In the Beginning… Cosmology, Part I - The Pre Big Bang Scenario

Please note that this essay has been moved to True Freethinker where it was posted at this link.


  1. What Happened Before the Big Bang?

    If the big bang was the beginning of time itself, then any discussion about what happened before the big bang, or what caused it-in the usual sense of physical causation-is simply meaningless.

  2. Mariano, for the life of me I can not understand the point of your "Scientific Cenobites" series nor this one. What's the point of just posting collections of quotes without commenting on them? What are you trying to say? Since the quotes are not selected randomly, you're obviously trying to say something, but just quotes by themselves doth not an argument make. Why should anyone feel bothered to comment on this stuff? (let alone read it)

  3. I hate to pile on but, yeah these long serials are not working.

    Mariano, I'd like to see you get more vulnerable and personal, that's when you elicit the most interest, from me anyway.

    Did any of you guys see the Fedor Arlofski fight? I know it's old news but I'm obsessed.

  4. Scary Jesus,

    Yeah wasnt particulary good, but Arlovski was doing better than I predicted.

    I'm hoping they give Machida a title shot, but apparently its all based on Jackson v Jardine.

    I reckon Evans v Machida would be awesome.

  5. I also thought I'd throw in my own quote for Mariano:

    "There are cosmological models that have as much evidence going for them as astrology. They differ from astrology, however, in that they do not violate what we already know of the universe." - Stephen Hawkings Universe in a Nutshell

    Emphasis mine.

  6. Evans v Machida, oh yeah! And I hate to completely destroy this thread but, I think it's time for BJ Penn to retire. I always thought he was over rated.

  7. I don't get this either. Speculative science, thinking about matters unconstrained by theory and/or empirical knowledge, is pretty much wide open. Its often based on aesthetic standards as much as anything. Kekule figured out the structure of aromatic organic compounds (benzene) from watching an alchemical symbol in a dream. You're free to look for inspiration in a box of CrackerJack if you think it might help. Nobody cares where you get your ideas as long you can bind them to empirical data in a sensible way. I just don't see how this has anything to do with atheism.

    Be careful with your Hitler quote. I know you're trying to smear science by association with a monster, but that doesn't mean he is wrong. Consider: Hitler was an expert on absurdity and, what makes you think he was talking about scientific understanding? He was raised a Catholic and considered himself a Christian, although not according to a definition you would accept. He may have thought conventional Christian doctrine was absurd, but he was neither a scientist nor an atheist.

  8. This has nothing to do with any of this, but I just wanted to point out that the debate between Kyle Butt and Dan Barker will be streamed live here:


  9. What interests me about this debate is that it is wrong - especially the first quote.

    Loss of religious faith has very little to do with epistemology or a truth table or empirical data. It is primarily affective having to do with personal loss, suffering, etc. Even Steve Bruce makes this patently clear in his support of the secularization theory in his book God is Dead.

  10. Seconded SJ, I really hate that division in general. Anything below middleweight and I'm extremely surprise if its a decent fight.

  11. If you're feeling bored, have a look at this: Evolution indoctrination at OU. Now, class, can anybody tell me what the writers of this article got slightly wrong?

  12. Drew wrote:

    Loss of religious faith has very little to do with epistemology or a truth table or empirical data. It is primarily affective having to do with personal loss, suffering, etc.

    I can really only speak for myself, and none of those were the reason I lost my faith. While I can't really speak for them, I have many friends who are atheists, and through talking with them I don't find these to be their reasons either.

    Also, while I really really can't speak for them, I've found that most atheist bloggers, commenters, etc don't match your description either.

    If I've seen one relatively common thread, it's that we've lost our faith in the same way a child eventually grows out of believing in Santa. There just comes a point where we simply can't believe in the religious stories anymore.

    Drew, are you an atheist and, if so, is that why you lost your faith? If you're not an atheist, then I'm curious: why do you think that "loss and suffering" is the reason for loss of faith, besides this one person who wrote a book?

  13. Vagon said:

    Seconded SJ, I really hate that division in general. Anything below middleweight and I'm extremely surprise if its a decent fight.

    Totally off-topic, but I completely disagree with this. That Joe Lauzon vs. Jeremy Stephens fight from last Saturday night was awesome imho. I'm really loving the welter- and lightweight divisions in the UFC right now.

  14. adonais,

    Your question is unfair.

    Seriously, where would I even begin with this article? I see some of my faves there:

    Evolution is just a theory

    Things in science are proven

    A fact is ranked above a theory

    Creation Science *and* Intelligent Design (yup, both... heh) are theories

    Dogs don't turn into cats (gaah... just sooo much Wrongness there)

    Evolution deals with origin of life

    Thermodynamics blah blah I don't know what I'm talking about because I never took a physics class

    No transitional fossils

    Missing link? Where it be?

    Evolution is a religion

    Evolution requires faith

    Soup hit by lightning

    Scientific method requires eyeballs on the scene

    Nothing more than animals


    But my favoritest part of it:

    the scientific brain trust at OU will virtually ignore parallel theories of the origin of man - including Creation Science and Intelligent Design.

    Oklahoma students should be exposed to both theories (including Intelligent Design).

    (Emphasis mine)

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Kinda surprised they missed:

    "Evolution isn't a law, like gravity is."

  17. I'm still not sure that wasn't written as satire, it reads like something straight out of The Onion..

  18. adonais,

    After you mentioned that it might be a Poe, I had to double-check.

    It appears to be legit.

  19. I happen to enjoy Mariano's essays, I find them quite percerptive and amusing. As for "losing your faith" I would suggest that you broaden your horizons a bit.

    C. S. Lewis noted, quite accurately I think, that that most atheists were exposed to a little bit of Christianity as children, grow up, and reject this childish belief without ever looking at that of which grown-up Christianity consists. Sort of like rejecting reading because "Dick and Jane" is juvenile literature.

    Or maybe I have that backwards since you seem more concerned with UFC than intellectual pursuits. But then, that's the whole point of atheism, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." Watch the UFC.

  20. Actually, UFC can be very religious. After one fight, the guy who won thanked Jesus for his ability to beat the crap out of the other guy.

  21. "Actually, UFC can be very religious. After one fight, the guy who won thanked Jesus for his ability to beat the crap out of the other guy."

    That's true a lot of guys do that, plus I heard an interview with Fedor, and he stated he was a practicing Christian.

  22. Dave said:

    C. S. Lewis noted, quite accurately I think, that that most atheists...

    Yeah, forgive me for not taking seriously anything that C.S. Lewis says about atheists. I haven't seen anything he's written about atheists that actually matches any atheists I know.

    Plus, this whole claim that atheists don't know "grown-up christianity" is pretty silly since it's not as if we don't ever hear from grown-up christians about their theology; they don't exactly hide it.

    And this is *especially* true when talking about internet atheists, since we tend to still do a lot of investigation into the Bible and christian theology.

    No, we simply ask grown-up christians to support their claims and, when they try to, *THAT'S* when we say, "uh, yeah... am I supposed to accept that?" or "You're... you're not really serious about that being a persuasive way of supporting your claim... do you?"

    I think that you'll find that the atheist's problem isn't necessarily with "grown-up christianity", but with the arguments used by supposed grown-up christians.

    Dave said:

    Or maybe I have that backwards since you seem more concerned with UFC than intellectual pursuits.

    You know, it's not an either-or situation... we can be concerned and interested in both.

    Dave said:

    But then, that's the whole point of atheism

    Atheism has a point? News to me.

    Oh... oh, ok, I get it. I feel dumb. You were talking about the imaginary atheists. Ok, I understand now.

  23. @ Nohm @ Dave,

    I make the argument that loss of faith or even religious switching is not due to epistemology or science based on what sociological studies of belief tell us. My faith is totally irrelevant, the data is. Again, Steve Bruce makes this case even while arguing that secularization is both irreversible where it has taken root and will lead to loss if interest in religion. Stark, Berger, and others agree. Pull up various articles in Social Forces or The Scientific Study of Religion and the data and conclusions are clear. These are all studies that Harris ignores (he makes not one reference to a sociologist in The End of Faith for instance) as well as others.

    If you lose faith along the same lines as santa claus or the tooth fairy, your experience is not representative of the majority. Sorry, but that's what the data tells us.

    As for C.S. Lewis, he can only speak for his own experience of conversion from atheism. Others may find that congruent with their own, but it is again not representative of why people lose faith or do not come to it.

    This bears out when we consider the relative paucity of consistent theodicies in Christian theology that have a poor grasp of the reality of human suffering. It is no surprise that Jewish theologians did not publish anything on the Holocaust until 20 years after and at the same time existential and death of god theologies hit the market along with postmodern critiques.

    Suffering is the main problem with God and various monotheistic theologies have not been able to grasp it well enough for it to make sense on a pragmatic level that would appeal to a more scientific kind of thinking (see Bryan Wilson's 1966 argument along these lines).

    But since you asked I am a Christian. Presbyterian at that living in small town USA - a piece of modern, liberal culture where religion still has a lot of influence in secular activities.

  24. Rocky Kolb a leading scientist in Fermilab said while explaining particle collision “when they (particles) collide they produce the same conditions we believe would be present a millionth of a millionth of a second after the big bang” well Dawkins says “science has standards of testing things have to be verified it’s not enough to somebody to say, I believe, so and so “. So who should we follow?


  25. So who should we follow?
    Why follow anybody? Think it through for yourself.

    Physicists also say that the heat and light from our sun is the product of gravity-driven hydrogen fusion. Nobody in science and virtually nobody outside science disputes this even though nobody has drilled a 100,000 mile core samples from the sun to see what's really going on down there.

    Both beliefs are rational beliefs based on theory informed by observation in the same way. They are both trustworthy (or untrustworthy) inferences ("just guesses" in CreationismSpeak) in exactly the same way.

    If one chooses to not believe the former explanation then the latter one cannot reasonably be accepted either. And if not, an objector needs to come up with a better explanation for the sun's energy. Perhaps its the excessive friction from ceaseless Easter Bunny matings. After all, one "guess" is as good as another. Or that's what Creationists are wont to claim.

  26. God has been proven to exist based upon the most reserved view of the known laws of physics. For much more on that, see Prof. Frank J. Tipler's below paper, which among other things demonstrates that the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics) require that the universe end in the Omega Point (the final cosmological singularity and state of infinite informational capacity identified as being God):

    F. J. Tipler, "The structure of the world from pure numbers," Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. http://math.tulane.edu/~tipler/theoryofeverything.pdf Also released as "Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything," arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007.

    Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler's above paper was selected as one of 12 for the "Highlights of 2005" accolade as "the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website." (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, "Highlights of 2005," Reports on Progress in Physics website.)

    Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain's main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal's impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal.

    See also the below resources for further information on the Omega Point Theory:

    "God Proven to Exist According to Mainline Physics," December 26, 2008 http://www.armleg.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=122&mforum=libertyandtruth

    Theophysics: God Is the Ultimate Physicist http://theophysics.110mb.com , http://geocities.com/theophysics/

    "Omega Point (Tipler)," Wikipedia, April 16, 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Omega_Point_%28Tipler%29&oldid=206077125

    Tipler is Professor of Mathematics and Physics (joint appointment) at Tulane University. His Ph.D. is in the field of global general relativity (the same rarefied field that Profs. Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed), and he is also an expert in particle physics and computer science. His Omega Point Theory has been published in a number of prestigious peer-reviewed physics and science journals in addition to Reports on Progress in Physics, such as Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (one of the world's leading astrophysics journals), Physics Letters B, the International Journal of Theoretical Physics, etc.

    The leading quantum physicist in the world, Prof. David Deutsch (inventor of the quantum computer, being the first person to mathematically describe the workings of such a device, and winner of the Institute of Physics' 1998 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize for his work), endorses the physics of the Omega Point Theory in his book The Fabric of Reality (1997). For that, see:

    David Deutsch, extracts from Chapter 14: "The Ends of the Universe" of The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications (London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1997); with additional comments by Frank J. Tipler. http://theophysics.110mb.com/deutsch-ends-of-the-universe.html

  27. I am reading the book, "Shadows of Creation", which is really cool. I don't understand how anyone could study the big bang, with any depth in their study, and conclude that they know there is no God. I can kinda understand agnostics, but atheists just don't make sense to me.
    Anyway it's a really cool book, hard to read in parts but that's to be expected in subjects such as this. Michael Riordan and David N. Schramem wrote it, with a foreward from Steven W. Hawking.
    I'm not really sure if these guys believe in a creator or not, but I would rather study what they have to show me if they didn't believe like I do. I guess everyone looks at things from a definate biased outlook so we come to different conclusions.