Last time, in this space we talked about the simplicity of the First Cause Argument for the existence of God.
This very simple insight is so simple that a lot of people who dislike it have spent a lot of time trying to come up with ways to avoid it. Some people think they can escape the logic of it by supposing that our universe is just one bubble in an infinite foam of other bubbles called the Multiverse, or that some collision between two other universes produced this one. But this is, of course, mere mystification by multiplication and only pushes the problem back since our contingent universe doesn’t somehow stop being contingent if you say there are million or a trillion other contingent universes (for which, by the way, we have absolutely no evidence).
All it means is that the problem got bigger, since you could suppose there is an infinite number of other contingent universes crashing into each other and you still don’t have an answer to the question “Why is there any contingent universe, whether one or a zillion?” At best, all the above is just adding more boxcars to the train, not giving us an Engine.
Another proposal for getting around the problem comes from Stephen Hawking, who is a fine physicist but an amateur philosopher. He declares:As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.
Hawking’s trouble is that he claims to give us (with his right hand) a universe that appears spontaneously “from nothing”. But then with his left hand, he actually gives us a universe that comes from “laws of gravity and quantum theory”.
In short, he’s not really giving us a universe that comes from nothing, because laws of gravity and quantum theory aren’t nothing. They are something. And they, like all the rest of contingent nature, beg the question, “Why is there gravity and a quantum vacuum of elegantly fine-tuned physical laws which has a fluctuation from which all of time, space, matter, and energy emerge?” Hawking has not really provided an argument for creation from nothing because he does not understand what “nothing” means.
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