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.