The deepest question of all may be “Why is there something rather than nothing?
Here is my answer: Because there is “something”, “nothing” is impossible and not worth trying to envision or explain. This answer points to the real question: “Given that there is ‘something,’ how did it come to exist?”
Before I get to that question, I must say a few things about “nothing”. It is fatuous to suggest that “nothing” can be found in voids or vacuums in the universe. Such voids or vacuums — even if perfectly empty of matter-energy, and even if coterminous with the universe — would be part or all of the universe; that is, they would be part or all of “something”. “Something” would therefore exist. And if “something” exists — no matter how fleeting or minuscule — there is not “nothing”.
“Nothing” could not be “something” from which things have been subtracted; if it were, there would have been “something”. “Nothing” is not merely a void or a vast emptiness. “Nothing” is just nothing; any attempt to envision it or describe it is futile because “nothing” (as opposed to “something”) cannot be envisioned or described.
In any event, because there is “something” — and “nothing” is therefore impossible — philosophy should be concerned with the real question: “Given that there is ‘something’, how did it come to exist?” I have answered that question, to my own satisfaction, in “Existence and Creation.” Here is the succinct version:
- In the material universe, cause precedes effect.
- Accordingly, the material universe cannot be self-made. It must have a “starting point,” but the “starting point” cannot be in or of the material universe.
- The existence of the universe therefore implies a separate, uncaused cause.
That uncaused cause is not “nothing”. It is “something”. But it is a “something” that is beyond human comprehension. If it is impossible for humans to grasp the reality that underlies matter-energy — and I submit that it is impossible — why should humans be expected to understand the true nature of the uncaused cause of the universe? The failure to understand the uncaused cause does not negate it, any more than the failure to understand geometry negates the truth of the Pythagorean Theorem.
Atheism, Religion, and Science
The Limits of Science
Three Perspectives on Life: A Parable
Beware of Irrational Atheism
The Creation Model
The Thing about Science
Evolution and Religion
Words of Caution for Scientific Dogmatists
Science, Evolution, Religion, and Liberty
The Legality of Teaching Intelligent Design
Science, Logic, and God
Capitalism, Liberty, and Christianity
Is “Nothing” Possible?
Debunking “Scientific Objectivity”
Science’s Anti-Scientific Bent
Science, Axioms, and Economics
The Big Bang and Atheism
The Universe . . . Four Possibilities
Einstein, Science, and God
Atheism, Religion, and Science Redux
Pascal’s Wager, Morality, and the State
Evolution as God?
The Greatest Mystery
What Is Truth?
The Improbability of Us
A Digression about Probability and Existence
More about Probability and Existence
Existence and Creation
Probability, Existence, and Creation
The Atheism of the Gaps
Something from Nothing?