Rejecting The Question, “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?”

Rejecting The Question, “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?” June 28, 2010

PZ Myers calls attention today to a post from Sean Carroll from a couple of years ago, which reminds me in part of some of my own thinking about the confusion in the question of “why there is something rather than nothing?”. I had a Thomist philosophy professor who impressed upon me that for Aquinas God is whatever answers the question “Why there is something rather than nothing?” And, of course, there are problems for the existence of God if the question itself is a malformed one. Carroll argues:

Ultimately, the problem is that the question — “Why is there something rather than nothing?” — doesn’t make any sense. What kind of answer could possibly count as satisfying? What could a claim like “The most natural universe is one that doesn’t exist” possibly mean? As often happens, we are led astray by imagining that we can apply the kinds of language we use in talking about contingent pieces of the world around us to the universe as a whole. It makes sense to ask why this blog exists, rather than some other blog; but there is no external vantage point from which we can compare the relatively likelihood of different modes of existence for the universe.

Here is my own dialectical exploration of similar themes:  Is The Idea Of “Nothing” Illusory?

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