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Ban
The general answer given by armchair pop science geeks is that the question may not even be coherent as proposed. Spacetime is theorized to begin with the Big Bang, so there can be no "before" since there is no time for there to be a "before." There are alternate ideas, such as a cyclic model based on brane cosmology, meaning that before the current iteration of the universe, there was just another universe.

But, yeah, nobody really knows.

It's kind of interesting this question gets posed to atheists, since the Big Bang was originally conceived of by Monsignor George LemaƮtre, a Roman Catholic priest. The secular scientific community originally complained of how it imported religious concepts into physics, because of how it implicated a seeming creation out of nothingness.


I didn't start this topic just to say to you guys "HA YOU SEE IT MUST'VE BEEN GOD!!111",
I just wanted to hear your opinions or ideas.
catspook's avatar

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I don't know
Retrauk
I believe in science 99%. But I am not a scientologist or atheist. I believe that a god did create the big bang and set everything in motion, he was also behind the random events that created life. So... i'm not sure what to call that. Not atheist though for sure.


Th...huh? I am not entirely certain you know what Scientology is (it is not, for example, a belief in science).

As for the OP question, we'll probably never know for certain (in our lifetimes) what, if anything, existed prior to the Big Bang. We have ideas, and those ideas are roughly on the same level as ancient Greeks believing the sun rose and set as Apollo forged a path across the daytime sky. Everything is faith and belief until proven otherwise by science.
Xiam
Pseudo-Onkelos
Asking what was before the Big Bang is like asking what's south of the South Pole.

So um... air?


He said south of the South Pole, not above the South Pole.
- talk2hand
Requiem ex Inferni's avatar

Eloquent Streaker

Only theory I'm willing to accept is that there was another Universe prior to ours that collapsed on itself.

Course I don't believe in the Big Bang Theory despite being an atheist (seriously, not all of us believe in evolution of the Big Bang Theory). Or at least not the whole "everything exploded into existence" model that everyone associates with it.
I don't know.
The New Wineskin's avatar

Conversationalist

Several things. One: you do not have to be an atheist to believe in the Big Bang theory; for instance, I am a theist who believes in the Big Bang theory -- or rather, an extension of the Big Bang theory called the Expansion-Contraction Theory. Second: you do not have to believe in the Big Bang theory to be an atheist.

To actually answer the question, there was no "before" the Big Bang. The Big Bang created time according to the theory.
The New Wineskin's avatar

Conversationalist

Requiem in Mortis
Only theory I'm willing to accept is that there was another Universe prior to ours that collapsed on itself.

Well, to be fair, this is called the Expansion-Contraction Theory, which is an extension of the Big Bang Theory, claiming that universes go into a never-ending cycle of expansion and contraction into and out-of themselves.
Madame Van Damme
I personally believe that the universe as we know it was formed in a similar way, but on a far larger scale. If the universe, time and space are infinite, then there is more than enough 'space', if you will, for big bang style events to be happening constantly and to be creating new galaxies and clusters of galaxies. It's just that we don't yet have the technology to see far away enough to pictorally prove it. However, I'm a big believer in proof and science, and I have a lot of faith in theories and mathematics.


The thing is, there is not enough "space" for multiple big bang events as a big bang event would be the expansion of space itself. The basic idea is that the universe starts "infinitely" dense and then the density falls off as space itself gets bigger. I suppose that there could be multiple such expansion events at the same time, but allowing such would require some very odd set ups of well-separated points of infinite density.

Ban
There are alternate ideas, such as a cyclic model based on brane cosmology, meaning that before the current iteration of the universe, there was just another universe.


Requiem in Mortis
Only theory I'm willing to accept is that there was another Universe prior to ours that collapsed on itself.


Due to the discovery of the acceleration of the rate of expansion rather than the expected slowing, such cyclic models have been more or less left along the wayside. From current data, heat death is a far more likely outcome.

Also, a lot of the work with branes is highly suspect in the first place given that there is no experimental data upon which to build the hypothesis nor the hypothesis from which it is built. Furthermore, recent LHC results I had thought had been rather bad for string theory and thus m-theory as a result [failure to produce microblack holes, failure to find the lightest supersymmetric pair, but I am a condensed matter guy and not entirely up to date with high energy stuff].

Requiem in Mortis
Or at least not the whole "everything exploded into existence" model that everyone associates with it.


That is a good thing given that this is a very bad description of the big bang.

EDIT: I just realized that I never answered the OP's question. My basic belief is that we currently lack sufficient information to be able to make any good statement about the cause of the big bang or what was "before" it. I am personally partial to the idea of a zero energy quantum event or the decay of a false vacuum, but I don't really put any real stock in these ideas.
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I think we're one of numerous 'universes' that have been created and destroyed in an endless cycle of destrcution and reconstruction and when our's finally collapses in on itself, a new one will be produced.
Xiam's avatar

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Pseudo-Onkelos
Xiam
Pseudo-Onkelos
Xiam
Pseudo-Onkelos
Asking what was before the Big Bang is like asking what's south of the South Pole.

So um... air?


Air is ubiquitous.

Including before the big bang. cool


I don't know what you're talking about. I thought that upon the Big Bang, we had hydrogen, but no oxygen.

Ummm... who ever said that "air" was "oxygen"? Hell, Earth's air is primarily nitrogen...

Lucky~9~Lives
Xiam
Pseudo-Onkelos
Asking what was before the Big Bang is like asking what's south of the South Pole.

So um... air?


He said south of the South Pole, not above the South Pole.
- talk2hand

Above the south pole would be north of the south pole. I'm simply going further south. talk2hand
Nityananda-rama dasa's avatar

Devout Fairy

Xiam

Above the south pole would be north of the south pole. I'm simply going further south. talk2hand


How is it north if it is moving further away from both poles?

TT-TT
Nityananda-rama dasa's avatar

Devout Fairy

The New Wineskin

Well, to be fair, this is called the Expansion-Contraction Theory, which is an extension of the Big Bang Theory, claiming that universes go into a never-ending cycle of expansion and contraction into and out-of themselves.


Modern astronomers aren't so big in this theory now thanks to accelerating expansion.
Ban's avatar

Jeering Regular

Doubtful Dreamer
Due to the discovery of the acceleration of the rate of expansion rather than the expected slowing, such cyclic models have been more or less left along the wayside. From current data, heat death is a far more likely outcome.
I don't pretend to understand the whole idea, but my sense is that, in a brane cosmology, that may not be actually fatal to the idea. Heat death could occur and nonetheless enough energy for a new universe could be created in the next collision of higher dimensional space.

Doubtful Dreamer
Also, a lot of the work with branes is highly suspect in the first place given that there is no experimental data upon which to build the hypothesis nor the hypothesis from which it is built. Furthermore, recent LHC results I had thought had been rather bad for string theory and thus m-theory as a result [failure to produce microblack holes, failure to find the lightest supersymmetric pair, but I am a condensed matter guy and not entirely up to date with high energy stuff].
Yeah, I'm given to understand that it's just mathematically elegant. But, hey, the LHC is debunking all sorts of stuff. No Higgs Boson, no WIMPs, nothing. Stupid Standard Model is bogus.

I'm joking, of course. I think they're still looking for WIMPs.
Simple, we don't know. We're not afraid to admit that, or at least shouldn't be. There's some ideas floating around but until science has enough evidence for one of them most atheists don't "believe" anything about before the big bang. We simply just don't know.

Answering a question that you don't know the answer to with "It must have been god" gets you no closer to a real answer and discourages curiosity and investigation.

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