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I have three parts in this little essay. I enjoy hashing out these thoughts, and hope you find it interesting.
1. The something from nothing myth.
2. “Old” metaphysics asks, “Why does matter or anything exist in the first place?”
3. The nature of nothingness.
1. The basic idea is that Something can come from nothing.
This is a widespread, popular conception occurs in many theories. I conclude it is not scientific, and therefore misleads people. It is not scientific, it is religious. The idea that something can arise from nothingness may be conceived of as a basic dualistic, religious idea.
Several related ideas, derived from it.
— Spontaneous generation.
— the Big Bang in cosmology.
— the theory of Evolution.
The something from nothing idea is a myth, a way for people to answer questions about the universe.
How can there be an effect without a cause? That is magic or supernaturalism.
Here are a few comments on each of the myths listed above.
It was thought for thousands of years that life, for example mold, could arise from non-living substances due to a vital heat. This is not precisely the something from nothing thesis, but close. Eventually, Pasteur proved that the air is full of microbes that cause living things to grow.
The Big Bang
This is the idea that all matter in the universe exploded at the beginning of time. It is supposed to have appeared from nowhere. It is said that all matter was condensed into a point. But a point is an abstract mathematical idea, not a physical entity.
The idea of the Big Bang is impossible to prove, we can only philosophize about it. See my other essay on this topic. The emptiness of space actually contains matter, it is not nothing.
The nothingness problem is discussed at length in this article: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nothingness/
If nothing existed before the Big Bang, what caused it? It is debatable that God, or Nature, or the universe, came from nothing. That would be a dualistic God. But, if God or Nature is eternal in time (pantheism), then it had no beginning from whence it could have come. In this case, the something from nothing theory would not apply.
In the case of the theory of evolution, we have the same conditions as with the Big Bang theory. In discussions about evolution, the original cause of all things is rarely mentioned. Evolution supposes that matter came from nowhere, that the Big Bang occurred, and everything we see evolved from it. This is the something from nothing fallacy.
2. “Old” Metaphysics–definition and discussion
I want to use the term ontology, but it is problematic. There seems to be many definitions. Metaphysics isn’t much better. I am referring to the philosophical idea of existence–first causes of things. Also called natural theology.
“Why does matter or anything exist in the first place?” Did it come out of nothing?
I think there are religious answers, but I can’t find a scientific answer. Therefore I find myself in the philosophy department.
I also ask, “Does existence imply some kind of meaningfulness? Isn’t the idea of meaning a human construct?” Because meaningfulness requires a mind to evaluate it, right? Is there a mind in outer space that evaluates the cosmos as meaningful? If not, then is the cosmos meaningless? Just asking.
The idea of mind in the cosmos is fascinating subject, but enough for now.
I think, many books have been written on these questions. Of course there are religious answers.
But I’m asking for scientific answers, in this case, aside from religious doctrines.
To come to a conclusion here, in case you don’t know, I hold to the pantheistic ideas, that capital “N” Nature can be called God because it is eternal, substance, and it did not arise from nothingness. I refer you to Spinoza’s Ethics. This is the logical approach.
I know, I have been all over the map in this writing, and I hope this tickles your brain.
3. The nature of nothingness.
Let us say that nothingness is merely an abstract concept, meaning a lack of anything. I think it is congruent with zero.
But matter is physical, it is substance, it is something.
We cannot observe nothingness, since we are physical and our ability to perceive depends upon the existence of a physical substance to be perceived. Nothingness would be non-physical, since it contains no thing.
We can conceive of nothingness in our minds, but it is not physical.
It is axiomatic that nothingness and something cannot co-exist, they would be mutually exclusive.
I know that something exists, for the same reason that cogito ergo sum, I know that I exist.
Therefore, nothingness does not exist physically.
Therefore, the universe did not arise from nothingness.
Therefore, either the universe arose from something, or it did not arise.
It is obvious that the universe exists, therefore it arose from something.
What that something is, is another line of philosophy.
What do you think?