Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[PHI 3000] Can something come from nowhere?

In a recent episode of Philosophy TV, Lawrence Krauss and Roy Sorensen discuss the age-old questions of why is there something rather than nothing and whether something can come from nothing.

Krauss infamously argues that the universe came from nothing. By "nothing," Krauss seems to mean that there was no space, no time, and no matter before the big bang. But if there was no space before the big bang, then perhaps the question we should be asking is whether something (matter) can come from nowhere.

If so, then it seems that one could argue as follows:
  1. Suppose that there was nothing (i.e., no space) before the big bang.
  2. If there was nothing (i.e., no space) before the big bang, then matter came from nowhere.
  3. Hence, matter came from nowhere.
  4. But matter cannot come from nowhere, since matter is anything that occupies space.
  5. Therefore, it is not the case that there was nothing (i.e., no space) before the big bang.
What do you think about this argument?


  1. Nicollatte WolinskyDecember 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    I find this argument to be deductive, valid and sound. Let's take a closer look at what matter is. Matter is physical substance that is solid, liquid or gaseous. Matter is of which the earth is made. It is so said that 14 billion years ago, due to a cosmic explosion, there was a release of an immense amount of heat and pressure. All the particles and energy in our universe, once confined to a space,the size of a dime, raced away from one another at tremendous speeds. As the hot particles then cooled and continued to expand into space, matter formed and the stars and galaxies of our universe were born. Hence this is how the universe began.
    Physicists are now talking about the M theory which states that there are an infinite number of different shaped universes in the 11th dimension. They all have similar or completely different laws of physics and have different shapes such as flat membranes, spheres, or donuts. Theorists say that our universe was created when two membrane shaped universes collided in the 11th dimension which in turn had caused the big bang in our universe. They also theorize that the membranes had fluctuations in there surfaces that caused the differences in texture is shown in radiation,which u led to the formation of the first galaxies. From this, I can conclude that it is most definite that matter came from somewhere.

  2. The argument is valid but I can't say it's sound because I don't necessarily agree with the premises.

    In premise 4 matter is defined as anything that occupies space. That definition is too broad; it doesn't include a photon (light wave), because a photon has no mass: a photon only carries energy. If a photon has no mass it can't occupy space, and if a photon can't occupy space does that mean it also is not made of matter? According to the definition in premise 4, no a photon is not made of matter. That means there could be "something" before the big bang: photons. (But a different definition of matter: matter being "anything that displaces space," can include a photon in the parameters of the definition.)


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