Here’s a comment from one of our many friends on the internet, who left this comment here. He said the following:
Science does not tell us that “the universe is not eternal in the past, but came into being.”
Firstly, the question of whether time is past-finite or past-infinite is an open one in cosmology. It has not yet been answered, despite the claims of some apologists to the contrary. There are some good reasons for thinking that time might be past-finite. There are other good reasons to think that it might not be.
More importantly, whether or not the universe is temporally past-finite, there was never a time in which the universe did not exist. Even if time had a first, initial moment, the universe existed in that moment. There were no moments prior to the first in which the universe didn’t exist. The idea that time could possibly “come into being” is entirely incoherent.
Unfortunately for you, whether or not a God exists, whether or not time is past-finite, if time is a part of the physical universe (as has been held by philosophy and Classical Theology dating at least as far back as St. Augustine) then there was never a time in which the physical universe did not exist, and it is therefore nonsense to claim that the universe “came into being.”
And here is my reply:
Greetings Boxing Pythagoras! Cool name. It could be a top secret weapon or a song by They Might Be Giants.
To start with, I agree that “Science does not tell us…” Science can’t talk. But scientists seem to be in fairly uniform agreement that the universe cannot be eternal in the past.
Reason 1. Big Bang is the silly religion of the day. Its dumb and wrong, but if you accept it as most as-seen-on-tv scientists do, then you believe the the universe is not eternal in the past, but came into being.
But (reason 2) also, one of the most easily observed of scientific laws is entropy- the gradual decay of matter and using up of useful energy. The universe is winding down, which means it was wound up in the past. Since the universe is headed toward a heat death- however far away- but has not reached it, then the past cannot be eternal. So, in a sense, science PROVES that the universe is finite in the past, even if it doesn’t say so. With the laws of physics as they are, an eternal past would have meant the universe had time to grow cold and die an infinite time ago. But it has not.
And if by “there was never a time in which the universe did not exist” you are merely referring to the time which is part of our universe, then, obviously you must be correct. But we have to think of a metatime- a time above time where in God exists. The first moment is the first frame in the film of our universe (remember film?) but God is the projectionist who starts the film running. We call God’s “time” eternity. How it relates to our experience of time, we can’t say, but its a useful word picture which we don’t have a lot of alternative for when we try to talk about it. God’s existence is like an author to his story. He isn’t in our timeline. He may not have a line at all.
However we choose to talk about God’s experience of time or eternity, you’ve made a simple mistake in this argument. You say “there was never a time in which the physical universe did not exist, and it is therefore nonsense to claim that the universe “came into being.” And this is of course because you are thinking about the time which is PART of our universe. But when we say the universe “came into being,” we don’t mean that time existed before time existed. We simply mean that there was a first moment, just as a film has a first frame. There cannot be an infinite number of frames in a movie before the scene you are watching, so there logically must have been a first frame. But how we inside the story in the film talk about the projectionist turning on the film projector… that’s another matter entirely.
Thanks for your questions and comments.