Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

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Dimmesdale
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Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #1

Post by Dimmesdale »

Only the idea of nothingness can exist, not nothingness itself.

In other words, "nothing" denotes the absence of something in a given context. So if I step into my shower and look for the bottle of shampoo I was EXPECTING to find but do not find it, I find "nothing" in its place. That doesn't mean the "nothing" exists rather than the shampoo existing. "Nothing" is just a useful placeholder instead of the shampoo bottle. And we use that construct for practical means of linguistic expression.

So nothingness is simply an idea of practical significance with no actual objective corollary. It cannot exist. Therefore the idea "why is there something rather than nothing" is essentially nonsensical. It is like asking "why is there a shampoo bottle when I did not find it?" Your not finding the shampoo bottle does not imply its nonexistence - it only implies your expectations were not met. And your expectations were not met due to a lack of knowledge. You should ask, instead, "why shouldn't something have been all the time instead of nothing?"

Therefore, we have established that something (in Reality) has ALWAYS BEEN. In other words, it is ETERNAL. Now what that is, I will let you decide.

Question for debate: is this reasoning sound?

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

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Post by Dimmesdale »

It seems also, to me, that in answering this question, one inevitably has to arrive at the notions of God and the universe, whether they are separate, etc.

I have heard theists say that God is a NECESSARY being because he is self-caused, or exists "by the power of his own essence." I think this is as good an explanation as we are likely to get in this area, but it doesn't say a whole lot analytically. It basically centers on existence pure and simple, not regressing infinitely to endless reasons. Although I think this itself, this "I AM because I AM" is an infinite loop or regress in its own right.

Anyway, I feel that if you can have God be a necessary being, then why not the universe itself? You might say that the universe is contingent, but contingent in what sense? How do you even know it is contingent? And even if present states of affairs could have been different (as I do), how do you know their aggregates (the base-line matter and energy) were not eternal in some form or other, co-eternal with God? In that sense, I see little room for the question, once again.

Personally, I think we should focus in on the wonders of existence rather than non-existence. It is, for one thing, less gloomy and morbid. But that's me.

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #3

Post by Purple Knight »

I tend to think if there really were actually nothing, a void, instead of the shampoo bottle, it's not that there couldn't be nothing there; it's more that if there actually were a void there, we wouldn't understand it or perhaps even perceive it.

If we're to try and picture an empty universe, we can't help but picture at least empty space, which, I have to think, is something.

A universe of absolute nonexistence wouldn't even have that. It's not easily conceivable.

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #4

Post by Dimmesdale »

Purple Knight wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:45 pm I tend to think if there really were actually nothing, a void, instead of the shampoo bottle, it's not that there couldn't be nothing there; it's more that if there actually were a void there, we wouldn't understand it or perhaps even perceive it.

If we're to try and picture an empty universe, we can't help but picture at least empty space, which, I have to think, is something.

A universe of absolute nonexistence wouldn't even have that. It's not easily conceivable.
A universe of absolute non-existence would be a UNIVERSE and so would be THAT.

I dunno. I suppose some things can be POSSIBLE though not Conceivable - I know that much from what I've read about physics. Still, the idea of an absolute nothingness strikes me as absurd as a square circle, or the smell of blue. A phantasmagoria cooked up by the mind of man and his inability to understand language and how his mind grabs at objects.

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #5

Post by Athetotheist »

Dimmesdale wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 11:49 am Only the idea of nothingness can exist, not nothingness itself.

In other words, "nothing" denotes the absence of something in a given context. So if I step into my shower and look for the bottle of shampoo I was EXPECTING to find but do not find it, I find "nothing" in its place. That doesn't mean the "nothing" exists rather than the shampoo existing. "Nothing" is just a useful placeholder instead of the shampoo bottle. And we use that construct for practical means of linguistic expression.

So nothingness is simply an idea of practical significance with no actual objective corollary. It cannot exist. Therefore the idea "why is there something rather than nothing" is essentially nonsensical. It is like asking "why is there a shampoo bottle when I did not find it?" Your not finding the shampoo bottle does not imply its nonexistence - it only implies your expectations were not met. And your expectations were not met due to a lack of knowledge. You should ask, instead, "why shouldn't something have been all the time instead of nothing?"

Therefore, we have established that something (in Reality) has ALWAYS BEEN. In other words, it is ETERNAL. Now what that is, I will let you decide.

Question for debate: is this reasoning sound?
You seem to be comparing the idea of nothing as the absence of something to darkness being the absence of light and cold being the absence of heat, which makes sense. But "nothing" wouldn't have to exist as a thing, because it would exist as a state; "nothingness" would be the state of there not being anything.

You've taken a roundabout way to the conclusion that something has always existed, but there's a simpler way to get there: there must always have been something because if there had ever been nothing, there would be nothing still.

I don't see anything illegitimate about the "why-something-and-not-nothing" question. Think of it this way: if you believe that the material universe is all that exists, you can never explain the universe's existence because anything you invoke as an explanation will be part of what you're trying to explain, so your argument becomes circular. Thus the material universe is not self-explanatory, and the question "Why is there a universe instead of nothing?" is perfectly in order.

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #6

Post by Dimmesdale »

Athetotheist wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 5:24 pm
Dimmesdale wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 11:49 am Only the idea of nothingness can exist, not nothingness itself.

In other words, "nothing" denotes the absence of something in a given context. So if I step into my shower and look for the bottle of shampoo I was EXPECTING to find but do not find it, I find "nothing" in its place. That doesn't mean the "nothing" exists rather than the shampoo existing. "Nothing" is just a useful placeholder instead of the shampoo bottle. And we use that construct for practical means of linguistic expression.

So nothingness is simply an idea of practical significance with no actual objective corollary. It cannot exist. Therefore the idea "why is there something rather than nothing" is essentially nonsensical. It is like asking "why is there a shampoo bottle when I did not find it?" Your not finding the shampoo bottle does not imply its nonexistence - it only implies your expectations were not met. And your expectations were not met due to a lack of knowledge. You should ask, instead, "why shouldn't something have been all the time instead of nothing?"

Therefore, we have established that something (in Reality) has ALWAYS BEEN. In other words, it is ETERNAL. Now what that is, I will let you decide.

Question for debate: is this reasoning sound?
You seem to be comparing the idea of nothing as the absence of something to darkness being the absence of light and cold being the absence of heat, which makes sense. But "nothing" wouldn't have to exist as a thing, because it would exist as a state; "nothingness" would be the state of there not being anything.

You've taken a roundabout way to the conclusion that something has always existed, but there's a simpler way to get there: there must always have been something because if there had ever been nothing, there would be nothing still.

I don't see anything illegitimate about the "why-something-and-not-nothing" question. Think of it this way: if you believe that the material universe is all that exists, you can never explain the universe's existence because anything you invoke as an explanation will be part of what you're trying to explain, so your argument becomes circular. Thus the material universe is not self-explanatory, and the question "Why is there a universe instead of nothing?" is perfectly in order.
My whole thinking now is, why should we even regard such a "state" of nothingness as in any way legitimate, if we can trace out etymologically or otherwise the plausible genesis of the concept of "nothing" and assign it to nothing more than a linguistic construct? If we cannot see 'nothing' as being naught more than an idea, why should that idea have any objective correlate, whether as a "thing" or a "state" - it doesn't seem to matter to me. We have after all never encountered an absolute, unconditioned nothing. In our experience there was always something. So really it seems to me there isn't much we can meaningfully conclude with any degree of certainty. Of course, we will keep trying, and that's ok too.

And yes, from nothing nothing comes. Something that, actually, we don't know for certain either. Because, again, it is at least questionable that we have ever encountered an absolute nothing to begin with. Actually, strictly theoretically, I don't see why existence cannot be the compliment of non-existence. You can't disprove it using philosophy, that's for sure.

ALTHOUGH, and this just occurred to me, perhaps we have SOME limited experience with CONDITIONS forming the basis of somethingness as opposed to nothingness. So, to take a crude example, for smoke, we need to fire. So if the condition of fire is not, there, there is the state of "no-smoke."

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #7

Post by Athetotheist »

[Replying to Dimmesdale in post #6
Indeed we've never encountered absolute nothingness, but I think we can know that nothing + nothing doesn't equal something as certainly as we can know that 0+0 doesn't equal 1.

I also think it's easier to assume that God is necessary than to assume the same about the universe. The universe, as various forms of energy, exists as volumes and levels which can be measured; reduce all the measurements to zero and you have no universe. But how is God to be measured? We have no standard unit with which to determine God's makeup, so it seems premature to put God and the universe on the same level.

At the same time, if the universe has to exist then there has to be some principle which dictates that it has to exist. But then, what is that principle and why does it have to exist? If such a principle is part of the universe itself, then the universe doesn't have to exist because if it didn't exist, then the principle necessitating its existence wouldn't exist.

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #8

Post by Dimmesdale »

Athetotheist wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:09 pm [Replying to Dimmesdale in post #6
Indeed we've never encountered absolute nothingness, but I think we can know that nothing + nothing doesn't equal something as certainly as we can know that 0+0 doesn't equal 1.
This assumes, again, that the nothing we seek in worldly objects' absences (the shampoo bottle) is on a par with the absolute nothingness prior to "Existence" - for lack of a better word. If this "state", if we wish to use that word, is like a zero, then it has nothing to do with objects themselves but our expectations regarding those objects. Likewise, we can extend this to other conditions such as the fire example. Normally we suppose that if there is no fire, there will be no smoke. That's an inference which seems to hold. If anything, that is of greater substance I think. Take away necessary conditions, and you do not have an object, just "nothing." Actually, I think that is indeed a better pointer towards absolute nothingness, if such a thing is possible.

But notice that all these states or "lacks thereof" are located within existence, not prior to existence. I think this is a huge difference that isn't necessarily appreciated because we are accustomed to existing. We cannot even imagine a state of absolute and universal non-existence, so how can we say that nothing is completely analogous to the "nothings" (plural) we see all around us?
Athetotheist wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:09 pmI also think it's easier to assume that God is necessary than to assume the same about the universe. The universe, as various forms of energy, exists as volumes and levels which can be measured; reduce all the measurements to zero and you have no universe. But how is God to be measured? We have no standard unit with which to determine God's makeup, so it seems premature to put God and the universe on the same level.
It is true I think that a being like God cannot be measured the same way we measure a piece of matter. I disagree though that matter cannot be eternal. I think no one will ever thoroughly understand the minutest portion of this universe as fully as God can. There are dimensions to existence, even this terrestrial universe, which, just because we cannot measure them, nonetheless exist. Measuring something does not invalidate something's eternality in other words. The universe may simply have existed in a drastically different form prior to visible creation.
Athetotheist wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:09 pmAt the same time, if the universe has to exist then there has to be some principle which dictates that it has to exist. But then, what is that principle and why does it have to exist? If such a principle is part of the universe itself, then the universe doesn't have to exist because if it didn't exist, then the principle necessitating its existence wouldn't exist.
Why cannot the principle be something within the universe rather than outside it? A tree trunk upholds the boughs, but it is still part of the whole.

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #9

Post by Athetotheist »

Dimmesdale wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 11:08 pmWhy cannot the principle be something within the universe rather than outside it? A tree trunk upholds the boughs, but it is still part of the whole.
But for the tree----trunk and all----to exist, there has to be soil, water, light.....all of which originate outside the tree.

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Re: Simple Proof that Something Has ALWAYS Been

Post #10

Post by The Tanager »

[Replying to Dimmesdale in post #1]

While I agree with the conclusion, I don't think the reasoning offered is sound. Yes, "nothingness" isn't a thing that can exist, but it could have been true that there actually is a complete absence of all things. We couldn't co-exist with it because then it wouldn't be an absence of all things.
Dimmesdale wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:42 pmAnyway, I feel that if you can have God be a necessary being, then why not the universe itself? You might say that the universe is contingent, but contingent in what sense? How do you even know it is contingent? And even if present states of affairs could have been different (as I do), how do you know their aggregates (the base-line matter and energy) were not eternal in some form or other, co-eternal with God? In that sense, I see little room for the question, once again.
I think one needs to work from the reasoning to candidates. In other words, is there an argument that a necessary being must exist? If so, then what characteristics can we know about it and do those characteristics knock out any candidates or point to any particular candidates? That is the kind of thing that the Kalam cosmological argument attempts to do. It argues that some being must be eternal, but in the process rules out that the spatio-temporal universe could be that thing and seems to point towards a being that fits the classical concept of God.

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