I recently came into argument with an atheist regarding the origin of the universe. I told him that it is an unsolved problem in physics and in cosmonogy in particular. But he kept saying that it has already been confirmed by scientific evidence that "matter and the universe were created out of nothing by random fluctuations" citing these two statements below:

Inflation is today a part of the Standard Model of the Universe supported by the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and large scale structure (LSS) datasets. Inflation solves the horizon and flatness problems and naturally generates density fluctuations that seed LSS and CMB anisotropies, and tensor perturbations (primordial gravitational waves).


The inflation theory is a period of extremely rapid (exponential) expansion of the universe prior to the more gradual Big Bang expansion, during which time the energy density of the universe was dominated by a cosmological constant-type of vacuum energy that later decayed to produce the matter and radiation that fill the universe today.


I'm not really familiar with scientific jargon but I'm dubious if these statements especially the bolded part actually translate or mean "matter were created out of nothing by random fluctuations." Can anyone translate these statements in layman's terms?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ These questions aren't part of physics, so it can by no mean answer them. Physics isn't omniscient, and can't answer everything. Your friend is either a dishonest guy trying to fool people in order to convince them to become atheist like he is, or an ignorant who never studied any sciences... $\endgroup$ – sure Aug 23 '16 at 9:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The theory of inflation is just a theory, and by just I mean it hasn't been proved yet by any means of experience, that is experimentally. It may be confirmed one day, but not yet. It is a theory capable of producing results but it isn't complete yet. In the end, I don't think that inflation is a valid argument. $\endgroup$ – Constantine Black Aug 23 '16 at 9:26
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't a "theory" in science basically established fact already like the Theory of Evolution? $\endgroup$ – user127946 Aug 23 '16 at 9:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Theories are never proven, nor "established". They are world views allowing us to build models that predict what we see more or less well (very well for general relativity). You can't prove that a theory is "true", nor can you prove that its "wrong". $\endgroup$ – sure Aug 23 '16 at 10:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @sure -- While experimentation, observation, and inductive reasoning (the reasoning used in science) are not powerful enough to prove a scientific hypothesis to be correct, they are powerful enough to prove scientific hypothesis to be incorrect. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Aug 23 '16 at 13:00

Your friend has heard one little thing about our current understanding and distorted it beyond recognition.

Our current theories take us back to a time of very high energy density but have nothing to say about what came earlier. The overall distribution of matter that we observe today can be explained by considering fluctuations in the density of that early, high-energy-density state.

If there were an original state of "nothing" what would be fluctuating? There would be nothing to fluctuate.

  • $\begingroup$ dialectical answer to an off-topic question $\endgroup$ – user46925 Aug 23 '16 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ So, these statements don't address the origin of matter and the universe, but only address how matter and the universe was formed out of what was already there? Am I correct? $\endgroup$ – user127946 Aug 23 '16 at 10:34
  • $\begingroup$ The total mass/energy of the universe may be zero en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_universe $\endgroup$ – user56903 Aug 23 '16 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ @igael Not at all. I described the state of the current main-stream theory. The question appears off topic to us but the OP does not know that the idea is not main-stream. $\endgroup$ – garyp Aug 23 '16 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @DirkBruere Ok, but I wouldn't consider that main-stream science at the moment. But that's just my opinion. $\endgroup$ – garyp Aug 23 '16 at 12:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.