“Because your culture directs your focus to things made of atoms, you have adopted a belief system that discourages you from searching for the deeper truths beyond the physical world.”
– Lismadalena, Book One of the Novus Veritas series
That there is such a thing as the physical world is a wonder in itself. One’s first temptation is to ask why. Why does anything tangible exist?
Even in the logical, scientific, sense, the question is still interesting, for it asks that we retrace cosmic history back in time to the inception of the Big Bang, the moment when the seed of all time, space, and matter burst open and the nascent universe was born.
Science’s burning question, then, is: what scientific principles were at work in that very first moment? Or, to put it another way: what laws, or forces, or principles are presently evident in the universe that would allow us to logically tease out the particulars of the beginning of time, space, and matter?
While the details are a matter of debate and will undoubtedly be for quite some time, there seems to be nearly universal agreement that everything—you, me, and the family dog—owes its existence to random fluctuations in quantum vacuum energy some 13.8 billion years ago. The models put forth are fascinating. My favorite is the creation ex nihilo version worked out by physicist Alex Vilenkin in his book, Many Worlds in One. I look forward to discussing it in a future article.
But for now, the question is not how the universe began, but rather what was in existence prior to universe that enabled its dramatic birth. It is not a scientific question. It is not even a question a scientist can ask in any official capacity. Science, for better or worse, is a materialistic enterprise; simply put, if it’s not made of matter or energy derived from matter it’s not a fit subject for scientific study. So logically, science can never know why the universe exists because the knowledge required to answer the question lies outside the realm of scientific investigation.
Fortunately, the rest of us are under no such constraints. Once we come to terms with the not-always-obvious fact that science is a self-limiting discipline, then we can ask all the questions we want without feeling the need to look over our shoulder to see who’s listening. And if we entertain the idea (at least as a starting point) that science is right in its supposition that the physical world exploded into existence from nothing more that quantum principles, then we can reasonably ask: where did the quantum principles come from?
Vilenkin himself suggests—almost in a whisper, it seems—that they arose from Mind. Of the preexisting variety. And now, finally, we’re walking a path upon which science cannot take. For if Mind existed before time—as it must have, since science tells us time began at the instant of the Big Bang—then Mind must itself be eternal.
It has always been. And shall forever be. Rather like God. Whatever fate may eventually befall the physical universe, Mind will remain. Doing what Mind has always done.
Mind—please feel free to plug in your own word here, for Mind, as we conceive it, is necessarily hobbled by our own limited intellects—is fundamental. Matter and the entire physical world are emergent.
So why is there a physical universe? No longer under the pall of science, you are now free to speculate to your heart’s content. Hopefully, the words meaning and purpose find their way into your calculations.
– REX A. EWING