Outside the Universe.

This is going to be one of those drink-fuelled theoretical rambles. You have been warned.

Whenever ‘religion’ and ‘science’ appear together, a fight always ensues. Even though it isn’t really necessary and neither side is quite sure what they are objecting to.

The public face of modern science is pretty much indistinguishable from the way-out wackos on the outer limits of most religions. What the public see are the scientific equivalent of men in turbans waving AK-47s and screaming ‘I keeel you!’. In the background, real scientists are the equivalent of the corner shop owner who shakes his head at the TV and says ‘Look at those idiots. They give us all a bad name’.

It’s true. The extremists are the ones who get noticed. They are almost always a tiny minority but they are the ones who get into the history books. Look at the Spamish Inquisition. They have entire history books all to themselves but there were millions of other Catholics around at the time who wanted nothing to do with torture and murder. They don’t get so much as a footnote.

The Westboro Baptist Church, led by that guy in the hat from ‘Poltergeist’ who might have died recently (it must be hard to tell) have a hell of a lot more news coverage than the Christians who run charity stalls to raise the money to fix up some community centre somewhere. Yet that bizarre ‘church’ is just one family!

Right from the start of my career in science, I had no wish to strut the world stage making great pronouncements. I was born to be a backroom boffin. If I had one hero in science, it was one of my former lecturers who could deliver the most astounding findings as if he was discussing the weather. It was just his job. He discovered things, that’s what he was paid to do. Nothing remarkable about someone delivering on what they are paid to do, right?

Unfortunately, when the cuts came, those who took the credit were kept on and all their backroom boffins made redundant. I wonder what they take the credit for now? I also wonder if the disposal of all the boffins might have led directly to the debasement of the public image of science. With nothing real to report, the ‘front-men’ are now just making shit up.

Still I had the last laugh when redundancy came my way. There was some equipment I had devised and built and nobody else knew how to use it. I rescued it from being scrapped and installed it in my new rented lab, next door to the one I was made redundant from. It’s still there – I still have the lab even though there’s been no science in there for years. The rent is cheap since the old employers now have far more labs than boffins.

It seems I am digressing again but all I am trying to show is that to the public, science is no longer any different to religion. The public believe in the Green God of Warm. They believe in the Demon Tobacco and the Hobgoblin Drink and the Poltergeist of Sugar and all the rest and they defend their beliefs by claiming that High Priests of Science have said so, therefore it must be true. They do not see that they are being drawn into a cult. This has been so effective that it must be deliberate. That is modern politics and where such things come from will be dealt with later.

Science has no idea where the universe came from. Let’s be honest, scientists. There is no way to be sure. You cannot even take a time machine back to watch the big bang happen. If you did, you would be inside the universe all the way back to where it was quantum foam in a point – and you would be, too. There is no way to ever determine whether the universe popped into existence on its own or whether a God did it.

If a God did it, that God would have been outside the universe when it popped (light the blue touch paper and stand well back) ands is therefore outside the universe now.

Okay, the universe looks pretty big to us, doesn’t it? If God has to go all around it then it will take billions of years before he gets back to the bit we’re in. But try another perspective.

The Bible says we are made in God’s image. I have a 1/3000 scale model of the Altmark, a German supply ship. It is the image of the real thing. Those more skilled than me have made models you can only appreciate with a microscope. They are made in the image of the original but far, far tinier – and we are not gods. God could be vast. To us, the universe is huge but to a God sitting outside it, it might be a benchtop experiment.

In that case, God could be everywhere at once. He would just zoom in on us and maybe poke a bit there or tweak a bit here. Or maybe just watch us engineer our own demise.

What is outside the universe? Nothing? Or something? It is likely we will never be able to know, whether there is a God out there or not. We are limited by our senses which are tuned to let us live in this reality.

But… is this reality real? According to astrophysics, around 80% of the universe is stuff we can neither see nor measure. Dark matter is not the anomaly. We are.

The reality we live in is weird. For tonight I’ll leave it at that and continue this tomorrow.

 

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30 thoughts on “Outside the Universe.

  1. Leggy, as you intimated before, few of us have become scientists because of the salary. Most scientists do okay but probably earn less than most second hand car salesman. I came into science because of wonderment. As a young man I found the world puzzling and science seemed to offer valid answers to life’s conundrums. Unlike theology, which offered nothing but ‘wand waving’, science had a rational methodology which worked, well at least most of the time. You sound wearisome and I understand your cynicism; I’m affected/infected too. Also, as a young man I believed in mysticism and the supernatural. Since then, I have left these notions behind. I’m often accused of being ‘too rational’ and a staunch empiricist. Convicted on all accounts. But my beliefs did not come fully formed, overnight. I have undergone an evolutionally, intellectual process. I honestly believe that if we are to form cogent arguments, about anything, it must be based on sound rational principles. Stewart is a likable man and in a free society is rightly entitled to his views. However, he bandies around concepts such as ‘faith’ and ‘god’ without defining what these supposed concepts actually mean. I suppose this really emphasises the fundamental dichotomy of religion and science. Religion accepts everything on authority, revelation and dogma. Science, at least if it is to be good science, accepts only reproducible sound data. Anyway Leggy, stop being a cynical old scrote and start extolling the virtues of ‘good science.’ Bad science, be damned!

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    • I am quite likeable, I suppose, but not by many humanists, which is strange, given the old definition, but times change and so have humanists and so have scientists. One would expect the reader to know what words like ‘god’ and ‘faith’ mean without wasting time explaining.

      If you mean *which* God then it’s the God who created the universe and was slain for the sins of mankind (those who believe).

      “Science, at least if it is to be good science, accepts only reproducible sound data.”

      True, but there’s a big but. Two big buts.The science isn’t good anymore. There is so much bad ‘science’, how do you tell it from the genuine evidence? It’s become a cult. (I’m just paraphrasing Leggy now.)

      An additional issue is that there are two kinds of science: operational and historical (forensic). One we can do those repeatable experiments and all agree upon, such as that genetic mutations occur – and historical science, being unobservable and unrepeatable (so you can’t get those reproducible sound data), which involves looking at evidence and drawing conclusions, making assumptions and injecting some conjecture. It’s where real fairy stories start appearing.

      Actually, we are confronted by fairy stories from both types: historical science leads to fantasies of ‘missing links’ and molecules-to-man evolution.

      Operational science has been so compromised that the conclusion has often been reached before the ‘research’ begins.

      Like I was saying the other day about Piltdown Man and the modern-day equivalents of finding bones spread over many miles and ‘experts’ insisting they came from the same creature (must have been the first suicide bombers – using nuclear devices), and forming the bones into yet another supposed ‘missing link’.

      You need unwavering faith to believe the scientists these days. In fact, you cannot disprove a single word of scripture, but you can demonstrate how ridiculous some of the ‘expert’ views are. Leggy easily demolishes their ‘latest findings’ constantly.

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  2. I like to tell people to read the biblical Creation account not as a skeptic but as a scientist! Substitute the word ‘God’ (more properly ‘godS’) for ‘unknown energy source’ or some such. Reading the biblical Creation as a scientist and you’ll quickly realise that what you are reading isn’t some ‘Gods of Chaos stirring the Sea Of Fate with the Spear of Destiny’ ‘myth’ but rather a scientific (ie based on observation and logical deduction) hypothesis. Thousand of years ago the Priests realised that Creation was PROGRESSIVE and followed the laws of physics and biology. OK, they got the order of that progression wrong in some places and the time line is whack …mainly because they could SEE quite clearly that the Earth is a flat disc! Treat the biblical Creation Account as you would , say, a scientific paper of Newton or some other C17 scientist. Old science, wrong science but science never the less.

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    • I say it’s the evolution scientists who have the order wrong. But you’ve picked a good point as to why Christians should not believe the Theory of Evolution as, for example, the stars came before the earth and birds appeared after land animals acc. to the TofE.

      Actually, the Old Testament alludes to the earth being spherical, many centuries before scientists caught up.

      Again, you can’t say it’s wrong science as it’s historical – unrepeatable and unobservable.

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      • “Actually, the Old Testament alludes to the earth being spherical, many centuries before scientists caught up.

        Again, you can’t say it’s wrong science as it’s historical – unrepeatable and unobservable.”

        I hate to think how much ink has been spilled, for and agin, about the biblicals regarding the Earth’s sphere-rality…far as I know (and it’s been too long since I read Isaiah) the clever or rather the learned money is on the word meaning a ‘hemi-sphere’ or a a convex lense shape. So you’re probably right to say ‘allude’.

        Personally, ie my personal faith, leads me to stick with the 2nd account of Creation – with God as a divine Titchmarsh cos it seems to me to be the ‘original’ -the other being more ‘poetry’ than factual account or prophecy (in the biblical sense) but that’s just personal feeling.

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  3. Written by Larken Rose;
    “Government” is neither a scientific concept nor a rational sociological construct; nor is it a logical, practical method of human organization and cooperation. The belief in “government” is not based on reason; it is based on faith. In truth, the belief in “government” is a religion, made up of a set of dogmatic teachings, irrational doctrines which fly in the face of both evidence and logic, and which are methodically memorized and repeated by the faithful.

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    • I do believe it could well be a government op. Amazing how the world’s press is so eager to give their ‘God hates fags’ signs, etc., extensive ‘news’ coverage. All a big con to discredit Christianity, if you ask me.

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  4. Hiya,
    Apologies but I can only say again:

    If we think of time/space and all the events and matter in it as being without direction or design, ie, it all happened by chance – a random event in a random universe – (“it just happened”), then there are two problems.
    The first is that if it is the case that any order that exists, such as life, occurred spontaneously in randomness (“it just happened”), then one is actually accepting that it is not order but simply another random set of events that have occurred by chance, and because we live in this fleeting breath of time, we perceive the sequence of events as order. When in fact, according to this thinking, they are part of the pure randomness of eternity.
    However. Then the second problem is encountered. Pure chance, randomness as we perceive it, tends to dissipation. Which ultimately leads to evenness throughout.
    A drop of ink in a glass of water tends to dissipate throughout the water. Ink dispersed in a glass of water does not randomly come together as a drop of ink. Or even several drops of ink.
    Pure randomness would tend to evenness as all its apparent parts, as all of it, merged with every other part. It would therefore become one unified existence in which there were no differences.
    All that we see, experience, know, touch and feel, including our perception of those happenings, is based on difference, potential, separation. All structure in every realm is based on difference such as positive and negative, electrons and protons, attraction, rejection. And all difference implies order because without order, if everything was purely random, there would be complete evenness, which would, in our experience at least, be nothing.
    Everything would have subsumed into everything else. In fact that is not really correct because it would not have occurred in the first place.
    Pure randomness would lead to absolute nothingness as everything would blend with everything else until there was no difference, no potential.
    Random events tend to dispersion. And dispersion tends to complete evenness – stasis. Total silent nothing.
    Is that, perhaps, what exists?

    (My point being that, if we exist as we indeed seem to! – then to think we can just evolve from no pre-existing order is illogical. Sure, things can evolve, develop, but only by the application of some pre-existing order that steers the evolution. And where did that order come from? – if there is no order – because the natural order of things is dispersal – evenness – which in human terms is nothing.)

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    • As the observation of chemical oscillations should inform us, the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not hold in a system far from equilibrium. Sorry.

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  5. http://xkcd.com/505/

    I reckon this is the best approximation of a god I’ve ever seen, and clearly sums up the utter futility of praying to such a being. He isn’t more intelligent than we are, he just has much, much more time on his hands, and a Turing-complete computer.

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  6. Did he call me an Atheist? Look at the name. I’m what it says on the tin. What I believe/disbelieve is my business. I’ll not be told what to believe in or how.

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    • I used to be an Atheist. I used to believe in Global Warming. I used to have mental health problems. Now? I’m working it out for myself. If I come up with the ultimate answer I’ll let you know. Or maybe I won’t.
      It’s taken me nearly fifty years. I’m finally happy to be alive.

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  7. Curious thing this ‘Universe’ idea.
    Are we talking about our visible universe or about the totality of all possible stuff.

    We could never see anything that is farther away in light travel time than our universe is old—an estimated 14 billion or so years.
    Thus, we are surrounded by a “horizon” that we cannot look beyond—a horizon set by the distance that light can travel over the age of the universe.
    This horizon describes our visible universe—a region some 28 billion light years in diameter.

    But, what lies beyond the horizon?

    How many more ‘Universes’ are out there?
    I have seen the number 10 to the 100th thrown about.

    Why should we think that their ‘Laws of Physics’ must be the same as ours?

    Science is good at telling us how stuff works; but, science is not so good at telling us ‘WHY’ stuff has to work the way it does.

    We know we have Life on our Earth; but, science seems unable to tell us ‘WHY’ this is so.

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    • it cannot be 28 billion years, as the big bang was only 14 billion ago (approx). If you look back 14 billion years, you are looking at a point. This would be the same from any position in the known universe!
      There could be many universes beyond ours, but we cannot know or detect them. Also, there could be universes “overlaid” with ours in other dimensions (which might be the dark matter).

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      • Garyk is considering a sphere of radius 14 million from a single point – so it has a diameter of 28 million light years. There are stars on the other side of the point that we have never seen, and never will.

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        • If, as generally accepted, everything was concentrated into a very small space at the moment of the Big Bang, then going back in time by 13.8 billion years approx will bring you to that point. But what’s to say the universe expanded as a sphere? – it could have been any shape of envelope, e.g., a hemisphere resting on god’s tummy. Or our understanding of multi-dimensions could easily be inadequate to describe its shape. So I dispute the sphere measuring 28 billion light years across!

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  8. Well, part of the problem comes from thinking of God as a being focused in time; St Thomas Aquinas argued that one out centuries ago. Myself, I find it wonderous that the thing works as well as it does; magnetism, G forces, radioactice decay.
    It’s not just scientists either, as an Engineer I’m flumoxed by people who plain don’t know where petrol comes from, or what happens under the bonnet when they turn the ignition key, or the link between a light switch and the power station in the distance.

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    • May I remind you of Arthur C Clarke’s third law of prediction; “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” To which I would add the codicil; “But only to those who can’t be bothered to look.”

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      • To which one might also add the epitaph :” And the magic of our science burns brighter than a thousand suns” (‘Killing Joke’-don’t ask me which song though…)

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    • If God is outside the universe then he is also outside time, since time (as we see it) is a function of our universe.

      So he could look into the future and place events in that future, then come back to our past and predict them 😉

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    • I wasn’t expecting that. Still, Spam was the main weapon of the Vikings, as I recall.

      Oh, I did put the Spamish Inquisition, conflating two Monty Python sketches in this addled old brain.

      Still, there is a new story in there somewhere. File under ‘get drunk and type’ for later.

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