The Myth of the Big Bang

Discussion in 'Judaism' started by Ben Masada, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    The Myth of the Big Bang

    Before you jump into the conclusion that I am about to bash the believers of this myth, I need to bring to your attention that the title of this thread, I have borrowed it from the great Astrophysicist Carl Sagan in his book "Cosmos," page 258.

    After going through some quotations about the myths of creation, Carl Sagan refers to them as tributes to human audacity, being the chief difference between them and "our modern scientific myth of the big bang, that science is self-questioning through the performance of experiments and observations to test our ideas." Never mind how a myth can be tested or experimented upon.

    The bottom line is that it was rather magnanimous of Carl Sagan to admit the big bang as no more, no less, a myth, just like any other mythological account of creation, which, nevertheless, is "equally worthy our deep respect." Here, Carl Sagan implies, IMHO, that the concept of probability is as good as gold in both cases: Creation and the big bang.

    There are two modalities of beliefs: To believe by faith, when we don't know much about what we believe in, and to believe on the basis of probability, when even imaginable things move from zero to some possibility. To believe by faith, which leads to a claim or denial of anything as a fact, Carl Sagan calls it audacity, while king David calls it foolishness. (Psalm 14:1)

    No wonder some theists charge atheists with equal need of faith to believe or to deny as both do each other. So, the only solution to this predicament is to believe on the basis of the concept of probability. Thus, audacity and foolishness are replaced by wisdom.

    Ben
     
  2. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

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    I thought it was a theory? (myths are different)
     
  3. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Ben, when reading your text, I'm curious if you have a scientific background, or what it is. Choosing to call it a myth instead if theory must be calculated on your part, do you not think it is important to even discuss the distinction?
     
  4. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Yep, ben. Let us be clear that what we are talking about is cosmology without experience or physical proof. That makes it "metaphysics"--where all the proof is in terms of thoughts or theories or equations (none of which is necessarily physically based). The big question (IMHO) is whether or not the metaphysical claim is capable of being falsified.

    Big-bang versus cyclic (big-bangs followed by big crunches as infinitum) cosmology has only recently entered serious debate among physical cosmologists. Steinhardt–Turok, Baum–Frampton, Penrose, and Heller are just a few of the serious physical cosmologists who postulate a non-big-bang theory.

    Is this debate mythical in context? If one accepts that the Einsteinian versus Copenhagen debate in quantum mechanics is similarly "metaphysical" and are consistent in looking at the falsifiability of both the big bang and quantum interpretation controversies, I'd say no. Why? Because those involved at this level of the debate are seeking logical, rational, mathematical means to differentiate and falsify cyclic or big bang or Einsteinian or Copenhagen interpretations.

    Unfortunately not all physicists see it that way. Like Einstein or Green it is "beauty" or "elegance" or some other property of the interpretation that drives belief. In that sense, it is myth. Belief in a "Block Universe" or a "hidden variable" or a "quantum source for the first singularity" or an "eternal universe" are all mythical beliefs.

    So, while some (very few) physicists (mainly physical cosmologists who do not postulate a string-theoretic origin) may be doing real metaphysics (trying to disproove one side of the debate or the other), most are not. Therefore (at least in IMHO) most of what you will read and hear about "big bang" theory is indeed mythological in nature.

    Penrose and Heller are really the two non-big-bang theorists who are doing the most non-mythical work (IMHO, or that I know of). Why? They do not assume a string-theoretic based cyclic universe and are really logically, consistently and mathematically looking at the big-bang versus cyclic interpretations.
     
  5. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Aslo, Ben. Why did you choose to post this in Abrahamic Religions > Judaism?
     
  6. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    Perhaps because you don't read Carl Sagan. He is the one who called the big bang "our modern myth."
    Ben
     
  7. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    Well, if you know better than Carl Sagan, I am all ears. I had never referred to the big bang as a myth till I read Carl Sagan. I also thought about it as a theory. I guess, in that case, a theory can be referred to as a myth.
    Ben
     
  8. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    After reading this post of yours, I guess you imply that the big bang was rather a renewal of the universe, as in the end of a cycle and start of another? Am I mistaken?
    Ben
     
  9. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    Yes, I did look for an atheistic part of the forum but I couldn't find it. Since I am Jewish, I thought I would be at home with this information from Carl Sagan, who BTW, was a Jewish Astrophysicist.
    Ben
     
  10. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

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    Not my fault Carl doesn't know the difference between a myth and a theory.
     
  11. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

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    You have my permission to forward this secret occult information to Mr. Sagan

    A myth is defined as a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form.

    A theory is a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena.
     
  12. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    No, Ben. The big conflict in cosmology now is "Big-Bang" versus "Cyclic" Theory. The former has Universe originating once and (probably) never really going out of existence. The latter can be thought of as a series of "Big-Bangs". Since about 2000 "Big Bang Theory" has become more and more used to describe the one time occurrance.
     
  13. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    And you do. You must surely be worthy listening to.
    Ben
     
  14. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    And you do believe that Carl Sagan did not know about that. I'll be damned!
    Ben
     
  15. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    BTW, Carl Sagan does mention the renewal of the universe by means of cycles. Could it be possible that the big bang was only the explosion of a Super Nova? We could get rid of a theory for the origin of the universe and that of a simply renewal of it.
    Ben
     
  16. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Supernovas are something else altogether. See Conformal Cyclic Cosmology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Cyclic model - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, looking for the points differentiating them from the Big Bang.

    Basically the Big Bang is a singularity--a point where the laws of physics (such as we know them) just do not apply. It arrived on the scene in the papers of LeMaitre (like Heller a Jesuit cosmologist) as a simple time-reversal of the Hubble expansion. If you look at what Hubble found as the expansion rate and use it instead as a rate of contraction, looking for when everything was mooshed together you get the BB. There has been some playing at the edges to make the equations of physics fit the data (especially the Cosmic Microwave Background and the problem of its symmetry) which gives us "hyperinflation" during the first few shakes after the BB and "infation" now (oh, and the necessity for "dark mass" and "dark energy"--needed to make the basic equation of General Relativity Work).

    Not that hard, use wikipedia to look up the interesting things or the things you do not know.
     
  17. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    This is odd I think, you did the same with Einstein I think. Do you never question these men who you consider great? When I think about it, I don't really see a discussion in this post, what was the point to it? Just spread the truth? I would have loved to discuss the topic with you but you don't seem willing. Am I wrong?
     
  18. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    I think we are getting off-track here, but I will go with it. "The truth" (if it exists) is probably somewhere between "Sagan said it so it must be right" and Sagan was wrong".

    The sword that can cut the knot is what one takes to be physics as a science and what the methodology of science is. In general there are always an infinite number of ways to explain (General Relativity could be right, but you can get the same results--insofar as gravity goes with Newton or explaining it as "10,000 invisible angles pulling each body"). In terms of measurement or predictability the theories are identical. An empirical (measureable) verification of truth or accuracy is possible in only the simplest of systems. This appears to be EM's position--"what matters is that it is scientific". That is fine, but scientific does not always mean (in hard problems like cosmology and quantum, is almost never) empirical, that is we cannot measure or experiment to prove (in general science never proves anything) or disprove one side or another. How do we (even as scientists) pick one?

    Authority (what Ben seems to stand for) is but one possibility-- "I believe this because Sagan said so". That is a valid approach, thinking Sagan or Einstein or Bohr or Whitehead were always right because of their intellect and prominence is probably the best way to decide for those who do not want to get caught up in the extreme esoterica of the philosophy of science.

    There are a lot of criteria (see theories of truth and scientific methodology) from authority to correspondence to beauty to elegance to empirical testing. The "real" solution (the one scientists and philosophers and others concerned will probably get to) is somewhere along that spectrum.

    If "myth" implies that is something not directly testable, then Ben and Carl are correct (for different reasons--Ben because of faith, Carl because of scientific insight). If, on the other hand "myth" implies "a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form", then EM is right.

    I believe both are right and both are wrong. The Big-Bang is myth because it is not testable--it is merely one of an infinite set of possible explanations. The Big-Bang is not myth because it is one of only a handful of scientifically valid alternatives. The "truth" is somewhere in between. As you probably realize, I love the imprecision of English and personally love "myth", and do not limit it to some dictionary definition.
     
  19. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    So, the big bang is a singularity. I have been told about this before. I wonder if this is not metaphorical for sudden explosion of human intelligence, as in renaissance, or waking up for a new beginning. In a way, it confirms the cycle theory. I'll read more about this. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Ben
     
  20. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

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    I am always willing to learn. It has got to make sense to me though, because I am an avid questioner.
    Ben
     

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