Why is there Something instead of Nothing?
Metaphysics is defined as the study of everything that can be said to exist. Given that something does indeed exist, imagining the absence of everything that exists, leads to the conceptual idea of nothingness. Does “nothing” exist? Ever since philosophers and theologians have cogitated about the nature of reality, there have been endless debates over whether an empty universe is possible, whether an absolute vacuum can exist, and about the origin of the universe itself: Did “something”, -in fact, all the things we experience, - emerge from nothing?
At least one philosopher, Martin Heidegger, believed the question of why there is something rather than nothing to be the most fundamental issue of philosophy. 1;2 The polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, in his “Principle of Sufficient Reason,” 3 posited that there is an explanation for every fact, an answer for every question. “This principle having been stated,” Leibniz wrote, “the first question which we have a right to ask will be: ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’”
Imagine my excitement, when I discovered that the application of my Calculus of Distinctions 4 and Dimensional Extrapolation 5 to the description of the formation of the Hydrogen atom, tritium and all the elements of the Periodic Table 6, answered this question! It turns out that the question ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ arises from a misunderstanding, or, more accurately, an almost complete lack of understanding of the relationship between Space, Time and Consciousness, the triadic domain that contains all mass, energy and thought.
The idea that there can be ‘something’ called ‘nothing’ is soundly refuted by application of the Calculus of Distinctions to Quantum Mechanics. In other words, in our universe, a universe known to be built of quanta (subatomic units of specific, limited size), there is no such thing as nothing!
Understanding the nature of Time as a three-dimensional domain within which the three-dimensional domain of Space is contained, leads to the logical conclusion (spelled out by the Calculus of Distinctions) that there are no absolute beginnings or ends: only change. The erroneous idea that the universe could have had an absolute beginning, and thus might have an absolute end, comes from our limited perception of reality obtained through the physical senses: We see things come and go, people being born, living for a while and dying. But if we look a bit more closely at what really happens, we see that nothing is actually destroyed. Application of the Calculus of Distinctions reveals that the universal Law of the Conservation of mass and energy, long validated by experiment, and long accepted in the physical sciences, extends to all things, including Space, Time and Consciousness. In other words, Reality, including the universe and all that is contained within it, has always existed in some form.
If you want to know more about this, check out the references below. A good place to start is with “Transcendental Physics” 7 a book written for the general informed public, with most of the mathematics in appendices. If that whets your desire to understand the nature of reality, you may want to move on to “Reality Begins with Consciousness” 5 and “Space, Time and Consciousness” 6 by Dr. Vernon Neppe and myself. “Transcendental Physics” is available on Amazon and iuniverse, and books and articles by Dr. Neppe and this author are available at www.BrainVoyage.com.
1. Heidegger, Martin, “Sein und Zeit”, Gesamtausgabe* Volume 2, "Being and Time" trans. by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (London: SCM Press, 1962); re-translated by Joan Stambaugh (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996)
2. Heidegger, Martin, "Identität und Differenz", Gesamtausgabe Volume 11, "Identity and Difference", trans. by Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper & Row, 1969)
* Heidegger's collected works are published by Vittorio Klostermann. The Gesamtausgabe (Compiled Works) of Martin Heidegger’s writings was initiated Heidegger's lifetime . He decided on the sequence of publication of the volumes and demanded that the principle of editing should be "ways not works."
3. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe. Ed. Preussischen (later: Deutsche) Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Darmstadt/Leipzig/Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1923
4. Close, Edward R., “Transcendental Physics”, Appendix D, pp. 316 – 327, Gutenberg-Richter Press, 1997, iuniverse, 2000
5. Neppe, V.M. and Close, E.R., “Reality Begins with Consciousness”, e-book, www.BrainVoyage.com, Seattle, 2013
6. Close, Edward R., and Neppe, Vernon M., “Space, Time and Consciousness” (in press) www.BrainVoyage.com, Seattle, 2013
7. Close, Edward R., “Transcendental Physics”, Gutenberg-Richter Press, 1997, iuniverse, 2000