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June 23, 2015


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Brian, I don't want to pour cold water on your sense of wonder - I'm just baffled. Having acknowledged 'the necessity of existence having always existed' and the meaninglessness of nothingness as an alternative, can you explain why you are still boggled by the fact of existence?

Like you I did, for a time, reflect seriously on the old question 'Why is there something rather than nothing' and like you came to the conclusion that it was nonsensical. The more interesting question seemed to me to be the presumption that nothing should be more likely than something, especially in view of the rather obvious fact that there is something!

David, explanations aren't really applicable to a sense of wonder. Like love or any other emotion/feeling, it is either there, or not. I don't think we have much control over feeling a sense of wonder.

That said, maybe my boggling at existence always existing is related to a recent blog post about the seemingly innate human propensity to assume causation and design, even in nature.


I can intellectually accept that the cosmos has always existed. However, my everyday experience of causes and effects leads to mind-boggling when I ponder the cosmos always existing -- an "is" without a cause.

Perfect Brian,

So, . . again, . . . the 256 million Dollar question :
What would an ever existing Powerful Being's desire ?
and can't get enough of It


"There is something rather than nothing" - really cool insight Brian...

Wisdom of do nothing:


(Thanks to chris johns' comment which led me to investigate Adyashanti)

Some of the comments on the video make me laugh...
"urinate goodness"?
Reply: "your innate" lol

I'm with Brian, and got there through a different route.

I was trying to imagine the beginning of time. If there are multiple universes, then the beginning of the first universe, the first creation, 'moment zero'.

But if there is a 'Moment zero' on the grand timeline of existence, that would mean we could we could point to period before 'moment zero' where there was no time.

But there can't be a period before time because, well, it's a 'period'... It's a timeframe.

So we can't ever get rid of 'time'.

Therefore, time has always existed.

But what is 'time'? It is just change. If nothing changes relative to something else, then we cannot say any time has passed.

So when I say time has always existed, that means change has always existed.

And if change has always existed, it means there must have always been something which changes.

Therefore there has always been a 'something' in existence which changes.

Therefore existence has always existed.

That hurt my brain.

I'm not sure what universe you live in, but by all accounts it should be obvious that the universe is both something and nothing, with a bit of something embedded in nothing and nothing embedded in something (think of the atom which is more than 99.999999999% vacuum plus a few elementary particles, namely quarks (protons and neutrons) and leptons (electrons).

William, the "nothing" of the vacuum you speak of clearly isn't really nothing. One of the links in this post is to another blog post I wrote that contains nine levels of nothing. Interesting analysis. It shows that what seems to be nothing, like empty space, actually is very much something.

(1) Nothing as existing space and time that just happened to be totally empty of all visible objects (particles and energy are permitted) -- an utterly simplistic, pre-scientific view.

(2) Nothing as existing space and time that just happens to be totally empty of all matter (no particles, but energy is permitted -- flouting the law of mass-energy equivalence).

(3) Nothing as existing space and time that just happens to be totally empty of all matter and energy.

(4) Nothing as existing space and time that is by necessity -- irremediably and permanently in all directions, temporal as well as spatial -- totally empty of all matter and energy.

(5) Nothing of the kind found in some theoretical formulations by physicists, where, although space-time (unified) as well as mass-energy (unified) do not exist, pre-existing laws, particularly laws of quantum mechanics, do exist. And it is these laws that make it the case that universes can and do, from time to time, pop into existence from “Nothing,” creating space-time as well as mass-energy. (It is standard physics to assume that empty space must seethe with virtual particles, reflecting the uncertainty principle of quantum physics, where particle-antiparticle pairs come into being and then, almost always, in a fleetingly brief moment, annihilate one another.)

(6) Nothing where not only is there no space-time and no mass-energy, but also there are no pre-existing laws of physics that could generate space-time or mass-energy (universes).

(7) Nothing where not only is there are no space-time, no mass-energy, and no pre-existing laws of physics, but also there are no non-physical things or kinds that are concrete (rather than abstract) --no God, no gods, and no consciousness (cosmic or otherwise). This means that there are no physical or non-physical beings or existents of any kind -- nothing, whether natural or supernatural, that is concrete (rather than abstract).

(8) Nothing where not only is there none of the above (so that, as in Nothing 7, there are no concrete existing things, physical or non-physical), but also there are no abstract objects of any kind -- no numbers, no sets, no logic, no general propositions, no universals, no Platonic forms (e.g., no value).

(9) Nothing where not only is there none of the above (so that, as in Nothing 8, there are no abstract objects), but also there are no possibilities of any kind (recognizing that possibilities and abstract objects overlap, though allowing that they can be distinguished).

The days and nights of brahma
Quite good for some centuries BC

And that happens in the very near 1/7 , the first of seven time_space space_time spheres, ¨¨ which entrance is by death
Meditation with the semantics of totally not thinking while being awake



I appreciate your rejoinder, which I fully expected since "modern" theoretical physics seems to have the last word on everything these days (including even the "God" particle, the Higgs boson). I am scientist by "trade" (a chemist), and while I follow all the new developments in Science carefully because I enjoy the intellectual adventure I do not take the Scientific "Story" to be the whole picture of the Universe (as even suggested by the nine levels of "Nothingness" conveyed in your comment). Our knowledge about the Universe (from a Scientific point of view) is not about it's "isness" or "nothingness" but rather about how it is conceived and perceived by us humans. Essentially things (and even no-things or nothings) do not exist the way our grasping self supposes they do (recall Kant's "thing-in-itself" argument).

So my point with mentioning the so-called vacuum in the atom was just to prod your thinking a bit and allow you to reflect on the fact that biasing the Universe into being something rather than nothing or alternatively both nothing and something (my biased choice!) is simply a human-based guessing game.

The quote, in its entirety, is taken from The Origin of Species, Chapter 6, "Organs of extreme perfection and complication".

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.
What do you have to say ??

"(2) Nothing as existing space and time that just happens to be totally empty of all matter (no particles, but energy is permitted -- flouting the law of mass-energy equivalence). "

Using the Fermionic definition of matter, that could be cashed out as an all Boson universe, without braking any laws.

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