Episode 244 – “A Universe Just For Us,” Part II

This week on CenterStage, a University at Buffalo physicist concludes his critique of an unscientific account of the cosmos.

On April 15th, 2015, the Center for Inquiry – Transnational at Amherst, New York presented a lecture by Will Kinney, titled “A Universe Just for Us.”

The idea that human beings occupy a privileged position in the cosmos is ancient, and persistent. Five centuries after Copernicus wrenched the Earth from the center of the universe, modern cosmology is again returning full-circle to theorize a special role for sentient beings in cosmic structure through the so-called “Anthropic” principle.

In our next two episodes physicist Will Kinney makes the case that this principle is ultimately useless and disturbingly anti-scientific.

Will Kinney is a professor in the Department of Physics at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. His research focuses on the physics of the very early universe, including inflationary cosmology, the Cosmic Microwave Background, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy. He has authored more than fifty published research articles. This episode includes the conclusion of Dr. Kinney’s remarks and the audience question period.


To center stage, bringing you the best from the Center for Inquiry, a nonprofit organization that seeks to foster a secular society based on science reason. Freedom of inquiry and humanist values. 

Presenting lectures and events at its headquarters in Amherst, New York, and in New York City, Washington, Los Angeles and elsewhere. There’s always something thought provoking and controversy along on stage at some center for inquiry. 

Join us now on center stage. 

Welcome to Center Stage. I’m Debbie Goddard director of outreach at the Center for Inquiry. Today on center stage, a university at Buffalo physicist completes his attack upon an unscientific account of the cosmos. 

And I’m Tom Flynn editor of Free Inquiry magazine. On April 15th, 2015, the Center for Inquiry Trans National at Amherst, New York presented a lecture by Wil Kinney titled A Universe Just for US. 

The idea that human beings occupy a privileged position in the cosmos is ancient and persistent. 

Five centuries after Copernicus wrenched the earth from the center of the universe. Modern cosmology is again returning full circle to theorize a special role for sentiment beings in cosmic structure through the so-called anthropic principle. 

In this episode, physicist Wil Kinney concludes his argument that this principle is ultimately useless and disturbingly anti scientific. 

Will Kinney is a professor in the Department of Physics at the University at Buffalo State University of New York. His research focuses on the physics of the very early universe, including inflationary cosmology, the cosmic microwave background, dark matter and dark energy. 

He has authored more than 50 published research articles, and now Will Kinney presents Part two of a universe just for us. 

So all of these 19 numbers have to be set by somebody, presumably God or an tropics or some deeper theory that tells us where they come from that we don’t understand yet. So, for example, this is a mystery. 

We don’t know why the fine structure constant is equal to one over one hundred thirty seven point zero three five nine nine zero five seven four plus or minus four point o four four. Right. 

The theory doesn’t tell us this. We have to go measure it. Presumably, there’s some deeper theory that might tell us this. Or maybe there’s not. Maybe it was God or anthropic, right? This is not a mystery, even though it’s pretty weird if you take nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one zero and divide it by one, two, three, four, five, six seven eight nine zero, you get eight to an incredibly high precision. Now, maybe, you know, a creationist might decide that this is evidence for God. There’s a much more mundane explanation, and I will leave it to you to figure out what that is. OK. This is just a simple mathematical thing. 


That’s kind of the point. Things that might appear to be odd coincidences are fine tuning. Right. Like this might, in fact, have perfectly understandable explanations like this. The fact that and the fact that we don’t have a perfectly understandable explanation for a particular cosmic coincidence can’t be taken that no such explanation exists. As soon as you do that, you stop doing science. And one thing I like to do when I go to conferences and I get into these conversations about this is that I asked my colleagues the following question, if the laws of physics can vary from universe to universe. Do you think the laws of math, the rules of math can vary from university universe and almost to a person, they say? Absolutely not. Instantly they turn into a complete Platonists. All right. So mathematics, at least among all the even the physicists to espouse the anthropic principle, is believe to be universal in a way physics is not. We can accept the idea of the universe in which the strength of electromagnetism varies from bubble, the bubble. But we can’t imagine a universe in which there are no prime numbers. But the problem is, nobody really knows exactly where to draw the line, which properties of our universe are truly universal, like the existence of prime numbers, which are variable and subject to anthropic selection. What principle guides that distinction? This is no small problem, right? Because if you don’t have a principle that allows you to distinguish which leads at what things need anthropic selection of which ones don’t, you just end up with a series of just so stories, a series of nice satisfy a posterior or explanations for things that you don’t understand that end up being the equivalent of the elephant’s child having his nose stretched out by the crocodile. Right. It explains the elephant nose just fine. But it’s a posterior. My third objection to the anthropic principle concerns the underlying assumption about the conditions necessary for life. We are biochemical machines were built out of atoms. Our structure is determined primarily by electromagnetism in a cosmic sense. We’re incredibly fragile. 

We can only survive in a really special environment, narrow range of temperature protection from cosmic radiation, liquid water and so forth. Life like us, even if it is widespread in the universe, will only be found on little rocks. That happened to be just the right distance from stable, long live stars in the universe with no stars and no little rocks or no complex molecules. There will be no life like us. 

But what do we mean by life in the most general sense? 

I would argue that probably the best general definition of life is life. 

It is things that replicate anything that makes copies of itself will make copies of itself. And anything that makes copies of itself since it will make copies of itself is subject to natural selection. 

So here is a review of natural selection, which I doubt this audience needs, right? Things which replicate, replicate things which replicate more efficiently, become more numerous and things which replicate less efficiently. And competition introduces selection. And it’s this last part that I want to emphasize and the idea of the anthropic principle, it’s argued, for example, Steven Weinberg argues that anthropic principle is just natural selection writ large on a cosmic scale. Just as life arises through random mutations, the laws of physics themselves are manifestations of random processes. OK, fair enough. But natural selection contains a crucial ingredient that the anthropic principle lacks a measure of fitness. Successful traits reproduce more efficiently than unsuccessful ones. By contrast, the anthropic principle proposes no such measure of the fitness of the universe. Quite the opposite. It proposes on fundamental grounds that there is no such principle and grafted on a posterior. So you have this immense proliferation of these failed universes, these empty places in order to produce one instance, one special universe with us in it. So you could call this carbon exceptionalism the idea that life as we know it is rare. Which is true, but is life like us the only possibility? How so? Someone might build life, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think so. Natural selection doesn’t include biochemistry is a fundamental assumption. Any system with sufficient complexity to self replicate will be subject to natural selection. Furthermore, natural selection tells us the life will automatically optimize itself to whatever environment it finds itself in. 

We are highly specialized to live on a little ball of rock with liquid water because we evolved on a little ball of rock with liquid water. Life that emerges in radically different circumstances will be specialized to survive in those circumstances. Might not even looking at anything remotely like us and we simply have no idea, no data on other environments and what other life forms can or do exist. Except we know that even carbon based life is incredibly resourceful. Extremophile life lives on all sorts of strange places, right? So even carbon based life has surprised us with its adaptability, but non carbon based life, we just have no idea. 

But anthropic reasoning, ironically, although the anthropic principle requires universes to be inconceivably numerous, is Silje tenuously relies on life, the exceptionally rare. If life were a comment in the multiverse, then there would be no selection effect that we would be able to use to a posterior bias. Our observations to favor particular physical constants. In fact, life would have all built in existing places with all different fine structure constants. And we’ve we’re no better off than when we started again. It’s only if life is special. If only if carbon based life is exceptional, that the anthropic principle is useful as a predictive tool. So if we embrace the idea of a multiverse, any environment with sufficient complexity, developed life will be replicated exponentially many times then therefore, if it’s possible for natural selection to take hold in a given environment, it inevitably will. The idea of the multiverse is, by its nature, incompatible with the idea of the reality of life with the anthropic principle requires both in order to make any sense. So put another way. The anthropic principle depends, crucially, on the assumption that we are in some deep and fundamental way special. This directly rejects Copernicus’s radical idea that the Earth enjoys no special position in the cosmos and is just one of many planets. 

Modern cosmology extends this by realizing that the Sun is but one of many stars in a galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in a universe which may be one of many universes. The cosmological principle, in a nutshell, is that we’re ordinary and there’s very ordinariness forms of fundamental organizing idea of modern cosmology. 

And I would argue that we abandon it at our peril. And thank you for patiently listening. 

All right. We have time for a few questions. 

I think they’re setting on my makeup back there. 

So I have a couple of questions about the infinitude of space. OK. 

On the one hand, popular writers of science tend to conflate the two terms universe in observable universe, which is misleading and annoying because the extent of the universe that we can observe is just a portion of it. 

But in all the popular science I’ve read, I’ve never seen anyone talk about the infinitude of space except for Max Tegmark. So a Scientific American article on parallel universes, which you referenced in your talk, is the first time I’d ever heard that. 

So one question I had is, if our best models of the universe, like concerning its overall flatness of space, really suggests that the space is infinite in extent. 

One question is, why isn’t that better publicized in sort of related to that, if you don’t mind me saying this? You were totally consistent in talking about the infinite nature of space because you did at one point mentioned that the number of atoms in the universe is in the 80th, but the number of atoms in the observable universe, which is finite. 

OK, that’s the atom number of atoms in the overall universe would presumably be infinite as well. What we don’t really know that the universe is infinite. Right, because we can’t see outside of it. So it could like turn into Dragon’s out there for all we know it. Right. And in fact, the universe I mean, a simple way, not dragons, something a little less ridiculous would be if the universe were on a compact topology. So we know that though the universe is the local geometry of the universe, it’s flat, but. It could be folded back on itself and turned into a closed, finite manifold, for example, a tourist. So a tourist tourist has a locally flat geometry. But a globally closed geometry. 

So, in fact, that that that outside universe could, in fact, be finite. And it would look exactly the same to us inside our little observable patch of it. We do not know. People have looked for signatures of this compactness. If that scale, if the scale of curvature of the tourists is close enough to the scale of the observable universe, we’d be able to see it. And nobody has seen any evidence for it. So we don’t know whether the universe, the whole universe is finite or infinite, but an infinite universe is consistent with what we see. So to be more precise about that. 

OK. You were talking about eternal inflation, and then if I can paraphrase you, you said a universe from nothing. Product of quantum uncertainty. 

You have kids. Time and time again. This is my question. The first time around here. Nothing. So how does it happen again when you. After the first time? You can never have nothing again. Well, there’s a lot of nothing out there. 

Oh, no. 

I mean, there’s there’s plenty of nothing to go around. Yeah. Does that help? I mean, you feel like you understand it now. Yeah. Yes. Question. You were saying anthropic principle. 

The values of physical constants are selected to enable the presence of observers. Okay. And then you said to see how do you say feel? You ask us all kids and. 

Third person. 

I can show you the reference again. I don’t remember the authors of the paper that I was picking on. I hope Rafael never watches this video. 

Yeah, someone’s gonna e-mail it to him now. Right. There you go. Boo boo. So Katzenstein Koskie. 

Publish this hasn’t been published yet. 

It’s on the archive, so it’s in the review process so you can look at it on archive downward and find it. 


I was always I was thinking about some of this stuff, and I know as far as I could see in my imagination, but as long as you were dealing with a finite reality that our current laws of math would apply. Well, once you introduce Infinity to anything, the laws of mass break down one equals five, six equals seven and so forth. 

Hence the measure problem, right? Well, there are ways to cope with infinities carefully in math. 

Just because you have an infinity doesn’t mean you have to throw up your hands and go home. Otherwise, calculus wouldn’t work. Right. So that’s what calculus is, is a way of understanding how you cope with infinities and mathematics and in a sensible way. So there are some there are some infinities that you can cope with and some infinities that you can. And you have to know the difference and do it carefully. But in the case of the measures on the universe’s, that problem is a real one. 

I just want to say we’re recording. So if you could come up and ask your question into the mike so we can go to people with questions or requested to go back and yet ask. And I have a quick question. So something you mentioned was that you were surprised that physics faculty you spoke to and students would let it kind of fall for this? The anthropic principle. Yeah. And I wondered if you think that maybe like philosophy of science education of physics students. I had a physics undergraduate major. And we didn’t do any really science philosophy in our education. So I wondered if you thought that that might help with that or if you have. I don’t know. 

Do you think that philosophers would help with this or they would just confuse it more like sucked off and Boltzmann brands and never come back? 

I mean, my experience with philosophy of science is that it really helps me. Oh, yeah. How sort of science. 

I mean, in this you know, this is something that someone with a very keen sense of philosophy of science could probably make a sharper argument than the one I’ve made here as well. 

I think it’s probably true. 

I know there was some some of that in your talk as well. 


Before you mention that, I guess basic cosmologists are looking for this cold spot. 

I believe there is a cold spot in the sand here. 

I guess I’m saying that science, if they did find cold calls to multiverses collider. 

Oh, collisions. So now that cold spot is I think it’s been pretty definitively shown that cold spot really isn’t consistent with a bubble collision. I would say quite confidently that there is currently no convincing evidence of inflationary bubble collisions in the CMB. 

I just thought that just the fact that they’re searching for it again is science. Yeah. So I. 

Well, no. In principle, they could run into each other and you could see it and then that would tell you I’m not. 

So I’m making a distinction between whether or not those bubbles might actually be out there, which they might. We don’t have any evidence of them so far. But I. And in fact, they’re likely to be so rare that we probably never will. And they’re but they’re certainly a common sort of generic prediction of inflationary models. Right. Inflation tends to predict that this is going to happen infinitely far, infinitely many times. All right, fine. But that may be true. 

But the question is, is then applying this anthropic reason to those bubbles. 

This logic to those bubbles actually doing performing a scientific argument or not. Right. So there is more to it than saying, well, there might be a big multiverse out there because there might be just like our universe might go on forever. It might not. We don’t know. So as a scientist, I mean, I think one thing that you have to be really willing to say is, I don’t know. And in fact, I might never know the answer to that one. Whether those bubbles are really out there or not, because they could be and I might never see them. The universe could be infinite. It could be just a really big compact Freud. I’ll never know. And that’s OK. And you could stop there and go off and do something useful. 

Does that answer your question? 

Yeah, I guess they’re not the same thing. That’s why I that’s why I divided it up into separate pieces. Yeah. Yes. 

A couple months ago, I was on a Catholic blog and the question was asked as to whether quantum physics could be reconciled with scholasticism. And I, of course, took it, took the stance that it could not be. And I kept emphasizing that it’s not really possible to reconcile a large and infinite universe with the very tiny universe that you showed up on your slide. That’s that ends it basically at Saturn. But they were kept they kept insisting that it was totally possible. So do you think my question is, do you think that many religious people have really thought about the implications of a large universe as opposed? Or do you think they just kind of compartmentalize these two very different views of the universe together and just have cognitive cognitive dissonance? 

I’d hesitate to speak for what’s actually going on in people’s heads. 

But, yeah, I mean, I think if you think clearly about this, then the idea that we are some sort of that we are these special creatures made in the image of the creator is something that really doesn’t fit very well into this picture. And that was they were burning Bruno at the stake because they realized that, you know, 500 years ago. Right. 

And it’s still just as true, in my opinion, anyway. So but my opinion is only mine. 

Dr. Kinney having some exposure into kind of looking into the chances of finding I used the term light lightly in surrounding areas close enough to us for either discovery or prediction. NASA put out an article a few days ago saying that they believe we can find existence of life within the next 20 to 30 years. You think they’re kind of jumping the gun? Seeing how expansive the universe is and how low the possibility of finding nearby life might be. 

I mean, who knows? That was that was nice press release stuff, you know? But look, I mean, May. 

But who really knows how long it will take to find it? I would be really surprised. I would be genuinely shocked if we didn’t find that bacterial life was commonplace in the solar system. We already know that the planets exchange material all the time through meteor impacts. Right. So Impax happens, stuff gets thrown into space. 

They go they land on the other planet. We have Mars rocks in Antarctica. Presumably there are Earth rocks on Mars. Planets aren’t these hermetically sealed systems. They’re exchanging material. Dust is falling down and stuff getting kicked up all the time. So I don’t see any particular reason to think that that we shouldn’t have widespread bacterial life in the solar system. 

And I would be really surprised if we didn’t. So my sup my guess personally is that the surprise is going to be how common life is in the universe, not how rare it is. 

And then something like the Rosetta mission in this area on organic hydrocarbon or hydrocarbon right on there. 

Is it a comet? Yeah. Organic molecules are all over the place. They thought they found them in interstellar space that they just like they happen on their own. They like to form in this universe with a particular value, with the fine structure constant. 

Yeah, they. 

Now, I’m curious whether what I’m going to be asking about is a philosophical deficiency in the anthropic principle or if there is math that explains it, that at one point you had defined it in a way such that it provided that selecting on the cosmic scale tended to favor the presence of observers. Why that? Why is that? Is it as desideratum? 

Is there some technical underpinning for that? Or is that the equivalent of waving our hands and saying, well, the cosmos is lonely and now it’s happy because we’re looking at it? 

I think there are many versions of the anthropic principle and some of them go as far as that sort of craziness that you suggest. 

All right. That that that the universe is actually trying to produce life somehow through some cosmic impetus. 

I think that there are weaker versions of it. And I said the weakest version of it is a tautology. It’s just that we happen to be looking at the universe with these values because we happen that they happen to be the values that we have all them. Right. Just like we happened to find ourselves on a planet with liquid water, not by some miracle, but because we have all the on the planet with liquid water. Da. Right. You know, so I don’t think anybody has any any issue with that version of the anthropic argument. But it’s when it becomes a little bit the level of mysticism in it gets ratcheted up almost continuously, depending on which version of it you tend to believe. And so stronger and stronger versions become more and more this idea that there is something built into the baked into the structure of the multiverse that is driving it toward the formation of life. And I see no physical basis for that whatsoever. 

They get. 

What language did you Copernicus and Galileo right there, works in Latin, I believe Latin. 

Yes. Thank you. 

Would you click back to your understand X and therefore that page there? Sure. 

Forward to it actually from here. Let’s see. 

You know, I heard the other day one of the Republican candidates sort of saying that Ted Cruz, he was saying, I don’t understand X nobody will ever stand X, therefore Obama did it. 

So Ted Cruz thinks Obama is. God has a. 

The photo is both a particle and a wave of characteristics, both looking just at the particle portion of that Einstein. One time I believe I thought there was a possibility that it had mass, but it was immeasurable. And looking at, you know, the gravitational lending and all that. It seems that it does have some mass. So that it is deflected by other planets, planets and other things. 

With that in mind and the idea that I believe you’re mistaken about that. I can explain that. But I’ll let you finish asking a question. Just just assuming, you know, I knew it, you know, leaving the open, leaving it open for that possibility, you could shoot it down. 

OK. I just want to go into the whole thing here. And then you could talk about with the idea that a particle, whether there’s a switchback point type type of thing or not, I don’t quite believe that. 

But if the particle of photon has mass anymore, it will be very slightly slowed by gravity over distance and from the edge of the cosmos. Plus, it will be linear. More or less on. Reduction of speed. It would cause a proportional redshift so that the outside edge would have more risk than the mirror. 

OK, now this stretch out would give the illusion, which scientists have said, or it could be an illusion that the redshift is not real. In other words, that means the outside is not extending out only because of the linear increase of redshift. That’s one job. 

And eventually, if you look out, far of the whole spectrum will disappear. Which means we can’t see any one person. 

So let’s question. Well, is this you tell me. 

Is this a logical explanation for the fact that the cosmos is not expanding? The thing that we realize is that if Photon has any mass at all. 

Well, actually, that is what happens in an expanding universe. And let me explain how it works in an expanding universe. That’s what’s happened in a static universe, something where they given mass would travel at a constant velocity. It wouldn’t slow down. But in an expanding universe, massive particles do slow down. Expanding cosmology’s, remarkably enough, Aristotelian universes. OK. Because they’re because of the expansion. A particle traveling through vacuum in an expanding universe will spontaneously lose momentum and eventually come to rest. And the cosmic rest frame, which is. 

I’ll go back up to this diagram again. 

These little squares, right? So these square, it’s so the intersections of these squares all moving apart from each other. 

We see on the go backwards. There we go. Right. 

Ah, define a define a preferred reference frame in an expanding universe. And anything that’s moving with respect to that reference frame will slow down exponentially quickly and come to a stop relative to that. Just like things in Aristotle’s Universe did. Except it’s a side effect of expansion that the expansion actually causes massive particles to slow down and come to a stop relative to the expansion with a massless particle like the photon. 

And there are very strict limits on the mass of the photon. And current limits are consistent with massless photons. By the way. 

The photon doesn’t slow down, it goes at exactly the speed of light, but it loses energy. Essentially, the wavelength of the photon expands proportional to the expansion of the universe. So the wavelength of the photon stays constant in this expanding coordinate system. The photon gets longer and longer wavelength because of the expansion of the universe. It’s not a Doppler shift. 

Cosmological redshift is because the photons are spontaneously losing energy as they travel through this this preferred reference frame and becoming longer and longer wavelength as they travel through it, which is pretty much exactly what you describe. But it’s an effect of the expansion. It’s not an effect of some mass of the photon, which, as far as measurements indicate, does not exist. 

So I hope that I hope that illuminates the question of why. So I wouldn’t be so darned good at math because. 

Well, I understand. But that being gravity, too, because it was portable around equally. But photons traveling at light speed minute and even a EMR would compress it to another and everything else radiating it would be longer, longer wavelengths when hit a wall. 

It would reduce the entire electron. Expect them visually. Possible. I mean. Well, perhaps we ought to discuss this out of bound and get through the rest of the questions as well. So I’d be happy to talk to you about it afterward. How’s that? 

Well, we have another question. Excellent. 

On doubt, Kenny, there is a lady in the audience who is much higher than I am, and she has asked me to ask you a question on her behalf of the first photo that you have with the gentleman and the world. 

Do you have that? The gentleman in the world? 

There’s like got someone to get my title, Flo. 

Yes. That’s Adam. 

OK. OK. Yes. 

She knows that her question is who is the exceedingly handsome creature? To the other side. That’s the flying spaghetti monster. 

And for which the world was touched by his new appendage and came into being in the spaghetti monster. Also there was a dwarf involved, right? And a beer volcano. I thought that was haven’t had the beer volcano. OK. Right. There are a number of positive variants here who can evangelize their faith. 

If you would like what if what if one were done? If all of these very intelligent people would join me outside the door, the lady would like to ask them further questions. 

OK. I will leave it to the pastor variance to identify themselves. And you mean you don’t have a little booth setup outside dudes? 

She had a question about the about the big bang. You’re talking focus of your talk wasn’t the big thing so much itself, but it’s always struck me that the standard model of a big bang is a creation, a story, and that it shouldn’t be. So it says, oh, it’s so if I understand things correctly, all of our evidence, all of our data and evidence about the early universe goes back, but not up to the first moment of the Big Bang, or certainly not. 

And is silent as to what is anything beyond that. 

And so it’s always struck me that the Big Bang model should be should you should explain the present state of the universe from as far back as we can go. But then there’s this bit that has always struck me as added on and goes beyond the data. And I want to see if you agree with this. And this is the bit that says, oh, and by the way, this universe is expanding universe. It came into existence out of nothing. 

So it always struck me that we don’t. I’ve always thought we didn’t really have data for that. That’s sort of on top of the data we do have. Oh, totally. 

And it is way worse than that. I admit it’s unnecessary because that sounds like that sounds to me like a creationist, Joy. There’s nothing. Bang, there’s something. And so creationists don’t even need to do the fighting. 

Go through the fine tuning argument. They didn’t have the state typical accessible accounts of the Big Bang. 

To me, I thought you might you take sounds like a creationist, so it just sounds like nothing. Bang some out of nothing. Bang. Something that just said, look, I mean, a God would do more than what nature would do, so. So you are right. It is this this bit about out of nothing, strictly speaking, goes beyond the data. 

Well, yes. And let me explain a little bit more fully. Look, one thing that we know, all right, that is just well-established by science, that is not a philosophical thing. Is that the universe? By the universe, I mean the universe that we live in with three dimensions in space and time and spaghetti monsters and things is has a finite age. 


Yeah. Even in models where the universe is cyclic or all this kind of stuff, you know, where there’s multiple big banks and big crunches and stuff like that. The universe that we live in, the one that looks like this came into existence in a big hot ball of hydrogen and helium. 

Thirteen point eight billion years ago, the universe that we live in has finite age that we just now scientists hate this. 

Right. Because of exactly the problem that you say that now it sounds like a creationist story. You know, if the universe existed infinitely into the past, scientists would not have to deal with this problem. But we do. But we do. And this is a scientific problem. The data force us to do this. Scientists hate to do it. They don’t want to. They try everything they can to get out of it. But they’re stuck with it and they don’t like it for exactly the reason that you suggest. So, no, we don’t know what cause of the universe. If you like. But asking what’s before the Big Bang is is a slippery question. It’s kind of like asking what’s north of the North Pole, right? What came before the Big Bang? Because there was no time, so there was no before us. So ordinary cause and effect don’t work. Nobody has a good model of this because nobody has a model of quantum gravity. If you understand quantum gravity, perhaps you would start to be able to answer these questions in a definite way, because the answer to this initial state of the universe, that whatever it was that was the very first moments of the Big Bang almost certainly lies in a quantum gravitational regime. 

We don’t have a theory of quantum gravity and therefore we’re groping in the dark and making good guesses. And what I’ve been describing, the U.S., some good guesses. 

That’s all the time for questions that we have. I want to thank you all for coming. Let’s give Dr. Kinney another round of applause. Thank you so much. 

We have heard part two of a universe. Just for us. Presented by physicist Wil Kinney at the Center for Inquiry Transnational at Amherst, New York. 

On April 15th, 2015, the original recording was engineered by Nora Hurley. The music was by Adam Fields. Postproduction was by Inquiry Media Productions. 

This has been Episode 244. Visit us again on center stage. 

Center Stage is a production of the Center for Inquiry, a nonprofit organization that seeks to foster a secular society based on science reason. Freedom of inquiry and humanist values. 

To learn more, visit our Web site at w w w dot. 

Center for Inquiry dot net or visit our facilities and events and Amherst, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and other cities. Join us next time on center stage.