Does time reset? Can time reset? I find myself thinking of an initial creation period or big bang when time literally begins from a singularity. What could have existed previously? Would that singularity ever have been in a quiescent state? Could it have been purposefully created? triggered? Naturally triggered? Cyclic?

We make the problem simpler by saying "lets make it cyclic", the moment the universe collapses, it bangs again. Perhaps, time always existing, or a cyclic universe is in some ways an attempt to avoid creationism. We will never know.

It is either more thoughts to put on top of the infinite bagel ;-)
or a mystery in which we can be inspired to find purpose.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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I am finding "The Quantum And The Lotus" to be a fascinating read. It is a discussion between two authors - one a quantum physicist turned Buddhist, and the other a Buddhist turned quantum physicist. I find it to be a slow read as my less than brilliant mind needs to take the time to carefully digest what is being said and ponder on the ideas. It is very interesting though.

There are problems with the idea of a cyclical universe. Possibly the most relevant is the evidence that shows the universe is not only expanding, but expanding at an accelerating rate. Astrophysicists also suggest there is not enough matter in the universe for gravity to have enough influence to stop this process, and suggest that if it continues the universe will ultimately one day end. On the other hand they do not as yet understand what influence "dark matter" might have on this process. And apparently there is an awful lot of dark matter.

Both Buddhism and theories of quantum physics also suggest that everything, literally everything, is connected - with quantum physics at the subatomic level. Not only does this apply to the mountains and trees and ocean and bugs and all life, but also to the vast amount of energy (particles) that exists in the infinite vacuum of space in our infinite universe and an infinite number of universes. Who can know how this will influence the expansion of our universe?

It is also difficult for our minds to truly appreciate the concept of infinite - especially when we try to imagine it without the constraints of time and space. Hawking was an atheist but conceded the Big Bang theory allowed for the idea of an infinite God that has always existed, exists now and will always exist whether the universe, or universes do or not. Buddhists do not believe in a God, at least not in the sense of a Deity or something that exists outside of ourselves, but rather of some universal force that exists everywhere and through everything.

Science, in the form of quantum physics, tells us that everything, literally everything through an infinite universe and an infinite number of universes is connected at a subatomic level. Scientific reasoning and logic suggests this connection is maintained by some force, that for some (like Buddhism) is seen as purposeful (we do not need to know what that purpose is, only to accept that it exists). Experience has shown some that through prayer and meditation it is possible to establish a closer conscious contact with this force.

My personal beliefs align more with Buddhism which is more of a philosophy and not considered a religion. I am definitely not religious and in my curiosity to understand the nature of God I needed to find a concept that could be explained or, more accurately, allowed and described by science. Quantum physics provides this description at the scientific/mathematical level and Buddhism provides a more spiritual explanation. To be clear, I only use the word God (Buddhists do not even use the term) to reference this purposeful energy or force that runs between and through everything in our infinite universe and an infinite number of universes.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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Try Buddhism.

You will like it.

I think.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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Catsumi wrote: May 15th, 2023, 5:51 pm Try Buddhism.
I have been studying Buddhism for some time now and I do like it. I am not going to commit myself to one specific dogma or philosophy but the tenets of Buddhism align quite well with my current personal beliefs in spirituality and it encourages growth and change in belief with new information. I also like how Buddhism recognizes that metaphysical beliefs, to be true, cannot contradict or be in opposition to science and should, in fact, be supported by scientific theory. This is why, with the limited mind capacity that I have, I have also been looking into the ideas being created by quantum physics and was excited when gifted the book, "The Quantum And The Lotus" by a Buddhist friend. It is a slow and gruelling read as I struggle to digest some very complex ideas but at the same time the questions generated are very fascinating.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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Likely it's an age, or more correctly, aging thing but I spend less time contemplating the universe and our place in it than I used to.

The concept, if it can be called that of an endless void is provocative because by default and the laws of nature, all things are finite.

I still experience moments when I actually believe that I may be close to a connection. It's the oddest sensation.

I am a spiritual person but I don't subscribe to any one religion in particular. My belief in religion as a life choice is that all "gods" are the same gods. They have been manifested into different forms by different cultures to suit their own need.

Buddhism is an interesting study. That he was referred to as the "enlightened one" opens up all the possibilities of what enlightened may refer to.

One who sees meaning and purpose in everything.

Jesus too fits this ideal. I have no doubt that Jesus existed but he, like Buddha, was a man. An exceptional one, but a man.

He too was enlightened and may have been the only one like him in his time.

There is a connection between the void and us. Some can see it I think but seeing and understanding can be mutually exclusive.

The connection between the principle of energy and death are part of it.

Does it have to have come from somewhere in order to be?

In order for something to be, it has to have been not. Or does it?

Ex Nihilo.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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Can there be an effect (creation) without cause? Was there an original cause, or perhaps just "potential" as described by both Buddhism and quantum physics? In any case, there has been a string of cause and effect since the Big Bang starting with a dense fog of hot radioactive gas ultimately leading to the formation of elements leading to the formation of stars leading to the formation of planets and galaxies leading to the formation of life and finally consciousness (I may have got the details and order confused a bit but don't have the energy to pick up my book right now to check). One could wonder if there is an effect beyond consciousness still to be realized, and then even more effects after that. Perhaps that is something that is realized beyond death, although I have no illusions of maintaining any semblance of self-awareness beyond that point. While energy (consciousness) cannot be destroyed, it can and will be changed (non-consciousness).

I also believe that all God's are the same God - simply different understandings based on culture, history and other factors. However, as I've also said I don't see God as some diety or something that exists outside and independent of us. Aligned with both Buddhism and quantum physics I accept that everything everywhere in an infinite universe (energy and matter) is connected at a subatomic level and that there is a purposeful force that holds this connection. Buddhists don't use the word God to refer to this force but for lack of a simpler one I often will. I know others who simply refer to it as "The Universe" with the understanding that includes everything and everyone, is responsible for our creation (cause and effect) and has purpose. We don't need to know what that ultimate purpose might be. We can deduce it's purpose to date by acknowledging our existence. As for what lies ahead we can know that the universe will unfold as it will.
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Re: Before the Big Bang

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Perhaps Mark Twain was the most enlightened one in Western culture to express Buddhist thought on our place in the Universe, whether he followed the teachings or not

He said (paraphrased)

I was dead before I lived, and I will be dead again. It didn’t bother me at all.
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