View Full Version : Paradox of Nothingness

Alumno deVerum
04-30-2007, 01:18 AM
If the world is fundamentally logical then it must have a logical reason for being. But is the world logical? I don't know. But I must assume it is because I can only think logically and it appears to behave logically and that is all the evidence I have to go on. And if it is that means it can be explained.

Assuming the world is logical it seems to me there are two and only two possibilites here; 1- the universe can explain itself because that reason for being is intrinsic to it. 2-the universe is contingent on something else that has a logical reason for being intrinsic to it.

Eternity is a fact I have no problem with but just pushing "causes" back in time (or even outside of time for that matter) one after another without end seems to me to be the wrong way to think about it. It is in my opinion nothing more than a linear version of a circular argument. The system may go back forever but what explains the system itself? Why should it exist at all?

Now do I have any reason to believe the universe can explain itself? Well what is the universe? Science tells me it is an energy field that exists in a continuum, formed in the big bang, that curves in various places and in various degrees. The greater the curvature the greater the energy. Also energy, according to Einstein, is equivilent to matter. There is an argument that presents itself here. If the outward expansion of the universe exactly balances the force of gravity trying to pull it all back in then the curvature of the universe as a whole would be zero. So matter then would also be equal to zero or nothing. That is the universe just popped into being like a virtual particle out of the void because of the inherent uncertainty arising from quantum physics.

This argument attempts to make a connection between something and nothing (if matter is just a form of energy it, too, is equivalent to zero or nothing) but in my opinion it actually fails because it uses the term zero (0) incorrectly.

To see for yourself what kind of problems can arise from the improper use of zero in mathematics study the problem below (for some reason I can't make superscripts so remember the symbol ^2 denotes a square):

start with the equation: “a=b”
next multiplying both sides by “a” gives us “a^2 =ab”
subtract “b^2” from both sides to keep it equal “a^2-b^2 =ab-b^2”
then factor “(a+b)(a-b)=b(a-b)”
now divide both sides by “a-b” “(a+b)(a-b)/a-b=b(a-b)/a-b”
giving us “a+b=b.”

If “a=b” and we make “a” equal to 1, then “b” also equals 1, but the last line of the equation states “a+b=b” or substituting 1 for “a” and “b” then 1+1=1 or 2=1. How can this be? If you go back and check all the steps there are no apparent mistakes in operation. This non-sensical answer arises when the equation “(a+b)(a-b)=b(a-b)” is divided by “a-b.” Until this particular operation is performed there are no difficulties. In fact the resolution of the problem up to that point equals an absolute value of zero. If “a=b” and both are equal to 1 then “a-b” is the same as 1-1=0 but dividing any number, even zero itself, by 0 is not allowed because it leads to absurdities just like this.

The reverse is also true. Zero divided by any number always equals zero:


The fallacy here, it seems to me, is that the argument equates zero meaning "nothing" with zero meaning "no difference". In other words it is ambiguous. I could put an ounce of gold in each pan of a balance scale and it would indidcate zero meaning no difference but I would still have two ounces of gold.

Zero meaning nothing is not the same. You can not divide zero and get any answer other than zero. Half of nothing is still nothing. And since complexity seems to arise from simplicity not the other way around and this seems to be the simplest possible description of the universe (half the energy,gravity, is positive and attractive and goes this way- the other half, the force of the outward expansion, is negative and repulsive and goes the opposite way) I have no reason to assume there is any intrinsic reason for being to be found materially.

Besides even virtual particles seem to require an infusion of pre-existing energy in order to become stable and thus "real" and where did that come from? It appears for uncertainty to explain anything you must first have something to be uncertain about.

In fact the Polish mathematician Jacob Bronowski, author of the book The Ascent Of Man, found the term "uncertainty" so misleading he proposed using the word "tolerences" instead. After all that there are 36 possible outcomes on a roll of two 6 sided dice is certain it is only the actual value that comes up on any specific toss that is unpredictible. Our universe may be the same. Uncertainty may indeed have played a role in its formation and the way it turned out but where did the dice come from? Why is there uncertainty about nothing?

Now again asking how can something come from nothing? may be the wrong question. For the time being we could rephrase it and ask why is there something instead of nothing? Or what is it about nothingness that keeps it from being absolute?

If the world is logical then it is subject to the rules of logic. Terms in a sentence are qualified by the copula using a form of the words is or is not. By applying the words is not to the concept of being as a whole you will get the concept no being or nothingness. And since it applies to the whole it is absolute by definition.

Now here is where the contradiction arises. Ideas are not concrete things but that does not mean they are not something. I can distinguish between a 9 which is an odd number and a square and an 8 which is an even number and not a square. They have different properties and are therefore things in their own right as concepts. But concepts seem to require a mind to exist. That is they are contingent on an observer.

The example I use are stones and coins. I can hold 9 coins in one hand and 9 stones in the other but where is the number 9 apart from what I hold in my hand? I can sense no other property they have in common other than they are physical but changing the quantity doesn't seem to affect the physical characteristics of either group. So the number itself is not intrinsic to either group. I can understand the number 9 but I can not point to anything in nature and say this is the number 9 by itself. I can only think about it.

Nothingness is likewise a concept. After all we are thinking about it now. But if it is a concept then nothingness is not nothing. That is a paradox and in logic paradoxes can not exist. What happens when an irresistible force collides with an immovable object? An inconceivable event of course. Paradoxes must be dismissed as inconceivable and nothingness is a paradox therefore I must conclude a "state of nothingness" can not exist. Just saying "non-existence exists" is absurd. The only way to avoid a paradox is to have a state of existence instead of non-existence.

Absolute nothingness is to my mind an impossibility. Absolute means just that. Absolute. No properties at all. Not even potential. That means it can not even be thought of as there would literally be nothing to think about (and no one to think it anyway). But, again, since we are thinking about it nothingness can not be absolute. Nothingness is the only thing we can think of in completely negative terms except for the fact it can be thought of.

Also in logic things must follow or you have a non-sequiter. In the syllogism itself it is the middle term that unites the major and minor premises and leads to a conclusion. In life it is the DNA passed from one generation to the next that permits the evolution of species. And in pool it is the energy transmitted from the stick to the balls that allows the game to be played.

So, following from the definitions just established, whatever that fundemental state is it must also be a concept as that is the only thing being and nothingness have in common. That is, to be clear, the concept of nothingness exists but is self-contradictory and therefore unstable. It must collapse into a state that is stable and non-contradictory. This is not an assertion anything came from absolute nothingness which I hope to have shown I have no reason to believe is possible. And because concepts must be observed by a mind that fundemental concept must be self-referential as there is nothing else to see it. That means it can say I AM, which is the same self-referential foundation of the mind we all share, and thus hold Itself in existence. Therefore it is a self aware observer and since it is fundemantal it is prime. Therfore it is the Prime Observer.

Things happen because they can happen and they can happen because those things don't result in paradoxes and cancel out. Likewise the requirement It be completely logical also requires the "Prime Observer" to be completely neutral so as to avoid contradictions that would negate Its own existence. A perfect "God" that is both all knowing and all powerful could only create a world that is perfect because to do otherwise would be imperfect. Since the world is not perfect we may conclude that while the the "Prime Observer" is prime it is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. That is It is just an observer. Nothing more.

In that case worlds may just be an epiphenomenon that arise spontaneously for no other reason than the properties they display don't cancel out so they can be observed. Explaining how a "God" (a word I try to avoid because it is too ambiguous) with no influence on the world could "cause" that same world.

Although for the reasons just stated I see no evidence the universe could explain itself after it forms it could easily evolve guided by nothing more than its own internal dynamics. So it would look and behave as though it were fundementally material even if it isn't.

Does this match what I see in the world? Yes. Einstein showed that matter is just energy in particle form. Erwin Schrodinger then showed that particles can be manifested as a wave. Lastly Max Born showed that waves are just probability distributions which are mathematical in nature and mathematics is just the logical organization of numbers which are concepts.

Some materialists argue that numbers are just manifestations of processes in the brain we impose upon the world. But I have no reason to accept that either because it too is a circular argument. You can't just assert the brain and its processes are material in order to prove the brain and its processes are material. If the universe and the things in it are basically concept then so is the brain. The brain is an organ made of tissue built of cells composed of organelles fashioned from molecules that are conglomerations of atoms which are accumulations of particles formed of energy...

A better tactic I think would be to counter the argument by saying it must be wrong because it holds paradoxes can not exist yet we see paradoxes all around us especially in physics. For example quantum theory says particles are also waves isn't that a paradox? Maybe. Maybe not. To know for sure that was a true paradox and not an illusion that results from our limited experiance we would have to have a complete theory of everything. But we don't. So we must regard any theory that asserts anything paradoxical as incomplete which physics is. In fact there are theories that do seem to suggest wave/particle duality is an illusion (Julian Barbour's quantum state theory of the universe for instance.)

Lastly the phrase I think therefore I am is an observation. But that observation can also be put in the form of a syllogism:

I am a thinking being.
In order to think a being must exist.
Therefore I must exist.

Because self awareness seems to incorporate both experiance and reason the assertion that one can "mistake the things of logic for the logic of things" is a false dichotomy because there is no difference between them. The observer is logic manifest.

I can't remember who first said it but it is quoted all the time. Probably because it sounds profound but nobody ever says why or how anyone is making that mistake. Personally I think its just a diversion. The person throwing it out can't refute an argument so they say the other person is confused.

Asserting God as a solution to a problem is called the argument from incredulity. The trouble with it is that answer does not follow from the problem to be solved. Ancient people couldn't explain life so God must have created it. I don't think I've done that here. The conclusion that there must be a "Prime Observer" follows directly from the premises. It is not something I just threw in. In fact as I look back on it I don't see how I could come to any other reasonable conclusion"

But all this does raise one interesting question. If God exists and holds Itself in existence because It can say, "I AM" what does it mean for us since we can also say, "I AM"?

Alumno deVerum
04-30-2007, 01:19 AM
The Non-creator God

One of the most common questions asked of Deists who doubt divine intervention is how can a God incapable of interferring in the world "create" that same world? The short answer is God doesn't "create" the world.

This does not mean the world is not contingent on God. I have written before why I think a Deistic God probably exists so I won't go over it again here but I will elaborate a little on why I think it unnecessary to think of God as an active "creator".

I call myself a "philosophical idealist" because I think the world is fundamentally concept. This appears to be congruent with the way quantum mechanics describes the "physical" world. Albert Einstein demonstrated that matter is just a form of energy. Then Erwin Schrodinger showed energy is manifested as a wave. Finally Max Born proved that waves are just how mathematics distributes probabilities.

If the universe is nothing more than probability waves manifested as space/time then it could "precipitate" naturally out of what I call the "Prime Observer". Utilizing a technique first developed by the French mathematician Jean Baptiste Fourier complex ideas may be produced by adding together many different frequency waves making one wave with a distinctive shape. If all possible waveforms, positive and negative, are added together the resulting “shape” would be a single flat line (not no line).

As the source of all being the Prime Observer then could be thought of as a perfectly smooth self-referential concept analogous to a sphere (remember this is just a device to help us think about something far beyond our experiance). God, then, would be the simplest possible concept but contain within It all the complexities that can ever be.

Imagine a perfect sphere. "Ripples" could emerge soley by chance on the surface of such an object simply because it is possible for them to. As long as they don't occur simultaneously and cancel out such probability waves may arise unprompted. If the crest of a wave equals its trough then there is no net difference in the overall geometry of that sphere. That is there is no change in it as a whole.

Applying this to the world we see around us we could say any combination of waveforms that don't cancel out could spontaneously emerge (as long as they are balanced) simply because that which we call "God" is aware of them. Things happen because they can happen and they can happen because those things don't result in contradiction. Thus since all possibilities are already incorporated within It God does not need to "cause" anything. As long as the chance of them occurring does not equal zero they will happen all by themselves. This has the potential of solving several problems among them:

1- It shows how God can be the source of all being and remain immutable.

2- It could explain why our universe is predominately matter by saying we could have a sister universe that is mostly anti-matter (if the world is contingent on God then God must be able to explain the physical properties of the world).

3- Why the world seems designed for life by holding all possible worlds may emerge including those that are barren and we just happen to be in one of the few that has physical laws that allow the formation of planets that can support life. Kurt Godel pointed out the philosophical difficulties of mathematical descriptions of the world based on axioms. Why these rules? Why not others? May be those questions can simply be avoided if all non-contradictory axiomatic models, manifested as universes, are possible.

4- If Deism is true why would God would abandon It's creation? The world was not "created" therefore it was not "abandoned". You can't blame the evils in the world on God.

5- If God exists then why does It exist? God exists in order to avoid the "paradox of nothingness" and holds Itself in existence because It is self referential thus allowing God to say "I AM" the same foundation of the self we all share.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If the world is basically concept it must be observed and, therefore, God must exist but that is not the same as saying the universe must be "created". If that is true then there is no divine purpose to the world. It exists simply because it can. However that does not mean our lives are meaningless. Only that we are responsible for creating that meaning for ourselves.

04-30-2007, 02:48 AM
In response to original OP.

Nothingness= Absence of all property.
Existence = a propterty.

Nothingness does not and cannot exist.

04-30-2007, 10:44 PM
Shakespeare puts a twist on it, "Nothing will come of nothing." There's something to be said about the pursuit of something-ness.

04-30-2007, 11:45 PM
Shakespeare puts a twist on it, "Nothing will come of nothing." There's something to be said about the pursuit of something-ness.One of Shakespeare's many quotations that are a great deal cleverer when taken out of context, in my opinion.

05-02-2007, 09:27 AM
I think you're arguing Franklin's "Watch-maker Theory" using Quantum Physics and - shudder - mathmatics.

Einstein also said "God does not roll dice" in response to the issue.

You may see God as a logical mathmatician, but I see God more as an author/writer/artist. Just as I write my books, create characters with fatal flaws and then redeem them at the end, just as I love every one of them, desire their welfare, etc, so do I believe God creates, writes and views us.

I don't believe this world is logical, btw, nor do I believe the observer is logic manifest (if he/she is, then logic does not exist, because it is not absolute. And if it is not absolute but purely subjective, then only the idea of logic exists, but not the thing itself).

My views only.

PS: This isn't to say God isn't logical, but that God has two wills, what I call his "transcendent will", which is the perfection of all things, and his "actual will", which we know as reality. What we have here is his actual will, filled with crime/sin/gross abberations in nature resulting from man's fall.

05-02-2007, 09:58 AM
Strange is it not that we we constantly empower God with our own imaginitives?

05-02-2007, 11:54 PM
Even the "Void" of the Buddhist is not an absolute nothingness.

There has always been something. I think that logical. To ask "Why?" is a stupid question.

05-03-2007, 05:06 AM
This is a very interesting subject and one could think about it until madness took him over, and perhaps that is what has occurred in the past. I'm a big believer in the paradox; we are one and many, we are strangers known to each other, the universe is huge and tiny, space is nowhere and everywhere.
I believe one answer cannot be found because there is no 'one answer', and that is what brings on the madness.
In short, I try not to think about it too much.

05-03-2007, 05:41 AM
Guy de Maupassant said..."We all devise images of ourselves sufficient enough to deny our nothingness". How does that fit in to your essay. quasimodo1

05-07-2007, 12:16 PM
This is a very interesting subject and one could think about it until madness took him over, and perhaps that is what has occurred in the past. I'm a big believer in the paradox; we are one and many, we are strangers known to each other, the universe is huge and tiny, space is nowhere and everywhere.
I believe one answer cannot be found because there is no 'one answer', and that is what brings on the madness.
In short, I try not to think about it too much.

Exactly, my friend. Maybe thinking of such things ONLY for about an hour or so every other day would suffice to prevent the onset of madness.

And, if one does sitting meditation each day - wherein the "monkey mind" is abrogated for a period of time - perhaps that would serve to cancel out the deep thought into madness time - another form of "the Middle Way"? - a true "nothing from nothing leaves nothing"? ;)

Alumno deVerum
08-26-2007, 10:34 AM
In response to original OP.

Nothingness= Absence of all property.
Existence = a propterty.

Nothingness does not and cannot exist.

I think thats what I said:

Absolute nothingness is to my mind an impossibility.

08-27-2007, 02:28 AM
Oh my goodness, I feel like my head is going to explode. It's very hard to keep track of all this for a simpleton like myself.

08-27-2007, 02:33 AM
Oh my goodness, I feel like my head is going to explode. It's very hard to keep track of all this for a simpleton like myself.

Don't worry you are begining to work the right side of your brain - it will hurt but it gets better ;-)

09-03-2007, 03:55 PM
Transcendence is implied by multiplicity. I Am denotes not only knowing, but also being and doing at the same time. We can not hold more than one thought at a time. I Am denotes every thought being processed simultaneously, at all times.

09-15-2007, 08:50 PM
This is a very interesting subject and one could think about it until madness took him over, and perhaps that is what has occurred in the past. I'm a big believer in the paradox; we are one and many, we are strangers known to each other, the universe is huge and tiny, space is nowhere and everywhere.
I believe one answer cannot be found because there is no 'one answer', and that is what brings on the madness.
In short, I try not to think about it too much.

Your notion of space is nowhere and everywhere is what I too subscribe to. Moreover the idea that we are one and many is another great statement. All that I feel is this universe is simply a manifestation of what I am. This is a very subtle thing to understand. Paradoxical too, for how can the universe be an individual's manifestation. For example I exist and the rest exists for me. We can understand this truth this way: if a man loses his eyes he can see colors and colors are therefore illusory things and totally non existent for the blind, and the notion of music that sounds so true to us is an allusion to the deaf. Does not this subscribe to the fact that this universe is a manifestation of the individual. This endorses the fact that the universe is everywhere and at the same that is confined within a self too.

Another thing when we say we are all one and many: We are one because we breathe the same air, the earth connects us. To put it more lucidly- all of us are wired to one another or connected by the same air we breathe, by the same water we drink, by the same earth we share.

This idea is often described in religions. I wrote this comment as this idea of oneness and many struck me many times and the other idea you put of this universe which is nowhere and everywhere are the sum and substance of the Vedas.

I can understand but little. This is really a subtle issue and remain incomprehensible in point of fact.

Alumno deVerum
03-23-2008, 07:17 AM
In response to original OP.

Nothingness= Absence of all property.
Existence = a propterty.

Nothingness does not and cannot exist.

That is one of the main points I was trying to make. People confuse nothing meaning "no difference" with nothing meaning "without property." Therefore if nothing, defined as "without property", cannot exist then there must be something. But what is that something? When you strip away all the permutations all you are left with is it is a concept and concepts seem to require a mind to be perceived.

04-27-2008, 07:05 AM
To debate the existence of absolute nothingness is absurd, the very fact that we exist proves that nothingness is impossible - The entire nothingness debate becomes pointless after that discovery. However its perfectly viable to say that the whole universe (which is not the sum of all existence as it is finite) is in its origin and sum equal to zero. All that says is that the whole of the universe is the whole of the universe - a pointless observation.

Isn't the prime observer just a device - a name given to a necessary force. To even think of using the word "God" in association with the prime observer is absurd, God is an artefact of religion and nothing to do with reality - that doesn't make God invalid as a humanity of course. Reality is nihilism but we chose not to live realistically, we chose to have morals, and goals, and Gods etc.. this has nothing to do with reality.

Why can't people just accept that the sum of humanity, all our concerns and beliefs, all our efforts, our trials, our achievements etc.. are nothing more than the pointless methods we use to distract ourselves from the fact that there is no point - not that there's anything wrong in that, it just has nothing to do with logic.

05-09-2008, 11:34 AM
Logic is something that has to do with rationalization or thought and not beyond that and the universe is something beyond the periphery of logic and it can not be confined by logical notions at all.