Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

This is the ultimate question of questions. ‘The Big Bang’, evolution, creation, religion, politics, war, death, disease, people, you, me – why? If you have no interest in any of that, then stop reading now.

Some might find this totally too abstract of a question or possibly just incomprehensible. The same question rephrased could be: ‘Why is there existence?’ or even ‘Why are there things?’ Things and energy that exist, not only around us, but also within us. A powerful mind, a beating heart, muscle, thought, desire, emotion and consciousness. Why?

Science has taught us much about ‘how’ things exist and work, but we long to know the why. We know the logic and that’s why this question is illogical – no one knows the answer. It boils down to: Why do we do anything at all; what’s the point?

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Physics vs. philosophy has been the great debate around this ultimate something/nothing question. Scientists all strive to answer it but cannot, so we philosophise. ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?: Questions from great philosophers’ is a book, which I’ve owned for while but caught my attention again recently. Compiled by Leszek Kolakowski; a philosopher himself – the book contains essays on the theories and ideas of legends such as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato among others.

I found myself even more intrigued after watching the movie Lucy – which explores the idea of what people might be capable of if able to use a larger percentage of brainpower. It suggests that because we are all just energy, we should be able to move from one state to another. It also suggests that ‘time’ is a concept created by man and doesn’t actually exist. We seem to believe that we live in a place called ‘the present’ – invisible and intangible, really just another concept. Think about it a little more and we realise that there is only the past and the future. We seem to move forward in time, so could we also travel backward? Science has yet to answer this question.

This post was already written, when just a few days later I found myself captivated by Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan. I heard it was a good movie but had done zero research before watching it. My mind was opened and emotions tugged, by what I expected to be just another deep space flick. Inspired by the real-life scientific work of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne; the film explores theories about the self, the universe, life beyond our planet, space travel, other dimensions, parallel universes and the possibility of time travel. The story however, unfolds in a way that allows us plebs to actually grasp the ideas presented. It even made me shed a tear or two and movies (almost) never make me do that. Even despite the star studded cast (including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Matt Damon), it’s unexpectedly one of the best films I’ve seen this year! Possibly on par with one of Christopher Nolan’s previous films: Inception – a thrilling and action packed adventure, starring Leonardo DiCaprio – which delves deep into the world of our dreams but also questions the concept of time. Perhaps the places we go to in our dreams could actually be real?

But, maybe we aren’t supposed to know or understand everything. Maybe something actually IS nothing. If as science states, every person, animal and thing including the air, is made up of atoms – let’s note that air cannot be seen by the naked eye and therefore appears to us as: nothing. It can also be said that the idea of nothing is just that: an idea, a theory in itself, completely imaginary – a state that in fact does not exist.

Why is the world so mysterious? A rhetorical question at best, because the answer too is a mystery: it is, because it is. Not only do we question what will happen in ‘The End’ (AKA The Apocalypse, AKA The End of Days) but also what happened in ‘The Beginning’ to create it all? Did it involve a Creator or a Big Bang – or are they possibly one and the same? Pantheists suggest that the concept of the universe and the concept of God could be just that. Both are stated as being: all of space and everything in it, eternal and infinite, ever expanding matter and energy, powerful and mysterious. So God – whether He, She or It – could very well be an all-powerful energy, instead of some big guy up in the sky.

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we do anything at all? The reason is because of love, my friend. It’s love: for our family and friends and work and life, that binds us together. Tis the truth, although clichéd, tis still the truth.

Courtney A. Walsh explains it wonderfully:

“Dear Human,
You’ve got it all wrong.

You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often.

You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering.

But unconditional love? Stop telling that story.

Love, in truth, doesn’t need any other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU.

It’s enough. It’s plenty.”

That’s it, we don’t need to know, we just need to LIVE life and accept that it’s enough. From my perspective there has always been something, because there has to be something, to create something more.

Many theorists suggest that the universe is, just because it is. That’s not an answer. I believe the universe is, because we believe there is something that actually makes it so. I believe that the something is love. It’s the most intense feeling and the one thing that has the power to unite us. As Hathaway’s Interstellar character says: “Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.”

We need each other, we need connection – even atoms want to stick together. If we come back down to earth and stop looking elsewhere for answers, we find them within us. What we understand the least and what we need the most, is the power of love. And what we’ve been looking for has been there all along.

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Disclaimer: When I first wrote this post I found the image inspiration from all over and I’m not sure where it originated, so if you see something here that’s your original design, please send me a message and I will credit you where relevant.

(Edited and republished. Originally posted on my old blog: Peaches and Pie)

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