Can I Barf Up Something From Nothing?

The fact of the matter is, no, I can’t.  I typed, “Can I Barf Up Something From Nothing?” because my fingers hit the keyboard.  My fingers hit the keyboard because my brain barfed out the letters I needed to type.  The letters I needed to type were barfed out because I thought up a title and spelled out the words in my head.  I thought up a title because I had an idea for a topic.  I had an idea for a topic because some friendly thoughtful person commented on a previous mind barf of mine.  That nice person commented because they read my previous mind barf.  I can’t tell you why they did that, but there was a cause, and causes leading up to it, and others leading up to that.  You get the idea.  We could keep going on this way, tracing back all the causes of all the effects leading up to me typing that title, until we reached the beginning of the universe (similar to this funny DirecTV ad only in revese).  However, it is at that point that you run into a problem.  Unless you’re Stephen Hawking that is.

Because we know that the universe has a beginning, we can safely assume that infinite regress is impossible.  Ultimately, after regressing back to the beginning, something must have caused what science now commonly knows as “The Big Bang”; the moment at which time and space as we know it came into existence.  However, it seems Stephen Hawking believes that rather than allow philosophy to take over and speculate about what might have caused the universe, he presupposes that nothing supernatural (ie outside of naturalism, which is the universe) can exist.  Therefore, to him, it is more probable that the universe came from nothing, and with no cause, than it is to have come from something.  The problem with this is that it violates the assumptions of his own discipline that assumes causality for all effects.  There are no known effects for which there is not a cause.

The trouble I have with this, is the trouble I have with this.  The trouble I have with people that don’t have trouble with this, is that they don’t have trouble with this.  Circular reasoning, I know.  That’s the trouble.  At some point, it seems to me that human reasoning doesn’t work anymore and we can either admit it is beyond anything we currently know, or conceitedly lock ourselves inside the universe claiming that if we can’t understand it, then it must not be real.  Bound by the laws of physics, it just seems natural (no pun intended) to me that there is something unnatural about the way the universe came into existence.  Regardless of what we speculate caused the universe to come into existence, it becomes a philosophical question, not a scientific one.

Science is defined as, “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.”  Where science came from is a philosophical question, because it is at the cusp of the universe that I have to ask myself, am I smart enough to get this?  Is anybody smart enough to get this?  How is it possible that we can even begin to comprehend anything that would fall outside of the, “the physical or material world,” such that it might be its cause.  We fall into and observe the set of physical and material things from within, so how can we understand what is outside of it!?*

Stephen Hawking says, “The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself.  It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE.”  To me it seems disingenuous for one the greatest scientific minds in the world to barf out something that defies the best science we have which shows the universe has a beginning.  His conclusoin is just presupposing that nothing can exist outside of the universe, thereby being forced to make a faithful leap to whatever untested scientific theory he can come up with while locked inside the universe.  He also asserts that, “philosophy is dead,” because apparently only science is qualified to answer the questions of “why” or “how” anymore.  Wait.  What?  How is science going to answer the question about where science came from?  It seems to me that the mere idea creates a logical fallacy known as circular definition.  You cannot use a term to define itself.

That is the trouble I have, which forces me to make a decision.  I can’t possibly understand it, but I must decide for myself.  The best evidence says that the known universe has a beginning, so does it make more sense that all natural things come from nothing, or does it make more sense that all natural things come from something?  Personally, I have no choice but to come to the conclusion that all natural things come from something, keeping in mind that this also requies reconsideration of what a “thing” is.  Once a “thing” is not confined to being a materialistic natural thing, and “something” can be something I cannot comprehend, to me it makes far more sense, even though it doesn’t make sense.  Yes, complicated, I know.  Once I give up my own self-centeredness and come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the reference point to comprehend anything outside of the universe of which I am a member, I can begin to speculate about what that something might be that caused the universe without any presuppostion about what “things” are.  It could be mystical matter-free unicorns, it could be metaphysical timeless leprechauns, or maybe, just maybe, it could just be that, whatever it is, has attempted to communicate with us and we just need to identify the signs and follow the trail it left to understanding it, but that’s a whole separate mind barf.  Everybody must draw their own conclusion.

*Note: There’s more to this statement/question depending you your conclusion of something from nothing.


12 thoughts on “Can I Barf Up Something From Nothing?

  1. Ah the cosmological argument. Not compelling. Here is why:

    If the universe requires a creator then why doesn’t god require a creator?

    Why is there god rather than nothing?

    Perhaps the universe itself is infinitely old and does not have a cause.

    If there is a first cause, maybe it’s an unintelligent, impersonal force. Why does it require the god of the bible and it’s truckload of dogma?

    See more here:

    Furthermore, have you studied M-theory at all? It provides a much more compelling and plausible cause for everything.

  2. @Joe – I think the more proper statement would be that *you* don’t find it compelling. I certainly find it compelling.

    Those are awsome questions! And they’re ones that everybody has got to answer for themselves, but they’re largely philosophical questions, not scientific questions, so I can only answer for myself, and no-one else…

    1) God doesn’t require a creator because he’s not a created (ie natural/physical) being. Tough to swallow, I know, but this is what I’ve swallowed, and have been able to accept once I free my mind from being trapped in 3 dimensions of space and 1 dimension of time. See #5.

    2) I believe it is the best explanation of the ordered way things are, best explains the problem of good and evil, best explains what I know about myself, and best explains human nature in general. There’s more to barf up about all of that, as you know, because you have also given these things much though.

    3) The suggestion that the universe is infinitely old seems an odd one, since we know that it has a finite beginning and nothing with a finite beginning or a finite end is infinite.

    4) It could be that mystical unicorn or that metaphysical leprachaun or maybe another universe just barfed. You must reflect inwardly and draw your own *personal* conclusions. I think there’s more to you than just another universe barfing. Science cannot draw these conclusions for you. For me, see #2.

    5) I’m familiar with M-theory and string theory on the surface. I think they’re intesting topics. Personally I think if such a thing could be proved (which it can’t because we can neither experience or test dimensions other than the ones we reside in), it would only lend credence to what I already believe to be the case, which is that there is at least one other dimension (and quite likely more) that we aren’t currently members of…or are we? I seem to think I reside in at least one other dimension already (ie mind, consciousness, spirit, soul, a combination, whatever you want to call it/them).

    I know these are hastily flung together responses, and they’re only my take. However, I’m just a random dude on the internet though, so you have to figure it out for yourself!

  3. How about “millions and growing” don’t find it compelling.” 🙂

    1) I’m not buying it. You can’t make a baseless assertion like “god doesn’t need a creator but the universe does.” Either EVERYTHING requires a creator or it doesn’t. You can’t have it both ways.

    2) I think the empirically driven sciences rather than supernaturally derived assertions explain these things better. I agree to disagree.

    3) This is a messy one. Depends a lot on your definition of “universe” and “beginning”. See M-theory/multiverse theory. It’s compelling stuff.

    4 and 5) I go where the empirical evidence takes me. It’s an exciting time in cosmology/physics. Climb on board!

    • I’m not selling so you don’t worry, you’re not obligated to buy. I’m only giving away my own barf 🙂

      Ultimately, emperical evidence can only explain what’s part of the universe. That’s good stuff, but I want to go outside the universe, and emperical evidence cannot take me outside the beginning of time and space. Science just cannot define or prove itself. That being the case, the only options I seem to have left are to ignore it, or consider what I can’t consider. I understand that considering such things is not for everybody, even from a theological standpoint. Free will is grand (uh oh, I think I’m about to barf again…lol).

      In any case, certainly if you can back up your beliefs with appeals to popularity, I can back mine up with “baseless assertion” (though I think I have a plenty good philosophical base). I’ve never been one to roll with the crowd anyway. 😉

      Agreeing to disagree is one of the things I do best, but I *always* appreciate the dialogue!

  4. If this was a popularity contest I would definitely be on the losing side. For now anyway.

    Science is a methodology for arriving at empirically driven truths, not a “thing” that needs to have itself defined or proven. Science can and is absolutely going where you claim only philosophy can go. The pre-big bang universe/multiverse/membrane theory is the frontier of cosmology. Did you know we might be up to 11 different dimensions now? Scientists are investigating whether the relative weakness of gravity has to do with the theory of multiple parallel universes? Of which we might someday be able to prove mathematically and test against? Or duplicate in a lab (spooky!). Our universe might be one universe in a sea of universes popping into and out of “existence”. And the best part? When we don’t have to take any of this on “faith”. You could do the math or participate in the experiments yourself.

    I find this all much more fascinating than a burning bush.

    • Re: Science – What are the empirically driven truths about that it drives toward? Also, if it doesn’t need to be defined itself, then how can it describe any truths? If science isn’t defined, that means I can say science proves God, right, since what science is doesn’t need a definition?

      Anyway, investing your belief in these scientifically unproven theories most definitely requires faith! Besides, when I start thinking about other dimensions other than our dimensions of space and time, all you’re really postulating is the potential existence of other realms. Theists have been doing this for millenia! All of a sudden it isn’t crazy anymore because science suggests it? All this sort of theorizing about multiple dimensions we can’t experience (at least in current form) does is actually serve to merge science with theology! It would explain why for the existence of humanity, we’ve been trying to figure out this other “spiritual” dimension people seem to think is a part of them. It does not make it more fascinating than a burning bush, but *equivalently* fascinating, because you can potentially mathematically suggest the way a burning bush might appear even though we have no power or capability to do such a thing ourselves. From the perspective of 3D beings, it would take, well… a miracle! But what about from the perspective of a theoretical maximally great being that existed in all of those undiscovered dimensions?

      That being said…experiments? Get back to me when they create a universe in the lab and I’ll be convinced humans actually have the intelligence to figure out how the universe got here, physically speaking.
      Of course, scientists at that point would probably have destroyed the universe we live in by trying to play God, so the conversation will be unnecessary;)

  5. So let me get this straight. You have trouble with the concept that something can come from nothing and therefore Yahweh wrote a book, Yahweh sacrificed himself to himself to appease… himself, a donkey and snake talked, zombies roamed Jerusalem, and unrepentant sinners will be burned, alive, FOREVER?

    I content that the frontiers of science are getting closer every day to answering these big questions and proving it empirically (they have an impeccable track record in this regard). And when that happens theists will move the goalposts back again. Like they’ve done since Galileo.

    • I think that’s a terrible rhetorical mischaracterization of the narrative of the Bible, and also specifically of hell (that’s another barf though), so I can’t answer that one. If you want to know if I believe in a superior being that offered us perfection, but we turned it down of our own free will, then he offered it again, and we all have a choice to choose it or face eternal separation from objective Good, then that’s a different question that I would answer “yes” to. However, even your scenario makes more sense to me than something coming from nothing. Like I said, I think I’d choose the mystical unicorn over nothing.

      As for science’s impeccable track record, I think that’s a bit intellectually dishonest. Science frequently changes it’s position and puts its faith in best guesses based on slight evidence. It’s good at eventually ironing itself out, but theology will eventually iron itself out for all of us too. Truth is funny that way. It never changes, only our perception of it does.

      In any case, since you didn’t respond to my question about science needing a definition, I’ll have to assume I can define it myself, so the empirical evidence I have from scores of people that testify that God has changed their lives is perfectly good science based on your definition of science as not needing a definition.

      Still, I find it difficult to see how theorizing other realms barfed this one up is any less crazy than suggesting an intelligent being in another realm. Crazy theories of science only serve to explain thousands of years of crazy theories of theology. Science is moving the goal posts closer, not farther away!

  6. One man’s terrible rhetorical mischaracterization is another man’s brilliant and accurate summation. Too many points of disagreement for this format. Let’s agree to disagree. On to the next barf!

  7. Pingback: “Tolerance” Makes Me Barf: Part II « Mike's Mind Barfs

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