Why is there something rather than nothing?

After thinking about what the world was made of, the ancient Greek philosophers questioned why there was a world at all. Why was there something, rather than nothing? Is it possible that something has always existed? We are so used to thinking of beginnings and endings that it is hard to imagine that something has always been there. On the other hand, could something such as the universe have been created from nothing?

There must be something

Parmenides believed that things don’t just burst into existence. He said it is impossible for “things that are not” to suddenly become “things that are.” Nothing can come from nothing. He also said that it doesn’t make sense even to think of nothing, because we can’t imagine nothing. If nothingness is impossible then there must be something.

Impossibly fast

Aristotle also believed nothingness was impossible, and he used scientific reasons to support his argument. He said that the speed with which something moves through a medium—such as water—depends on how dense it is. But nothingness would have no density, so things would move infinitely fast, which is impossible

What came first?

When we ask “Why is something here?” we normally mean “What caused this?” For example, if you were asked
about why you are here, you might say that you are here because of your parents. And they are here because of
your grandparents, and so on. Aristotle thought that there must be something at the beginning of the whole human chain, and even the universe itself, that was not caused by anything else. He believed this “first cause” was God.

Story of the universe

Scientists say that the universe started with the Big Bang – a powerful explosion – that caused everything else to grow into existence. So that would mean Earth did not come from nothing, but it created itself because of the Big Bang. But what caused the Big Bang? Scientists and philosophers say that it is impossible for there to be absolutely nothing. So perhaps before the Big Bang there were just tiny vibrations. But what caused these vibrations?

Beyond physics

In philosophy, questions about what exists are grouped together under the term “metaphysics.” The word means “after physics” because one of Aristotle’s early works about physics sparked debates about existence. Today, we think of it as all the kinds of things that go beyond or above the physical and that can’t be answered by physics. Questions such as “Why is there something rather than nothing? So, why is there, what do you think?

 

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