How did the universe originate, from where and by which mechanism? Are there traces in the physical realm that may reflect cosmological inauguration, which then suggests another alternative than the necessity of a creator? By far the most developed argument against the theistic view is the often atheist response in which he asserts original building blocks of physics to reflect cosmological origins.
As to the cosmological view of ex nihilo (creation or appearance from nowhere and nothing), the foundational questions being raised related to cosmogony relate primarily to the original building blocks of existence. Are such building blocks self-caused, did they appear independently or were they caused by external factors? If we consider available evidence of an empirical nature, the only supporting pointers are obtained by considering the quantum world particles. Here we need to consider two types of ‘quantum occurrence’, firstly the ‘manipulated lab occurrence’ and secondly the ‘free occurrence’.
Indeed according to the ‘Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle’, particles on quantum level truly appear and behave like ghostlike entities (1), almost equivalent to waves (2). They cannot be interpreted according to time (3), neither can we measure their movement while simultaneously measuring their positions, and vice versa (4). The quantum world also appears completely probabilistic rather than determined (5), and most importantly it has often been asserted that observation reveals their ability to appear randomly out of nothing, through vacuum fluctuation (6).
This conclusion is based however, not upon natural conditions, but by experimental manipulation of particles. By virtually speeding up protons and electrons in particle accelerators by a velocity that almost reaches the speed of light, particles collide from which mass spontaneously appears (7).
Physicists seem to envisage that under such accelerating conditions the ‘initial condition’ of the early universe can be recreated.
While Davies indeed states that such discoveries come close to creation out of nothing (8), he nevertheless raises several objections. He points out firstly, that such particles are ‘dependent’ as they derive from energy within a vacuum rather than a condition of zero energy or virtually nothing (9); secondly, that its process is inaugurated by intelligent lab manipulation rather than a natural random cause (10). Furthermore, such particles are annihilated as spontaneously as they appear (11); in fact some critics remark that manipulated particles may not be real (12).
Hence, while such experiments may reveal the early ‘initial condition’ and Planck time era as Hawking also proposes (13), they do not reveal particles appearing as self-caused, neither do they reveal anything about the condition of a zero energy state or singularity. Here we would need to consider a totally independent fluctuation prior to any envisaged cosmological conditions.
Davies also concedes that these discoveries which occur in isolated systems of laboratories cannot relate to the entire universe (14).
Yet free vacuum fluctuation may still occur within the random abilities of nature. It has been theorized that black holes, which in theory is the closest we reach a singularity state (15), may cause such an occurrence apart from intelligent manipulation. However that is plausible only if it is assumed that gravity or electromagnetism can effect the positive energy of a mass, which indeed is envisaged to occur near black holes (16). If so, it might denote that the universe in its ‘primeval bang’ might have been a zero energy offset by negative energy or gravitational attraction. Yet such reasoning is obviously problematic, as particles appearing within black hole proximity presumably still depend upon some kind of energy (17), occurrence and space.
Hence self-caused, independent energy appears to contradict scientific observation. Current scientific observation reveals that space or vacuum is never empty (18); therefore at the present vacuum never reaches a ground state of zero energy (19).
Accordingly even spontaneous appearance of particles in a black hole proximity are not closely related to ex nihilo either. Hence according to the theory, energy and particles are dependent upon both time and vacuum (20). However, we may also argue that if vacuum, against all logic even succeeded to become entirely empty, particles would still depend upon vacuum (21).
From this we may conclude that while the universe may originally have fluctuated much like quantum particles, quantum particles despite their random behaviour are not independent.
1. Davies, God and the New Physics, p. 103
2. Etienne Klein, Conversations with the Sphinx: Paradoxes in Physics (London: Souvenir Press, 1996), pp. 66-8, 109-23: Einstein envisaged quantum particles to be equivalent to waves; see also Davies, God and the New Physics, pp. 105-11
3. John Barrow, Theories of Everything: The Quest for the Ultimate Explanation (London: BCA, 1991), pp. 63-4; see also John Wright, Designer Universe: Is Christianity compatible with modern Science (Crowborough: Monarch, 1994), pp. 56-7
4. Davies, God and the New Physics, p. 103
5. Ibid, p. 35
6. Quentin Smith, The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe, 1988
http://www.qsmithwmu.com/the_uncaused_beginning_of_the_universe_(1988).htm (Accessed 18 June, 2008)
see also Davies, God and the New Physics, pp.30-4
7. Davies, God and the New Physics, p. 26
8. Davies, God and the New Physics, p.31
9. ibid, pp. 31-2; Davies states that the process of the experiment does not reveal matter appearing from nowhere as we still have to account for where the energy came from in the first place. See also Adams and Laughlin, The Five Ages of the Universe, pp. 6-8; they argue that the energy required to make these particles are borrowed from the vacuum; hence the experiment does not resemble ex nihilo
10. Davies, God and the New physics, p. 31; see also Tony M. Liss and Paul L. Tipton, The Discovery of the Top Quark in David H. Levy (ed.) The Scientific American, Book of the Cosmos, p. 331- 37
11. Adams and Laughlin, The Five Ages of the Universe, p. 7
12. Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (USA: Zondervan, 2004), p. 123
13. Quentin Smith, Quantum Cosmology’s Implication of Atheism, Infidel.org, 1997
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/quantum.html (Accessed 18 June, 2008)
Here Quentin Smith elaborates on Hawking’s conclusions
14. Davies, God and the New Physics, p. 32
15. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, pp- 93-4, 128 and Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell, pp. 110-5; see also Antony Flew, There is God, p. 118, he describes the theory of multiverses (see pages 12-3), as all universes, including ours materialised from black holes.
16. Hawking, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, (New York: Bantam Books, 1998), pp. 111- 4; see also Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell, London: Bantam Press, 2001, ppp. 116-129 and Davies, God and the New Physics, pp. 31-2, and Adam and Laughlin, The Five Ages of the Universe, pp. 128-35
17. Davies, God and the New Physics, p. 32
18. ibid, p. 18; see also Adams and Laughlin, The Five Ages of the Universe, pp. 6-7
19. Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell, pp. 44-5; this is not to be mixed with the fact that the universe as a whole has a total energy of zero caused by positive energy of matter being cancelled by negative energy of attracting gravity, see Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 136)
20. Adams and Laughlin, The Five Ages of the Universe, p. 7
21. Heinz R. Pagels, Perfect Symmetry, pp. 338-9