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Why Is There Something (the Universe etc) rather than Nothing ?


The Universe exists, and yet there is a mystery regarding this: WHY? Why does the Universe exist, rather than there being just "nothing"?, or to put it another way: Why is there SOMETHING rather than NOTHING? It's a question which has puzzled philosophers for many centuries, and I have even heard it said "Science can't solve it". Yet, here it is, solved. (best to read the whole thing)

Early historical attempts at answering the question generally involved some mythology, for example "It exists because God created it". Of course that might appear to explain the existence of the world, but it certainly doesn't answer "Why is there Something rather than Nothing", because it then produces "Who created God?" and even if you neglect the idea that some other fiendish deity created God, and try to pretend that the hypothetical deity had existed forever previously, it still doesn't answer the question WHY?

Similarly, supposedly serious scientific explanations are often quoted, for example "It started with the BIG BANG", which is all very well at explaining HOW all that stuff ended up spread about, but it's still no good at explaining WHY, although it is supposed to simplify it a bit.

We're still left with the big question of Why there exists something (the universe, etc) rather than nothing, and it seems to defy explanation. However, there is a way of thinking about it which sheds considerable light on the whole matter. The first thing to do is to consider what is meant by "nothing". If, as an alternative to there being something, there was normal nothing, ie empty space but with no matter in it, then how big would it be? And, regardless of the size of the space, even if there were no volumetric space, would the nothingness have Laws of Physics? I would suggest that if the Nothing proposed has some laws of physics maintaining it as nothing forever, then it's not a proper nothing, and it has some initial laws of physics, and that is Something! Therefore it wouldn't count as a True Nothing.

So, when someone asks "Why is there Something rather than Nothing?", the type of Nothing which should really be considered is True Nothing, where there is no matter, no space, and no laws of physics of any sort. However, there's a problem with that, because if there are no laws of physics saying that it shall remain as nothing because it started out as nothing, then there's no reason for it to remain like that, and quite quickly there exists SOMETHING!

Some of the modern speculation about the cosmology includes the idea that if there had initially been absolutely nothing, then it would be inherently unstable, and then there's be a big something very quickly, and that might just happen to be the Big Bang.

You can observe this yourself by getting a bottle of fizzy lemonade pop soda stuff and looking into it deeply as if it was a crystal ball, and you see it's quite stable and there's "nothing", and then you open the top, and bubbles suddenly come from nowhere. They just APPEAR. No-one created them, and they didn't come from themselves, and they weren't around forever previously. They came into being from nothing, because the nothingness became unstable.

Another way to observe the inherent instability which is associated with a state of "nothing", is to sit in a quiet place and empty your mind of any thoughts, and see how long the mental nothingness lasts. Well, generally not long! Unless you've been sedated, it's very likely that thoughts will naturally spring to life from nothing. Experimental results vary from one person to another, but a bright person will typically have thoughts springing up from nothing very quickly.

It has also been observed in scientific experiments, the emptiness of vacuo does not remain empty. Instead, particles spontaneously come into being. Typically, a pair of particles (a particle and its opposite) suddenly appear from nowhere, and then cancel out.

These are just a few of the situations which show how "nothing" isn't a stable state for things to be in. Once you can see that, it becomes less believable that somehow there's an alternative to the Universe where there's nothing and it just goes on being nothing forever. As you run the simulation in your mind, you can see it doesn't stay that way. It just explodes!

Another quite different philosophical idea regarding the "something" and "nothing" question is seen in the fact that some things exist anyway, regardless. For example, some mathematical facts are true for all universes, and exist independent of the physical universe. For example, to take a simple example, PI (3.14159 etc) is the ratio of a circle circumference to its diameter, and it's true as a Euclidian Space concept. The physical universe (nor any deity which might have made it) can do nothing to change the value of PI. There are many other mathematical facts which exist regardless of the universe, and regardless of whether there exist any beings able to think about them. The concepts just "ARE".

In consideration of the fact that some mathematical concepts exist regardless of any physical space, it may be that the Universe is hypothetically possible because of the relationship of such concepts, and for those beings living in the universe, its reality would be indistinguishable from a hypothetical notion of it in mathematical space.

Another reason why The Universe would exist rather than not, is because the default state is not zero, or "nothing"; it's CHAOS. Even in ancient times it's been considered that Chaos was there in the beginning, and that other entities came from it. In more modern thinking, chaos has made a resurgence (chaos theory), and chaos has been shown to exist in places where it was previously thought not to exist, such as mathematics. The Mandelbrot Set, for example, exists mathematically, and it is an interesting and infinitely complex picture. It has no creator. It just IS. The Chaos which would exist instead of the Universe, would be chaotic, interesting, and would tend to have islands of stability, such as The Universe. Or to put it at a higher level, if there was a Cosmic Chaos which existed with random laws of physics in various random places within it, sooner or later an island of stability would come into existence which would be like the physical universe we observe, where it would seem to make sense, in as much as anything makes much sense at all.

A lesser question to "Why is there Something rather than Nothing?" is "Why is the Universe the way it is?". There are some clues to this in the book Just Six Numbers

Other questions answered at this site: Why does the Earth go round the way it does? , and what about Water going down plugholes?