Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Something CAN come from nothing! (by anon)

One of the best and worst questions one could ever ask is, “Why is there something rather than nothing at all?”

In one sense, it is the best question ever!  It is THEE question, right?  Where did all this stuff come from??  What caused it all?  Did it have to be here?  The question is the ultimate of ultimates, the most fundamental of fundamentals.  It cuts to the heart of existence…it is asking about why anything exists at all!

But now for the buzz-kill, this question is also the worst question ever because it is literally meaningless—we can never experience pure nothingness.  Damn.  I knew there was a limit to our thought.  If we equate “nothing” as that which is “not something,” then it is impossible for us to conceive what that nothing would be.  In fact, it is impossible for us to conceive of the conception of what that nothing would be, because we cannot say that that nothing is anything.  To say that nothing is anything is to say that it is something, which violates our parameters that it is ‘not something’.  Therefore, the question, “why is there something rather than nothing at all?” is not a valid question.  It is literally nonsense.

We think we know something about the question because we understand absence and lack, and knowing that one thing is not another.  In our experience – our phenomenal experience (the qualitative nature of our experience, images, representations) – we are aware of things present; we know presence.  The computer is present to me right now.  Since these things go away, we are also aware of absence, of lack.  If someone took my computer away right now (I’d be pissed!), but I would be left with a lack.  Our experience is a collage of presences and absences.  We can also compare these presences and absences with other presences and absences to know that not all are equal to each other; hence we know that some things are not other things.  But no matter how hard we try, this would never mean that we really know something about absolute nothingness.  That, if anything, seems to be something outside of our conceptual grasp.

But then I learned something today.  Mindblowing (at least to me).

0 = 1 + -1

What?  Does that not do it for you?  You learned that in fourth grade and it didn’t rock your world?  Follow along.

The equation can be rewritten as, “0 = 1 and -1.”  If I can use a conjunction adding two things together, they must be somethings or else the additive function would be meaningless.  So “1” and “-1” are definitely somethings, although they negate each other.  Zero is the symbol for nothing.  So in essence, we have nothing = something that negates itself.

Let me say that again, we have “nothing is something that negates itself.”  We just said that which didn’t seem to be meaningful to say above, but the mathematics of it makes perfect sense.  Nothing is something.  Something is nothing.  Something just came from nothing.

Still not convinced this means anything?  Ok, here goes…

If nothing is something that negates itself, why not consider our present universe in such a state?  We could think of matter + anti-matter or our universe counterposed to an equal and opposite universe – in short, think of our universe in some sort of yin/yang state that would satisfy “1 + -1.”  That would mean that the present state of things really is just nothing, though from our point of view, it kind of feels like something since we experience only one of the conjuncts.  Somebody proposed that maybe it is the element of time that seems to peel apart the “is” from the “is not,” but in the end, it is all but nothing taken all together.

So something can come from nothing, but it is still ultimately nothing.  We no longer have to look for causes or reasons for existence because it is a matter of definition.  Existence must be counterposed to nonexistence, which is just to say that this is all nothing.

Our mistake was to separate nothing from something in the first place and think we were speaking about something different. 


  1. We must be reading the same material...

    What is confusing is this - if zero is still something, why do we think we've answered anything? And what exactly is the (-1)? It seems that there is no way for us to come into contact with whatever is actually the (-1) of our universe. We just don't experience negative existence of any kind. [And anti-matter? If it is all around us, would we not be experiencing implosions of somethings into nothings all of the time? It sure seems the case on Earth that we have a lot more regular matter than anti-matter]. What would it be like if we did experience negative existence? It wouldn't be non-existence, it would be... suction. An infinitely strong force, pulling the (+1) portion of the world into it - even space and time itself. Maybe black holes are just holes in the fabric of space-time, and they are real glimpses of the negativity that exists outside of the universe (the apparent slowing down of time, infinite density, and infinitessimal size of the singularity of a black hole which creates infinite gravitational pull...).

    If the (-1) and (+1) are equally infinite, the (+1) portion will fall into the (-1) portion continuously for all of eternity...

    Do we not still have to ask, "why?". Say that God exists in both the (+1) and (-1) arena, and one day, from the (+1) arena, God pushed outward, and from the (-1) arena, God pulled inward. Since God's power is supposedly infinite, and since God's force would be present in both positive and negative arenas, God would constitute nothing and everything. Yet, there is still the question of why the balance is being expressed this way now, and how the balance was expressed before the universe became this way. That a concept of "time" could have anything to do with the actual splitting of nothing into two somethings instead of just being a byproduct... requires quite a bit more thought to say the least.

    1. Yes, we probably are reading the same stuff :)

      Of course there are a lot of unanswered questions, but the why seems to exist in some of the questions you ask and does not exist in others. I don't think we have to think that the 1 and -1 are infinite things and that God is somehow involved. IMHO, those seem like unnecessary assumptions which make for unnecessary complications. And if this logic is right, we don't have to ask the "why" question of why is there something rather than nothing.

      However, I like it when you say, "there is still the question of why the balance is being expressed this way now, and how the balance was expressed before the universe became this way." I agree, even those are different questions from the one from which we started. We could just say it was random chance and that our universe could have been very different. Do we need an explanation for the specific expression of the equation?

      As for the time bit, to say more about it would be for me to reach beyond what I know. I agree that it needs more explanation. I'm just trying out thoughts here to see where they lead... Reading about time is next on my docket.

    2. I guess I just threw in the idea about God (not necessarily "God" in a traditional sense whatsoever) just to fill in for whatever it is that changed how the balance was expressed. Not that I'm a believer or anything, but it seems that we might never be capable of figuring out how/why we are not just "0" instead of the "(-1) + 1".

      Also, part of my problem is that the universe's zero is a combination of two elements - "one" and the subtraction of that "one". The universe then, is already absolute nothingness in itself.
      But - OUR zero is the zero we found through experience in realizing the abscence of a positive - not in realizing the combination of a positive and a negative. When we introduced "-1", that "-1" is like a figment of our imagination - the equation is more like "There is one apple. Suppose we take one apple away. Now we have nothing". We had to imagine taking the apple away after it was already there in order to come up with zero. Do we have the right to assume that it is possible then, according to our equations, that in the universe, we can do something like, "Suppose we take away the universe from nothing. Then we add the universe back. Then we have nothing." The equation "0 = (-1) + 1" can also be expressed as, "(-1) = 0 - 1". How do you take away something from nothing in order to have the second half of the equation? We would never assume a number like "-1" to ACTUALLY exist because we've never experienced a "-1" and if it seemed absurd to have something out of nothing, it is even MORE absurd to take away something from nothing. So to relate the universe to this equation which just happens to work out because DUH if you have one thing, then you subtract that SAME thing, you'll have NO thing, is just kind of... I don't know, not a good enough answer for me I guess.
      So basically I guess then we are left to wonder, perhaps - why the "-" ? Why the subtraction? What causes the subtraction to exist in the universe (if we're applying the equation correctly) ?

    3. "it seems that we might never be capable of figuring out how/why we are not just "0" instead of the "(-1) + 1"."

      If you say this, you are saying that somehow the two sides of the equation are different. But they are not different. "0" IS "(-1) + 1." So it wouldn't make sense to figure out how/why one side is expressed over the other because there is only one side - hence, that is the point of the equal sign. Thus, the whole of the universe is really the nothing itself. There is no mystery. But somehow I know that that is not going to satisfy you. I'm still working through this in my head too, but there is something here IMHO.

      As for the actual mathematical equation, it is just supposed to be an analogy for reality. And as in all analogies, if you take it too far, the point gets messed up. Take the equation as symbolic representation for a possible explanation of the universe that requires no cause and no direction.

    4. So the question is then- if it is an analogy, is it a good analogy?

      For humans, the idea of "zero" came from the experience of something being there, followed by something not being there. The "-1" and the "+1" are the same thing, one is just being taken away, while one is being added - in practice. In principal, can we REALLY separate the (-1) and the (+1) to account for "somethings" from nothing, to account for the universe being a whole in which we are always in contact with the positive aspect and yet do not fully understand the negative aspect (as it stands now a separate entity from the positive)?

  2. Woah, I'm impressed... I think you are onto something here! Congrats! I think i might have to reread it a second time!

  3. I saw an episode of Fringe last night, and the whole show is one big example of this. One of the main premises is that there are two universes - like parallel universes. And part of the drama is that the universes appear to want to collapse into each other, creating a mega-negation. That certainly seems like 0 = 1 +-1.

  4. When scientists say that the universe can simply come out of nothing without any divine intervention, they think of the universe in terms of its energy content only. In the book ‘The Grand Design’, page 281, scientist Stephen Hawking has written that bodies like stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing, but a whole universe can. The message is very clear from this: The total energy of a whole universe is zero and that is why it can come out of nothing; but stars or black holes will fail to do so, because their total energy is not zero. But universe means not only its energy; universe means its space-time as well. So if we now apply the same logic to space-time as well, then we can say that the total space-time of a whole universe must also always have to be zero, because in that case only a whole universe can appear out of nothing. Here my question is: How does the total space-time of an ever-expanding universe always remain zero?
    As the universe appeared out of nothing, so initially there was no space, no time, no matter and no energy. Scientists have successfully shown how the total matter-energy content of the universe has always remained zero. But we are not satisfied with that explanation, we want something more. We also want to know how the total space-time content of the universe has always remained zero. And it should always remain zero if the universe has actually appeared out of nothing. Otherwise scientists will have to explain as to whence appeared the extra residual space-time that was not already there at the beginning.
    If stars or black holes cannot appear out of nothing simply because their total energy is not zero, then can a whole universe appear out of nothing if its total space-time is not zero?
    The last question above will further boil down to this one: Do the physicists think that energy cannot just appear out of nothing, but space-time can, supposing that the total space-time of the present universe is not zero?
    Or, do they think that like life, mind and consciousness, space and time are also emergent entities only, and therefore, not directly coming from big bang nothing?

  5. At least two reasons can be given as to why the total space-time of the universe should always remain zero. One such reason we find in Einstein’s general theory of relativity. As per GTR space, time and matter are so interlinked that there cannot be any space-time without matter. Similarly there cannot be any matter without space-time. There is also a famous quote of Einstein on this: “When forced to summarize the general theory of relativity in one sentence: Time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter.” If time and space cannot have any separate existence from matter, then the total matter of the universe being zero, the total space-time of the universe should also be zero.
    Logic also entails that the total space-time of the universe should be zero. This is because like matter and energy, space and time also came into being only after big bang. So if total matter and energy remained zero because they have come from nothing, then total space-time should also remain zero because it has also come from nothing.
    Here it may be objected that there is a law of conservation of matter and energy in science, but that there is no such conservation law for space-time. So there is no violation of conservation law if nothing generates so much of space-time. Even if it is conceded that this objection is valid, still it can be pointed out that GTR alone gives us sufficient reason to conclude that if total matter of the universe always remains zero, then the total space-time of the universe should also always remain zero.
    So from GTR we come to know that the total space-time of an ever-expanding universe should always remain zero, but we do not know yet how it does actually remain zero.
    If science cannot give any satisfactory answer to this question, then the atheistic, non-religious world-view of modern science will break down then and there.