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Israeli archaeologists find source of 'Second Temple' era stones
Published May 09, 2013 | LiveScience
A huge quarry, along with tools and a key, used by workers some 2,000 years ago have been discovered during an excavation in Jerusalem prior to the paving of a highway, the Israel Antiquities Authorities (IAA) announced.
The first-century quarry, which fits into the Second Temple Period (538 B.C. to A.D. 70), would've held the huge stones used in the construction of the city's ancient buildings, the researchers noted.
Archaeologists also uncovered pick axes and wedges among other artifacts at the site in the modern-day Ramat Shlomo Quarter, a neighborhood in northern East Jerusalem.
"The quarrying phenomenon created a spectacular sight of bedrock columns and steps and craters of sorts that were the result of the rock-cuttings," Irina Zilberbod, IAA excavation director, said in a statement. "What remained are rock masses in various stages of quarrying, and there were those that were found in a preliminary stage of rock-cutting prior to detachment." [In Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World]
Some of the huge stones would've reached about 6.5 feet in length and weighed tens if not hundreds of tons, the researchers said.
In total, the team uncovered an area of around 11,000 square feet where the ancient quarry would've existed. The quarry connects with other previously identified quarries, all of which seem to be situated in Jerusalem's so-called "city of quarries" dating to the Second Temple period.
In a dig reported in 2007 and completed before the construction of an elementary school in the Ramat Shlomo Quarter, IAA scientists had uncovered another Second Temple quarry. The stones from this quarry, some of which reached 26 feet in length, would have been used by King Herod for his Temple at the Temple Mount and other monumental buildings, according to the IAA and news reports. (Temple Mount, also called Noble Sanctuary by Muslims, is a religious site in the Holy Land of Jerusalem.)
As for what made this area in Jerusalem such a draw for rocks, the researchers suggest the Meleke rock formation there may be part of the reason. Meleke rock, they say, is easily quarried and hardens immediately after being cut and shaped (or hewn). Also, this area would've been elevated above the city of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, possibly making transport of the enormous stones easier since the trek would've been downhill.
In fact, researchers discovered a first-century road adjacent to the quarry that may have been used for stone transport.
The scientists aren't certain how exactly the giant stones would've been moved along this road. They suspect oxen and wooden rollers would've done the trick, but some historical records note giant wood-lifting devices were around at the time and may have been used.
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Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/05/09/jerusalem-ancient-city-quarries-reveals-city-building-rocks/print#ixzz2SpyuDuWB
Karen L. King / Harvard
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of scripture: "Jesus said to them, 'My wife …'"
The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”
The finding is being made public in Rome on Tuesday at an international meeting of Coptic scholars by the historian Karen L. King, who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.
The provenance of the papyrus fragment is a mystery, and its owner has asked to remain anonymous. Until Tuesday, King had shown the fragment to only a small circle of experts in papyrology and Coptic linguistics, who concluded that it is most likely not a forgery. But she and her collaborators say they are eager for more scholars to weigh in and perhaps upend their conclusions.
Even with many questions unsettled, the discovery could reignite the debate over whether Jesus was married, whether Mary Magdalene was his wife and whether he had a female disciple. These debates date to the early centuries of Christianity, scholars say. But they are relevant today, when global Christianity is roiling over the place of women in ministry and the boundaries of marriage.
The discussion is particularly animated in the Roman Catholic Church, where despite calls for change, the Vatican has reiterated the teaching that the priesthood cannot be opened to women and married men because of the model set by Jesus.
King gave an interview and showed the papyrus fragment, encased in glass, to reporters from The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Harvard Magazine in her garret office in the tower at Harvard Divinity School last Thursday. She left the next day for Rome to deliver her paper on the find on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies.
She repeatedly cautioned that this fragment should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married. The text was probably written centuries after Jesus lived, and all other early, historically reliable Christian literature is silent on the question, she said.
But the discovery is exciting, King said, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.
“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” King said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”Rose Lincoln / Harvard
King first learned about what she calls “The Gospel of Jesus' Wife” when she received an e-mail in 2010 from a private collector who asked her to translate it. King, 58, specializes in Coptic literature, and has written books on the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary of Magdala, Gnosticism and women in antiquity.
The owner, who has a collection of Greek, Coptic and Arabic papyri, is not willing to be identified by name, nationality or location, because, King said, “He doesn’t want to be hounded by people who want to buy this.”
When, where or how the fragment was discovered is unknown. The collector acquired it in a batch of papyri in 1997 from the previous owner, a German. It came with a handwritten note in German that names a professor of Egyptology in Berlin, now deceased, and cited him calling the fragment “the sole example” of a text in which Jesus claims a wife.
The owner carried the fragment to the Divinity School in December 2011 and left it with King. She said she was initially suspicious, but it looked promising enough to explore. Three months later, she carried the fragment in her red handbag to New York to show it to two colleagues, both papyrologists: Roger Bagnall, director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, at New York University; and AnneMarie Luijendijk, an associate professor of religion at Princeton University.
They examined the scrap under sharp magnification. It was very small — only 4 by 8 centimeters. The lettering was splotchy and uneven, the hand of an amateur, but not unusual for the time period, when many Christians were poor and persecuted.
It was written in Coptic, an Egyptian language that uses Greek characters — and more precisely, in Sahidic Coptic, a dialect from southern Egypt, Luijendijk said in an interview.
What convinced them it was probably genuine was the fading of the ink on the papyrus fibers, and traces of ink adhered to the bent fibers at the torn edges. The back side is so faint that only five words are visible, one only partly: “my moth[er],” “three,” “forth which.”
“It would be impossible to forge,” said Dr. Luijendijk, who contributed to Dr. King’s paper.
Bagnall reasoned that a forger would have had to be expert in Coptic grammar, handwriting and ideas. Most forgeries he has seen were nothing more than gibberish. And if it were a forgery intended to cause a sensation or make someone rich, why would it have lain in
obscurity for so many years?
“It’s hard to construct a scenario that is at all plausible in which somebody fakes something like this. The world is not really crawling with crooked papyrologists,” Bagnall said.
The piece is torn into a rough rectangle, so that the document is missing its adjoining text on the left, right, top and bottom — most likely the work of a dealer who divided up a larger piece to maximize his profit, Dr. Bagnall said.
Much of the context, therefore, is missing. But King was struck by phrases in the fragment like “My mother gave to me life,” and “Mary is worthy of it,” which resemble snippets from the Gospels of Thomas and Mary. Experts believe those were written in the late second century and translated into Coptic. She surmises that this fragment is also copied from a second-century Greek text.
The meaning of the words, “my wife,” is beyond question, Dr. King said. “These words can mean nothing else.” The text beyond “my wife” is cut off.
King did not have the ink dated using carbon testing. She said it would require scraping off too much, destroying the relic. She still plans to have the ink tested by spectroscopy, which could roughly determine its age by its chemical composition.
King submitted her paper to The Harvard Theological Review, which asked three scholars to review it. Two questioned its authenticity, but they had seen only low-resolution photographs of the fragment and were unaware that expert papyrologists had seen the actual item and judged it to be genuine, King said. One of the two questioned the grammar, translation and interpretation.
Ariel Shisha-Halevy, an eminent Coptic linguist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was consulted, and responded in an email in September, “I believe — on the basis of language and grammar — the text is authentic.”
Major doubts allayed, The Review plans to publish King’s article in its January issue.
The owner has offered to donate the papyrus to Harvard if the university buys a “substantial part of his collection,” King said, which Harvard is considering. She said she will “push him to come forward,” in part to avoid stoking conspiracy theories.
The notion that Jesus had a wife was the central conceit of the best seller and movie “The Da Vinci Code.” But King said she wants nothing to do with the Code or its author: “At least, don’t say this proves Dan Brown was right.”
This report, "A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus' Wife," first appeared in The New York Times.
Copyright © 2012 The New York Times
A small handful of bones found in an ancient church in Bulgaria may belong to John the Baptist, the biblical figure said to have baptized Jesus.
There's no way to be sure, of course, as there are no confirmed pieces of John the Baptist to compare to the fragments of bone. But the sarcophagus holding the bones was found near a second box bearing the name of St. John and his feast date (also called a holy day) of June 24. Now, new radiocarbon dating of the collagen in one of the bones pegs its age to the early first century, consistent with the New Testament and Jewish histories of John the Baptist's life.
"We got some dates that are very interesting indeed," study researcher Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford told LiveScience. "They suggest that the human bone is all from the same person, it's from a male, and it has a very high likelihood of an origin in the Near East," or Middle East where John the Baptist would have lived.
Mysterious bone box
The bones were found in 2010 by Romanian archaeologists Kazimir Popkonstantinov and Rossina Kostova while excavating an old church site on the island of Sveti Ivan, which translates to St. John. The church was constructed in two periods in the fifth and sixth centuries.
Beneath the altar, the archaeologists found a small marble sarcophagus, about 6 inches long. Inside were six human bones and three animal bones. The next day, the researchers found a second box just 20 inches away. This one was made of volcanic rock called tuff. On it, an inscription read, "Dear Lord, please help your servant Thomas" along with St. John the Baptist's name and official church feast day.
A grotesque gift
The findings paint a story of a man named Thomas charged with bringing relics, or body parts, of St. John to the island to consecrate a new church there. It was common in the fourth and fifth centuries for wealthy patrons to pay for new churches and to give saintly relics to the monks who staffed them, Higham told LiveScience. [8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]
"We can imagine that the construction of this church was predicated on the basis of this very important gift, perhaps from the patron to the monastery," Higham said.
The human bones in the box included a knucklebone, a tooth, part of a cranium, a rib and an ulna, or arm bone. The researchers could only date the knucklebone, because radiocarbon dating relies on organic material, and only that bone had enough collagen for a good analysis. The researchers were able to reconstruct DNA sequences from three of the bones, however, showing them to be from the same person, likely a Middle Eastern man.
"Our worry was that the remains might have been contaminated with modern DNA," study researcher Hannes Schroeder, formerly of Oxford, said in a statement. "However, the DNA we found in the samples showed damage patterns that are characteristic of ancient DNA, which gave us confidence in the results. Further, it seems somewhat unlikely that all three samples would yield the same sequence considering that they had probably been handled by different people."
Schroeder added that "both of these facts suggest that the DNA we sequenced was actually authentic."
Strangely, the three animal bones (one from a sheep, one from a cow, and one from a horse), were all about 400 years older than the human bones in the reliquary. Those three bones all seem to come from the same time and location, Higham said. They may have been placed there as a way to desecrate the human bones, he said. Or someone may have just been trying to make the bone box look a little more impressive.
"It is very curious," Higham said. [8 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]
Historical research by Oxford professor Georges Kazan suggests that relics supposedly from John the Baptist were on the move out of Jerusalem by the fourth century. Many of these artifacts were shuttled through the ancient city of Constantinople and may well have been given to the Sveti Ivan monastery from there.
None of this proves that the bones belonged to a historical figure named John the Baptist, but researchers haven't been able to rule out the possibility, Higham said. Their study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but a program detailing the research will be aired on the United Kingdom National Geographic Channel on Sunday. National Geographic funded the research.
Even if the monks of Sveti Ivan believed the bones to be St. John's, they may not have been. Fake relics were and still are common. For example, at least 30 nails have been venerated as the ones used to keep Jesus Christ on the cross (biblical scholars debate whether three or four nails would have been used). Likewise, French theologian John Calvin once noted that if all of the supposed fragments of Jesus' cross were gathered together, they'd fill a shipload. Even Joan of Arc has been the subject of forgery. A 2007 study found that alleged pieces of her body kept in a French church actually belonged to an Egyptian mummy. [9 Famous Art Forgers]
The Sveti Ivan box is not the only reliquary said to hold the remains of John the Baptist, Higham said. If the researchers are able to test other bones said to be the saint's, they could build a circumstantial case for their authenticity. Nevertheless, a positive identification will likely remain out of reach.
"Definitely proving it, I think, is going to remain ever-elusive," Higham said.
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© 2012 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.
Matthias wrote:Quote from: ArthureusYou're one hell of a believer (no pun intended lol) I would think that both of those conclusions (if proven) would demonstrably destroy Christianity.
Jesus' bones would clearly demonstrate that he was not raised bodily and therefore Christianity is in vain (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:14). An eternal universe would supercede God or His necessity (I would think anyway).If God is coherent in the first place, and eternity is coherent in the first place - I think both are but others disagree - and if we can accept that the Genesis story not being literally true doesn't automatically invalidate Christianity, then I don't see how an eternal universe does. Likewise, if other Biblical miracles needn't be literally true, I don't see why the Resurrection would need to be either. (Indeed I think Christianity would be a lot more aesthetically appealing and just as coherent without any Resurrection, but I'm guessing the Christians here would disagree.)
Eternity is coherent when only applied to certain things or elements of reality (God, metaphysics, etc) I think God and Eternity (properly defined) are coherent but if the universe is eternal then God never created it and it also shares aseity which only God has (classically defined). It would violate Leibniz's sensible definition of God. Ultimately God would not be a necessary being. I am of the opinion that you can have one or the other but certainly not both. Either the Universe is Eternal or God exists.
As for other miracles "needn't be true" well that is where we diverge. Obviously you have some kind of standard by which you postulate that such miracles need not be literal. Indeed if the Genesis narrative can be proven as untrue then we have absolutely no reason to invest in the Christian narrative as well (or logically, the entire cannon of scripture preceding Genesis in chronological order) Jesus Himself invested much truth in the Gen. narrative (cf Matt 19:4-5, Lk 11:51, Matt 24:37-39, Lk 17:26-27, and these are just a few examples) and your theory or line of thought would grant us intellectual permission to believe that Jesus was clearly mistaken and if that is/was true then we have powerful reasons to believe He was not divine as He claimed to be. I like to think of a simple chart or so to illustrate my point:
No Genesis --> No Creation --> No Sin --> No Jewish History --> No Christ --> No Christ's Resurrection/Atoning Sacrifice --> No Christianity.
I honestly cannot imagine a more aesthetically pleasing reality than the literal resurrection of the human body postmortem as it happened with Jesus of Nazareth, but I suppose that is relative (aesthetic value).
Mae wrote:Quote from: Kevron88If the universe it proven to be eternal or if the bones of Jesus were discovered that would prove Christianity false
Neither of these would prove Christianity false.
You're one hell of a believer (no pun intended lol) I would think that both of those conclusions (if proven) would demonstrably destroy Christianity.
Jesus' bones would clearly demonstrate that he was not raised bodily and therefore Christianity is in vain. An eternal universe would supercede God or His necessity (I would think anyway).
Obviously lancia would disagree with me concerning Hell, etc but that is another discussion.
The initial odds that Richard Carrier exists are – let’s be generous – a hundred to one in favor of the proposition.
Part of the definition of Richard Carrier is that he is supposed to be a scholar with a Ph. D. in History. He is also supposed to be relatively young, which makes him one of, say, 3,000 or so History Ph. D.s to have been minted in the past five years. These factors will become important as we proceed.
Now we throw some of the other factors into the mix. Richard Carrier (if he exists) is a Jesus mythicist, someone who disbelieves in the existence of Jesus of Nazareth as a real person in space and time. Of the 3,000 or so History Ph. D.s minted in the last five years, and bracketing Carrier for the moment so as not to beg any questions, how many are mythicists? It’s a pretty safe bet that the number is close to zero. Let’s be generous, however, and suppose that there are 30, all of them devout mythicists (though in secret, for fear of damaging their careers). But – and this is the point we must dwell on – if the internet atheist community wanted to create a superhero who could defeat the Christians by his superior credentials, would we not expect them to invest him with a doctorate in History and, at the same time, have him endorse, nay, vindicate, the mythicist position? Surely this is not very improbable, say, even odds (for the mythicist position is very well represented online). And that the internet atheists should invent such a character, though it might seem a bit far-fetched, is not really that unlikely, since all of history amply documents the human response to the felt need for superheroes. (Vide not only Egyptian and Greek mythology but also the Edda and The Avengers, due to be released in a couple of weeks.) Upon the whole, it seems safe to say that the probability of the invention of such a character is at least .1. At a conservative estimate, the likelihood ratio
P(Historian-myther-hero|Richard Carrier is not a real person)/P(Historian-myther-hero|Richard Carrier is a real person)
is therefore .1/(30/3,000), or 10 to 1.
But Richard Carrier is also supposed to be a “world renowned philosopher and historian” (according to the blurb on Why I am not a Christian). Problems now begin to crowd more thickly around the definition. How many History Ph. D.s are philosophers at all? Surely not very many. How many are world renowned philosophers, even though they have just obtained the Ph. D.? The percentages are vanishing; they probability cannot sensibly be estimated at greater than 0.0001. But this would be a very useful accomplishment to add to the credentials of a historian-myther-hero, if he were an invented character. Let us suppose the probability to be merely 0.1 (though it should probably be higher), and we get the likelihood ratio:
P(World-renowned philosopher|Richard Carrier is not a real person & Historian-myther-hero)/P(World-renowned philosopher|Richard Carrier is a real person & Historian-myther-hero)
= 0.1/0.0001, or 1000 to 1.
We can go further. This world-renowned philosopher-historian-myther-hero is also a mathematician. Given historians’ well-known disdain for mathematical methods, the probability of this if Carrier is a real person is low, though perhaps not so drastically low as it would be if our hero were not also a philosopher, since perhaps as many as ten percent of all philosophers can and do use mathematical methods from time to time. Call the conditional probability of this detail, given the reality of Carrier and all of the other factors considered thus far, 0.05. But the mythic Carrier would only be enhanced by adding mathematical abilities to his other powers; it is at least even money that, if he is entirely mythical, this additional qualification would be tacked onto his resume. However, so as not to overestimate the probability, let us reduce the estimate to:
P(Mathematician||Richard Carrier is not a real person & Historian-myther-hero & World-renowned philosopher)/P(Mathematician|Richard Carrier is a real person & Historian-myther-hero & World-renowned philosopher)
= 0.2/0.05, or 4 to 1.
Putting these factors together, we have to weigh odds of 100 to 1 for Carrier’s reality against the combination of other factors, which tip the scales at 40,000 to 1 against. These considerations alone leave us with odds of 400 to 1 against, or a probability just a bit in excess of .9975 that Richard Carrier is not a real person.
We might go on in this vein for quite some time, noting further incongruities in the Carrier myth. How many trained historians would misread Plutarch’s “On Isis and Osiris” 19.358b as declaring Osiris’s physical resurrection from the dead here on earth? How many mathematicians would bungle basic probability calculations? How many philosophers, world-renowned or otherwise, would endorse the position that the laws of logic “obviously” derive from the laws of physics? Yet such blunders are what we might well expect to crop up as the community feigning Carrier’s existence attempted to demonstrate his expertise in one field after another.
So the calculation given above seriously underestimates the probabilities in the case. Almost certainly, by strict Bayesian reasoning, Richard Carrier does not exist.
And yet, I venture to predict that the vast majority of Carrier-believers will pay no attention whatsoever to Bayesian reasoning when it is applied rigorously to conclusions that they hold sacred.
Reflecting on this compelling expose, a number of commenters realised that the evidence had been staring them in the face the whole time. As Calum noted, perhaps Tim was being much too “generous” in his assessment of prior probability here:There’s no way I use “Richard Carrier did it” as an explanation 1 time in every 100. I hardly ever use “Richard Carrier did it” as an explanation – in fact, I’m not convinced I’ve ever used it as an explanation. I therefore assign the prior probability of Richard Carrier’s existence the value of 0, because of this flawless and universally accepted rule for generating priors.
Reflecting on his experience – or lack thereof – with people who have met Carrier in person, David realised:I have talked to people who claim to have met Carrier. But they are part of the atheist community, and their “faith testimonies” should therefore be discounted as cognitive dissonance arising from their expectation of meeting Carrier, and then being disappointed.
Another member of the rapidly growing Carrier-mythicist community, Sam quotes someone else in that community as an authoritative source, noting:I think David [last name removed] has a good point. It explains why so many people talk about Richard Carrier as if he existed. Talking about him, and convincing other people of his existence, strengthens their faith. That’s how cognitive dissonance works. Such is their desire to convince others that they even write pseudonymous books in his name.
Dr McGrew agrees, and draws our attention to factors that Carrier-literalists seem never to have considered:We may also be underestimating the percentage of them who are schizotypal and thus naturally prone to hallucination. Through the psychological phenomena of suggestion, anchoring, and memory contamination, any one of these conditions in one person could have precipitated experiences under the same or other conditions in anyone else similarly predisposed. uote>
Of course, if a remarkable figure like “Richard Carrier,” expert in multiple fields and a world renown philosopher existed, we can be certain that world historians at the time when Carrier achieved world renown might have at least heard of him. And yet, as David notes, this is not the case:I just looked through the indexes of five major historical works that cover modern times: Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, Nicholas Riasanvosky’s A History of Russia, David Landes’ The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, and Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Note that Carrier, if so important and universal a polymath existed, would surely have been noticed by an competent historian, whatever else they happened to be writing about! And surely Carrier is part of “nearly everything,” so Bryson in particular could be counted on to write extensively about his early childhood, school classmates, pets, and his wise aphorisms and parables, and his wondrous works.
Yet remarkably, not a single one of these contemporary biographers so much as mention Richard Carrier! (Though two mention a “Jimmy Carter,” which apologists might seize on as a possible corruption of some sort, but I think we can rule that out.) I’m not one to casually abuse the Argument from Silence, but if every it were applicable, surely it is in this case.
But maybe none of this really counts as criticism after all. Maybe all of this really points to the true heart of Carrianity. Maybe it’s not about some guy who suddenly shot to super-stardom and world renown because of his obvious competence, devastating Christians with is powerful arguments that nobody has ever encountered before. Maybe Neil is right:Guys, I think you’re missing the point. What really matters is the ‘Carrier of faith’ regardless of what we think about the ‘Carrier of history’.
AmenP.S. Tim McGrew made me promise to tell the reader that his short article was written in a whimsical spirit for fun. But given the historian’s “principle of embarrassment,” this is just what you’d expect me to tell you as a supporter of the Carrier-myth thesis if it was really a serious one after all!
My logic with that is simply that, if Reincarnation is true, then one basically has an infinite regress of past events and if that is certainly true then we need a universe for the past events to occur in. This brings up ultimately the question of an eternal universe, or a temporal and finite universe. There is no (to my mind and observation) evidence of eternal/infinite universe. Oddly, I figured nothing physical in nature (as the Universe is) could be 'eternal' (hence heat death)
neilfrompta wrote: You forgot the Jews from Ethopia.
For any Jew who is looking for proof of miracles they need only to look at the state of Israel.
Neil I think I first came across that quote in one of Josh McDowell's books lol. I thought it was very interesting when reflecting on it and the History of the Jewish people.
Given classical theology's definition of God, and the honest skeptic's and agnostic's position, I do ask, is (or would) it at least be possible that God could have caused the BB ex nihilo?
I watched the video and at approx. 0:18 she mentions "the potential" which is odd as I hear it. By "odd" I mean I am personally confused because what gives as far as potentiality is concerned when there is literally nothing that exists to have such potential? I also find it extremely difficult to perceive a Multiverse coming from absolutely ex nihilo. My mind (which isn't the greatest lol) can only make logical sense of such an event with a first cause or event that would then cause the succeeding Multiverses. Perhaps some of you can make sense of it, which is the fun and interesting challenge in any event.