As an educational content writer with a Master of Science degree, I review my scientific research on fascinating subjects such as this.
Eternal Recurrence of the Universe
Did the universe go through many trials until the laws of physics and natural phenomena worked? Let's examine this idea.
The theory most accepted is that the universe began with the Big Bang. Then the laws of physics supported its development to where we are now.
However, was it a one-time event that worked perfectly, or had it failed many times, imploding into a black hole, and starting over from another Big Bang?
There Are Two Explanations
All this couldn't have happened so perfectly entirely by itself. So much can have gone wrong with the Big Bang. So was the universe created or did it evolve?
1. Creation of the Universe
According to the theory of creation there must have been a superior intelligent power in control that created the universe. The Big Bang is a one-time creation that had to be orchestrated by intelligence.
2. Evolution of the Universe
We know how all living species evolve because the fittest survive to reproduce. Similarly, the universe might have evolved from infinite random occurrences after each Big Bang.
Did a Big Bang Occur Repeatedly Until the Universe Worked?
When I had studied that hypothesis, I thought of the following concepts:
- I agree that everything in the universe has been developed, or maybe evolved (if you will), from the Big Bang.
- I also agree that the chances of all of this falling into place so perfectly would have a minuscule chance of happening.
For the universe to be created so perfectly to allow for the laws of nature that make it what it is, must have had a helping hand! Right?
I always try to keep an open mind about these things. I would be the first to welcome the idea of God existing. I would welcome Him with open arms. However, at the same time, I am well aware of mathematics and the powerful influence of "infinity."
It goes like this: Time has no beginning and no end. Our human brain has difficulty conceiving of anything that has no end to it. We need to think there was a beginning to time and even an end somewhere along the way. But that wouldn't be infinite.
Now, if the creation of the universe were to repeat until one of the processes work out just right, then we might eventually get one that physically works. One that even may have locations (galaxies, solar systems, and planets) that support the creation and evolution of life. Possibly that's the one we're in now.
Why the Last Big Bang Had to Be Perfect
Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking explained what would have happened if the Big Bang were weaker or stronger:
Read More From Owlcation
- He said that if the Big Bang were slightly weaker, the expansion of the universe would have been slower. Therefore, the universe would have quickly re-collapsed rather than continue its expansion.
- He also added that if the Big Bang were any stronger, the laws of physics would have turned out differently, and the universe would not have been beneficial to life.
So, was the Big Bang perfectly orchestrated, or did it just happen to be perfect after many trials?
The Theory of a Reoccurring Universe
Let's say time is cyclic. It keeps marching on, but in a circle. Does that mean that everything eventually repeats? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. Perhaps things just occur differently each time around.
In addition to that, there is an infinite number of cycles. Time cycles forever, each time repeating in a slightly different way. It can do this repeatedly an endless number of times.
The cycle repeats:
- Big Bang;
- Universe expands;
- It reaches a point of diminishing returns where the force of the expansion is overwhelmed by the gravity of the elements of the universe;
- Contraction begins to happen;
- The universe collapses and falls into a black hole;
- There’s so much energy in that black hole that it suddenly erupts into another Big Bang.
See my point? That can happen repeatedly. "To infinity and beyond!" — as Buzz Lightyear said in the movie, Toy Story.
The Result of Eternal Recurrence
The theory of Eternal Recurrence1 implies that the universe repeats its creation and demise over and over again. If this continues to happen into eternity, then future occurrences of the universe could have either of two results:
- It may be repetitions of prior universes. That would mean we live again, and with the same experiences.
- It may be other versions of the universe, each being drastically different. We might never have a chance to live again. Or possibly we might live with a different experience.
I mentioned earlier about Stephen Hawking's explanation of how the universe turns out differently based on two extremes. It's worth reviewing, so here's my way of explaining that:
Each time the universe repeats, something different happens. The Big Bang doesn't explode with the same force. There are two extremes:
- Sometimes it's too weak, and the universe implodes again before anything can form.
- Other times the force is too strong, and the universe expands so rapidly that the laws of physics are entirely convoluted, and nothing has a chance, especially life.
If recurrences occur an infinite number of times, some of those universes might have very different physical laws. There's no telling how many alternate scenarios might develop. Some could be with varying forms of life as well.
We are carbon-based creatures. But who's to say that life could take on a completely different chemical makeup—one that we couldn't even dream of with our present understanding of the universe.
So you see? It doesn't take a higher power to make it work right. All that's required is repetition—Eternal Recurrence. Sometimes it works, and most of the time, it fails.
That can go on eternally until one or more of the repetitions conjures up life with a consciousness to notice. We are alive, and we exist in this particular cycle of the universe. One that worked so well to support life.
Nothing would have allowed for intelligent life, and our functioning physical and natural laws, if it were an imperfect creation of the universe. We have come to exist only in our perfect world.
Since there is an infinite number of recurrences, the chance of life in at least one of the universes is greater than zero. The proof is: We are here!
There is even a greater-than-zero chance that we will repeat our lives in an Eternal Recurrence of the universe, maybe even an infinite number of times.2 In some, we will repeat our mistakes; In others, we’ll get it right.
- Brandon Robshaw. (2020). “Eternal Recurrence Revisited” - PhilosophyNow.org
- Alexander Vilenkin and Max Tegmark. (July 19, 2011). “The Case for Parallel Universes” - Scientific American
© 2017 Glenn Stok
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 13, 2019:
Alulu2323 - Every change is random. In our little corner of the universe dealing with life, we see that survival of the fittest guides the successful random changes in evolution.
The same could be true with the evolution of the universe. But since it’s random, every repetition could turn out different, with survival of the fittest taking a strong lead. For example, the way solar systems have larger planets farther out to protect the smaller planets near their Sun.
Alulu2323 on July 12, 2019:
Please excuse me if I bother you, but could you please explain a little more about the randomness of the direction in your reply to my previous question? I still don't clearly understand what causes the so-called randomness: is it because of multiverse collision or something else?
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 12, 2019:
Alulu2323 - Good question. It probably does have the same force, but the direction of the force might be random—causing different outcomes.
Alulu2323 on July 12, 2019:
I have a question: why does the universe not explode with the same force every time it recycles?
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 31, 2018:
Zina Vejzovic - You totally got it! Your review of my article is right on target. I can see you read very word and that you obviously studied this concept.
I have another article where I discuss this subject even further that you might be interested in. Look for “Observing the Evolution of Time and Space Since the Big Bang” in my article listing in my profile.
Thanks for your wonderful review.
Zina Vejzovic on July 31, 2018:
Greetings, this article left me speechless in a wonderful and satisfying way. I had my thoughts on this theory a long time ago. The Big Bang is very likely to repeat itself and that we lived before in some previous cycle of the universe ...of course, we absolutely cannot be aware of that. There is no need for higher intelligence to create a onetime universe and I strongly believe the universe is going in cycles. Like you said, "Eternal Reoccurrence. Sometimes it works, and most of the time it fails. This can go on eternally until one or more of the repetitions are an exact same state as a prior one—Eternal Recurrence." Great article, thank You.
isaac on June 07, 2018:
this blows my mind. wow. fantastic article
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 31, 2018:
Karma, Of course no one can answer it, because it’s all a theoretical discussion. Even the things I discuss in my articles are based only on theory.
By the way, since you were wondering where was God before the beginning, you might find my other article of interest to you: “Did God Have a Creator?”
karma on May 31, 2018:
I'm not an atheist, but I do agree on your idea about "repeat eternally". Actually, I've once posted about this similar idea in a Christian Forum with an argument "if our known universe today was created by God - then what did He do before he create this known universe ?"
Then I posit the idea "there had been another universe (not necessary the same with our known one) before our known universe today".
The members of the forum reject the idea. They insist there must be a beginning, something cannot just keep on repeating by itself - so there must be The Initiator, they say. But when I ask "why not, if God Himself is eternal ?", they can not answer it. :).
Thank you for your article.
Manuel on May 28, 2018:
No problem!!! And I do understand it's all hypothetical. I just hope it's true because I've been having a hard time recently thinking this is the only experience I will ever have, and this conscious experience will never happen again, meaning I will essentially disappear after death. I would certainly love to experience my life again, I just hope my attraction to eternal recurrence isn't simply wishful thinking. That's why I found your article to comforting, because it gave me a little hope.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 28, 2018:
Yes I do find their work interesting, although I didn’t know about Neil Turok. I see he is also a Theoretical Physicist, so I’ll have to check out his recent lectures. I’m surprised I missed that one since he is also tries to explain the big bang. Thanks for adding that information Manuel.
Manuel on May 27, 2018:
I totally understand. In regards to what you’re talking about, have you researched Paul Steinhardt’s and Neil Turok’s, along with Roger Penrose separately, concept of the cyclic universe? I think you would find them interesting
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 27, 2018:
Manuel - I can’t say you’re overthinking it or not, since you’re intitled to come up with your own philosophical thoughts, just as I have done. Non of this is factual anyway. It’s all simply for hypothetical discussion.
Having said that, I would clarify one thing—that the hypothesis I discuss is about the universe repeating from scratch. So in that sense I don’t think we would ever be aware of a previous existence.
Eternal Recurrence is not my idea. Notice the reference to Wikipedia.
Manuel on May 27, 2018:
I was wondering because when you die, you essentially cease perceiving time. So once you die, if you return in another cycle, it could feel like undergoing anesthesia in the sense that it felt like nothing happened whatsoever. Because no matter how long it takes or how many cycles it takes, at one point, your conscious experience could appear again and it would feel like time never existed and your conscious experience arrives instantaneously. At that point, you would wake up to the first thing you remembered as a child. Is this possible or am I overthinking it?
Manuel on May 27, 2018:
For sure! I admire those who go outside the mainstream! I'm glad you're one of those people! Great work!
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 27, 2018:
Manuel - It might be you with a different consciousness or it might be a different you with the same consciousness. Of it might be neither. Who can say that life even exists in another trial.
Mainstream? Never said it was. It’s clearly hypothesis. Didn’t you get that?
Manuel on May 27, 2018:
Very fascinating article!!! But I still wonder as to whether the next cycle will result in a similar experience to what I have right now. Is it more likely that, rather than another "me" existing in the next cycle, it'll just be someone else with my "conscious, first-person experience?'
You should also know that what you're hypothesizing isn't necessarily mainstream. Some people may even call you crazy. Do you think in time people will start to consider your hypothesis as a possibility?
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on March 19, 2018:
kgb1965 - That’s an interesting thought. It would seem that time is necessary for movement. Did you ever read the book Flatland? If it’s possible to move through two dimensions without knowing of the existence of a third dimension, then we in three dimensions should be able to move without knowing of the fourth dimension—time.
However, that doesn’t mean that time doesn’t exist. So I agree with you that time may very well be necessary for movement.
This is why I talked about cyclic time in my article. It always existed, even before and after the Big Bang.
kgb1965 on March 18, 2018:
Interesting article, but I fail to grasp how something that has a material reality (quantum level or what ever, also whether you can detect it or not,) first came to have a material reality. If you have a material reality it also implies time, for without time you (as I understand it), cannot have movement/change. Otherwise, how could the big bang or its equivalent have occurred?
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on March 17, 2018:
Kgb1965 - This article might give you what you’re looking for, something from nothing...
kgb1965 on March 17, 2018:
Maybe I missed it, but the theories all seem to relate to something that is already in existence. They do not appear to deal with the issue of something from nothing. As I understand it, before time, matter in terms of a materialistic view, did not exist
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on October 19, 2017:
lovetherain - That makes a lot of sense – "the universe happens in cycles." When you think about it, everything happens in cycles.
The Earth cycles around the Sun. Our solar system cycles around our Milky Way galaxy. All the galaxies cycle around a central point–which might have been the point of the big bang.
Time, itself, may cycle over and over again. That solves the puzzle of what came before the beginning and what occurs after the end.
Christine Coulsen from Untited States on October 19, 2017:
I believe time is cyclical. It also affects us in cycles, like the Precession of the Equinoxes. The cycles affect consciousness at certain nodes. It is much more likely that the universe happens in cycles, rather than a one time beginning. In my opinion. Anyway, nice article.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on April 11, 2017:
MizBejabbers - You understood it well. Scientific American's description is another way to explain it. I glad my explanation gave you a way to visualize it.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 11, 2017:
Interesting theory. A few years ago, Scientific American (I believe it was that magazine) supported a version of this theory by describing the recurring universe as folding over and over in time like cake batter in a mixer. Then some of the TV shows picked up on it. I could visualize your description as the "cake batter of the universe" folding over and over to recreate itself anew. Notice I didn't use either "recurrence" or "reoccurrence" because I think the fold could create either.