For most of my life I marveled at the classic question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?"
But with advancing age, and maybe some advancing wisdom, I came to prefer "There is something rather than nothing."
No why required. Just a factual statement.
Because that why takes us into the realm of religion, and I'm no longer religious. Most religions, with the notable exception of Buddhism, assume there was a creator of the cosmos.
So God is the answer to the why question. There's something rather than nothing due to God bringing the creation into being.
Of course, we then have to ask, "Why is there God?" For religions have to believe that something has always existed: God.
While atheists like me prefer to believe that it is the cosmos that has always existed.
Sure, that's a mind-boggling notion. But only because the human mind is prone to boggle at the idea that existence has no beginning and no end.
It just is. No creator of creation required.
The way I see it, our difficulty in wrapping our minds around that proposition is a big reason, maybe even the primary reason, why religions came into being and have such an attraction to most people.
For everything else we're familiar with has a cause that brought it into being. Even our universe, which is why I prefer to use the term "cosmos" when referring to everything in existence.
Science is confident that the big bang was how the universe came to be.
However, big bang theories don't start with absolutely nothing. They start with something: the laws of nature, and matter/energy that the laws of nature operate on.
So it seems clear that something always has existed. Those four words, something always has existed, never fail to produce a tingling sense of awe in me.
I guess that feeling is somewhat akin to how religious people look upon God. However, there's a big difference between religious awe and secular awe.
I'm blown away by my inability to fathom how existence could have always existed. I don't have an answer for this. The question seems to be forever beyond human comprehension.
By contrast, religious believers push this mystery away by assuming that God has always existed, and God created the cosmos.
They choose not to grapple with the notion that the cosmos just is. Always has been. Always will be. It just is.
I sympathize with that choice, though I think it leads to the false conclusion of God.
For there's no doubt that the human mind is limited. We see beginnings everywhere in our world and the universe at large. Most people assume, then, that the cosmos must have had a beginning.
Our inability to rest easily in the blunt fact of the cosmos' "is'ness" seems to relate to a fundamental limitation of the human mind.
We're habituated to causes and effects. So the idea of existence having no cause elicits a short-circuit in the human mind, which I believe results in awe.
There is something rather than nothing. Wow! How freaking awesome!
But another sort of mind -- like an artificial intelligence or alien intelligence -- could look upon the simple "Is" of the cosmos as being completely natural.
That other sort of mind wouldn't have any inclination to fashion a creator God, since that other sort of mind would see reality much differently than we do. Obviously I don't know what that vision would be like, since I have a limited human mind.
And maybe I've gone too far in even speculating about what that other sort of mind might be like.
All I'm saying is that I see a distinct possibility that religion has developed as a crutch to explain what our human minds struggle to comprehend about the cosmos.
Being largely eludes us. We're much more comfortable with becoming, with creation. Yet what if the cosmos simply is?
Nothing to figure out. No God stories required. Just an is with no beginning and no end.