Going Swimmingly

So far my Monroe project has been going swimmingly!  I’ve read a series of books talking about what we know today about cosmology, which has given me a much deeper understanding of the relationship between theoretical and experimental physics.  It’s also given me quite a lot to think about on a philosophical level.

For example, modern cosmologists generally understand time as beginning at the point of the big bang, as a fourth element of a vector defining the universe.  Before the big bang, then, time did not exist.  Yet without time there is no way to properly define cause and effect, since no event could happen before or after another.  Thus perhaps we cannot define anything as having caused the big bang.

This timelessness fits quite nicely with Thomas Aquinus’ understanding of G-d, who he believed existed outside of time.  Suggesting that a being outside of time created the universe skirts around the question of cause and effect, as well as the question of what G-d was doing before creating the universe.  Another idea as to the cause of the big bang was suggested by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, who propose that quantum effects at the beginning of the universe meant that the definition of each element of the four-vector–the three spacial dimensions and time–were undefined at the beginning of the universe, thus allowing for the universe to not have a specific beginning in time, since it existed before time was a defined quality.

All in all, it’s pretty interesting stuff to think about, and has helped me put the primary sources I’m looking at in better perspective.  Currently, I am working through Philo of Alexandria’s “On the Creation.”  Philo was a religious Jew living in the very Hellenized city of Alexandria.  His views were strongly affected by the writings of Greek and Roman philosophers.  In particular he incorporates the idea of the Platonic Ideal and elements Euclidian geometry, giving the Biblical story of creation significance because of its relationship to the science of his time.

Things are looking up so far! Can’t wait to continue my research.