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Explanations for the Universe: Why does it exist? (Assuming there was a plan)

WHY? OH GOD WHY? Theology?

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#1
Alislaws

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Why Did God create the universe?

 

I have been raised as a Church of England Christian, and basically one issue I have with their theology is that it never explains, anywhere, WHY​ god created the world. 

 

The bible gives a lot of history of things happening, and gives you lots of info on how you should behave, and what is sinful and what is not etc. We know what God is offering us, and what he expects from us but beyond some waffling about "God moving in mysterious ways" the religion doesn't really cover ​why ​ god made the world, or what he hopes to get out of it long term.

 

Do any other sects of Christianity or any other religious traditions have a better explanation of why​? ​(also I may have missed some bits of CofE theology too)

 

My pet theory, is that being an omnipotent being in a barren void is boring, and God wanted someone interesting to talk to, so he created the universe and is sitting there waiting for some sort of intelligence to evolve that is worth talking to. 

 

He probably has some millions of years to wait before he gets a good conversation out of anyone, unless we do some sort of singularity super intelligence move sometime. 

 

 



#2
Omosoap

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I'll speak from three angles. From my former Christian days (I did in fact get a theological education), I would say that Christian theologians don't really have a good answer to this question. But, the angle from which you took it (that the world was too boring), is definitely one that is posited by some Christian minds within that sphere. I honestly don't think this question is brought up as much among theologians as, say, Arminianism versus Calvinism, especially regarding free will, or the debates about the origins of creation (aka, is evolution true or is creationism?), or questions regarding salvation etc (I grew up in a rather strict theological environment, so there's that). And, of course, the most frequent discussions regarding anything like the question your positing are more about debates of the purpose of evil and hell, etc, This is only of course, from what I can remember.

 

Now, from the time when I was Agnostic, well, Agnostics view things as solid in the scientific world, but with some mystery, so I would say that question, they would probably say if there is a god, how could we possibly know what it was thinking.

 

And, of course, lastly, my view of it all from being a modern Pagan. The thing to keep in mind about modern Paganism is that it is first of all, a DIY religion, meaning you figure out your own theology as you go and from personal experience, plus whatever you can pull up from ancient cultures especially in the European and Middle Eastern arenas. Within that theology, I would say there is a right leaning path and a left leaning path. The left leaning path is more New Ageish, but not always. Anyway, they include things like Wicca or Eclectic. The right leaning path are those that are reconstructionists (sometimes they do not like to be referred to as Pagan). These are individuals trying to piece together ancient religious practices in very specific locales in Europe, mainly. Asatru and Hellenism would be examples of this. On top of this, I would add a third category, the groups that are kind of in between right and left. I would include Druidism in this, because although they are often reconstructionist to some extent, it seems like they go either way, and I'd also include a new branch of Paganism called Reform Paganism in this category as well (this is the branch I currently identify with best, they actually incorporate transhumanism and technological acceptance into their paradigm to some extent, very young yet though). As you can see, with all the amount of diversity out there in terms of modern Paganism (really just an umbrella term for a bunch of tiny religions or spiritual practices), narrowing down what we believe is the purpose of the universe would be impossible. But, I would argue, no matter what one believes, that would be kind of an impossible question to truly answer. My own beliefs do sort of have an answer though. See, I think this whole progression of the kardashev scale has happened many times before, in other universes. And, the weird belief I have is that, once you get to a certain level on the kardashev scale, you try to get to another universe, and find that the laws in place in this universe are unbreakable in that regard, then you try to hack into the system (I believe there is a system of energy (spiritual energy) that connects everything and minds as well), When you find you can't do that either, you either let yourself still be part of the system and whatever happens, happens, or you create another universe to exist in for fear of death or the end of the universe. So, essentially, I believe we are in a universe which is in a universe, which is in a universe, which is in a universe, etc. Where the originals came from, or how they were created or came to be, that I don't know. I also don't know what happens to the other universes if a universe is destroyed (maybe it can't be?), so there are a lot of issues or questions in that regard. As far as the gods go (I know you are talking from a monotheistic viewpoint, but in my viewpoint, the system, the Universal Mind, doesn't really engage with people that much except for to deliver messages or energy), I believe they are more advanced minds on the network here to help us also advance. Whether they are all from this universe or another I don't know. My view of the universe is kind of more complex in another way. I believe that there might be a multiverse, and multiple dimensions, and a "mirror world" which I call the Other Side, that is the spiritual world. It has it's own set of laws physically like we do, which is why there is not much true scientific evidence for it (due to restrictions). Our bodies are simply Avatars for our soul, and we can have many lifetimes if we so choose, or if there is a lesson to be learnt, etc, etc. Yeah, my views are absolutely bizarre and they are also absolutely complicated. I was trying to account for in my theology the personal experiences of people with near death experiences that are all different and interact with different spiritual realities, so I tried to unify theologies as much as I possibly could to encompass different perspectives. This is why I believe the Other Side actually has different realms. Anyway....sorry if cause no one else to comment. Lol! My comments tend to have a deadening effect it seems.


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#3
Outlook

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Creation doesn't make sense. Something from nothing doesn't exist, at least I don't think because if you have a reason for the universe's existence, there has to be reason for the reason for the universe's existence. If god created the universe, why? What mechanics went on to the process of creation? There has to be time and dynamic, otherwise the next sequence of events that would be creation would've never happened.

 

It's why I think non-existence is a purely human idea. Non-existence out of existence shouldn't exist, ironically. It exists as an idea, but not as a reality, which creates this absence of the idea in the real world from our own thoughts and belief. Cyclops exists in our heads, but don't exist in our reality, and so therefore doesn't exist. Likewise, non-existence before existence exists in our heads, but not in our reality. Things have always existed and will exist, it's their rules and nature of interaction that determine how they will exist. Although this is a topic in philosophy I haven't read a lot on, and this is just my thoughts on the subject. Metaphysics is interesting though. 


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#4
Omosoap

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Oops! I forgot to add another reason that Christian theologians give for God creating the universe was to reveal himself to his creation, but I always found that answer to be kind of weak.


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#5
Omosoap

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That's a good point Outlook. Humanity automatically assumes that there is an end to the universe, because everything on our planet and around us "ends." So, we assume that it is true for the universe too, but we don't really know. That's why in my own theology, I'm also questioning the concept of the universe actually ending, like maybe that's just what certain minds perceive to be true, but it's not really true.


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#6
Outlook

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Thanks Omosoap, I'm actually having an epiphany right now because what I said actually makes sense to me. Non-existence is a difference of perception from humans and their environment. Humans use language to abstract the world into information they can manipulate and communicate, and so, creating a thing that has no basis in reality is possible. Non-existence then is just a difference, it exists as a difference, not as the literal idea of nothingness. Nothingness doesn't exist, there always has to be something. Therefore there is no creation, and there is no end. 


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#7
tomasth

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What I heard is that

God created creation because it was possible , its the only thing he could do.

He create from eternity in his only act , the only thing he can do (he only made up his mind free willed once).

He could have create same other possible creation from all the possibilities , but did not.

Since he only got one go at it , its the best of all the possibilities.

Creation out of nothing is just a term to means the he is not one of the possibilities he could create.


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#8
Raklian

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Our minds, with their evolutionary limitations, are not equipped to deal with the possibility that the mechanism underpinning the universe with all of its laws and existence in general has ALWAYS EXISTED in infinity. Its "form factor" has always been transforming which we mistake for a beginning and an end due to the fact we simply can't conceive of a continuum that stretches on forever either way. Just because we can't conceive of something, doesn't mean it can't exist.

 

I think, ironically if creation were an actual thing, we wouldn't come to exist because creation assumes there is nothing before it which makes it paradoxical, you know. In this context, infinity is more plausible even though we currently can't grasp it in our feeble minds. 


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What are you without the sum of your parts?

#9
Erowind

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I think, ironically if creation were an actual thing, we wouldn't come to exist because creation assumes there is nothing before it which makes it paradoxical, you know. In this context, infinity is more plausible even though we currently can't grasp it in our feeble minds. 

 

If creation in this context were true the valid creationist response would be very similar to your infinity argument. Speaking as the hypothetical creationist here, it's not a paradox, the universe is perfectly consistent, humans are just not equipped with the ability to understand why. If the universe appears absurd and self-contradicting that's only because the perception comes from a being that perceives it as absurd, not because it actually is.

 

Jumping out of the point of view of the creationist and back into myself here. I'm under the impression that the argument holds regardless of whether the universe infinitely sprawls or has a definite starting point. Our conception of how we understand the world around us has changed many times over the past millennia. I'm not convinced that all of our current conception of physics are set in stone either. Science, or some yet undiscovered form of reasoning may yet unify general relativity and quantum physics or even reason some other understanding out that makes both irrelevant. 

 

This same argument applies to the purpose of life and why it seems absurd that the universe is indifferent to us. The universe is neither indifferent or caring, it just is. Meaning only appears absurd relative to human reflection. If we as a species have decided we value meaning--and given all the discourse around it I think it's fair to say we have--than the next step would be to take comfort in whatever meaning we have relative to ourselves. It's very anthropocentric to think we're important enough that the universe, or in the creationist lens the being(s) that created it must care about us. Perhaps it makes more sense to accept being a part of the universe and desire to care about our place within it. To take this a step further, there's nothing to say that our species couldn't craft a universal moral theory relative to humanity grounded in common desires across the species. Just the common desire to care for one's children is a solid enough grounding point to construct an entire universal theory. If we value our children--which I think it's fair to say that all cultures historical and contemporary have--than we must in turn value the things that benefit our children, intimacy, community and so on. When that path of reasoning is followed for long enough it eventually leads to the conclusion that humanity inherently values the traditionally thought high minded ideals being art, science, spirituality and wealth. All of which in turn benefits our children. I'm just using children as an example though, my inclination is that there are other morals the whole species share in common too but they're not all easy to elaborate on.

 

Assuming this is true for the moment, it doesn't really matter cosmically speaking why all humans seem to have some common morals that we need to get better at rallying around. We'd do better if we would stop being so self-centered on a specieswide scale and just accept that we do have some sort of nature and accept our place within that nature regardless of whether it was/wasn't endowed or what meaning that might have. Sure, we should still try to understand why, and I'm not saying that we should ever stop looking for some cosmic significance. But if, as it seems to be the case, that the universe is actually indifferent and we have no cosmic meaning; or, that even if we do have some cosmic meaning but just can't seem to figure it our or understand it at the moment--there's no reason we have to let that stop us from existing entirely or accepting our position. 

 

Side note, I don't claim to understand human nature, but I do know that Thomas Hobbes is dead wrong. The state of nature and the centuries of belief in the idea that beings as complex as humans can be reduced to nothing more than individualistic selfish cost-benefit formulae is nonsense and deserves to be left with its monarchist roots. Most people who advocate this conception of humanity either directly or indirectly use the state of nature either to be cynical or as justification for a wealth of atrocities ranging from something as small as simple financial fraud to things as detrimental as white supremacy and genocide. For some direction at a potentially more accurate view of what human nature is; I encourage all who are interested to read some of Karl Groos' work on the "pleasure at being the cause." Which is to say that humans inherently derive pleasure from being able to enact their will for its own sake. Both play and art are expressions of this phenomenon. 

 

https://brocku.ca/Me...1/chapter8.html

 

And do be clear, when I speak of nature I do not speak of something sacred as if it has inherent meaning. For me, assuming the first is true, humans inherently deriving pleasure from being the cause is classed in the same way that gravity is. Gravity as a phenomena just is, it doesn't care or have cosmic value. 


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#10
starspawn0

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I am not aware of any religions that explain "existence" any better than Christianity.

Here is my current thinking: when we ask the question of "why does the universe exist?" we need to think about what the question even means.

Perhaps we are looking for a system of axioms to help us decide whether something exists "in reality" (physically), given a description; that will, for example, allow us to produce a proof that our universe must exist.

Is that what we're looking for? If so, then what are the acceptable axioms for deciding when something exists "in reality"? Whatever they are, they had better not slip in under the rug the fact that "our universe exists".

That seems to be asking too much of logic (and the humans who have to come up with believable axioms!) -- especially since those very axioms are part of the universe they are to be used to prove must exist.
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#11
Alislaws

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This is one of my best threads! Thanks everyone for the good responses. 

 

One interesting anecdote, I once mentioned to a group of people at work a while back how religions are very shaky on "Why the universe exists" type questions and all of the religious people (couple of Muslims and Christians in the group) had a sort of knee jerk "but it does explain why!" response, They were confident that their religion explained everything they needed to know. Then when they stopped and thought about it, they couldn't share that explanation of "why"*.

 

(*beyond the "and god saw that it was good" level)

 

I would say that my question was planned to focus on religious explanations for the purpose of the universe from the perspectives where people believe an intelligent designer created the universe with some intent in mind, This generally focuses on monotheism, because most other religious traditions do not inherently assume purpose to the universe. 

 

In fact thinking about it most historic religions tend not to ascribe purpose to the universe or any divine plan, if you look at ancient Greek creation myths for example they are more "this happened for some reason?" than "in the beginning there was god"

 

Thinking about it from an atheistic point of view, why is it that religions don't all have good explanations for why the universe exists? I'm sure all of us could think up an explanation or two that sound plausible but basically it seems like no one really bothered, and that religions don't need to explain why  the universe exists in order to be successful. 

 

Since religions are in many ways supposed to be a source of answers to tough questions, its weird to me that apparently the question of the purpose of creation is something no one is too interested in? Religion and science are both products of humanity's search for understanding, but apparently there is a scope beyond which the majority of people just say "nah its too big, not my problem".


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#12
Omosoap

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You make a very good point Alislaws! It seems no matter what religious tradition you look at, some of the bigger questions in life are completely missed. There are just some questions and problems too complicated and big for the human mind to wrap around, and so I think most religions did not address it due to that. Maybe there was also just an implied assumption in religious texts that it was either an unanswerable question, or it was somehow decipherable in between the lines so to speak. I think even in the secular world, when you get too big in your scope, you tend to lose most people, because there are very few who can think about topics like you have mentioned for a longer period of time. For an Atheist, it might not be the purpose of the universe they ponder, so much as the origins of everything, as that is not fully set in stone quite yet in science, or maybe other scientific puzzles. It's interesting to say the least. I think also, for most of human history, religion and spirituality served as a place to get answers and solutions to daily problems, instead of philosophical ones. Mainly, because most people were just trying to find food for the table, and treat illnesses they didn't understand, etc. Quantum theories are interesting, but the average person is not going to care much about it if they cannot relate it to their daily concerns. I had the same experience when I used to talk about my childhood in Africa. I learned over time that mentioning that was an instant conversation killer for the average American. It is simply because they cannot relate to it, and while I might just be joining in the conversation to relate to everyone, I fail when I bring that up. This is because it doesn't relate to an American mind that has not traveled. It's essentially irrelevant to their daily life and therefore not worth spending time on.



#13
starspawn0

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I'd like to add something: there is a difference between the question "Why does the universe exist?" and "Why is the universe the way that it is, given that it exists?" The former question is unanswerable; and probably both are unanswerable. But we can still try to make some progress on the latter, by making some assumptions (beyond the usual ones contained in mathematics, logic, elementary causation, etc.). Ultimately, though, we will probably have to bottom-out with "brute facts" -- the goal should be to make the brute facts we assume as simple as possible.

See, for example, this article by Sean Carroll:

https://arxiv.org/abs/1802.02231

There are some films and stories that get at the weirdness of the unexplainable that I recommend, metaphors for the situation we find ourselves in: Roadside Picnic and The Lost Room. The former is a novella written by the Strugatsky brothers, and the latter was a TV mini-series that has gone underappreciated:

https://en.wikipedia...i/The_Lost_Room
 

The Room is the now nonexistent Room 10 at the abandoned Sunshine Motel outside Gallup, New Mexico. At 1:20:44 p.m. on May 4, 1961, something happened at the site of the Room that erased it and all its contents. This is referred to as "the Event" or "the Incident", and is thought to be the reason for the unusual properties of the Room and the Objects from within it. At the time of the Event, the motel was in serviceable condition, but after the event nobody remembers that a tenth room ever existed. One of the Objects, the undeveloped Polaroid picture, allows a person to view the tenth room as it was at the time of the Event by standing at its now vacant location at the Sunshine Motel ruins.


Why that specific room? Why those specific objects? Why does the pen burn everything it touches? Why does the eye restore all flesh? Why are the objects indestructible? Nobody knows, not even "the occupant", the living object. You're meant to think, "Maybe there is no explanation". It just is... they just are.

That's how it is with our universe. We can come up with some pretty nice explanations... but we have to start with some assumptions, likely some weird ones.

Logic is one of our great tools for crafting explanations, but it isn't magic. It can't produce truth out of thin air.




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