Having established a definition for Nothing. We have challenged the assumption that it exists or has ever existed. Further, I also questioned whether Nothing is necessarily the default origin of our universe just because we have not yet found (or even if we never find) a naturalistic explanation for the origin of our universe.
So we have good reason to doubt that Nothing is actually the predecessor of our universe. But since I’m still feeling generous -as a result of the Cinnamon Dolce Latte I’m currently downing- (yes I need to stop writing at Starbucks) let’s pretend that we know that Nothing did in fact exist before the universe came into being. This introduces a paradox, which is that: The Universe DOES exist!
That is, if a universe cannot come from Nothing, and we insist that Nothing is what existed before our universe (which is quite egocentric for reasons I’ll talk about some other time), then how is it that we do in fact have a universe? Well the simple (I would argue lazy) answer is “a god did it”. Without even denying the existence of a god, we still have a problem. Historically we have given this answer every time we’ve hit a boundary to our knowledge. We subsequently discovered a naturalistic explanation which, regardless of whether a god exists, did not require a deity. Further (latte generosity in effect) if we assume that a god does exist he (she? it? they?) has always to date, used a naturalistic method to create or originate everything we see. So even if we have a universe, which came out of nothing, because that god wanted it, does it really make sense to again say that NOW is the point where god chose not to use a naturalistic method?
I think that is a bet I wouldn’t be willing to take. This is the Supernatural-to-Natural Boundary problem. The supernatural-to-natural boundary is not really an interface to the supernatural realm; it is merely where our knowledge stops! Ultimately unless we are prepared to stop trying to explain the universe’s origins (and everything else) we have to assume that even if a god is responsible there is a naturalistic explanation. Of course this immediately makes the god completely unnecessary!
We have had this exact same conversation for lightning, earthquakes, the tides, biodiversity, gravity, the moon, celestial orbits, the galaxies and disease. Each time, we have discovered a mechanistic, natural world, non-godmagic answer.
So what is more likely; that the origin of the universe is where a god chose to start doing godmagic? Or, that as before, we simply have reached the current boundary of our knowledge about our origins?
In summary, in these series I proposed that the question about the origins of our universe from Nothing could only make sense if asked in the context of seeking a natural explanation. I challenged whether a plausible definition of Nothing could be found and put forward and that the philosophical nothing, that is, the most extreme form of Nothing could not be shown to “exist” anywhere. Further there would be a burden of proof to illustrate that our universe had to come from this even if such a state of Nothingness could be found. Finally I argued that if Nothing was the default state and a universe exists than a universe could in fact come from it. The only way around this is perhaps with a special pleading appeal to a deity, but this move has failed consistently and miserably throughout our history so far.
In my opinion the net effect of all this is to make the very statement “Our Universe cannot come from nothing” unnecessary, pointless and devoid of any real consequence.
Instead let us draw inspiration from all the science explorers in our history, let us acknowledge the debt we owe them for their the hard work. Men and women who rather than settle for an answer which basically amounted to saying “Magic!”; instead rolled up their sleeves and devoted their lives to giving us the answers we have today. The very answers on which our progress is built.