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Assuming that something really can’t come from nothing (I know it’s controversial but if it’s true)...

Then at any given point in time (t), something exists and therefore something also existed at t-1. Doesn’t this mean an infinite period of time has already passed in order for us to arrive at t (now)?

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  • If there exists something now and with your assumption that "something can't come from nothing", by classic logic even with infinite regress there still existed something no matter how infinitely long ago... May 11, 2021 at 19:47
  • 1
    Who says causality must be discrete, as in "t-1"? For example consider the open unit interval of real numbers (0,1), the set of real numbers strictly between 0 and 1. If you pick any time t in that interval, it's preceded by infinitely many other times. There is no first time. Yet the entire set is bounded. It doesn't go infinitely far back. Interesting model, right?
    – user4894
    May 11, 2021 at 21:22
  • If the time is classical and progresses in discrete steps, and if something cannot come out of nothing then having something at any step implies having something at infinitely many prior steps. With discrete time replaced by continuous time (and the corresponding modifications) this was essentially the Aristotle's argument for the eternity of the world.
    – Conifold
    May 12, 2021 at 8:02
  • Word arguments about early universe cosmology are not particularly helpful.
    – Boba Fit
    Jan 8, 2023 at 18:36
  • You assume that the initial ontological state of the universe is nothing. But that is not necessarily so. You can't know such context.
    – RodolfoAP
    Jan 11, 2023 at 6:01

5 Answers 5

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'Something can’t come from nothing.' This is true. Otherwise we'd better give up logic and reasoning.

You know this empirical world we perceive is the effect of our five senses and mind. You might have felt that we, humans, are not better than some creatures in the case of certain perception. The reality must be something else; we can certainly say so. Sometimes the empirical world may be meaningless. Theories will not be applicable after a certain level.

You know imagination is a creation of our mind. The imagination about the moment -- t-1, is just a creation of your/our present thought. Reality may not be so. This thought is because of the mindset that is deeply rooted in Mathematics. Or more frankly speaking, it is the limitation of our logic. Please don't believe that logic is everything.

Also, to 'experience' time, there must be a change in something; at least in your/our thought.

If there is a changeless thing or where/when there is no time (or when there is nothing), you cannot connect the two ideas -- time and infinite. The word, 'period' -- a by-product of time, will also disappear. And the net result, the term -- 'an infinite period of time', becomes meaningless. You know that something that does not manifest (infinite period of time) cannot pass by either.

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Perception

hm... lets see, space time and matter. Referring to "I don't remember which genius" said that "Space time and matter cant exist without one another", what you need toknow from this is "in the process of an apple's decay, the moment of 'fruitfulness to decay' refers to time, the apple (object) itself is matter, its made of Something, and the apple can be quantize into its dimensions (length, width height. AKA space).

   And infinite is term used to categories a number we cant put a finger on, a number so large (∞) /small (-∞) that we simply call it infinite.

Now why did i go all berserk onto material science in a philosophy site? the answer is simple, perception. time is like a river, a visual representation of matter and space. if at time (t-1) is 03:28 AM and (t) is 03:29 AM. the difference of time is only 1 minute, but you can also call it as 60 second or 60000 millisecond or so on and so forth. if the unit that you use to quantize time can be so small (the sampling window of the river is same, its still 1 minute. but the way you look at the time) then of course an infinite unit of time has passed.

Hm... an excellent example from my life, exam times. when i revise for 1.08e+13 Nanoseconds it feels like an eternity is passing through and yet when i play games for 3 hours it feels like i barely even started playing.

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Not at all. It could be the case that time effectively forms a closed loop of finite measure, and that at each point in time, "something" exists. That would satisfy your requirements.

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Both of these are wrong ofcourse.

Infinite period of time cannot pass by definition. Its because then present has to be at infinity. Nothing can be at infinity, by definition. No matter how far you reach infinity is always further. So, infinity can never be reached.

Something cannot come out of nothing. This is also by definition. Nothing cannot cause anything. Nothing has no material that can be used to make anything. Nothing has no energy so cannot set up anything in motion. Nothing cannot do anything. Nothing cannot be made to do or used in doing anything.

When people say something came out of nothing they or some of them mean that at first there was nothing then something came into existence. Something came out of nothing is a poetic way of saying that. Like saying sun is rising. Well sun is doing nothing. Its earth thats moving which makes it looks like sun is rising.

At the end you have to conclude that there is a deity. A supreme being, who is capable of bringing things into existence using nothing. Who bring a thing into existence when there was nothing except Him. There is no other explanation that fit observation.

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Something can come from 'nothing', by the uncertainty principle.

What is time? In Penrose's Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, he draws on the fact photons don't experience time to say once the universe has decayed only to photons, it will be equivalent to the highly ordered smooth big bang state, and in fact be that - exploding after a literally indefinable timespan. In a sense there is your 'infinite' time span. Undefined, is a more accurate description though.

I would say there never could have been nothing, because that is undefinable, meaningless. Buddhist cosmology describes infinite time having passed. In a modern framing, I'd suggest the E8 mathematical structure may have always 'existed' as potentiality, as the space of all possible physics.

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  • When people downvote, please say why you think it is incorrect or problematic. This isn't Reddit.
    – CriglCragl
    May 15, 2021 at 23:56
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    The uncertainty principle ABSOLUTELY cannot produce something from nothing. Possible long-term states of the future cosmology do not tell us about early-universe cosmology. Nor does Buddhism.
    – Boba Fit
    Jan 8, 2023 at 18:35
  • @BobaFit: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_foam#Experimental_results & "The simplest models, in which the Big Bang was caused by quantum fluctuations" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang#Pre%E2%80%93Big_Bang_cosmology
    – CriglCragl
    Jan 8, 2023 at 20:36
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    @CriiglCragl Yeah, you're just digging the hole deeper. Quantum fluctuations are not the source of the uncertainty principle.
    – Boba Fit
    Jan 8, 2023 at 21:17
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    Quantum fluctuations have nothing to do with the ΔE and Δt you mention. Those are the uncertainties related to quantum uncertainty of non-commuting measurements. Quantum fluctuations have to do with the energy spectrum of a quantum system in which particles interact and produce varying energies. They are not synonyms. You messed up. You don't seem to understand the difference.
    – Boba Fit
    Jan 8, 2023 at 23:40

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