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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Why is there Something rather than Nothing" is "just the kind of question that we will be stuck with when we have a final theory [of physics]. … We will be left facing the irreducible mystery because whatever our theory is, no matter how mathematically consistent and logically consistent the theory is, there will always be the alternative that, well, perhaps there could have been nothing at all." In modern physics, Weinberg explains, "the idea of empty space without anything at all, without fields, is inconsistent with the principles of quantum mechanics-[because] the [Heisenberg] uncertainty principle doesn't allow a condition of empty space where fields are zero and unchanging." But why, then, do we have quantum mechanics in the first place, with its fields and probabilities and ways of making things happen? "Exactly!" Weinberg says. "[Quantum mechanics] doesn't answer the question, 'Why do we live in a world governed by these laws?'… And we will never have an answer to that." "Does that bother you?" I ask. "Yes," Weinberg says wistfully. "I would like to have an answer to everything, but I've gotten used to the fact that I won't." Here's how I see it: The primary questions people pose-Why the universe? Does God exist?-are important, sure, but they are not bedrock fundamental. "Why anything at all?" is the ultimate question.
Does the argument below sound convincing?

Why there is something rather than nothing?

Think of all the possible ways that the world might be, down to every detail. There are infinitely many such possible ways. All these ways seem to be equally probable-which means that the probability of any one of these infinite possibilities actually occurring seems to be zero, and yet one of them happened. "Now, there's only one way for there to be Nothing, right?" There are no variants in Nothing; there being Nothing at all is a single state of affairs. And it's a total state of affairs; that is, it settles everything-every possible proposition has its truth value settled, true or false, usually false, by there being Nothing. So if Nothing is one way for reality to be, and if the total number of ways for reality to be are infinite, and if all such infinite ways are equally probable so that the probability of any one of them is [essentially] zero, then the probability of 'there being Nothing' is also [essentially] zero." Because there are an infinite number of potential worlds, each specific world would have a zero probability of existing, and because Nothing is only one of these potential worlds-there can be only one kind of Nothing-the probabilily of Nothing existing is zero.
Why is there something rather than nothing?
http://www.scienceandreligiontoday.com/2009/06/05/why-is-there-something-rather-than-nothing/
 

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I would reject this argument because it confuses the questions of existence and essence.

Mixing non-being with other possiblities for being amounts to qualifying non-being as one possility of being, which is self contradictory.
 

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There is no such thing as nothing to me. Humans only define nothing to things they cannot understand or perceive. For example, based on the human eye sight, if someone were to ask you "do you have something in your hand?", and your hand being empty, you would say, "nothing is in my hand".

The "nothing" there you are defining as "nothing" based on your limited abilities to see. Now if you were to put your hand under a microscope and someone were to ask you, "is there something in your hand?" you would say, "yes, I see something there moving." So the nothing changes along with the perspective. Further more, the inside of your hand is not nothing because the hand exists. If I want to get philosophical, "nothing" cannot exist if it is inside something.

So "nothing" is a made up word that we have learned to label it as a "law" to our reality.

Coincidentally, I was reading today about electricity and how there is an "atom" which consists of "electrons", "protons", and "neutrons" . So in a way, electricity is being perceived as coming from "nothing" too. Our abilities to see that phenomena gave it labels and names and applied it to math. So the atoms, electrons, neutrons, and protons are believe to be born from "nothing" too.

The question of "Why anything at all? Is rooted in believing there is nothing when we don't know if there is nothing at all. IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mixing non-being with other possiblities for being amounts to qualifying non-being as one possility of being, which is self contradictory.
I don't think it's self-contradictory. In mathematics we speak of an empty set versus a set with n elements/objects in it. But I'm not sure if nothingness is the same as the empty set because an empty set isn't really nothing. It's kind of like talking about an empty box with nothing inside but the box is still there.

Some argue that the argument fails because of problem of multiple nothings. I just find the idea of an uncreated/uncaused something (e.g. our universe) strange, unless there's some logical reason for it. And if there was a moment of creation, it seems one can always ask what the cause was ad infinitum.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nothingness/
 

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Why there is something rather than nothing?

Think of all the possible ways that the world might be, down to every detail. There are infinitely many such possible ways. All these ways seem to be equally probable-which means that the probability of any one of these infinite possibilities actually occurring seems to be zero, and yet one of them happened. "Now, there's only one way for there to be Nothing, right?" There are no variants in Nothing; there being Nothing at all is a single state of affairs. And it's a total state of affairs; that is, it settles everything-every possible proposition has its truth value settled, true or false, usually false, by there being Nothing. So if Nothing is one way for reality to be, and if the total number of ways for reality to be are infinite, and if all such infinite ways are equally probable so that the probability of any one of them is [essentially] zero, then the probability of 'there being Nothing' is also [essentially] zero." Because there are an infinite number of potential worlds, each specific world would have a zero probability of existing, and because Nothing is only one of these potential worlds-there can be only one kind of Nothing-the probabilily of Nothing existing is zero.

[URL]http://www.scienceandreligiontoday.com/2009/06/05/why-is-there-something-rather-than-nothing/[/URL]
Pretty interesting, but there are a lot of premises there. I don't think I have a grip on the sentence 'there are no variants in nothing', because I doubt that our folk concept 'nothing' can be used meaningfully in cosmological theorizing of this sort. This also brings in possible worlds, which seems to me to often to lead to faulty metaphysics.

Again, interesting stuff, but I'm inclined to think that the original question is a pseudo-question. Doesn't mean it isn't worth thinking about though, because someone may yet come up with a satisfactory answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Pretty interesting, but there are a lot of premises there. I don't think I have a grip on the sentence 'there are no variants in nothing', because I doubt that our folk concept 'nothing' can be used meaningfully in cosmological theorizing of this sort.
He is arguing that if you have a lottery with an infinite number of combinations , there is only 1 number that corresponds to nothingness (the empty set). The chances of picking that number among all the others is essentially 0, so that isn't going to happen. I guess he's trying to say that the universe exists because existence is far more probable than non-existence.

"We can use the axiom of extensionality to show that there is only one empty set. Since it is unique we can name it. It is called the empty set (denoted by { } or )."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom_of_the_empty_set
 

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He is arguing that if you have a lottery with an infinite number of combinations , there is only 1 number that corresponds to nothingness (the empty set). The chances of picking that number among all the others is essentially 0, so that isn't going to happen. I guess he's trying to say that the universe exists because existence is far more probable than non-existence.

"We can use the axiom of extensionality to show that there is only one empty set. Since it is unique we can name it. It is called the empty set (denoted by { } or )."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom_of_the_empty_set
That helps.
 

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Why don't you try Heidegger... That guy was obsessed about being and nothingness. Of course he's a philosopher, not scientist, so his work might seem kind of pointless. Also, he's somewhat snobbish and very convoluted.
 

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I always believed the question "Why there is something rather than nothing?" could easily be answered by "because there is something" meaning if there was nothing at first the question would not exist but since there is something the question exist with it. its a bit confusing but its perfect for me.
 

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I'v always thought, looking at how the world and natural life is evolving, that universe isn't eternal. Now, if it had a start, it had to be a cause, which was uncaused itself.
"Big bang" and other scientific theories fail here because every physical effect has a cause.
 

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We can only ask this question because we are here. If nothing existed, the logical question would be "why isn't there something?", only there would be no one around to ask it.
If there were no-one around to ask it, there would be no thought to generate questions, so the question would not exist either.
 

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A fundamental law of physics is that matter can be neither created nor destroyed. If it can not be created, then why is there anything at all?
My guess is that there's some unobserved law that's behind this. Of course we're going to question what creates that law even then.

The key of this universe is probably going to be pretty complex in order to terminate that sort of pattern and whatnot.
 

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Aldarium has been questioning the thread from a strong anthropological view, which is wrong. I won't go into why, but I will link a youtube video going into why if a universe comes from nothing, god could not have caused the Universe period because of how we define causal relationships.
When faced with an unknown you don't go to an assertion. It's as simple as that.
Aldarium said:
If it had a start, it had to have a cause that was itself uncaused
Big assertion there.
Premise 1. The Universe has a cause.
Premise 2. That cause is God. (in your case THE catholic god, not a vague concept of God like Einstein uses)
Premise 3. God is uncausal.
Conclusion: God Caused the Universe to exist.

Now I can say that your conclusion is a premise, that it's the fallacy called begging the question, and can be dismissed because it makes for a circular argument, and circular arguments can have no bearing on reality.

I would say that the Universe itself is a big bang interpretation of an at the core steady state universe, in that there is always something, be it before this Universe or after it.
Theories like multiverse theory, many worlds theory etc support this idea of an infinite and absurd state governed by probablities itself not governed by time.
 

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Aldarium has been questioning the thread from a strong anthropological view, which is wrong. I won't go into why, but I will link a youtube video going into why if a universe comes from nothing, god could not have caused the Universe period because of how we define causal relationships.
When faced with an unknown you don't go to an assertion. It's as simple as that.

Big assertion there.
Premise 1. The Universe has a cause.
Premise 2. That cause is God. (in your case THE catholic god, not a vague concept of God like Einstein uses)
Premise 3. God is uncausal.
Conclusion: God Caused the Universe to exist.

Now I can say that your conclusion is a premise, that it's the fallacy called begging the question, and can be dismissed because it makes for a circular argument, and circular arguments can have no bearing on reality.

I would say that the Universe itself is a big bang interpretation of an at the core steady state universe, in that there is always something, be it before this Universe or after it.
Theories like multiverse theory, many worlds theory etc support this idea of an infinite and absurd state governed by probablities itself not governed by time.
A conclusion is a conclusion. It can be supported adequatly or inadequatly by the premisses, but it's still a conclusion.

I would formulate my argument like this:

Premisses
1. Nature is in constant change. Just like rocks, plants, animals and humans, it seems logical to think that the Cosmos as a whole also had a generation and will undergo a corruption.
2. No effect is uncaused in the physical world.
3. By going back in the chain of causality, we must come to an uncaused cause, else the causality chain would be infinite, and thus the world would be eternal.

Conclusion
Therefore, we can deduce a supernatural intervention.

Care to tell me where you think this argument is weak?
 

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A conclusion is a conclusion. It can be supported adequatly or inadequatly by the premisses, but it's still a conclusion.

I would formulate my argument like this:

Premisses
1. Nature is in constant change. Just like rocks, plants, animals and humans, it seems logical to think that the Cosmos as a whole also had ta generation and will undergo a corruption.
2. No effect is uncaused in the physical world.
3. By going back in the chain of causality, we must come to an uncaused cause, else the causality chain would be infinite, and thus the world would be eternal.

Conclusion
Therefore, we can deduce a supernatural intervention.
There are two conclusions. One is supernatural intervention, but that begs the question what is god? A blanket statement that he is uncausal is not enough, you do have to back up the god assertion with something. Otherwise, it renders the god argument meaningless.
The other is that some things don't have logical explanations, in terms of causality. We don't know anything about non-causal relations, how can we attempt to argue so when there is no evidence of this non-causal demon?

Let me put it this way. Quantum mechanics dictates the universe is non deterministic, and chaos theory exacerbates this. The definition of non-deterministic is that no one, not an outside observer, not the particles themselves, not us can predict the EXACT future given we know exact given starting conditions.
This erodes God as religion portrays him as he is omnipotent, and omniscient.
The only way you can bring God into the debate is if you use god similar to as how Albert Einstein did.
Einstein said:
I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism, but admire even more his contributions to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and the body as one, not two separate things.
In this sense, god can be anything from a multiverse, to a blanket term for what was before the big bang. It does not allow for specific and literal interpretations based on thousands of years old texts.
 

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There are two conclusions. One is supernatural intervention, but that begs the question what is god? A blanket statement that he is uncausal is not enough, you do have to back up the god assertion with something. Otherwise, it renders the god argument meaningless.
The other is that some things don't have logical explanations, in terms of causality. We don't know anything about non-causal relations, how can we attempt to argue so when there is no evidence of this non-causal demon?

Let me put it this way. Quantum mechanics dictates the universe is non deterministic, and chaos theory exacerbates this. The definition of non-deterministic is that no one, not an outside observer, not the particles themselves, not us can predict the EXACT future given we know exact given starting conditions.
This erodes God as religion portrays him as he is omnipotent, and omniscient.
The only way you can bring God into the debate is if you use god similar to as how Albert Einstein did.

In this sense, god can be anything from a multiverse, to a blanket term for what was before the big bang. It does not allow for specific and literal interpretations based on thousands of years old texts.
My argument did not precise what was God, or even if it was a God. The conclusion was simply "a supernatural intervention". So you cannot accuse me of begging the question on this point.

Regarding Quantum mechanics and Chaos theory, you are confusing two things: predictability and determinism. Events may be very hard to predict based on our current knowledge and the vast amount of possible results given a set of conditions, and still be determined.

Unless you believe the universe has always existed (which is very unlikely), the necessecity of an uncaused cause imposes itself logically.
 
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