What if the Universe Never Had a Beginning?

I have heard some non-theists claim that the universe never had a beginning – it's just always been (though not in its present form). However, in my article at the Alfred Society in response to Hume's Dialogue Concerning Natural Religion, I point out that such a position is deeply problematic. Just consider for a moment: the conditioned can never arrive until the conditions are complete; but if those conditions are infinite then they can never be complete (one could never reach the top of an infinite set of stairs no matter how long one climbed.) Now the conditions on which present cause and effects exist is that all the past causes and effects have been completed. It follows that if those conditions are infinite (that is, if the past series of cause and effect recedes infinitely into the past), then they can never be complete and we could never have reached the present moment. 
 
Or consider again. An actual infinite, by definition, cannot be added to. However, if the past series of events forms an actually infinite then each new moment in time is adding to that infinite, which is impossible. Since, by definition, one cannot traverse an actual infinite, the past series of events cannot stretch backward to infinity otherwise we would never have reached the present moment. 
 
(Such an argument only applies to properties within a time sequence. Thus, it does not bare relation on the infinity of God unless it were first assumed that God’s existence also flows in the time stream of past, present and future. But such an assumption is questionable.)

5 thoughts on “What if the Universe Never Had a Beginning?

  1. Of course, an infinitely old universe doesn’t get you away from theism anyway. Aquinas, for example, famously assumes a world with no beginning, not because he thought it was true, but to show that even with such an assumption, the logic still ends up proving God. Or I guess not so famously nowadays, since nobody studies real philosophy any more….

  2. Not to mention that the Third Law of Thermodynamics would cause the universe to be absolutely dead by now.

  3. In the context of this discussion, it is important to discern between an assumption and a belief. Assuming that the universe never had a beginning, by non-theists, is not logically supportive of itself. Believing that the universe has no beginning brings into question the logical fallacies of in our limited physical or mental perception of the universe in any given moment. This is part of why Aquinas assumed a universe with no beginning. He intends to emphasize the basis of the idea in its relation to human thought, the notion that a human can easily presume the universe has no beginning because they are not physically or mentally able to conceive of the universe as a whole in their brain. Faith in God, and in Him as Creator of the universe, does not presume, but reveals to the human mind the capacity of a beginning and an end which is simultaneously finite and infinite.

  4. Posted on Good piece.I was heavily into the Thrawn trogily and some other stuff when I was about 14. I think ultimately that’s the era that any sort of expanded universe Star Wars, Star Trek, etc really, really worked for me, because I felt like I *needed* it. I needed MORE Star Wars and MORE Star Trek and, to be honest, I don’t think I really cared too much about the quality. (I also needed it to be sanctioned somehow, which I guess is why fanfic did not quite fill this gaping need hey, even if whatever isn’t technically canon, it is LICENSED and has a LOGO.)Though I still think the Zahn stuff is actually good.That’s about where my feelings on the EU end I appreciate that it’s there, I suppose. Certainly not against it, but haven’t read much of it since that specific era.

  5. strange that you are the only person so far gtnietg this bug? perhaps you have two catablog folders in your plugins folder or you have declared a function somewhere in your theme or in one of your other plugins that has the same name. could you try activating the plugin with the twentyten theme enabled and no other plugins activated and see if it works. thanks.

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