Recently seeing, on the Australian ABC TV Q&A program, Lawrence Krauss, Theoretical Physicist & Cosmologist, and author of “A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing”, provoked a sceptical reaction. “Nothing? What on earth is the man talking about?” was my initial reaction. A little research of Lawrence’ fundamental discussion about the beginnings of the universe confirmed that, indeed, the proclamation inherent in the title of his book was not about nothing at all. This was a great relief. It is much more difficult to write about a point of view that seems delusional, such as the belief that someone has an experience of nothing, a vision of nothing, a mathematics of nothing, or imagined nothing. The patent delusion being that, with what did such a person have an experience of ‘nothing’, even if through mathematics, when ‘nothingness’ implies no thing, no language, no mathematics through which to have such an experience.
So why would thousands of atheist scientists such as Lawrence Krauss, and their followers, believe that there was a ‘nothing’ from which the universe come into being. Why would they believe that there is evidence for ‘nothing’.
It appears that the problem lies in the mathematical conceptualisation from Set Theory of sets of nothing.
Any named object or idea also become the name of the set of all similarly named object. If there is no actual object in the set then there is a set of nothing. If I imagined a word, ‘flabulanzers’. I could imagine a set of ‘fabulanzers’. Given that I haven’t imagined a form for ‘fabulanzers’ nor found any contingent object with such a name, then the set of ‘fabulanzers’ would have zero ‘fabulanzers’, be empty, and thus a set of nothing. Likewise, given any problem for which it can be shown there is no answer, then the set of answers to the problem is empty ie it is a set of nothing.
However, what the mathematician doesn’t deal with in talking about ‘nothing’ and its elemental sibling, ‘zero’, is that neither a set of nothing nor zero are representatives of ‘nothing’. They are rather representatives of something. To wit, only nothing could represent nothing. The something of sets of nothing are sets which, while having no element within, are yet formations in language ie the imagination of a human being. The something of zero is of a cardinal number which names the place-mark of the non-existence of an object within a certain context (in time and space). While zero and its role as a place-mark exist only in the imagination of the human being, that plsce-mark is fully realised as a moment in time-space ever time zero is mentioned.
So the crux of the problem presented by Lawrence Krauss exists in a certain delusion that the source of the discussion (language, naming, mathematics) is distinct from the object of the discussion. On a closer look, anything rendered in language, even sets of nothing, are something. The greater delusion might be that the wormy organics encased in a boned vault have any real capacity to analyse its own non-existence, as would be necessary if it were ‘nothing’.
Baha’u’llah made pointed reference to this reality in a letter in the 19th Century, “All that the sages and mystics have said or written have never exceeded, nor can they ever hope to exceed, the limitations to which man’s finite mind hath been strictly subjected.”Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 317)
It seems to have passed by many atheist scientists, that the very methodology of physics, as concluded by Max Born, has achieved its greatest successes by applying the methodological principle that concepts which refer to distinctions beyond possible experience have no physical meaning and ought to be eliminated. (Max Born, “Continuity, Determinism, and Reality”, (Danish Academy of Science, Mathematics and Physics, Section 30, No. 2, 1955), p. 4 .)
In contrast, Heidegger recognised value in that, as much as language constructs meaning of experience, the only ‘nothing’ that is possible, is “Nothing is the quality of abandonment of preconceived notions, of logical puzzles. The Nothing denies the “is” of something.” Heidegger, refers to the thing of nothing as a thing in language through which ‘nothing’ refers to the possibility for the question “why?” This is a process of continual unlearning. Heidegger seemed to recognise the danger in the scientific tendency to either eliminating or defining ‘nothing’ is that it would eliminate the question, ‘why’ and thereby, science itself.
So, Lawrence Krauss, perhaps unwittingly, use an idea of ‘nothing’ that is something, perhaps believing it to really be ‘nothing’ but in that belief, creating barriers for many thousands of people to access of a clearing of language for ‘why’ to be manifest, and potentially stalling the wonder that would otherwise be excited for trying to understand phenomena and being.
Baha’u’llah in support of the impossibility of nothingness-as-non-existence to foster any form, declared “All praise to the unity of God, and all honor to Him, the sovereign Lord, the incomparable and all-glorious Ruler of the universe, Who, out of utter nothingness, hath created the reality of all things, Who, from naught, hath brought into being the most refined and subtle elements of His creation, … How could it, otherwise, have been possible for sheer nothingness to have acquired by itself the worthiness and capacity to emerge from its state of non-existence into the realm of being? (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 64)
While offering the observation that “That which hath been in existence had existed before, but not in the form thou seest today. The world of existence came into being through the heat generated from the interaction between the active force and that which is its recipient. These two are the same, yet they are different. Thus doth the Great Announcement inform thee about this glorious structure. Such as communicate the generating influence and such as receive its impact are indeed created through the irresistible Word of God which is the Cause of the entire creation, while all else besides His Word are but the creatures and the effects thereof. Verily thy Lord is the Expounder, the All-Wise.” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 140) Baha’u’llah went on to dissuade this view of any interpretation that ‘nothing’ ever was by proclaiming, ”A drop of the billowing ocean of His endless mercy hath adorned all creation with the ornament of existence, and a breath wafted from His peerless Paradise hath invested all beings with the robe of His sanctity and glory. A sprinkling from the unfathomed deep of His sovereign and all-pervasive Will hath, out of utter nothingness, called into being a creation which is infinite in its range and deathless in its duration. The wonders of His bounty can never cease, and the stream of His merciful grace can never be arrested. The process of His creation hath had no beginning, and can have no end. “ (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 61)