Causal Cycles

This essay deals with one of the many things that cannot or can only partly be researched with the scientific method as it cannot be confirmed or refuted inter-subjectively by an experiment. We thus penetrate into the domain of metaphysics.

Written by Claus Volko
Vienna, Austria, Europe

Contact: cdvolko (at) gmail (dot) com

For centuries, the Occident has been dominated by the Christian religion. He who did not faithfully follow what the priest preached from the pulpit was executed as a heretic. Crusades should contribute to the extermination of foreign religions.

Only in the last few decades have people gained the opportunity to think and express their own thoughts freely, without risking their own lives. This is the reason why there are only a few newly developed religions beyond the traditional faith. Too little time has passed. Moreover, one can still be disadvantaged even today if one does not follow the majority religion. It is said that religious confession continues to play an important role in the allocation of posts at medical universities, for example.

At my father's funeral, a religious song was sung. I was the only one in the room who didn't sing along. The reason was quite simply that I was the only one who didn't know the text. Because I hadn't been brought up religiously. I belong to a new generation that grew up without a traditional religion. Born in Vienna in 1983, I am the son of parents who have been baptized, but who soon ceased to practice religion actively; my father even left the church. As a child, I was therefore free to develop my own religious beliefs independently of conventional beliefs.

As a child, I was particularly disturbed by the postulate that earthly life was finite. I wanted to live an infinite life. So I decided to make this the core of my religion. I perceived the world as a struggle between the divine forces of life and those of death, whereby I myself, as the demigod of invincibility, stood on the side of life. Not the world that we can perceive with our five senses, I regarded as the real world, but the fantasy world that we humans can develop with our thoughts.

What occupied me, of course, was the question of whether there is only infinity, i. e. things that have a beginning but no end, or also eternity, i. e. things that have neither a beginning nor an end, but exist. I came to the conclusion that this question is crucial, because it may not even be possible for both forms of infinity to coexist side by side. In the following I would like to explain why I think so.

The world is dominated by the principle of causality: there is cause and effect. The whole world can be modeled by a graph in which there are nodes that are connected by directed edges. Each node represents a state of the world. The edge means that the next state can follow the previous one. In this case, the previous condition is the cause and the subsequent one the effect. A causal chain is formed. So far, so good.

But now the question arises as to whether this causal chain had a beginning. If there was a beginning, then there can't have been eternity. But if we assume that it is possible that things have existed for ages and will always exist, how can we model the world as a causal chain?

The answer is: You have to model it as a cycle. This means that there is no initial state or, in other words, any state can be the initial state. From that state, which could be regarded as the final state, a new initial state follows causally. In such a model, things can exist forever. However, and this is the crux of the matter: infinity in the narrower sense is no longer here!

Can the world be explained by a causal cycle? If one tries to examine physical laws with this hypothesis, one will find that the theorem of energy and impulse conservation can be explained very well, but the idea that entropy is always the same or increasing would not be compatible. Is the idea of the causal cycle thus refuted? In my opinion, no, because it could also be that what we consider to be physical laws is actually wrong.

It could also be that world events do not merely repeat themselves eternally, but that there is a state n which is analogous to state 1, a state n + 1 which is analogous to state 2, etc. - analogous, but not identical, but at least slightly different! One could imagine this cycle as a spiral, where beginning and end are connected with each other, so that one has to think of the spiral as revolving - a shape similar to a torus is produced.

If there is no infinity, but eternity, one can at least hope to be reborn and to experience the same life again.

The method of science is something I learned to appreciate very much as a teenager. After all, scientific statements must be logically consistent and inter-subjectively verifiable. For example, the statement that a virgin had given birth to God's Son would not be scientific, because it is not consistent. (A son can only be born of a woman who has had intercourse with a man, and so this woman is not a virgin! Daughters, on the other hand, could be born of virgins if it is assumed that parthenogenesis actually exists. However, sons cannot develop without fertilization because the unfertilized eggs do not have the Y chromosome. Unless a radical mutation occurs, which converts an X chromosome into a Y chromosome - which is highly unlikely!)

Science cannot, however, explain everything that is partly simply due to the fact that deduction of statements is only possible if one assumes that at least one basic statement is given.

In this respect, I believe that it is perfectly acceptable to act as a "religious founder" and to think beyond the scientific.

Claus Volko

This essay was first published at my personal homepage, in 2017.