[Videos] Why There is "Something" rather than "Nothing"


Why is there "something" rather than "nothing"?

Anthony Aguirre: Doesn't answer the question and instead suggests that "nothing" is difficult to conceptualise - more difficult than "something".

Sean Carroll: Suggests that there are many possible worlds that could have been the case, including "nothing", and variations on "something", and that the actual world just happens - contingently, as a brute fact - to be one of the variations on "something".

Max Tegmark: Suggests that "something" necessarily exists because of the (necessary) existence of necessary mathematical/logical truths. Further suggests that the physical universe is such a mathematical truth, which we experience from the inside.

My brief comments: Anthony's got a point - "nothing" is difficult to conceptualise - but it can be defined pretty straightforwardly, so I don't see this as a fatal objection to the meaningfulness of the question. Sean's answer, whilst non-contradictory, nevertheless pretty much amounts to "Because there just is", which is more of a non-answer than an answer. Max's accounting for the physical universe as a mathematical truth is a pretty classic case of reification.

Did God create from nothing?

John Polkinghorne: Was asked a different question, "How can a spiritual being interact with physical matter?" Answers that (1) there is scope for divine influence in the intrinsic unpredictability in the laws of quantum mechanics (and in the chaos theory of classical physics), and (2) God might exercise this influence upon matter in the same way that human minds act in a top-down way to control (interact with) the physical matter of their own bodies.

Russell Stannard: Was asked a different question, "As a high-energy physicist with a strong conviction in the existence of God, how then do you explain the cosmos?" Answers that God is the ground of all being, rather than the cause of the Big Bang (because there was no cause; the notion of a cause is meaningless). God is both the creator and sustainer of all reality.

William Lane Craig: Was asked what it means for God to have created the world from nothing. Answers that according to the doctrine of Creation, God is the efficient cause of the universe, and that there is no material cause. Argues that this doctrine has dramatic support from astrophysical cosmology, which has found that space-time has a finite boundary in the past i.e. that the universe has a beginning.