by Marcus Loane
30th November 2009
A concept which fascinates me is that of everything that exists or “The All”. At this time in history we have scientific evidence for the existence of the universe. In fact the universe is often defined as everything that exists. The universe is very large compared to us and observed to be expanding (galaxies are moving further apart from each other in all directions). This means if we wind the clock backwards everything was closer together in the past and the universe was once very small. The current data suggests it had some sort of beginning around 13 billion years ago when everything was compressed into a tiny point. The initial expansion has been named the Big Bang. However there would not have been any sound as air had not formed yet. The Big Expansion would have been a better name. On current evidence it appears that the universe will go on expanding forever and gradually cool. This means that there may come a time when it is unable to support life.
That leaves us with an expanding universe with an apparent beginning and no ending. Now a few questions might have arisen in your head such as,
“What happened before the beginning?”
“What is the universe expanding into?”
The standard answers to these questions are that time and space are properties of the universe so it makes no sense to talk about time before the universe or space outside of the universe. It would mean without the universe existing there would not be time or space.
The universe has been observed to behave in a consistent manner according to rules which we have called physics or the laws of physics. Another question often asked is
“Where did these laws come from?”
Perhaps they came from a designer – a god or an alien life form from another universe, or perhaps they just are, like some absolute truth that must be. The “laws” of physics are actually just descriptions of regularities that we have observed to be true. That brings me back to The All. Some people believe that the universe is not all there is. They believe that a god or gods created the universe so their concept of The All is the universe+god(s). There are also predictions in physics of multiple or infinite parallel universes where each universe has its own space and time. There is also the concept of some timeless and spaceless physical system that exists “before” our universe, and from which our universe (and space and time) sprung.
If it does turn out that there are other universes (different areas of physics do suggest this) or systems or entities outside of our own space-time bubble (our universe) then we can just include these within The All. They are a part of everything that exists. I would like to expand our definition of The All even further at this point to include everything that ever was, everything that is, and everything that ever will be.
A question that most thoughtful people eventually think of is,
“Why is there something instead of nothing?”
However if there were nothing, we would not exist and not be able to ask the question. Those who believe in a creator god will point to that as an explanation for why the universe exists. This still does not answer our existential questions. Why does god exist instead of nothing and who or what created god? Believers will say that god “just is” and does not need an explanation. However we could apply the same reasoning and say the universe “just is” or the physical system it arises from “just is”. At least we have scientific evidence for the existence of the universe.
It is quite difficult to imagine nothing. Do you imagine an empty room and then remove the walls and then imagine a vast space and then remove the air. Does it have a temperature? Then you are not imagining nothing. Are you in the space or outside of the space or somehow looking at the nothing? Then it is still not nothing. Perhaps “nothing” is a human-created concept that is actually impossible and the logical conclusion is that something must exist. If that is the case then the question is what must exist? Why this thing and not that thing? Why this particular universe with this particular physics? Some physicists suspect that the laws of physics could be the way they are because they cannot be otherwise and they are working on evidence for that.
We know The All exists
We know The All exists and that is all there is (by definition). If you believe in a god or multiple universes, these additions are still part of The All.
We know that we are a part of The All.
The All is everything that is, was and will be so it is timeless and eternal.
It follows that we, being part of The All are timeless and eternal.
Humans are immensely complicated mechanisms which obey the laws of physics like everything else. We are components interacting with the rest of life and the rest of the universe so we are tightly integrated and part of a whole, part of the unity of all things. We are also the most intricate, complex, wonderful and amazing entities that we have observed in the known universe. There may be something more fantastically complicated than us in the past, present or future but as yet there is no evidence for this. We can celebrate our construction and our capabilities, our awareness and our consciousness and our ability to ask outrageous questions.
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