The Eternally Cyclical Cosmos: Avoiding Ultimate Origins

By many accounts, both ancient and modern, the quest to understand the primordial origin of all reality remains one of humanity’s most profound unanswered questions. Did the universe as we know it emanate from nothing? Was it created by a supernatural deity? Or has it simply existed eternally in one state or another, without any true “beginning” in the conventional sense?

This final perspective, of an eternally cyclical cosmos constantly transitioning between differing expansive and contractive phases or forms, offers an intriguing alternative paradigm to the philosophical puzzles surrounding ultimate origins and first causes. While having ancient philosophical roots, it also finds some resonances with speculative modern cosmological models. Perhaps most compellingly, it circumvents the seemingly paradoxical assertions of creatio ex nihilo (creation from nothing) and the need for an uncaused first cause, be it a divine creator or an initial singularity.

The Conundrum of Beginnings
Much of the consternation around cosmic origins stems from the apparent paradoxes or infinite regresses that arise when attempting to rationally conceptualize an absolute first event, source or cause. For the universe to have simply spontaneously begun to exist from absolute literal nothingness – no space, time, matter, energy or laws – is a proposition that strains rational credibility. As the philosophical axiom states, ex nihilo nihil fit: out of nothing, nothing comes. And yet, many interpretations of the Big Bang theory and its predecessors like the theological doctrine of creation ex nihilo appear to require such notions.

Similar difficulties arise when considering the premise of a supernatural, transcendent force like God as the uncaused first cause that created the physical universe. For such an entity to be truly eternal, uncaused, and productive of all other reality, it seems to require the same tenuous conceptual move of self-actualizing from a prior state of non-being or nothingness. Additionally, attributing a divine mind or consciousness as the origin of all matter, energy and natural laws presents other philosophical challenges.

The Eternal Return
An alternative paradigm is to eschew searching for an absolute originating event, cause or Creator, and instead envision an eternally existential cosmos constantly engaged in perpetual cycles of death and rebirth, contraction and expansion across cosmic phases or eras. In this view, the observable universe as we know it emanates not from nothing, nor from a Creator ex nihilo, but rather from a preceding cycle, epoch or state of cosmic evolution – one of the infinite phoenix-like permutations of the universe’s eternal existential flux.

Such ideas have their roots in ancient Greek and Asian philosophies and creation myths that envisioned the cosmos engaged in infinite cycles of generation, degeneration and regeneration – be it the Stoic concept of eternal recurrence, the cyclical cosmological eras of Hinduism, or the cosmic phoenix of ancient Egypt. While the specific dynamics varied, these worldviews held the created order was preceded and succeeded by prior and subsequent epochs, without any true origination ex nihilo.

Intriguingly, some speculative traits of eternal cosmic cycles find reflections in certain modern cosmological hypotheses. Oscillating universe models envision the current expansionary phase giving way to an eventual contraction, followed by a “big rebound” back into cosmic expansion. The multiverse theory permits eternal cycles of parallel universes budding from one another across vast stretches of time and higher dimensional membranes. Even within the mathematical formulations of general relativity and quantum cosmological models, transitioning between different cosmic eras or phases becomes more plausible than a stark delineation between something and absolute nothingness.

Of course, the eternal cosmos perspective also faces conceptual challenges – if the observable universe emerged from a preceding cycle or epoch, what set the primordial dynamics and substances of that first cycle in motion? Can something truly be considered eternal if it undergoes substantial metamorphoses across the eons? Yet in avoiding the seemingly harder paradoxes of creatio ex nihilo and the need for an absolute first temporal cause or uncaused cause, the paradigm of cosmic recurrence warrants thorough examination.

The quest to rationally grapple with the ultimate origin or beginnings of all reality will likely remain one of humanity’s most enduring ontological mysteries. While different philosophical and metaphysical frameworks offer varying perspectives, each seems to face self-imposed limitations or paradoxes.

Whether our universe was brought forth ex nihilo, divinely created, or sprang forth from some initial Big Bang singularity, the philosophical problems of absolute first cau

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