## Refutation of a creatio ex nihilo

• 113
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.

Ha
• 395
In the beginning there was the inflaton field, and it was without form, and void.

There is a difference between nothing and no-thing. Nothingness is just that, no space or time or energy or God or creation. No-thing is no formed thing or no contingent thing or thing that can be defined. This is the void which is the source. The void is existence, in the simplest definition of existence: that which is, necessarily.

Existence is not a property of anything. Contingent realities* are properties of existence.

*Things that are made or dependent on a previous, necessary state.
• 199
Existence appears out of necessity since nothingness cannot exist (there cannot be nothing, never). This is not the same as saying that existence comes from nothing since, again, nothing can never be (something cannot come from something else which does not have the capacity to exist (or the quality of existent)-this is an assumption). There must always be something. Existence is a requirement because there cannot be nothing.
• 188

Heh, not quite as poetic as the Genesis version, but at least this one has the benefit of potentially (probably?) being true.
• 10

This is violence against logic.

What you're attempting to say is:

$\forall x ( \neg p \implies p )$
$\forall x (\neg p)$
$\therefore \forall x (p)$

Translation:

Let's distort the fact that "false implies true" until it vaguely resembles "nothing causes something", and then complain because false still implies true.
• 5k
This is violence against logic.gurk
I do not disagree, but nature in some cases is - can be - unkind to logic; nature being the elder.
• 6.6k
Let p stand for anything and ~p for nothing

This doesn't make sense because p is a propositional variable and can only be replaced with a proposition and, to my understanding, p can't be replaced with "anything" and nor can ~p be "nothing".

Is energy a something? According to Einstein matter and energy are equivalent i.e. one is the same as the other. If, for the sake of argument, we consider an earlier state of the universe as pure energy sans familiar matter which then, for reasons unknown to us, "coalesced" into matter, would that count as creatio ex nihilo?

Also, a thing exists only if there's a preexisting "space" of possibility in which to establish itself. For instance, if one wants to build a house, there has to be, before the construction can begin, space for that house. In other words, space for existence must precede existence itself, no? If yes, one thing is certain then, to wit that nothing (space) precedes something/anything. It must be then that creatio ex nihilo is true. :chin:
• 395
If, for the sake of argument, we consider an earlier state of the universe as pure energy sans familiar matter which then, for reasons unknown to us, "coalesced" into matter, would that count as creation ex nihilo?

In a sense yes because nothing of substance is added to create matter. Matter is nothing in the sense that it is only form.
• 4.8k
No-thing is no formed thing or no contingent thing or thing that can be defined. This is the void which is the source.

Matter is nothing in the sense that it is only form.

I agree with the trajectory of your argument. But I say it needs to go further.

Logical analysis does its usual useful trick here of finding the dialectical structure that is at the heart of any thing. Every individuated or actualised thing is a product of its material and formal causes (as hylomorphism tells us).

So the Universe - as something that is individuated and actualised, a state of substantial being - must itself be the product of the same combo. It must divide into its material and formal causes.

Creatio ex nihilo doesn't work as a true nothing would be an absence of material and formal cause too.

Theism or Platonism doesn't work as it might posit a formal cause, but is pretty mute about material cause. There is no workable complementary definition of the two aspects of causality as there would need to be if the Universe is going to be its own natural bootstrapping story - something that can be its own cause ultimately and so provide a model of causal closure.

Formal and material cause need to be seen dialectically as two aspects of the one world so that individuated substance becomes the emergent product of a closed causal process.

So how to recast Big Bang cosmology in this light?

We can think of the essential dialectic as constraints on degrees of freedom. In the beginning, there was a random everythingness. Fluctuation in every direction and so nothing happening in any direction in particular. You wouldn't even have 3D space and its collective thermal direction that is the entropic gradient we call time. There would be an infinity of directions and so no directionality worth speaking of in this ur-state. A perfect symmetry of indeterminism. A blank everythingness that is neither material, nor enformed. Just a pure vagueness or state of potential.

It doesn't even exist. It is "there" only as the limit of what it would mean to exist - to be substantial.

Individuated existence - as the Big Bang creation event - would then get going as this Apeiron, this ocean of fluctuations, first gained some degree of form, and hence a matching degree of materiality as that which is dialectical to that form. Or equally, we could put that the other way round as the first degree of materiality that thus was also the first degree of an enformed existence.

So in terms of standard physics, we are talking about some actualised constraint of an infinite potential towards some meaningful degree of dimensional limitation. If there is the matching thing of an ocean of fluctuations, they are now fenced into a common direction of some number of dimensions. A process of coherent or systematic evolution - a flow that now inexorably leads to its own most simple solution - is now in play.

In no time at all (as time is what emerges via this self-organisation) the Comos will flash through all lesser balances of material~formal causality - all the looser levels of breaking the fundamental symmetry of the Apeiron - to arrive at the maximally broken one. Our Universe which is the classical physical limit on the radical uncertainty represented by a theory of quantum gravity.

Krauss's "something from nothing" account is certainly clunky. It reflects the metaphysical prejudices of reductionists and positivists. They believe that only material causes are real. Formal causes are useful fictions that stand outside the physical world they describe.

But the mathematics of symmetries and symmetry breakings show that formal cause - as constraints on material differences - are fully real. Their structure is as physical as the fluctuations they regulate.

Quantum theorists are quite happy talking about virtual particles and other extravagances like multiple worlds. Entropy and information are two sides of the same coin. Materiality has pretty much disappeared from our raw account of nature - or at least has been softened to the right degree to allow formal cause to be just as physically real.

A suitable dialectical balance has been arrived at in the metaphysics of fundamental physics. Well, in fact things may have swung too far towards the formal aspect, if we are honest.

That is how Krauss does the confusing thing of talking about the Big Bang as a great big quantum fluctuation in a "field" - a field that has no place outside of the spacetime which then emerges from it in its material fashion. The formal aspect of the mechanics - the quantum formalism - is invoked. But it has to act on no-thing as its "field".

This would have to be corrected by an account that sees both the collapse mechanism, and the probability space being collapsed, as the two halves of the one action. Each has to develop into concrete form as a mutual or synergistic deal.

Krauss is employing a quantum formalism developed for application to an already 3+1D spatiotemporal world. It speaks to that end state accurately. But what is the quantum formalism that would apply to an infinite dimensional start point - an utterly unformed and unconstrained notion of "indeterminate everythingness"? That is the question to be asking.

Anyway, the void imagined as an Apeiron is not empty. It is just so full of unformed possibility as to be radically vague. It is as lacking in counterfactual definiteness or individuation as it is possible to be. And that applies equally to its material and formal aspects of being.

Each of those start at their least, which is why - dialectically - they can then, indeed must, develop towards there most. The "desire" of a perfect symmetry is its own breaking. And the least event will start that process "spontaneously". Once the ball starts to roll it can't stop until it arrives at its simplest position.

This is the metaphysics encoded in the physics of spontaneous symmetry breaking. It is how material physics accounts for materiality - states of matter that include plasmas and condensates - these days.

Krauss plays the old school reductionist as he is beating the cultural drum against the theists. Good for him. Preach in the language the masses understand. Be part of that conversation.

Meanwhile back in the lab, the theorists have learnt to think like dialectical holists when it comes to the issue of substantial being.

Formal cause is global constraint and material cause is local indeterminism. Each makes the other.

Constraint shapes indeterminism into determinstic degrees of freedom - actions with directions. And local indeterminism is that hot action awaiting some coherent direction so it can become an actualised flow of events. The flow then builds the constraints that are doing the determining as the system's "emergent" macroproperties.

Like the turbulence in a stream, vortexes are formed as collective phenomena. Water molecules get sucked into a direction that becomes a self-sustaining rotation because of its critical mass. All random action is being directed the same way.

In material science, this is why you can get collective states of matter like Bose-Einstein condensates or superconductors. The formal causes conjure up their material actions. And that works as the collective action is also producing those global states of constraint, or enforced coherence. The story is of a local~global, micro~macro, synergistic interaction.

It is a causally-closed and bootstrapping explanation of holistic interaction. Just the kind of physics we need to conjure a Universe out of a "nothing" - a void - that was also the vaguest "everything". An Apeiron.
• 395
Theism or Platonism doesn't work as it might posit a formal cause, but is pretty mute about material cause.

Matter is secondary because it is contingent or caused. The cause of matter is beyond matter.

its collective thermal direction that is the entropic gradient we call time.

I don't see entropy as a definition of time. It may be - in most cases - parallel to the arrow of time but it does not define time. Physical time is a physical object in the same way that chairs or tables are, except it has an extra dimension which is why it is called spacetime. I think it is a mistake to equate time with entropy simply because they are moving is the same direction.

A blank everythingness that is neither material, nor enformed. Just a pure vagueness or state of potential.
Yet, the void, or 'chaos' contained within itself, the potential for order, which may mean it is not true chaos.
• 2
The basic distinction missing from this analysis is between material cause and efficient cause. According to standard exnihilo explanation the universe lacks a material cause (stuff out of which the initial thing came) but has an efficient cause (an maker of the thing in question).
An analogy might be the way someone imagines a unicorn in their mind. It didn't come out of some pre-existing stuff but still had a creator.
• 1.2k
Matter is secondary because it is contingent or caused. The cause of matter is beyond matter.

Prove it. Demonstrate what matter even is

They believe that only material causes are real. Formal causes are useful fictions that stand outside the physical world they describe.

The philosophy you are quoting says objects are formed from pure matter and form. My question is, why only one form? Why only one matter? Why only two principles? Why not five? Materialism says there is one principle per object. It's simpler and doesn't waste people's time
• 4.8k
My question is, why only one form? Why only one matter?

You could have an infinite variety of particular forms. But then they would all be varieties of ... form. We are talking about form as a general principal here.

Why only two principles? Why not five?

When we talk about generalities, then two arise due to dialectical argument. That is the goal. We want to reduce the alternatives to as few as possible if we are indeed generalising.

Now reducing everything to a single generality might seem the ideal. But it doesn't work. Instead dialectical argument discovers the complementary limits on being - the yin and yang - that are mutually exclusive, and jointly exhaustive, in describing what could even be the case.

So form and matter was the dyad that worked for metaphysics. Together they account for substantial being.

Formal cause covers structure, purpose, organisation, etc. Material cause covers fluctuation, accident, possibility, etc

Materialism says there is one principle per object. It's simpler and doesn't waste people's time

LOL.
• 1.2k

You didn't provide a single argument in your post. This is because you can't prove a division in objects between "structure, purpose, organisation" and "fluctuation, accident, possibility". It's all one thing, it's all a thousand things. Who care's. "There is no end to dreams, millions of them" (John Lennon)
• 4.8k
This is because you can't prove a division in objects between "structure, purpose, organisation" and "fluctuation, accident, possibility".

Yes, the object is all "one thing" - the substantial actuality. My (Aristotelean) point was about the causes of this "one thing".

Concrete actuality is the product of top-down formal cause in interaction with bottom-up material cause. That is the standard systems or structuralist ontology.

If you want to argue something else, be my guest.
• 9.9k
Theism or Platonism doesn't work as it might posit a formal cause, but is pretty mute about material cause. There is no workable complementary definition of the two aspects of causality as there would need to be if the Universe is going to be its own natural bootstrapping story - something that can be its own cause ultimately and so provide a model of causal closure.

Formal and material cause need to be seen dialectically as two aspects of the one world so that individuated substance becomes the emergent product of a closed causal process.

What about the argument that the fundamental constraints - that very small number of constants and ratios that Lloyd Rees describes in 'just six numbers' - are themselves comparable to, or aspects of, the formal cause of the Universe? Prior to the moment of the singularity, there are no relationships, ratios, forces, or anything else in existence. One might say that these relationships and ratios 'emerge' in the subsequent period, but again, nothing could have emerged had not these fundamental constraints in some sense pre-existed.

You say above that formal causes 'are physical' but if indeed these constants amount to aspects of formal causation, they must precede the physical, they must be real in order for physical matter to form. But they're not prior temporally, but logically, if you can see what I mean.

Krauss's "something from nothing" account is certainly clunky. It reflects the metaphysical prejudices of reductionists and positivists. They believe that only material causes are real. Formal causes are useful fictions that stand outside the physical world they describe.

David Albert's review of Krauss' book in the NY Times notes that:

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.

Again, perhaps formal causes ought to be understood, not as 'fictions', but as beyond and at the same time prior to the domain of material and efficient causes.

All of which sounds very Platonist to me!
• 1.2k
Yes, the object is all "one thing" - the substantial actuality. My (Aristotelean) point was about the causes of this "one thing".

Concrete actuality is the product of top-down formal cause in interaction with bottom-up material cause. That is the standard systems or structuralist ontology.

It's the standard position that has never been proved, and has been questioned since William of Ockham and Descartes primarily. Nowadays we might say something has extension, energy, and force. Maybe those are all one thing. Aristotle goes into many areas where there is no leverage where you can make a real argument. So I think he's a waste of time unless you have nostalgia for Greek life. I don't. You tried to argue for hylomorphism by saying there is yin and yang. Well there is a Trinity in Hinduism and Christianity. Therefore does it prove my modern position is correct?
• 4.8k
Prior to the moment of the singularity, there are no relationships, ratios, forces, or anything else in existence. One might say that these relationships and ratios 'emerge' in the subsequent period, but again, nothing could have emerged had not these fundamental constraints in some sense pre-existed.

You raise good issues.

First I would say that there are two ontologies in play here. The conventional physicalist story would be that the Universe is a product of laws of nature and fundamental constants.

So this would be the externalist account - where the laws and the constants are "outside" or "prior to" the Universe that then "emerges from them".

The second more truly emergent account is then an internalism where the laws are simply the global constraints that develop as the inevitable regularities of chaos trying to do its thing. Even disorder gets tamed by the patterns it generates.

And the constants, as the other part of the equation - the material aspect to match the formal aspect of the laws/constraints - are then actually just emergent ratios. They are local balances of opposing tendencies - numbers given to equilibrium states, rather than numbers given to concrete things.

So in some sense, what emerges has to "pre-exist" as what turns out to be possible. And indeed, inevitable.

If symmetry maths shows that what emerges from "randomness" has to be some kind of invariance-impervious final state, then that outcome was pre-destined. It was locked in before it was arrived at.

But it still only exists once arrived at.

We can talk about the Universe as being ruled by its laws of gravity or relativity. But in what sense did gravity or G exist, or relativity and c exist, before the electroweak symmetry breaking that gave rise to massive particles able to travel at "less than the speed of light"?

We can claim mass was always inherent in the Big Bang - the Higgs mechanism was a symmetry breaking that would have to get expressed once the Universe had expanded and cooled enough. But stiil, all the extra complexity this caused in terms of "laws and constants" had to emerge as a result of yet another phase transition in the cosmic journey towards a Heat Death.

You say above that formal causes 'are physical' but if indeed these constants amount to aspects of formal causation, they must precede the physical, they must be real in order for physical matter to form. But they're not prior temporally, but logically, if you can see what I mean.

Again, I agree in a general way. But given that I am talking "full fledged emergence", then what matters is not whether the laws and constants exist "beforehand" in either a temporal or logical sense. Neither kind of transcendence applies.

Instead, the question becomes whether the final outcome - this trail of symmetry-breaking that eventually arrives at some effective balance in terms or global constraints and local ratios - was always "mathematically" inherent in the very notion of a "chaotic everythingness" (or a vagueness, an Apeiron), as a least formed, least materialised, starting point to what occurs.

If everything were possible, then already it was on its way to cancelling itself in every direction it could, and so winding up with only that something which cancelling couldn't cancel away.

In hindsight, there was only ever that one destination. But it was still a destination that had to emerge as a concrete expression of an outcome with a final equilibrium balance.
• 4.8k
I'm not sure why you view your ontology as "modern". Fundamental physics is all about emergence these days.

This for example is a lecture I had lined up to watch later. It gives you an idea of where the metaphysics of physics is actually at in this regard.

• 1.2k
"Figure is nothing else but determination, and determination is negation." Spinoza , Epistle 50

So maybe there is the fundamental necessity, and then contingency is a miracle (defined as pure spontaneity). If contingency flowed directly from a necessary condition, it would not be contingent but necessary. Spinoza knew this and liked it, but he was of the Age of Laws. I think the modern situation has nothing to learn from hylomorphism but much to learn about spontaneity, chance, and chaos theories
• 4.8k
Maybe what I'm saying is that hylomorphism does make more sense once you do arrive at a proper understanding of contingency as the "material" half of the equation?

Actuality arises as the interaction of pure contingency and pure necessity.

Figure emerges by constraints imposed on the accidental. And what makes this a pan- approach, an internalist ontology, is that it is the accidents that begin the constraining. If there is no limit on the accidents, they are already starting to cancel each other out in the fashion of a skip to the left being zeroed by a leap to the right.
• 1.2k

Infinity merges with finitude, from which potency flows into actuality. The world is contingent but not such that you need a Aristotelian ontology. There are lots of ways of looking at this, depending on your spiritual vantage point. So what is necessary? Maybe nothingness itself. That has made sense to me in the past. Something can be true, but where is its truth? Does it reside in nothing?

Yes. Thanks for the video
• 395
Prove it. Demonstrate what matter even is

There is no need to prove it as science already shows that matter is only form. Energy assumes a certain structure and when it does we call it matter. In principle it is possible for all the matter in the universe to evaporate - see The Heat Death of the Universe.

The philosophy you are quoting says objects are formed from pure matter and form. My question is, why only one form? Why only one matter? Why only two principles? Why not five? Materialism says there is one principle per object. It's simpler and doesn't waste people's time

Energy is primary, matter is secondary and contingent. Energy is the substance of matter. Matter is substance/energy and form. Form can be dismantled as in nuclear reactions radioactive decay etc.
• 1.2k

How do you know the result is not more real than the process?
• 1.2k

That is, philosophy can argue that the foundation is fundamental, or it can argue that the result is instead. Philosophy has a lot of perspectives. Relativism is kinda true. Take a segment. It may be finite on the "top" (say 1 foot for example), but it is infinite on the "bottom" (endless, infinite points). So something as basic as a segment is finite and infinite in exactly the same respect. What is Aristotle's response to this? "Uh du du parts don't exist". What a cop-out!
• 395
How do you know the result is not more real than the process?

I'm not saying it is more real. I'm saying the result - matter - is dependent on the cause, energy. This means matter is contingent.
• 1.2k

I was simply saying above that we don't fully know what matter is. You say it's energy. But do you know what energy is? How close is the relationship between energy and matter? When energy becomes matter, is there true change or simply a rearrangement or condensation or something? This is what I'm interested in. I am not sure philosophy really has an answer
• 4.8k
Matter is secondary because it is contingent or caused. The cause of matter is beyond matter.

Sorry. I missed your post.

But replying now, when I spoke of material cause, it was indeed to dispute the usual view that matter is a primary substance. I agree it is emergent. It is a state of being already formed.

So material cause thus becomes some bare notion of contingency or accident or fluctuation. It is whatever is logically complementary to formal cause. That leads to a Peircean ontology of constraints on contingency. Matter arises from action being given a direction.

Physics points the same way now. Matter became a more highly constrained form of the notion of energy. And energy in turn became a more highly constrained form of the notion of entropy. As we drill down into nature, we get down to some story of pure contingency - a quantum indeterminism - as the ultimate “material cause”.

I don't see entropy as a definition of time. It may be - in most cases - parallel to the arrow of time but it does not define time. Physical time is a physical object in the same way that chairs or tables are, except it has an extra dimension which is why it is called spacetime. I think it is a mistake to equate time with entropy simply because they are moving is the same direction.

Spatial dimensions let you go in both directions. Time has a broken symmety.

That has basic consequences under Noether’s theorem. Movement in space is governed by energy conservation laws. Time, not so much. So we need entropy concepts to account for why there just isn’t a strict energy conservation relation if time is regarded as a fourth space-like dimension.

Yet, the void, or 'chaos' contained within itself, the potential for order, which may mean it is not true chaos.

I agree. Even the chaos has a standard statistical pattern. It isn’t truely chaos as such. That’s how we could have a whole flourishing field of chaos theory.

So vagueness becomes an attempt to talk of the chaos that exists even beyond chaos. Some kind of radical contingency that “exists” prior to form or constraint.

Randomness used to be understood as Gaussian level chaos. Then it became understood as powerlaw, fractal or scalefree level chaos. And vagueness becomes some impossible state of fluctuation even beyond that. Maths hasn’t got the tools to say much about it yet.
• 1.2k
"It is true that Newton expressedly warned physics to beware of metaphysics, but to his honour, let it be said that he did not conduct himself in accordance with the warning at all" Hegel
• 395
I was simply saying above that we don't fully know what matter is. You say it's energy. But do you know what energy is? How close is the relationship between energy and matter? When energy becomes matter, is there true change or simply a rearrangement or condensation or something? This is what I'm interested in. I am not sure philosophy really has an answer

Suppose you have a lump of bronze and you make a statue of an eagle from it. Nothing of substance has been added. Only form has been created - the form of an eagle. When energy condenses into matter only material form is created, nothing of substance is added.

What is energy? If energy is also contingent then there must be a deeper underlying 'energy' upon which energy is contingent. But it's not 'turtles all the way down', there must be a fundamental substance.
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