Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote of the Day: "It Is Like Asking What Is North of the North Pole"

Shows slices of expansion of universe without ...                                  Image via Wikipedia
The universe began from a state of infinite density. . . . Space and time were created in that event and so was all the matter in the universe. It is not meaningful to ask what happened before the Big Bang; it is like asking what is north of the North Pole. Similarly, it is not sensible to ask where the Big Bang took place. The point-universe was not an object isolated in space; it was the entire universe, and so the answer can only be that the Big Bang happened everywhere. -- Richard J. Gott, et.al., "Will the Universe Expand Forever?" Scientific American (March 1976), p. 65.
Or, as the ancient Hebrew sage put it, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Quoted by William Lane Craig, here.
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16 comments:

P@J said...

1976? That is the best reference you have? A mid-level popular science magazine from 1976?

Even the site you stole the image from contradicts your own ascertaions about the Big Bang. Let’s pull some quotes from there and see how they contradict your understanding of the Big Bang Theory:

“Huge strides in Big Bang cosmology have been made since the late 1990s” Oh, so a 1976 article in Popular Science may not be a great source? Hmmm…

“According to the Big Bang model, the universe expanded from an extremely dense and hot state and continues to expand today.” Oh, so it doesn’t say something came from nothing? Hmmm...

RkBall said...

The fact remains that the science indicates that the Big Bang started from a point which is infinitely dense and infinitely hot. Since infinitely dense is coherent as a concept yet another impossibility in the "real world", it means that the Big Bang in effect started from nothing.

The fact that the big bang math/science indicates this is acknowledged by any number of atheists.

The equivocation is clear in the quote you use -- there is a world of difference between extremely and infinitely -- so -- which is it? What does the science actually indicate?

Alex said...

I like that stuff. Not sure how it proves or disproves God but it does open the door that there are real things that aren't understandable.

P@J said...

The fact remains that the science indicates that the Big Bang started from a point which is infinitely dense and infinitely hot.”
That is not a fact. The science indicates the universe was once much denser and hotter than it is today. No equivocation. About 13.7 billion years ago, it was so hot and dense that neither classical physics nor general relativity can be used to describe the condition of the universe.

Just because some atheists say it is so, doesn’t necessarily make it so.

… it means that the Big Bang in effect started from nothing” Actually, no, it doesn’t. Not that it would be a problem if it did. Quantum mechanics is full of things coming from nothing, see vacuum fluctuations . But I digress...

"There is …the widespread mistaken belief that, according to Hubble's law, the Big Bang began at one certain point in space. For example: At one point, an explosion happened, and from that an explosion cloud travelled into empty space, like an explosion on earth, and the matter in it thins out into greater areas of space more and more. No, Hubble's law only says that matter was more dense everywhere at an earlier time, and that it thins out over time because everything flows away from each other. In popular science presentations, often early phases of the universe are mentioned as 'at the time when the universe was as big as an apple' or 'as a pea'. What is meant there is in general the epoch in which not the whole, but only the part of the universe which is observable today had these sizes." - Rudolf Kippenhahn, Cosmologist

RkBall said...

" Quantum mechanics is full of things coming from nothing, see vacuum fluctuations . But I digress... "

A vacuum is a vacuum. It is not nothing.

P@J said...

Follow the link, Rick. I wasn't talking about household appliances...but we are digressing: nothing in the Big Bang Theory says there was something made from nothing. You are arguing a non-point.

RkBall said...

"Follow the link, Rick. I wasn't talking about household appliances."

Sorry, I'm not going to bother responding to disrespectful comments.

RkBall said...

Alex -- you are right, it is interesting stuff.

E.g, are numbers real, do they exist in their own right? If so, they can't be material, because they do not occupy space. They must be immaterial. If numbers exist, then the materialist who says that the material time/space universe is all that exists, is wrong.

We can envisage an infinity of numbers, and we can say that an infinity of numbers is real, and exists, but, and here's the kicker -- it does not exist in the material time/space universe because an actual infinity in time/space is not possible (at least, according to Wm. Lane Craig).

Joe said...

Ah yes the practitioners of scientism. When you realize you have put yourself at a philosophical dead end modify your theory. Don't worry no one will call you on it. After all science is the great arbiter of all things truth.

So the big bang beginning requires a cause (God) oops, well er ah gulp, adopt an oscillating universe theory instead. Can't find cause of life on earth, er um, move life's origins to comet's tails. Don't worry no one of consequence will call you on it you are a scientist.

P@J said...

Great pile of strawmen there Joe, but let us not digress yet again.

Rick, with all due respect, you are arguing against points only you are making. The Big Bang Theory does not say that something was made from nothing. The Big Bang Theory does not say the universe was once an infinitely dense point. These are misconceptions of the model, not equivocations from it: the model never said that.

So what part of the actual Big Bang Theory do you actually have problem with?

RkBall said...

"the model never said that."

The model never said or says anything -- it is a human construct. And the humans who constructed it certainly did say that the mathematics extrapolates to an infinitely dense, infinitely hot "point" known as a singularity.

Which implies a universe coming into being ex nihilo.

The fact that some scientists dislike the metaphysical implications of this extrapolation, and get out their erasers and erase the singularity and stop their math so that the point is merely "extremely" dense and hot is not my problem -- it is theirs.

"The Big Bang Theory does not say the universe was once an infinitely dense point."

The fact that you continue to deny the singularity has me frankly wondering if you are just acting like a troll.

Joe said...

Ah the singularity of big bang or maybe not the singularity of big bang. If no singularity then no big bang. Of course the only need for the big bang is 'hubbles law'. Has anyone ever really questioned 'hubbles law'? Is the only explanation of the 'red shift' velocity? If velocity is the sole determinant of the red shift then we must be at almost exactly the place where the big bang occurred. If not we would not be at the centre of the universe and therefore the red shift would be more evident on one side of our observation platform than the other.

Scientism; it requires greater faith than Christianity. At least in Christianity we have some incontrovertible evidence.

P@J said...

With all due respect, Joe, you really need to learn a bit about cosmology before you post on the subject of cosmology. Hubble’s law is not the only proof of the Big Bang, but is one of the many incontrovertible truths that demonstrate the reality of the Big Bang. If you are interested in some of the others, I would recommend looking up Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effects, supernova light curves, or even the hierarchical clustering of galaxies.

Your misconception about Earth being in some special place in the Big Bang is a common misconception of the Big Bang Theory. No place in the universe is special, no place is the centre. Here is a good explanation .

But please, allow me to reiterate: the Big Bang is not a singularity (although General Relativity posits a gravitational singularity prior to the big bang). The Big Bang does not say the universe was infinitely small or infinitely hot, only that it is expanding and cooling.

Anonymous said...

This blog is intellectually tedious. If you feel like you have something valuable to add to Big Bang cosmology, or that you have a valid criticism of the theory, I can GUARANTEE that it is not something that Krauss, Weinberg, Hawking or Peebles, or Thorne haven't heard before. Give it up; your attempts to shoe horn your imaginary friend into legitimate gaps in scientific knowledge are pathetic. What's more, even you can see it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so, forcing you to define your god right out of existence.

I would stick to discussing the intellectually irrelevant theological minutiae, and leave the science to the people who have a) a desire to do it, and b) a capacity to do it properly.

Joe said...

Sorry to disappoint you there Annony and P@J. The fact is that hubbles Law is much more conjecture than law. There is an observed phenomenon called the red shift. A logical explanation is that the light source is moving away from you at incredible speed causing said shift. However that is far from a sure thing despite all the pointy heads saying it is so. The pointy heads have been wrong before and so they might well be wrong again.

Take for instance the stationary earth law of the ancient/medieval time. Proof of the stationary earth lay in the fact that objects thrown in the air landed back on earth. In other words the earth had not moved so the object hit it on its way back down. Newton's gravity put the final nail in the coffin.

Red shift happens and as much as we want to believe that it is due to speeding stars we can not verify it by any practical way. Were we able to get a light emitting object up to sufficient speed we would undoubtedly observe a red shift in the light from that source but that does not mean that speeding light emitting objects is the only cause of red shift.

Of course another point of contention is the big bang itself. On what known principles would it happen? Why would an object of infinite mass and temperature explode and if it exploded why wouldn't it simply collapse back in on itself right after it exploded?

Big bang is a 'Trust me I'm an expert' theory that satisfies the only the weak minded easily led. Wise men are skeptical of anyone who says, "Trust me I'm an expert".

P@J said...

Compelling argument, Joe, and you brilliantly make Anon’s case for him. Bronze Age people didn’t know how gravity worked, therefore Hubble’s Law has no foundation. Of course, the same can be said for the Germ Theory of disease, Bernoulli’s Law, the Ideal Gas Law.. etc. etc..etc…

By the way, red shift has been tested and verified, so many times in so many ways, that Hubble’s Law is not really conjecture anymore. You are correct, we may be wrong that the redshift we observe within our solar system and the redshift we observe in controlled experiments in accelerators is completely different than the redshift we observe in stars and galaxies, but just looks exactly the same, and I can’t prove it isn’t just distortion caused by pixie dust.

And here I am explaining again (hello? Hello? Anyone hear me? Is this an echo chamber?) that the Big Bang Theory does not involve any kind of “explosion”, does not involve anything of “infinite temperature” (a logical impossibility) or “infinite mass”. The Theory says that, based on current observations, the observable universe was once much more dense and much hotter than it is now, and that this expansion and cooling has been taking place for about 13.7 Billion years. That’s it, that’s all.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"