The real laws of physics are exact per-definition. The laws of physics as far as we know them, or think we know them, are incomplete and we do not know if they are exact. All we know is that they are exact within measuring accuracy in the conditions where we have tested them. They’re exact until they aren’t any more.
Various theologians and other religious philosophers have over many, many centuries, given a list of what traits or properties a Supreme Deity or Maximally Greatest Being would have. Physicists refrain since the list in question makes little if any physical sense, as we’re about to discover. Much of what follows stems from an on-line debate I had with my old ‘friend’ the “Accidental Meta-Physician”. While I admire his all gun’s blazing theological faith, his physics leaves a lot to be desired.
Author’s Note: Rather than name names and thus include and exclude certain gods from various theologies, I’ll just use an all-encompassing phrase “Supreme Deity” or “SD”. Persons of differing faiths can substitute their own specific deity as they wish.
According to one well known modern religious theologian, William Lane Craig, the entity (i.e. – Supreme Deity) behind the creation of the Universe had to have been itself uncaused, beginning-less, changeless, eternal, timeless, space-less, an immaterial all-powerful being who is a personal agent, endowed with freedom of the will. Hopefully, by the time you’ve reached the conclusion of this essays, these characteristics will be viewed as total nonsense.
PHYSICS: DEBATING THE EXISTENCE OF A SUPREME DEITY
“Things”, like a Supreme Deity (SD), would have certain properties. Things with certain properties have structure and substance. Things with structure and substance are physical things. Physical things can have an effect on other physical things. Non-physical things, like Wednesday, have no structure and substance. The concept of Wednesday cannot have any physical effect on say a billiard ball. A billiard ball cannot have any effect on the concept of Wednesday. So, non-physical things (concepts) cannot affect physical things, and vice-versa. Since a SD, being, according to some theologies, a non-physical entity (a concept with no structure and substance), cannot therefore have any effect on or create or destroy physical things. However, non-physical concepts can have an effect on other non-physical concepts. The concept of a SD might give some the concept to be a more moral person, but that is not imposed on anyone by a non-physical SD but rather that morality comes from within. A physical deity of course could tell you to be moral or else physical consequences will follow.
If the Universe was say composed of a total of 1000 atoms, then any Supreme Deity (SD) who created the Universe couldn’t be composed of any atoms otherwise the sum total of atoms in the Universe would add up to more than 1000. Thus any SD, any supernatural creator, must be non-physical according to some theists. Unlike theists, I say that the non-physical cannot create the physical. Not even a SD can create something from nothing, especially if that Supreme Deity was also non-physical.
Once upon a time there was this Supreme Deity, who was non-physical, who was eternal but not infinite. For some unknown and unexplained reason(s), He / She / It decided* somewhere on down the track, to create a physical universe, complete with life and just everything. How do you do that if you have nothing physical to work with? Even if this SD were physical in and of itself, it wouldn’t have any raw materials from which to work on or with. So, here’s a variation on some standard cosmology. The SD – a physical SD – literally went all to pieces, came apart at the seams, and scattered Himself / Herself / Itself into the void and became as one with the Universe. The SD is the Universe and goes by the name of Mother Nature!
*How you can decide anything if you are non-physical and lack any neurological infrastructure or system is quite beyond me.
So here we have this omnipotent entity, this Supreme Deity (SD), who is non-physical, who has existed for all eternity (but not infinitely so which seems a contradiction to me but apparently not to religious theologians), and in a timeless state to boot. Then for some totally unexplained reason this entity crossed over the Rubicon into time by creating a physical cosmos, but not an infinite cosmos; created it out of absolutely nothing for no apparently good reason other than “what the heck; why not; I’m bored” (my quotes). Do you, the reader, have any comprehension of how utterly ridiculous that sounds? If you came across that scenario or concept for the very first time in a novel, you’d be right to question the author’s sanity or their drug use.
Timelessness is a ridiculous impossibility since that would require an operating temperature of absolute zero (negating any possible change, therefore motion taking place, therefore making the concept of time meaningless). A state of absolute zero is not actually achievable. If you have even the smallest amount of change, therefore motion, you have time. I wish those advocating pockets of timelessness might, using their powers of philosophical deduction, point out a place(s) in the Cosmos that currently exist(s) in a state of timelessness.
The transition from a state of timelessness to a state of time by anyone is impossible since a change (a mental thought, electrons in motion at the minimum is required) would of had to have occurred while still in a timeless state which cannot be. You have to think of going from your timeless state into a state of time before you actually do it.
Further, it’s an impossibility to create an absolute something from an absolute nothing, especially if you are non-physical to begin with.
An actual non-physical thing is nonsense. A “thing” here is an actual something with substance and structure. Non-physical ‘things’ are just mental concepts without associated substance and structure. One can imagine a Santa Claus of course, but that Santa is non-physical. That non-physical Santa cannot make a transition from that mental state of non-physicality ‘reality’ into a physical reality. That equally applies to the mental concept of a non-physical Maximally Great Being. As in the case of Santa, just because you can imagine it doesn’t of necessity make it so in a physical reality.
So why can’t those of the faith, various theologians, produce their invisible ‘friend’, their Supreme Deity’s body, for all to admire? Oh, of course, how silly of me – their invisible ‘friend’ is of course non-physical so nobody could see, hear, touch, taste or smell Him / She / It – How very, very convenient when asked to produce the goods.
And therein lies the central problem. Theologians can’t do a “show and tell” and give us the SD’s body to gawk at. Religious theologians can’t give us the physical mechanism or even the theoretical equations that make the something from nothing mechanisms real mechanisms. Then some theologians toss around meaningless and nonsense terms like existence in a state of timelessness or existence in non-space, and then they expect people to take them seriously on just their say-so.
If their waffle were as convincing as they seem to think it is, well the whole world would be their oyster now, wouldn’t it?
I’ve thus far briefly hinted at the concepts of non-physicality; the creation of something from nothing; and existence outside of time and space. I’ll now examine these in greater detail.
PHYSICS AND NON-PHYSICALITY
Any Supreme Deity (SD) is most certainly is a physical object. Firstly, according to various religious theologians, He / She / It crossed over from a timeless state of ‘reality’ into a reality state where time (thus change through motion) exists. If you are in a physical reality and you change or cause change in that physical reality, you in turn must be physical. Anyway, the evidence that a SD (assuming a SD of course which I don’t) is physical is found in the Old and New Testaments and similar religious texts. A SD exists at specific times in specific places and does specific physical things. He / She / It speaks. You cannot speak if you are not physical! In the Old Testament, for example, a SD controls the weather and drowns lots of animals and people. A non-physical being cannot cause physical rain for 40 seconds, minutes or days. This SD transports Himself / Herself / Itself from place to place via a cloud. A cloud is a physical thing! This specific SD has a throne in Heaven. What need of a throne if you aren’t physical? The Old Testament in particular is full of a SD’s actions, interactions and reactions. I’m sure if you could go back in time and chin-wag with Moses (assuming Moses actually existed of course), he’d tell you that his encounter with a SD had physical reality. This Supreme Deity was a physical something with structure and substance.
I’ve argued long and loud elsewhere that a Supreme Deity (SD), if there be a SD as described in the Old Testament (and similar texts), must be physical on the grounds that creation of physical things (the Earth, seas, animals, humans, etc.) as related in Genesis requires a physical creator. Non-physical auto workers can’t construct a physical automobile!
So I’m here to debate the physical existence of one possible SD known by lots of different names to lots of different people, not the metaphysical non-physical existence of a SD or the SD in Alice’s Wonderland SD, or the SD from Never-Never-Land, etc. I want evidence – no, make that proof – for a physical SD that could get into the boxing ring with the current heavyweight champ and punch his lights out. That kind of a physical SD!
The current heavyweight champ has nothing to fear from a non-physical SD in the boxing ring since a non-physical SD couldn’t lay a non-physical glove on him (or her – thou shall not be bad)!
I continue to note that religious theologians STILL aren’t answering the eternal question of how their non-physical* Supreme Deity (SD) created something from nothing. They can’t worm their way out of this. They can’t just avoid the issue and procrastinate indefinitely by not answering. Attention all religious theologians: Either please explain or just fess up and admit you haven’t a clue. The more you delay the worse you and your thesis look.
* Even Casper the Friendly Ghost has way more substance and structure than any theologians’ SD, since their SD is non-physical and all that nonsense. I mean how could their SD even see anything if He / She / It is non-physical? It’s the same paradox that faced “The Invisible Man”. Light photons would pass straight through and never register. So both “The Invisible Man” and any non-physical SD are blind! Ghosts on the other hand are physical. If you can see them and hear them and touch them and they have some physical impact on their immediate environment, they have some degree of substance with structure.
Being non-physical isn’t the same thing as being non-green. Something non-green is still a physical something. Something non-physical isn’t a physical something. A red billiard ball can interact with a green billiard ball. A non-physical thing cannot interact with physical billiard balls of any colour.
PHYSICS: THE CREATION OF SOMETHING-FROM-NOTHING
Philosophers give us loads of theoretical philosophical waffle. Meta-physicians give us loads of theoretical metaphysical waffle. Religious theologians give us loads of theoretical theological waffle. A prime example is that something (the Universe) was created out of nothing (by a Supreme Deity). They go further when they collectively say that there is necessarily physical evidence for a Supreme Deity (SD) because the Universe had a beginning, although they often qualify that necessity by use of the phrase “metaphysical necessity” not physical necessity. Regardless, even though there is evidence the Universe had a beginning, it’s just theoretical waffle that this beginning is also evidence for a SD.
Okay, fine, the physical Universe came into existence, but philosophers, meta-physicians and religious theologians weren’t there to witness that event so they therefore haven’t ever seen the creation of something-from-nothing; they have never personally witnessed the non-physical or the immaterial interact with the physical or with the material. To be blunt about it, they’re guessing. My guess in turn is that if they went back to that coming into existence of the physical Universe, they’d find that that physical existence originated from a previous physical existence. In other words, there was a before the Big Bang and that “before” had physicality.
The one thing theists have NOT given us, NEVER given us, EVER given us, is actual physical evidence to back up their theoretical waffle that a SD created the Universe out of nothing. They don’t know that since there could have been a before-the-Big-Bang and a before that and a before that. To repeat, they weren’t there at that imagined something-from-nothing beginning. Their something-from-nothing beginning is a theoretical philosophical / metaphysical / theological beginning that they have adopted as ‘fact’ because it suits their philosophy / metaphysics / theology. I ask them to prove to us that something non-physical can create something physical via an actual demonstration. Just do it. Make it so. They have always just talked-the-talk. Now I request them to kindly walk-the-walk and produce their physical evidence, not only that a Supreme Deity actually physically exists but that He / She / It can physically create something (i.e. – our Universe) from absolutely nothing. Their credibility is on the line when it comes to convincing their intended audience, including of course me, that their philosophical / metaphysical / theological worldview is correct. Of course they can’t do it since millions before them have tried and failed to be universally convincing. Atheists aren’t dumb. If you produce the physical evidence they will be forced to agree with you. Now I ask theists to produce it.
To conclude this little segment, they have NOT answered the questions. They have stated that a non-physical being, a SD, can create something-from-nothing; many have stated this is so, but they have not explained how it was done or how it could be done. Give us the recipe. Give us the physics of it that one could then place in a new and improved revised standard physics textbook for undergraduates and graduate students. What are the equations? If the proponents of a something-from-nothing philosophy / metaphysics / theology can demonstrate this, they should do so and earn their Nobel Prize and get their picture on the front cover of “Time Magazine”.
PHYSICS AND THE CONCEPT OF NON-SPACE
Some suggest that a Supreme Deity (SD) just ‘exists’ outside of space. Any SD ‘exists’ outside of our Universe or outside of the Cosmos itself, which has just got to be one of the silliest statements I’ve ever read since the Cosmos is all that ever was, is, or will be. As per above, Moses would beg to differ given his close encounter in existing space with his SD.
Even non-physical beings*, the concept of non-physical beings like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and even a Supreme Deity reside inside the mind; a mental space that resides inside a physical space. Any Supreme Deity of your acquaintance, one more likely as not rammed down your throat like so much propaganda while you were still too young to resist and to question and to know better, just resides inside your mind which resides inside your brain which is inside your skull which is inside… Well you get the point.
Children tend to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.
Adults tend to believe in a non-physical SD who can create something from nothing.
In weighing up the evidence for both beliefs, the children have a far stronger case. While I’ve never ever seen a Supreme Deity, I have seen at least one Santa Claus (actually hundreds of them over the years at shopping malls, department stores and standing on street corners); one Tooth Fairy (who originated from Hollywood-land) and one Easter Bunny (spotted annually on the White House lawn).
If a mature-aged adult of average intelligence (or greater) still seriously believed in Santa Claus, and/or the Tooth Fairy and/or the Easter Bunny you’d call into question their intellectual faculties. Yet if that exact same person professed belief in a Supreme Deity for which no court-of-law evidence exists and which nobody has seen in living memory, well, that’s rational and obviously the person has a sound intellectual faculty. They might quote religious texts as evidence, but the assertion that a Supreme Deity penned or was somehow totally responsible for their representation in some holy text cuts no reality with respect to the reality of that Supreme Deity. Using that logic, James Bond (Ian Fleming); Harry Potter (J. K. Rowling); Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) and Charlie Brown (Charles M. Schulz) all really exist since books about them exist and their authors exist!
*An actual being, or an actual person, as opposed to the mental concept of a being or a person, has to be physical. The concept of a POTUS (President of the United States) is mental and that POTUS concept is non-physical but nevertheless POTUS resides inside minds which reside inside physical space. The actual POTUS at any one time of course isn’t non-physical but has structure and substance, is composed of flesh-and-blood and resides inside physical space, usually the White House.
Back to those non-physical beings that are not located in space. So any Supreme Deity (SD) now exists in time (since He / She / It created change through motion requiring actual stuff) but not in space? So can theologians identify exactly ‘where’ we can find some of this non-space? I assume any SD is the sole resident? If so, where do other minor deities like Jesus live? And where do the angels live? And where do all of those SD-worthy humans who have departed this mortal coil live? Isn’t this all really just a pot-full of pseudo-theology?
PHYSICS AND THE CONCEPT OF TIMELESSNESS
Okay, one further comment, regardless of His / Her / Its existence in a timeless state, or His / Her / Its existence in this state of time, what the heck does He / She / It actually do? If He / She / It had no beginning while He / She / It existed in a timeless state, well that’s a heck of a long time to do – well, what? Our hypothetical Supreme Deity either had to have been bored out of His / Her / Its timeless mind and/or been the greatest party-poop of all time. It would seem the sum total of His / Her/ Its CV is creating the Cosmos in just a tiny interval of His / Her / Its existence. I mean if you live for 100 years and the sum total of your accomplishments in that time is making one breakfast, well that doesn’t strike me as being something to brag about!
Often religious theologians undermine their own faith by the use of the word “If”. “If time had a beginning” and if time “was caused to exist” then only a timeless state could have created that beginning and that cause. Well, here’s my “If” rebuttal. If time did NOT have a beginning, and if it was NOT caused to exist, then there does NOT have to be a timeless state or a timeless entity. Theologians are not getting that through their head! Actually since time is change and change is motion and motion requires a state of matter/energy, we’re just back to that golden oldie about creating something-from-nothing versus creating something-from-something. Sigh!
OK, if a Supreme Deity (SD) was changeless, frozen in a state of suspended animation, doing nothing, thinking about nothing while in that timeless state then He / She / It could NOT have come up with an idea to cross the Rubicon and create time and a physical Cosmos, whether it be out of pre-existing stuff or out of nothingness. The very idea to do such a thing had to have existed while in that timeless state and that’s a contradiction. If you have an idea that implies that there was a time before that when you didn’t have that idea, but the transition of “didn’t have” to “have” requires a change and change cannot happen in a timeless state.
OK, never mind about what a SD did do or didn’t do or could do or couldn’t do while in a timeless state, what’s our Supreme Deity done post creation? Now that the SD has created the Cosmos and crossed the Rubicon into time and is now stuck here in time (not all that omnipotent now is He / She / It), what is He / She / It going to do for an encore? Or perhaps He / She / It has just packed it up and gone off to Florida to retire and just do a bit of fishing.
In conclusion to this section, IMHO the concept of timelessness or timeless as religious theologians use it is utter claptrap. There is no truism to be had. Show me a state of timelessness. Yet again I need point out that religious theologians can’t walk-the-walk but they sure can talk-the-talk. It’s all philosophical / metaphysical / theological waffle like arguing angels and pinheads.
THEREFORE AN INFINITE COSMOS
A cause cannot cause itself so there must be an infinite regress of causes and thus no First Cause. Thus the Cosmos is temporally infinite or consists of a causal loop and thus is also temporally infinite.
Since you can’t create something-from-nothing that implies that something has always existed and thus also implies and thus reinforces the concept of an infinite Cosmos.
Religious theologians or theists are unhappy with this state of affairs since it leaves no room for creation by a supernatural mechanism (i.e. – a Supreme Deity (SD) for all practical purposes). On the other hand, their SD has to be eternal if for no other reason than to avoid awkward questions like therefore who (or what) created that SD? But if the temporally infinite SD created our finite in time Universe then it would of had to have been an infinite time ago which of course is not what we observe since only an additional 13.8 billion years have elapsed since the beginning (deliberate creation?) of our Universe. The Cosmos (of which our Universe is but a part) is of course infinitely old, not just 13.8 billion years old.
Before you can go assigning attributes, properties, traits, whatever to your Supreme Deity or Deities, you first have to prove that your Supreme Deity or Deities actually exist and that all other versions of a Supreme Deity or Deities are false. Good luck with that Labour of Hercules! I mean that I can’t talk about the properties of mermaids, unicorns, and leprechauns until I can demonstrate that any one or all of these entities actually exist! It’s body first, then description of the body. It makes relatively little sense to say that a Supreme Deity (SD) is omni this and omni that and omni the next thing only to have Athena come down off of Mount Olympus and punch your lights out for blasphemy by believing in, worshipping, and attributing traits to a false monotheistic god. Never-the-less, that’s what most religious theologians or theists have done by believing in, worshipping, and attributing traits to a body-less SD.
Theists say that the SD is uncaused, beginning-less, or eternal.
I suggest that an infinitely old being who would after an infinite amount of time had elapsed, all of a sudden get this idea of creating life, the Universe and absolutely everything is ridiculous. At least this gets around the concept of who or what created the SD which is in itself an infinite regression as in what created the creator of the SD and so on.
Theists say that the SD is changeless, or timeless.
I suggest that if you are in a timeless state and thus in a changeless state then you can’t initiate any action like an actual creation, since the very process of pre-initiation to initiation to post initiation is change which must by definition take place in time.
Theists say that the SD is space-less.
I suggest that this means that either the SD exists outside of space (and to exist implies existing inside of something – like space) or else the SD isn’t comprised of any space and thus is non-material or non-physical (i.e. – nothing) and thus can’t create anything material or physical (i.e. – something). Either way, the concept of a SD being space-less is nonsense.
Theists say that the SD is an immaterial all-powerful being who is a personal agent, endowed with freedom of the will.
I suggest that the SD isn’t all-powerful (omnipotent). Can a SD throw a ball so fast that not even He / She / It can overtake it? If not, He / She / It is not all powerful; if so He / She / It is not all powerful. It’s a no-win situation. More relevant might be an observation, since our SD must be physical IMHO in order to create physical stuff, then our SD must be presumably subject to the laws of the Universe. So could our SD ever escape from inside a cosmic Black Hole or travel faster than the speed of light or create a square circle or violate the axioms of Euclidean Geometry? Does our SD have freedom of the will? Again, if our SD is in a timeless state then He / She / It has no freedom to act or to change and thus no freedom of any will since will implies the ability to act or to change.
Should any or all of these SD’s attributes be taken without evidence on the say-so of religious theologians? That makes relatively little sense. If I were to claim that I could travel faster than the speed of light and escape from inside of Black Holes; that I could create something from nothing; that I could travel in time (and space like Doctor Who); that I could cure any and all cancers; that I could create life in a test-tube; that I was in communication with E.T.; that I could download biological minds into artificial substrates like computers; that I could compose music faster, cheaper and better than Mozart; that I had a pet unicorn and dinosaur (recall that time travel claim); that I had telekinetic powers; that I knew the Theory of Everything (TOE); that I could create gold from lead using a child’s home chemistry set; or that I was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, would you believe me without evidence based on just my say-so? Of course not. So why make an alleged Supreme Deity an exception to your scepticism?