Cosmological Models: The Beginning and End of the Universe

Examining the second law of thermodynamics, and exploring the universal concept of entropy.

  • Space Dust
    While physical systems may be subject to the second law and fall into inevitable decay, any system with consciousness can counteract the slide into entropy.
    Photo by Fotolia/Paulista
  • BlindSpots
    Philosopher Christian de Quincy deliberates the cognitive gremlins of our society in “BlindSpots.”
    Cover courtesy Park Street Press

  • Space Dust
  • BlindSpots

We live in a world filled with clichés—convenient assumptions and unquestioned conclusions that many of us use without giving them a second thought. In Blindspots (Park Street Press, 2015), philosopher Christian de Quincey provokes and illuminates the dark side of jumping to conclusions, casting a skeptical eye on 21 beliefs that keep science, philosophy and spirituality in the dark. This excerpt, which explores cosmological structures and the beginning of the universe, is from Chapter 3, “The Universe.”

Quick question, probably not easy to answer: Are there good reasons to believe the universe is eternal? If so, what would those reasons be?

Actually, I think at least half of the answer is easy. If we substitute “cosmos” for “universe,” then it is impossible to even imagine a beginning to the cosmos. It must have always existed. As we’ve seen, it could not have emerged from nothing. Nothing comes from nothing.

Now, if someone prefers to say, “God created the cosmos,” my response would be, “Who or what created God?”

Of course the only meaningful answer is that God had no beginning. If God did have a beginning, what could have caused that sublime event? This line of thinking inevitably leads to an infinite regress; in other words: no beginning. But if we accept that God had no beginning, why not accept the alternative: that the cosmos had no beginning? For me, in any case, cosmos equals “God.

So that part is easy enough. But what about the other half? If the cosmos had no beginning, could it have an end?

1/19/2018 10:32:42 AM

from the ancient Chinese classic, Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters -- --- There is a beginning. There is no beginning of that beginning. There is no beginning of that no beginning of beginning. There is something. There is nothing. There is something before the beginning of something and nothing, and something before that. Suddenly there is something and nothing. But between something and nothing, I still don’t really know which is something and which is nothing. Now, I’ve just said something, but I don’t really know whether I’ve said anything or not. . . . Heaven and earth grow together with me, and the ten thousand things and I are one. We are already one—what else is there to say? Yet I have just said that we are one, so my words exist also. The one and what I said about the one make two, and two and one make three. Thus it goes on and on. Even a skilled mathematician cannot reach the end, much less an ordinary person. If we proceed from nothing to something, we reach three. How much farther would it be going from something to something? Enough. Let us stop.

2/5/2016 10:51:48 AM

Thomas Aquinas reasoned the first part better, with a different answer.

2/5/2016 8:38:17 AM

How is it certain the same laws found for this realm apply to what ever realm God would be found to be in? It is interesting to assume the argument that because order where we are, in this realm, where we can test, having at no time witnessed something coming from nothing or from another kind, allows us claim to deny the existence for something in a realm we have never tested, been to or ever seen. Is that science or denial?

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