Warning: readers who believe that religion and cosmology should not include humor may find this tale distasteful. Although I wrote this several years ago, I recently found it and decided it was still outrageous enough to include here. I changed a couple of words that were not important to content.
From the birth of the universe through its expansion on until the expansion stops and is reversed and, finally, through the universe’s collapse is a long time, and many things have occurred in this time.
Millions and millions of years ago, when civilization was young, people wondered about the universe and were sure that a god or gods had created it all from nothing or from the chaos that existed before creation. This explanation should have been sufficient for everyone, but philosophers always like to pose questions to which they have no answers or, more importantly, no answers on which two of them agree. Did anything exist before the universe? Did anything exist before the gods? Did the gods create the universe for themselves or for people or for no purpose at all? How should people fit into the universe? Needless to say, a few wars were fought over these philosophical questions and also over which potential set of gods did the creating.
After a few thousand--or tens of thousands, no one is sure--years, those then passing as scientists developed the “big bang” theory that described the entire universe as arising out of a kernel of “stuff,” not matter, energy, or time, but with the potential for becoming any of them. Scientists were sure that they could describe the entire universe from birth to death if only they could solve the describing equations back past the first few microseconds to the point of creation, time zero. But this task proved impossible. Still, they were confident that all the physical constants and all the laws of physics arose from conditions during the universe's first few microseconds.
Over centuries, as science matured and became more sophisticated, the theory changed to incorporate currently accepted scientific principles; however, even after a million years, scientists used a version of the big-bang theory to explain the universe's origin. Finally, a particularly brilliant scientist managed to solve the big-bang equations all the way back to time zero; however, instead of a unique solution, she found several possible solutions, each resulting in a different set of scientific principles and physical laws. Neither this scientist nor anyone following ever managed to decide why the solution that led to the real universe appeared no more significant than any others.
Near the time of the super-brilliant physicist, biological science and bio-technology matured to the point that thoughts and personhood could be divorced from the body and the brain. Although existence as a person still required a physical embodiment, the electrical impulses and digital switching that make up a person’s mind could attach themselves to a passing dust mote as well as to a larger mass, and, over the next few centuries, most of the people on the inhabited worlds opted for the bodiless existence.
A result of disembodiment that had been problematic but had been thought to be solvable had proved not to be: population was in decline. A bodiless person was not eternal; he or she might live a thousand years or even ten thousand years but ultimately died. Needless to say, procreation as it was originally done, was not possible for the disembodied, even though two (or more) of them could enjoy all the thrills and emotions of sex with each other any time they wished. It had been believed that minds could be constructed in exact imitation to the minds of people and that these minds would become real people, and biologists easily managed to construct minds showing true intelligence, as robotic minds had for millennia; however, that is all the minds were, robots. They lacked the texture that one acquires through growing up in a body, and that was found necessary to be really a person. These constructed minds were nice to have around, but they were not people. After a few early misguided disembodiments with children showed that minds did not continue to develop normally after leaving the body, only adults were permitted to undergo the transformation. Of course, lots of people initially remained in bodies to care for the children as they grew up, and, it was thought that they and the older children would produce offspring and provide new generations, and they did – a few; however, the ages-old urge to reproduce seemed to be gone. After a long time, the last person with a body was gone.
Although one disembodied mind had no more power than it would have in its physical state, the power of millions packed into a small space produced dramatic effects. They could move objects and even change atomic processes; several million minds could even, to a certain extent, control time, although very erratically. Some of the scientists, philosophers, and what more-or-less corresponded to government leaders knew that this power must be focused, or it could lead to mischief that could bring about their doom prematurely, and it thus came about that a huge group of people convened to set forth a project that would last a lifetime. The convention leaders proposed to hasten the collapse of the universe and to use the power of their minds – all their combined minds – to put themselves outside the collapsing bubble and to observe as everything in the universe went back to the kernel of “stuff” from which it began. There was much debate and even the disembodied equivalent of fighting, but, finally, after years, the convention adjourned with everyone agreeing to go along with the project.
They knew well the physical law which explains that two objects that are in motion, one relative to the other, may experience time passing at different rates. If one object changes its initial motion or its initial lack of motion so that it is traveling very, very near the speed of light relative to whatever motion it had previously, time for that object is such that what might have seemed many years before it changed its motion now seems only seconds. They planned to use this physical law by accelerating themselves continuously for so long that their speed would be near light speed relative to everything else in the universe. They would get so near the speed of light that their lifetimes would equate to the billions of years needed for the universe to complete its expansion and to fall inward in the final collapse; however, they would use the power of their massed minds to detach themselves from the rest of the universe in its final days. So situated, they could watch it fall into its kernel of “stuff” and, then, if their calculations were correct, be reborn in a new big bang. They hoped to observe directly what caused the selection of the principles of physics that led to their universe out of all the possible solutions to the big-bang equations.
And so it went as they had planned. They attained the necessary speed and watched stars and galaxies die away and, finally, begin their collapse inward. They managed the difficult step of controlling their motion so that, as the universe became smaller and smaller, they would eventually be essentially at rest relative to its burned-out remnants. This matching of speeds was necessary so that they could take themselves outside the universe at some point before its collapse into the kernel. Although some physicists still maintained that being outside the universe was impossible, others relied on their calculations which showed it possible to use the extremely strong gravitational field of the small, dense universe together with their mind control of time to accomplish the task. The first two attempts failed, but, on the third, with all minds in unison, they made it.
They were outside the universe. It was disorienting. It seemed like the universe was smaller than they were. It seemed like the universe was engulfing them. It seemed like the universe was over there; no, over there. They were hurtling toward it or it toward them. They were moving apart rapidly. All this was taking place in random fashion; one could have said at the same time, but there was no time; there was no space. At last, using the power of their massed minds, they established time for themselves, not knowing how their time compared with the universe’s time, but, at least, establishing some order to their existence. And they found that with this order they could maintain what seemed to be spatial orientation between themselves and the universe.
After what seemed like several days to them, they observed the collapse into the kernel. Although theory predicted that radiation from the collapse and resultant big bang could not affect anything outside the universe itself, they were unwilling to take the risk and were devoting much of their energy to shielding themselves from possible radiation. It was not that they were particularly concerned about their deaths, but they were determined not to come this far and then miss the big event. As it turned out, all radiation stayed within the new universe as their theory had predicted.
Controlling their time so that every microsecond of the new universe corresponded to years for them, they observed and measured as the principles that would control the physical laws of the new universe came into being and were surprised that the creation of this universe resulted in a set of principles and physical laws not identical to, although very nearly the same as, those of their old universe. This universe would never collapse but would, instead, expand forever. Worse, because of the slight changes, there was no way they could get inside this universe. They had hoped to leave records of their observations for any intelligent life that arose in the new universe, but they doubted that life could exist in this universe with its altered scientific principles. In any case, they could not leave a record of their theories and what they had observed.
With all they had set out to do accomplished except for leaving a record, they had nothing else to live for and passed out of existence before the new universe had progressed beyond the star-forming stage.
Surprisingly, life did arise in this new universe, and after billions of years, intelligent beings arrived. Finally, these intelligent beings developed civilization, and, when this civilization was young, people began to wonder about the birth of the universe. They were sure that the gods had created it from nothing or from, at most, the chaos that existed before creation.