Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? (Part 2)

This is Part 2 in the series: God is Not a Unicorn: The Myth and Physics of Creation

In Part 1 we looked at the reason why the question of God ‘s existence cannot be satisfied by an appeal to the imagination alone.


The question of why is there something rather than nothing has been with us for as long as man first acquired language and began to ask questions about the world around him. It is not a simple question and it does not belong to one branch of knowledge. The discussion of it can get complicated quickly, as you can see from the quotation below. In this post I will try to break the question down into simpler language so that we can understand the various approaches to answering it more fully.

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Einstein’s Orginal Sin

Confusion over what Einstein’s Theories of Relativity actually revealed about the true nature of space and time created a major storm of controversy in the early part of the 20th century and continues, though more quietly, to this day. Most people think that Relativity has been “proven” by science and that only cranks would continue to think there is something to debate.

What is not known, by the general public, is that later in life Einstein himself began to reflect on what he had accomplished and expressed some doubt that he had, in fact, been correct about some interpretations of his theories ideas concerning the true nature of time and space.

The Original Sin

Einstein’s original sin, centered on his use of the discovery of the speed of light and the fact that it seemed to be constant no matter which reference frame it traveled in. This means that no matter how fast a light source travelled, the maximum speed light that was emitted from that source had a fixed upper limit. There are other interpretations that could be imagined about the nature of light, space and time from that discovery, but it was Einstein’s interpretation that world came to accept as the true one. Let us see why.

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Human Concepts and Divine Ideas – Brain Theory

Last time I wrote about Levels of Being and the difference between consciousness and self-awareness. I have also written about mental maps and how we sometimes confuse our mental constructs (models of reality) with reality itself. I find it useful to think we have mental frameworks, but what do we actually know about how our mind creates concepts?

The answer is (like so much of what we think we know): Not much.

Science vs. Philosophy

Philosophy is the study of all knowledge about the essence of Reality and all that exists in it, including human beings. Science used to be called “Natural Philosophy.” It was a branch of philosophy that dealt with the physical nature of things. It is only very recently that the later term was dropped, and we call all things that we study about the physical world: Science. Further, it’s only since the early part of the 20th century that people began to think that science had developed far enough along that it could replace all of philosophy to explain all of Reality. By the time I went to college, philosophy was no longer a core subject of study. I think this is a mistake because without some understanding of philosophy it is difficult to formulate conclusions about what we see in the models and experiments that scientists conduct.  (See Bergson vs Einstein).

I believe that science can help inform other branches of philosophy, but when it comes to questions that border on the edge of our understanding, it helps to be familiar with the a broader philosophical approach that has developed over the centuries.  

What is a concept?

Philosophers separate the problem of concepts into 3 categories:

  1. Concepts as mental representations
  2. Concepts as abilities
  3. Concepts as abstract objects

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What Don’t We Know About Gravity? Answer: Everything

Nobody knows what gravity is, and almost nobody knows that nobody knows what gravity is. The exception is scientists. They know that nobody knows what gravity is, because they don’t know what gravity is. – Richard Panek

Yesterday, I wrote a post, A Tale of Two Brains, where I mentioned that scientists don’t know what gravity is. I thought I should add a separate note about it because most people are unaware how much mystery there is in the subject and I thought I should provide a reference to back up that shocking admission of scientific failure.

Richard Panek has written an interesting book on the history of our study of gravity. He also writes about the how most people do not know that science is not as certain about its understanding of how the universe as we think.

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Levels of Being: Putting the Mystery Back Into Life

One hardly hears discussion of the kingdoms of the natural world anymore. It is introduced in the early grades of our public schools and hardly ever mentioned again unless one goes on to study one or more of the Kingdoms in college. Our secular culture is dominated by the ideas of science and yet so few of us spend any time engaged in the study or practice of science.

Our minds crave certainty and Science seems to fulfill this need. But while Science seems to function as a Culture (See Culture: Where Do We Go From Here?), in reality it falls short. To understand why this is so, let us look at the scientific categories of existence.

Since ancient times the natural world was grouped into four major categories or kingdoms: Mineral, Plant, Animal, Human. Each level has some element the lower level lacks. Each element is a necessary quality of that kingdom without which it would not exist.

The Elements: m, x, y, and z

The elements that separate the four kingdoms are: Matter (m), Life (x), Consciousness (y), and Self-Awareness (z). The letters in parenthesis in the previous sentences are a shorthand so that we can see more easily how each of the Kingdoms are composed This convention is proposed in a little book called A Guide for the Perplexed written by E. F. Schumacher.   

Writing each kingdom with its elements, we have a table that looks like this:

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