This is another question that was asked after one of my talks. I suppose I had it coming, considering what I had been saying till then. After all, an eternal something is the conclusion that one would come to after my forthright position that something cannot come from nothing.
The reason I got to this is simply by defining Nothing as the absence of everything. This definition is important – essential even. If we define Nothing as anything else, then we are having the cake and eating it, as Lawrence Krauss does by positing that a universe can come from nothing. But, as I mentioned in my previous blog, if nothing is something, i.e. it has something there to start with, then there need be no question as to how something can come from nothing. So if something can come from nothing, then a whole universe can, given the right conditions.
But I digress… No, not really.
There are two problems with positing something as having always been around. One is the concept of eternity. That sounds better when it is referred to as infinity, right? Eternity sounds so…well…religious. Infinity, on the other hand, has a more scientific aura. But let’s face it, they are basically the same concept.
And that brings us to the second big problem with the notion of something having always been around. It is the idea of causation, and particularly the existence of a first cause (or First Cause, with capital letters to make it more ominous).
Now causation is not normally a problem in science; in fact, it is the principle upon which science runs. Science looks for causes of phenomena in nature, that had previously been attributed to the supernatural. So while both science and religion take on board the fact of cause and effect, science is busy looking for causes, while religion already has the cause of everything – God.
The problem for science and causes is the supposed beginning of the universe. What, in fact, caused the universe to come about? If we wish to use the Big Bang as a theory for the start of everything, the question is: what caused the Big Bang?
Whether it wants to or not, science needs to face that question, because everything in science has a cause. There is no effect without a cause.
Yet when it comes to the Big Bang, we are told that it was the beginning. No cause. The beginning of time and of space. We are not allowed to ask what came before, because such a question is “nonsensical”.
But I do ask it, and I do so because I think that it makes sense to ask how something can come from nothing, and if it did, how?
And this is where the first cause comes in and why science looks at the idea with such horror. It does so because the first cause (or the uncaused cause) has always been associated with proof for the existence of God. The basic premise is that if something caused the universe to exist, it must be God. But this does not have to be, and there are a number of theories that dare to ask and are coming out with all sorts of things, like cyclical universes, the multiverse, the collision of membranes, etc.
All that is neither here nor there. The point is that if something cannot come from nothing, it seems natural to posit that there has always been something.
But I don’t posit that there was always something. If there is something, it must have started, and if it did, it did so from nothing – which is impossible.
So back to the drawing board……
I am inclined to conclude that the potential for everything always existed and something is just the realization of this potential.
There is a dynamic which drives everything and that is the movement between positive, negative and neutral potentials. So no first cause – just accept this dynamic.
I don’t get caught up with infinity – the number-line demonstrates it in concrete terms.
Thanks, Tina. by saying that potential always existed, you are saying that something always existed. Potential is something; it is not nothing. Potential, then, is infinite, with no beginning. It cannot be Nothing, since Nothing cannot have potential; if it had potential, it would be something.
What, though, is the “dynamic” and what causes it to drive everything and create the movement of the different potentials you mention?
The potential you mention sounds rather mystical. Yet would even that have to have a beginning?
Thank you thank you for such a brutally honest treatment of this subject… I have driven myself crazy since early childhood days over this question (just like the question of does the universe have an end, and if it does, what’s behind the wall at the end, and how the heck can that go on forever). to me it seems that any attempt to fully answer this question leaves the answerer of the question looking crazy… because wherever there is an answer, there is another question of needed to deal with how that situation came about…. appreciate your honesty, will we ever know the answer to this question, AND, do we really want to? It reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode I saw on You Tube a while back, where Aliens came to earth and started telling individual humans ‘the meaning of everything’ and everyone who got to hear the meaning whispered in their ear went totally crazy, great episode!
We are (collectively) the first cause and the effect. Consciousness is eternal and has and will always exist. We are that eternal consciousness, the sooner we get to grips with it the sooner we can accept our Multi-dimensional selves!!!!
Why are we conscious? Or rather consciousness? Hahaha, I don’t know that one. But well why not?