I didn't want to code in the Tube this morning so I sent an email, to somebody who was religious (muslim) but is no longer...
From a purely mathematical point of view there are lots of better ways to present the arguments, but I was trying to make it (as an exercise to myself) understandable by somebody who might not be convinced by pure logic.
When you where still religious I once tried to explain to you that the traditional muslim attempt to justify the necessity of the existence of god doesn't work. You didn't get it, but I was thinking about it today and let me try again. I want to try again for two reasons, first I want you to understand, and second this might be helpful to you if one day you want to explain the same to a muslim person. Note that you are probably going to fail at explaining it, mostly because most people do not understand basic geometry and are not logical, but you can try :-)
Ok, so what you started to say at the very beginning, when I was inviting you to question the idea of god, was that, to you, allah is not an anthropomorphic god like the christian god, but the "beginning of everything". You said, that you knew that to find allah you simply had to go to the "beginning" and that since there MUST be a beginning, if you call this beginning allah, and that therefore you have proven that allah exists.
This reasoning is incorrect for relatively simple reasons.
Us, humans have the experience that we seem to be living in a four dimensional space. Three spacial dimensions and one dimension of time. We know through theoretical research in the geometry of elementary particles that there might/must be more than three geometric dimensions, but for the purpose of this email I am going to assume that our universe has exactly three geometric dimensions.
I am also going to assume that the universe has only one dimension of time, in other words that time is one dimensional. You may be wondering why I need to assume something that is obviously true. Well, the simple answer to this question is that it is not obvious that the thing that we call "time" is only one dimensional. It is true that we have a mental model of reality, which works most of the time, and in which time is one dimensional, but this doesn't mean that we will never encounter an experimental result that is going to push us to rethink what we thought about time (resulting in a re-evaluation of our scientific models of reality, and the resulting extremely cool technologies that will come with it).
Also note that in this text I am going to ignore the curvature of space time, I don't need it. I will also not enter into considerations concerning the big bang. This last assumption is making my task more difficult because if I consider the big bang, then I can just terminate saying that since our space-time framework was created at the big bang, then there is no point trying to understand what might have happened before the big bang, simply because asking what happened before requires that we extend time before the moment where it is logical to start talking about it. This said, I think I can make a pure geometrical argument that does not require the big bang to have happened. There is also the fact that I know per experience that most people have a problem with the fact that a space time framework might have been created, they are still in this Newtonian logic that a space time framework is independent of the actual physical reality. To their defence, Einstein's work is still recent despite being more than 100 years old.
With the above out of the way, the core of the religious argument about the necessity of the beginning of time actually assumes that time has a beginning (already there is a circularity here). We know that there are easy ways that this might not be the case. First of all, let us assume that time is infinite in both directions. Then assuming that this dimension has the same topology as the mathematical real line, then it doesn't have a beginning. I know that the non-mathematician collective consciousness (and unfortunately the least knowledgeable undergraduate students) imagines that minus infinity is a number (and by extension the "beginning" of the real line), but this is not the case. What I mean is that if I actually draw the real line on the floor in its entirety and asks somebody to go sit at the "beginning", then this person has got a real (no pun intended) problem.
Incidentally, many young maths students think that minus infinity is "something" whereas it is not a "thing" but an idea, the idea which encapsulates the process of being able to always find lower numbers than any given (negative) number, the idea because of which proofs by limits actually makes (mathematical) sense.
So now, I want to present a model. Imagine that we can represent the time dimension of our universe as the real line, in its entirety. Then imagine that there are an infinite (uncountable) number of universes, all with a one dimensional time, and that their time-line is a line on the plane, with a given direction (direction which defines the flow of time). In fact you can identify a universe by giving the coordinates of its time-line, as a one dimensional subset of the plane, together with a direction. For instance there is a universe whose time line has equation 2x+3y-7=0, and the direction is given by posing that point (1,5/3) "happens" before the point (0,7/3).
I do not say that this model represents reality, I only ask you to consider it. We can call this collection of universes the multiverse (only for the purpose of this email). Also, it goes without saying that despite the fact that each line has got a time dimension, the plane itself doesn't have one. It is not possible to ask "what time is it on the plane ?", because the plane is a purely geometrical entity without time dimension. (I am sure that some people will have a problem considering a geometrical space without a timeline)
Now, if I follow the religious reasoning, allah would have to rule over all those universes (otherwise he is just a low level pussy), in other words, over all those directed lines. But then the question that I am asking is "when/where is the time beginning of the plane ? (that you imagine exists because you are being thinking on your own directed one dimensional line)"
The nice thing (for me, trying to make a point) is that the model doesn't allow this question to be answered.
Now, since you cannot justify that this model is not the actual model of the multiverse in which we live, and more generally since you cannot justify that the question of the origin of the multiverse actually makes sense in the "actual" multiverse in which we live, then any argumentation towards the existence of allah cannot rely on trying to find the "origin" of your own (limited) perception of what time is.