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NPR: Can everything come from nothing?

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File:Nullset.png Cosmologist Marcelo Gleiser:

Despite what physicists like Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss say, we are far from understanding the physics of the Big Bang. In fact, it isn’t even clear that we can provide a complete scientific explanation of the origin of the universe.

Because such an understanding should account for the origin of laws of nature.

Even the multiverse won’t help in this case, because such a theory would “still use a conceptual structure derivative of present-day physics.”

What seems to be needed is a new way of depicting the laws of nature not as static truths about the world but as emerging behaviors that unfold and take hold as time elapses. Physicist Lee Smolin and philosopher Mangabeira Unger hint at this in their book, but don’t offer a working approach. (Who can blame them?) More.

No blame, except to say: When we try to derive intelligence from matter rather than matter from intelligence, to help explain why there is something rather than nothing, we find ourselves in these conundrums.

Doubtless,  Smolin and co. will end up with laws of nature which aren’t really laws because they “evolve.”

Much as if the number 23 changed its quantity over time.

Here’s Hugh Ross on that weasel word “nothing” in science and philosophy—it comes in nine varieties at least.

See also cosmic Darwinism

In search of a road to reality

and

What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness

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25 Replies to “NPR: Can everything come from nothing?

  1. 1
    leodp says:

    If something can come from nothing then A = not A — and we have exist in an irrational reality where there’s no hope of understanding anything.

    I’d say the same for the claim that intelligence flows from matter. Or that the physical laws flowed om chaos.

    This is why I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist

  2. 2
    daveS says:

    Here’s Hugh Ross on that weasel word “nothing” in science and philosophy—it comes in nine varieties at least.

    Yeah, I’m always skeptical when someone confidently makes claims about the properties of “nothing” or “nothingness”. How could one ever test these claims?

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Yeah, I’m always skeptical when someone confidently makes claims about the properties of “nothing” or “nothingness”. How could one ever test these claims?

    I’d swear, for at least a few commenters here, if we opened their skulls we’d find nothing in there.

  4. 4
    Mapou says:

    Everything is indeed made of nothing. ‘Nothing’ is the sum of everything positive and negative. We obviously live in a Yin-yang reality. There is no other way for it to be. Why? It is because an ex-nihilo universe is the only ontology of substance that does not lead to an infinite regress. Consider the question “what is substance X made of?”. If the answer is “atoms”, the next question is “what are atoms made of?” and so on ad infinitum. An ex-nihilo universe solves this problem.

    The problem for materialists is not to show that everything comes from or is made of nothing (it does) but to explain how nothing can suddenly become everything all by itself. The cause and effect principle forbids it. The problem of the creation of matter from nothing is the real problem. Luckily, the yin-yang principle explains it all: Reality actually consists of not just one but two ‘nothings’ or two realms, if you will.

    Just saying.

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    Would it still be nothing if the yin and the yang were missing, Mapou? There is no such thing as nothing without a ying and a yang?

    Or are you saying that it just happens to be the case that that’s how our nothing happened to arise? And there might be a nothing in principle, a theoretical ‘nothing’ concept?

  6. 6
    Mapou says:

    Axel:

    There is no such thing as nothing without a ying and a yang?

    That’s correct. ‘Nothing’ is the sum of the Yin and the Yang, i.e., the sum of all positive and negative entities. This is empirical proven, by the way. Supersymmetry in physics, for example, is just another way of saying Yin-Yang. Also, all the conservation principles of physics are descendant of the mother of all conservation principles: the conservation of nothing.

    Note, however, that without violations to the conservation of ‘nothing’ principle, there could be no motion in the universe. Motion is nature trying to correct a violation of the Yin-Yang conservation principle. It’s always cause and effect.

  7. 7
    Box says:

    Mapou,

    So, ‘nothing’ is “the sum of the Yin and the Yang”. However in order to have nothing one needs to have a Yin-yang reality first. Your ‘nothing’ — the sum of the Yin and the Yang — can only exist in the context of a Yin-yang reality.
    Arguably a Yin-yang reality is not nothing.
    It follows that ‘nothing’ cannot explain its context: the Yin-yang reality.
    Conclusion: it’s incorrect to state that “everything is indeed made of nothing”, since nothing cannot explain its context.

    p.s. I don’t believe that our reality is Yin-yang.

  8. 8
    Mapou says:

    Box,

    In the end, it does not matter what any of us believes our reality is. IOW, belief has nothing to do with it. Saying that a Yin-Yang reality is not nothing is like saying zero is not zero because it is the sum of all positive and negative numbers.

    Your ‘nothing’ — the sum of the Yin and the Yang — can only exist in the context of a Yin-yang reality.

    There is no other possible reality, IMO. Let me point out that your reply ignores my main argument which is that any reality other than a Yin-Yang reality leads to an infinite regress, which is unacceptable. But then again, you probably believe in infinite regress. For you, it’s always turtles all the way down, isn’t it?

    By the way, there are two opposite and complementary Yin-Yang realms: the physical realm and the spiritual realm. Neither can exist without the other. In the former, everything can be created and destroyed. In the latter, nothing can be created or destroyed.

  9. 9
    Box says:

    Mapou,

    tell me where you disagree:

    1) nothing is the sum of an equal amount of Yin and Yang.
    2) in order to have an equal amount of Yin and Yang we need a reality consisting of Yin and Yang — a yin-yang reality.
    3) nothing ( the sum of an equal amount of Yin and Yang) can only exist in a yin-yang reality.
    4) a yin-yang reality is the context for nothing.
    conclusion: nothing cannot explain its context: the yin-yang reality.

  10. 10
    Mapou says:

    Box, I’m sorry but you are still not addressing my argument. I’ll address yours when you address mine.

  11. 11
    Box says:

    A simple God is the basis of reality.
    What is simple cannot be divided. Cannot be created.

  12. 12
    Mapou says:

    A simple God is the basis of reality.

    You must be Catholic because this is just Catholic Church medieval nonsense, angels dancing on pinheads and all that jazz.

    God is anything but simple, IMO. He’s the ancient of days, the self-made God. In fact, GOD is not just one being but many. He consists of billions of united individuals. He’s the ultimate Yin Yang God in which one side (the Son) does everything that the other side (the Father) tells him to do. Yahweh, as Isaiah and other ancient scriptures mention, is called Yahweh of Hosts. Some prophets say that Yahweh has many hosts.

    Catholics cannot accept a Yin-Yang reality because of their Trinity nonsense. One man’s opinion and, as always, I tell it like I see it.

  13. 13
    Robert Byers says:

    if nothing was the original then nothing from nothing is still nothing.
    If there is something then it didn’t come from nothing. It wouldn’t have the ability to make something out of nothing since its nothing itself.
    Only a God can explain why there is something.
    however unknown where God came from its the only logival conclusion.

  14. 14
    mike1962 says:

    The fundamental reality is what it is.

    You cannot imagine it.

    It’s a waste of time to try.

    It’s a waste of time to attempt to define it.

    It’s like a rock trying to imagine or define the color blue.

  15. 15
    Mapou says:

    mike1962:

    The fundamental reality is what it is.

    You cannot imagine it.

    It’s a waste of time to try.

    It’s a waste of time to attempt to define it.

    It’s like a rock trying to imagine or define the color blue.

    I have to disagree. There is nothing that the human mind cannot eventually understand. We, too, are Gods.

  16. 16
    Dionisio says:

    “Nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists.” – Professor John Lennox, Oxford, UK.

    BTW, we commenters are a long way from being considered “famous scientists” but the above rule applies to all of us as well.

    Sorry to disappoint some folks here. 🙂

  17. 17
    Box says:

    Mapou:

    God is anything but simple, IMO. He’s the ancient of days, the self-made God. In fact, GOD is not just one being but many. He consists of billions of united individuals.

    If God consists of parts, then the parts are fundamental to God. This cannot be, God is fundamental to all reality by definition.

    p.s. my question in #9 persists.

  18. 18
    Robert Byers says:

    Mapou
    I agree. my pastor once said people were mini Gods. We are made in Gods image and can understand most things. No way near there right now however.
    We are not rocks or animals.

  19. 19
    logically_speaking says:

    Mapou is essentially correct. However the spiritual realm is an unconfined possibility space, where all possibilities exist, as potential energy/information (maybe?).

    I disagree that Jehovah is many beings, I think it is just the Father and Son as separate single entities, the hosts are their messengers and us, and every other living creature.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, consider that an eternal, reality-root being is another way of saying a necessary being. A composite being is by that characteristic inevitably contingent thus not necessary. KF

  21. 21
    Mapou says:

    Box:

    Mapou:

    God is anything but simple, IMO. He’s the ancient of days, the self-made God. In fact, GOD is not just one being but many. He consists of billions of united individuals.

    If God consists of parts, then the parts are fundamental to God. This cannot be, God is fundamental to all reality by definition.

    Did God tell you this or is this your own definition? The truth is that all spirits are fundamental including God’s and our own. Spirits cannot be created or destroyed. Yahweh said in Isaiah that he is the ancient of days, meaning that they were young at one point. Yahweh created himself, i.e., his body. Some spirits have the ability to create matter out of nothing. And yes, I believe Yahweh Elohim have physical bodies.

    p.s. my question in #9 persists.

    My argument @4 for an ex-nihilo universe also persists.

  22. 22
    Mapou says:

    Byers:

    Mapou
    I agree. my pastor once said people were mini Gods. We are made in Gods image and can understand most things. No way near there right now however.
    We are not rocks or animals.

    You don’t need your pastor or anyone else to do your searching for you. The adage given to us is “search and you shall find” not “let your pastor search and you shall find.” Both the old and the new Testaments teach us that we are Gods. Look it up.

  23. 23
    Box says:

    Mapou,

    Mapou: God is anything but simple, IMO. He’s the ancient of days, the self-made God. In fact, GOD is not just one being but many. He consists of billions of united individuals.

    Box: If God consists of parts, then the parts are fundamental to God. This cannot be, God is fundamental to all reality by definition.

    Mapou: Did God tell you this or is this your own definition?

    By definition God is the creator and foundation of reality. If X is fundamental to God then X is God. You claim that God is composed of billions of individuals. This means that billions of individuals are fundamental to God, which doesn’t make sense.
    By the way, is it individuals all the way down? Are those individuals, who bring about the existence of God, simple, or are they also composed of yet a multitude of individuals and so forth?

    Mapou: The truth is that all spirits are fundamental including God’s and our own.

    How can your God, whose spirit is composed of billions of individuals, be fundamental? How can something be fundamental when it consists of parts? If X consists of parts then logic informs us that the parts must be fundamental to X.
    By the way, are we talking about individuals with free will? Do they vote? Is God a democracy?

  24. 24
    Mapou says:

    Box:

    By definition God is the creator and foundation of reality.

    This may be your definition and that the Catholic Church but it’s not mine. God did not create reality. Reality just is. God created the heavens and the earth, i.e., the physical universe. He cannot create spirits or anything in the spiritual realm. No one can.

    If X is fundamental to God then X is God. You claim that God is composed of billions of individuals. This means that billions of individuals are fundamental to God, which doesn’t make sense.

    Not according to my definition of God.

    By the way, is it individuals all the way down? Are those individuals, who bring about the existence of God, simple, or are they also composed of yet a multitude of individuals and so forth?

    It depends on how far up the hierarchy a spirit is. But there is no infinite regress, if that is what you are implying.

    Yahweh is only one group among many other divine groups, IMO. Humans also have their groups (nations) but they are not very united, hence the wars, crime and all the nasty stuff.

    Yahweh acknowledged the existence of other Gods, some of which came to earth and served as the Gods of many ancient nations such as Egypt, Babylon, Persia, the ancient Mayans, Indians, Greeks, Romans, etc. Yahweh claimed to have been the first among the Gods. The others came afterwards.

    Mapou: The truth is that all spirits are fundamental including God’s and our own.

    How can your God, whose spirit is composed of billions of individuals, be fundamental?

    God is not fundamental, IMO. The spiritual entities that constitute God are fundamental.

    How can something be fundamental when it consists of parts? If X consists of parts then logic informs us that the parts must be fundamental to X.

    All things are composed of parts including our spirits and God’s own spirit. For example, a nation is (or should be) a united group of spirits inhabiting different bodies. A family unit is a united group of spirits. Even the spirit of a single person, your own spirit, for example, consists of many, many parts. Each part is a different fundamental spirit responsible for a specific quale (singular for qualia), be it a color, a taste, a sense of beauty, happiness, pain, pleasure or any conscious sensation that is not purely physical. These sub-spirits, if you will, are what I call fundamental. They are fundamental in the sense that they are not further divided. In addition, they are not physical and can neither be created nor destroyed. Every human spirit is also divided into two entities inhabiting the left and right hemispheres. Each one of us is actually two persons in one. Just like Yahweh.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  25. 25
    Box says:

    Mapou: God is not fundamental, IMO. The spiritual entities that constitute God are fundamental.
    All things are composed of parts including our spirits and God’s own spirit.

    If all things are composed of parts, then parts are also composed of parts, which in turn are also composed of parts and so forth — infinite regress.

    Mapou: For example, a nation is (or should be) a united group of spirits inhabiting different bodies. A family unit is a united group of spirits.

    Hmm … okay. However we are still individuals, right?

    Mapou: Even the spirit of a single person, your own spirit, for example, consists of many, many parts. Each part is a different fundamental spirit responsible for a specific quale (singular for qualia), be it a color, a taste, a sense of beauty, happiness, pain, pleasure or any conscious sensation that is not purely physical. These sub-spirits, if you will, are what I call fundamental. They are fundamental in the sense that they are not further divided.

    Why declare these alleged sub-spirits fundamental (simple)? Is there any reason to do so? Why not assume sub-sub-spirits and declare them fundamental? Or why not go up a level and declare the spirit fundamental? What is your method?
    By the way, the trouble with reductionism is that you have to bind things together again. So, what is the unifying principle here? What binds sub-spirits to form a spirit? What holds the sub-spirits together? And what binds the billion spirits together to form God?

    Mapou: In addition, they are not physical and can neither be created nor destroyed.

    So, these sub-spirits cannot be explained. So instead of one mystery — one fundamental simple God—, who explains all of reality, you end up with “billions upon billions sub-spirits” who pop-up out of nothing and an uncreated reality that “just is.”
    It’s utterly incoherent. And for what reason? How can this possibly be an improvement on let’s say Aquinas?

    Mapou: Every human spirit is also divided into two entities inhabiting the left and right hemispheres. Each one of us is actually two persons in one. Just like Yahweh.

    Why? What is your method?

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