I'm going to use the term God. If you find yourself dragging your religious preconceptions into this as a consequence of this label, feel free to substitute the word "Reality" where you see the word "God". I do this because, to my mind, they are describing the same thing using different technical languages that come from different knowledge systems, and I hope to provoke others to look at them the same way.
The universe can be understood in terms of the complexity of the arrangement of God's substance.
The singularity is the ultimate victory of Gravity and Entropy
The big bang is the ultimate failure of Gravity and Entropy
The creation of this universe is the eruption of the substance of God into an increasingly complex pattern. The limits of this complexity are imposed by, gravity, entropy and the amount of God. These limits will cause the complexity of the pattern to peak, and the complexity will degenerate back into simplicity, which will be pulled back into a singular state.
These perspectives as I've articulated them are written from the observing position of a living creature within the multiverse and bound by time.
From the position of an imagined observer outside of God, and thus outside of time, this would look very different.
To model this in your mind, it may be helpful to imagine the universe as a soap bubble being blown from a wand. The force of the big bang is like the air being blown at the soap film.
As this force causes the soap film to erupt out of a two dimensional plane into a three dimensional sphere, there are other forces at work that keep the soap film from simply disintegrating.
By acting in opposition to this "creative wind", these forces maintain the coherency of the soap film, allowing it to be a bubble with a beautiful complex pattern rather than simply dust.
However, from a perspective inside the soap film, these forces would look like the forces of entropy and gravity look to us. They drag us back towards the simplicity of death, just as the surface tension in the soap film drags the film back towards the state of being a plane.
This model makes an interesting segue into contemplation of the contrast between the infinite model of the universe and the finite model of the universe.
I believe the evidence does not support the perspective that we live in an infinitely expanding universe, because such a model would look like the soap film being blown into dust by the creative wind rather than assembling itself into the complex patterns that we see around us.
Some other interesting things to consider when looking at this model from the perspective of the outside observer watching the soap bubble of our universe being blown:
Does the ending of the creative wind cause the soap bubble to fall back into a simple plane, and have all it's complexity vanish as though it never was?
Does the creative wind cause the soap bubble to resolve into a sphere and blow off the wand?
Does the soap bubble resolve into a sphere but remain stuck to the wand?
If the observer sees the soap bubble fall back into a simple plane, that would imply that time resides outside the universe. This isn't really consistent with what we've observed about relativity.
If the creative wind causes the soap bubble to resolve into a sphere and blow off the wand, that would imply that the universe either is in the process of being created by some sort of God and cast away, or it already has been. This also implies that time resides outside the universe.
The model in which the soap bubble resolves into a sphere but remains stuck on the wand is the model that is consistent with relativity. It is the model in which the definition of time is permitted to remain relative to this universe.
In this model, the imaginary observer outside of the universe does not see any dynamic action in time because, residing outside the universe, there is no capacity to relate, and thus, they see the soap bubble in its entirety, at all of its "times".
Following this line of reasoning, the universe in its complex state and the universe in its simple state is something that can only be expressed in terms of time,
How can I verify this?
Not the right question
How might I make this a more useful predictive tool to govern behavior than others who have espoused similar views before me and failed to do so?
I might use the model to imply useful and previously unrecognized boundaries between what is local and what is global in scope in terms of the "laws of nature" and thus find new "patterns of reality" by implication or learn how to break "laws of nature" that were previously considered inviolate by moving beyond the scope of their pattern.
I might use the model to help people recognize the difference between knowledge systems derived from experimentation and knowledge systems derived from deduction, allowing people to abandon the false assurance of faulty tools and work towards reconciling the conflict between science and religion.
I wonder if Paul Davies would consider this to be #3 or #5?
I draw comfort from the fact that I am not really a 3 dimensional object transforming and translating. I am actually a 4 dimensional object experiencing becoming. I have a boundary on the top of my head, and on the soles of my feet. I have a boundary at the surface of my chest, and at the surface of my back. I have a boundary on my left side, and on my right. And, finally, I have a boundary at my birth and at my death. I will never cease, but will exist forever within these 4 axis. At the time of my death, I will finally consciously know myself in my entirety. I consider that something to look forward to.