Cosmogony

Cosmogony

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Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any scientific theory
Scientific theory
A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules that express relationships between observations of such concepts...

 concerning the coming into existence
Existence
In common usage, existence is the world we are aware of through our senses, and that persists independently without them. In academic philosophy the word has a more specialized meaning, being contrasted with essence, which specifies different forms of existence as well as different identity...

 or origin of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

, or about how reality
Reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

 came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία (or κοσμογενία), from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γί(γ)νομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about". In the specialised context of space science
Space science
The term space science may mean:* The study of issues specifically related to space travel and space exploration, including space medicine.* Science performed in outer space ....

 and astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, the term refers to theories of creation of (and study of) the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

.

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

 model
Scientific theory
A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules that express relationships between observations of such concepts...

 of the early development of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

. The most commonly held view is the universe was once a gravitational singularity
Gravitational singularity
A gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system...

 which then expanded rapidly from this hot and dense state. While this expansion is well-modeled by the Big Bang theory
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

, the origins of the singularity remains one of the unsolved problems in physics
Unsolved problems in physics
This is a list of some of the major unsolved problems in physics. Some of these problems are theoretical, meaning that existing theories seem incapable of explaining a certain observed phenomenon or experimental result...

. Scientists continue to try and create a naturalistic
Naturalism (philosophy)
Naturalism commonly refers to the philosophical viewpoint that the natural universe and its natural laws and forces operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe that we know...

 cosmogony using the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

, although there are several problems that will likely need to be resolved before significant progress can be made in this direction.

One problem is that there is currently no theoretical model that explains the earliest moments of the universe's existence (Planck time
Planck time
In physics, the Planck time, , is the unit of time in the system of natural units known as Planck units. It is the time required for light to travel, in a vacuum, a distance of 1 Planck length...

) because of a lack of a testable theory of quantum gravity
Quantum gravity
Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...

. Researchers of string theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

 and its extensions (for example, M theory), and of loop quantum cosmology
Loop quantum cosmology
Loop quantum cosmology is a finite, symmetry-reduced model of loop quantum gravity that predicts a quantum bridge between contracting and expanding cosmological branches...

, have nevertheless proposed solutions. Another issue facing the field of particle physics
Particle physics
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...

 is a need for more expensive and technologically advanced particle accelerators to test proposed theories (for example, that the universe was caused by colliding membranes
Membrane (M-Theory)
In theoretical physics, a membrane, brane, or p-brane is a spatially extended mathematical concept that appears in string theory and related theories...

).

Developing a complete theoretical model has implications in both the philosophy of science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

 and epistemology. For example, it would clarify the meaningful ways in which people can ask the question "why do we exist?".

Cosmogony compared with cosmology


Cosmogony can be distinguished from cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 which studies the universe at large and throughout its existence, and which technically does not inquire directly into the source of its origins. There is some ambiguity between the two terms; for example, the cosmological argument
Cosmological argument
The cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of a First Cause to the universe, and by extension is often used as an argument for the existence of an "unconditioned" or "supreme" being, usually then identified as God...

 from theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 regarding the existence of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 is technically an appeal to cosmogonical rather than cosmological ideas. In practice, there is a scientific
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 distinction between cosmological and cosmogonical ideas. Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

 is the science that attempts to explain all observation
Observation
Observation is either an activity of a living being, such as a human, consisting of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. The term may also refer to any data collected during this activity...

s relevant to the development and characteristics of the universe as a whole. Questions regarding why the universe behaves in such a way have been described by physicists and cosmologists as being extra-scientific
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

, though speculation
Speculation
In finance, speculation is a financial action that does not promise safety of the initial investment along with the return on the principal sum...

s are made from a variety of perspectives that include extrapolation
Extrapolation
In mathematics, extrapolation is the process of constructing new data points. It is similar to the process of interpolation, which constructs new points between known points, but the results of extrapolations are often less meaningful, and are subject to greater uncertainty. It may also mean...

 of scientific theories to untested regimes and philosophical or religious ideas.

Epistemological limitations to cosmogony


The assumptions of naturalism
Naturalism (philosophy)
Naturalism commonly refers to the philosophical viewpoint that the natural universe and its natural laws and forces operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe that we know...

 that underlie the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 have led some scientists, especially observation
Observation
Observation is either an activity of a living being, such as a human, consisting of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. The term may also refer to any data collected during this activity...

alists, to question whether the ultimate reason or source for the universe to exist can be answered in a scientific fashion. In particular, the principle of sufficient reason
Principle of sufficient reason
The principle of sufficient reason states that anything that happens does so for a reason: no state of affairs can obtain, and no statement can be true unless there is sufficient reason why it should not be otherwise...

 seems to indicate that there should be such an explanation, but whether a satisfactory explanation can be obtained through scientific inquiry is debatable. A scientific examination of cosmogony using existing physical models would face many challenges. For example, equations used to develop models of the origin do not in themselves explain how the conditions of the universe that the equations model came to be in the first place.

Theistic
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 explanations for origins implicate one or more supernatural immortal beings
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 as the first cause, although these are often dismissed as God of the gaps
God of the gaps
God of the gaps is a type of theological fallacy in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God's existence. The term was invented by Christian theologians not to discredit theism but rather to discourage reliance on teleological arguments for God's existence.-...

 type fallacies or arguments from ignorance
Argument from ignorance
Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or "appeal to ignorance" , is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is "generally accepted"...

. Such explanations tend to provide no explanation for the existence of the deity, which can be interpreted as simply replacing one existence question with another that a priori can not be answered. Nondual explanations by contrast state that the very question is misleading, since it contains erroneous assumptions of beginnings, endings and the nature of existence itself, and consider the visible universe as phenomenology.

As a result of this, scientific cosmogonies are sometimes supplemented by reference to metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 and theistic
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 belief systems. The problem can be summarised as three classical paradox
Paradox
Similar to Circular reasoning, A paradox is a seemingly true statement or group of statements that lead to a contradiction or a situation which seems to defy logic or intuition...

es. These paradoxes (discussed by both Kierkegaard and Leibniz) are:
  1. reconciling a doctrine of causation
    Causality
    Causality is the relationship between an event and a second event , where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first....

     (similar to the 13th century proof of God posed by Thomas Aquinas
    Thomas Aquinas
    Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

    );
  2. reconciling the conservation law
    Conservation law
    In physics, a conservation law states that a particular measurable property of an isolated physical system does not change as the system evolves....

     ("something from nothing");
  3. reconciling issues of temporal (as in Zeno's paradoxes
    Zeno's paradoxes
    Zeno's paradoxes are a set of problems generally thought to have been devised by Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea to support Parmenides's doctrine that "all is one" and that, contrary to the evidence of our senses, the belief in plurality and change is mistaken, and in particular that motion is...

    ) and logical regression
    Infinite regress
    An infinite regress in a series of propositions arises if the truth of proposition P1 requires the support of proposition P2, the truth of proposition P2 requires the support of proposition P3, .....

    .


However, some of the metaphysical principles used to formulate these classical paradoxes no longer enjoy an unchallenged status as laws of thought. For instance, quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

 gives an independent motivation to challenge the principle of sufficient reason
Principle of sufficient reason
The principle of sufficient reason states that anything that happens does so for a reason: no state of affairs can obtain, and no statement can be true unless there is sufficient reason why it should not be otherwise...

.

Theoretical scenarios


Scientists have only early ideas of the young universe (or its beginning, for those who postulate that it had one). As of 2011, no accelerator experiments probe energies of sufficient magnitude to provide any experimental insight into the behavior of matter at the energy levels that prevailed during this period. That is, further technological and conceptual advance is needed to test aspects of these theories. Proposed scenarios differ radically. Some examples include String theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

 and M theory, the Hartle–Hawking initial state, string landscape, brane inflation
Cosmic inflation
In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation or just inflation is the theorized extremely rapid exponential expansion of the early universe by a factor of at least 1078 in volume, driven by a negative-pressure vacuum energy density. The inflationary epoch comprises the first part...

, and the ekpyrotic universe. Some of these are mutually compatible, while others are not. The Big Bounce
Big Bounce
The Big Bounce is a theoretical scientific model of the formation of the known universe. It is implied by the cyclic model or oscillatory universe interpretation of the Big Bang where the first cosmological event was the result of the collapse of a previous universe.- Expansion and contraction...

 is a theoretical scientific model of the formation of the known universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

. It is implied by the cyclic model
Cyclic model
A cyclic model is any of several cosmological models in which the universe follows infinite, self-sustaining cycles. For example, the oscillating universe theory briefly considered by Albert Einstein in 1930 theorized a universe following an eternal series of oscillations, each beginning with a...

 or oscillatory universe interpretation of the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

 where the first cosmological event was the result of the collapse of a previous universe.

Planck time limitations to cosmogony


Planck time
Planck time
In physics, the Planck time, , is the unit of time in the system of natural units known as Planck units. It is the time required for light to travel, in a vacuum, a distance of 1 Planck length...

 (10−43 s
Second
The second is a unit of measurement of time, and is the International System of Units base unit of time. It may be measured using a clock....

) is the time it would take a photon
Photon
In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...

 traveling at the speed of light
Light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 to cross a distance equal to the Planck length (1.616252×10−35 meters). It has been proposed that this may be the hypothetical "quantum
Quantum
In physics, a quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction. Behind this, one finds the fundamental notion that a physical property may be "quantized," referred to as "the hypothesis of quantization". This means that the magnitude can take on only certain discrete...

 of time", the smallest measurement of time that has any meaning.
Although the laws of physics lose experimental support at the Planck time, modern science
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 has sought to clarify the nature of these paradoxes, so far with only limited success. For example, one can apply the current understanding of grand unified theories (GUTs) both quasi-classical (such as general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

) and modern (such as quantum gravity
Quantum gravity
Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...

, superstring, and M-theories) to these three primary cosmogonic paradoxes in thought experiment
Thought experiment
A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences...

s. While these result in some contradictions and lack completeness in a mathematical sense (being based on axioms that are 'merely' self-evident, but not robust under the stresses of radical scepticism) these paradoxes can nonetheless be analysed rationally using the subatomic applications of quantum cosmology
Quantum cosmology
In theoretical physics, quantum cosmology is a field attempting to study the effect of quantum mechanics on the formation of the universe, or its early evolution, especially just after the Big Bang...

, particularly through the employment of the Schrödinger wave equation
Wave equation
The wave equation is an important second-order linear partial differential equation for the description of waves – as they occur in physics – such as sound waves, light waves and water waves. It arises in fields like acoustics, electromagnetics, and fluid dynamics...

s.

In each case, where general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

 fails as the curvature of space-time invokes singularities from its equations at t = 0, the statistically "grey" nature of quantum cosmology
Quantum cosmology
In theoretical physics, quantum cosmology is a field attempting to study the effect of quantum mechanics on the formation of the universe, or its early evolution, especially just after the Big Bang...

 tends to allow a scientific rationale to account for each paradox, and in so doing allows for a scientific perspective on previously theistic terrain. For example, application of quantum "fuzziness" (per the Wheeler–DeWitt application of subatomic position and momentum equations to universal radius and expansion) avoids boundary issues, as developed in the Hartle–Hawking wave function.

All such equations are based on differential
Differential of a function
In calculus, the differential represents the principal part of the change in a function y = ƒ with respect to changes in the independent variable. The differential dy is defined bydy = f'\,dx,...

s, which assume a continuum
Continuum (theory)
Continuum theories or models explain variation as involving a gradual quantitative transition without abrupt changes or discontinuities. It can be contrasted with 'categorical' models which propose qualitatively different states.-In physics:...

, where in our universe, affected by the Planck length and other minimum scales
Discrete mathematics
Discrete mathematics is the study of mathematical structures that are fundamentally discrete rather than continuous. In contrast to real numbers that have the property of varying "smoothly", the objects studied in discrete mathematics – such as integers, graphs, and statements in logic – do not...

, this continuum has only limited meaning, about which philosophy remains in a state of semantic flux.

See also

  • Astronomy
    Astronomy
    Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

  • Cosmology
    Cosmology
    Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

  • Digital physics
    Digital physics
    In physics and cosmology, digital physics is a collection of theoretical perspectives based on the premise that the universe is, at heart, describable by information, and is therefore computable...

  • Emanationism
    Emanationism
    Emanationism is an idea in the cosmology or cosmogony of certain religious or philosophical systems. Emanation, from the Latin emanare meaning "to flow from" or "to pour forth or out of", is the mode by which all things are derived from the First Reality, or Principle...

  • Eschatology
    Eschatology
    Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

  • Esoteric cosmology
    Esoteric cosmology
    Esoteric cosmology is cosmology that is an intrinsic part of an esoteric or occult system of thought. It almost always deals with at least some of the following themes: emanation, involution, spiritual evolution, epigenesis, planes of existence or higher worlds , hierarchies of spiritual beings,...

  • Existence
    Existence
    In common usage, existence is the world we are aware of through our senses, and that persists independently without them. In academic philosophy the word has a more specialized meaning, being contrasted with essence, which specifies different forms of existence as well as different identity...

  • Metaphysical cosmology
    Cosmology (metaphysics)
    Cosmology in metaphysics is the reflection on the totality of all phenomena. It contrasts with physical cosmology, the study of the origin of the universe in scientific terms after the Copernican Revolution....

  • Religious cosmology
    Religious cosmology
    A Religious cosmology is a way of explaining the origin, the history and the evolution of the universe based on the religious mythology of a specific tradition...

  • Ultimate fate of the universe
    Ultimate fate of the universe
    The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology. Many possible fates are predicted by rival scientific theories, including futures of both finite and infinite duration....