The Sharing Group Discussion: The “Problematic” Beginning of Creation

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ 

Brother Colin Turner posted this on The Sharing Group, on the 18th April, 2015: “‘Evidence’ for the Existence of God is routinely provided by arguments concerning the ‘Big Bang’.  Is there anyone else here who finds the whole issue of a ‘starting point’ for the cosmos problematic?” 

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: On one hand, the Big Bang provides a convenient way to explain the Existence of God in a manner that people can subscribe to.  A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world.  It is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation.  This makes it as close to fact as possible. 

On the other hand, we have had such theories that were disproven.  If we make any explanation of creed and theology contingent upon natural science, we run the risk of having the entire basis of a theological argument being discredited when the underlying scientific theory is discredited by new knowledge.  In effect, we have made the Creator contingent upon the Created. 

Brother David W Roesler: In Kabbalah, the creation of the universe is posited to have started at one point and spread outward.  It is the only instance I have come across where the Big Bang is described in religious terms.  I think I may have also heard Hindu versions of the Big Bang as well but cannot guarantee it. 

Brother Hajj Ahmad: The Big Bang is a theory with certain supportive arguments based on mathematical models created by the human intellect that the intellect regards as elegant and approximating perfect replicas of the real world, when in fact, the world does not operate according to mathematics.  In fact despite the elegance of a mathematical model as an explanation, the manifestations of nature always have uncertainty built in.  So mathematics can serve as an approximation for practical applications and the result only has to be “good enough.”  That is ultimately what engineers understand and look for: what is good enough to work. 

Theoretical science completely depends upon mathematics that is created by the intellect to prove or disprove its own propositions by the construction of experiments conducted to prove or disprove the mathematical model.  If a proposition is proved, it is called a “fact”, but in fact, the proof has the built in bias not only of the observer effect but the effect of the constraint of the intellect itself.  The intellect made the proposition, constructed the mathematics and the experimental model and then proved or disproved the proposition all within its own limited domain.  This is hardly factual when this bias is all embracing and thus excludes real objectivity.  Therefore, we cannot define fact as “absolute” reality, actuality, certainty or truth, but rather as “relative” reality, actuality, certainty or truth, based upon the constraint of intellectual assumptions. 

Brother Colin Turner: As Brother Terence points out, theories even shakier than the Big Bang have been proven false before now, and tying up a theological axiom to a scientific finding will always make us hostage to fortune.  But this is not my point.  My point is that in looking for a “starting point” to the universe, we risk overlooking arguably the most obvious and certainly the most compelling “proofs” of the existence of God, namely the cosmos and created beings as they are in the here and now.  To go back aeons in search of a start point seems to me to be flawed thinking.  Why does there need to be a beginning at all?  To me, positing a starting point serves to banish God from the present, focusing as it does all of our attention on this initial point in time which just so happens to be the point at which the scientists invoke the notion of a singularity, plus a massive explosion.  I find the Big Bang theory throws up more questions than it serves to answer, and most of them are uncomfortable ones.  If God Existed “before” Creation, what on Earth precipitated His Creating the cosmos?  What was He doing “before” the starting point? 

Brother Fahim Ferdous Promi: According to the Big Bang theory, there would be no “before” preceding the starting point as time starts from this point onward and moves forward meaning there was no time before it.  Hence, we are looking at the infinity point.  Time cannot pass before its own existence. 

It is like this, if the distance between point A and B is infinity then I, a finite and temporal being, cannot ever cross that distance.  If the period of time elapsed between the creation of the universe and its non-existence is zero or infinity then only an infinite being such as God would be capable of existing within it.  The infinity point cannot be traversed by us nor can it be quantified so we cannot say that for x-many years God existed before He Created the universe because time could not have elapsed.  Its Creation and time is part of the universe.  God is not bound by it. 

Brother Hajj Ahmad: This is not the case: the time elapsed between Creation and non-existence is time bound, unless you are thinking something else.  Time-space exists until its dissolution into non-existence. 

Brother Fahim Ferdous Promi: But how can time elapse before it is even created?  The Big Bang theory postulates that time began with the Big Bang.  It could not have elapsed before it. 

Brother David W Roesler: Not time as we know it travelling only in the forward position.  Of course, the Big Bang is talking about the conditions during the Big Bang.  Before the Big Bang could be just like our physics.  One theory says that the brushing of two passing bubble universes caused a tear in one resulting in our universe being the detritus thrown into its own expanding space.  The original universes could have had time similar to ours. 

Brother Hajj Ahmad: Time does not elapse before Creation.  There is no time.  Time is in fact a creation of the intellect. 

Brother Fahim Ferdous Promi: That is exactly what I said.  There was no lapse of time before Creation therefore we cannot ask what was God doing in the time before He Created the universe as that question supposes time was a construct before the universe. 

Brother Hajj Ahmad: Anyway, the Big Bang is a mental creation based on mentally created concepts and models that are necessarily constrained and so will always prove or disprove themselves within their own domain.  There is no real proof of anything through the intellect other than aspects of itself.  For the realised gnostic, there is no time space.  There is only Divine Manifestation which can only be very roughly understood by Be and it is.  The real understanding is in the experience itself. 

Brother William Voller: Brother Colin, essentially are you saying the Big Bang if seen as theological proof is actually pointing to a watchmaker God; one decidedly absent?  We have discussed this before and I know we would agree that God is very much present in a theological philosophy like occasionalism.  However for everyone else: I recently contested a statement a friend of mine made, when he said God is the spark of the fire of Creation, I replied no God is the spark of the start, middle, and end of Creation.  As Muslims we see God as “in” everything.  He Commands Creation; all Creation is outwardly form but inwardly Divine Command, all points to Him. 

I would also agree that the Big Bang is a bit outdated with quantum physics, this now suggests an eternal universe, which is no problem since we can see this as God’s Eternal Speech.  I would say more interesting is quantum physics and the building blocks of the universe, since it seems to suggest that an event is actually affected by the one who perceives the event, in a very broad sense, so then who perceives reality in of itself.  Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre made an absolutely brilliant philosophical argument that it is a necessity for the universe to need an objective perception, to see Creation as it actually is, rather than a subjective personal view as you, I or any other created being would have. 

Brother Justin Taylor: given everything has a lifetime, or a half-life, nothing is forever but God.  Therefore, a theory whereby before there was nothing, and then at some point there was something, even though we do not really know what the something is, would seem to me a fairly normal understanding. 

Brother William Voller: Brother Justin, I think you are right, but I think Brother Colin’s contention is that this is happening at every moment of existence continually beginningly and endlessly eternally, since God is Bringing a thing into existence, maintaining its existence, and then Making it non-existent always. 

The difference is that His Existence is Absolute and ours contingent.  He Exists, we exist; He Exists, we do not exist; He does not exist, nothing exists.  There can be no existence without His Maintaining it. 

Brother Colin Turner: Brother Hajj Ahmad, there is no “before” Creation, so that time should be a result of it.  God is Creator, has always been and will always be.  That is the problem with the Big Bang: it posits mutability in the Creator, which we know is proscribed.  And what is this talk of non-existence?  There is no such thing, unless we are talking about relative non-existence. 

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Brother Colin Turner, perhaps it would help to consider that there was more than one Big Bang, and there will be more.  That is something discussed in quantum physics, the multiverse scenario.  We cannot make God contingent upon one Big Bang, and limit Him to one aspect of Creation.  As such, there was a beginning to this universe, and that is mathematically proven.  And time, as we understand it, is part of Creation and is mutable, affected by other forces of the universe such as gravity. 

Brother Colin Turner: Agreed, Brother Terence; if there was a Big Bang, it certainly was not the first thing ever Created - it may have been just one in a whole series, as you say. 

Brother Sulayman Bates: It is also interesting to think about the plurality of worlds the multiple Earths as there is multiple Heavens.  Other Earth-like planets scattered out there in the universe.


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