Is the "big bang" compatible with a creation that has always existed?
#1
The Baha'i Writings assert that creation has always existed because God's title "the Creator" requires a creation. The "big bang" theory, however, states that the universe came into existence 13.8 billion years ago. Are these claims compatible?

In brief, the "big bang" asserts that the universe flashed into existence about 13.81 billion years ago from a singularity of infinite density, and has been evolving and expanding ever since. The theory is often criticized for its inability to explain "what banged", much as evolution is criticized for failing to explain how life began. Both criticisms are unjustified: the "big bang" takes the existence of the primordial universe as a given, and is a theory of cosmic evolution. It does not attempt to explain how it came into existence in the first place. Likewise, evolution takes the existence of primitive life as a given, explains how life has evolved with time, and makes no attempt to explain how life originated. It is illegitimate to criticize theories on the grounds that they don't answer questions which they say they don't answer - the criticisms are actually examples of the "straw man" logical fallacy, which is discussed elsewhere.

However, given that the "big bang" does assert that the universe came into existence at a specific time in the past. it does, at first glance, seem incompatible the and ever existing creation. There are two, and possibly more, answers to the question.

First, like many questions, there is a questionable assumption behind the question, namely that the physical universe and creation are the same thing. In other words, the physical universe that we know of can't be assumed to be all that there is. The Baha'i Faith tells us that there is a spiritual world that does not exist in time as we know it, and it is quite possible that that part of creation has "always" existed.

Second, there are "theories" - used in the common rather than scientific sense of the word - of multiverses, in which "our" universe is embedded. In my opinion, the multiverse belongs in the category of "speculative" science. They have a solid foundation in mathematics and quantum theory but don't have any observable evidence. Thus they meet part of the scientific method, but not all of it, and therefore shouldn't be called theories in the scientific sense of the term. The question of whether the multiverse has any observable consequences is open - some claim that they should be detectable because they will affect our universe gravitationally. It is important to understand that the multiverse does not refer to what is beyond the observable limit, but something greater of which "our" universe is a component.

In conclusion, it is not necessarily the case that an eternal creation and the big bang theory are contradictory.
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#2
(03-09-2017, 10:10 PM)mikemoum Wrote: The Baha'i Writings assert that creation has always existed because God's title "the Creator" requires a creation. The "big bang" theory, however, states that the universe came into existence 13.8 billion years ago. Are these claims compatible?

Yes.
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#3
Also posted as Beginnings and Endings under Pithy Quotes:

"...it is certain that this world of existence, this endless universe, has neither beginning nor end. Yes, it may be that one of the parts of the universe, one of the globes, for example, may come into existence, or may be disintegrated, but the other endless globes are still existing; the universe would not be disordered nor destroyed; on the contrary, existence is eternal and perpetual. As each globe has a beginning, necessarily it has an end, because every composition, collective or particular, must of necessity be decomposed; the only difference is that some are quickly decomposed, and others more slowly, but it is impossible that a composed thing should not eventually be decomposed."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 297)

It seems to me this covers the emergence and decay of physical existence in the multi-verse quite nicely. IMO.
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#4
The multiverse make sense to me. Very appropriate quote. 

It seems to me that when this is discussed in the media there is often a lack of clarity when using the term 'universe'. Some use it to mean 'everything observable', some mean 'all creation'.

We, historically speaking, tend to assume that the largest and smallest entities we know of set the limits of creation (e.g. observable universe, quarks). However we have always been wrong in the past and I look forward to us being wrong again in the future... :)
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#5
Thanks for your comment, Andrew. Both are excellent points!
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#6
(03-09-2017, 10:10 PM)mikemoum Wrote: The Baha'i Writings assert that creation has always existed because God's title "the Creator" requires a creation. The "big bang" theory, however, states that the universe came into existence 13.8 billion years ago. Are these claims compatible?

In brief, the "big bang" asserts that the universe flashed into existence about 13.81 billion years ago from a singularity of infinite density, and has been evolving and expanding ever since. The theory is often criticized for its inability to explain "what banged", much as evolution is criticized for failing to explain how life began. Both criticisms are unjustified: the "big bang" takes the existence of the primordial universe as a given, and is a theory of cosmic evolution. It does not attempt to explain how it came into existence in the first place. Likewise, evolution takes the existence of primitive life as a given, explains how life has evolved with time, and makes no attempt to explain how life originated. It is illegitimate to criticize theories on the grounds that they don't answer questions which they say they don't answer - the criticisms are actually examples of the "straw man" logical fallacy, which is discussed elsewhere.

However, given that the "big bang" does assert that the universe came into existence at a specific time in the past. it does, at first glance, seem incompatible the and ever existing creation. There are two, and possibly more, answers to the question.

First, like many questions, there is a questionable assumption behind the question, namely that the physical universe and creation are the same thing. In other words, the physical universe that we know of can't be assumed to be all that there is. The Baha'i Faith tells us that there is a spiritual world that does not exist in time as we know it, and it is quite possible that that part of creation has "always" existed.

Second, there are "theories" - used in the common rather than scientific sense of the word - of multiverses, in which "our" universe is embedded. In my opinion, the multiverse belongs in the category of "speculative" science. They have a solid foundation in mathematics and quantum theory but don't have any observable evidence. Thus they meet part of the scientific method, but not all of it, and therefore shouldn't be called theories in the scientific sense of the term. The question of whether the multiverse has any observable consequences is open - some claim that they should be detectable because they will affect our universe gravitationally. It is important to understand that the multiverse does not refer to what is beyond the observable limit, but something greater of which "our" universe is a component.

In conclusion, it is not necessarily the case that an eternal creation and the big bang theory are contradictory.

In my daily reading I cam across this quote from Baha'ullah:

"All praise and glory be to God Who, through the power of His might, hath delivered His creation from the nakedness of non-existence, and clothed it with the mantle of life."

which implies some process of creation taking place rather than eternal coexistence.
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#7
Very appropriate. It also implies life is very much part of the process and is very wide spread! I feel we can expect to find at least simple life elsewhere even in our solar system. Hopefully I will live to see it!
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