A popular discussion of late has been around the question of why there is “something rather than nothing,” an argument that I have always felt had the stench of theology riddled throughout its core. The discussion has become a little more intense since the publication of Lawrence Krauss’ new book, “A Universe from Nothing.” One such debate is goin’ on right now over at WEIT.
I’d like to weigh in briefly with an explanation on the “something from nothing” argument that I have not seen discussed in popular science or philosophy. Now, I’m neither a scientist or a philosopher so I ask that my naiveté at least be greeted as an opportunity to enlighten those who may be inclined to pursue a similar line of reasoning or to help me in better clarifying my thinking on this issue.
It’s this: there is no such thing as nothing. There is only something.
The concept of “nothing” is merely a convenient linguistic invention that we’ve devised during the course of the enlargement of our brains to help us in our better understanding of what “something” is, whether it be a rock or the physical laws that govern the very existence and evolution of that rock, within the context of all things that encompass and define the nature of what we call “something-ness.”
I strongly sense that those who speak of “nothing” oftentimes evoke this concept in a manner similar to the IDers who evoke the concept of “irreducible complexity” or the unjustified conclusion – that “designed” concludes the existence of only one designer – that has plagued our thinking about “origins” since Paley gave us his infamous watchmaker analogy.
When we examine the “natural order” of things, all we confront is something. Those seemingly blank spaces that we perceive between masses of what we call “something” are not blank spaces at all; they simply comprise a less dense mass of the things that can and sometimes do coalesce to present themselves as things to comprehend, within our limited conceptual framework.
We’re naturally inclined to look across vast expanse of the space above our heads, see what we describe as “empty space” and, in general terms, speak as if “nothing “ exists between the tips of our heads and the stars and planets that we gaze upon. But as any thinking person knows, this simply is not so. The “space” that we describe as “empty” is actually filled to the brim with everything from gamma rays emitted from within deep space to microwaves so dense as to almost form a net surrounding the globe to dust paricles that escape our forced air heating filters and end up ultimately defining Saturday as “house cleaning” day.
Acceptance of the notion that nothing is the absence of something is one of the primary limitations to fully rational thought. We’re unwittingly introduced to this notion and are reinforced in a variety of ways throughout our lives to accept it as unquestionably true despite the fact that we also hold as a truism the first law of thermodynamics: Energy can be neither created or destroyed; it can only change forms. When we subject a gnat to a blowtorch it doesn’t turn into nothing. It merely takes on a form that escapes our senses and capability of our measuring devices.