miércoles, noviembre 01, 2006

God & Creation

1.-Time & Causality

Among the great scientific discoveries of the XXth Century, probably the most shocking was the cosmological background radiation and the subsequent consensus on the theory of the Big Bang. The philosophers of the antiquity used to believe in the eternity of the world, and unlike it was considered heretical, the enlightened and scientific opinion in the following centuries widely supported that idea. Even Maimonides, in the “Guide for the Perplexed” accepts that the theory of the eternity of the Universe was as rational as the creationist narrative, and considered that creationism had to be accepted on grounds of the revealed texts.

But the discovery of the radiation of the cosmic background and other cosmological proofs dramatically changed this view, and gave (close to) a definitive proof of the fact that universe appeared around 15.000 million years before the present. The universe was not eternal.

The classical Maimonidean-Thomist-Aristotelic (and thermodynamic) arguments of the necessity of an efficient cause for the universe, so many times “refuted” were again alive. If the universe had a definite beginning, what happened before? Well, first of all, we should consider the concept of “before”.

The ideas of “causality” and “time” look very similar because in our universe, the direction of causality always go from present to future. Cause always goes before effect and all events have a cause. The causality chain is the core assumption of scientific thought. Moreover, Time has in our mind two different meanings: on one hand there is a quantitative concept of time, related to the speed of some physical and mental processes. On the other hand, the logical relation of causality has always the same time-structure. If A and B have a causal relation and A happens before B, A is cause and B is effect. We can imagine “reversal causality” but the Laws of Physics rule it out. So universe can be described in terms of a chain of events, coming from past to future, always linked through causality.

The Big Bang was not a fact that happened at some given time, because our cosmological theories pove that what began at Big Bang was the Space-Time itself. Before Big Bang there was not time, and there was not space. The geometric space-time frame of the universe is not eternal, but it was created in the Big Bang, with the matter-energy that lives on it.

If the logical relation of causality is ontologically necessary and every effect should have a cause, then the universe as a whole needs an efficient cause. On the other hand, if the cause-effect relation is only necessary inside the frame of time, universe doesn’t need a cause, because before universe there was no time. This looks a sophism but in my opinion it isn’t. The causality relation could be contingent to the existence of time, making the “origin question” a pseudo-problem, produced by an abusive use the causality relation.

2.-Unconscient cause & God

But I don’t think so.

In my opinion the causality relation is ontological and necessary, and the Universe is subject to it as a whole. So the Universe needs a cause. Is it the cause of Universe what we call “God”? Again, not necessary.

The Efficient Cause of the universe could be unconscient. The universe could be caused by an unconscient force, a force pre-existent (in terms of causality, but not in terms of time: remember, outside the universe, the time-precedence relation doesn’t make sense because time is a part of creation) to the Universe, but unwilling and un-conscient. An un-conscient cause of the Universe doesn’t deserve the name of God.
inally, the Universe could have a cause (if causality is a necessary relation outside time) and that cause could be conscient. The (hypothetical) conscient cause of the universe is what we call God.

In my opinion these three possibilities are significantly likely. I would say that the most likely of the three hypotheses is the “God hypothesis”, followed by the “non-causality hypothesis” and finally the “unconscient cause hypothesis”. But this is a personal and subjective estimation.

I want to make a final remark about what I believe philosophy should do: there are questions which are meaningful, in the sense that they admit an answer, but the answer is beyond our reach. To properly formulate these questions, to make rational speculations about them, and to separate them from the pseudo questions (that is, questions that don’t admit an answer at all) is the mission of philosophy.