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Waaaghpower
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Here are my opinions on religion: (Christianity, specifically.)
Scientifically, every single theory on how earth was created is bullexcrement. The Big Bang is impossible because something can't come from nothing, God can't exist because he would have had to exist before time, etc. There are poor explanations for all of these, but I prefer to leave these arguments out of discussions, because we clearly do not have a full enough understanding of science to understand how any of reality could have started.
However, once matter exists, I find it plausible that life could have developed on its own. Despite the argument a lot of Christians use that 'the earth is perfectly built to sustain life, any other planet couldn't,' I think life actually had a very high chance of forming, when you look at it through probability: If you have an infinitely large universe, or an infinite amount of time, then eventually life will develop. I believe the 'Infinite Monkey Theorem' has already been mentioned. Earth may be the only planet that can sustain human life, but we very well could have all come into existence on Mars, with bodies and minds that were designed to exist there instead. However, it is equally likely that intelligent life was created, not occurred randomly, simply because the diversity of creatures on earth is to great for any kind of Macro-evolution to have caused from a single organism in a span of even 2 billion years, meaning that multiple creatures would have had to be created at the same time, which is incredibly improbable.
Moving on to theology, I consider God as a loving parent, with humans as his children. He created us for the same reason mothers and fathers have children. He allows us to make mistakes, and learn from them, (or not,) without being controlling. If we rebel, he is saddened but he will not stop loving you, just like a parent, and all he wants is for us, his children, to love him. In my opinion, that is why God created us. Not so he could have a race of mindless worshiping beings, (if that were the case, then we wouldn't need free will,) but because he wanted people who would genuinely love him, and accept his love.
Samwise
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Samwise 22 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic INFP 213C
Erm... the Big Bang theory is so incredibly confused, and popularized, and criticized, I often lose track of what it does and does not state. However, if it has earned the label 'theory', it is reinforced by extremely significant evidence, and is entirely plausible. The 'theory' branding does not come lightly, in science, and takes more evidence than you can imagine to procure.

Further, something did come from nothing. It's silly to assert otherwise. In the very beginning of time, there either was nothing- in which case there'd still be nothing- or there was something, which somehow became the something we have today. Given we are in a something, it's evident that there was never a nothing. o.O
Waaaghpower
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I realize that the Big Bang theory has a lot of credibility, otherwise it would not be a theory. However, the main reason that it is still just a theory is that, while there is evidence for the effects of a big bang, there is no evidence for it actually having occurred specifically. Subtle, but important difference.
Also, while something has to have come from nothing, I realize that, I was trying to just point out that we don't know how it could have possibly happened, since by our science it can't, and therefore there must be a problem with our science.
Samwise
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Samwise 22 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic INFP 213C
I disagree, again. My statements were as follows...

Nothing can come from nothing.
If there was nothing in the beginning, nothing could have come from it.
Something can come from something.
If there was something in the beginning, something could have come from it.
We are in a something.
We are not in a nothing.
Thus, in the beginning, there was not nothing; there was something.

Whether that 'something' is a god or a collection of subatomic particles is up for debate; but don't insist that there was once nothing. If there was once *nothing*, there was also no *god*. x.x
Zazax
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Zazax 27 Canada MelancholicPhlegmatic INTJ 4w5 85C
A lot of my thoughts on this matter have already been stated, and so I won't restate them. I will, however, bring up a few things that still pertain to the topic, although it may seem a bit random and jumbled. Sorry in advance, I'll try my best to minimize it.

First, I present the Anthropic Principle ∞ LINK ∞ . For those not interested in clicking the link, the basic jist is that any observations of the universe must match the nature of the creature making the observation. This is why when we look at Earth some people think "wow, we fit this planet so perfectly. It must have been designed for us/us for it)". In essence, this sort of thing is a type of selection bias, with the bias in this case being for life that can survive on that particular planet. If we would be capable of surviving in, say, a Martian environment, then we would most likely die on Earth and not be around to make the observation "wow, this planet is, like, the worst place ever to live". Likewise anything not capable of surviving on Earth would die, giving rise to the selection bias. Therefore, only the stuff that can comfortably survive in the environment will exist to observe how well they fit their environment. If that makes any sense in the context of this discussion, I'm not quite sure.

Second, Burden of Proof. Anyone well-versed in logical debate should know this one. The rules of Burden of Proof state that in any discussion/debate/whatever, the party/person making the positive claim is the one who needs to provide evidence to support it. The opposing party doesn't need to provide any sort of refuting evidence until the first party has actually proven something. For example, if I were to claim I had superpowers, and someone else were to (much to my chagrin, rightly) call me a liar, it would be illogical, nonsensical, and just plain stupid for me to respond with something like "well, prove I don't. Until you can do that, I obviously have superpowers". The same thing applies to religious debates. "God exists because you can't prove he doesn't" is a violation of the rules of Burden of Proof. And besides, if God must exist simply because there's no evidence that shows he doesn't, then surely Grumpkins and Snarks must exist as well, and will continue to exist until someone can thoroughly disprove them.

As to the 'The World' bit in the original post, the universe *is*, in fact, inherently chaotic. The best example of this is entropy, but there are others. Quantum Mechanics is another good one (especially the bits like the Uncertainty Principle).

I think I'll end this here, though. I could rant (er, I mean, debate. Yes!) about religion all day, but it's really late for me (or really early, as it were), and I should be heading off.
Frostblade
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I would add some more. Do not misunderstand me, I am not here to preach, convert or do anything else; I'd simply like to add something that I've heard or read (or, in some rare cases, deduced from what I know).
"IGiven we are in a something, it's evident that there was never a nothing."
Actually - this is a [i]very[/i] logical argument - and really, I say so even though it's simply not true. It seems very logical, nevertheless.
But since we have the second law of thermodynamics... And well, that pretty much says that there had to be a 'time' (I'll explain the apostrophes later) when nothing existed.
How so? Easily. Entropy does have a well-defined maximum value (per moles of matter), and can never exceed this. Also, the second law states that entropy will always increase in a closed system (and the universe is for sure, by definition a closed system), so if the universe was eternal, it would've reached maximum entropy already (and from this it is evident that since it hasn't - we would've noticed if it had - the universe had a beginning).
So why did I write 'time'? Because if there is no matter, there is no time. Time makes only sense where matter exists (change exists). I think this is what people mean when they say that 'God is outside time'.
That's all for today, I think. Thanks for everyone who read this pretty long 'essay'.
yeroc
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If the universe is infinite, then that would mean it's not a closed system, so entropy doesn't apply. From what I understand of physics, we don't know if it's infinite because we can't see farther than a certain number of lightyears away from ourselves. The possibility that the universe is an infinite unclosed system is still a possibility.
Frostblade
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True. The universe can be infinite.
The second law, however, would still apply to an infinite universe. Entropy would have to increase. It is easy to 'prove' (rather to demonstrate). Actually, I would bring some simple examples.
If the universe is infinite, that won't mean that heat can flow from the colder place to the longer place. It doesn't mean that electricity can flow from the place with the smaller electrical potential to the place with higher one. It doesn't mean that heat can be converted to work. All this I mean, of course, without investing additional energy.
This is what the second law of thermodynamics mean, or rather, these are its consequences. It could be said that all forms of potential energy will eventually convert to some form of kinetic energy (both concepts are much more generic than most people think, energy is either potential (result of the position of the object, like gravititional potential energy, but also magnetic energy and some more) or kinetic (result of some movement, like mechanical energy, but also electrical energy, luminous energy or thermal energy).

I think there'd rather be problems with the first law, because infinite energy would be a bit difficult to understand or to describe physically. I cannot say; so far, as far as I know, nobody can say if the universe is finite or not, but it won't have effect on the second law of thermodynamics.
Or rather, I could say: If the second law of thermodynamics didn't apply... we would've noticed it.
yeroc
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If I understood your post correctly, it wasn't the second law that relied on the universe existing, it was the idea that the second law indicates that time is finite. You were saying energy has a max amount per moles of matter, but if we have infinite moles of matter, that doesn't mean anything. The ratio can't change if it's always infinity over infinity, meaning the ratio will not change with time, at least as far as the universe is concerned. As for energy flowing from place, I don't think we can understand an infinite universe well enough to make that judgment. If the universe is infinite, does the conservation of energy still apply, or is that only for a system smaller than the universe? And how fast does the energy travel to a place with less energy when we're talking about a distance that's infinitely large? Can an infinite distance be crossed in an infinite amount of time?
Frostblade
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The questions you asked are indeed interesting, and please keep in mind that all I can do is to attempt to answer them.

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You were saying energy has a max amount per moles of matter

I apologise if I accidentally wrote that; I didn't mean to. I meant that entropy has a maximum amount, not energy.

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it was the idea that the second law indicates that time is finite


Yes. And, I believe, it would still be true if the universe was infinite. Why do I think that?
Just think about it. I could phrase the second law in another way: that eventually, all of the potential energy will be converted to kinetic energy.
Now comes a bit more difficult part, but after thinking a bit, it is easy to cope with.
In thought, divide the infinite universe to an infinite number of finite systems which contain both potential and kinetic energy.
It is easy to see that all of them will have their potential energy converted to kinetic energy - and what's even more important, simultaneously. And as we divided the universe to infinitely many finite systems, it is easy to see that this conversion will take a finite amount of time.
I think you can see the point now. It does not matter, how much energy the universe has; because the more energy it has, the faster it will convert.

There may be flaws with this thought, but such surprising phenomena are known about infinity, mostly in mathematics, of course. There are improper integrals, for example, which are similar in one of their aspects. Here is one example that surprised me immensely: take the function f(x)=1/x^2.
Let's examine the curve from 1 to infinity. Of course, the curve stretches into infinity; yet the area under it is a round 1. Which is at least as surprising as what I've said above.
I apologise for this one, which might seem off-topic; it is not. I simply attempted to highlight the often unexpected and astounding properties of infinity and its relation with finite numbers.

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The ratio can't change if it's always infinity over infinity


Without the intention to sound dogmatic or certain: I believe it indeed can.
'Infinity per infinity' (the marks are there due to the simple fact that infinity is not a number) can yield different results.
I can come with mathematical example again. For first, there is limes calculation.
An example that might seem a bit complex:
Let us take the function: f(x)=(4x^2-9)/(x^2-4)
Let's see its limes if x keeps to infinity. It appears to be an 'infinity per infinity' limes.
Either we can use the l'Hôpital-rule and see that the 'infinity per infinity' is, in this case, four; or we can divide both the numerator and the denominator with (x^2) to gain the same result.
Or an example that looks simpler, but is, I think, much more difficult to grasp:
Let's see the ratio of integers to natural numbers. It is infinite per infinite.
Now let's take the ratio of real numbers to natural numbers. Also infinite per infinite.
Yet, the latter is larger, despite the fact that there are infinitely many integers and real numbers, there are still more real numbers. It is a fact, and similarly to the 'time problem' we had above, this is easy to see via breaking the 'system' down to infinitely much finite 'systems'.
Let's see the numbers between one and five. There are five integers - one, two, three, four and five. And there are inifnitely many real numbers.
This will be the case with all intervals we can divide the numbers to; therefore, it's a simple induction.

Even though these were mathematical examples, and more abstract ones than I wanted them to be, I think - or rather hope - that they can highlight the rather weird nature of infinity.

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If the universe is infinite, does the conservation of energy still apply, or is that only for a system smaller than the universe? And how fast does the energy travel to a place with less energy when we're talking about a distance that's infinitely large? Can an infinite distance be crossed in an infinite amount of time?


A brilliant question, I must say; but I think that energy will never have to travel an infinite distance - if it will have to travel at all.
This is also easy to grasp, and can be demonstrated without abstract mathematical analogies.
Potential energy will eventually transform into kinetic energy. And what is the most generic form of kinetic energy, which has the highest entropy of them all?
Thermal energy.
And any little amount of matter can have any amount of thermal energy, the converted energy will not have to travel any distance; it will be stored in the material as thermal energy, right there.

I hope they were clear. Thanks for reading and replying!
Zazax
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Zazax 27 Canada MelancholicPhlegmatic INTJ 4w5 85C
@Frostblade:
Regarding the issue of matter that has always existed vs. entropy; interesting and well thought-out points, but there is one thing I believe you may have overlooked. It is entirely possible that all the matter (or rather, the energy that would eventually 'condense' into matter) in the universe has somehow always existed, *and* that entropy still works; one just needs to remember that as far as our current understanding of science is aware, time somehow did not exist prior to the Big Bang. No time means no entropy. Therefore it is entirely possible that the energy of the Big Bang somehow survived for a stupidly long time (or even forever; if God is thought to be eternal, why can't the universe?) pre-Bang with no decay from entropy, and then only actually started going after the Bang happened. Remember, the laws of physics as we know them did not apply before and during the opening stages of the Big Bang.

Also, one other thing that I thought I'd toss in that's a tad off-topic, the universe may not be as much of a closed system as we think. One of the leading theories for what finally kicked off the Big Bang is M-theory, which says that the Big Bang may have been a collision between two or more multi-dimensional branes (linky: ∞ LINK ∞ ), which implies that there are things outside or beyond our universe that can, in fact, affect us. There's also a whole bunch of crazy theories regarding things like Dark Matter and Dark Energy (one of my favourites, however unlikely it may be, is that Dark Matter is simply regular matter in one or more alternate 'realities', and its gravity is bleeding through into ours). So who knows.
Frostblade
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Yours are good points, too. However, I'd like to comment on some of them.

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Remember, the laws of physics as we know them did not apply before and during the opening stages of the Big Bang.


Actually, I think this would require to be phrased more precisely, because in this form, it is not true - it can't be true. It's rather that the laws we frequently use are rather specific (see Newtonian mechanics, and the like, which aren't correct, but provide a very good approximation under the circumstances we can observe).
I would therefore differentiate - the conditions under the Big Bang are supposed to extreme, so many of the laws, which may be in fact, approximations would not be valid. But the second law of thermodynamics is not such an approximation. I'd point out that it's at least as important and fundamental as the first law, the principle that energy can't be destroyed or created. This can be known because they aren't about numbers, like, for example, the Newtonian mechanics, but they are principles, not formulae. And it is very important.

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It is entirely possible that all the matter (or rather, the energy that would eventually 'condense' into matter) in the universe has somehow always existed, and that entropy still works; one just needs to remember that as far as our current understanding of science is aware, time somehow did not exist prior to the Big Bang. No time means no entropy. Therefore it is entirely possible that the energy of the Big Bang somehow survived for a stupidly long time (or even forever; if God is thought to be eternal, why can't the universe?) pre-Bang with no decay from entropy, and then only actually started going after the Bang happened.


Actually, it is not. If there is no time, there can be no change. If matter is in such a 'timeless' state, it will remain so forever. Because it will all be completely 'calm', devoid of energy (absolute zero temperature - only that could ensure absolutely no movement, or not even that - I've learnt that it seems probable, if not certain, that elementary particles oscillate even at absolute zero, making such a state instantly impossible - and it would still have rest energy).
It can be concluded that if there is no time, there is no matter.

Slightly more about this one:

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or rather, the energy that would eventually 'condense' into matter


Actually, again it's something that is impossible. Energy can't exist without matter and matter can't exist without energy. The two can only exist together. Just think about it. There is no type of energy that could exist without some form of matter containing or inducing it. I could list some of them, but I think you know them anyway. The only objection people usually make is luminous energy; but actually, light is matter, too. It has mass (the mass of a photon can be calculated as hf/c^2, where h is the Planck-constant. f is the frequency and c is the speed of light).

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Also, one other thing that I thought I'd toss in that's a tad off-topic, the universe may not be as much of a closed system as we think. One of the leading theories for what finally kicked off the Big Bang is M-theory, which says that the Big Bang may have been a collision between two or more multi-dimensional branes (linky: ∞ LINK ∞ ), which implies that there are things outside or beyond our universe that can, in fact, affect us. There's also a whole bunch of crazy theories regarding things like Dark Matter and Dark Energy (one of my favourites, however unlikely it may be, is that Dark Matter is simply regular matter in one or more alternate 'realities', and its gravity is bleeding through into ours). So who knows.


I can like these, two. Without sarcasm of course, but when people say that there's something outside the universe. No.
Why not? We defined the universe as all the matter (or energy, almost the same) that exists. If there would be something 'outside' the universe, then it would be the part of the universe. This is why I took all the matter together, and was talking about that.

Also, I've read about the String theory and theories about Dark matter and Dark energy, and liked some of them; but let's face it, they shouldn't be called theories, rather just hypotheses. They've been hypothesised to explain certain phenomena, but besides those, there's no evidence to support their existence or correctness.

So, shortly, I can agree - who knows.
dillonflynn
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dillonflynn 29 United States MelancholicSanguine ENFP 794 10C
On his sometimes whiney/sometimes brilliant solo record, Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon sang, "God is a concept by which we measure our pain." (I know, catchy, ain't it? Just rolls right off the tongue). I always thought it was a smart-sounding idea and typically witty for the songwriter, but it wasn't until recently that I stumbled upon a far more personal meaning in those words.

That peculiar human drive to connect, to experience something spiritual and transcendent, really does stem from how deeply we are capable of feeling pain and anguish. In the animal kingdom, personal misfortune is nothing more than a roadblock in terms of the overall success of the species, but we are such an awfully individual strain of life. When we are hurt, when we see others hurt, we are capable of true despair. There is a flip-side to having such big, frontal-lobe heavy brains which are so clever at innovating and advancing our mastery over nature and standard of living: sometimes all of that sheer processing power is used for no other purpose than to feel hurt.

In those moments, when the vastness of global suffering, or injustice, or man's inhumanity to man are suddenly all too real to ignore, it becomes a true act of faith to let oneself hold out hope that the world is a fundamentally righteous and sturdy place for us to live. And so God is a concept by which we measure that pain; an irrefutable Father figure who has the answers to all of our burning, existential questions (many of which can be boiled down simply to "Why?"). Most often, people look to the entity of God when they are hurting, because they need to believe that somebody out there has the answers, that there really is a master plan to all of this, that good people do not suffer needlessly. What is the standard spiritualist's catchphrase-like mantra invoked in the face of any unthinkable tragedy? "God works in mysterious ways," of course.

Many people are surprised to learn that I do believe in God. My faith is rooted in a number of reasons. Mostly, though, I believe because I have to. Otherwise, I can never find the bottom of anything, and I just wasn't built to fall forever.