• Pippen
    80
    Can something come out of nothing?

    1. We formulate a formula of "something follows from nothing and nothing is and therefore it follows something". We use propositional logic since it's easier and predicate logic doesn't change anything here. Let p stand for anything and ~p for nothing then we get:: ((~p -> p) & ~p) -> p.

    2. We see that the marked antecedens is a contradiction and therefore it's false.

    3. So despite the whole formula in 1. is a tautology we can conclude that never something (p) can follow from this antecendes which formulates the ex nihilo condition and henceforth the creatio ex nihilo is refuted. Agreed (upon the condition to trust my formalization of the creatio ex nihilo)?

    Also: Could one argue that the creatio ex nihilo is not formalizeable since "~p" assumes some things to be and so can never stand for purely nothing?
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    I think Genisis agrees:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

    3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

    Of course something co-existing with God at creation does present some other questions but, (it sounds like the Big Bang doesn't it)...

    it is quantum theory that posits the possibility of creatio ex nihilo.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    it is quantum theory that posits the possibility of creatio ex nihilo.Cavacava

    Except for the 'nihilo' of quantum theory is actually a field, and a field ain't nothing.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    From article:

    Quantum mechanics tells us that "nothing" is inherently unstable, so the initial leap from nothing to something may have been inevitable. Then the resulting tiny bubble of space-time could have burgeoned into a massive, busy universe, thanks to inflation. As Krauss puts it, "The laws of physics as we understand them make it eminently plausible that our universe arose from nothing - no space, no time, no particles, nothing that we now know of."
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Can something come out of nothing?Pippen

    I don't understand your logical argument, but then I don't think the question is answerable by logic. It is a matter of fact which is, at least potentially, answerable by science. Of course, as always, it comes down to what we mean by "nothing."
  • Banno
    8.9k
    Albert's criticism is not new...

    thalesInventsPhilosophy.png
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    Krauss is one of the few living physicists described by Scientific American as a "public intellectual"[21] and he is the only physicist to have received awards from all three major American physics societies: the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics. In 2012, he was awarded the National Science Board's Public Service Medal for his contributions to public education in science and engineering in the United States.[34]

    Of course that does not mean he can't be all wet here (and Albert is a philosopher), but it seems like there are a lot of contrasting theories here.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    I didn't realize that Krauss and Albert had a feud over Albert's review:

    Krauss reacted vehemently and responded in an interview published in The Atlantic[6] calling Albert “moronic” and dismissing the philosophy of science as worthless. In March 2013, The New York Times reported[7] that Albert, who had previously been invited to speak at the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History, was later disinvited. Albert claimed "It sparked a suspicion that Krauss must have demanded that I not be invited. But of course I’ve got no proof."
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    see also this review.

    Basically there’s a philosophical distinction at play here which Krauss shows no sign of getting.

    His popular science writing is fine but he doesn’t get philosophy at all.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Just to recap:

    As Krauss puts it, "The laws of physics as we understand them make it eminently plausible that our universe arose from nothing - no space, no time, no particles, nothing that we now know of."

    The particular, eternally persisting, elementary physical stuff of the world, according to the standard presentations of relativistic quantum field theories, consists (unsurprisingly) of relativistic quantum fields. And the fundamental laws of this theory take the form of rules concerning which arrangements of those fields are physically possible and which aren’t, and rules connecting the arrangements of those fields at later times to their arrangements at earlier times, and so on — and they have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story. — David Albert
  • Banno
    8.9k
    It would appear not.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    Better off with the biblical account.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.8k
    so the initial leap from nothing to something may have been inevitable

    Yeah, well... I'm waiting for several nothings to become something and so far, nothing has happened.
  • S
    11.8k
    When you compare those two quotes, it looks like what Albert is doing is tantamount to criticising a cat for not barking.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Well, Krauss wrote a book about cats that bark, so you can hardly blame him.

    On a more serious note, the whole flaw with Krauss’ book, which is called ‘A Universe from Nothing’, is that it assumes the laws of physics. So it’s actually about ‘nothing’ PLUS ‘the laws of physics’. And the laws of physics ain’t nothing. Yet this fact, which seems elemental to me, escapes Krauss, who seems nonetheless to be feted for his perspicuity.
  • S
    11.8k
    I haven't read the book, so I was judging this based on your what I've seen from you. If Krauss talks about what the laws of physics tell us, and Albert tries to score a goal against him by talking about what the standard presentations of relativistic quantum field theories tell us, and what they do not tell us, then hasn't he missed the goal? So what if what Krauss was talking about doesn't tell us why there was a world in the first place? So what if he doesn't delve into philosophy? Plato's Republic doesn't delve into physics. Is that a valid criticism?
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Krauss' book was positioned as a naturalistic argument against religion. One would hope that such an attempt would be better informed.
  • S
    11.8k
    On a more serious note, the whole flaw with Krauss’ book, which is called ‘A Universe from Nothing’, is that it assumes the laws of physics. So it’s actually about ‘nothing’ PLUS ‘the laws of physics’. And the laws of physics ain’t nothing. Yet this fact, which seems elemental to me, escapes Krauss, who seems nonetheless to be feted for his perspicuity.Wayfarer

    No, it looks more like it has escaped you than that it has escaped Krauss. In what you quoted, it is clear that he is taking into account the laws of physics as we understand them. That's what one would expect from a theoretical physicist.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Well, I recommend some more reading then. Perhaps just the two reviews I quoted would suffice.
  • S
    11.8k
    Some more reading is a fine recommendation. But no, it never suffices to read only a few critical reviews. Do you want me to end up biased against him?
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Another interesting point - George LeMaitre, who published the original paper that became known as the ‘Big Bang’ theory (and that name was a pejorative coined later by Fred Hoyle), was a Jesuit, as it happens. He published his paper of the ‘primeval atom’ in a little-noticed physics journal, and it attracted not much attention to begin with. When it started to be talked about, there was considerable resistance to it, because it sounded rather too much like ‘creation ex nihilo’.

    And, in fact, some time later the Pope noticed this very fact, and started mentioning it in public speeches in the 1960’s as support for the Church’s doctrine. Le Maître was aghast, as he had no intention of using his scientific findings in support of the faith, and in fact considered it improper; so he lobbied the Pope’s science advisor to stop referring to his theory, an effort which was apparently successful, as His Holiness thereafter dropped reference to it. (This anecdote is related in Simon Singh’s book on Big Bang cosmology.)

    Nevertheless, at least in the popular imagination, I can see how the notion of the so-called Big Bang could be interpreted as ‘creation ex nihilo’. We’re told that the entire universe sprang into existence, in a single instant, from a single point.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.4k
    Quantum mechanics tells us that "nothing" is inherently unstable, so the initial leap from nothing to something may have been inevitable.

    Stability is a property. The predication of "unstable" to "nothing", requires the assumption that nothing is something.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Stability is a property. The predication of "unstable" to "nothing", requires the assumption that nothing is something.Metaphysician Undercover

    That seems close to but not exactly an argument that begs the question e.g. if something comes out of it, it can't possibly be nothing. It is at least the potential for something, which is something.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.4k

    It's not begging the question, it's just a matter of obeying the fundamental grammar of the English language. To predicate a property such as "instability" requires that there is a subject of the predication. To insist that "nothing" here as the subject, means nothing in any absolute sense, leaves us without a subject; which is meaningless nonsense in the English language. It defies the fundamental grammar and is therefore nonsense.

    To rescue that statement from this abyss of nonsense requires that we allow that "nothing" is a subject. Therefore in this usage "nothing" doesn't signify nothing in any absolute sense, it signifies something, Then the whole argument which is based on this statement is undermined.

    So either we have a premise which is nonsense, and without meaning in the English language ("'nothing' is inherently unstable"), or we have an argument which is completely nonsensical. Any way we interpret it, it is nonsense.
  • tom
    1.5k
    it is quantum theory that posits the possibility of creatio ex nihilo.Cavacava

    I'm not so sure about that. It seems that for inflation to begin, there has to already exist a scalar field with certain properties in a preexisting space-time. The Universe may be the ultimate free lunch, but it didn't come from nothing.

    Also, it is claimed that our universe is unbounded - it is infinite. What physical process can take nothing and make it infinite in finite time?
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    Yea, as I said, I'll go with the Biblical account for now, just not sure about the deity or force that made the difference.

    Even if this field has existed and will always exist, why does it exist,and what changed and why, in order for us to exist?

    I don't know enough about this stuff, and from the little I understand, it seems to me that we are not even close to understanding it. Under some interpretations, as Wayfarer indicated, the physicists are proving the theologians were right all along. Physicists try to escape to the multiverse, but this is just a ruse in my opinion.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    It's not begging the question, it's just a matter of obeying the fundamental grammar of the English language.Metaphysician Undercover

    I said it was close to begging the question. Saying nothing can't be unstable is close to saying nothing cannot spontaneously become something. Nothing cannot do something spontaneously. I am trying to figure out whether they are fundamentally the same thing. Not sure, but I think they are.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.4k

    OK, I see the point. I cannot imagine "something comes from nothing" in any way other than "nothing becomes something". And this is like saying that nothing is active, it is doing something, becoming something.
  • substantivalism
    84
    Yea, as I said, I'll go with the Biblical account for now, just not sure about the deity or force that made the difference.

    Even if this field has existed and will always exist, why does it exist,and what changed and why, in order for us to exist?

    I don't know enough about this stuff, and from the little I understand, it seems to me that we are not even close to understanding it. Under some interpretations, as Wayfarer indicated, the physicists are proving the theologians were right all along. Physicists try to escape to the multiverse, but this is just a ruse in my opinion.
    Cavacava

    It's not escaping to the multiverse it's a conclusion from known physics. Heck, you cannot get something from nothing therefore there was always something because something exists now end of story. Asking these why questions presumes there is an answer to be given that is understandable in human concepts or terms. Not only that it, seems to presume a form of the principle of sufficient reason from Leibniz and while in many situations it's conceivable to discovery a reason for some state of affairs obtaining why think this extends universally to situations so varied or far from our local circumstances to even existence itself. Ex nihilo is contradictory and creatio ex materia or some form of creatio ex profundis is the only answer. If you throw a "but why" my way please feel free to justify that this even applies or that such a reason exists. There are many questions in mathematics that may be inherently unanswerable by us precisely but there are proofs that such proofs do at the very least exist.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    In the beginning there was the inflaton field, and it was without form, and void.

    Then it spontaneously transitioned into a different phase exciting all of the other quantum fields.

    yadda yadda yadda later the hot plasma filling the universe was without form, and void, and then the free electrons paired with the H and He ions in another phase shift from plasma to gas and there was light.

    And it was good.
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