The Nature of the Universe, 2 Nature
I Love Nature!
The following is a very brief description of the nature of reality, that is, what is real, and specifically the most basic things about our universe. This is not hard, a fifth grader can understand most of it, and, with a dictionary, can figure out the rest.
First, what is “nature?” Nature in this sense is what we discover though our faculties. The easiest to understand is sight, which excluded a very close friend, but this includes both deductive logic and inductive logic, that is, I can discover that, because of gravity things dropped from above fall, so, I deduce (start from the principle of the law of gravity and work to the specifics), that if I drop a rock into a dark hole I can think about how deep the hole is. That is deduction. If I have measured that rocks drop at 32 feet per second per second, and I count one second before the rock hits I induce the depth of the well as 32 feet (I started from the measurement and induce the answer). If I measure a length I must use something that relates to length, that is something of a known length, but what is length itself? I deduce it is the thing allowing the measurement, so it is a dimension.
The study of ontology and cosmology is the study of the nature of the universe and how it came to be. What is? What exists? What is the cause of what exists? (All contingent things are caused by something outside of and greater than themselves.) How did we get here in the first place? More specifically with this series, what is the nature of the universe?
Our senses give us accurate information about the universe, and that information helps use genuinely understand the universe. If this were not so we would be dysfunctional in the universe we live in. Senses give us experiences or empirical evidence about the universe around us.
Note that what exists, what is real can be discovered in part by empirical evidence, in part by intuition, and lastly by deductive reasoning, but this assumes 1) that you really pay attention to what is around you, 2) you think clearly which is hard work at times, and 3) that you know how to deduce things correctly from the evidence before you.
These three are much harder than they sound especially when overlaid with multiple worldviews from science, religion, philosophers and the average idiot on the street.
I am sitting here at my computer. The computer is a well-designed thing caused by huge numbers of collaborating intelligent humans manipulating both nature and artificial things and software that manipulates ultimately only electrons and places them into meaningful and specified strings of zeros and ones (really, either a blank spot or one holding an electron) to produce things you want (and sometimes things you might not want) and control this physical thing called a computer so it produces a meaningful stream of information we call an article. So we have purpose for the computer, and meaning behind the series of articles because there is intentionality, thought, goals, and ultimately one mind transmitting thoughts to another mind.
The history of computers, that is electronic computers, is relatively short and you can look it up if interested, but it is a recent thing in history. We know why they exist and what the intention was of the many people who worked on each step, and here I mean the entire package, the hardware and software.
But let’s jump now to something very basic on the computer, let’s say (trying to think here . . .give me a second . . .) a screw. No, I don’t want to go back to Archimedes or earlier, let’s just deal with what we have and explain what it currently is.
Let’s say the screw it is 4 millimeters long and one wide, and one tall. What am I indicating here? What is the length I mentioned? I used three measurements, of length, of height, and of width or depth.
But really, fundamentally, what is a measurement of length? I covered this above. It is a unit of measurement that can be applied to something.
Here I am not asking about the manmade arbitrary unit of length which varies from country to country or person to person or from one time to the next, that is using a millimeter or using an inch, rather how do we measure anything at all?
Well, what is length? Length is the measurement along a dimension. Well, that explains everything doesn’t it?
Did length explain everything? Well, no, it doesn’t.
Well, we still need to deal with the other dimensions, the width and the height, all distance type of dimensions, but there is also the mass, or, in a gravity environment, the weight, and shape. Not to mention the purpose or teleology of the screw (ah, now metaphysics).
Relax, we are not going into teleology or purpose, or much into metaphysics, but what is it we are really measuring in this physical domain we are existing in?
The following points are the key to understanding everything and how the universe actually exists and what is rational and reasonable to believe about it.
Many people have claimed this, especially mystics. Please believe me when I tell you I am about as far from mysticism as I can be. Mysticism is a way of telling what amounts to bedtime stories, but they think there is some direct connection to reality but it isn’t our reality it is some other kind of reality. Mysticisms claim we have direct knowledge of the gods, and there must be a lot of them because everyone claims different things are revealed directly to them.
(BTW a growing issue is people who mistake their own thoughts as messages from God. And this isn’t just a few people, there are tens of thousands of them and some churches teach this, those messages from God just pop into your mind. This is not how God works.)
We will deal instead with reality, or, what is real and what is not. So, as Rogers and Hammerstein said, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” I will first present the basics, the universal basics in brief then expand the same with some arguments attached:
- Dimensions are aspects of things and most can be measured, that is, a metric or measurement can be applied to them. Anything that is real has dimensions, or aspects of its existence. This most obvious (except to theologians and philosophers) is duration of existence, and that is measured by time.
- Common dimensions are length, width, height, time, magnitude, orientation, motion, and conscience (there are likely others such as logic/math, etc.). The temporal dimension is time, it measures duration, so these terms have been confused for three millennia, the actual thing or dimension is existence, and time is the metric we apply to describe how long it exists or endures. Something that exists without a beginning time or an ending time is called “eternal.” This term can be used to describe something that has an origin, but no ending. Christ offers eternal life, and so on.
- Where two dimensions interact to produce characteristics not intrinsic to the dimensions themselves, a “domain” exists. Things exist in domains.
- Metrics, measurement require a dimension to be measured, and a domain in which something exists to be the subject of measurement, and something occupying that domain which is used to perform the measurement. It must exit to be measured even if it is something imagined, for instance Krishna (the Hindi god) never really existed but the idea of its existence started around 300BC and continues today, so, while we cannot measure his existence, as can measure how long the idea has existed.
- A minimum of four dimensions are necessarily combined for a thing to exist, that is, it must be somewhere, and it must exist for some time period even if that time period is eternal.
- For something in one domain to interact with something in another domain, let’s say, heaven and earth, or spiritual and physical domains, there must be (an unknown number of) shared dimensions and corresponding domains.
- Spiritual beings are, and must also be “things” (not physical things) and therefore require dimensions and domains in which to exist.
That is the basic facts of the universe and how it is structured. And note at this point we can describe empty space, a multi-dimensional area where we can put something. Read 1-7 again a few times before you continue and then I will expand the paragraphs by explaining each a bit more. . .
With this understanding, many things will become clearer to you, and you will begin to discover many errors made by many people in the world.
Why is this description of time as a necessary aspect of existence important?
Without time and there is no existence and sequencing of moments of that existence, so there is no series, no succession, no progression or regression, no process, no order, no music, no change of any type, no change in position, i.e. motion or velocity, no advance or decline, no future or past, no actions such as responding or learning or thought or emotion, no gain or loss, no creation, no action of any type and therefore no verbs whatsoever can be used to describe anything or any being that is outside of time because all actions (verbs) require time. You also need to watch your adverbs and adjectives when discussing God if you think he is outside of time. He cannot be eternal (having no beginning in time or ending in time) if there is no metric to apply to the word “eternal,” it loses its meaning.
Neither could you have the “beginning” of the physical universe, nor any kind of beginning at all because you do not have the dimension (duration of existence) to apply the marker or measurement called “beginning” to.
Without time, time cannot come into existence and on that point I don’t care if you believe in an atheistic or theistic big bang (from a black or white hole) or that God created over some short or long time period, time is not something that came into existence, it is a measurement, and Einstein got this partly right when he said, “Time is what you see on your watch.” But there are other ways to measure it and history is replete with statements indicating so such as “In the second year of the reign of David, the King of Israel…”
The universe cannot have had a beginning without there first being something that existed and therefore duration or time because the term “beginning” is a way to measure the start of something within , that is, along the spectrum or arrow of duration (time).
Think of it this way: You are on television on a game show and the time has expired, you make a choice and the host of the show reminds you that you cannot do so because you are out of time. You can reverse this also to the beginning of the show, so, you cannot choose because the time for the show has not yet started. But note that you are still in time, so, what is meant by “not started yet?” You are in time, they are in time, but the time allotted for the game show, it’s duration has not started, or, in the first use, the duration expired, was already ended, and “start” and “end” are markers in time, say, thirty minutes in duration.
Did the universe have a beginning, yes, it did, however, time and the other domains are necessary and therefore existed before that.
An important object of this is to help you become consistent in the use of terms you use to describe things, and so, if you believe in evolution or naturalism, then you have a problem to deal with because for the primordial mass to suddenly appear requires the passage of time, for it to explode requires time, there was a “before” and “after” but also, when it expands requires someplace for it to go it cannot go no-place, that is absurd.
If on the other hand you believe in God and you also believe, as most Christians do that God is “outside of time,” and you are in good company with G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien, your pastor and all of your friends, then stop using verbs when you talk about God. He can do nothing at all if he is outside of time. Nothing at all regardless of what kind of stories you make up about how he can because, if true, it means he has no duration, i.e. he does not exist.
Yes, that is right. Krishna is outside of time, that is, he does not actually exist, he has no duration. Is that a description of YHWH, the God of the Bible?
...said Mr. Tinkles
“What an interesting philosophy. At what point did you forget WE'RE TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD?”
~Cats and Dogs
Stop Using Verbs About God
What do I mean when I say stop using verbs?
Let’s take the phrase “God is patient.” Patience requires tolerance of something over some period of time. If God is outside of time, then saying “God is patient” is absurd. He cannot be outside of time and also be patient because the definition of patience is an adjective which requires the passage of time, there must be a duration of some kind for the term “patient” to make sense. So try to develop any description of a personal God but you cannot use verbs or any word which indicated or requires the passage of time.
This very quickly becomes irrational as does the original claim by the Greeks that the Ultimate Being must be outside of time.
Apologies to the very fine gentlemen listed above, they are some of my favorite people, but when you failed to be able to describe God without using verbs do not fall on the excuse that we humans are limited by our finite knowledge, or other irrational escape mechanism because it is a problem of logic and reasoning, not one of limited language.
It can’t be done because it is irrational. All that is real is rational. God is not irrational; it is this Greek speculative philosopher religious idea that is irrational, and wrongly included into Christianity.