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 challenged this view on the stage of science, arguing against respected scientists who felt quite reasonably that a universe “exploding” out of nothing was highly unlikely. In 1929 the astronomer 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 confirmed that there was a first event.
This left physical realism in a quandary, as a physical universe that began was either created by something else or created itself. If it was created by something else, as a child is from its parents, then it wasn’t complete. Or if it created itself, it had to exist before its own creation, which is impossible. 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 an initial nothing, everything came. Calling that initial 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 space, so if matter just popped out of space, what did space pop out of? Revising reality to allow something to come from nothing doesn’t work. 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 before the big bang there was no time, but “defining away” a question like this isn’t an explanation. A universe that began had to arise somehow so it is valid to ask “How did it arise?” For if time and space just began for no reason, could they suddenly stop today by the same logic? The key questions are:
- How could matter begin with no time or space for it to exist in?
- How could space begin with no time for it to begin in?
- How could time begin with no space for it to flow in?
That our physical universe created itself is impossible and that it came from nothing is inconceivable. It 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, every virtual reality has to start up with a “big bang” that creates not only the objects in it but also its space and time. When virtual world like Sim City starts up, it comes from nothing in that world and before that the time and space of that world didn’t exist.
Quantum realism concludes that the big bang was when our virtual universe booted up.