We take the fact that we exist for granted, don’t we? Most days we forget to be amazed that we are alive. Most days we forget to be amazed that there is something rather than nothing. We forget to be amazed that we are alive on the one planet capable of supporting life in our solar system (and perhaps the only one in the universe). This should fill us with amazement.
There are roughly(and here simplistically stated) three main answers to the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”.
- This is just the way things worked out. Our existence is the result of random actions.
- Multiverses -the idea that multiple universes exist and have existed. If there are enough universes in existence, sooner or later, one will support the development of life.
- This is the result of the action of a creative,creating intelligence. (This is not to be confused with intelligent design.)
It has occurred to me lately- I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities- that both questions [the origin of consciousness in humans and of life from non living matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality- the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology- making animals. In them the universe begins to know itself. George Wald, “Life and Mind in the Universe,” Quantum Biology Symposium, International Journal of Quantum Chemistry 11 (1984):1-15, quoted in Gerald L. Schroeder, God According to God, page 48-49.
For people of faith, the idea that intelligence preceded the universe rather than being the result of billions of years of development is not surprising. What is interesting is that scientists, serious scientists, are beginning to consider whether some sort of pre-existent intelligence is needed for the universe we live in to exist.
It is important for scientists and theologians to ask hard questions and not to settle for simple explanations. Why is there something rather than nothing? Neither “God did it” nor ” that’s just the way it turned out” are truly satisfying answers. The search for understanding can be difficult, frustrating work. Things can be confusing and even unsettling as old concepts are discarded and new insights take their place. But the quest to understand is worth the effort.
I’d like to know, what do you think?