Asked in PhysicsPhilosophy and Philosophers
Why is there something instead of nothing?
June 11, 2011 5:02PM
That is a great question and one human-kind have been trying to answer for as long as can be remembered. Every culture has its own concept of Creation and is usually based on having faith in a Supreme Deity, sometimes called God. As far as Western science, the closest thing that addresses this question is the Big Bang Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and Superstring Theory. None of these mentioned faiths and theories actually answer the question of why there is something instead of nothing because there really is no way for us to know.
If we try and think back to the beginning, going backwards towards infinity, it would make sense that any "something" would trace back to a time when that "something" didn't exist. But then we are faced with the problem of how that "something" could be created out of "nothing."
Even if we think of God creating everything, then we could ask, "If God is a something, then what was there before God? Was there nothing?"
Some people have tried to use imaginative ways of trying to visualize things that are not easily understood by us. My favorite is a novel by Edwin Abbott published in 1884 called Flatland; a romance of many dimensions. It shows how there can be things that are difficult for us to imagine, yet still exist, like something instead of nothing.
Second author here.
I don't think the first answer was very helpful.... it's kind of like the people who use a synonym to describe what something is. It just restates the question in an answer-like fashion.
Why should "nothing" be intrinsic? That is as much a baseless assertion as saying "something" is intrinsic, except we are here, so we know it must be true that existence is intrinsic to the universe.
As far as science is concerned, it seems that everyone is staring at a ruler (with a definitive "length") with the present at one end and the "big bang" at the beginning. They go further to say that time itself did not exist prior to the big bang. The argument would be that non-existence never occurred because the "occurrence" of non-existence would require time. This is the subtle question that many people take their logic and place a deity into the equation to ease their confusion. However, that only complicates the question further and is an intellectual culdesac.
That actually seems like a plausible answer at first, but i refuse to accept the notion that existence "began" at a starting point. In other words, there is either no starting point or there is no cause. To say there is both a starting point and a cause is, in my opinion, ludicrous. A causeless existence to have a starting point on a time line, that is. For something to be causeless, it must also be timeless.
The very idea of a "first cause" is a contradiction. A causeless cause? We must, for this question, abandon the idea of causality as an innate property of the universe. All is flux, not ending nor beginning. That is my answer.
Why is there something instead of nothing --- ---Mathematics, existence, and the universe.
Mathematics is not just our invention to describe and define nature. Mathematical Law is
nature! Mathematics describes the material world, and Mathematic Law is the material world. What man invented was a method of symbolic understanding of the workings of nature.
I am not a mathematical expert, but I am very intrigued by mathematics and the wonderful explanations it has revealed of our material universe.
My thinking of mathematical law and the universe is perhaps more philosophic than mathematical. I am not presenting a discussion of what the laws of nature and mathematics are. It is only about how it might affect the universes existence as a whole, and not of what goes on within the universe.
I am proposing a mental exercise, and a philosophic wrinkle that I have not heard before!
Let us propose a hypothetical exercise. -- Let's ignore the entropic principle and remove our mental capacity from nature and the material world, to outside the universe into the non existence of existence. This of course, may be considered absurd, because we are of nature and the material world. Still let's consider what might be our evaluation of existence under these conditions.
Now suppose our hypothetical mentality was checking out existence, or in this case, non existence before the big bang.
The question we now pose, is there still mathematical law out here in the nonexistence void?
Our reasoning, back here inside the material universe about this above question, might pose two scenarios, and two material world answers. -----
#1. No, there is no mathematical law (before?) the " big bang", (before?) existence, and therefore I think a logical conclusion would be, the big bang could not have happened. There was no reason for it to happen.
#2. Yes. there was mathematical law (before?) existence, and that allowed the big bang to happen.
Now following up on #2, I guess I would have to conclude that mathematical law, just is! - It is only a concept.- Can concepts exist outside material reality, in effect outside the universe, (in?) non existence??
This may not be very appetizing to some, who might say. Where did it come from? -- Did it have to come from anywhere? It is just mathematical law, a concept, not a material thing.
Still we might also say, what happened (before?) the big bang? Nothing! With out a material universe there is no time. With out time there is no before, which also seems to lead to a further conclusion that the universe has always existed.
Let's look at it from another hypothetical view. -- Suppose we could invent, say a special, hypothetical hologram or an exotic bubble, a container that contained only "non existence". (probably really really small-- Then we would insert into this container, all and only, mathematical law. Now the moment we inserted all mathematical law into this "hologram" we would have just started a universe at it's Big Bang! ---- (Perhaps you should not do this at home)! -- It seems also this scenario says, non existence is non existencetant. this concept of mathematical law is the reason? ------Well, -- Am I convinced --??
Another problem that some people seem to have, is reconciling the fact that natures mathematical law itself, can be those material hard things like rocks, flesh, molecules and even light, gravity waves -- etc.
Scientific studies of the material world using our invention of symbolic mathematics to understand mathematical law and nature, have lead us, using that math, Quantum Physics, etc, to continually reduce particles down into ever smaller particles. Will we break particles so far down that they become non definable entities, in effect just mathematical concepts. Are we, the universe, just the function of mathematical concepts? ------Perhaps we are! ---
OK.. so i was introduced to this question for the first time yesterday and after 10 hours this is what i came up with.
Science tells us that everything in the universe is made up of tiny pieces or particles (thank you grade 10 science) that are always moving. There is constant motion all around us. So here you go...
QUESTION - Why is there something rather than nothing?
ANSWER - Because it has yet to be moved, displaced, transformed or otherwise to reveal nothing.
Reword the Question.
Q - Why is there someone instead of no one?
A - Because he's still waiting for the bus.
"People who are smart, people who understand everything never get anything." - Winnie the Pooh