something cannot come from nothing on its own

Discussions about the possibility of consciousness, free will, spirits, deities, religions and so on, and how these might interact with time travel, the Big Bang, many worlds and so on.

Postby Mr. Mojo » Thu Jul 27, 2006 4:59 am

I just found this site do to some unrelated research, and came across this thread. I love it. It even made me laugh a couple of times. The misunderstanding between Hugh, and Irockyou was priceless.

Just thought that i'd throw my 2cents in.

Hugh, i'm backing you fully and completly. Something can not come from nothing. Also I think you give religious people (i'm not one, that's not why I support him) a good name. Too often they say "God is the only answer", i like that you're open to possibilities. Now onto the good stuff.
Something CAN'T come from nothing. Period. The only argument that i've seen trying to say otherwise isn't an argument at all. There can be no random fluctuations, no spotaneous events, no breaking through, nothing. Something was always there. Now our Universe wasn't always there, but something could break through from another Universe to create ours.. no problem... in that case there was another Universe 1st -- something. Or a singularity -- something.

I keep hearing people say that "Stephen Hawking is on my side." Saying so is just ignorant. Nothing less. He has never said anything to even imply that 'something comes from nothing'.

Keep fighting the good fight Hugh!
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Postby PWrong » Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:29 am

Something CAN'T come from nothing. Period. The only argument that i've seen trying to say otherwise isn't an argument at all.

Ok, how about this argument? It's just as good as yours, in fact it's exactly the same, in reverse. Here it is:

Something CAN come from nothing. Period.

I keep hearing people say that "Stephen Hawking is on my side." Saying so is just ignorant. Nothing less. He has never said anything to even imply that 'something comes from nothing'.

Actually he has, but I agree that the argument is an appeal to authority, so it may not be valid.

There can be no random fluctuations, no spotaneous events, no breaking through, nothing.

It's really our definition of "nothing" that we're arguing about here. You're taking it to mean simply the empty set. We're being a bit more flexible, since we assume the existence of a set of rules and nothing more. The rules imply that, given a total lack of anything physical, it is possible for physical objects to spontaneously appear. The rules sound stupid at first, but they make sense if you're used to quantum mechanics.
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Postby Nick » Thu Jul 27, 2006 11:00 am

Not to mention the possibility that with no spacetime = no rules. Without space or time as we know it, are the rules the same? Perhaps not.
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Postby houserichichi » Thu Jul 27, 2006 11:50 am

irockyou wrote:Not to mention the possibility that with no spacetime = no rules. Without space or time as we know it, are the rules the same? Perhaps not.


That's been my point, anyway. Outside spacetime we have no reason to suspect that causality applies...though equally valid, we have no reason to suspect that it does not so it's just a matter of taste. Besides, who's to say what's beyond the universe (if anything) anyway?
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Postby bo198214 » Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:38 pm

Oh I thought causality is connected with time ....
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Postby Mr. Mojo » Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:30 am

I love this series of posts.

1st off, I feel as though I need to applaud Pwrong. You certainly put my argument back at me. Beautifully done.

I guess what we come into here is the wacky world of opinion. I mean anyone (even Mr. Hawking) who says what it was 'before' the beginning, is relying on instict and conjecture. With that in mind, it's also very interesting to see just how strongly we're all ready to battle for our opinions.

And on that note, I shall continue the battle! ;

I understand using quantum theory to say that matter spontaeously appears... it's true... we can witness that today. When you get down to that wild and crazy quantum world it seems as though all physics breaks apart, and it's a whole new set of rules that we're only just beginning to understand. We see matter coming and going, we see it randomly teleporting, its up, it's down. It's like spring break with all you can drink tequilla -- no rules!

I'm still going to maintain that these observations are recorded here. In our Universe. Or said another way... IN something. Perhaps it's not that matter is simply appearing, but it's coming from somewhere else. That seems better to me. As for our Universe, I'd have to say the same thing.

To show what I mean... Imagine an infinite nothingness. Within that nothingness our Universe is formed. What if we're not the only Universe in that nothingness, other Universes are being formed, and being destroyed. From our observation point, we're it. We come from nothing, and there was nothing there before, but if there are more, and they are going through a cycle of life and death, then it's indeed possible that we're not the 1st, or only Universe. I'd have to maintain, and I understand that this is only my opion, that there was always something around to cause the creation of the Universe. I'd have to see it as one of many.
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Postby houserichichi » Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:39 am

The main argument, which you pointed out, against the comparison between spontaneous matter creation-annihilation is that it exists within the universe. Matter creation is not the same thing as the creation of a universe in the general sense. Quantum weirdness is just that, but extra-universal physics may not even exist. Matter exists and 'interacts' inside our universe. On the other hand our universe exists independent of something 'outside'. Now, I don't know that for certain, of course, and nobody does, but as it is the simplest case we can use Occam's razor and take it as the valid argument until new evidence crops up to suggest otherwise.

So, that in mind, who's to say that the universe actually 'came' from anywhere? As Hugh put it so soundly, absolute nothingness is completely devoid of anything so for 'something' to come into being would simply result in a philosophical paradox. The unfortunate reality is, however, that the maths that govern these sorts of things don't choose to care about our choice of philosophy or bias. Of course as a math-head I have to side with what I've learned, but I'm open to the idea that at the far extremes of the spectrum maybe logic in its most abstract form just doesn't apply. Maybe there's something beyond the boundary of our universe, maybe not. Either way I'm guessing we'll probably never live to see the day it's resolved.

Thank god for the internet. We can peck at eachother until the end of our time over it instead. :wink:
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Postby bo198214 » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:14 am

Hmmm "comes into existance" implies for me already a notion of time.
It was not there (for some time) and then (starting at a certain time) it comes into existance.
If we speak of something with no time there can be no change.
For an example how one can imagine such timelessness at all, I like to consider the mathematical universe as space and timeless.
Everything we (mathematicians) do is discover mathematical laws in space and time. And though there is no change in that universe its not boring at all ;)

This kind of view is called platonic. I.e. there is an already ready realm of "ideas"/"concepts"/"blueprints", which then manifests in space and time. So if you want to know more about it, perhaps read Plato.
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Postby PWrong » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:58 am

I think I can prove Hugh right.
Suppose the universe can come from "absolute nothingness". Then the nothingness has potential for a universe to spring up inside it. This potential may not be any physical entity, but it certainly exists, and it's contained within the "nothingness" contains it. Thus it's not nothing at all, because it contains the potential for a universe.

The only problem with this argument is that it has a ridiculously strict interpretation of "nothing". If we take a less strict interpretation, then quantum foam explains the existence of the universe.
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Postby moonlord » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:16 am

Quantum mechanics allow branes to pop out of nothing...
"God does not play dice." -- Albert Einstein, early 1900's.
"Not only does God play dice, but... he sometimes throws them where we cannot see them." -- Stephen Hawking, late 1900's.
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Postby Nick » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:55 am

PWrong, from what you said, I understood your argument as this:

If something can come from nothing, and something does come from nothing, then it isn't nothing anymore, and is, in fact, something.

I don't see how this is an argument. It sounds more like a cause and an effect.
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Postby bo198214 » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:02 am

For the case I was not clear:
If we have absolute nothingness, especially time lacks.
If we have no time, there can not spring a universe, because it would be a change, there would be a "before" (without universe) and an "after" (with universe). So at least a certain notion of time would be required.

@moonlord
I thought they pop out *in* space time :?
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Postby PWrong » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:21 am

If something can come from nothing, and something does come from nothing, then it isn't nothing anymore, and is, in fact, something.

It wasn't nothing to begin with. It looks like nothing, but it has the potential to be something. One can argue that this potential itself is something.

Quantum mechanics allow branes to pop out of nothing...
Which is handy if you can't spell :wink:.
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Postby Hugh » Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:39 pm

Thanks Mr. Mojo, good points, and welcome to the forum. :D

Bo, good points about the time aspect. :D

PWrong, an interesting way of looking at it. :D

I'd agree with the strict definition of "absolute nothingness" and it's lack of potential as well.
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Postby PWrong » Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:12 pm

I'm doing logic in one of my units this semester, and I'm learning how to put arguments into syllogistic form. I hope you don't mind if I practice with your original argument.

If there was ever a time that "nothing" existed, then something could not have come from it. So I'm thinking that either the universe, or a creator; God, has always existed.


Here's your argument, as I understand it, in syllogistic form
(1) Something cannot come from nothing (defined as the empty set)
(2) If the universe could not come from nothing, then it has either always existed, or it came from God.
(3) (suppressed premise) The big bang proves that the universe had a beginning, so it hasn't always existed.
(4) (suppressed premise) Therefore God exists.

Since I've proven (1), my disagreement is now with point 2. It's entirely possible that the universe came from something that was not God.
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Postby Hugh » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:57 pm

PWrong wrote:It's entirely possible that the universe came from something that was not God.

I agree, but it still would have been from something.

You'll see that later on in the thread that I clarified the definition of "the universe" to be the "something" that it is made of, in whatever form, matter, energy, etc., even empty space with a potential and existing laws for development. The point is that that wouldn't have been "absolute nothingness".
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Postby Nick » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:16 pm

I define absolute nothingness as an absence of space and time.
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Postby PWrong » Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:42 am

You'll see that later on in the thread that I clarified the definition of "the universe" to be the "something" that it is made of, in whatever form, matter, energy, etc., even empty space with a potential and existing laws for development. The point is that that wouldn't have been "absolute nothingness".

Then by your definition, God is the universe.
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Postby Nick » Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:23 am

How so?
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Postby moonlord » Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:57 pm

<PWrong>

Quantum mechanics allow branes to pop out of nothing...
Which is handy if you can't spell :wink:.

</PWrong>

I don't get it:

Quantum mechanics = subject
allow = predicate
(branes to pop out of nothing) = sentence acting as direct object

branes = subject
to pop = predicate
out of nothing = circumstantial place object

Or at least this is what I get when I translate from Romanian... :)

Now, back to the subject. Branes confine the Universe, therefore spacetime also. There may be more than one brane. Taken to the limit, QM allows branes ("Universe bubbles") to pop into existance for a usually short amount of time. Say, for the sake of argument, that one in a milliard exists for 20G years. The weak anthropic principle explains why exactly ours is that one.

Hugh: "even empty space with a potential and existing laws for development".

Because "before" the Big Bang we don't have empty space because there is no space, following PWrong's logic Hugh admits that God is the Universe.
"God does not play dice." -- Albert Einstein, early 1900's.
"Not only does God play dice, but... he sometimes throws them where we cannot see them." -- Stephen Hawking, late 1900's.
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Postby PWrong » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:00 pm

even empty space with a potential and existing laws for development

God presumably can potentially create the universe. Hugh's definition says that the potential to create a universe is the universe itself. Therefore God is the universe.
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Postby bo198214 » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:33 pm

@moonlord
I didnt understand Pwrongs comment either.
If a brane is associated with a space time, it can not pop out, because the time argument.
If we assume no surrounding space and time around our space-time, we can not say *where* is our space-time located, in a bit distorted language we would say its everywhere and/or nowhere, in a similar way we can not say *when* it was created, and similarly we would describe it as always and/or never. Though for us there would be a time 0 which is the "lower end" of our space-time.

An other way to deal with the creation would be to assume a sourrounding space-time around our space-time. In this god-space-time we then can say when and where our space-time is located. This in deed is just another way to say that there are additonal space and time coordinates.
Though the question is then who created this god-space-time. (And we can nest this to arbitrary depth.)
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Postby PWrong » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:41 pm

Quantum mechanics allow branes to pop out of nothing...

Which is handy if you can't spell .

I don't get it:

It was a joke. If you can't spell "brains", because you don't have one, you can acquire one, because quantum mechanics allows branes to pop out of nothing. Of course, a brane is completely different from "brain" and I'm sure everyone here knows that, but I thought it was funny. Apparently not.
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Postby Hugh » Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:21 pm

To me, a creator "God" is different than an ever-existing universe (in whatever form.) A God would have the ability to create and change the rules of how a universe would work, an ever-existing universe would just "be".
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Postby Nick » Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:37 pm

Though I do acknowledge the existence of a God a hypothesis, I think we should keep it out of this discussion, because then we could start by saying things like, "but then where did God come from?", and then we'd have taken a step back.
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Postby PWrong » Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:43 pm

So in effect your definition of "universe" is anything that can potentially become the universe we see today, unless it's God.

So your argument began as "either God created the universe, or it has always existed". Now, because of your stretched definition of "universe" it it's now just "either the universe came from God, or it came from something else that could potentially become a universe". I think everyone would agree with that statement. Even if we believe the universe came from nothing, we still have to assume that "nothingness" can potentially become a universe.

So you've proven a tautology, which is an achievement, but I suspect it's not what you were trying to prove.
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Postby Hugh » Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:17 pm

PWrong wrote:So in effect your definition of "universe" is anything that can potentially become the universe we see today, unless it's God.

As long as the "anything" is defined as something other than "absolute nothingness".
PWrong wrote:So your argument began as "either God created the universe, or it has always existed". Now, because of your stretched definition of "universe" it it's now just "either the universe came from God, or it came from something else that could potentially become a universe". I think everyone would agree with that statement.

I agree, as long as it's a "something else".
PWrong wrote:Even if we believe the universe came from nothing, we still have to assume that "nothingness" can potentially become a universe.

I don't agree that "absolute nothingness" could.
PWrong wrote:So you've proven a tautology, which is an achievement, but I suspect it's not what you were trying to prove.

Well, it's just something that I've thought about for a while, and it makes logical sense to me.
Last edited by Hugh on Fri Aug 04, 2006 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby houserichichi » Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:17 pm

PWrong wrote:"either the universe came from God, or it came from something else that could potentially become a universe". I think everyone would agree with that statement.


Again, you're assuming causality in this case...assuming a god even exists is pure hypothesis and completely unfounded. Assuming that it has the ability to create things is another one. Assuming that a universe is one such thing that it can create would be another.

On the other hand the second part of the argument holds if and only if causality holds in 'absolute nothing' which we have no reason to suspect. Logic breaks down unless, as you say a little later on,

PWrong wrote:Even if we believe the universe came from nothing, we still have to assume that "nothingness" can potentially become a universe.


Unless we assume that there is some higher-dimensional hyperverse with the same governing laws of physics as our own, causality is nothing more than assumption. Laws like that exist within a universe, as far as we can tell, and while it may seem intuitive to us because of our experiences, it remains nothing more than an additional requirement just like a god. Occam's razor would suggest that neither are necessary.

As 'absolute nothingness' cannot be measured it is no more real than setting up a coordinate axis within a space - it's a purely philosophical construct of the mind and it does not 'exist' in any physical form. One may speak of pink elephants and predict how they will react with its environment based on axiomatic data and the same can be said about 'absolute nothingness', but it makes neither of them real and it makes neither of them necessary. What lies beyond our universe? It could be 'absolute nothingness' or it could just be undefined...and nobody is giving the latter any consideration except poor ol' Occam and his shaving blade.
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Postby Nick » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:47 pm

Hey, I stated that before the creation of the Universe, everything was undefined earlier in this thread!

I'm with occam 8)
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Postby bo198214 » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:00 am

PWrong, can you explain me, why you continue to speak of a creation in absolute nothingness, even if there is no time?!
I mean its a bit like saying 'creating the universe in the center of the universe', when saying 'creating the universe at the big bang'.
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