17 March, 2010

Why is there something instead of nothing?

Atheists are often derided for supposedly believing that something came from nothing. The most notorious proponent of this is probably Ray Comfort, who for someone that spends so much time talking about atheists actually knows very little about them.

Here's what I think...

Why do birds exist? Why do trees exist? Why does MacDonalds exist? Why does Leitrim exist?

Let's get to the main question - why does anything exist?

It's a great question. You could literally think about it for ever and never really answer it. But I personally think it's a flawed question.


Well, some people seem to think that nothing is more natural than something. That prior to reality as we know it existing, there was nothing. Then at some stage something appeared, somehow.

I suppose I can understand why some people think like this. But why is nothingness the default position? Why does nothingness seem more likely than somethingness?

It should really be the other way around.

What experience do we have of the two options? We certainly have no experience of nothingness. So it doesn't make sense to assume that nothingness ever existed (so to speak). On the other hand, we have extensive experience of somethingness, and yet it is assumed that this is the more unlikely of the two. Strange.

Furthermore, what is nothingness? I mean, it's easy to describe - it's literally nothing. But what is it? You can't conceive of it because whatever you imagine it to be is automatically something! Even if you imagine a great empty void, that is still something, just an empty something.

So as far as our limited human minds can comprehend, nothingness actually seems impossible. Now of course it may be that nothingness is actually possible, but we just can't comprehend it. But this is hardly solid ground to assume that nothingness did exist (so to speak), or even that it is more likely than somethingness.

Obviously this has been pondered by minds far greater than mine, but I haven't read much about it, so for what it's worth I'm saying that somethingness, i.e. reality as we know it or not, has always existed. This is strange, I know. But in my opinion, for the reasons given above, it is far more strange to think that at some stage there was literally nothing.

So with his definition, Comfort is wrong.

This should mean something.

But Comfort is often wrong, so it means nothing.


uzza said...

I like it.

Ryk said...

Ive made this same argument many times. Until someone can demonstrate that there was ever "nothing" then I must assume there has always been something. Even if that something was simply empty space which is still a something.

RBH said...

Put another way, the question "Why is there something rather than nothing" presupposes that 'nothing' is the default state. There's no reason to believe that, particularly given the fact that at the quantum level, virtual particles ensure that there's always 'something'.

rhiggs said...




Thanks for the comment. I must admit I'm not too good with arguments that concern the quantum level, but its nice to know that it backs up my opinion...

rhiggs said...

Interesting post here on this topic, along the lines of what RBH said...

RBH said...

Yeah, I read that post last night and vaguely remembered commenting somewhere to that effect, but couldn't remember where. Good thing I'm still subscribed to this comment thread! :)