THE BEGINNINGS OF THE UNIVERSE

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The hosting of awareness is something inherent in all things existent. This awareness of which I speak is the same awareness that you are using at this very moment. All awareness comes from and shares the same origin in the zero dimension. Awareness is the source of things, but awareness is not a thing. Neither is it nothing. It is what we might term the soul of the universe, not a material substance.

I am aware of the existence of a universe around me. Other things that are not my being validly exist but I can never prove it unless the world outside me and my own conscious awareness are one and the same. If the universe outside me and my being are ultimately connected and the fundamental awareness that is present in both is one and the same, then both are logically substantiated. The per­ceptions I use to perceive my being are the same as those used to perceive the universe.

What we call the Now, this fleeting moment that seems to move through time and space, is the very embodiment of our human personal awareness. It is always present—a universal phenomenon that can be viewed from many points of reference.

Awareness is non-material. It is not a product of a nervous system any more than it is the product of the evolution of elemental interactions. That thing which makes you aware of yourself and the world around you is not unique to you personally, but the basic property that creates the geometry and form of all things existent. Awareness has evolved an unconscious network of differentiated components that build and project an actualized world into our locally personalized world and the universe about us. The business of physical sciences is showing how this happens in a physical manner.

When we examine the material world for evidence of its history, we discover things that are both previously unknown and surprising. These things exist independently of our perception, just as the world exists independently of our perception. Why is this so if we are all of the same elemental awareness?

Each of us has our own constantly changing version of that which we are aware. It is composed of what we have been taught and what we have learned both consciously and unconsciously.

Primal awareness, the precursor of consciousness, creates the world through observation, materializing matter from a field of virtual energy, forcing time and space into existence by observing movement and slowing the speed of that movement by adding physical dimensions. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_state /react-text )

In quantum physics, a virtual state is a very short-lived, unobservable quantum state. In many quantum processes a virtual state is an intermediate state, sometimes described as “imaginary” in a multi-step process that mediates otherwise forbidden transitions. Such is the state of the universe before the actualization of dimensional realities.

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The first step in actualizing an outside world is the creation of dimensional awareness. The first dimension has no time and space. It is simply a point that exists everywhere and nowhere simultaneously, as there is no time nor space nor observer with which to measure and define it.

The second dimension records the point in motion. That movement creates space, which until that movement took place, never existed. A line is composed of many clones of that individual point. All are all the same point. The prototype line also exists everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. Space is defined, but not the duration, as time does not yet exist. The positions and entanglements of electrons are possible because they exist in the second dimension, everywhere at once but not in time.

It is through the ‘observation’ of itself, perhaps by touch, that a point becomes a line. This second dimension is the birth of the finite. It creates a process of a beginning and an ending. It creates an observed, closed system.

The only way a point can be influenced by itself is to clone itself into many points, all of which are the same point, and then move in a curved line that comes back to its beginning location. This creates a closed, circular system or orbit.  Only at this moment is there is an inside and an outside. What is inside is virtual energy and empty, unused fields of possibility. What is outside is the undifferentiated awareness of the zero dimension.

With the third dimension, we have the birth of the unconscious mind from the formless, undifferentiated primal awareness. This awareness unconsciously observes the two-dimensional closed circle from above and adds the dimension of height to the width and length of the two-dimensional circle, creating what appears to be a sphere by the act of awareness observing a circle from above in three dimensions.

Light itself, the photon, is one dimensional and has no experience of time and duration. Light gets to its destination as soon as it leaves. We are in the 4th dimension. This dimension gives duration and time to light and perceive is as traveling many light years to reach us, but the photon does not experience time and duration. This is relativity. By the same process, electrons, being in the primary dimensions, can be many places at once and are not fixed until they interact and are observed. This is quantum mechanics.

The fourth dimension emerges as the duration of time is observed and merges with space as duration—and spacetime is added to the primordial soup. As we live in the 3rd and 4th dimensions, our awareness seems to be locked into these dimension, though more elementary existences—such as waves and particles— exist in the many dimensions.

In 1993, the physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft put forward the holographic principle, which explains that the information about an extra dimension is visible as a curvature in a spacetime with one fewer dimension. For example, holograms are three-dimensional pictures placed on a two-dimensional surface, which gives the image a curvature when the observer moves. Similarly, in general relativity, the fourth dimension is manifested in observable three dimensions as the curvature path of a moving infinitesimal (test) particle. Hooft has speculated that the fifth dimension is really the spacetime fabric.

If this is so, then we may live in the 5th dimension as well, but we cannot perceive it with our senses, as we cannot perceive any of the larger dimensions by virtue of our physical senses.

 

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A perspective projection of a five-dimensional penteract

 

 


 

What Is Entanglement Anyway? Chris Fields

 

Entanglement or non-separability is the core idea of quantum theory. It is a simple idea: the universe is not a bunch of independent parts, but is rather one entity that evolves through time as one entity. That’s it. The problem is that this means there’s no such thing as causation. This is very hard to wrap your head around. Quantum theory is extraordinarily accurate, and our knowing quantum theory is why we have things like cell phones and computers. But what is quantum theory, really? Why is entanglement its primary prediction? This talk will explain what quantum theory is. It will show that quantum theory has nothing to do with tiny particles, wave-function collapse, or Schroedinger’s cat. Quantum theory is about how observers obtain information about the world. It is, in particular, about how observers who have memories and use language obtain information about the world. It is, in other words, about how you and I interact with perfectly ordinary things like tables and chairs and each other. You will leave this talk with a new understanding of quantum theory, and a new appreciation for entanglement. Chris Fields is an interdisciplinary information scientist interested in both the physics and the cognitive neuroscience underlying the human perception of objects as spatially and temporally bounded entities. His current research focuses on deriving quantum theory from classical information theory; he also works on cell-cell communication and cellular information processing, the role of the “unconscious mind” in creative problem solving, and early childhood development, particularly the etiology of autism-spectrum conditions. He and his wife, author and yoga teacher Alison Tinsley, recently published Meditation: If You’re Doing It, You’re Doing It Right, in which they explore the experience of meditation with meditators from many walks of life. Dr. Fields has also been a volunteer firefighter, a visual artist, and a travel writer. He currently divides his time between Sonoma, CA and Caunes Minervois, a village in southwestern France.

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NEW PHYSICS ON THE ORIGIN OF LIFE

 

Jeremy England

By Natalie Wolchover, January 22, 2014

Why does life exist?

Popular hypotheses credit a primordial soup, a bolt of lightning and a colossal stroke of luck. But if a provocative new theory is correct, luck may have little to do with it. Instead, according to the physicist proposing the idea, the origin and subsequent evolution of life follow from the fundamental laws of nature and “should be as unsurprising as rocks rolling downhill.”

From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.

“You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant,” England said.

 

SEE LARGER ARTICLE AT https://www.quantamagazine.org/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/

 


Researchers have discovered that simple “chemically active” droplets grow to the size of cells and spontaneously divide, suggesting they might have evolved into the first living cells.

Once droplets start to divide, they can easily gain the ability to transfer genetic information, essentially divvying up a batch of protein-coding RNA or DNA into equal parcels for their daughter cells. If this genetic material coded for useful proteins that increased the rate of droplet division, natural selection would favor the behavior. Protocells, fueled by sunlight and the law of increasing entropy, would gradually have grown more complex.

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SOURCES:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20170119-active-droplets-cell-division/?utm_source=Quanta+Magazine&utm_campaign=331a2e37f3-Quanta_Newsletter_Feb_27_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f0cb61321c-331a2e37f3-389572177

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/

 

 

 

MUSINGS OF AN EVIL SKEPTIC

https://scriggler.com/StartClub/Post/preposterous_opinions/52435

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by Dmitry Selemir

Why I think Evil does not exist and why we should recognize this sooner rather than later

There is a good reason for using that word ‘musings’ in my title. To start, I don’t want this article to have a feel of an overly academic exercise. It wasn’t conceived nor was it constructed as such. Also, I am much more interested in the subsequent discussion and in the thought process it might stimulate rather than claim my stake on a unique piece of knowledge I supposedly put together for everyone’s benefit. Dear academics, if you are reading this, please forgive me for having a go at you, it is by no means done out of smugness or disrespect, I most certainly hold you in the highest regard possible.

But enough with the niceties, after all, we are talking about Evil.

In our modern society Evil is a pretty important concept and it became even more prominent in the academic circles in the last few decades as we are collectively trying to process the causes and consequences of major events of both the 20th and the 21st century (I will not insult your intelligence by bringing up specific examples). As far as Evil empires or axes (take your pick) are concerned — we have had a number of seemingly mutually exclusive accusations and what better place to start understanding what on Earth are they on about than understanding what they might mean by Evil?

While for most people Evil as a concept would be something primal, almost axiomatic, existing in its own right outside of our judgment, the reality is — it is relatively young. In fact, I would go as far as to state that Evil as a term made its debut, in today’s understanding of it at least, as a necessary attribute of a monotheistic belief system. Within that system, we have a supreme, perfect being, who creates the world, which we see as imperfect (i.e., there are things we don’t like or things that don’t make sense to us). The supposed imperfection of the world is a subject of a separate and a rather long discussion. I will only suggest here that, again, the reason we even talk about it today is because it is necessary for a belief system to instill the need to strive for a different way of life, dictated by one central authority. It is a fundamental feature of any organized religion, essential for both its survival and spread and that internal conflict between the desired and actual reality is key to its appeal.

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It is important for a successful religion to offer just the right blend of Love and Fear in its message in order to achieve maximum impact and the presence of that evil dark side and its consequences for non-believers and sinners is right on the money. It is not at the heart of the system, it exists at the fringes. Yet, it is ever present and it is enough to ensure you are always aware — if you deviate from the “right” path — there will be consequences.
While providing the ammunition for a successful spread of religion, it simultaneously creates a bit of a problem for the philosophers working within its paradigm — i.e., how can the world, created by the perfect being, be imperfect? Perhaps the most notable theory was suggested by Leibniz, who stated that the best possible world has the right balance between the Good and Evil and therefore in order to create the world God has to introduce both Good and Evil and that it’s all about the proportion (which, of course, God got exactly right, being the perfect being).

I am not here to challenge the understanding of Good vs. Evil relationship within the context of organized religion, however. I think the main problem is to do with the fact that it traveled into the post-religious world and is commonly used in a supposedly secular context having acquired that fundamental, universal property we attribute to it.

From a secular point of view, Evil is a purely human construct, created in order for us to classify and in a way measure events taking place around us. Moreover, I would argue that the concepts of good, bad, ugly, beautiful, moral or immoral etc., just like the concept of Evil, do not exist outside of human society. We pass our judgment on both physical phenomena like hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes (Evil in the broad sense if we use Kant’s classification) and the inter-species phenomena, i.e. actions of fellow humans or other animals (Evil in the narrow sense). We feel the need to classify the events taking place around us, this helps us arrive at the optimal mode of behavior within our environment and there is nothing wrong with it. However, extending it further and attributing a more independent and universal quality to it is a mistake, which can be rather costly as we make an erroneous assumption that everyone understands it in exactly the same way, or that there is this mysterious struggle between Good and Evil within us, influencing our decisions.

Let’s look at the broad and narrow definition separately.

The broad sense withstands no criticism. While ancient Greeks believed natural disasters happened because they displeased Gods in one way or the other, we should really know better. We know the nature and the causes of these phenomena and there is absolutely no need to give their analysis any kind of moral angle. Moreover, while the effects of these phenomena might be harmful to us, they can be absolutely vital to other species (forest fires is one example, with certain types of seeds unable to germinate without them) and even to the other members of our own species and the effect might end up being beneficial to us perhaps in a very long run, even if it is significantly longer than a lifetime. We can only give them that negative judgment in a very narrow sense — right now it is bad for me and therefore it is Evil, which makes it a purely emotional, minute construction. In fact even invoking the argument that something is Evil because it threatens our very existence is inherently flawed because our existence is only important to us. Period.

Let’s now turn to a more complex concept of Evil in the narrow sense — i.e., the moral/inter and intra-species evil, i.e., murder, theft, abuse etc.

As a species — we, humans, construct increasingly complex and theoretical concept of what constitutes good and bad, to the point that we have forgotten its origin and treat it as self-evident. As with any dogmatic concept, we inevitably find that our theoretical and idealized version fails to adequately serve the world around us. Let’s take the most fundamental and seemingly obvious one — murder. While I will concentrate on murder in my line of argument, exactly the same reasoning can be applied to any other such concept.

The first reaction is a resounding negative — murder is bad and murderers are evil, right?

Let’s have a look at it in more detail, though. Most of us have no problem with killing animals for food, those who do will have to accept that killing of animals by other animals (or fish, insects, viruses etc.) in nature is not only inevitable — it is absolutely necessary for a self-regulating biological system, not only ensuring their evolution and ability to adapt to and withstand natural disasters, but also their very survival as species. Predation is necessary for balance (and ability to process waste and avoid propagation of diseases).
If we look at our own species and killings among ourselves, we find another dilemma. For most of us not all killing is bad, otherwise, we would have never had any wars. If the cause appears fair (another peculiar concept) to us — it justifies the means and to a certain extent justifies both the killing of the enemy combatants and even the collateral damage. There are those who believe in the necessity of capital punishment. And, of course, not to be forgotten, there is the moral dilemma of euthanasia and abortion. In any case — many of us believe that some murders are justified (inviting the rather peculiar concept of necessary Evil). Note that I only lump all these together into one line of discussion, not in order to pass judgment on them, but simply because they all deal with a loss of life caused by or involving another individual.
While I am not arguing that murder is somehow good or in any way excusable — it is an inevitable feature of all societies we, as humans, managed to construct and its classification as bad and evil is also a feature of our society. In fact, we don’t have to go far back in history, even within the most “killing-averse” western society to find that the further back we go, the wider the circle of socially and morally acceptable killings becomes (take duels for example or honor killings).
One could argue that it is a natural phenomenon as it is one of the side effects of the evolutionary mechanisms built into all living things. Being highly evolved and being able to construct much more complex societal structures than any other species known to us, we strive to eradicate it. We see it as counterproductive in the long run; however, so far we have been unable to really tackle the problem. In part this is because as evolved we are as a species, we are still governed by the same instincts as our more primitive ancestors or relations in the animal kingdom. Killing a rival (or even rival’s offspring) is commonplace in nature and the reason we have departed from such practice is dictated by a more complex branch of evolution responsible for the social constructs within our society rather than a peculiar brain function. It certainly has nothing to do with the rules passed on to us from above — groups (and later tribes/villages/ countries) where the level of violence between its members has been reduced tended to be more successful, leading to their dominance and subsequent, much greater impact on our current societies.

Today, we look at most murders as purely individual undertakings — decisions made by an individual because that individual is Evil, or has more Evil than Good within his/her nature. While there is always a high degree of individual responsibility in each such action, it is also a by-product of our inability to effectively manage societies we construct. A concept of Evil is used to absolve society of all responsibility — putting all of the blame on the individual. In the process, we conveniently forget that each individual is a product of that society and in most cases interacts with that society constantly in the run-up to the fateful event itself. Perhaps this is my liberal side manifesting itself, but personally, I think attempting to always lay the blame squarely on the individual and only individual (for any type of offense) is a gross oversimplification.

It’s not all about finding who is to blame, however. This inability to understand the responsibility of societies every time something happens ensures we don’t take any steps towards eradicating the problem (or at least any significant improvement). In a way, we are always treating (and when I say treating — I mean cutting away) the symptoms only, because we seem to be unable or unwilling to study and understand the real causes. I am not suggesting that we are missing something simple here, though. Studying and understanding the causes can only be done with increased access to individual data — which means increased surveillance and redefinition of the relationship between the individual and society. This is an interesting problem in itself, however, this is outside of the scope of this particular discussion.

We also fail to understand how large groups of individuals — the whole societies can get lured into committing atrocities and we’ve had numerous examples of that happening in the 20th century. What we often forget is — most of the individuals involved actually believed they were acting against Evil, not the other way round. It’s the very understanding of the concept that was flawed.

In fact, this point deserves special attention. As a human construct the concept of Evil forms within a particular society and depends squarely on the fundamental principles taken as the basis of laws governing the relationships within these societies. The understanding of what constitutes Evil, therefore, changes from one society to another. To give one example — within the tribe which formed no concept of private property — theft (and associated with it the Evil label) simply does not exist. A person who grew up within that framework will struggle to understand why something they would do without a second thought might cause an offense.
These societies can overlap and fragments (as small as one individual in size) can exist within each other, more often than not without creating any conflicts. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. From time to time, we find ourselves clashing over specific examples when the two concepts end up producing opposite judgments. The biggest mistake we make is we always assert that our own concept is the right one and the other one is barbaric at best. It feels natural to do that, however, we often forget that the other side feels exactly the same way and the truth is — both are entirely justified within their own moral framework.
I would argue that the only way to avoid conflict is not by trying to impose our own rules on others, but by recognising the differences and limitations of our authority. This would pave the way towards agreeing on the applicability of these rules and ways of interpreting them in potential conflict situations.

Of course, it will be naive to suggest that getting rid of the concept of Evil will solve these problems. It wouldn’t stop conflicts, killings, it wouldn’t make us any kinder to each other. Yet, if we discredit the concept as an absolute, we remove this convenient excuse our leaders can fall back on — perhaps we can make it more difficult for them to justify their ill-advised actions and would force us to take a much more critical look at ourselves and encourage us to take more individual responsibility for the actions of societies we belong to. Perhaps it will also allow us to look at the world around us in a slightly different light and help prepare us for the challenges yet to come.

Up to now, we have mostly relied on either external factors (natural phenomena, like hurricanes, tsunamis, famines and diseases) or violent actions (wars, coups and revolutions) to achieve temporary balance. In other words, we have always waited until situation resolved itself. It is essentially equivalent to driving a car without the breaks because it’s bound to stop at some point by itself anyway.
While technological advances of the last two hundred years meant that the impact of the natural phenomena has decreased significantly — these same technological advances meant that the violent option became that much more devastating. Using my car analogy — the speeds are much higher now, so we are less likely to stall in the mud, but if we hit a wall — it’s game over.
With increased life expectancies, and continuing increases in population and inevitable strain on available resources we can not avoid reaching such singularity points — when resolution can not be achieved by itself. In fact — one could argue that we are in the process of dealing with one of such singularity points developing right now.

In order to develop a new mechanism for managing this process, arguably, we need a paradigm shift. Recognizing the limitations of some of these supposedly fundamental concepts could very well be the first step paving the way to a different, more effective principle on which we construct our societies and manage relationships between them.

– See more at: https://scriggler.com/DetailPost/Opinion/52435#sthash.WWKnqLTu.dpuf


 

DMITRY SELEMIR operates the great writer’s platform at Scriggler.com. His articles are found at https://scriggler.com/Profile/dmitry_selemir

 

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Washington’s Farewell Address 1796

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1796

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it – It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidence of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, I793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

THE EXISTENCE OF GOD AND THE BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE

god-desk-signs

by William Lane Craig


William Craig earned a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Birmingham, England, before taking a doctorate in theology from the Ludwig Maximiliens Universitat-Munchen, West Germany, at which latter institution he was for two years a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Universite Catholique de Louvain. He has authored various books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz, and The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents from Aristotle to Suarez, as well as articles in professional journals like British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Zeitschrift fur Philosophische ForschungAustralasian Journal of Philosophy, and Philosophia.


The kalam cosmological argument, by showing that the universe began to exist, demonstrates that the world is not a necessary being and, therefore, not self-explanatory with respect to its existence. Two philosophical arguments and two scientific confirmations are presented in support of the beginning of the universe. Since whatever begins to exist has a cause, there must exist a transcendent cause of the universe.Source: “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe.” Truth: A Journal of Modern Thought 3 (1991): 85-96. 


Introduction

“The first question which should rightly be asked,” wrote G.W.F. Leibniz, is “Why is there something rather than nothing?”[1] This question does seem to possess a profound existential force, which has been felt by some of mankind’s greatest thinkers. According to Aristotle, philosophy begins with a sense of wonder about the world, and the most profound question a man can ask concerns the origin of the universe.[2] In his biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Norman Malcolm reports that Wittgenstein said that he sometimes had a certain experience which could best be described by saying that “when I have it, I wonder at the existence of the world. I am then inclined to use such phrases as ‘How extraordinary that anything should exist!'”[3] Similarly, one contemporary philosopher remarks, “. . . My mind often seems to reel under the immense significance this question has for me. That anything exists at all does seem to me a matter for the deepest awe.”[4]

Why does something exist instead of nothing? Leibniz answered this question by arguing that something exists rather than nothing because a necessary being exists which carries within itself its reason for existence and is the sufficient reason for the existence of all contingent being.[5]

Although Leibniz (followed by certain contemporary philosophers) regarded the non- existence of a necessary being as logically impossible, a more modest explication of necessity of existence in terms of what he calls “factual necessity” has been given by John Hick: a necessary being is an eternal, uncaused, indestructible, and incorruptible being.[6] Leibniz, of course, identified the necessary being as God. His critics, however, disputed this identification, contending that the material universe could itself be assigned the status of a necessary being. “Why,” queried David Hume, “may not the material universe be the necessary existent Being, according to this pretended explanation of necessity?”[7] Typically, this has been precisely the position of the atheist. Atheists have not felt compelled to embrace the view that the universe came into being out of nothing for no reason at all; rather they regard the universe itself as a sort of factually necessary being: the universe is eternal, uncaused, indestructible, and incorruptible. As Russell neatly put it, ” . . . The universe is just there, and that’s all.”[8]

Does Leibniz’s argument, therefore, leave us in a rational impasse, or might there not be some further resources available for untangling the riddle of the existence of the world? It seems to me that there are. It will be remembered that an essential property of a necessary being is eternality. If then it could be made plausible that the universe began to exist and is not, therefore, eternal, one would to that extent at least have shown the superiority of theism as a rational world view.

Now there is one form of the cosmological argument, much neglected today but of great historical importance, that aims precisely at the demonstration that the universe had a beginning in time.[9] Originating in the efforts of Christian theologians to refute the Greek doctrine of the eternity of matter, this argument was developed into sophisticated formulations by medieval Islamic and Jewish theologians, who in turn passed it back to the Latin West. The argument thus has a broad intersectarian appeal, having been defended by Muslims, Jews, and Christians both Catholic and Protestant.

This argument, which I have called the kalam cosmological argument, can be exhibited as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its 
   existence. 
2. The universe began to exist. 

   2.1 Argument based on the impossibility of an 
       actual infinite.

         2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist. 
         2.12 An infinite temporal regress of 
              events is an actual infinite.
         2.13 Therefore, an infinite temporal 
              regress of events cannot exist. 

   2.2   Argument based on the impossibility of 
         the formation of an actual infinite by 
         successive addition. 

         2.21 A collection formed by successive 
              addition cannot be actually infinite. 
         2.22 The temporal series of past events 
              is a collection formed by successive 
              addition. 
         2.23 Therefore, the temporal series of 
              past events cannot be actually 
              infinite.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its 
   existence. 

Let us examine this argument more closely.

Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Second Premiss

Clearly, the crucial premiss in this argument is (2), and two independent arguments are offered in support of it. Let us, therefore, turn first to an examination of the supporting arguments.

First Supporting Argument

In order to understand (2.1), we need to understand the difference between a potential infinite and an actual infinite. Crudely put, a potential infinite is a collection which is increasing toward infinity as a limit, but never gets there. Such a collection is really indefinite, not infinite. The sign of this sort of infinity, which is used in calculus, is ¥. An actual infinite is a collection in which the number of members really is infinite. The collection is not growing toward infinity; it is infinite, it is “complete.” The sign of this sort of infinity, which is used in set theory to designate sets which have an infinite number of members, such as {1, 2, 3, . . .}, is À0. Now (2.11) maintains, not that a potentially infinite number of things cannot exist, but that an actually infinite number of things cannot exist. For if an actually infinite number of things could exist, this would spawn all sorts of absurdities.

Perhaps the best way to bring home the truth of (2.11) is by means of an illustration. Let me use one of my favorites, Hilbert’s Hotel, a product of the mind of the great German mathematician, David Hilbert. Let us imagine a hotel with a finite number of rooms. Suppose, furthermore, that all the rooms are full. When a new guest arrives asking for a room, the proprietor apologizes, “Sorry, all the rooms are full.” But now let us imagine a hotel with an infinite number of rooms and suppose once more that all the rooms are full. There is not a single vacant room throughout the entire infinite hotel. Now suppose a new guest shows up, asking for a room. “But of course!” says the proprietor, and he immediately shifts the person in room #1 into room #2, the person in room #2 into room #3, the person in room #3 into room #4 and so on, out to infinity. As a result of these room changes, room #1 now becomes vacant and the new guest gratefully checks in. But remember, before he arrived, all the rooms were full! Equally curious, according to the mathematicians, there are now no more persons in the hotel than there were before: the number is just infinite. But how can this be? The proprietor just added the new guest’s name to the register and gave him his keys-how can there not be one more person in the hotel than before? But the situation becomes even stranger. For suppose an infinity of new guests show up the desk, asking for a room. “Of course, of course!” says the proprietor, and he proceeds to shift the person in room #1 into room #2, the person in room #2 into room #4, the person in room #3 into room #6, and so on out to infinity, always putting each former occupant into the room number twice his own. As a result, all the odd numbered rooms become vacant, and the infinity of new guests is easily accommodated. And yet, before they came, all the rooms were full! And again, strangely enough, the number of guests in the hotel is the same after the infinity of new guests check in as before, even though there were as many new guests as old guests. In fact, the proprietor could repeat this process infinitely many times and yet there would never be one single person more in the hotel than before.

But Hilbert’s Hotel is even stranger than the German mathematician gave it out to be. For suppose some of the guests start to check out. Suppose the guest in room #1 departs. Is there not now one less person in the hotel? Not according to the mathematicians, but just ask the woman who makes the beds! Suppose the guests in room numbers 1, 3, 5, . . . check out. In this case, an infinite number of people have left the hotel, but according to the mathematicians there are no fewer people in the hotel—but don’t talk to that laundry woman! In fact, we could have every other guest check out of the hotel and repeat this process infinitely many times, and yet there would never be any f people in the hotel. But suppose instead the persons in room number 4, 5, 6, . . . checked out. At a single stroke, the hotel would be virtually emptied, the guest register reduced to three names, and the infinite converted to finitude. And yet it would remain true that the fewer same number of guests checked out this time as when the guests in room numbers 1, 3, 5, . . . checked out. Can anyone sincerely believe that such a hotel could exist in reality? These sorts of absurdities illustrate the impossibility of the existence of an actually infinite number of things.

That takes us to (2.12). The truth of this premiss seems fairly obvious. If the universe never began to exist, then prior to the present event there have existed an actually infinite number of previous events. Hence, a beginningless series of events in time entails the existence of an actually infinite number of things, namely, past events.

Given the truth of (2.11) and (2.12), the conclusion (2.13) logically follows. The series of past events must be finite and have a beginning. But since the universe is not distinct from the series of events, it follows that the universe began to exist.

At this point, we might find it profitable to consider several objections that might be raised against the argument. First, let us consider objections to (2.11). Wallace Matson objects that the premiss must mean that an actually infinite number of things is logically impossible, but it is easy to show that such a collection is logically possible. For example, the series of negative numbers {. . . -3, -2, -1} is an actually infinite collection with no first member.[10] Matson’s error here lies in thinking that (2.11) means to assert the logical impossibility of an actually infinite number of things. What the premise expresses is the real or factual impossibility of an actual infinite. To illustrate the difference between real and logical possibility: there is no logical impossibility in something’s coming to exist without a cause, but such a circumstance may well be really or metaphysically impossible. In the same way, (2.11) asserts that the absurdities entailed in the real existence of an actual infinite show that such an existence is metaphysically impossible. Hence, one could grant that in the conceptual realm of mathematics one can, given certain conventions and axioms, speak consistently about infinite sets of numbers, but this in no way implies that an actually infinite number of things is really possible. One might also note that the mathematical school of intuitionism denies that even the number series is actually infinite (they take it to be potentially infinite only), so that appeal to number series as examples of actual infinites is a moot procedure.

The late J.L. Mackie also objected to (2.11), claiming that the absurdities are resolved by noting that for infinite groups the axiom “the whole is greater than its part” does not hold, as it does for finite groups.[11] Similarly, Quentin Smith comments that once we understand that an infinite set has a proper subset which has the same number of members as the set itself, the purportedly absurd situations become “perfectly believable.”[12] But to my mind, it is precisely this feature of infinite set theory which, when translated into the realm of the real, yields results which are perfectly incredible, for example, Hilbert’s Hotel. Moreover, not all the absurdities stem from infinite set theory’s denial of Euclid’s axiom: the absurdities illustrated by guests checking out of the hotel stem from the self-contradictory results when the inverse operations of subtraction or division are performed using transfinite numbers. Here the case against an actually infinite collection of things becomes decisive.

Finally one might note the objection of Sorabji, who maintains that illustrations such as Hilbert’s Hotel involve no absurdity. In order to understand what is wrong with the kalam argument, he asks us to envision two parallel columns beginning at the same point and stretching away into the infinite distance, one the column of past years and the other the column of past days. The sense in which the column of past days is no larger than the column of past years, says Sorabji, is that the column of days will not “stick out” beyond the far end of the other column—since neither column has a far end. Now in the case of Hilbert’s Hotel, there is the temptation to think that some unfortunate resident at the far end will drop off into space. But there is no far end: the line of residents will not stick out beyond the far end of the line of rooms. Once this is seen, the outcome is just an explicable—even if a surprising and exhilarating—truth about infinity.[13] Now Sorabji is certainly correct, as we have seen, that Hilbert’s Hotel illustrates an explicable truth about the nature of the actual infinite. If an actually infinite number of things could exist, a Hilbert’s Hotel would be possible. But Sorabji seems to fail to understand the heart of the paradox: I, for one, experience no temptation to think of people dropping off the far end of the hotel, for there is none, but I do have difficulty believing that a hotel in which all the rooms are occupied can accommodate more guests. Of course, the line of guests will not stick out beyond the line of rooms, but if all of those infinite rooms already have guests in them, then can moving those guests about really create empty rooms? Sorabji’s own illustration of the columns of past years and days I find not a little disquieting: if we divide the columns into foot-long segments and mark one column as the years and the other as the days, then one column is as long as the other and yet for every foot-length segment in the column of years, 365 segments of equal length are found in the column of days! These paradoxical results can be avoided only if such actually infinite collections can exist only in the imagination, not in reality. In any case, the Hilbert’s Hotel illustration is not exhausted by dealing only with the addition of new guests, for the subtraction of guests results in absurdities even more intractable. Sorabji’s analysis says nothing to resolve these. Hence, it seems to me that the objections to premiss (2.11) are less plausible than the premiss itself.

With regard to (2.12), the most frequent objection is that the past ought to be regarded as a potential infinite only, not an actual infinite. This was Aquinas’s position versus Bonaventure, and the contemporary philosopher Charles Hartshorne seems to side with Thomas on this issue.[14] Such a position is, however, untenable. The future is potentially infinite—since it does not exist—but the past is actual in a way the future is not, as evidenced by the fact that we have traces of the past in the present, but no traces of the future. Hence, if the series of past events never began to exist, there must have been an actually infinite number of past events.

The objections to either premiss, therefore, seem to be less compelling than the premisses themselves. Together they imply that the universe began to exist. Hence, I conclude that this argument furnishes good grounds for accepting the truth of premiss (2) that the universe began to exist.

Second Supporting Argument

The second argument (2.2) for the beginning of the universe is based on the impossibility of forming an actual infinite by successive addition. This argument is distinct from the first in that it does not deny the possibility of the existence of an actual infinite, but the possibility of its being formed by successive addition.

Premiss (2.21) is the crucial step in the argument. One cannot form an actually infinite collection of things by successively adding one member after another. Since one can always add one more before arriving at infinity, it is impossible to reach actual infinity. Sometimes this is called the impossibility of “counting to infinity” or “traversing the infinite.” It is important to understand that this impossibility has nothing to do with the amount of time available: it belongs to the nature of infinity that it cannot be so formed.

Now someone might say that while an infinite collection cannot be formed by beginning at a point and adding members, nevertheless an infinite collection could be formed by never beginning but ending at a point, that is to say, ending at a point after having added one member after another from eternity. But this method seems even more unbelievable than the first method. If one cannot count to infinity, how can one count down from infinity? If one cannot traverse the infinite by moving in one direction, how can one traverse it by simply moving in the opposite direction?

Indeed, the idea of a beginningless series ending in the present seems to be absurd. To give just one illustration: suppose we meet a man who claims to have been counting from eternity and is now finishing: . . ., -3, -2, -1, 0. We could ask, why did he not finish counting yesterday or the day before or the year before? By then an infinite time had already elapsed, so that he should already have finished by then. Thus, at no point in the infinite past could we ever find the man finishing his countdown, for by that point he should already be done! In fact, no matter how far back into the past we go, we can never find the man counting at all, for at any point we reach he will have already finished. But if at no point in the past do we find him counting, this contradicts the hypothesis that he has been counting from eternity. This illustrates the fact that the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition is equally impossible whether one proceeds to or from infinity.

Premiss (2.22) presupposes a dynamical view of time according to which events are actualized in serial fashion, one after another. The series of events is not a sort of timelessly subsisting world-line which appears successively in consciousness. Rather becoming is real and essential to a temporal process. Now this view of time is not without its challenges, but to consider their objections in this article would take us too far afield.[15] In this piece, we must rest content with the fact that we are arguing on common ground with our ordinary intuitions of temporal becoming and in agreement with a good number of contemporary philosophers of time and space.

Given the truth of (2.21) and (2.22), the conclusion (2.23) logically follows. If the universe did not begin to exist a finite time ago, then the present moment could never arrive. But obviously, it has arrived. Therefore, we know that the universe is finite in the past and began to exist.

Again, it would be profitable to consider various objections that have been offered against this reasoning. Against (2.21), Mackie objects that the argument illicitly assumes an infinitely distant starting point in the past and then pronounces it impossible to travel from that point to today. But there would in an infinite past be no starting point, not even an infinitely distant one. Yet from any given point in the infinite past, there is only a finite distance to the present.[16] Now it seems to me that Mackie’s allegation that the argument presupposes an infinitely distant starting point is entirely groundless. The beginningless character of the series only serves to accentuate the difficulty of its being formed by successive addition. The fact that there is no beginning at all, not even an infinitely distant one, makes the problem more, not less, nettlesome. And the point that from any moment in the infinite past there is only a finite temporal distance to the present may be dismissed as irrelevant. The question is not how any finite portion of the temporal series can be formed, but how the whole infinite series can be formed. If Mackie thinks that because every segment of the series can be formed by successive addition and therefore the whole series can be so formed, then he is simply committing the fallacy of composition.

Sorabji similarly objects that the reason it is impossible to count down from infinity is because counting involves by nature taking a starting number, which is lacking in this case. But completing an infinite lapse of years involves no starting year and is, hence, possible.[17] But this response is clearly inadequate, for, as we have seen, the years of an infinite past could be enumerated by the negative numbers, in which case a completed infinity of years would, indeed, entail a beginningless countdown from infinity. Sorabji anticipates this rebuttal, however, and claims that such a backwards countdown is possible in principle and therefore no logical barrier has been exhibited to the elapsing of an infinity of past years. Again, however, the question I am posing is not whether there is a logical contradiction in such a notion, but whether such a countdown is not metaphysically absurd. For we have seen that such a countdown should at any point already have been completed. But Sorabji is again ready with a response: to say the countdown should at any point already be over confuses counting an infinity of numbers with counting all the numbers. At any given point in the past, the eternal counter will have already counted an infinity of negative numbers, but that does not entail that he will have counted all the negative numbers. I do not think the argument makes this alleged equivocation, and this may be made clear by examining the reason why our eternal counter is supposedly able to complete a count of the negative numbers ending at zero. In order to justify the possibility of this intuitively impossible feat, the argument’s opponent appeals to the so- called Principle of Correspondence used in set theory to determine whether two sets are equivalent (that is, have the same number of members) by matching the members of one set with the members of the other set and vice versa. On the basis of this principle the objector argues that since the counter has lived, say, an infinite number of years and since the set of past years can be put into a one-to-one correspondence with the set of negative numbers, it follows that by counting one number a year an eternal counter would complete a countdown of the negative numbers by the present year. If we were to ask why the counter would not finish next year or in a hundred years, the objector would respond that prior to the present year an infinite number of years will have already elapsed, so that by the Principle of Correspondence, all the numbers should have been counted by now. But this reasoning backfires on the objector: for, as we have seen, on this account the counter should at any point in the past have already finished counting all the numbers, since a one-to-one correspondence exists between the years of the past and the negative numbers. Thus, there is no equivocation between counting an infinity of numbers and counting all the numbers. But at this point a deeper absurdity bursts in view: for suppose there were another counter who counted at a rate of one negative number per day. According to the Principle of Correspondence, which underlies infinite set theory and transfinite arithmetic, both of our eternal counters will finish their countdowns at the same moment, even though one is counting at a rate 365 times faster than the other! Can anyone believe that such scenarios can actually obtain in reality, but do not rather represent the outcome of an imaginary game being played in a purely conceptual realm according to adopted logical conventions and axioms?

As for premiss (2.22), many thinkers have objected that we need not regard the past as a beginningless infinite series with an end in the present. Popper, for example, admits that the set of all past events is actually infinite, but holds that the series of past events is potentially infinite. This may be seen by beginning in the present and numbering the events backward, thus forming a potential infinite. Therefore, the problem of an actual infinite’s being formed by successive addition does not arise.[18] Similarly, Swinburne muses that it is dubious whether a completed infinite series with no beginning but an end makes sense, but he proposes to solve the problem by beginning in the present and regressing into the past so that the series of past events would have no end and would therefore not be a completed infinite.[19] This objection, however, clearly confuses the mental regress of counting with the real progress of the temporal series of events itself. Numbering the series from the present backward only shows that if there are an infinite number of past events, then we can enumerate an infinite number of past events. But the problem is, how can this infinite collection of events come to be formed by successive addition? How we mentally conceive the series does not in any way affect the ontological character of the series itself as a series with no beginning but an end, or in other words, as an actual infinite completed by successive addition.

Once again, then, the objections to (2.21) and (2.22) seem less plausible than the premisses themselves. Together they imply (2.23), or that the universe began to exist.

First Scientific Confirmation

These purely philosophical arguments for the beginning of the universe have received remarkable confirmation from discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics during this century. These confirmations might be summarized under two heads: the confirmation from the expansion of the universe and the confirmation from thermodynamic properties of the universe.

With regard to the first, Hubble’s discovery in 1929 of the red-shift in the light from distant galaxies began a revolution in astronomy perhaps as significant as the Copernican revolution. Prior to this time the universe as a whole was conceived to be static; but the startling conclusion to which Hubble was led was that the red-shift is due to the fact that the universe is in fact expanding. The staggering implication of this fact is that as one traces the expansion back in time, the universe becomes denser and denser until one reaches a point of infinite density from which the universe began to expand. The upshot of Hubble’s discovery was that at some point in the finite past-probably around 15 billion years ago-the entire known universe was contracted down to a single mathematical point which marked the origin of the universe. That initial explosion has come to be known as the “Big Bang.” Four of the world’s most prominent astronomers described that event in these words:

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.[20]

This event that marked the beginning of the universe becomes all the more amazing when one reflects on the fact that a state of “infinite density” is synonymous to “nothing.” There can be no object that possesses infinite density, for if it had any size at all it could still be even more dense. Therefore, as Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle points out, the Big Bang Theory requires the creation of matter from nothing. This is because as one goes back in time, one reaches a point at which, in Hoyle’s words, the universe was “shrunk down to nothing at all.”[21] Thus, what the Big Bang model of the universe seems to require is that the universe began to exist and was created out of nothing.

Some theorists have attempted to avoid the absolute beginning of the universe implied by the Big Bang theory by speculating that the universe may undergo an infinite series of expansions and contractions. There are, however, good grounds for doubting the adequacy of such an oscillating model of the universe: (i) The oscillating model appears to be physically impossible. For all the talk about such models, the fact seems to be that they are only theoretically, but not physically possible. As the late Professor Tinsley of Yale explains, in oscillating models “even though the mathematics say that the universe oscillates, there is no known physics to reverse the collapse and bounce back to a new expansion. The physics seems to say that those models start from the Big Bang, expand, collapse, then end.”[22] In order for the oscillating model to be correct, it would seem that the known laws of physics would have to be revised. (ii) The oscillating model seems to be observationally untenable. Two facts of observational astronomy appear to run contrary to the oscillating model. First, the observed homogeneity of matter distribution throughout the universe seems unaccountable on an oscillating model. During the contraction phase of such a model, black holes begin to gobble up surrounding matter, resulting in an inhomogeneous distribution of matter. But there is no known mechanism to “iron out” these inhomogeneities during the ensuing expansion phase. Thus, the homogeneity of matter observed throughout the universe would remain unexplained. Second, the density of the universe appears to be insufficient for the re-contraction of the universe. For the oscillating model to be even possible, it is necessary that the universe be sufficiently dense such that gravity can overcome the force of the expansion and pull the universe back together again. However, according to the best estimates, if one takes into account both luminous matter and non-luminous matter (found in galactic halos) as well as any possible contribution of neutrino particles to total mass, the universe is still only about one-half that needed for re-contraction.[23] Moreover, recent work on calculating the speed and deceleration of the expansion confirms that the universe is expanding at, so to speak, “escape velocity” and will not therefore re-contract. According to Sandage and Tammann, “Hence, we are forced to decide that . . . it seems inevitable that the Universe will expand forever”; they conclude, therefore, that “the Universe has happened only once.”[24]

Second Scientific Confirmation

As if this were not enough, there is a second scientific confirmation of the beginning of the universe based on the thermodynamic properties of various cosmological models. According to the second law of thermodynamics, processes taking place in a closed system always tend toward a state of equilibrium. Now our interest is in what implications this has when the law is applied to the universe as a whole. For the universe is a gigantic closed system, since it is everything there is and no energy is being fed into it from without. The second law seems to imply that, given enough time, the universe will reach a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, known as the “heat death” of the universe. This death may be hot or cold, depending on whether the universe will expand forever or eventually re-contract. On the one hand, if the density of the universe is great enough to overcome the force of the expansion, then the universe will re-contract into a hot fireball. As the universe contracts, the stars burn more rapidly until they finally explode or evaporate. As the universe grows denser, the black holes begin to gobble up everything around them and begin themselves to coalesce until all the black holes finally coalesce into one gigantic black hole which is coextensive with the universe, from which it will never re-emerge. On the other hand, if the density of the universe is insufficient to halt the expansion, as seems more likely, then the galaxies will turn all their gas into stars and the stars will burn out. At 10[30 ]years the universe will consist of 90% dead stars, 9% supermassive black holes, and l% atomic matter. Elementary particle physics suggests that thereafter protons will decay into electrons and positrons, so that space will be filled with a rarefied gas so thin that the distance between an electron and a positron will be about the size of the present galaxy. At 10[100] years some scientists believe that the black holes themselves will dissipate into radiation and elementary particles. Eventually all the matter in the dark, cold, ever-expanding universe will be reduced to an ultra-thin gas of elementary particles and radiation. Equilibrium will prevail throughout, and the entire universe will be in its final state, from which no change will occur.

Now the question which needs to be asked is this: if, given sufficient time, the universe will reach heat death, then why is it not now in a state of heat death if it has existed for infinite time? If the universe did not begin to exist, then it should now be in a state of equilibrium. Some theorists have suggested that the universe escapes final heat death by oscillating from eternity past to eternity future. But we have already seen that such a model seems to be physically and observationally untenable. But even if we waive those considerations and suppose that the universe does oscillate, the fact is that the thermodynamic properties of this model imply the very beginning of the universe which its proponents seek to avoid. For the thermodynamic properties of an oscillating model are such that the universe expands farther and farther with each successive cycle. Therefore, as one traces the expansions back in time, they grow smaller and smaller. As one scientific team explains, “The effect of entropy production will be to enlarge the cosmic scale, from cycle to cycle. . . . Thus, looking back in time, each cycle generated less entropy, had a smaller cycle time, and had a smaller cycle expansion factor than the cycle that followed it.”[25] Novikov and Zeldovich of the Institute of Applied Mathematics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, therefore, conclude, “The multicycle model has an infinite future, but only a finite past.”[26] As another writer points out, the oscillating model of the universe thus still requires an origin of the universe prior to the smallest cycle.[27]

So whatever scenario one selects for the future of the universe, thermodynamics implies that the universe began to exist. According to physicist P.C.W. Davies, the universe must have been created a finite time ago and is in the process of winding down. Prior to the creation, the universe simply did not exist. Therefore, Davies concludes, even though we may not like it, we must conclude that the universe’s energy was somehow simply “put in” at the creation as an initial condition.[28]

We, therefore, have both philosophical argument and scientific confirmation for the beginning of the universe. On this basis, I think that we are amply justified in concluding the truth of premiss (2) that the universe began to exist.

First Premiss

Premiss (1) strikes me as relatively non-controversial. It is based on the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come out of nothing. Hence, any argument for the principle is apt to be less obvious than the principle itself. Even the great skeptic David Hume admitted that he never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something might come into existence without a cause; he only denied that one could prove the obviously true causal principle.[29] With regard to the universe, if originally there were absolutely nothing—no God, no space, no time—then how could the universe possibly come to exist? The truth of the principle ex nihilonihil fit is so obvious that I think we are justified in foregoing an elaborate defense of the argument’s first premiss.

Nevertheless, some thinkers, exercised to avoid the theism implicit in this premiss within the present context, have felt driven to deny its truth. In order to avoid its theistic implications, Davies presents a scenario which, he confesses, “should not be taken too seriously,” but which seems to have a powerful attraction for Davies.[30] He has reference to a quantum theory of gravity according to which spacetime itself could spring uncaused into being out of absolutely nothing. While admitting that there is “still no satisfactory theory of quantum gravity,” such a theory “would allow spacetime to be created and destroyed spontaneously and uncaused in the same way that particles are created and destroyed spontaneously and uncaused. The theory would entail a certain mathematically determined probability that, for instance, a blob of space would appear where none existed before. Thus, spacetime could pop out of nothingness as the result of a causeless quantum transition.”[31]

Now, in fact, particle pair production furnishes no analogy for this radical ex nihilo becoming, as Davies seems to imply. This quantum phenomenon, even if an exception to the principle that every event has a cause, provides no analogy to something’s coming into being out of nothing. Though physicists speak of this as particle pair creation and annihilation, such terms are philosophically misleading, for all that actually occurs is conversion of energy into matter or vice versa. As Davies admits, “The processes described here do not represent the creation of matter out of nothing, but the conversion of pre- existing energy into material form.”[32] Hence, Davies greatly misleads his reader when he claims that “Particles . . . can appear out of nowhere without specific causation” and again, “Yet the world of quantum physics routinely produces something for nothing.”[33] On the contrary, the world of quantum physics never produces something for nothing.

But to consider the case on its own merits: quantum gravity is so poorly understood that the period prior to 10[-43] sec, which this theory hopes to describe, has been compared by one wag to the regions on the maps of the ancient cartographers marked “Here there be dragons”: it can easily be filled with all sorts of fantasies. In fact, there seems to be no good reason to think that such a theory would involve the sort of spontaneous becoming ex nihilo which Davies suggests. A quantum theory of gravity has the goal of providing a theory of gravitation based on the exchange of particles (gravitons) rather than the geometry of space, which can then be brought into a Grand Unification Theory that unites all the forces of nature into a super symmetrical state in which one fundamental force and a single kind of particle exist. But there seems to be nothing in this which suggests the possibility of spontaneous becoming ex nihilo.

Indeed, it is not at all clear that Davies’s account is even intelligible. What can be meant, for example, by the claim that there is a mathematical probability that nothingness should spawn a region of spacetime “where none existed before?” It cannot mean that given enough time a region of spacetime would pop into existence at a certain place—since neither place nor time exists apart from spacetime. The notion of some probability of something’s coming out of nothing thus seems incoherent.

I am reminded in this connection of some remarks made by A.N. Prior concerning an argument put forward by Jonathan Edwards against something’s coming into existence uncaused. This would be impossible, said Edwards, because it would then be inexplicable why just any and everything cannot or does not come to exist uncaused. One cannot respond that only things of a certain nature come into existence uncaused—since prior to their existence they have no nature which could control their coming to be. Prior made a cosmological application of Edwards’s reasoning by commenting on the steady state model’s postulating the continuous creation of hydrogen atoms ex nihilo:

It is no part of Hoyle’s theory that this process is causeless, but I want to be more definite about this, and to say that if it is causeless, then what is alleged to happen is fantastic and incredible. If it is possible for objects—objects, now, which really are objects, “substances endowed with capacities”—to start existing without a cause, then it is incredible that they should all turn out to be objects of the same sort, namely, hydrogen atoms. The peculiar nature of hydrogen atoms cannot possibly be what makes such starting-to-exist possible for them but not for objects of any other sort; for hydrogen atoms do not have this nature until they are there to have it, i.e. until their starting-to-exist has already occurred. That is Edwards’s argument, in fact; and here it does seem entirely cogent. . . .[34]

Now in the case at hand, if originally absolutely nothing existed, then why should it be spacetime that springs spontaneously out of the void, rather than, say, hydrogen atoms or even rabbits? How can one talk about the probability of any particular thing’s popping into being out of nothing?

Davies on one occasion seems to answer as if the laws of physics are the controlling factor which determines what may leap uncaused into being: “But what of the laws? They have to be ‘there’ to start with so that the universe can come into being. Quantum physics has to exist (in some sense) so that a quantum transition can generate the cosmos in the first place.”[35] Now this seems exceedingly peculiar. Davies seems to attribute to the laws of nature themselves a sort of ontological and causal status such that they constrain spontaneous becoming. But this seems clearly wrong-headed: the laws of physics do not themselves cause or constrain anything; they are simply propositional descriptions of a certain form and generality of what does happen in the universe. And the issue Edwards raises is why, if there were absolutely nothing, it would be true that any one thing rather than another should pop into being uncaused? It is futile to say it somehow belongs to the nature of spacetime to do so, for if there were absolutely nothing then there would have been no nature to determine that spacetime should spring into being.

Even more fundamentally, however, what Davies envisions is surely metaphysical nonsense. Though his scenario is cast as a scientific theory,. someone ought to be bold enough to say that the Emperor is wearing no clothes. Either the necessary and sufficient conditions for the appearance of spacetime existed or not; if so, then it is not true that nothing existed; if not, then it would seem ontologically impossible that being should arise out of absolute non-being. To call such spontaneous springing into being out of non-being a “quantum transition” or to attribute it to “quantum gravity” explains nothing; indeed, on this account, there is no explanation. It just happens.

It seems to me, therefore, that Davies has not provided any plausible basis for denying the truth of the cosmological argument’s first premiss. That whatever begins to exist has a cause would seem to be an ontologically necessary truth, one which is constantly confirmed in our experience.

Conclusion

Given the truth of premisses (1) and (2), it logically follows that (3) the universe has a cause of its existence. In fact, I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator. For how else could a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause? If the cause were simply a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions existing from eternity, then why would not the effect also exist from eternity? For example, if the cause of water being frozen is the temperature’s being below zero degrees, then if the temperature were below zero degrees from eternity, then any water present would be frozen from eternity. The only way to have an eternal cause but a temporal effect would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time. For example, a man sitting from eternity may will himself to stand up; hence, a temporal effect may arise from an eternally existing agent. Indeed, the agent may will from eternity to create a temporal effect, so that no change in the agent need be conceived. Thus, we are brought not merely to the first cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator.

Summary and Conclusion

In conclusion, we have seen on the basis of both philosophical argument and scientific confirmation that it is plausible that the universe began to exist. Given the intuitively obvious principle that whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence, we have been led to conclude that the universe has a cause of its existence. On the basis of our argument, this cause would have to be uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial. Moreover, it would have to be a personal agent who freely elects to create an effect in time. Therefore, on the basis of the kalam cosmological argument, I conclude that it is rational to believe that God exists.

NOTES

[1]G.W. Leibniz, “The Principles of Nature and of Grace, Based on Reason,” in Leibniz Selections, ed. Philip P. Wiener, The Modern Student’s Library (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951), p. 527.

[2]Aristotle Metaphysica Lambda. l. 982b10-15.

[3]Norman Malcolm, Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), p. 70.

[4]J.J.C. Smart, “The Existence of God,” Church Quarterly Review 156 (1955): 194.

[5]G.W. Leibniz, Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil, trans. E.M. Huggard (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951), p. 127; cf. idem, “Principles,” p. 528.

[6]John Hick, “God as Necessary Being,” Journal of Philosophy 57 (1960): 733-4.

[7]David Hume, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, ed. with an Introduction by Norman Kemp Smith, Library of the Liberal Arts (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. 1947), p. 190.

[8]Bertrand Russell and F.C. Copleston, “The Existence of God,” in The Existence of God, ed. with an Introduction by John Hick, Problems of Philosophy Series (New York: Macmillan & Co., 1964), p. 175.

[9]See William Lane Craig, The Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz, Library of Philosophy and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1980), pp. 48-58, 61-76, 98-104, 128-31.

[10]Wallace Matson,  The Existence of God (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1965), pp. 58-60.

[11]J.L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), p. 93.

[12]Quentin Smith, “Infinity and the Past,” Philosophy of Science 54 (1987): 69.

[13]Richard Sorabji, Time, Creation and the Continuum (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1983), pp. 213, 222-3.

[14]Charles Hartshorne, Man’s Vision of God and the Logic of Theism(Chicago: Willett, Clark, & Co., 1941), p. 37.

[15]G.J. Whitrow defends a form of this argument which does not presuppose a dynamical view of time, by asserting that an infinite past would still have to be “lived through” by any everlasting, conscious being, even if the series of physical events subsisted timelessly (G.J. Whitrow, The Natural Philosophy of Time, 2d ed. [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980], pp. 28-32).

[16]Mackie, Theism, p. 93.

[17]Sorabji, Time, Creation, and the Continuum, pp. 219-22.

[18]K.R. Popper, “On the Possibility of an Infinite Past: a Reply to Whitrow,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 29 (1978): 47-8.

[19]R.G. Swinburne, “The Beginning of the Universe,” The Aristotelian Society 40 (1966): 131-2.

[20]Richard J. Gott, et.al., “Will the Universe Expand Forever?” Scientific American (March 1976), p. 65.

[21]Fred Hoyle, From Stonehenge to Modern Cosmology (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1972), p. 36.

[22]Beatrice Tinsley, personal letter.

[23]David N. Schramm and Gary Steigman, “Relic Neutrinos and the Density of the Universe,” Astrophysical Journal 243 (1981): p. 1-7.

[24]Alan Sandage and G.A. Tammann, “Steps Toward the Hubble Constant. VII,” Astrophyscial Journal 210 (1976): 23, 7; see also idem, “Steps toward the Hubble Constant. VIII.”  Astrophysical Journal 256 (1982): 339-45.

[25]Duane Dicus, et.al. “Effects of Proton Decay on the Cosmological Future.” Astrophysical Journal 252 (1982): l, 8.

[26]I.D. Novikov and Ya. B. Zeldovich, “Physical Processes Near Cosmological Singularities,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 11 (1973): 401-2.

[27]John Gribbin, “Oscillating Universe Bounces Back,” Nature 259 (1976): 16.

[28]P.C.W. Davies, The Physics of Time Asymmetry (London: Surrey University Press, 1974), p. 104.

[29]David Hume to John Stewart, February, 1754, in The Letters of David Hume, ed. J.Y.T. Greig (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932), 1:187.

[30]Paul Davies, God and the New Physics (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983), p. 214.

[31]Ibid., p. 215.

[32]Ibid., p. 31.

[33]Ibid., pp. 215, 216.

[34]A.N. Prior, “Limited Indeterminism,” in Papers on Time and Tense(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 65.

[35]Davies, God, p. 217.

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