"Think about the universe for a second. It's made up of matter, which is made up of particles."
You are stopping short. Particles are made up of tinier particles called quarks, which MIGHT be made up of vibrating strings... which might be made
up of something else (perhaps you'll know after I publish a paper
). Also, don't forget that matter can be transformed into energy and (as
believed) vice verse.
"Where did the universe come from?
Better question: Does it matter? Like Byrd says, perhaps it comes from a large pink unicorn. "From what" is not as important as "why." If my
only answer to your question is, "from within," what would you begin to believe about the universe and yourself?
"The scientific theory is the 'Big Bang'. Now let's reflect on the Big Bang theory for a second. Big object, matter all packed together, right?
Ends up exploding, creating the universe."
No. The big bang started with a tiny object, perhaps smaller than an atom. This particle was extremely dense and its internal heat and pressure
built up until it exploded (and perhaps imploded). This point was a type of singularity, like those found in black holes. If this theory is current,
it is responsible for the "matter" and "antimatter" in the universe. The creation of energy, on the otherhand, is not so clear, from what I
understand. The problems with dark matter and dark energy cloud our understands of the "big picture."
"Well where did the matter come from? Could it just 'exist'?"
It comes from the Big Bang or the division of energy (perhaps). It does exist, but "existence" is not a real quality. Think about it. You have a
pencil. The pencil is light weight, made of wood, 7 inches long, has an eraser, and is yellow. Now you have a second pencil that is light weight,
made of wood, 7 inches long, has an eraser, is yellow, and exists. You can picture both the one that exists and the one that doesn't exist. This
makes existence a rather odd quality, if you can even define it in the normal sense of a quality. Also, if you say that one pencil exists, you are
not stating that the other pencil does not exist. On top of all of that, just because something doesn't exist here or now, doesn't mean it won't
or can't exist somewhere at some time. The only things that cannot exist are those that go against a pre-formed definition (i.e. a square
"Could it have always been?"
When looking at whether something has always existed, we must ask, "in what form?" Also, we must ask what is the actual definition of existence for
something that was never created (having always existed).
"Even Einstein said that matter can not be created from nothing."
They think he may have been wrong, bringing up the spontaneous creation of matter and antimatter particles. Of course, he is probably still right,
but most people don't understand why he made such a statement without any proof leaning towards either side of the argument.
"Now to many, this is where god comes in. They think that god created the universe, or at least started the big bang."
Very probably, but not necessary. The existence of God/god does not rest on this fact, however. I'm sure you can conceive of another "high" being
creating a universe to work, but that being does not have to be the ALMIGHTY being. You may put together an ant farm, but an ant walking around the
farm might assume you are God when you are not. This only makes you an important figure in the process of creation and/or development.
"But how could god always exist? Maybe God is the everlasting conundrum/paradox of existance. Maybe it is not a consious being."
Who says you have not always existed in some form or another? You could just be a spiritual being having a human experience. Can you not conceive of
that idea? There is actually a book dedicated to that idea (at least one). Again, existence needs to be defined for different types of ideas and
beings... which probably will bring up a problem where a single definition will not suffice. Maybe you are a paradox of existence. If God is not a
conscious being then He could not be as evolved as we are. This causes ideological paradoxes, so we'll stay away from that one.
"more later... "
That is a temporal (timely) question, assuming time exists.