Debate:Why is there something rather than nothing?

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To Quote Douglas Adams, from The Salmon of Doubt:

"Whatever happens, happens. If in happening, something causes something else to happen, then something else happens. If in happening, something causes itself to happen again, it happens again."

--OfficerDibble 17:19, 16 April 2007 (EDT)

so you can ask "Why is there something rather than nothing?"? Jaques 17:38, 16 April 2007 (EDT)

Why something, rather than nothing', is intriguing. On one level, an unsatisfactory answer can be found in The Anthropic Principle; there is something because we are here to ask the question. However, that is just as unsatisfying as saying that god created everything. A more serious, but not less unsatisfying answer might actually be that it is impossible for 'nothing' to exist. All attempts to define or describe nothing lead us to something.

Why is the anthropic principle unsatisfactory? RaymondZ 09:58, 10 December 2012 (EST)

In science, the vaccuum of space is not empty; at the large scale, it is space contorted by gravitational fields, on the small scale it is quantum foam. Things pop in and out of existence, virtual pairs of particles are created and annhilated. Empty space it is not.

In mathematics, zero is not nothing; it is a number, which can be added, subtracted, multipled, and divided into but not by. It is the identity for addition and multiplication, and it is a placeholder in Hindu-Arabic Place-Value system. The empty set is a better contender for nothing, and the empty set might actually be empty, and contain nothing, but in creating a set containing nothing, we have created something. This might seem a play on words, but one of the ways that the natural numbers can be constructed is as follows:

Start with the empty set - {}; the cardinal number of this is zero. It has no members Now construct the set - { {} } (i.e. the set containing the empty set); the cardinal number of this set is 1; it has one member. Follow this up by constructing the set { {}, { {} } }; i.e the set containing the first two sets above, the empty set, and the set containing the empty set. Thsi has cardinal number three, because it has three members. ... and so on. In other words, we construct mathematics out of , well, quite literally, nothing.

Let your mind go blank. Think of Nothing. How can you? When you think of nothing, you need somewhere yo put it, it will have a form, a shape, even if it appears shape-less. It is something, even if it is a hole in something else. This may sound facetious, but it is inconceivable to think of nothing. As a concept it is one of those things that Douglas Adams (see above) calls recipreversexclusions - something which is defined as being anything other than itself.

We should take seriously the notion, not just that 'nature abhors a vaccuum', but that it is logically and physically impossible for nothing to exist. The phrase 'there exists nothing' is a contradiction in terms. Existence and Nothing are logically a pair of mutually exclusive ideas; 'nothing' might just turn out to be a self-contradictory notion.--CatWatcher 18:06, 16 April 2007 (EDT)

Right. There is no such thing as nothing. The act of philosophy is not a primary mental function, but an abstraction of the practical function which the human mind would have in regard to moving within, and manipulating, the physical world.PatternOfPersona 20:51, 4 July 2011 (EDT)

Nothing brings itself from non-being into being; therefore by something- St. Thomas Aquinas --jp 22:09, 6 May 2007 (EDT)

Because nothing is not a thingRebiu 22:52, 10 May 2007 (EDT)

Why? It's a meaningless question. It's not possible to ask "Why is there nothing?" because the question itself constitutes "something." Therefore, to ask "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is akin to simply asking "Why is there something?" With me so far?

Replace "something" with your favorite noun and the question remains the same. "Why is there blue? Why is there cold?" Why do you people insist on creating questions where there are none? --Eastfernstreet 15:03, 26 May 2007 (EDT)

"...that is just as unsatisfying as saying that god created everything. A more serious, but not less unsatisfying answer might actually be that it is impossible for 'nothing' to exist. All attempts to define or describe nothing lead us to something.". On the contrary, I find the idea that attempts to define/describe nothing fail as unconvincing, partly because the problem is likely that not being familiar with "nothing" simply makes it difficult for us to comprehend. But as far as definitions go, how about "nothing is the absence of anything". Furthermore, saying that "God created everything" is unsatisfying is merely an assertion that is not self-evident. I find it quite satisfying. What is so unsatisfying about it? I mean, if "unsatisfying" is the strongest argument that can be raised against God creating, there is no argument. Philip J. Rayment 09:55, 27 May 2007 (EDT)

A complex set of deeply implicit presupositions are within any personal perception of the 'unsatisfactoriness' of a philosophical position, such that 'unsatisfactory' is an overall description of the 'subjective' result. The problem, of course, is whether a given set of presuppositions is coherent. Many are not, but which are perceived as coherent by their vaguely understood results in their contrast to their favorite straw men.PatternOfPersona 21:02, 4 July 2011 (EDT)

I believe that the relationship between something and nothing is the same as the relationship between life and death. One's purpose is to create the other. There is such a thing as a healthy forest fire. It destroys dead and decaying trees-causing death-but out of the ashes healthy new saplings spring up, and continue the life of the forest.--JArneal 23:39, 16 May 2008 (EDT)

The moral, ethical, and philosophical decay of a population causes the congruent environments to become imbalance toward that population, so that, if the decay is too extreme, then destructive forces impose the death of both young and old alike. But, trees are just trees, so that the young are no more or less worthy than the old, and that, only by the failures of humans (congruent local or planet-wide) can their congruent trees be so diseased as to require their destruction by torrents of flood or fire.PatternOfPersona 21:23, 4 July 2011 (EDT)

The relationship between something and nothing is the same as the relationship between life and death, but not because one's purpose is to create the other. Rather, it's because the latter is the absence of the former. It is not the purpose of death or nothing to create life (that's impossible) and it's not the purpose of life or something to create death or nothing. Philip J. Rayment 00:43, 17 May 2008 (EDT)

If there was nothing, we simply wouldn't be here to observe it. -- LincolnShuddered 18:34, 30 September 2009

That answers how we know there's something, not why there's something. DavidE 12:47, 26 January 2012 (EST)


Why Not?

Underscoreb 21:42, 11 November 2007 (EST)

I got a better question, "Does zero exist?" Rob Smith 22:46, 11 November 2007 (EST)
Conceptually, but not in any concrete sense. It reminds me of some lines from Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead:
"Death isn't like hopping on a boat. It's nothing; it's a state of not-being."
"I've frequently not been on boats-"
"No, what you've been is not on boats..."

Underscoreb 00:06, 12 November 2007 (EST)


There is no concrete proof that there is something, everything here could not exist. We assume that there is something from the unproved axiom "I think, therefore I am." Axioms by definition cannot be proven true or false, they are just assumptions. --User:Capercorn Talk contribs 15:53, 16 May 2008 (EDT)

That appears illogical. "Nothing" is the absence of anything, and as we are here, we are, by definition, "something". Philip J. Rayment 00:40, 17 May 2008 (EDT)
But that is based on the assumption that you are observing 'something.' There is the offchance (which I do not believe), that there is nothing, and we do not exist. This is where the axiom comes in. We cannot prove the existence of the universe, we can only assume it does. It takes of stretch of the imagination to even consider it. --User:Capercorn Talk contribs 13:40, 19 May 2008 (EDT)
If we didn't exist, how could we possibly be discussing this? Philip J. Rayment 05:29, 20 May 2008 (EDT)

By addressing the state of "nothing" we are causing something so there will always be something rather than nothing. In the same way one can try to "clear your head" but this fails because in the act of clearing one's head one is filling it with the task of clearing the head/the mind. In this way we must always have something rather than nothing. Even in a vaccuum, the absence of everything is something. Bealecr 15:21, 30 April 2009

This seems to be a topic of duelisms. Cold is the absence of heat. Absolute Zero is the absence of movement. Can't we just agree that "nothing" is a theory of the mind, thus making it something again?
And in a random bit from a while ago, someone attempted to sell "absolutely nothing" on eBay. Oh, and here's a current listing EricaS 19:47, 30 September 2009 (EDT)
If I don't find it to be the genuine article, I'll do whatever necessary to get my money back! :) Which is the problem, because no one can actually convey (much less possess) such an article. PatternOfPersona 21:30, 4 July 2011 (EDT)

The dysjunct

If there is (or were) nothing, then there would be neither an answer to the question, nor the question. But, in so far as there is both 'something' and a questioner apart from that 'something', then there must be answer, and it must not be in that 'something', for, what is a thing worth if it have no one to place a worth upon it, nor even anyone to ask anything about its worth? So, if (or, since) there is something (including a questioner), then there is, therefore, an answer to the question, despite that many people look in the wrong place for an answer and so 'find the question impossible to answer non-trivially'.

Now, if whatever is that which most basically, necessarily exists is non-trivial, then the answer is non-trivial. For, that which necessarily exists, if it be non-trivial, cannot actually create something which is, at root, trivial, since that root is none other than itself. And, what it creates is a reflection---albeit a contingent and synthetic reflection---of itself. Only trivia a can create trivia, and it is doubtful whether trivia can create the non-trivial.

So, in so far as we measure ourselves to be non-trivial, who are but contingent knowers (and, thus, questioners) the answer is more non-trivial, by far, that are we. Something besides ourselves exists, but, that of which we have empirical access is all measured by us to be of less worth than ourselves: rocks and trees, stars and lifeless planets, even gravity, electric lighting, and animals. But, all these things are worth much in our minds, so long as, without us, at least the animals and the plants exist, for such things a reflections of us, however dim. Silent Running. PatternOfPersona 12:32, 26 January 2012 (EST)

The Biblical answer

There is something rather than nothing because it pleases God. Revelation 4:11 says, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (KJV) "You deserve, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power. You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created." (Conservative Bible) DavidE 12:47, 26 January 2012 (EST)

Regrettably this is not really an answer because surely God himself is something rather than nothing. Even prior to the creation of the universe one could still then ask, "Why is there something (i.e. God) rather than nothing"? --ReginaldF 21:20, 10 December 2012 (EST)
It seems that you're trying to set up the problem of infinite regression. The answer to that is that since God is the Prime Mover, it's meaningless to ask why God exists. You might as well ask who created God and why. DavidE 12:46, 11 December 2012 (EST)
I'm not trying to "set up" anything. I merely pointed out that if you are attempting to answer the question, Why is there something rather than nothing? it is no answer at all to say "because it pleases God". If God is "something" then you are left with the original question still unanswered. Perhaps what you mean to say is that the question cannot be answered? --ReginaldF 19:52, 12 December 2012 (EST)
If you are serious about not trying to set up the problem of infinite regression, then you have to accept that at some point, something just is, without a "why." That something is necessarily God. If I'm mistaken, then let's have your Biblically backed explanation as to why God exists. DavidE 11:50, 17 December 2012 (EST)
To clarify my previous response, there is a difference between a question that cannot be answered and one that makes no sense. DavidE 13:40, 17 December 2012 (EST)
If, at some point one must just accept that something "just is", then I assume that you take the view that the question cannot be answered. Is that right? --ReginaldF 20:57, 19 December 2012 (EST)
No. As I said in the comment directly above yours, there is a difference between a question that cannot be answered and one that makes no sense. DavidE 16:15, 8 February 2013 (EST)

Spiritual Creator

You can explain the existence of matter, energy, and life from a purely physiological perspective. According to the probabilistic dictates of quantum field theory, even an apparently perfect vacuum seethes with particles and antiparticles popping into and out of existence. With advances in quantum field theory, and physics the day will eventually come when science can explain why there is something rather than nothing.

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