Last century science thought the physical universe was complete so while its parts could transform, the whole had to remain in a steady state. “Big bang” theorists then challenged this view on the stage of science, arguing against respected scientists who reasonably felt that a universe “exploding” out of nothing was highly unlikely. Then Hubble found that all the galaxies are receding from a first event that occurred billions of years ago, and finding that the cosmic background afterglow of the first event was still visible all around us sealed the deal.
This left physical realism in a quandary, as a physical universe that began was either created by something else or it created itself. If it was created by something else, as a child is from its parents, then it wasn’t complete. If it created itself, it had to exist before its own creation which is impossible. It is clear that a complete system can’t just magically begin.
Yet that our universe is both complete and also began is oddly enough what most physicists believe today. Parmenides concluded that “Nihil fit ex nihilo” or “From nothing, nothing comes” but physics now concludes that from nothing everything came. Calling this nothing “something that fluctuates” (Atkins, 2011) doesn’t help because “nothing” doesn’t fluctuate. The first event wasn’t a “quantum fluctuation of the vacuum” because it also began our space, so if matter just popped out of space, what did space pop out of? Rewriting physics to allow something to come from nothing is hardly an explanation. A better story is needed than that nothing “exploded” from a dimensionless point to create everything.
Current physics answers the question “What was there before the big bang?” by saying that there was no time before the big bang. But “defining away” the question like this isn’t an explanation. A universe that began had to be made, so it is valid to ask “What made it?” For if our time and space began, by the same logic could they suddenly stop today? The questions current physics is trying to ignore are:
- How could matter begin if there was no time or space for it to exist in?
- How could space begin if there was no time for it to begin in?
- How could time begin if there was no space for it to flow in?
That the physical world created itself is impossible and that it came from nothing is not just impossible but inconceivable. Our universe can’t be a massive quantum fluctuation still adjusting because that would need a space and time that didn’t exist before the first event.
In contrast, a quantum realism requires a “big bang”, as every virtual reality has to start up not only the processing that generates it but also its virtual space and time. When virtual world like Sim City starts up, it comes from nothing in that world, and before it began the time or space of that world did not exist.
In quantum realism, the “big bang” was just when our physical universe booted up.