This is part rant, part scientific paper. Of course it's not actually paper, but it's still called paper for traditions sake.
My job leaves me with a lot of time to think. Some people ask if I lie awake at night thinking about these things. Said people have no respect for legitimate scientific theory. Having said that, scientific theories are primarily what I ponder on while spraying scalding hot water at assorted bits of machinery.
Where I live, (in Canada) there used to be these things called "residential schools." Their aim was to assimilate the Native Americans by removing them from their society at a young age so they would only absorb the European culture. They were forbidden from learning about their native culture or from speaking their native language. These have, of course, been abolished for some time now. However, when I think about it, in a way, they still exist: they're called public schools.
I went to a public school when I was young, and I accepted the things they told me about the world, politics, etcetera. Now that I'm older I'm appalled at what they teach: they, in fact, teach unproven theory as if it were rigid fact! For a long time I believed the theories they supported - evolution, big bang theory, even the scourge of scientific theories, "common sense." Fortunately, I have since considered these and realize that they are in fact mere theories.
Here's a brief timeline of theories on what created the universe:
65000 BC: How did the Universe come to be? "It just did. Don't question it."
3000 BC: How was the Universe created? "Assorted gods made it. Don't question them, they are far wiser than you."
1000 AD: How was the Universe created? "God made it. Don't question him, he is far wiser than you."
2000 AD: How was the Universe created? "Matter became so condensed that it exploded. Voila. Universe." What matter? There wasn't even a Universe yet! "Don't question it. The people who discovered that have far more schooling than you."
Surely you can sense the pattern. All of these theories have the same amount of grounding. In fact, the big bang theory is the least logical of them all because it relies on matter existing within a Universe that did not even exist yet. At least the middle two relied on omnipotent beings, who, being omnipotent, could theoretically exist without requiring any Universe to contain them.
Here's my theory: It's actually very similar to creationism, only instead of an omnipotent being in the sky, it's something beyond human understanding, likely something existing in at least 4 dimensions. I call this theory: I don't know, and frankly I don't want to know. I firmly believe that the creation of the Universe is far beyond the cognitive capabilities of a human being. Consider the surface of a piece of paper. A flat, two dimensional space. On it lives a stick figure, who is alive. Try to explain to a two dimensional being who cannot leave or see outside it's two dimensional piece of paper the process by which that page was created. Some say that nothing is impossible, but I dare say that no stick figure, however intelligent, could comprehend the three dimensional processes that brought about the paper on which it exists. Similarly, I don't believe that any three dimensional being can possibly understand the extradimensional processes that brought about the Universe it lives in.
I hope that anyone who reads the above will give it some serious thought before tearing down the above as preposterous. I recognize that it is difficult for three dimensional creatures such as ourselves to visualize what existance is to a two dimensional or extradimensional being. This section is, of course, open to legitimate scientific debate - if there exists any theory that has more backing, or if new evidence has been discovered to support the lofty big bang theory, (IE an explanation as to how matter existed within something that did not exist) I'd certainately be interested to hear it below:
Mychaeel: The people saying "Don't question this-or-that, the people who created this theory had more schooling that you" are (presumably) right. It is very hard to argue anything you have not thoroughly understood. You can try, no doubt, but you're almost bound to come to false conclusions in regard to the plausibility and consistency of a theory if you haven't thoroughly studied it (way beyond descriptions in popular scientific books).
That said, I don't claim thorough knowledge of those theories myself; certainly not enough to competently discuss them. It's probably sufficient for idle talk like this though. –
Physics with more than three dimensions? Give physicists more credit. The superstring theory deals with no less than nine spatial dimensions. Visually imagining such a space is a non-issue; it's all down to (heavy) maths.
Big Bang theory? It is widely accepted because it is consistent with observations made to date (which is the ultimate requirement for any scientific theory). It's also well-known that it leaves some tough questions unanswered such as what happened prior to it, leaving open the definition of "prior" given that time came into being along with space at the Big Bang. But it'll do, for now.
Foxpaw: I'd certainately agree that the Big Bang theory is supported by much of the evidence that has been observed so far, though I still maintain that it is unproven and should not be preached as if it were absolute fact. My target in this rant was not the big bang theory in particular - just that it is treated as if it were absolute fact. I also recognize that extradimensional physics have been pondered on somewhat, though superstring theory is incredibly vague and no attempt is made to understand the nature or construction of the superstrings - somewhat like creationism but with a seemingly indefinite number of entities working as a network.
Mychaeel: By principle, no scientifical theory (except for mathematical theory) can ever possibly be proven – it can only be disproven if it turns out that new observations are inconsistent with accepted theory. – If anybody ever told you that a certain theory was proven fact, consider that a simplification for the sake of explanation. Obviously no theory ever can be proven fact.
Foxpaw: Exactly - that's why I'm opposed to the acceptance of theories as if they were proven fact.
El Muerte TDS: that's also an interesting thing. How can you ever prove anything, it's all based on your perception of life, the universe, everything. But what is our reality, it's our perception of life, the universe, everything. So why would you want to prove anything outside our reality, if you prove something that's correct in our current perception of the reality isn't that just prove enough to accept. If we would expand our reality we could challange the established theories, like man did over the years. The discovery of the new continents expanded our reality, which resulted in a change of the world. But it becomes much harder to expand the reality , it's no longer something we can see or touch. Or it's a matter of time you don't have (e.g. more than a life time). So then it comes down to theories. And for understanding theories you need to have basic knowledge about the subject. And you can't just challange a theory if you don't have enough knowledge about the subject. It's just like a race between a rocket car and a toy car. The thing you have to doubt is fact.
Like your example above:
65000 BC: == well nothing really
3000 BC: == fact
1000 AD: == fact
2000 AD: == theory
Mychaeel: The goal of all theory (at large) is to find systematics in observations that allow prediction of future observations. For that, it's irrelevant whether the universe "actually exists" (subject to definition of "existence") or is just a whim of my fantasy (I think, therefore I am). – But that's not natural science anymore, it's philosophy.
Foxpaw: Well, I do understand the big bang theory, it's simplified above because the details aren't as important as the fact that it is not proven. The suggestion that it can't be proven is fair, and so long as it is not I think it should be regarded as such. That is my beef with the way it is regarded - most people regard the big bang theory as if it were proven fact, and in fact it is taught in public schools that it is a proven fact, which it is not. I admit, it is a relatively solid theory, however I do not like the way that it is regarded like it was proven fact, when it is not.
Tynan: Nothing can ever be positively proven. Not even in abstract math, because all mathematical system rest on a few basic axioms (assumptions). We're also having a problem with the common versus scientific uses of the word "theory". In common use, a "theory" is just an idea, something thought up and untested. The equivalent word for this in science is "conjecture". A scientific "Theory" is the closest a principle can come to being proven. Theories in science have been analyzed and tested hard, to the point where engineers have enough confidence that they are true to begin actually using the theory for practical applications. This is the closest an idea or principle can ever come to being proven. One looking at something labelled "theory" by scientists can be quite certain that it is, in fact, as true as can be, literally, and one may also be pretty sure that they have used a machine based on this "theory" in their daily lives. Computer microprocessors are based on quantum theory. The food you eat was artificially selected using principles that were organized by Darwin as the theory of evolution. So really, when something is labelled a "theory", then that's as good as you can get in terms of proof of a scientific principle. Theories can be disproven. When one theory has been around for a long time, however, and brutally and repeatedly tested by many scientists, all coming up with results that don't disprove said theory, you can be pretty sure (not certain) that said theory may be used to predict future behaviour. The problems come up when people start trying to apply natural scientific principles to philosophical debates for which they were not designed. Scientists aren't philosiphers.
Also, I'm not sure "Matter became so condensed that it exploded" really properly summarizes the big bang theory. I'm pretty sure that it doesn't say much about what happened BEFORE the event occurred ("matter condensing").
Foxpaw: That's more or less my point. Though it is quite reliable, it is still not proven and likely cannot be. It's ability to be relied upon for future predictions, though useful, does not change that fact, nor is it particularly relevant as such capacity is a useful product, rather than the ultimate goal of speculation on the true nature of the universe. That's my opinion anyway - some scientists may not really care how it really happened as long as their current explanation can be relied upon for future preditiction. In my eyes, that's the same as the people in math classes who don't want to understand how the math works, just "how to get the answer." As far as the big bang theory goes, that is the "theory" behind what "caused it." That all of the matter in the universe was already there, and the gravitational attraction between the molecules caused all of said matter to be compacted into a single point which subsequently caused the birth of the universe.
Tynan: Of course, it will never be proven, since proof is impossible.
But I'm pretty sure that BB theory does not say that there was matter which compacted itself before the event. That would lead to a theory where one would have to believe that the universe goes through constant cycles of compact-explode-compact-explode (which does not concur with our current data on the rate of expansion of the universe which says that the universe will continue to expand forever). The BB theory does not say anything about what happened before the event. It says that the universe was infinitely small, and for some reason it decided to explode. Clarification: the universe itself was infinitely small - not that there was some really compacted superdense object inside the universe somewhere that decided to explode and happened to have every bit fo matter in the universe in it, which it couldn't. If things went around exploding big-bang style when they reached critical mass, then it seems likely that they would explode without having to have every particle of matter in the universe on them, and so either:
1. We'd be seeing big bangs happening or
2. We'd be observing some matter that was not part of the original big bang.
You can't visualize anything about this event from the usual physical perspective, because all the rules change when matter and energy become that dense. We are discussing a primeval atom of infinitely (or just extremely) small size that completely fill an infinitely (or just extremely) small universe.
GRAF!K: I'm not sure exactly what is meant by "infinitely" small. How can anything be "infinitely" small, if you can divide that size in half, then that in half...
Feel free to tell me I'm an idiot, or that I completely misunderstood what you meant (or both, they're not neccesarily mutually exclusive ).
MythOpus: I'm a little late I guess... but here goes me...I am a Christian and I believe saying "God made it. Don't question him, he is far wiser than you." as a mere theory as to how the universe was created and then saying it was based on the same amount of grounding as the rest of the theories is wrong. If you read the bible, and compare it to actual events in the world that have occured you will see that they match completely. So why (say the bible is fake) would you start of the book of life with false " theories " of god creating the world if your " Theory " was indeed based on actual fact. This didn't exactly come out as I would have liked it to but I tried and I find your theory Interesting. But instead of thinking it a 4 dimensional universe, I tend to think of it as a 6 dimensional universe (just like on Stargate the movie and the series)
Mychaeel: If the bible accurately recounts events of the past, that makes it a history book, not a scientifical theory. The latter tries to find the underlying rules that govern those events.
It's a bit as if I write a book that says "Paul dropped a stone from 1.0 meters height. It took 0.45 seconds to fall to the ground. Then, Peter dropped a stone from 2.0 meters height. It took 0.64 seconds to fall to the ground." That'd be a historical recounting without any science involved (given that I actually measured those times and distances). A scientist would try to find out whether there's a rule behind those numbers – one term that explains both events, given the height as a variable parameter.
And even though a theory explaining the time a stone takes to fall to the ground from a given height does not explain what the stone is, nor how it happened to get above ground in the first place, nor who Peter and Paul are, it is a valid scientifical theory since it explains any of the observations made within its scope. On top of that it even allows predictions for other parameter choices – if Michael takes a stone and holds it 3.0 meters above the ground, the theory can accurately predict that that stone will take 0.78 seconds to reach the ground.
Tynan: At GRAF!K - This is what makes the big bang theory so hard to explain to people. The physical forces involved are so far outside of normal physical rules that it's incomprehensible. This happens with a lot of areas of physics (quantum mechanics, where rules of conservation of energy stop applying and special/general relativity, etc). Since the conditions around the BB event are even further outside of our range of experience, and we really don't have a way to recreate it yet, we don't understand exactly what went on. Even the stuff we think we do understand is very hard to explain to the layperson (or so I hear, I'm not that knowledgeable about this stuff).
Any time you talk about the beginning of the universe you will always run into a paradox by which something that exists must be caused to exist by something else (which may not nessecarily be true, but it usually is assumed to be). "The big bang was the start of the universe." "What caused the big bang?" "God created the universe." "Where did God come from?" etc etc. This has been the case so far.
StrikeFerret: Well, when you talk about proofs, you're talking inductive and deductive. And I can't recall which is which. But most mathmatical and logical proofs -are- proofs. Like all those silly side-angle-side proofs and such they made me do so many years ago, so long as the information provided was accurate, so was the proof.
I left myself open there, but bear with me. The other proof (I do believe this THIS is the inductive) relies on any sort of sensory perception. This includes everything based thereon, such as if you measured said triangle for a proof. It also includes things like the sun rising in the East. Just because it has for all or recorded history is no assurance that it will come up tomorrow. Although I plan on it anyway.
Most of the theories presented never really cover everything. I've seen theories regarding a spontaneous creation of a high-energy particle which exploded into this. Perhaps. They say it only had to happen once.
Or if you consider the argument that matter is simply energy in a certain state. Well, then, the energy sorta sneezed one day and we're feeling the effects of it since. Where did that energy come from? Well maybe, since all energy in waveform is net zero, maybe there IS nothing and we're just percieving this because we're in said system.
I don't pretend to know. I'm not sure I agree with your statment about not wanting to know, but it certainly isn't worth losing too much sleep over. We exist. Or at least I do. Or You do. Heinlein had it right in Starship Troopers, you only worry about your part of the war. If you want to ponder things, by all means, go ahead. It's healthy and fun. But if you can't figure it out, at least you realize you don't know.
Phantasmagorium: I, going through and digging up all sorts of stuff ((as was required to stay sane in public schools)) to make sure I wasn't being taught bull, want to congratulate fox on this page. Even in the United States, where 40% of the people claim we're better than everyone else, we have public schools that state theory as if it were fact. It's not right, and honestly, our TEACHERS decide that they need to put thier own political spin on thing - exceptionally frustrating, but besides the point. They are there to teach fact, and tell us theories, not to make intelectual clones of themselves and tell us that the creation of the universe can contradict (On further thought, more of a paradox than a contradiction, as if I remember correctly they claim that the big bang was a bunch of energy that exploded and was somehow was converted to matter) proven scientific fact ((Matter and energy cannot be destroyed but are interchangable - correct me on that if I got it just a little wong)). However, whether the Big Bang really happenned or not is pointless. Another theory that they seem all too fond of toting around as fact is evolution, and that is impossible given the laws of thermodynamics (in particular, the second one, which is the law governing entropy). So while the Big Bang theory is perfectly acceptable using known, scientific 'fact' (which has been proven to the greatest extent possible by humanity, and are taught as fact in pretty much every science book Ive ever seen, except my last one, which said once it was a theory. Thank God (lol, no pun intended) that my teachers this time around knew fact from theory from fiction) as the universe is running down and spreading out, evolution, which states everything is improving, needs more (a lot more) tweaking before acceptable by the second law of thermodynamics. Odd, how evolutionists usually also believe in the Big Bang. I agree no theory can be proven, and while technically thier names really are the lwas of thermodynamics, and they probably won't be disproven (as you can see the second one happen, I just have to watch my bedroom), I do wish to emphasize that these are theories. Just pretty much rock-solid ones. Also (slightly off-topic), a Godlike being is incomprehensible to humans because he has no begining, no end, and can do whatever the heck he wants. And because we, as humans, are arrogant creatures, we can't believe that theres something ot there that ut would kill us to look in the eyes (stated in the Bible, see God's face and you die. Also in the Jewish text (if I remember right, the Koran as well). So, the three biggest (or at least best known, and last time I checkd definately two out of three) all agree that if you saw his face directly you would die. Hmm... so maybe humanity is resenful as well? Ok, babbling rant over .
Strikeferret Ah, yes . . . Entropy. Not to discredit you, but you're stating that it's incorrect because of a law of thermodymanics, which in and of itself, is only a theory. Disregarding that, I don't think it really applies to something which actively tries to better itself, either through will or through indirect action. If a string of protein somehow reproduces itself, there will be more of them. And if B makes more copies than A, then there shall be more of B. I believe that logic is deductive, and as such stands to reason as fact. Correct me if I'm wrong. I've also discussed micro versus macro evolution before, and I personally don't think we have the space here to do so.
To move away from Evolution, however, yes, according to several theories that are being tested, matter and evergy are one and the same, insofar as matter -can- spontaneously decay into energy. I have no followup information on that experiment, however. As for a diety, I encourage you to look at the Tao and consider if something perfect would have human-like qualities at all. Usually, I'd suspect anything anthropomorphic to be hideously imperfect by definition.
Foxpaw: That's the premise behind the nuclear bomb, deuterium fusion bomb, and neutron implosion bomb... so yes, it's does appear to be possible.
scumble: There's a bit of confusion about evolution. As far as I'm concerned, evolution is an observed phenomenon, not a theory. The theories try to explain how it works, like Natural Selection. I suppose most theories dealing with the process of evolution are a variation on NS, but the "Theory of Evolution" as such, doesn't actually exist, it's a misnomer.
I'm not entirely convinced by the Big Bang myself, Foxpaw. It's all a bit contrived - especially the Inflation bit. The best bits of cosmology deal with what we can see now.
Mychaeel: Scientists tend to believe that the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is the one that's most likely to actually reflect the truth; and a "higher being" having conceived the entire universe is certainly the most complex and incomplete explanation imaginable.
All of the existing scientifical theories try to start off from as few postulates as possible (like the special theory of relativity postulating that the speed of light is always the same regardless from the frame of reference it is measured in); granted, most of them get pretty complex in application to a certain problem, but the way from the postulates to the complex application is nothing but logical thought with no room for arbitrariness or ambiguity.
(The explanation that evolution is impossible due to the second law of thermodynamics just makes my head hurt... no offense. If this particular application of thermodynamics was correct, I'd never be able to type these lines because I'm obviously bringing order into a bunch of previously unrelated electrons by doing it.)
Foxpaw: I think that what he was referring to was the theory that evolution was the start of all life on Earth. I wouldn't question for a second that it exists in modern lifeforms, but did humans really evolve from a puddle of amino acids and protein bits? Though I suppose that's TECHNICALLY possible by the theory of evolution... well, TECHNICALLY speaking I could spray automatic fire into a crowded shopping mall at christmas time and not hit anyone through sheer chance, but what are the odds? Also there's a fundamental bit missing as to how cells know how to build themselves, seeing as your body contains numerous types of cell, all of which contain identical DNA.. some biologists claim this is a result of different levels of various proteins and crud present during cell formation, but that too is one heck of a long shot.
I actually think creationism is the simplest and most concise explanation - it's not hard for me to draw something, but if I were a stick figure on that page it would be an inconcievable feat for lines and shapes to simply appear from nowhere. Though seemingly bizarre to the people living on the page, it's intuitive and jarringly simple to one such as myself. This notion, I think, could easily be extrapolated to the three-dimensional world we live in, with a greater being of some kind doodling away, creating universe from an empty page with a few idle strokes. Seems logical to me, anyway, though I'm not saying that that can be proven any easier than anything else, or at all.
StrikeFerret: It may just be the simplest solution. However, all else is not equal, but that's a fight for a different time.
To use your own example, If it is possbile, if not very probable, that you wouldn't hit anyone, that it is possible. And if you tried that every hour on every planet for three billion years, it is likely to happen at least once. Through my basic training in Anthropology (I did a lot of useless crap my first few years in college) I can assure you the body knows how to do what it does because it works. It's largely why we're so well adapted to the Earth. The Earth isn't perfect for us, we're perfect for the Earth. We adapted that way, not the other way around.
I understand completely those of you who think it's a bit far-fetched, after all, it's just theory after all. However, let us remember that without faith, God is nothing, since he also cannot be proven any more deductively than a theory can. Seeing as how this isn't the point of the conversation, I shall leave it at that.
Phantasmagorium: I was stating the unlikelihood of something starting from nothing. When I go over all the theories in my head, I have questions for both. However, evolution, much like any religion, has no supporting evidence for the beggining. I was not saying that we haven't evolved since creation, clearly we have, but more mentally than physically, in my honest oppinion. People are taller now, yes, than in Napoleans time, but we're never going to get wings ((The one thing I think would be absolutely awesome is to be able to have wings)), at least not in the foreseeable future, and what did we do about it? We made airplanes. Now we dont need wings . As for natural selection, the weak die and the strong survive. Fact of life. There is nowhere any any religious text I have ever heard of that disagrees with that. Of course, Im by no means a religious expert, just a guy with great interest and who knows how to look stuff up.
The conclusion I came to? Evolution as the beggining has to be taken on faith, much as any religion. I respect that. All I really ask of the real die-harders out there is they respect my views as well. If you don't, well, thats when things get messy.
Oh, and when I called them the "laws" of thermodynamics, it was because it is an observed event. Old buildings run down. Tires go flat, even with disuse. People age, get all messed up and die. There is no human being who can disprove entropy. Therefore, at least one of them is "proven," or as proven as it could be, as I said the first time I typed something out here. This is a really interesting page though, hehe. Good debate.
Tynan: Actually, you're misinterpreting the laws of thermodynamics. Consider this (this isn't by me by the way but I'm not gonna repeat):
"It's the Second Law that the creationists are so thrilled about. It demonstrates the existence of entropy, and it refers to the fact that in every transformation of energy, some of the energy becomes useless. The Second Law defines the theoretical minimum amount of useful energy which is lost in the transaction. This energy isn't destroyed (which would violate the First Law) but it can't be used to do what a scientist refers to as "work". This discovery had profound effects on nearly all kinds of engineering.
This is a critically important law, because it is the only scientific principle known which is not symmetrical with respect to time. Indeed, some people think that time may well be entropy, though there is no proof of that yet.
Order is energy. (That's what the Third Law says.) Disorder is a lower energy state than order (or rather, a state where more of the energy is useless). Information is order, and thus stored information is inherently a high-energy state. So the creationists say "The Second Law says that disorder will increase – so how could evolution create more complex organisms without violating it?" Well, it's because that's not what the Second Law actually says.
The Second Law applies to closed systems and says that the average disorder in the entire closed system will increase with time. (It also applies to individual energy transactions, and to a lot of other things, but within this context it is its systemic aspect which is important.)
This does not apply to open systems. A closed system is one which has no energy transactions outside its borders. An open system has the ability to trade energy in various forms with other systems. A closed system is made up of component open systems, and the Second Law doesn't apply to an open system.
It's possible for an open system to import order and export disorder, locally increasing order. What the Second Law says is that in such a transaction more disorder than order will be created. It does not, however, forbid the creation of pockets of order. What happens is that disorder in the entire closed system will increase even though individual open systems within it might become more ordered.
So the creationist application of the Second Law is wrong because life is an open system, not a closed system.
In any case, if the creationist interpretation of the Second Law was correct, a lot more things than evolution would be impossible. For instance, it would be impossible to breed. You start with two humans and end up with three. Looks like an increase in order to me – obviously it can't happen. It would also be impossible for a child to grow: five years ago she weighed 20 kilos and now she weighs 35 kilos, which means we've created an additional 15 kilos of ordered mass.
For that matter, it would mean that a refrigerator would be impossible, since "cold" is a form of order.
Not all heat is disorder, but all disorder is ultimately heat. (The Second Law defines precisely how much of the heat in a warm pocket is useless.) What a refrigerator does is to create a pocket of cold by making something nearby more hot (moving the heat from one place to another). This creates a temperature differential, which is a form of order. But doing this involves expenditure of energy which itself becomes heat, so more heat than cold is produced. If the refrigerator were turned off and the heat permitted to flow back into the cold zone and "fill in the hole" by destroying the differential, the resulting system overall would be warmer than before, and more of the total energy in the closed system would be useless.
Equally, maintenance of the order of life requires substantial expenditure of energy; we take it in as food and expel it as heat. This doesn't violate the Second Law because we are not closed systems – and evolution doesn't either. Evolution creates order but the overall system becomes more disordered on average with time. The earth itself isn't a closed system: order is imported as sunlight and exported as radiated heat. The heat enters the background of the universe and the total disorder of the universe increases. As long as the sun shines and the celestial background is cold, life on earth can still flourish. (Unless we pollute ourselves to death.)
The system is definitely running down. The universe may last forever (that hasn't been determined yet) but it will only exist as we know it for perhaps 50-100 billion more years, at which point there will be few hot spots left to act as sources of order for life to exploit. Then the universe's disorder will overwhelm order and life as we know it will become extremely difficult and rare.
" - by Steven den Beste (full at http://denbeste.nu/essays/thermo.shtml).
Now, back to the main topic here, which is the concept of theories. We're still having a major communications problem when we talk about the word "theory". A theory is a concept or conceptualized system based on past observations that can be used to predict future events. This is all a theory is. A theory is also the furthest any scientific concept can be said to be "true" as. No concept is more proven than a theory. One that is less proven is a hypothesis. One that is very new and untested is a conjecture. In order to attain theory status a concept is tested for a long time in many ways by many people.
The concept of proof is a fallacy. Nothing can ever be positively proven in science or math. Mathematical systems always start out with a few basivc axioms that are ASSUMED to be correct. Thus when you "prove" something within said mathematical system, that proof rests on the assumption that your original axioms are correct as well, which is in fact not a proof at all. Nothing can ever be proven, thus a "theory" is the furthest any concept can go to being proven. There is no such thing as a proven scientific fact.
Most people think of a theory as being some sort of idea or thought that hasn't been tested. This conflicts with science lingo. In scientific circles, such a concept is referred to as a conjecture. Complaining about the teaching of "theories" in schools is redundant, because if we didn't teach theories we wouldn't be teaching anything.
Phantasmagorium: Three words: Holy... freaking... crap. Thats a looooong excerpt (it was an excerpt, right?). I think that you are making assumptions yourself in posting it, but I'll try to stay on topic. Hard to do now that schools started again. My class just went over the big bang theory again, and my teacher (who is a really cool guy) went over both the ways it could happen and the impossibilities of it, such as the huuuuge amount of mass coming from just that one thing. Assuming that matter did exist without a universe (which, in my oppinion, the use of that term is misleading. The Big Bang is a theory regarding the creation more of the physical contents of said univese, than the universe itself. Especially since the term universe is often subconcsiously assumed to mean reality. Odd, but I tested it when I was bored on students and teachers. im not gonna say how, because its besides the point.) One impossibilty that is used often (and I will only use this because it is blatant) is where did the matter come from? Someone who takes it only at a first glance (from how Ive seen the theory) may quote how matter and energy are interchangeable, and somether mumbled words (<– Actually happened! I think someones avoiding the subject...) about some pure bull. So, please, someone put here the actual theory regarding the big bang, in complete text, as I have been unable to locate it to my satisfaction.
At the above: Instead of 'redundant', did you mean contradictory? As redundant means it has something to fall back on (quick definition, dont go using that in an official forum ) Anyways, nice discussion, it's really turning into something I can enjoy. I don't get good arguments all the time on this subject, as the people I ask do the whole mumble-interchangable-bull routine.
Foxpaw: I would have to disagree with that definition of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. My understanding of entropy is not that things become less ordered, simply that less can be absolutely determined about them. For instance, the drain pipes in your home are slowly (extremely slowly) eroded by the things that go down them. Thus, 50 years after installation, it is much more difficult to say with certainty where the individual molecules that made up the pipe are. Maybe they're still in the pipe, maybe they're not. The more time that passes, the more "scattered" the molecules could theoretically be... that is that it cannot be predicted as accurately, not necessarily that order has not been created.
I wouldn't say that evolution violates entropy, I'm just saying.. it's a pretty far fetched explanation of how life on Earth began. The appropriate molecules just HAPPENED to form into the shape of a cell and it all went from there? I'll buy that evolution takes place to modify existing things, but I have a hard time believing that it was the beginning, and am highly opposed to it being preached as if it was the way that life began. It seems like one heck of a coincidence.
I would agree that matter and energy are interchangeable, but that doesn't really bring us any closer to validating the big bang. So the matter was created by the energy? Where did that come from? Since they're interchangeable, that's kind of like evaluating X + Y = 7 to X = 7 - Y and claiming you're closer to the answer. That's my opinion anyway.
Tynan: Well, the first "life" doesn't have to have been a fully-formed cell. All you need is a particle that self-replicates in its envorinment. You don't need it to have all the biological functions that modern lifeforms have. Once that particle exists for whatever reason, it will self replicate and multiply. It won't technically be "alive" but it will replicate. Sometimes it might replicate slightly differently for whatever reason, and if those particles are more robust etc they will survive. Some of the particles will stick together eventually and you'll have a system where lumps of molecules replicate other individual molecules into their envoronment which lump together with nearby molecules. They'll get bigger and bigger and start having specialized parts (like a more robust or structured layer of particles on the outside, the "cell wall" if you will).
It doesn't nessecarily have to have started with anything resembling modern life. All that's needed are two ingredients: the ability to self-replicate, and the ability to have replicas that may be slightly different than the original. After that all that's required is time and the process of selection will produce organisms more and more likely to survive in their environment. Particle life forms with no autonomous functions like I discuss do still exist (they're known as "viruses" and they're nothing more than a peice of ribonucleic acid, perhaps with some protein chains attached to it).
Now back to the BB theory. Whe discussing any ideas about the beggining of the universe, you will ALWAYS end up in a "what before that" loop. God created the universe. What created God? The Big Bang is the origin of all matter. Where did the Big Bang come from? Etc etc.
The thing with the big bang is that the physics are so far outside of normal Newtonian existence that it's almost impossible to study or understand. When you have the entire universe packed into a volume the size of a golf ball all the rules change. There could be physical forces and laws involved that don't even apply to our state of being (way less dense and waay cooler than the BB. Plus our universe is of greater than infinitely small size).
Some idea I've heard about the BB theory is that it didn't break any laws of conservation. There was nothing and no universe, and this is still true if there is the same amount of antimatter as matter. All we represent is an imbalance, and somewhere else there is a counterweight (in the form of antimatter). Of course, the question remains as to what caused these events. It'll be a while before we figure that one out. Remember, the BB theory is only around because we've observed that the universe is currently exploding (all matter is moving away from a point at high speed).
Foxpaw: Well, yes, sort of, but what kind of non-cellular particle can replicate itself? Viruses are a good example, but they can't reproduce themselves, they need a cellular host in order to reproduce. Not all theories have that "what before what" loop though, Creationism for instance does not have that issue if you study it thoroughly. God is said to transcend time, thus causing a temporal paradox wherein God created himself. I believe there's quite a popular example of this type of temporal paradox about a time-travelling drifter that was their own mother, father, and children, as a result of travelling through time and "interacting" with their past and future selves. This person, in effect, created themself.
Now that I've said that, it brought to my attention that perhaps the Universe itself exists in a similar temporal paradox, having somehow inflicted itself. Unsettling, indeed.
I'm breaking convention and putting this below the discussion. I'm hoping that it will make the discussion feel more like it's part of the article instead of an attachment hanging on to the bottom. If you haven't already, I would highly recommend the book "A Brief History of Time," by Stephen Hawking. I imagine you've heard of it. It is a very informed, very scientific look at the Universe. It is also interesting - not a dry read, even for those not particularly interested in theoretical physics. If "A Brief History of Time" has a sequel, it would be "Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension" by Michio Kaku. Like "A Brief History of Time," "Hyperspace" is easy to read and not biased toward any particular theory. Unproven theories are clearly stated as such. I found the book fascinating, but it is a bit more advanced that "A Brief History of Time" and some people may have difficulty understanding parts of it. Michio Kaku's other books also look good but I have not read them. Please feel free to post links below if you find any good sites relating to the topic:
Dante: I read ABriefHistoryOfTime. It's a good book, although it startert a controversy because of using ideas as if they're known facts.
Foxpaw: Ahh! Words smashed together! Spaces were invented for a reason.
Tarquin: hey! I went to the trouble of making a little interwiki icon just for that link, you ungrateful wretches!