“In these matters take no notice of the words of any man [meaning Aristotle], for it is the foundation of our[Jewish] faith that God created the world from nothing, that time did not exist before, because it depends upon the motion of the sphere, and that too was caused.”
Moses ben Maimon (twelfth century, Egypt)
That matter, time, and space sprang from nothing at the moment of creation fits quite well with what I’ve come to accept as a physicist. While I cannot claim to be much of a theorist, I have spent about twenty years in observational astrophysics, much of it touching upon evidence supporting the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.
I can’t work up much enthusiasm for the quantum cosmologists and their mathematical models. The best observational evidence we have suggests that the universe simply did not exist before the moment of creation. Had all that matter been sitting around for even a fraction of a second before the explosion, it would have collapsed into a black hole, and I wouldn’t be writing this.
The simple (at least to astrophysicists), open Big Bang theory gives us a picture of a universe appearing in an instant out of nothing. “Open” means that it will expand forever, was infinite in extent at the beginning of time, and has been getting bigger ever since. Other universes have no meaning in this picture, because time itself is an artifact of the universe we live in. When we say something exists, we take it as understood that this something exists now, but that requires this “something” to be connected with our time and therefore to exist in our universe. Unless you buy into so-called wormholes (I don’t, largely because the math is far too arcane for me to understand), there’s no way for something to exist outside of our universe, because time exists only here.
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