The God Delusion - Chapter 3

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The God Delusion - Chapter 3

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Dawkins presents several arguments used to argue for God's existence:

- The Unmoved Mover
- The Uncaused Cause
- The Cosmological Argument
- The Argument from Degree
- The Argument from Design (Teleological Argument)
- The Ontological Argument
- The Argument from Beauty
- The Argument from Personal Experience
- The Argument from Scripture
- The Argument from Admired Religious Scientists
- Pascal's Wager
- Bayesian Arguments

Does Dawkins adequately refute the arguments for God's existence in this chapter?

I'll also repost McCulloch's questions:
  • Does God provide a natural terminator to the infinite regresses?
  • Is there any validity to Anselm's Ontological Argument?
  • Is the Argument from Beauty valid?
  • Is the Argument from Personal Experience valid? Is it being used or is this Dawkins' strawman?
  • Is the Argument from Scripture valid? Is this another strawman?
  • Does anyone use the Argument from Admired Religious Scientists?
  • Let's not re-do Pascal's Wager
  • Is there any validity to Bayesian Arguments promoted by people such as Stephen Unwin?
  • Did Dawkins leave out or misrepresent any major argument for God's existence?

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 3

Post #61

Post by Confused »

BohemianBanjo wrote:
QED wrote: Perhaps it's time to move on to Chapter 4 "Why there almost certainly is
no God" where Dawkins introduces us to "The Ultimate Boeing 747".
Well, OK, but we've left the bulk of questions by Otseng, McCulloch and myself unaddressed. In particular, I would like to mention another fallacy from the chapter intro.
otseng wrote:Dawkins presents several arguments used to argue for God's existence:
- The Unmoved Mover...
...Does Dawkins adequately refute the arguments for God's existence in this chapter?
This is misplaced burden of proof. At the outset Dawkins, being a non-believer, has no reason to accept any of these ideas. He brings them up so that we can examine them and try to determine if any of them adequately defend themselves! Does anybody here still think that any of this collection, including the additional concepts mentioned my McCulloch, survives examination?

Matt
I think the object was to present the most popular (both recent and historical) reasons most theists give as evidence for God. I think Dawkins dispelled them. However, the burden of proof was on him simply because he, from the outset, stated these arguements for the existence of God were full of errors. He must therefore bare the burden of proof to support his claim.
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Post #62

Post by achilles12604 »

My apologies for such a long post but I had a great deal to review.
QED wrote:
jjg wrote:QED, the premise is still true. Can you show som sort of detail that it isn't and remember I'm not talking about physics but ontology.

Final, I said an infinite regress in time.

Everything in our universe is in a constatnt state of flux and potentiality and needs a purely actual cause to explain it.
OK, I think this fairly represents your argument:

P1) Everything requires a cause.
P2) Causality cannot be infinitely regressive.

C1) Therefore a thing we would term an uncaused first cause must exist to terminate an infinite regression.
C2) This thing is taken to be the God of the Bible.

I think the most apparent problem is the one that I mentioned above: P1 is in direct contradiction with C1. Now if it should be argued that C1 is not a "thing" then because of C2, this would appear to imply that God does not exist. If God is a thing that does exist then P1 is clearly starting out on the wrong foot. It means that things can exist without cause.

This leads on to the second problem I can see with your argument. Experimental Quantum Physics has already shown that P1 is not true. Things are happening without cause in the quantum world all the time. At the Quantum level events are governed by the laws of probability rather than the laws of causality. But you didn't want to talk about physics so I'll raise another ontological objection:

If C1 is itself without a cause, it follows that it will always have existed. Therefore the effect of this cause (the universe) should always have existed as well. This is contradicted by copious evidence for a finite age to the universe. Even if this evidence was mistaken and the universe had indeed coexisted with its cause for all eternity, then it would then be in no actual need of a cause -- so by C2 we have the paradox that if God actually exists, he would be redundant.

Another objection is that C2 is a superfluous assumption. This assumption has God as a working label for the metastate for our universe. Apart from this metastate being the God of the Bible, it may be a plurality of other things. One alternative label in common usage is "Multiverse" which has a functional equivalence to God as a metastate (or cause) of our universe and is backed by a significant body of comprehensible theoretical physics -- unlike the God of the bible.
How funny this would be drudged up again.

I had a lot of fun debating this earlier. Without re-debating the entire thing let me paraphrase the last time I saw this debate happen.

First there was The god hypothesis

followed by

Firse Cause

And finally

Infinate Universes


I believe that the arguments go better with each thread so I will focus on the Discussion between myself and QED under Infinite universes.

The basic point I was trying to discuss with this thread was the possibility of infinite regress of universes and compare this to an infinite (un-beginning) God.

Of course this is crucial in the First Cause argument since as QED pointed out it is a contradiction for EVERYTHING to require a cause, but then God does not.

Hence, The proper method of implementing this argument is "everything which BEGINS, must have a cause." From here we progress into the debate about God's beginning.

Long story short, the FCA was accused of a special pleading fallacy.
Description of Special Pleading

Special Pleading is a fallacy in which a person applies standards, principles, rules, etc. to others while taking herself (or those she has a special interest in) to be exempt, without providing adequate justification for the exemption. This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:

1. Person A accepts standard(s) S and applies them to others in circumtance(s) C.
2. Person A is in circumstance(s) C.
3. Therefore A is exempt from S.

The person committing Special Pleading is claiming that he is exempt from certain principles or standards yet he provides no good reason for his exemption. That this sort of reasoning is fallacious is shown by the following extreme example:

1. Barbara accepts that all murderers should be punished for their crimes.
2. Although she murdered Bill, Barbara claims she is an exception because she really would not like going to prison.
3. Therefore, the standard of punishing murderers should not be applied to her.

This is obviously a blatant case of special pleading. Since no one likes going to prison, this cannot justify the claim that Barbara alone should be exempt from punishment.
Of course the place in BOLD is where the arguments hinged as I put forth that special pleading did not apply because I was in fact providing a viable excuse as to the exception from the rule, ie that the First Cause was necessarily outside of the physical laws of the universe since the FC itself must have been independent from the universe or else it could not be the FC to being with. I noted that "the God Hypothesis" was just as valid as a multi-verse, string theory or any other explanation for the origin of the universe because each of these examples met the criteria for the FC. Because they each met the criteria for the FC, NONE of them could fall under the special pleading fallacy by its definition since each of them had
"adequate justification for the exemption" as outlined in the definition of the fallacy. I'm not sure everyone actually understood that I was making this point as I was being drowned out by other specific individuals who were more interested in repeatedly posting enough rhetoric as to dilute my posts and make my point unclear.

So of course this explanation was rejected outright by most, but then the discussion became interesting with QED, Confused and myself in the infinite universes thread.

Long story short, QED presented this argument in post 14 of the INF UNV thread.
QED wrote:Well, here you'll have to forgive me for quoting Stephen Hawking on page 129 of "A Brief History Of Time"
There are something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty [five] zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus, in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.

So despite all the rather obvious "stuff" in the universe there is still, in a sense, nothing when everything is taken into account. Paul Davies considers this ultimate example of "creative accounting" on pages 31 and 32 of his book "God and the New Physics."
The question then arises, did the primeval bang possess energy, or is the entire universe a state of zero energy, with the energy of all the material offset by negative energy of gravitational attraction?

It is possible to settle the issue by a simple calculation. Astronomers can measure the masses of galaxies, their average separation, and their speeds of recession. Putting these numbers into a formula yields a quantity which some physicists have interpreted as the total energy of the universe. The answer does indeed come out to be zero within the observational accuracy. The reason for this distinctive result has long been a source of puzzlement to cosmologists. Some have suggested that there is a deep cosmic principle at work which requires the universe to have exactly zero energy. If that is so the cosmos can follow the path of least resistance, coming into existence without requiring any input of matter or energy at all.
Some might find this a deeply satisfying observation. Others might not, although I guess it could still be seen as the ultimate example of efficiency when it comes to creativity. Either way it's highly suggestive of an infinitely repeatable process that is able to draw down from infinite resources. So rather than our universe being some one-off tour de force of heavy lifting, it could easily be a massively parallel product of an infinitely light touch which would go a very long way to explaining why it has all the particularly unlikely properties that have led to its observation from within.
To this I offered no objection. In fact I had adopted this theory as very plausible even before this discussion. Then I brought up the point .. .
achilles12604 wrote:Ok as said in the source it takes an enormous amount of energy to convert energy into even things as small as sub-atomic particles.

Now I have a couple questions.

Lets say this universe was once nothing. Absolutely nothing at all as described by the megaverse idea. With this in mind, how could the negative and positive energy be separated and kept apart long enough to mass enough positive energy to first begin the process of creating mass and then fuel that conversion?

We would need enough energy for the fuel to become mass and then to put into the system to create something. Not to beat a dead horse, but the principle of entropy comes through in flying colors here. Disorder is much easier to create and maintain than order. Nothingness or the total and complete unification of energy and negative energy would be even easier to create and maintain than disorder.

So question two - Wouldn't the path of least resistance actually have been for nothing to remain nothing rather than to spontaneously separate into positive and negative energy and then to further complicate itself by creating mass out of the positive energy?
QED replied
QED wrote:Lots of energy, tiny particles -- meaningless concepts without the full context of existence if we want to get mystical about it. Unfortunately being mystical is about the best we can do outside of experimental physics. . . .

This assumes that quantum laws still pertain outside the domain in which they have been determined, but with sufficient energy in place to form an event horizon, and with this energy unable to dissipate back through the event horizon, the creation of expanding space would represents a condition of maximum entropy due to the gravitational potential energy -- although I would check-up on this as I am battling with a monster headache today d'oh!
Achilles12604 wrote:Ok honest question, no strings attached. . .

If the level of physics we are discussing falls into the mystical realm, doesn't this put them on similar footing to a "god" hypothesis? . . . . .

As I have pointed out, the FC for the universe ultimately must not be subject to the laws of this universe, specifically the LCE. . . . .


I am unsure about this part of the explanation. Event horizons (like those formed around black holes) are the result of tremendous gravitational pulls, not a compilation of energy. Gravity is an anomaly linked solely to mass, so now we have the problem of the chicken or the egg.

http://www.astronomical.org/astbook/blkhole.html

Which came first, the energy (formed already into extremely dense mass) or the egg, (the event horizon).

The event horizon couldn't have come before the energy was already formed into complex masses (much less split into energy from nothing). But you say that the event horizon was instrumental in energy formation.

I guess I'm still totally lost. If the universe is in fact nothing because the positive energy is cancelled by the negative potential energy of gravity, what originally happened to separate nothing into these two factors?

Another pressing question is why did only X amount of energy separate? Space is filled with "nothing". What caused the FC to stop separating nothing into energy and "gravity"? Why isn't the universe one gigantic ball of mass with unlimited and continually re-creating energy?
Quote:
the creation of expanding space would represents a condition of maximum entropy due to the gravitational potential energy

I'm still fuzzy on how the event horizon "pushed out" or spread space when the event horizon is actually an area where nothing including light can escape.

To the first section QED then replied
achilles12604 wrote: Ok honest question, no strings attached. . .

If the level of physics we are discussing falls into the mystical realm, doesn't this put them on similar footing to a "god" hypothesis? . . . . .
Well, I think that there would be few Scientists who would describe unknowns as being mystical in any sense other than them being a mystery -- something as yet unexplained. I don't know what wider significance we can draw from that. But I certainly agree that there are many hypotheses that deserve to be put on the same footing as the "God Hypothesis". A great many indeed.
This I found satisfying as it was basically the point I was trying to make about the FC argument NOT being dependent upon special pleading any more so than the other scientific arguments. But this is a side note.

And this unfortunately is about where the discussion between myself and QED ended.



So would we like to continue this discussion?

Thus far my conclusions are

1) The FC argument doesn't actually depend on special pleading any more than the other scientific arguments BECAUSE each of them have a justifiable reason to be excluded from the "norm" as to be the FC in the first place, they MUST be outside the normal laws.

2) The universe itself, (the compilation of energy/mass) ultimately equals zero which gives plausibility to the idea that THIS universe did come from literally nothing.

3) For SOMETHING to come from nothing requires a change (and now we are again at the FC argument)

4) I am still waiting for an answer to the question I posed . . .
Another pressing question is why did only X amount of energy separate? Space is filled with "nothing". What caused the FC to stop separating nothing into energy and "gravity"? Why isn't the universe one gigantic ball of mass with unlimited and continually re-creating energy?
If the amount or rate of the conversion of nothing into energy/mass is unintelligent and random (as it would be with a mega-verse or multiverse idea), shouldn't it have continued creating mass/energy until there wasn't any "nothing" left or until EVERYTHING was full of mass/energy? Wouldn't it have continued until the entire universe reached saturation?



In general, I admit I still favor the First Cause argument for the reasons I mention above. After my discussion with QED and the realization that the energy of the universe equals zero, I am more convinced that SOMETHING had to have happened to split nothing into something and this is yet another application of the FC. After all the path of least resistance is for nothing to remain nothing. Yet this is obviously not what occurred.


Anyway, comments? QED I am especially looking to you as this is your area of expertise.
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Post #63

Post by QED »

Sorry for the delay in responding. I hope you hadn't given up on me :D I hate to disappoint but I am not a cosmologist and in the main I debate here from the comfort of a retirement armchair :D
achilles12604 wrote: Thus far my conclusions are

1) The FC argument doesn't actually depend on special pleading any more than the other scientific arguments BECAUSE each of them have a justifiable reason to be excluded from the "norm" as to be the FC in the first place, they MUST be outside the normal laws.

2) The universe itself, (the compilation of energy/mass) ultimately equals zero which gives plausibility to the idea that THIS universe did come from literally nothing.

3) For SOMETHING to come from nothing requires a change (and now we are again at the FC argument)

4) I am still waiting for an answer to the question I posed . . .
Another pressing question is why did only X amount of energy separate? Space is filled with "nothing". What caused the FC to stop separating nothing into energy and "gravity"? Why isn't the universe one gigantic ball of mass with unlimited and continually re-creating energy?
If the amount or rate of the conversion of nothing into energy/mass is unintelligent and random (as it would be with a mega-verse or multiverse idea), shouldn't it have continued creating mass/energy until there wasn't any "nothing" left or until EVERYTHING was full of mass/energy? Wouldn't it have continued until the entire universe reached saturation?
How do you suppose it's possible to run out of nothing :-k
achilles12604 wrote: In general, I admit I still favor the First Cause argument for the reasons I mention above. After my discussion with QED and the realization that the energy of the universe equals zero, I am more convinced that SOMETHING had to have happened to split nothing into something and this is yet another application of the FC. After all the path of least resistance is for nothing to remain nothing. Yet this is obviously not what occurred.
I strongly suspect the whole notion of a First Cause to be a peculiarity of our temporal existence. There are numerous different cosmologies which avoid having a "start in time" so we could easily be misguided in projecting our own temporal experiences onto the cosmic process as a whole.

The bottom line in my view is that the apparent provenance we are benefiting from is anonymous and all attempts to extract a picture of the provider are highly problematic. The impression of an all-wise, all-powerful creator is one that would be inevitable whatever the true description might be. Our own self-selection from a plurality of different worlds shares many problems with the notion of a creator but it solves many others that are unique to that grand notion - e.g. where the incredible intelligence required to create a finely-tuned physical universe came from.

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Post #64

Post by achilles12604 »

QED wrote:Sorry for the delay in responding. I hope you hadn't given up on me :D I hate to disappoint but I am not a cosmologist and in the main I debate here from the comfort of a retirement armchair :D
achilles12604 wrote: Thus far my conclusions are

1) The FC argument doesn't actually depend on special pleading any more than the other scientific arguments BECAUSE each of them have a justifiable reason to be excluded from the "norm" as to be the FC in the first place, they MUST be outside the normal laws.

2) The universe itself, (the compilation of energy/mass) ultimately equals zero which gives plausibility to the idea that THIS universe did come from literally nothing.

3) For SOMETHING to come from nothing requires a change (and now we are again at the FC argument)

4) I am still waiting for an answer to the question I posed . . .
Another pressing question is why did only X amount of energy separate? Space is filled with "nothing". What caused the FC to stop separating nothing into energy and "gravity"? Why isn't the universe one gigantic ball of mass with unlimited and continually re-creating energy?
If the amount or rate of the conversion of nothing into energy/mass is unintelligent and random (as it would be with a mega-verse or multiverse idea), shouldn't it have continued creating mass/energy until there wasn't any "nothing" left or until EVERYTHING was full of mass/energy? Wouldn't it have continued until the entire universe reached saturation?
How do you suppose it's possible to run out of nothing :-k
By filling it with something.

Perhaps I phrased it incorrectly. My point is, if the path of least resistence is for nothing to split into positive and negative energies, shouldn't the universe be as completely full as solid rock? Shouldn't the vast reaches of space and vacumes be filled with energy and mass until the universe quite litterally runs out of "nothing" to convert into mass and energy? Should we be rather crowded instead of needing massive telescopes to view even the closest of stars?
achilles12604 wrote: In general, I admit I still favor the First Cause argument for the reasons I mention above. After my discussion with QED and the realization that the energy of the universe equals zero, I am more convinced that SOMETHING had to have happened to split nothing into something and this is yet another application of the FC. After all the path of least resistance is for nothing to remain nothing. Yet this is obviously not what occurred.
I strongly suspect the whole notion of a First Cause to be a peculiarity of our temporal existence. There are numerous different cosmologies which avoid having a "start in time" so we could easily be misguided in projecting our own temporal experiences onto the cosmic process as a whole.
Interesting.

Like what?


Also, sidenote: Time is ultimately a concept rather than a "thing" isn't it? I didn't say the universe had a beginning in "time" but rather a beginning at all. Perhaps I am splitting hairs.
The bottom line in my view is that the apparent provenance we are benefiting from is anonymous and all attempts to extract a picture of the provider are highly problematic. The impression of an all-wise, all-powerful creator is one that would be inevitable whatever the true description might be. Our own self-selection from a plurality of different worlds shares many problems with the notion of a creator but it solves many others that are unique to that grand notion - e.g. where the incredible intelligence required to create a finely-tuned physical universe came from.
Granted that the First Cause argument does nothing to pick out a God. However, my intended purpose is to point out that the God Hypothesis should be on the same level scientifically and logically as a mega-verse, multi-verse, string theory, or any of the other potential causes for the big bang or other cause of this universe.
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Post #65

Post by QED »

achilles12604 wrote:
QED wrote: I strongly suspect the whole notion of a First Cause to be a peculiarity of our temporal existence. There are numerous different cosmologies which avoid having a "start in time" so we could easily be misguided in projecting our own temporal experiences onto the cosmic process as a whole.
Interesting.

Like what?
Stephen Hawking and Jim Hartle have what I believe is the most highly regarded theory. Here's a quote from his J. Robert Oppenheimer Lecture
As we all know, the problem of what happens at the edge of the world, was solved when people realized that the world was not a flat plate, but a curved surface. Time however, seemed to be different. It appeared to be separate from space, and to be like a model railway track. If it had a beginning, there would have to be someone to set the trains going.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, unified time and space as space-time, but time was still different from space, and was like a corridor, which either had a beginning and end, or went on for ever. However, when one combines General Relativity with Quantum Theory, Jim Hartle and I, realized that time can behave like another direction in space under extreme conditions. This means one can get rid of the problem of time having a beginning, in a similar way in which we got rid of the edge of the world. Suppose the beginning of the universe, was like the south pole of the Earth , with degrees of latitude, playing the role of time. The universe would start as a point at the South Pole. As one moves north, the circles of constant latitude, representing the size of the universe, would expand. To ask what happened before the beginning of the universe, would become a meaningless question, because there is nothing south of the South Pole.

Time, as measured in degrees of latitude, would have a beginning at the South Pole, but the South Pole is much like any other point, at least so I have been told. I have been to Antarctica, but not to the South Pole.

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Post #66

Post by achilles12604 »

QED wrote:
achilles12604 wrote:
QED wrote: I strongly suspect the whole notion of a First Cause to be a peculiarity of our temporal existence. There are numerous different cosmologies which avoid having a "start in time" so we could easily be misguided in projecting our own temporal experiences onto the cosmic process as a whole.
Interesting.

Like what?
Stephen Hawking and Jim Hartle have what I believe is the most highly regarded theory. Here's a quote from his J. Robert Oppenheimer Lecture
As we all know, the problem of what happens at the edge of the world, was solved when people realized that the world was not a flat plate, but a curved surface. Time however, seemed to be different. It appeared to be separate from space, and to be like a model railway track. If it had a beginning, there would have to be someone to set the trains going.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, unified time and space as space-time, but time was still different from space, and was like a corridor, which either had a beginning and end, or went on for ever. However, when one combines General Relativity with Quantum Theory, Jim Hartle and I, realized that time can behave like another direction in space under extreme conditions. This means one can get rid of the problem of time having a beginning, in a similar way in which we got rid of the edge of the world. Suppose the beginning of the universe, was like the south pole of the Earth , with degrees of latitude, playing the role of time. The universe would start as a point at the South Pole. As one moves north, the circles of constant latitude, representing the size of the universe, would expand. To ask what happened before the beginning of the universe, would become a meaningless question, because there is nothing south of the South Pole.

Time, as measured in degrees of latitude, would have a beginning at the South Pole, but the South Pole is much like any other point, at least so I have been told. I have been to Antarctica, but not to the South Pole.
Cool. Dispite the fact it is a totally un-proven theory it is still cool.

Also, my theory doesn't need time to have a beginning, just the formation of energy we call this universe. FC still applies under those circumstances.

How about the rest of my questions, especially regarding the creation of energy from nothing?
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Post #67

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achilles12604 wrote:How about the rest of my questions, especially regarding the creation of energy from nothing?
There are obviously natural constraints on the creation of virtual particles, although they mediate in all quantum interactions they don't fill the universe with an infinite amount of energy. All quantities continue to be conserved. This seems like a reasonable model for all scales to me.

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Post #68

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QED wrote:
achilles12604 wrote:How about the rest of my questions, especially regarding the creation of energy from nothing?
There are obviously natural constraints on the creation of virtual particles, although they mediate in all quantum interactions they don't fill the universe with an infinite amount of energy. All quantities continue to be conserved. This seems like a reasonable model for all scales to me.
Ok, so how is "nothing" conserved?

If the path of least resistance is for nothing to be split into positive energy/mass and negative gravity, then what natural constraints would limit this? I don't understand the theory as to what would cause this cascade effect of creating energy from nothing to stop, especially if it was begun because it was the path of least resistance.
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Post #69

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achilles12604 wrote:Ok, so how is "nothing" conserved?
Don't you think that question answer itself :P

In short, the general idea is that of symmetry. Nothing has the most perfect symmetry imaginable -- as there's no transformation that makes a difference. Our universe could have been so symmetrical that it amounted to nothing at all. But this nothing would have been unstable -- like a pencil balanced perfectly (i.e. symmetrically) on its tip. So, as has been said before, the reason that there is something rather than nothing might simply be that "nothing" is unstable.

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QED wrote:
achilles12604 wrote:Ok, so how is "nothing" conserved?
Don't you think that question answer itself :P

In short, the general idea is that of symmetry. Nothing has the most perfect symmetry imaginable -- as there's no transformation that makes a difference. Our universe could have been so symmetrical that it amounted to nothing at all. But this nothing would have been unstable -- like a pencil balanced perfectly (i.e. symmetrically) on its tip. So, as has been said before, the reason that there is something rather than nothing might simply be that "nothing" is unstable.
So, as has been said before, the reason that there is something rather than nothing might simply be that "nothing" is unstable.
Yes this I understand.

So why are there still areas with nothing?

Also, why did the universe have a beginning? If there was "nothing" before the universe (either due to the mega verse or multi verse theory) shouldn't this universe have started infinity ago?
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