Why Something Instead of Nothing?

Posted on May 8, 2018 by Robert Ringer


I was more than just a bit interested in hearing what Mark Levin’s recent guest, David Berlinski, had to say on “Life, Liberty, and Levin.”  My interest stemmed from the fact that virtually everything Berlinski said aligns with my own thinking over the years.  Getting confirmation from someone whose knowledge dwarfs your own tends to be reassuring.

Berlinski is one of those rare geniuses who appears to have no fear of alienating fellow scientists who worship orthodoxy.  He does not hesitate to say that the attitude of the scientific community toward religion is one of “frivolous contempt.”  He perceives an immense derision by his colleagues toward a belief in God, especially when religion is involved, because “the natural, self-protective mechanism tries to eradicate any form of dissent.”

Berlinski further points out that even though science is a powerful tool, it does nothing to answer any of the great questions of life.  Science has nothing whatsoever to say about life, love, death, or meaning.

It is Berlinski’s belief that the most basic and important question scientists have never attempted to answer in any rational way is:  Why is there something instead of nothing? 

Not just why is there a universe, but why is there anything?  Why is there even a human mind to contemplate such a question?  How can you create something from nothing?  Or, an even bigger question, how can you create everything from nothing?

Simplistically speaking, one could argue that the Big Bang was the cause of something — the “universe” — but that only raises the question, what caused the Big Bang?  Where did the materials come from that were part of that grand celestial event?  Further, how did order result from such a massive explosion?  We know from firsthand experience that explosions create chaos, not order.

Which brings us to Darwinism, which is intimately connected to atheism.  According to Berlinski, both of these beliefs are based on broad-sweeping anecdotal evidence, something I have believed since I first began studying them in my teens.  Darwinism is an interesting theory — a theory that has morphed into an ideology over the years — but, unlike physics theories, it has no quantitative properties.

Scientifically speaking, you cannot transform one species into another, and all serious scientists know this to be a fact.  Which is why Darwinism cannot be classified as a scientific theory.  It’s more akin to alchemy.

Even if the Darwinian theory of evolution were proven to be scientifically true, it would still leave the two most important, underlying questions of evolution unanswered:  (1)  Why did evolution come into being in the first place? and (2) “How did it come into being?”

Berlinski mocks the idea of natural selection by mimicking a hypothetical scientist answering such questions as, “Why did the giraffe develop such a long neck?”  Answer:  “Because he wanted to reach the trees.”  “Why did other animals not develop long necks?”  Answer:  “Because they didn’t want to reach the trees.”  Answers such as these border on silliness, yet generation after generation they are passed along as fact in the scientific community.

It is Berlinski’s belief that flip answers like “it’s all an accident” are not intelligent answers based on deep thought.  To believe that something as complex as DNA is “an accident” is not a serious explanation of its existence.  Yet, the generally accepted hypothesis in the scientific community is that we are nothing more than cosmic accidents.

Given the fact that biochemistry is the same everywhere and in everything, there is no dispute that all life is related.  But the scope of living creatures is profoundly divided between human beings and everything else.  The operative word here is profoundly, because, as Berlinski points out, the distance between a human being and our nearest relative, the chimpanzee, is far greater than the distance between the chimpanzee and a flower.

Which raises the question:  Why is this so?   Why do human beings organize themselves differently than animals?  Why do they have creative thoughts?  Why do they have mathematics and literature?  Science cannot, and will never be able to, answer these questions.  The unpopular truth is that evolution without an external force to guide it simply makes no sense.

As to atheism, the atheist’s argument that you not only cannot prove a negative (God), you have no obligation to do so, is specious, at best.  On the contrary, you don’t have to prove that God exists.  As 19th century novelist/playright Franz Viktor Werfel explained it, “Thirst is the surest proof for the existence of water.”  Man has been searching for the meaning of life and death since he first appeared on earth, and his dramatic scientific discoveries have brought him no closer to satisfying answers to these questions.

Atheists ignore the fact that the inability to prove God’s existence is not the same as proving that God does not exist.  As the Dalai Lama explained it, “There is a fundamental difference between that which is ‘not found’ and that which is ‘found not to exist.’  If I look for something and fail to find it, this does not mean that the thing I am seeking does not exist.  Not seeing a thing is not the same as seeing its non-existence.”

In his poem “Miracles,Walt Whitman shared an observation that I believe explains the existence of a Conscious Universal Power Source in the simplest possible terms:  “To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, every cubic inch of space is a miracle.”  A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws, thus it is beyond our ability to understand.

The fact that something cannot be created from nothing is de facto proof of the existence of something that transcends time and secular constraints.  What that something is is fair game for debate, but the complexity of life is proof of the existence of something that is beyond our understanding and that we can never hope to understand.

Thus, the foundational question of all existence remains:  Why is there something instead of nothing?  So long as this question cannot be answered in a serious, rational, non-dismissive way, intellectual honesty demands that humility to be the order of the day.









Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

38 responses to “Why Something Instead of Nothing?”

  1. Avery Horton says:

    I will have to ponder this… Thanks, Robert.

  2. J. Paul says:

    There is book that explains and answers all the above questions, and it was inspired by the Creator who made all these things that we feel and see in the first place. It tells about the beginning of time, space, matter, all living things, and it also tells that there will be an end of time as we now know it, but most people don't believe it! It's called the Bible.

  3. R Diamond says:

    Very powerful piece. The comic aspect of atheists is that they attempt to replace God with a belief system and end up with something that mirrors religion but ultimately is meaningless.

    • larajf says:

      I've brought that up to my atheist friends. Quickest way to piss them off, and I love it. Their belief requires faith just like those who are religious.

  4. Morris Jimson says:

    Berlinski is an AGNOSTIC who thinks he is suprior to his Atheist brethern. As Jim Morrison once said, "He says he's for LIFE; he says he's for DEATH; I sit on the fence, and MY BALLS HURT!"

    Blessed be.

    • Rick G. says:

      And as Jim once said, "No one here gets out alive." Thought provoking words from the Lizard King himself.

  5. William David says:

    Always thought provoking to read Robert. I think the best thing you said was '… intellectual honesty demands that humility to be the order of the day.' I won't take up your time here to point out the rather 'dismissive way' you spoke of evolution and/or natural selection. You are too well read to brush off the work of scientists in these areas so flippantly. It seems more to demonstrate somewhat of a cognitive bias. I must however, beg to differ with your and Berlinski’s assertion that: ' Why is there something instead of nothing?' is the question scientists should, but avoid trying to answer. It's a nonsensical question. What is the meaning of 'nothing' in this context? I've never quite understood why one should think that existence must have had a beginning or that it requires an explanation. I think the same way about questions like: What is the meaning or purpose of life? As always, thanks for what you do. Cheers

    • Bill says:

      If things are getting older every day (as they appear to be doing), then going back in time, they are younger. If you continue to go back in time, you must reach the time when they were new — a time when they cannot get younger.

  6. kauai_mike says:

    We're all agnostic (whether aware of it or not) unless you've returned from death with 1st hand knowledge otherwise. Belief is not evidence of any truth.

    As to the big why, don't sweat it. The fact nobody figured it out yet means you won't either. So why waste time & energy bothering? Pursue happiness.

    • flybee says:

      sounds about right !

    • larajf says:

      I had a motorcycle buddy who did die & came back. He said he had no fears when the time would really come.
      And I agree….why worry. Just be happy and work on making the world a better place for those who come after us.

  7. Victor says:

    Great piece, the other counter thoughts on this get confused. Most of the times, the tendency is to relate God to human but when this fails, then he becomes spirit, light or energy. So just as you rightly put it, where is the origin of spirit, light or energy?

    • Jim Hallett says:

      Many people try to create God in THEIR image, instead of the other way around, which is why they revert to using terms like light, energy, or spirit, which tend not to offend those who cling to an anti-religious mindset. Organized religion has been corrupted by many false teachings, but these basic questions that Robert poses get to the heart of the matter. NONE of us knows any ultimate Truth, but it sure seems irrefutably obvious that some source BEYOND any that we know, created our universe, and it does not matter what word(s) we use to describe this source. I have always found it very surprising that so many scientists cling to atheist viewpoints, but never answer satisfactorily where all that they observe and study came forth in the first place, since NO accident could have possibly created the magnificent orderly universe we observe.

  8. Charlie Goffnett says:

    Terrrific Robert… I saw the same show on Fox…Even Levin had to admit that Berlinski is a gigantic intellect. Excellent article as usual…

  9. Theresa says:

    You've written some great articles over the years. This has to be one of the best.
    Definitely worth reading several times to absorb even more.
    Thanks so much for your excellence.

  10. Rick G. says:

    These are some of the questions about the mysteries of existence and being which will probably never be satisfactorily and adequately answered. My answer to all this is, as Paul McCartney once said, "Let it be".

  11. Gary Waltrip says:

    Robert, I too have pondered the miraculous nature of our physical existence. If something cannot come from nothing, then nothing should exist. However, that’s human logic. Yes, there are mysteries beyond human understanding. I believe, therefore, that there is a force much greater than ourselves and that is beyond our understanding created the universe and everything that’s in it. We do not have the mental capacity to explain it.

    Some guy named J.B.S. Haldsne expressed this very well: he said;
    “Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

  12. James Parker says:

    A couple of counter-thoughts:

    1) If examples of complexity in the Universe, most commonly raised as the mechanisms that we know as "life", are to be used as an argument for an intelligent creator, then the question of how this creator came to be needs to be addressed. The attributes of such a creator would be of greater complexity than the life we are aware of, and thus raise an even more difficult question of origin. I have yet to see any advocates of the "intelligent creator" conjecture address this question.

    2) It is not clear that "something" exists, in and of itself. There is significant evidence that at the subatomic level particles and their corresponding antiparticles annihilate one another, resulting in nothing, Thus, the apparent existence of "something" is actually the not-yet-annihilated collection of particles (matter/energy) in one's proximity.

    Further, if we note the odd behavior — in particular the specific matching — of particles and antiparticles seen in quantum entanglement, the apparent existence of the Universe from the initial state at the "big bang" could be seen as the residue of the failure of an iteration of annihilation being incomplete due to mismatched particles and antiparticles which were not their quantum entangled mates. This state of minimal residue would then be the completion of a "big crunch".

    This, rather clearly kicks the can down the road a bit further, by opening the question of how this initial residue state came into being. Investigating this question under the assumption that my conjectures are reasonably close to correct, however, is currently problematic. The problem hinges on the ideas of cause and effect, and especially time; what does time mean when examining the possible interval from before a big bang to after. Time, as we know it, is generally considered to begin at the dawn of the big bang and going further will require new mental and perhaps physical tools to investigate.

  13. patg2 says:

    You have hit on a huge chunk of truth, Robert! Kudos! The next question that needs an answer, is given that there is some kind of uncaused cause out there, and it is a Creator with a mind (that can design things like DNA), one question remains: what is God like? And answering that might tell us what He expects of us, or what He wants of us, or whether He is interested in us, and the nature of that interest. I keep seeing you getting close and closer to some real Final Answers. What J Paul said.

    You have a purpose for existing. And you have done very well. But you still have more potential. You are still alive asking questions. I love this!

    • Paul Herring says:

      The questions you asked: "what is God like? And answering that might tell us what He expects of us, or what He wants of us, or whether He is interested in us, and the nature of that interest." These questions are answered in the Bible even now; indeed they've always been there.

      • patg2 says:

        Agreed. I have watched Robert. He has very good reasoning ability. He is observing God's general revelation in nature. He moves closer. I have great hope he will find the answers that truly satisfy him.

  14. Jurgy says:

    something CAN be created from nothing … I have proof! my ever-lovely wife can create a wonderful meal from "nothing to eat in the house" …

  15. notpropagandized says:

    There's much to discuss in this. One of my first thoughts was encountering an extreme leftist from Austin who claimed to be a biblical expert at the same time as essentially being an atheist. It was one of my most unpleasant encounters in my lifetime. It was like a brush with evil itself. A similar experience was in attempting to read Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. It was so awfully negative that I forced myself to stop and discard it as an initially suspicioned key to understanding the strange thinking of leftists. I really do dislike leftists and hope that none of my liberal friends are really leftists pretending to be liberals. There is so much more hope in Existence and God and not so much in humanism and dismissing the wonder of what is.

  16. Richard Lee Van Der says:

    STAR WARS names "it": The Force! And, Dylan Thomas, the drunken poet, "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower, etc."

  17. Flybee says:

    I have all the answers. If you had nothing you would have a nothing therefore your nothing would be your something.

  18. RCP says:

    We walk by faith, not by sight, 2nd Corinthians 5:7. We don't have to see God to believe in him. But we have evidence of God's existence. Romans 1:20, "For the invisible things of him (God) from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they (atheists) are without excuse". The existence of the universe demands a creator. Science is "falsely so-called", 1st Timothy 6:20. Evolutionists admit that it takes millions of years for something to evolve. How did it just happen that a woman evolved right along side a man at the same time? How did it just happen that they had the ability to reproduce. What are the odds of that happening just by chance? 1 in 1 followed a trillion trillion zeros? No. Much more than that.

    • Noel says:

      You nailed it RCP! Hebrews 3:4, "For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything".

  19. Rock Roach says:

    I believe the greatest proof of a creator would be Jesus himself.Even most scientists believe that Jesus and his baptism(by John the Baptist) were 100 percent verifiable,no matter what you believe.Now common sense tells me that this guy,Jesus Christ,didn't go through all that for nothing.As far back as we can go back in history,2000 years wasn't that long ago-about 35 of my lifetimes.
    I always remember the quote by W.C. Fields,an athiest all his life, when questioned about reading a bible on his death bed'" I'm just looking for loop holes".

  20. Mic says:

    This article is absolutely AWESOME! I have been saying many of these things for years now, but not quite as succinctly. I argued with a very liberal friend from college when she thought intelligent design theory was the belief of knuckle-dragging barbarians. I pointed out her coveted theory of the big bang is exactly what you said. If there was nothing where did all the stuff that made that event come from possible and more importantly as you say WHY?

    I also read an article in a college philosophy class titled "10 Reasons a Scientist Believes in God" I found out later the article was a shortened version of the book, which took some time to track down. The author points out things like things like spiders have a genetic bar so to speak that keeps their oxygen intake low. If this genetic bar didn't exist spiders would grow enormous and obviously humans would NOT be on the top of the evolutionary food chain any longer (horrible thought). He goes on to make several observations similar to that and just elegantly lays out the fact that our earth and universe seem to have a guiding force that is perfect in its design. Athests argue this was simply an accident. I wish to believe they are wrong.

    I loved this article and I have it saved to share with my liberal friend the next time we square off.

    • patg2 says:

      My husband (PhD) rejected evolution because of his experience in the geochronology lab at the U. He said they chose the radiometric dating method based on politics, not science. That got him to thinking. Evolution isn't even logical, and completely flies in the face of the evidence. Eventually he became an advocate of intelligent design, and later a Christian.

    • Phil says:

      Love Mr Ringer's work. Always have, always will.

  21. Paul Herring says:

    An interesting, thought-provoking post, Robert – thanks for it.

    You spoke of the so-called Big Bang theory and some of your readers have made suppositions on how the universe came to be. Then you question how the Big Bang came about by asking: “how did order result from such a massive explosion? We know from firsthand experience that explosions create chaos, not order.”

    It’s true that many scientists, including the brightest of them all in recent times, the late Stephen Hawking, were atheists. They don’t believe in God. Yet many have proffered suggestions about how things came to be. For them, the plain unvarnished truth is that they simply don’t know.

    Many are influenced by Darwinism and natural selection. I agree with your view on that “Darwinism cannot be classified as a scientific theory. It’s more akin to alchemy.” So is there any way to settle this never-ending question: Why is there something instead of nothing? I believe there is, but as you mentioned in your post — almost the last words: ‘it requires humility of us.’ What is the answer then?

    The Bible in its opening words says with so much simplicity: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Could this statement require more humility of us than we care to allow and that’s why so few intellectuals and scientists choose not to accept it? Why did God create it then if we agree that he did? Again the Bible gives us the answer, this time at Revelation 4:11. There it states in the New Century Version: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you made all things. Everything existed and was made because you wanted it.”

    Really, in just two simple statements the Bible tells us the answer to that age-old question Robert posed at the end of his current post. Personally, I can, have been and am prepared to accept this, not because I don’t have anything better to offer, but because it’s the truth.

  22. Milo Minderbender says:

    Atheists reject belief in a supreme being for several reasons. An SB is not needed to explain any phenomena, for one. Then there is the problem of evil — innocent children suffering from cancer, for example — which an all-knowing, all-powerful, benevolent SB could not allow. Additionally, the idea of a self-created being is a contradiction, which by definition must be false. There's more, but I won't bother.

  23. karllembke says:

    I've had this article sitting in the queue for a while, busy taking care of other things. Now I can take time for a few thoughts.

    1) One asks why is there something rather than nothing. It would be very hard to imagine a situation where it's reasonable for anyone to ask why there's nothing rather than something. Who would ask it? We could probably come up with lots of reasons why there is, in fact, something, but most of those strike me as speculation.

    2) Berlinsky may note a sense of "frivolous contempt" in which scientists hold religion, but I see a lot of the same contempt leveled against scientists by the religious. Both sides have what they consider good and valid reasons for affirming the beliefs they hold, and refusing to acknowledge this fact is not how you arrive at any kind of common understanding. His mockery notions about how giraffes may have evolved demonstrate he doesn't understand the topic at all, which does serious damage to my ability to take seriously anything else he may have to say. Sorry, but he brought that on himself.

    3) The notion of the big bang has a long and somewhat complicated history. It started out with the simple observation that the universe is expanding. Assuming this is a trend, and that our solar system didn't just acquire a bad case of halitosis, it follows the universe must have been a lot smaller in the distant past. As a corollary, it must have been denser, and hotter. It seems to have been naive to believe this trend continued all the way to cramming the entire universe into a single point, but a lot of people seem to have done just that.
    It's possible, though, to imagine different scenarios and figure out what we should see if these scenarios actually took place. By doing this, it's been possible to rule out a lot of scenarios. Current thought seems to be that the universe condensed out of a precursor state, rather like a bubble forming in water as it comes to a boil. This is highly abbreviated, and there are good websites to look at if you're curious. (Come to think of it, there are good websites to look at even if you're not curious.)

    3A) It's a mistake to think of the big bang as "an explosion", and therefore chaotic. It was actually a very ordered state, and things have been getting more complicated, and therefore more chaotic, over time.

    4) Evolution is quite the whipping boy for many of the religious. Unfortunately, when people talk about "evolution", they may be talking about any one of at least five different sense of the word, not counting notions such as the evolution of gas in a chemical reaction. It would be a lot clearer if we could use a more fitting word that would mean "the belief that life arose, proliferated, developed according to rules that can, at least in principle, be discovered". When people ask me if I'm related to someone else, say, someone with the same last name, I reply, "sure, if you go back far enough". If you could trace the ancestry of any two people alive today, you'd find that they descend from a common ancestor, if you go back far enough. They may be twentieth cousins, but they're related.
    People who have been trying to work out these rules have come to the conclusion that every living thing on the planet is related to every other living thing on the planet, If you go back far enough, you, and I, and the pine tree in my back yard have a common ancestor. The pine tree may be my two-millionth cousin, but current evolutionary models say we're related.

    5) If you feel you can only defend your religion by mocking people who are looking for order and regularity in the universe, I can only offer you pity, and the fond hope that you will come in to a more robust faith.