Part 3: The Heart of the Matter
So who created the universe, and how did they do it? Was it just a physical process, happening by itself, or was a God involved?
Actually, it’s neither.
Ok, brace yourself, because this is hard to wrap your head around.
The universe was not created. There was never a time when it didn’t exist, because without the universe there is no time. There is no “outside the universe” because space only exists within the universe. There was no space or time before the universe was created, because spacetime requires the universe to exist.
There was no creation event of the universe, because time requires the universe to exist. That’s a hard thing to imagine, because space and time are so essential to our experience of reality. We find it very hard to imagine not having a “before the universe”, and not having an “outside the universe”, so we look for some answer to “where” it all “came from”. We want it so bad we’re even willing to believe far-fetched fairy tales about magical beings, because we don’t have evidence for anything else and we really feel like we need some sort of explanation.
So the universe wasn’t created by God, and it wasn’t created by some physical process, and it didn’t create itself – it wasn’t created at all.
Not so long ago, someone proposed that photons did not exist in a single place, but rather as a probability of places. Many scientists and others rejected that idea, because it was so foreign to our experience of reality. I think that the idea that the universe wasn’t created is like that, so I expect a lot of people to reject it. Hopefully some will come to accept it, but other than stroking my ego it doesn’t really matter if they do or not. The more I think about this, the more it makes sense.
We have absolutely no reason to believe that either space or time exist except as part of the universe. Some physicists have speculated about a multiverse – a sort of spawning ground of many universes – but there is no evidence very little theory to support the idea. Perhaps as little as the giant turtle theory. To have a multiverse requires space and time to exist independently of the universe, but we have no reason to believe that they might.
The idea that there is no place “outside the universe” is perhaps more familiar. I remember learning about it in freshman physics. There is no “edge” of the universe, no boundary between inside and outside, because space only exists in the universe. The same is true of time. There is no before and after the universe, because time is a function of the existence of the universe.
Without a before and after, there is no creation, there is no change, and there is no causation. The universe was not created.