Distressing Near-Death Experiences
The Politics of Psi

Something from Nothing

Physicist Lawrence Krauss has attracted a lot of attention with his claim that the universe could have sprung into existence from nothing. His lecture for AAI (Atheist Alliance International), introduced by Richard Dawkins, has been viewed 1.3 million times on YouTube. Now he has published a short book, again with an afterword by Dawkins.

Krauss argues that a quantum relativistic field is inherently unstable, and exactly the kind of thing that would bring forth a universe. That seems intuitively likely to me, although I obviously can't comment on the scientific arguments, which take up 95% of the text.

It's the other 5% which interests me. Krauss's goal is atheistic: he explicitly aims to knock away the First Cause argument, which he takes to be a pillar of religious faith. If the universe can be shown to have created itself from nothing, then there is no need for a creator god.

Actually the idea isn't new - another physicist and sceptic, Victor Stenger, has been banging this drum for a while. But Krauss's ability to get people's attention is exciting the atheist warriors, who seem to think he has really cracked it. 'Knockout blow', says Richard Dawkins. 'As it turns out, everything has a lot to do with nothing - and nothing to do with God (Sam Harris). 'The triumph of physics over metaphysics, reason and enquiry over obfuscation and myth, made plain for all to see' (A.C. Grayling).

Dawkins adds in his afterword:

The last remaining trump card of the theologian, why is there something rather than nothing, shrivels up before your eyes as you read these pages. If On the Origin of Species was biologists' deadliest blow to supernaturalism, we may come to see A Universe from Nothing as the equivalent from cosmology. The title means exactly what it says, and what it says is devastating.

A lot of people have pointed out the flaw in the argument, however. The 'nothing' that Krauss talks about is, in both theological and philosophical terms, already 'something'. A 'nothing' that has properties, and can be described as being unstable - and indeed, the kind of thing that is highly likely to produce 'something' - is very far from being 'nothing'. On the contrary, it is a very definite 'something'.

So the book has generated a lot of heat, of the usual impassioned kind. Even some generally sceptical scientists like Jerry Coyne have problems with it. The charge is led by David Albert, a philosophy professor with a Ph.D in physics, in a quite hostile review in the New York Times.

Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states - no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems - are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff. The true relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical equivalent to there not being any physical stuff at all isn't this or that particular arrangement of the fields - what it is (obviously, and ineluctably, and on the contrary) is the simple absence of the fields! The fact that some arrangements of fields happen to correspond to the existence of particles and some don't is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that some of the possible arrangements of my fingers happen to correspond to the existence of a fist and some don't.

Krauss seems to anticipate this come-back, sort of. He deals with it in the book in rather grudging asides. The question 'why is there something rather than nothing' is 'intellectually bankrupt', mere semantics, he claims. It's no more significant than asking why some flowers are red and some are blue. It used to be the domain of theologians and philosophers, but they've had their day, and now it's the turn of scientists, who are vastly better equipped to deal with it.

As a last resort, he concedes, the problem might justify a 'deistic' view of nature (of the kind that was briefly adopted by some thinkers in the eighteenth century). That's OK, just so long as we understand that this 'deity' is very far from the gods of the world's great religions, and isn't remotely interested in our doings. He concludes:

Either way, what's useful is not pondering this question, but rather participating in the exciting voyage of discovery that may reveal how the universe in which we live evolved and is evolving...That is why we have science.

It strikes me that this inability of scientists to accept the idea of 'nothing' - in its fullest sense, is closely analogous to the problems sceptics have with psi. It's a conceptual dead-end, a barrier that they can't get past. If they yield to it, it would represent the final triumph of mystery and uncertainty over the capacity of the human mind, harnessed to scientific thinking, to conquer all mystery. And this mystery must be vanquished, because it is exploited by wicked supernaturalists, to fuddle people's minds and cause evil.

I can understand why they should want to use this 'something from nothing' formula as atheistic propaganda - as part of their campaign to rid the world of the virus of religion. But I'd like to think that, in their heart of hearts, they know that there's a question here that science is not remotely capable of answering. What really worries me is that they don't, and that they actually believe this idea. In that case, there's no common ground on which to base a dialogue: we're in different conceptual worlds.

For me, Krauss's argument only goes to confirm Stephen Jay Gould's famous definition of science and religion as 'non-overlapping magisteria'. It's partly what Gould was talking about, and what atheists like Harris, who considers Gould's position 'doomed', seem unable to understand. For all of scientists' contempt for philosophers, casually expressed by Krauss throughout his book, they can't address this. Yes, biologists like Dawkins can explain why flowers are of different colours: it's to attract the right sort of pollinators, as insects and birds have different optical spectrums. But that sort of question is embedded firmly within the logic chain of material cause and effect. A state of 'nothing' that the human mind can conceive of, by contrast, is not - it's utterly beyond the mind's capability to deal with.

I may not be typical in this regard, but the First Cause problem has lurked obscurely in the background of my consciousness for as long as I can remember. It's an ever-present question. I accept that it can't be resolved in this world, with this mind, but I also struggle to understand how it could ever be resolved - in any future state. That frustrates me, so I'm never completely at peace about it.

I suppose one way to deal with it is to argue that the question doesn't exist, it's just a property of human consciousness to think in this way, an effect of the way the brain has evolved. But if we start down that road, then surely we degrade all human thinking, including the science that reveals to us the workings of the universe, in all its marvellous complexity. It's all so much meaningless fluff.

Or else we can believe that a state of mystical enlightenment may provide the answer, in a flash of intuitive insight, perhaps showing that the question in some way is false. That's something that's always intrigued me. But then the reasoning mind barges in, insisting that this would just be some comforting illusion, nothing to do with reality.

It's hard to escape the feeling that we're like fish in a tank, coming to an ever more detailed understanding of our environment, but still lacking the slightest clue what lies beyond it.


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"It's a conceptual dead-end, a barrier that they can't get past. If they yield to it, it would represent the final triumph of mystery and uncertainty over the capacity of the human mind,"

But isn't that *exactly* the character of fundamentalism? It's a stage of psychological development - just above chaos and criminality - that cannot tolerate uncertainty for fear of falling back into confusion.

So the fundamentalist (of any persuasion) demands certainty. Ambiguity simply will not do for a controlling mind that requires everything to be tightly nailed down.

I feel for such people. Really, I do. 8/

"It's hard to escape the feeling that we're like fish in a tank, coming to an ever more detailed understanding of our environment, but still lacking the slightest clue what lies beyond it."

My sentiments exactly, and Lawrence Krauss is one of those fish. :-)

Using science to disprove a creator is about as productive as using a painting to disprove its painter.

The problem with modern quantum physics is that it’s at an impasse. They’re in need of a new set of theories to be able to move forward. The old, fundamental equations cannot describe all of the observed behavior such that a change in thinking is required (I believe that Wave Structure of Matter deserves more attention). Never has a quark been isolated, yet they’re still searching for ever smaller “pieces” of an atom? For years, physicists have spent billions of dollars searching for a fundamental particle; something that they are now beginning to realize may not exist at all. Now _that’s_ funny!

To move forward will require an admission that they’ve been working for years under false pretenses and those who question the foundations are subject to ridicule and punishment.

Psi is a reality. Its function cannot be described in physical terms (as they exist today) and physics will eventually be forced to admit that. For that matter, life cannot be explained away in purely physical terms. Once the leading minds in science collectively understand that reality extends beyond this physical environment, then the doors to greater understanding will truly begin to open.

One of the most wonderful thoughts we can hold is that this reality is ever revealing itself and we will never see an end to the surprises it offers. Regarding our fish tank, there are boundless clues about what’s “outside” it. Sometimes they’re right in front of us. Search for them. It’s good to gather input from others, especially scientists, even close-minded ones, for added perspective. From there, we can conduct our own investigation and internalize our own conclusions.

Wow, just look at the type of language employed by Dawkins in his afterword. What a zeolot. It's ironic that Dawkins pretty much admits to not understanding the physics in Krauss's book, yet he willingly accepts it all without question, hook line and sinker you might say. Absence of even a hint of doubt or questioning of one's own opinion or beliefs makes me uneasy, and Dawkins displays that behaviour with a vengeance and in spades.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I like how you draw out Krauss's double position: "I've solved this problem/it's not a real problem."

As for how something has arisen, I think there are certain problems that these brains are too small to solve, problems that can only be solved from an infinite point of view. I find that frustrating, but the fact is that there are all kinds of problems that our minds can solve but that the mind of a dog will never be able to solve. I don't think the mind of a dog is fundamentally different, just slightly smaller. There's just a little bit less mind that is able to come through a dog's brain. Surely that same principle applies to our minds, too. They must be simply too small to understand certain things.

Dave wrote:

"Absence of even a hint of doubt or questioning of one's own opinion or beliefs makes me uneasy, and Dawkins displays that behaviour with a vengeance and in spades."

And those who have read 'LIFE and how to survive it' will know *exactly* what that means in psychiatric terms! 88{

A problem here, as in so many other cases of "science", is an unforgiveably parochial aspect of the situation. They define things insistently in terms of what's obvious about them right now, right here. It has to be accepted that, before there is time por space, conditions are nothing like what "science" defines them to be here and now! If there was no time and space, there was no "quantum relativistic field". Quantumness, relativity and the quality of being a field require concepts of energy, mass, velocity, space, time. If time and space and anything to fill that time and space don't exist, then nothing related to them can exist, either. If you want to get down to it, the question "why is there something rather than nothing" can be said to be artificial. What "scientific" proof is there that there is something and not nothing? What happens when two particles of nothing interact? "Science" hasn't observed two particles of nothing interacting, so, frankly, "science" cannot say they don't interact in ways reminiscent of what "science" calls "something"! After all, what does "science" use to verify the existence of the "something", other particles of the "somehing"! But nothing else. Even "science" does not necessarily accord an object limitless license in defining itself, it prefers if not demands an independent observer! What proof does "science" have that a machine made of nothing won't start pinging, in a way that only other nothing will recognize, when it senses the presence of objects made of nothing? In fact, "science" does it's level best to insist there is nothing else to judge the reality and existence of "something" by! As if "scientists" don't want people to know there may be a reality more real than this! Perhaps, by keeping the presence of othe realities which can judge the nature of this reality from the populace at large, "scientists" can somehow control the fabric of this reality and turn it into what they want!

Don't encourage them, Julian! ;)

Very nice post!

For all their sophistication, people like Krauss and Dawkins are as small children who simply must have their way. What drives this desperate need to impose and dominate?

There's something altogether forlorn about all of it, and despite all the swaggering, self-centered arrogance, the religion of Scientism will eventually be found wanting and wither away.

I am reminded of the story I heard about the mathematician, Euler. In a debate with French philosophers, he filled a blackboard with mathematical equations, and ended up with the conclusion: "Therefore, God exists". And, of course, they had no answer to it. Krauss appears to have played the same trick from the other side: If you can't dazzle them with data, baffle them with b---t.

Is ''something from nothing''supposed to disprove an afterlfe? I look forward to chris carter's forthcoming book ''Science and the afterlife experience''

Reveals the evidence of life beyond death

• Examines 125 years of scientific research into reincarnation, apparitions, and communication with the dead showing these phenomena are real

• Reveals the existence of higher planes of consciousness where the souls of the dead can choose to advance or manifest once again on Earth

• Explains how these findings have been ignored and denied because they are incompatible with materialist doctrines

In this book, Chris Carter shows that evidence of life beyond death exists and has been around for millennia, predating any organized religion. Focusing on three key phenomena--reincarnation, apparitions, and communications from the dead--Carter reveals 125 years of documented scientific studies by independent researchers and the British and American Societies for Psychical Research that rule out hoaxes, fraud, and hallucinations and prove these afterlife phenomena are real.

I'm sure Chris Carter couldn't have put that any better himself, 'Delboy'. ;)

Methinks that was a shameless plug for Chris's book. No need to do that here, his stuff speaks for itself! I do look forward to reading it.

A word for the uninformed.On a reguler basis i do electronic voice phenenomena tests, and i can tell you right now that it is real,voices that interact with me,and they show on the wave form software..And Don't be daft,it was not a plug for his book,A recommendation for the know alls of this world,be informed or you may be in for a nasty unpleasant awakening.

Any "plugging" for anything by Chris Carter can only be a good thing.

Relax man I was just joking! I am a sceptical believer and I love Chris Carter's writing. You just sounded like his publicist for many people that are already sold on him including me. Have you experimented with direct radio voice at all? Direct responses seem compelling through the radio.

I just wanted to comment on the idea of a "first cause" as there seems to be some confusion over what it means. In classical theology, there are two meanings to the term 'first cause.' One is the one we are most accustomed to: that prime mover which created the universe ex nihilo. Most people confuse the fact that this is *metaphysics*, not physics. Physics is the realm of science - metaphysics, the realm of philosophy. The logical conclusion is that the universe, being contingent (as all the evidence suggests), had a cause, and that cause, being creative, is intelligent (i.e., that which the theologians called *God*). The second meaning of first cause if a little more complicated. God, as first cause in the second regard, is that which undergirds our existence because God is Being itself. If God didn't exist primarily to keep us in existence, then there would be nothing. Think of God as a field as the term is used in physics, everything else as a particle. It's not a perfect anaology but it helps to get the point across. In that sense of uniting beings under the aegis of Being, God is the first cause. I hope this clarified a bit.

Yeah boy, Moi. Sure does make sense to me. And I heartily agree with you...I think.

BTW, is "aegis" a misspelling or a real word? ;-)


no it's the correct spelling, it's just of latin (greek?) origin :-P

I take it that you know I'm just kidding, Moi. :-)
I get what you're saying, but it's one of those things that most folks have to stop for a few seconds and think about.

Heaven forbid we do that in an age where the press deems any militant skeptic with a pedigree an "expert", and gives them the last word.

So true. Hopefully we are entering a time in which skeptics will have less and less of a voice in the media and paranormal researchers more and more :)

I think true scepticism and paranormal research should go hand-in-hand.

a fine blog, Robert.
just started reading it recently.

my approach to these topics in general leads me to demand a greater usage of e-prime, to not conflate science with scientism, to not conflate sceptic with scepticist, to watch for where emotions rise and try to remain balanced and curious and with a sense of humour about the whole thing.

in all these questions a deep core in us is poked, and graves-a-looming, we try to understand enough to match our expectations in life. we have to routinely ignore hotheads of every type and maintain a spirit (ahem) of enquiry.

would the word belief sound immediate alert no matter what follows it. a silly word. i prefer wish.

ok. good job here at paranormalia. look forward to reading more.

billy mavreas - montreal

As Moi pointed out, the purely scientific argument seems to overlook or misconstrue the actual philosophical/ theological argument, which involves the distinction between necessary and contingent facts. This is not a question that can be resolved by scientific inquiry, which by its nature is limited to investigating contingencies.

In other words, a scientist may be able to trace the origin of an oak tree to an acorn, and trace that acorn to an earlier oak tree, and so on, all the way back (in theory) to the Big Bang. And maybe he can even trace the origin of the Big Bang to some prior event or state. But he's still dealing with a chain of contingencies. The philosophical crux is that if we are to avoid an infinite regress, we need a starting point that is not contingent, but exists in and of itself. Since all physical things are contingent, it (probably) follows that the universe as a whole is contingent. But in this case, the necessary starting point must lie outside of or apart from the universe of physical things, which places it outside the realm of science, or at least the physical sciences.

GUYS.do we know anything at all?it seems not..Roll on the truth.

@Michael: But hasn't it always been the ultimate question, 'Who created God'?

@ Julie: If you ask "what made God" then you are no longer talking about "God", which is an idea *about* the first cause/ground of contingency/etc. Many atheists grant a first cause, but it is the attachment of personhood to the first cause that makes it "God". Traditional monotheism says that reality is reducible to a single mind, which is itself irreducible. So asking "what made God" is the same as asking "what caused the first cause", which is incoherent. It's not "special pleading" as some atheists suggest; it's just about us getting conceps right, and the concept of God is (by definition) immune to the question of prior causation. Belivers still need to give reasons for thinking that the first cause is personal, but that's beside the point.

More on this here: http://tacoseasoning.blogspot.com/2011/03/asking-what-made-god-is-literal.html (a rough draft only jfyi)

- Pat

Forgive me for this, Pat, but what *did* cause the first cause? Which was, essentially, my question. (Where did it all begin?)

Hi Julie,

"The First Cause" was not (and *could not* be) caused by anything else. It cannot depend on anything apart from itself for its existence, otherwise it would not be "the first". It must exist necessarily and it must contain within itself the reason for its own existence (in contrast to our universe, which seemingly didn't *have* to exist and which has a finite past).

Let's say we're calling X the first cause, upon which everything else is contingent. If it turns out that X was caused by Y, then X cannot be the first cause. (And in that case, Y may or may not be)

Unless we invoke an infinite regress of past successive causes, the chain of prior causes must stop at some "point". That point would be the ground of reality - upon which everything else depends/ upon which everything else is contingent.

(Some people think that may be an actual infinte past that may or may not depend on something else to exist, but let's leave that aside for now)

That ground of reality can't be caused by (or depend on) something else, otherwise the "something else" would be (or would be closer to being) the ground of reality. Does that make sense?

Enter "God", which is the idea that the ground of reality is personal/ a mind. If the ground of reality is *not* personal, then it is *not* God. Also, there may be some super-powerful non-embodied mind "out there", but it can't be called "God" unless it is the ground of reality.

I know these terms and concepts can be confusing and I may not be explaining them adequately. Basically, if X was caused by (or depends on) non-X then X can't be God.

Does this help at all?

- Pat

Very elegant prose, Pat. But it doesn't really answer the ultimate question, does it?

"(Some people think that may be an actual infinte past that may or may not depend on something else to exist, but let's leave that aside for now)"

Why? Why leave it aside?

Hi again Julie,

Regarding the "actual infinte past", I left it aside for two reasons. First, I don't think it has a whole lot of relevance to the basic points I was making (see below). And second, I feared that I was confusing you and didn't want to deal with too much too soon. *But*... if there really is an infinite series of past events, then the concept of God could still be framed in an intelligible way: the infinite chain itself would depend on a single mind, which in turn would not depend on anything else. Broadly, the concept of "God" says that reality (*whatever* we take "reality" to include) is reducible to a single mind, which is itself irreducible.

Having said that, I tend to think that an actually complete infinite (as a *quantitative* concept) is logically impossible, at least when describing the *past*.

- Pat

Of course an infinite concept is logically impossible. So why even try to apply logic (human logic) to such a concept at all?

Isn't it the point that the beginning - the purpose, the cause - simply can't be deduced, and that all attempts to do so are merely the product of inflated and insecure human minds desperate to establish palatable answers at all costs?

Hi Julie,

Well now we're shifting topics into the applicability and limits of logic, the relevance of the concept of a quantitative infinite, and the motivations behind these kinds of deep reflections. But I was merely trying to clarify concepts in response to your question of "who made God?"

In any case, in order to reason successfully at all, we need to follow logical rules of inference and deduction. It seems to me that an actually infinite past would lead to absurdities and self-contradictions, and self-contradictions can't be true. It goes well beyond simply being "unpalatable". I don't think we should dismiss this by saying that it's merely our "human logic". Is there some other kind of logic that would make an actual infinite more plausible?? And either way, as I noted, an actual infinite wouldn't necessarily undermine any of my other clarifications. And again, I jumped into the conversation to clarify, not to argue.

>> Isn't it the point that the beginning - the purpose, the cause - simply can't be deduced <<

Whose point was that? You seem to be taking that for granted, but I think that a "mother beginning" is plausible and can be argued for in an intellectually responsible manner. I don't think that I'm merely an "inflated and insecure human mind desperate to establish palatable answers at all costs".


- Pat

>> Isn't it the point that the beginning - the purpose, the cause - simply can't be deduced <<

"Whose point was that?" Why, it was my point, Pat. 8)

Kindest regards,

@Michael: But hasn't it always been the ultimate question, 'Who created God'?

Posted by: Julie Baxter | May 13, 2012 at 06:44 PM

No, that wouldn't be a valid question philosophically, because it ignores the distinction between contingent and necessary facts. If God or any so-called First Cause or Prime Mover had to be created, then it would be a contingent fact, whereas the argument requires the First Cause to be necessary, not contingent. The idea is that all the constituents of the physical world are contingent, so if there is a necessary fact, it must lie outside of or apart from anything physical. For convenience we call this nonphysical First Cause by the name of God, though the argument doesn't imply or require a personal God or a God with the qualities depicted in the Bible, etc.

The argument can be attacked at two points: first, the claim that if all the parts of the universe are contingent, then the universe as a whole must be contingent; and second, the claim that an infinite regression is impossible, leaving a necessary first cause as the only logical alternative. Either of these claims is disputable, although both seem pretty reasonable to me.

In combination with the argument from design, which is bolstered by the extremely unlikely set of "cosmic coincidences" that rendered our universe stable and habitable, the first cause argument is pretty good, I think.

"No, that wouldn't be a valid question philosophically."

Well, it's a valid question to me. 8)

It seems to me the solution to this argument is that everything has always existed and always will, expanding and then collapsing again forever amen. We need to conceive of beginnings because we seem to begin...but there are plenty of memories of
previous lives that point to continuity. The god of religious doctrine served a purpose I suppose but we now have better insight into 'god' . Thousands of testimonies which seem to broadly match ..for them not only did 'god' exist but he/she is not a judgemental dictator but a loving co-creator with a wonderful sense of humour. Will Dawkins protest when he stands in the light.

Well, whatever 'god' is and however created, I'm sure he/she/it often shrieks with laughter!

"Well, whatever 'god' is and however created, I'm sure he/she/it often shrieks with laughter!"

Yeah, I'll bet he/she does. I don't think we have to be anything like perfect to be accepted, providing we do our best not to harm anyone. Have a look at this video, the experiences are very evidential of a 'god' that accepts us as we happen to be. Jerry Baldwin (the last one) by his own admission was a judgemental grump but his experience during a cardiac arrest is amazing.


Thank you so much for that link, Tim. I love NDE accounts and hadn't seen that one before. 8)

Kindest regards,

No worries, Julie. I've got scores of links. Have you seen Eben Alexander's talk with Steve Paulson at the Bioethics conference ? The end of this talk is very moving and impossible to explain.

You may have seen this but just in case:


There are a dozen at least here. The Phil Donohue show is very entertaining.


Best wishes.

Thanks again. Tom. Will follow them all. 8)

BTW, are you on fb? There's a lovely forum called 'The Human Consciousness Project'. I think you might enjoy it - and I could send you an invite if you like. 8)

I don't think there's an answer to the question "Why is there something rather than nothing?" but that's because the question presupposes an absurdity: that both were genuine possibilities.

The problem is that for that to be the case, something would have had to have caused one or the other. So, for something and nothing to both be options, something would have had to have existed already. (There's a joke to the extent of something and nothing deciding to flip a coin.)

So, in that sense it's not a real question. Of course, there remains the question of what the first thing is/was, and it seems to me that Krauss is implicitly arguing that the quantum relativistic fields were the first cause.

I have a lot of problems with that position, but the big one is that he's selling it as a "something from nothing" argument. That's just confused, and it's further evidence of how desperate the self-appointed champions of reason are getting.

Hi again, Julie,

No I'm not on facebook. Thanks very much for your kind offer but I try to restrict my 'operations' to a couple of sites. Best wishes.

Just thinking: surely a 'first cause' is an oxymoron?

And if time (reality?) is infinite then that surely applies in both directions - if you get my drift - so how can there be a 'first cause' anyway?

Or perhaps I just don't have enough to do today. ;)

Re: Julie
The question of who created God or the the first cause would be inherently illogical as asking who is the batchelor married to?
Contingencies depend on prior causal relationships in TIME. Since the birth of the universe was the start of space time then whatever its cause must be non physical & outside of time therefore it can not have a beginning since to ask what caused Gods existence is a reference to time which which the prime cause has to be outside to start the ball rolling.

Julie, again, the moment you ask "what made God" you are no longer talking about God - at least not the "God" of traditional monotheism. So at that point, we'd be talking about different things.

The question "why is there something and not no-thing" was originally posed and addressed by theists/believers who did *not* presuppose a finite universe, although there are very strong scientific and philosophical arguments against an infinite past, which I think ought to be included in contemporary discussions and which render the "first cause" terminology more fitting.

I (along with Hawking, Vilenkin, etc.) would say that time itself had a beginning, which does indeed have some interesting implications for God's internal mental life (logically/explanatorily) "prior" to creation, but I think WLC's discussions of God's relationship to time would help you (see, for example, WLC's book "Time and Eterniity: Exploring God's relationship to Time"). I currently think that the existence of time itself depends on God. So, along with some philosophers, I would say that God is timeless without creation but temporal because of/since creation.

I don't think our universe is infinite in the past, but if it were then you'd be right that the "first cause" terminology would be inaccurate. But, as I've noted, the God concept would still be intelligible and would still *not* be susceptible to the question of "what made God?"

- Pat

Each phenomenon we observe is contingent, because it could not have existed, and therefore it is legitimate to ask why there is such a phenomenon, which leads to other phenomena and so on form a causal chain through scientific research. But what is the explanation of the causal chain or the universe itself? There are several possibilities.

1. The entire universe is contingent, but we have to abandon the search for an ultimate explanation for the universe, because some phenomenon will have to be taken as a primitive fact, without further explanation, whether the quantum vacuum or whatever. This is the pragmatic stance and unconsciously handled most of the scientists.

2. The universe as a whole is necessary, contains in itself the reason for their existence. Pantheism.

3. The universe is contingent because all parts are contingent which leads to its reason for existence is out of the same, being timeless, spaceless and immaterial. Theism or deism.

I think these three possibilities clarify the issue. Now to choose.

'Tis all very challenging. 8)

And yet it seems to me that, however eloquently the matter is discussed, it still remains an attempt to describe the ineffable and, in as much as that is so, little more than verbal gymnastics. Moreover, I really can't see how it might be otherwise from the pedestrian and sorely limited human perspective. 8/

"But hasn't it always been the ultimate question, 'Who created God'?"

Edward Feser discusses this in his review:


I think time and space are illusions based on some kind of paradox between the infinite and the finite. Supposing God created the universe at a particular "time" in the past - well then which came first, the universe or God? It's an unanswerable question because it is a paradox.

Imagine that God was born on earth in 2050 and at some point 20 years later he realised that he was God and then created the entire universe at that point but which had existed since the beginning of the universe anyway. It would be a self-contained birth/process of paradox.

It might not explain anything but then again none of these cosmological arguments explain anything either.

The Egg has # always # existed. The chicken is not programmed to understand that.

I very much doubt that the chicken cares! ;)

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