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God vs nothing

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Posted on Jun 16, 2012, 1:17:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2012, 1:18:32 PM PDT
Andre Lieven says:
The Physics of Nothing By JOHN TIERNEY June 12, 2009, 4:14 pm

A dispatch from my colleague Dennis Overbye:

As fans of the late, great "Seinfeld," know, there is a lot to say about nothing.

At the World Science Festival Thursday night, four physicists spent nearly two hours under the jocular and irreverent grilling radio broadcaster John Hockenberry, cohost of "The Takeaway," and barely scratched the surface of the void that is the background or perhaps the platform of all our experience. They did in the end offer an answer to the question that has plagued philosophers and scientists: Why is there something rather than nothing at all?

"Nothing is unstable," Frank Wilczek, a physicist and Nobel laureate from MIT, finally said to a general murmur of agreement of his colleagues on stage, John Barrow of Cambridge University in England, Paul Davies of Arizona State and George Ellis of the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Given a chance, nature will make nothingness boil with activity.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012, 4:42:02 PM PDT
A L Hi....... Dennis Overbye :) one of my fav writers - "Lonley Hearts of the Cosmos" is one of the most passionate and engaging books about science and the scientists who want to prise open the secrets of the universe.

Although the whole idea of nothing falls on its own head if from it , the universe "something" boils out. The analogy is that nothing is like a pencil balanced on its point its so unstable it has to fall and something bursts out. I think nothing is simply a human concept and like "time" its handy but only exists as a concept. If at any point in history nothing existed then there could be no change and if there was no change nothing would be eternal. It obviously isn't so ergo "nothing" has never existed because its an impossibility. You can have apparent emptyness but not "nothing" the very fabric of space is perhaps a thing in itself.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012, 7:21:39 PM PDT
Andre Lieven says:
SD; Yes, pretty much. The evidence shows that nothingness is not stable. Due to natural laws. Which are all that's needed.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 5:04:17 AM PDT
God is only a human concept, but nothing probably can never exist. God in a "real" sense does not exist and never will.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 5:47:45 AM PDT
Chess Player says:
And you all this because you are omniscient?

Posted on Jun 17, 2012, 5:51:21 AM PDT
Ponger says:
Science does not say something comes from nothing when virtual particles appear out of "empty space". That "empty space" itself is actually something, and contains a gravitational field, low level background EM radiation, and time, what ever time is.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 7:20:03 AM PDT
Aardwizz says:
I can say that "God is smarter than I am".
I cannot say (with honesty) "Nothing is smarter than I am".

And that hints at the difference between "God" and "nothing". We project onto "God" all the attributes that we desire: power, wisdom, knowledge, longevity. We project onto "nothing" attributes that we do not: lack of existence, darkness.

Remember that what we project upon "God" and what "God"s true nature is are not necessarily synonymous. This is forgotten by Believers and UnBelievers alike.


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 9:16:03 AM PDT
Good point, Ponger. Empty space is something and so are natural laws. Our concepts are grounded in experience in four dimensional reality. Consequently, it is very difficult for us to even imagine a hypothetical Absolute Nothing. Perhaps our actual reality is not four dimensional but is capable of creating the appearance of four dimensions. It apparently must be non-dimensional and random: Otherwise, we need to explain why it has dimensions and laws before there was anything else. And if we can do that, then it is not nothing.

If this fundamental "substance" can create the appearance of four dimensions, then where is the consciousness that experiences the appearance of those four dimensions? Could it be that this substance is itself conscious? This line of thinking can "explain" how universes can exist in an apparent Absolute Nothingness and why there is consciousness in the universe. Is this science? No, of course not. We have to struggle just to imagine it, much less observe it. Furthermore, it is beyond the reality of science. At best, it is speculation that can provide some of us with pragmatic truths. And this line of thinking does not lead to a concept of god that requires worship and obedience to moral strictures. But it can lead to inferences about how we are related to each other and to all that is.

Posted on Jun 17, 2012, 11:01:54 AM PDT
Ponger says:
The whole first cause question is a false premise that results from our brain's need to explain A via B. We can't really understand something from nothing, and this has been a convenient excuse for creating gods. Since matter/energy can't seem to be created or destroyed, it is likely to have always existed. Even when a million stars are sucked into a black hole that is smaller than a grain of salt, we feel the gravitaional pull equivalent to all those stars, so all that "mass: has not been destroyed. We even have theories of what preceeded the big bang. So we can understand one form of creation where matter/energy rearranges itself to create a person, star or tree, but that is a secondary form of creation involving the rearrangement of a primary form of "existence". We cannot understand the cause of primary forms of existence, and the question may likely be moot. Or the answer (42) is beyound our comprehension. Or maybe we will get there. But let's not make up answers to feel good about ourselves. The search for knowledge and truth is one of the best games around and helps a lot more than making-up supernatural answers that tell us nothing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 11:21:43 AM PDT
IFeelFree says:
JWL: And you all this because you are omniscient?

IFF: Of course not.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 11:46:25 AM PDT

Your first point is right on: Our brains need to explain A via B because of the kind of experiences we have in our four dimensional environment. This is what we do. I would disagree that this is the reason for creating gods. Gods are more likely created for the social functions performed by organized religions, which have more to do with comforting and controlling the people in a society. Those kinds of concepts of god are generally very humanistic and authoritarian.

We have theories about the big bang and what preceded the big bang because we need to explain A via B. Those are not "feel good" theories. Nor are theories to try to understand the cause of primary forms of existence just "feel good" theories. Including consciousness does not suddenly make these theories different in kind from other pre-big-bang theories. Consciousness is one of our major mysteries along with the fundamental nature of everything. Yet consciousness is most essentially what we are. It is not surprising that many of us might have an interest in the how and why of consciousness.

These theories do tell some of us something. They have pragmatic truth value in that they provide us with satisfying meanings for our lives that guide our interactions with each other. That is something and it is of value to those who hold these concepts.

We seek explanations because we learn to do so in our four dimensional experiences. Now, it seems to me you are saying, "Only seek explanations as far as I deem proper and no further." It seems to me that you are as controlling as some of the fundamental religionists.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 11:58:34 AM PDT
jpl says:
Lufer says: Can anyone say anything factual about God that can't also be said of nothing?

jpl: "Nothing" makes more sense.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 12:29:31 PM PDT
mrs exp says:
Not worshipping God means worshipping the creature rather than the Creator.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 1:31:12 PM PDT
It is funny that the religious-minded seem to need to see believers everywhere. I have to disappoint you, Mrs Exp, not worshipping God means not worshipping God. Whether you worship your husband or your leader, or not, is completely independent of that.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012, 5:57:05 PM PDT
Banished says:
"Not worshipping God means worshipping the creature rather than the Creator."

Not worshiping gods can also mean not worshiping anything. Worship is a silly exercise that benefits no one, produces nothing and creates hubris in the object of worship.
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Posted on Jun 18, 2012, 8:42:57 AM PDT
Stan Furman says:
"Nothing" does not exist.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
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Initial post:  Jun 9, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 18, 2012

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