Why is there something rather than nothing?

By Kristian Buckner | Apr 22, 2014
Photo by: NGC 2818 by the Hubble Space Telescope.jpg The planetary nebula NGC 2818

At the beginning of this semester I went to my first philosophy class, Philosophy of Religion. The professor told us what was going to be on the final exam, just one question. We had the whole semester to consider just one question: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Throughout the semester we read many essays by people who believed, or didn't believe. Naturalists and non-naturalists. People who declared there was life after death, or there wasn't. Who stated that science made it so that religion couldn't exist, and vice versa. I thought and thought, what could possibly be the answer to this question? What if I don't believe that there is something? What if there is nothing? Then how do I answer that question at all?

Now during the last week of the semester, I realize that I was looking at it all wrong. The question that lie within the question is the answer. Of course there is something rather than nothing, the real question that lie there before me the entire semester was really what is that something?

So, what is the something?


But that word can't fully describe what I mean.

We as humans have the same question, no matter race or creed, the question is universal: how can we find the ultimate and unlimited happiness? We answer this question through series of beliefs and faiths. Some chose to believe that there is a god, some chose to believe that there is reincarnation, or salvation, or enlightenment. This question is arisen within ourselves as we search our entire lives to find the solution. We look to outside sources, tangible and non-tangible. The reality is that the answer to question is something that we must find within ourselves. What we chose to believe in and have faith in, outside of what fact and science says, the things that answer our question. Why is there something rather than nothing? Because the something is innate, because we want to be happy, we want to find the answer to our questions that validate our existence.We chose to believe in things that will bring us, and do actively bring us, happiness. In this way, there is no real answer to the question is there something or nothing? Because it's always something, it's just a matter of what that something is for each of us. The something is not things that are objects, or people, or places. But things that empower us to be better humans, to love more and care more. The things that change us outside of comprehension. The love or connection that we have with other beings, or the god that we believe in, or the entity that is the force of life for all beings that we chose to believe is there. The something is within us. The realization that our ultimate goal, as described by many greats of many different beliefs such as Dalai Lama, is happiness. No matter what we chose to believe in, there's no real right or wrong answer because there are so many kinds of happiness and ways to reach to it, and the it's unique for all of us. We chose to believe what exists because it answers the something that calls within us. So, of course there is something rather than nothing, and that something always answers the question, "how do I find ultimate and unlimited happiness?"

While there is so much more to this than I can fully express through human language which is so limited, the underlying answer is there. We each find the answer to our internal question in many different ways. There can't just be one way, one religion, one belief, that answers the question of our life for all beings that exist, because there are so many different cultures, beliefs, experiences, and people. The happiness that I'm referring to is one that is beyond the definition of our word "happiness," it's something that can't be defined by a general answer but must be defined by ourselves and what we chose to believe.

So to my professor's question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" Because the something is inescapable. The something isn't always a god, it isn't always one singular answer, but it varies for each of us. The something is what drives us, the something what ever it may be that lives within us, is the answer to our existence. To our, and may I use this word for lack of better, happiness. There is something because we chose to believe in order to answer our questions.

Perhaps I can't fully express this something in order for it to be comprehensible. And perhaps I may be quite wrong about this entirely. But for me, the answer is quite clear and even something that I may be working the rest of my life to answer. For me to define if there is a god or not, (which is a totally different question than that of which I have been attempting to answer, but let me use this as an example of what I mean), is nigh impossible. I do not know that I could possibly answer this question of whether or not a god exists. But I know that I exist, and I know that there is a reason that I exist, and I am a thinking individual and being. I don't know the answers to why I exist, but I know the answer to things that bring me happiness. For moments there are tangible things that bring me happiness which fade away. But peace of mind, when I can escape the thought of the world and feel whole within myself, that brings me what may be a pure happiness. And perhaps that doesn't really answer the question of why I exist or what created me, or whether or not there is an entity that has power over us all, but the pure happiness, which as aforementioned is something beyond our definition, is something that validates my existence. Maybe one day I will be certain that there is reincarnation, or that there is a god, or entity of some sort. And perhaps that knowing will give me the clear answer to these questions. Until then, I know that there is something because I feel the drive within myself, because I know that love exists, and peace and happiness exist. But to find the unlimited and ultimate happiness, which will alleviate all worry, pain, and suffering, which for Buddhists this is enlightenment, for Christians it is salvation by God, this is the answer which will validate my existence.

For me, the something exists. The something isn't one answer. Why is there something rather than nothing? Because we are all searching for an answer, and that something will answer it. It just depends on what that something is for you. So, what is your something?

Comments (4)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Apr 22, 2014 18:40

DEEP THOUGHTS!  Very interesting perspective.  Any "enlightened" person will go through this process of contemplating the meaning of life.  Here are some tidbits that I've amassed along the way that you might add to your own inventory of ponderings:


1) Ever read the biblical book of Ezekiel?  Could that describe some kind of space/time traveling machine described in the words of people who had no concept of an airplane or TV?  I asked my PhD pastor once about that in my youth.  His response was even if someone were to prove God as we know Him was an extraterrestrial being, one would have to answer the question of  "transference" -- or who was God's god that created life?


2) In college I minored in religion.  One of the classes I took studied the book "Consciousness Explained" by Dennett.  There are multiple examples of "stuff" in your mind that goes beyond science.  For example, your eye can detect the difference between two picture frames in a movie.  Yet when played, your mind "fills in" the gaps between those two picture frames with stuff that isn't there so that you perceive fluid motion.  Science can't explain some of those phenomena.


3) Regarding which religion is the "truth"... Well, God may choose to reveal himself in any number of ways to any number of people.  (Careful about Buddhism you mention though, it's a philosophy and not a religion as there's no "faith" involved.)  If God influences me and my ancestors, who am I to reject that?


4) It's amazing that science and religion are concerned about who's right.  Does being right mean the other is wrong?  If you study what science knows as the 4th dimension, isn't that almost verbatim what is described as what Heaven would be?  A dimension where all space and time can be known from the same vantage point.  Kind of sounds like a good explanation of how God could know all things at all times.  *** And it's interesting that people try to discount the story of Noah's Ark lately.  At the same time science is suggesting there is a vast ocean under the earth's crust.  Could that ocean have been forced out of the earth once through what's known as blue holes to cover all land?  I think it's fun to find scientific ways to support biblical stories.


5) Think about what would have to occur in a totally scientific explanation without divine intervention to just come up with something like an eyeball!  Even when dealing with millions of years, it's a statistical impossibility.  I heard a statistician suggest it would be like taking all the individual parts from a car and dropping them from a helicopter so that when they land, they would fall in such a way that you could open the door, turn the key, and drive away.  Not in a million years!  (yes, that's punny)


6) Don't forget your Old Testament.  God gave consequences of DESCENDANTS of those who did wrong!  DOH!  It's possible to suffer in ways for things that were done generations ago?  I dearly hope there is nobody named Eli in my family tree a few thousands of years ago.  When I see someone who has a pattern of misfortune or an inability to choose right from wrong, I wonder if their ancestors did something wrong and they never came to know Jesus Christ.


7) Look up Utilitarianism.  Be sure you also recognize what's "faith" and what's "philosophy" when considering that concept.  Much of what you write about in "happiness" seems to stem from Utilitarianism.


8) Bring some of this back to your tangible rights as an American.  As has been debated in this online Mountaineer forum (we sometimes get deep in the weeds), your "inalienable rights" comes from your Creator.  (So says our Declaration of Independence.)  In other words, if we are just walking, talking pieces of meat, Darwin takes over and the strong should just rule over the weak.  So if you're American, you have some level of faith that you have a Creator (capital "C") that gives you the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  (The beauty is that you get to choose who you believe is your Creator.)


8) But personally, I so far in my life have only had one occasion to pray so hard that it consumed every bit of focus I had.  When a thought clearly and unmistakably appeared in my head to answer my prayer that did not originate from anything I was thinking (and you know when that happens), there's no explanation for it.  That kind of experience can confirm your faith.  I was 39 years of age.  I wish I could have had that experience at 10 years of age.


Question your faith.  Embrace the exercise.  It makes you stronger provided that you complete the exercise.


Good to hear from you again, Kristian.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Apr 23, 2014 10:17

             My parents created me. No God had anything to do with it.

             The second paragraph of OUR Declaration of Independence was not written by Jefferson nor incorporated into any legal principle or document. George Mason's Declaration of Rights was. Article 1. "That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights..."

           OUR Founders completely separated the church from the state.

            They did so not just because of the recognition of "popish follies" and Constantine's error of incorporating trinitarianism into his govt. while banning the Gnostics, but to protect Conscience.

              OUR Founders were men of true faith who trusted their fellow man with the self-determination of their own life, by means of conscience which OUR govt. must equally protect.

              Raised as a farmer I recognized early on that God doesn't do chores, I did. It was my responsibility. Along with many others. Having experienced evolution first hand with organisms becoming resistant to anti-biotics, herbicides, insecticides, etc, it was very easy to understand that a superior creature(God) created the DNA from which "all things great and small" evolved from.

              But who is that creature? From where/what did she come?

              As Jefferson and Madison recognized quite well, no mere mortal fallible man can ever understand nor converse with the infinite mind. Which eliminates "reveled truth's" entirely. As it should be.


           Science proves or disproves things constantly. Faith cannot be measured nor even proven to exist. Nor can God. History is filled with religions that have died because the focus of the religion was proven to either exist or not.

            Follow the examples Jesus of Nazareth established by the living of his life by loving your neighbor as yourself and the lessons of OUR Founders by equally protecting said neighbor.


                My personal philosophy is that life is a series of opportunities. How a person responds will determine what level of Hell or Heaven they attain.





Posted by: Scott Lilly | Apr 23, 2014 13:31

"Raised as a farmer I recognized early on that God doesn't do chores, I did. It was my responsibility. Along with many others. Having experienced evolution first hand with organisms becoming resistant to anti-biotics, herbicides, insecticides, etc, it was very easy to understand that a superior creature(God) created the DNA from which "all things great and small" evolved from."


Mr. Zimmerman, I think the Bible verse to which you refer is Genesis 3:


Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.


Yes, that does tell of the physical/scientific elements of your body and how it's your duty to do your chores.  Perhaps the rest of the books of the Bible will tell you more about who "that creature" is you wonder about.  You might not learn how fast the universe is expanding from "the big bang", but in its simplest form, "that creature" said, "Let there be light and there was light."

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Apr 24, 2014 08:20

           Doesn't answer the question who created God.

           As a farmer, I can tell you first-hand, no living creature was "created from dust".  Sperm and egg had an exchange of chromosomes/DNA.

           Jefferson spent 30 years in a quest to "separate the diamonds from the dung". He even learned the language the original bible was written in. His "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth"(Jefferson bible) is still in print.

            He removed "miracles", virgin birth, trinity, etc.



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