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Harald Jezek

Owner, Nuada beauty+wellness

TEDCRED 50+

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Why is there something rather than nothing ?

We usually live our lives without much thinking about why we or anything that surrounds us actually exist.
However, once in a while we can't bust ask ourselves the age old question why is there something at all rather than nothing ?
Where did all the stuff come from ? Why is it here ? is there any purpose to it ? Why is the universe governed by a very specific set of laws rather than another one ?
I don't expect a resolution to this question but feel free to share your thoughts.

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    Apr 16 2014: EXTREMELY existential questions. Those questions form the very basis of religious beliefs. For all we know purposive-ness may just be an illusion. Why do we even think of this things? Can we not just accept things to be like they are just because? Why do we exist at all? And it only gets worse... WAY worse. Lets have a cursory exploration of the three fields that people tend to gather behind to answer such questions.

    SCIENCE!
    The worlds seems to be pretty mundane and 'normal'. We could go about our whole lives with nothing but our 'common sense'. But is it? The more advanced our instruments, and the more extravagant our theories become, more and more incredibly 'un-common sensical' the universe seems to become. Why is there more matter than anti-matter? What is dark matter and dark energy? If the law of entropy states that things tend to eventually become chaos, then why is there order in the first place? Is there no law of order to counteract this? How exactly does energy become mass when we travel? So you mean to say that gravity is nothing but moving space? So space moves?! Are we a wave or a particle? What is energy? etc.. etc...

    PHILOSOPHY!!
    If my truth is different than your truth, then how do we know which? Is there even a truth? On a similar note, is there even a reality? If all proofs must have a basis, then where did all proofs begin? If everything has a cause, then what was the first cause? What caused that cause? How do you proof that? How do you prove your proof? Am I really supposed to believe that because I can think, it is proof of my existence? Am I even conscious? What is consciousness? Is it in the brain somehow or somewhere else? Another dimension maybe?

    RELIGION!!!
    All I can say about religion, is that it is uneducated philosophy. I myself am a Roman Catholic, but come on lets face it. Religion I think is made to jump over the bridge that we call logic. It may or it may not be truth, but its conclusions are definitely ill supported. "By God!"
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      Apr 16 2014: Hi Ariel, great points. I agree with you and the division into scientific, philosophical and religious views.
      So what do you think: should we even ask this question or is it a pointless question ?
      Is it even possible to answer such a question ?
      People in general hate questions that can't be answered. Is that where religion comes into the game ? Trying to answer those questions, outside the rigorous framework of science ?
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        Apr 17 2014: i don't think that there is such a thing as a pointless question. we don't know if we can ever arrive to any answer unless we try. that i think is what separates the 'genius' from the not, the recognition of the things that we don't know.
        i think religion kicks in when the explanation for a phenomena is too much to understand. we don't know if its true or not, and we may never know. that is when we throw it all in the wind and lay our beliefs in faith. i have no qualms with people trying to answer things with unscientific methods. i just think that people should not be too hasty with what they think they've found, and also check with other methods if it produces the same results.
        for example, my faith was borne from a recurring statistically improbable series of events that seemed to have started when i tried being sincere with the suggested methods of prayer. i went to extremes and still the 'coincidences' keeps occurring. my scientific mind could not believe how such events could happen. i had no recourse then but to attribute it as 'miraculous'. still, i do not wish to draw conclusions yet, but this faith thing has done me nothing but good. its thus 'sensical' to keep on doing it!
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          Apr 17 2014: "i have no qualms with people trying to answer things with unscientific methods"
          I suppose that depends. If a person feels better because he can answer a particular question whether through scientific or unscientific methods then I think whatever method he chooses is fine.
          However, when one pursues the truth, the rigor of science is necessary and unscientific methods don't lead anywhere.
          As to prayer, I think it works because in the end it's not different from auto suggestion (if you pray for yourself) or suggestion (if you pray for others with their knowledge).
          Where prayer usually fails, is when it is done for others without their knowledge.
          And, yes, if faith makes you fell good in whatever sense, then by any means keep doing what you are doing. The end justifies the means as long as nobody gets hurt on the way.
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        Apr 17 2014: Harald,

        Always question everything, including the questions.

        Otherwise we start thinking we know everything
        when, in fact, we know almost nothing
        and understand even less.
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          Apr 17 2014: I fully agree, sometimes even the obvious is not always as obvious as it appears ;-)
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      Apr 17 2014: Ariel,

      Everything starts with axioms. Axiom: "a statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true." So there!

      From these we go on to prove that we can get ourselves in all sorts of trouble. Why do we start at all? Because not starting is a non-starter. We're here, we gotta do something because it's impossible to do nothing.

      If we had named matters differently, there could be more anti-matter than matter, but we did it the other way around. What could be the matter with that? Nothing. But there is something rather than nothing, so we're stuck with all these questions ... and answers that may or may not be answers.

      So all this muddling about we do is organized chaos, or chaotic organization, whichever you prefer, because your preference doesn't change anything because there's nothing to change ... unless there is something, rather than nothing. If the law of entropy were really a law, it too would become chaotic and no longer apply or even exist, so that's what saves us, unless we exterminate ourselves.

      (continued ...)
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      Apr 17 2014: (... continuation ...)

      The only way we can save ourselves is by realizing the Truth that we're all in this together ... whatever "this" is. We need to realize that we are all intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent because we are all there is, otherwise we wouldn't be asking these strange questions, which may or may not exist. And the only possible answer is that we should always treat each other as we ourselves would like to be treated, because there's really only one of "us" - the "I am" - and "we" are an illusion; mere aspects of the "I" that is. That's spirituality. When spirituality gets organized, codified and ritualized, then it's called religion, which is over-organized spirituality, and everything starts to become chaotic and confusing because the axes of "them" and "us" start flailing away at "us" and "them" and at the axioms of "I am" and nothing comes of it except the destruction of everything and then we're back to nothing. Except for the fact that "I am" - masquerading as "we" - is really something! I am something! And so are you.

      Everything moves, even if it's nothing, because change is the only constant, which is why it's so difficult to figure out what's true and what matters. That's why it's always okay to change your mind.

      (to be continued ... ad infinitum ...)
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        Apr 17 2014: you should have spoken in reverse sentences. what you are saying fits your profile picture so well haha!
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        Apr 17 2014: "That's why it's always okay to change your mind."
        Changing minds is essential in science. If we didn't change our minds, science wouldn't exist and we'd still live in caves.
        As to religion, yes it's organized spirituality (wrapped in a dogmatic framework) and spirituality in my view is just a way to deal with issues that science can't deal with.
        This whole question of why there is something rather than nothing also brings up the question of purpose. And I don't mean that in any religious sense. But is there a reason for the universe to exist (and anything beyond it if there is a beyond) ?
        We know (well we don't really know for sure) that the universe was born form a tiny point called a singularity. This is already hard to wrap the mind around, but where did the content of this singularity come from ? Or came everything into existence ex nihilo (equally difficult to wrap the maind around) ?
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          Apr 17 2014: Yes, being open-minded is essential for the scientific method to function. Open-mindedness allows for changes of mind. And the scientific method is currently our best means for exploring the material aspects of the Universe.

          It is also essential to be both open-minded and open-hearted for spiritual inquiry to function. It is a misperception to see spirituality only as a way to temporarily deal with what the scientific method hasn't yet revealed for us. It is actually a way to expand our awareness into the non-material, which is a realm that science cannot explore in a meaningful way.

          Love, for example, is something we can feel, desire, need, give, yet it cannot be weighed, measured, tested in a laboratory. Yes, the methods of science can be used to investigate changes in bodily function - blood chemistry, hormones, heart function, brain activity, etc. - but these are all mechanical aspects of us that are affected by our experience of love, or by our experience of fear, which is the absence of love.

          Love is energetic, yet it doesn't seem to be part of what we understand to be the electromagnetic spectrum, even though love is often equated with or analogously explained in terms of light. Love doesn't seem to be material, yet it affects matter, at least in the form of living beings, particularly we humans. If it truly isn't material, then the scientific method, at least as we know and apply it, cannot be used to investigate love. Does that mean love isn't /real/ - that it's some hocus-pocus figment of our imaginations - that it's something that science will eventually be able to fully explain?

          The essence of spirituality is the investigation of love, including all manifestations of love: kindness, compassion, empathy, care-giving, altruism, beneficence, etc. One of my teachers said "Love is the glue that holds everything together." And he literally meant /everything/ in the Universe. Without love - attraction and bonding - there would be nothing.
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          Apr 17 2014: From a spiritual perspective, we are here to manifest love in all of its possible forms. That's our purpose. The ideal of religion is to provide community wherein we can mutually inspire, encourage, guide and assist each other on our individual spiritual paths. The ultimate goal of the spiritual-religious journey is harmonious unity of all the diverse manifestations in the Universe.

          Unfortunately, most religions are not practiced in a way that serves this purpose. In fact, the ways religions are practiced by those who claim to be religious, tend to result in division and separation rather than bonding in unity. That's because people are are egotistical and more inclined to become focused on their own selfish desires which blinds them to the reality that we are indeed all in this together; that we are all intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent; that we are all one in the essence of our being.

          When I speak of love, I mean what people often refer to as unconditional love. But that phrase is a confusing misnomer. Love is unconditional. Anything that is conditional isn't love, it's a business deal: I'll give you this if you give me that.
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        Apr 17 2014: Carl, I believe that science, in principal can explore any aspect of reality. True, there are many realms that we currently cant access through science, but I believe that eventually we will find scientific explanations. Some questions, although they could be in principal answered by science, might never be answered because we lack the means to explore those realms (e.g. what, if anything lies beyond the boundary of our universe).
        What is love ? it's actually something for which there is no clear cut definition. It means different things to different people and is, most likely, also experienced differently by everybody.
        We know that love relies on our body being alive. A dead body can't experience love. This means that love, is a product of our physical organism and depends on this organism. We know that the feeling of love (as well as other feelings for that matter) produces certain chemical changes in our body. So we know the feeling is a product of our organism and we also know it causes measurable and tangible effects in the organism. Why should we call that as something spiritual ?
        This is even true for religious experiences. It was shown in experiments that the electrical stimulation of certain brain areas produces religious experiences.
        What we call love is probably unique to humans and a result (only speculation) of our brain development. Bonding, attraction, empathy etc also exist in other higher animals. So probably what we call love is just a higher developed mix of such characteristics as bonding, empathy, etc.
        Love also might be something genetically programmed into us because it certainly helps to preserve our species. Imagine, without love, empathy, etc. and our technical capabilities we probably would face disaster if not destruction rather sooner than later.
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          Apr 18 2014: If science ever evolves to be able to "access" love to study it, beyond electro-chemical and physiological body responses, it will, I think, be a very different sort of science from what we currently know. And it seems to me that it will be a scientific method that embraces the non-material, meaning what we call spiritual. That doesn't mean that spirituality will be diminished by mundane explanations, but rather that science will be expanded into the mystical. The discovery of what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance" is tending towards this - in spite of the fact that Einstein denied that there could possibly be such a phenomenon.

          It's easy to appeal to questions supposedly being answerable by science "in principal" when there is no way to ever demonstrate that they can be, in fact. Somehow this reminds me of the saying: "In theory, there should be no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is."

          As for love experience by non-human life forms, we do seem to be finding evidence that some animals have experiences similar to ours. I think that the more we learn and come to understand from these few examples, we will begin to better understand how to see the same in many "lower" forms of animal life.

          Even plants - trees in particular, but others, too, such as tobacco - have been found to take care of each other in ways not very dissimilar to the way we do it. They join together in unified action against common threats, the healthy ones will together nurture one that has been attacked by some outside agent. I contend that these are demonstrations of what is reasonable to classify as love. It's very anthropocentric to believe that only humans can and do experience love.

          How do you /know/ that a "dead body can't experience love?" Have you ever been dead and found yourself unable to experience love? Dead bodies certainly evoke loving responses from the living, at least for humans and elephants.
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          Apr 18 2014: Yes, electrical stimulation of certain areas of the brain produces experiences similar to spiritual experiences. That doesn't mean all spiritual experiences are just experiences of electrochemical activity in the brain. There is plenty of evidence that physical experiences produce specific brain activity AND inducing that same specific brain activity produces a physical sensation of the same thing even if it isn't actually happening. That does not negate the reality of actual physical experience.

          We do not "know the feeling is a product of our organism." What we know about is what happens in our organism in response to a feeling, the feeling being a response to something we experience, some stimulus, either inside or outside our organism. It's well known in "inner work" and spiritual circles that inner events result in outward expression and outer practice can produce inner events. This is the very basis for doing various "practices" - to change the electrochemical and physiological processes and states in our bodies. Doing outer practices can produce and develop new neural pathways while diminishing others, and can change genetic expression.

          If love is "genetically programmed into us," who is the Programmer? The spiritual/religious would say God/Allah/YHVH/Spirit or whomever. The mechanistic materialist would say a confluence of chance evolutionary events. How does this latter view stand up against the great law of entropy which is supposed to inevitably discombobulate everything into chaos?

          "Without love, empathy, etc." we would not survive, whereas, without "our technical capabilities" we might actually stand a better chance of surviving, considering that many of our technological capabilities are currently threatening our very existence because we are incapable of applying them wisely. Spiritually derived wisdom would help us avoid self-extermination.
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        Apr 19 2014: If you say that love (and I suppose that applies also for other feelings because thee is no reason to just pick love) is something different than an electro chemical process then the question arises as to what is it ?
        I think love is not one thing but is the something we perceive (feel) as a result of a combination of several electro chemical processes.
        Love is simply a term that was coined to express a particular state of mind.
        The moment science can tackle a particular issue it can't be called "spiritual" anymore. The term spiritual has no real tangible meaning beside being a fill in for something that we can't express with scientific language.
        "It's easy to appeal to questions supposedly being answerable by science "in principal" ....."
        Yes, I know, but it happens. Let's assume that super string theory turns out to be right. In such case we would, at least for now, not be able to actually measure or observe those strings because there is no method to do so. Reality doesn't care whether or not we are able to observe or measure something.
        Yes, animals and to some degree plants, exhibit something like "love", although I think there is a fundamental difference between humans and other life forms and that is consciousness (at least the level of consciousness that we possess is unique to humans).
        "How do you /know/ that a "dead body can't experience love?"
        I have no reason to believe anything different. Being dead, means that vital functions, including brain activity, came to a halt. However love is defined, it origins in our brains (although some might say it's the heart). So if the brain is dead, no feeling of love can be produced. For the same reason a dead body can't be happy or afraid or experience any other feeling.
        Yes, dead bodies EVOKE feelings from the LIVING, but that's something different.
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        Apr 19 2014: "We do not "know the feeling is a product of our organism."
        Again, there is no reason to assume otherwise. If so, please point me to any scientific material that supports your view.
        "If love is "genetically programmed into us," who is the Programmer? "
        If there is a love gene or a combination of genes that allow us to experience something we call love it would have come into existence the same way other genes came into existence.
        "Spiritually derived wisdom would help us avoid self-extermination."
        I don't know what spiritually derived wisdom is, but what would help us to avoid self extinction is common sense.
        The problem are not our technological capabilities but people who find ways to misuse or abuse those capabilities.
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      Apr 20 2014: There are questions which have no answers (as far as science is concerned). Religion and spirituality fill in those gaps. Humans struggle with the concept of not knowing-therefore, we are easily sold on beliefs which cannot be proven.
      The definition of nothing is "empty space". The mere fact that the universe is made of matter answers the question of why there is something rather than nothing. Speaking parsimoniously, no further explanation is necessary.

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