Something Can’t Come From Nothing

by Luke Muehlhauser on July 13, 2010 in Funny

something can't come from nothing

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

David Iach July 14, 2010 at 1:00 am

Who said God came from nothing?

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Tomasz July 14, 2010 at 1:06 am

Something uncaused = caused by nothing??
If God is uncaused = caused by nothing??

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David Iach July 14, 2010 at 1:18 am

Tomasz your are really funny. :)

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Haecceitas July 14, 2010 at 2:16 am

Clearly this is an equivocation on the meaning of the concept of “coming from nothing”.

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lukeprog July 14, 2010 at 2:40 am

The word ‘LOL’ is meant to be a tip-off that I’m not trying to make a serious argument, here.

I took the idea from reddit, I think, and just added the Monty Python sky-god.

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lukeprog July 14, 2010 at 2:41 am

Also, you can just change it to fit your theology if you want:

“Something can’t be uncaused. Except God, LOL.”

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Tomasz July 14, 2010 at 3:00 am

thing or not thing.
Only thing can cause thing?

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exapologist July 14, 2010 at 3:03 am

“Something can’t be uncaused. Except God, LOL.”

Actually, I think this one is a nice, pithy critique of the Leibnizian cosmological argument.

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Dan July 14, 2010 at 3:04 am

The Christian defense of this of course is that only in nature can something not come from nothing, but god is outside of nature, so he could always have existed.

The problems here being:

1) We do have examples of things coming from nothing
2) They still have no evidence of god always existing, or existing at all for that matter.

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Tomasz July 14, 2010 at 3:06 am

nothing A caused nothing B
ergo Out of nothng, nothing comes ;)

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Bill Maher July 14, 2010 at 3:25 am

LOL at all of the toolbags who are trying to debate the point. you probably also watch superhero movies and talk about how unrealistic they are. LOL

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Reginald Selkirk July 14, 2010 at 5:23 am

thing or not thing.
Only thing can cause thing?

Wild thing,
You make my heart sing.

Dum dum de dum.

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Chris July 14, 2010 at 7:11 am

God is a self-explaining, self-existing, necessary, timeless being with no beginning and no end.

Why the universe also can’t have these properties is just one of those divine mysteries, I suppose.

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Hendy July 14, 2010 at 7:33 am

The best I’ve ever run across on this so far is a HERE.

Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist, presents at the Atheist Alliance International in 2009. It’s a wonderfully entertaining history of how we know what we know about cosmology from Newtonian to quantum physics. He walks his audience through verified predictions, how we know our universe is flat, and what our universe will look like in the distant future. It’s utterly fascinating, comprehensible, and best of all…supported by evidence.

His conclusion? You’ll always get something from nothing because nothing is unstable.

P.S. 16:50->17:25 features a great discussion of the fact that our bodies are composed of atoms previously contained in stars; “So forget Jesus, the stars died so that you could be here today.”

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Haecceitas July 14, 2010 at 7:35 am

The word ‘LOL’ is meant to be a tip-off that I’m not trying to make a serious argument, here.

OK. But one might have just as well interpret the ‘LOL’ as a reaction to the perceived inconsistency in theistic thinking. I would have been a little surprised to find out that you were making a totally serious argument with this, but on the other hand, it’s been my experience that there are no arguments that are so bad that nobody would present them seriously. For example, I think there’s at least a 70% chance that someone reading your blog thinks that there really is a philosophically relevant and serious analogy between the epistemological basis for a belief in God and a belief in the flying spaghetti monster (thus thinking that the fsm stuff isn’t just a funny parody but works as a serious argument at the same time). :)

Also, you can just change it to fit your theology if you want:

“Something can’t be uncaused. Except God, LOL.”

This doesn’t seem to fit very well either. At least not on a more serious level. I think the point would be that whatever is the metaphysically primary reality is also uncaused. If there are good arguments to show that this is God, then fine. But it isn’t like the theist would have to fault alternative views for also postulating a primary reality that isn’t caused by something else. It’s just that the theist thinks those alternative metaphysical postulates fail on some other basis.

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Mazen Abdallah July 14, 2010 at 10:34 am

“the fsm stuff isn’t just a funny parody but works as a serious argument at the same time). :)”

The whole idea of a parody is that it presents humor through reductio ad absurdium, thus making it an unlikely tool in the philosopher’s arsenal. Additionally, it seems more creative and it gives everyone a laugh. Some of the best criticisms of theism and theistic ideas have been satires, such as Voltaire’s Candide.

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Eric July 15, 2010 at 3:21 am

“His conclusion? You’ll always get something from nothing because nothing is unstable.”

Hi Hendy

‘Instability’ is a property, right? I suppose we can at least agree on that. But ‘nothingness,’ by definition, has no properties. The only way ‘nothing’ can be unstable is if it’s not really nothing, in which case we’re talking not about something from nothing, but something from something.

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Hendy July 15, 2010 at 6:39 am

@Eric: you are correct. Krauss states this in the video to the effect that science has shown that ‘nothing isn’t really nothing anymore.’ I was not there to ask if a ‘real nothing’ had to proceed the ‘nothing’ that we now know to be ‘something.’

Is that what you were looking for?

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rvkevin July 15, 2010 at 8:55 am

So, is the “real nothing” impossible or does the “real nothing” entail the “nothing” that physicists speak of?

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Hendy July 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

@rvkevin: I don’t know… I hadn’t thought of it until I was asked, and I’m glad I was. Are you asking to point out something or do you already know the answer?

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rvkevin July 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Don’t know, but it follows the lines of if “real nothing” is impossible, then its meaningless when someone asks why something rather than nothing since there would have always been something, and if “real nothing” entails “nothing,” then something can come from nothing without invoking the supernatural.

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Hendy July 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm

@rvkevin: I completely agree. If ‘nothing’ can now be thought to exist eternally and ‘pop’ universes out due to instability… there’s no reason to solve the problem of a ‘real nothing.’ The whole issue stemmed from thinking that the big bang began all matter, space, and energy and that before it… none existed. Thus perhaps if ‘real nothing’ was a figment of our imaginations, all of that time, space and energy burst forth from what was, in fact, something. Tell you what… I’ll email Dr. Krauss and ask!

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Hendy July 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Email sent to Dr. Krauss’ assistant, Jessica. I’ll post back if I receive a response. Hopefully I worded the questions correctly in order to get at the issues at hand. Here is the email reproduced:

Dr. Krauss:

I recently viewed a presentation of yours from the Atheist Alliance International in 2009 entitled ‘A Universe from Nothing.’ In discussing it, some questions have arisen. Does physics currently posit that an ‘actual nothing’ is impossible? In other words, in your presentation you stated something along the lines of, “Science has now shown that nothing isn’t really nothing.” Later on, if I recall correctly, you stated something like this: “So, why is there something rather than nothing? Because nothing is unstable. When you have nothing you’ll always get something.”

To get to the primary points:
- What is believed to have existed prior to the big bang? I am supposing the answer is ‘space containing dark matter and dark energy.’
- Does our new understanding of the existence of dark matter/energy solve the infinite regress problem? In other words, are there any objections to having empty space containing dark matter/energy exist eternally?
- If dark matter/energy does not solve the regress problem… is there still an issue of a ‘literal nothing’ existing prior to the ‘dark-matter/energy-containing nothing’?

Thank you for your time and work. Your talk was absolutely fascinating and was a wonderfully entertaining and evidence-filled lesson in how we know what we know in physics and cosmology. I have pointed many individuals toward the talk since encountering it.

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Lucian December 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm

The universe is caused, and did `come` from nothing. God is uncaused (He did not `come` from anything).

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dr boomboom February 11, 2011 at 9:54 am

Hey, has anybody seen my spaceship, I forgot where I parked it. damn Co-ordinates ha

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BJRSCJ November 4, 2011 at 7:59 am

From my understanding, there is a seemingly legitimate argument for an uncaused God, but not an uncaused universe: the Kalaam Cosmological Argument. Basically, the argument isn’t that there can’t be any uncaused things. Theortically, the universe is a legitimate candidate for being an uncaused entity. However, it seems as though there is proof the universe isn’t a viable candidate on a particular line of reasoning.

1. The universe appears to have a beginning (the big bang).
2. Anything that has a beginning, has a cause
3. The science seems to show that the expansion of the universe won’t lead to a big crunch.
4. The concept of infinity doesn’t allow for an actual infinite, meaning if the universe was eternal in the past (which it would have to be to be uncaused), we would never have arrived at today – which we obviously have.

So it appears the physical world has hurdles that can’t be logically/philisophically overcome. Therefore, something else must be posited as that which is uncaused.

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rebecca November 16, 2011 at 12:41 pm

ok im doing an religion ethics and philosophy essay for school at the moment and i was wondering if u knew who was famous for saying”nothing can come from nothing” its something ward

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