The Instigator
Debaterpillar
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
Rational_Thinker9119
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

The finitude of the universe makes a prior to the Big Bang almost inevitable

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Debaterpillar
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/8/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 992 times Debate No: 38655
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)

 

Debaterpillar

Pro

Resolution: "Judging from current science and logic the finitude of the universe's past makes a prior to its first state almost inevitable"

I want to thank my opponent Rational_Thinker9119 for taking this challenge, since I always wanted to debate on this topic. Being Pro, we agreed on me to carry the burden of proof.
Thus, I will win the debate if I can reasonably deduct from logic and current science that it is almost inevitable that the universe being 13.7 billion years old implies some state or something, that preceded it temporally.
My opponent on the other hand will win, if he can successfully negate my arguments and/or I should fail to prove my claim.


First round: Acceptance, definitions and greetings only
Second and third round: Arguments and rebuttal
Fourth round: Rebuttal, conclusions and "Vote Me"s


Definitions:

(D.1) Universe: The observable entirety of energy, matter and forces since the Big Bang, including it; excluding every possible state or form that preceded 13.7 billion years ago.
(D.2) Pre-Universe: The entirety of anything which might have existed before the Big Bang. Whether assuming a pre-universe to exist is justified or not will be a matter of this debate.
(D.3) For convenience the Big Bang will be assumed to have taken place exactly 13.7 billion years ago. The universe's past is therefore 13.7 billion years long.
(D.4) All other scientific definitions apply, as they are commonly adopted by current mainstream physics.


I wish both of us good luck, fun and an entertaining debate.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Debaterpillar

Pro

Before beginning to present my main argument for this round, I want to thank my opponent once again for accepting this debate.


Introduction (A 0)


Currently, there are two different theoretical frameworks to describe nature: General relativity, which is used for high masses and spacetime geometry, and quantum field theory, which is used at the smallest distances. Yet, when talking about the most extreme conditions of space and time - like the beginning of the universe - both general relativity and quantum field theory would be needed to correctly characterize nature. But as they are, they contradict each other, and a new theory of quantum gravity is needed to reconcile them [1].
Thus - as they both aren't valid for times shorter than the Planck time (definition see [2]) after the Big Bang - we cannot use either of them to be perfectly sure what happened at the time of the Big Bang or even before.
Since there currently is no widely accepted theory of quantum gravity, the only foundations we can build our arguments on during this debate are logic on the one hand and those aspects which are true for both general relativity and quantum field theory on the other hand, as they will most likely be present in a combined theory as well.


Argument 1

(A 1) The absence of a period of time prior to the universe necessitates a first state of time. A first state of time is physically impossible. Thus, there must have been a period of time prior to the Big Bang, as claimed in the resolution.

(A 1.1) The absence of a period of time prior to the universe necessitates a first state of time

The universe has only existed for a finite amount of time. That means, there must have been a first state of the universe and any particle to have experienced it must - at this time - have had a later state of time, but no previous.
Consequently, time must have been non-differentiable [3] at least once during the existence of the universe, if there has been a beginning of time itself - marking a singularity at t = 0.

(A 1.2) A first state of time is physically impossible

In both general relativity and quantum field theory the velocity of a particle is defined with respect to a differentiable time dimension [4]. If a first state of time exists, for particles at t = 0 therefore the velocity is neither defined in general relativity nor in quantum field theory.
Extrapolating from those theories, no current approach to quantum gravity bears a different definition of velocity. Judging from current science, all particles have had an undefined velocity at t = 0, assuming it was the beginning of time as well.

However, this state was already included in our definition of the universe (D.1), and since for all times later all known conservation laws applied (such as the conservation of momentum and the conservation of energy), it follows directly, that all particles must have kept a completely undefined velocity until present, if they had one at t = 0 . Yet, this conflicts with observation.

Note, that this argument does not conflict with quantum mechanics, where one cannot measure position and velocity of a particle at the same time with arbitrary precision, but upon a measurement of position the velocity is still defined in terms of a probability distribution [5]. At an alleged beginning of both time and the universe at t = 0, a velocity measurement performed could principally not give any value even without any measurement of position - there wouldn't even have been a physical probability distribution. Therefore, a beginning of time itself would be a physically impossible state.

(A 1.3) Thus, there must have been something preceding the Big Bang

The only and most simple way to account for presently measurable, defined velocities, is to assume the existence of time prior to the Big Bang.
Thus, I conclude the existence of a period of time prior to the universe is almost inevitable according to current physics.



Sources

[1] https://www.perimeterinstitute.ca...
[2] http://astronomy.swin.edu.au...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...
[5] http://www.princeton.edu...
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Introduction

I would like to thank my opponent for initiating this debate, and for starting it off with an interesting argument. For the most part, I do not have problems with the introduction section from my opponent. However, there is one part from Pro which does entail a fallacy of presumption[1]:

"...We cannot use either of them to be perfectly sure what happened at the time of the Big Bang or even before." - Pro

This presumes that there was a "before" for anything to happen, but this is a main part of what we are debating in the first place.

Rebutting My Opponent's Argument

Pro presents the following argument:

"(A1) The absence of a period of time prior to the universe necessitates a first state of time. A first state of time is physically impossible. Thus, there must have been a period of time prior to the Big Bang, as claimed in the resolution." - Pro

The argument seems logically valid, the question now is whether the premises are true.

"(A 1.1) The absence of a period of time prior to the universe necessitates a first state of time" - Pro

For the sake of debate, I will grant the above premises as true.

"(A 1.2) A first state of time is physically impossible" - Pro

The latter premise, I do have a problem with as it assumes that if there was a first moment of time, particles had to exist. Pro claimed that judging from current science, all particles have had an undefined velocity at t = 0, assuming it was the beginning of time as well. He did not defend this assertion with an argument or a source, and it remains as an unjustified assumption. My opponent also claimed that all particles must have kept a completely undefined velocity until present if they had one at t = 0, and that this conflicts with observation. Pro did not defend his position regarding how this conflicts with observation. Now, particles are the building blocks of matter[2], but matter can be converted into energy and vice versa (this follows from Einstein's famous equation E=Mc2[3]). However, according to standard Big Bang cosmology, all the universe's energy existed at the singularity; thus it hadn't converted into matter yet[4]. This means there would be no particles at t=0 as no matter would exist at that point for the particles to make up, just energy. Since this argument of my opponent's relies on their being particles at t=0, and I showed why that was not the case, then the support for the premise of this argument can be dismissed as false. Since the warrant for the premise in question is false, then we cannot conclude this following conclusion as true:

"(A 1.3) Thus, there must have been something preceding the Big Bang" - Pro

Conclusion

(A1.2) assumes particles had to exist at t=0, but I showed that is not the case. Thus, the argument fails. The argument does not succeed as it is anyway as the defense for (A1.3) is lacking sufficient support.

Pro has the burden of proof, and as it stands the resolution has not been established.

Sources


[1] http://www.philosophypages.com...
[2] http://education.jlab.org...
[3] http://www.symmetrymagazine.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Debaterpillar

Pro

I want to thank my opponent for his fast answer and his raised objections, allowing me to present some details of my position more clearly.


Conclusion of Con's rebuttal

Con conceded (A 0); the wording "or even prior to the Big Bang" was only chosen to stress my introduction's validity for both debaters' stances, not as an argument itself.

Since Con conceded (A 1.1) (and (A 1.3) if being supported by (A 1.2)), I interpret Con's statements as agreeing with the whole resolution for the case
* that there were particles at the Big Bang
* that their velocity must have been ill defined if it was the beginning of time and
* that this conflicts with current observations


Rebuttal of Con's objections

(R 1) "[...] there would be no particles at t=0 as no matter would exist [...], just energy." - Con.

First of all I have to point out, that Con's sources neither support his negating claims, nor his stance. Con claims particles did not exist at t=0 according to his source #4, but his source says nothing about the existence of particles at t=0 at all.
Con's source #2 solely addresses atoms being the building blocks of matter, but in mentioning particles I didn't refer to atoms in the first place. Talking of particles, I meant all particles in general as known in the Standard Model of particle physics [1], which are all assumed to have been present at all times of the universe [2.1][2.2][2.3].
Con further claims that only energy was present at t = 0, but his source #3 actually supports my position, as the formula E=mc^2 applies for particles only [3].

The most important objection to my opponent's argument is that particles are not analogous to matter, as he states. All forms of energy can only exist in the states of particles: Matter and antimatter are being composed of so-called hadrons and leptons [4], electromagnetic energy such as radio waves, light and radioactive gamma radiation are being composed of photons [5] and the gravitational interaction and gravitational energy are generally being assumed to consist of gravitons [6].

The physical definition of energy itself is only possible with respect to particles [3], be it kinetic energy or potential energy.
Thus, if there was energy at the beginning of time (as Con arguments), there must have been particles to carry it.


(R 2) "[...] all particles have had an undefined velocity at t = 0 [...] remains as an unjustified assumption." - Con.

Con raised doubts about my deduction of the concept of velocity being undefined at a beginning of time (t=0). I admit, I could have been a bit clearer in my argumentation, which I will now make up for. But I have to stress, that contrary to what was said, all necessary sources have been present in Round Two.
As stated in my source #4 of Round Two, the velocity of any particle is defined as dx/dt, which is a mathematical formula representing the distance dx a particle travelled divided by the time dt needed. More precisely, it is a derivative, which makes this definition meaningful even for infinitely small intervals of time or movement [7]. This is the definition used in both general relativity and quantum field theory [8]. However, as stated in my source #3 of Round Two, a derivation can in principle only be performed, if differentiability of a function is given. A derivation with respect to time can not happen at an alleged beginning of time (see Fig.1, compare to [9]).

Thus, a definition of velocity is impossible at a beginning of time - all velocities must be undefined.


(R 3) "Pro did not defend his position regarding how this conflicts with observation." - Con.

Con conceded that according to conservation laws, if all particles at t=0 had undefined velocities, they must have kept them until today. He however challenges my claim, that this is not obviously contrary to observation.
But had all particles an undefined velocity even today, velocity measurements wouldn't be possible, as they would logically yield undefined values. Thus, every velocity measurement on any present particle yielding a result would be a contradiction to undefined velocities at t = 0. Defined velocities are constantly measured [10].

By this, a beginning of time at t=0 would conflict with observation.


Fig. 1) Plotting the position of a particle as a function of time, the velocity is always defined as a tangent to that function. However, at an alleged beginning of time (t = 0) velocities are completely undefined, as there is no tangent.


Argument 2

(A 2) Noether's theorem will most likely hold at the beginning of the universe. If there was a first state of time at t = 0, according to the theorem an unbounded amount of energy should have been produced. This conflicts with the current model of inflation [expansion of the early universe]. Thus, judging on current physics a first state of time is impossible and a period of time preceding the Big Bang must have existed.


(A 2.1) Noether's theorem will most likely hold at the beginning of the universe.

Noether's theorem is valid in both general relativity and quantum field theory [11] and is as such, according to the introduction (A 0) Con agreed on, one of the best candidates to hold even for a description of earliest universe development.

(A 2.2) If there was a first state of time at t = 0, according to the theorem an unbounded amount of energy should have been produced.

According to Noether's theorem, energy conservation (and a concept of energy) can only exist, if time is differentiable [11]. As demonstrated in (Fig.1), this is however not the case. Therefore at t = 0 no law of energy conservation could be applied - and as there is no other bound to regulate a creation of energy - an unbounded amount of energy should have been produced.

(A 2.3) This conflicts with the current model of inflation.

While this may not seem as a problem first, as the beginning of the universe is commonly associated with a creation of energy, the implications are in fact disastrous for any model of the Big Bang:
The current model of inflation, governing the expansion of the early universe, only has finite expansive power for finite regions of spacetime [12][13].
It follows logically, that if an unbounded amount of energy should have been created, inflation would not have been able to counteract its immense gravity, thus inflation shouldn't have occurred.

(A 2.4) Thus, judging on current physics a first state of time is impossible and a period of time preceding the Big Bang must have existed.

But inflation occurred [12], and therefore the creation of an unbounded amount of energy is contradicted by evidence. Thus, a beginning of time at t = 0 is almost impossible and a period of time prior to the Big Bang almost inevitable.


Argument 3

(A 3) All current approaches to quantum gravity refuse a beginning of time itself [14][15][16].



In conclusion

I successfully negated all of Con's doubts on my argument (A 1). Moreover, since both (A 1) and (A 2) are valid, and (A 3) is a strong support for my stance, I see the burden of proof met and the resolution to be established.


Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2.1] http://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com... ('Unification' existed at Big Bang)
[2.2] http://en.wikipedia.org... ('Unification' is equivalent to existence of particles)
[2.3] http://science.howstuffworks.com... (specifically states quarks existed at the Big Bang)
[3] http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...
[4] http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://www.math.uni-bremen.de... (a bit technical)
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[9] http://www-math.mit.edu... (especially point 5)
[10] http://www.sciencedirect.com... (only one random example)
[11] http://www.mathpages.com... (especially the last paragraph)
[12] http://en.wikipedia.org...(cosmology)
[13] http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu... (modelling a finite inflational potential)
[14] http://science.psu.edu...
[15] http://phys.org...
[16] http://en.wikipedia.org... (states a temporal singularity is questionable in any quantum gravity approach)
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Well, I'm not going to lie, it seems as if I must concede as I simply don't understand the majority of my opponent's argument (he is a physics major and I am not, so this shouldn't be too shocking). There is no point in debating something I don't fully understand, as there is a good chance that I would straw-man the argument pretty badly. I do find my opponent's argument very interesting though, so maybe he would answer some questions in his next round even though he has already won the debate:

1) There are many philosophical arguments that entail that an infinite past is illogical (I am sure my opponent is aware of them), how would you deal with those objections?

2) Does your argument only work if the first state of time is a singularity, or does the argument work with with any first state of time at t=0?

3) Some would argue that time wouldn't even exist at a singularity at t=0, only after the expansion is when time exists, how does this effect the argument?

4) Can you put your main argument for in syllogism form so it is easier to follow? I'm still not 100% sure what the argument actually is.

5) It seems as if your argument at best only shows that the nature of particles is what makes a prior to the Big Bang almost inevitable, but not a finite past by itself. How does your argument actually establish the resolution?

Thank you....
Debate Round No. 3
Debaterpillar

Pro

First of all I want to thank my opponent for his generous concession.

To my defense, I want to point out that I was really trying to take care to not present overly technical arguments, so that we can still have an interesting debate.


Addressing Con's questions

(Q1) There are many philosophical arguments that entail that an infinite past is illogical [...], how would you deal with those objections?

If this is what Con means, I'm familiar with the infinite regress problem. I think however, it arises mainly due to the human concept of assuming everything needs a beginning. At least physically and logically an infinite past is possible.
There are actually models of possible universes allowed by both general relativity and quantum field theory, which are temporally closed, with time being circular [1]. In these, an event can cause itself. The infinite regress problem should arise there as well in a sense, as there is no first cause for any event, but still these universes are not prohibited by any physical or logical means.


(Q2) Does your argument only work if the first state of time is a singularity, or does the argument work with with any first state of time at t=0?

The problem with any first state of time is, that by definition it must be a singularity. This corresponds to the fact I tried to address in (A 1) and (A 2) - that any definition of values like velocity, energy, etc. must break down at a beginning of time.


(Q3) Some would argue that time wouldn't even exist at a singularity at t=0, only after the expansion is when time exists, how does this effect the argument?

I think this would entail a logical contradiction. Assuming "time begins to exist after something" already depends on a notion of time being present before time starts to exist. Even if the singularity would be excluded from our notion of time - as I tried to describe in (A 2) - we would be left with all current conservation laws and a continuous, differentiable time at t=0. Thus, if the singularity weren't at a beginning of time, from current physics it necessarily follows that there should have been a prior state of time as well.
If the beginning of time weren't singular, it couldn't be the beginning of time.


(Q4) Can you put your main argument for in syllogism form [...]?

I'll try to summarize my main (first) argument a bit more clearly, especially on the physical part:

(P1) A beginning of time is necessarily singular
(P2) In a singularity, the definition of a physical property C breaks down
(P3) From (P1) and (P2) follows: At a beginning of time, the physical property C was undefined for all objects

(P4) At all times after the beginning of time, all conservation laws applied
(P5) A conservation law for a physical property C ensures (among other things), that if C is undefined, it cannot get defined
(P6) From (P4) and (P5): If C is principally undefined at t=0, it can never get defined

(P7) The property C is currently defined for an object
(P8) Since (P6) and (P7) contradict, there was no beginning of time


(Q5) It seems as if your argument at best only shows that the nature of particles is what makes a prior to the Big Bang almost inevitable, but not a finite past by itself. How does your argument actually establish the resolution?

For the argument (A 1) this is true. If different physics worked in our universe, a beginning of time could be possible. But the nature of particles (or more precisely physical laws in general, as (A 1) was more of a representative example) makes it at least in our universe impossible, at least according to what we currently know about physics.

My argument establishes the resolution by demonstrating that according to all current scientific understanding, a beginning of time is impossible, and that thus the existence of time must extend indefinitely into the past, even if the existence of the universe (as defined in (D.1)) does not.


In conclusion

Con conceded my arguments and therefore the resolution can be seen as being established.

This was an exceptionally fair move by Con. I want to thank him for this debate, hoping further, that it was interesting for all readers. Vote Pro.


Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Rational_Thinker9119 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
*Can you put your main argument for why a first state of time is physically impossible in syllogism form so it is easier to follow?
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
I think we all know what he means....
Posted by Debaterpillar 3 years ago
Debaterpillar
Yeah, I admit, "a period of time prior" might have sounded a bit better after all.
Posted by Miles_Donahue 3 years ago
Miles_Donahue
Right. My only point is that "a prior" is just grammatically incorrect. It seems clearer just to talk about "a prior period of time." But do as you see fit. (:
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
A temporal relation requires a period of time, so either way you crack it it's the same cookie.
Posted by Miles_Donahue 3 years ago
Miles_Donahue
Perhaps you should have thought of a better word than "a prior" for the resolution. "Prior" is simply a temporal relation between things/events; it doesn't have its own ontological existence. What you mean to say, I think, is that the finitude of the past necessitates a *period of time* prior to the first state of the universe.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 3 years ago
NiqashMotawadi3
DebaterpillarRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con consented the debate. Both debaters were amazing, though. Kudos to both.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
DebaterpillarRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Welcome to the site Debaterpillar, Well played.