The question, "Why is there anything at all?" used to do my head in when I was
a kid. I can still sometimes get into kind of head-exploding moment sometimes
thinking about it. Russell's answer to me remains the most satisfying, even
though in a sense it is a non-answer, a simple ackowledgement that there is no
logical reason why there has to be a cause of 'everything' even though
everything may have a cause. Krauss's argument - I admit I haven't read the
book (yet), so I am speaking of what I understand rhe hist of his argument to
be - may be interesting physics/cosmology, but I agree with the critics that it
doesn't really get to the bottom of the proverbial 'turtle stack', and it
shouldn't claim to, because such a bottom turtle is in principle impossible.
John Clarke claims that a 'nothing' that contains the laws of quantum mechanics
and the potential to produce time, space and matter is a very pitiful something
if it is a something at all. But I think it sneaks a lot more into its pitiful
somethingness than at first meets the eye. Not only the laws of quantum
mechanics, but the laws of logic and mathematics without which quantum
mechanics could not be formulated or expressed - as Bruno woukd be quick to
point out. I really must read the book to understand how this vacuum can be
unstable in the absence of time - doesn't stability or instability depend on
time by implying the possibility or otherwise of change? But even accepting
this it seems to me that in order to reason about the properties of this vacuum
(e.g., its instability or otherwise) means that the vacuum must exist. Getting
what seems like extremely close to non-existence is still a million miles
(actually an infinite distance) from actual non-existence, because what defines
the distinction between non-existence and existence is not anything to do with
being extremely minimal. An extremely small number, say 10 to the -100000, is
extremely minimal, but still not zero, and still an infinite distance, in a
sense, from zero.
Krauss's argument may satisfy the cosmologist's desire to see the cause of the
universe reduced to something extremely simple, but it does not satisfy the
wondering child or philosopher who is thunderstruck by the strangeness of there
being any existence at all, however simple or rudimentary its origins. It's
wrong to say such a child or philosopher is caught in a pointless mind loop
trying asking how something that does not even have the potential to produce
anything can, nevertheless, produce something. Of course that is absurd. The
question in my mind as a wondering child was never 'How did the nothing that
must have come before the universe produce the universe?' It was my mind
chasing the chain of causation of things and realizing that, whatever that
chain looked like, I could never trace it all the way back to absolute nothing
- so why this mysterious beingness? The fact is it's beyond reason. Call it a
gift or a miracle and you're as close to it as anything. God is no answer, mind
you - he's just another spurious bottom turtle. God, laws of quantum mechanics:
it's just different attempts to stop the rot of infinite regress, hammer in a
wedge somewhere and say "Because". Why do the law of quantum physics exist?
Because. Why does God, the UD, the Buddhist void exist? Because.
As for the remark about nothingness having only one way of being and there
being a lot more ways of existing, it's cute, but it's sophistry. Non-being is
not a countable way of being. It's the absence of being - obviously - so can't
be presented as one among a myriad of possible configurations of the universe.
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To view this discussion on the web visit
To post to this group, send email to email@example.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at