‘Something From Nothing’ and Actualizing Quantum Probabilities

Something From Nothing and Actualizing Quantum Probabilities

It is an axiom from many philosophers famously coined as “ex nihilo nihil fit” (‘out of nothing nothing comes’) to demonstrate the state of affairs from which the universe came to be. In other words, something cannot come from nothing. However, this seemingly unambiguous axiom is being challenged by a number of leading theoretical and astrophysicists today.

In Theoretical Physicist Lawrence Krauss’s new book, ‘A Universe From Nothing’ (2012) he writes, “The metaphysical ‘rule’… ‘out of nothing nothing comes’ has no foundation in science.” (p. 174). A number of cosmological models over the last half century have been offered to demonstrate how “ex nihilo” is not really “ex nihilo” in the traditional meaning of the word. Famous British physicist Stephen Hawking in particular, with physicist James Hartle in 1983 with their paper “Wave Function of the Universe”, have offered an interesting quantum cosmological model that posits singularity as curved, not a defined point (as seen by the above picture).

According to this model, time is limited in the past, but has no boundary as such. Thus, we have creation without a moment of creation. As Hawking writes, “So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose that it had a creator. But if the universe is completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place then, for a creator?” (‘Brief History of Time’; cp. 1988, p. 136). The problem with Hawking’s model is that one first must understand that quantum physics is grounded upon Werner Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle”. According to physicist Paul Davies, “This states that all measurable quantities are subject to unpredictable fluctuations, and hence uncertainty in their values.” (‘Mind of God’, cp. 1992, p. 30)

Since this model is a cosmological model based on quantum mechanics, they are based upon probabilities, not certainties. Therefore, the mathematical formalizing of this model can supply only mere probabilities, which does not follow that an assessment of these probabilities will actualize given Hawking’s understanding of these certain epochs of the universe. Therefore, this model is an “Actualizing of Probabilities.”

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11 responses to “‘Something From Nothing’ and Actualizing Quantum Probabilities

  1. Actually, you don’t need quantum mechanics for a non-created universe. General relativity describes a 4D space-time that can be viewed as a single entity: in this sense, one has a “frozen” 4-dimensional structure and where we place the beginning is as arbitrary as placing the starting point of the Earth’s circumference. In this sense, just as there is no space outside space, there is also no time outside time. Speaking about the “moment of creation” becomes meaningless, since there cannot be a moment without time. It is in such way that our universe is self-contained.

  2. Hello David, and thank you for your comment.

    I don’t think it is my position that you need Quantum Mechanics in order to have (or set-up) the qualifications for an “un-created” universe. It is my position however, that we need to employ some new theory beyond the point of where all we know about the laws of physics happens to break down. Henceforth, Quantum theory so far is the only theory that has stepped up to the plate.

    3-dimensional space and 1-dimensional time making up the 4-dimensional entity “Space-Time” breaks down at the moment of singularity, and so does the rest of the laws of physics. Therefore, it is right to say that we cannot explain the origins of the universe in terms of those laws of physics. A Theoretical Physicist I often cite is Paul Davies from the University of Arizona, and I think rightly he points out this issue: “Does this mean the big bang was an event without a cause? If the laws of physics break down at the singularity, there can be no explanation in terms of those laws. Therefore, if one insists on a reason for the big bang, then this reason must lie beyond physics” (Mind of God; cp. 1992, p. 57).

    To say that the universe is “self-contained” I think is a highly paradoxical statement.

  3. The Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle deals with uncertainty in measurable quantities, namely momentum and position of an electron in an infinite potential well. It in no way relates to theoretical physics or math. Also, A Brief History of Time, A Universe From Nothing, and Mind of God are “pop science” not legitimate physics texts.

  4. Hello Redding and thank you for your comment.

    I think you are simply confused on this issue, and essentially revert to a red herring. In other words, your statement that the Uncertainty Principle “in no way relates to theoretical physics or math” is an irrelevant remark. Particularly, we can define the Uncertainty Principle as “the inability to measure a particle’s position and momentum at the same time” (Lee Smolin, ‘The Trouble With Physics’; cp. 2006, p. 6). In other words, quantum theory “yields only probabilities” (Ibid. 6).

    To expound further, Physicist John Polkinghorne comments, “In science we can know the Newtonian world in all its clarity, but the quantum world has to be known in accordance with its Heisenbergian uncertainty, so that if we know where an electron is we cannot know its momentum (how it is moving), and if we know its momentum we cannot know where it is” (J. Polkinghorne, ‘Science and Religion in Quest of Truth’; cp. 2011, p. 17). If Stephen Hawking is going to invoke his quantum cosmological model (see S. Hawking and J. Hartle, ‘Wave Function of the Universe’; cp. 1983) then the only particular construction he can make mathematically of that model will only be in probabilities, which doesn’t follow that those probabilities will actualize.

    For example, in Hawking’s formulation of his model, the Euclidean metric shows that the universe “is neither created nor destroyed.” This transition into “into normal time” is just a mathematical attempt known as “analytic continuation”, to which, according to James D. Sinclair says “is useful for problems with ‘badly behaved’ functions, but which [also] does not imply ontological commitment” (see J. Sinclair, “Kalam Cosmological Argument”; cp. 2009, p. 177).

    To your comment about the physicists I cited, I will not address it since I think it is unambiguously ridiculous and absurd. Krauss, Hawking, Davies, even Smolin and Polkinghorne are some of the top physicists in their field. I suggest you clarify your definition of “legitimate physics texts.”

  5. Yes… I dont think your entirely sure about what you’re talking about here. If you really want to understand what this implies and what is going on with the uncertainty principle I would recommend using Shrodingers time dep. equation and deriving these expressions yourself and you will be able to understand what the theory implies. Assuming you have a strong understanding of partial differential equations and Complex Analysis (as you supposedly would if you’re writing a journal entry on the subject) this should be a rather simple derivation (do it for a Hydrogen atom its very simple and linear! And if you are very clever you may be able to generalize that model to an nth order system). (I myself recall being confused with these concepts when I first encountered these equations as an undergraduate taking my first course in solid state physics). The physicists you cited are renowned but those books are not meant to be academic physics books but rather New York Times best sellers…. some really good real physics books to read are Maxwells on electricity and Magnetism, Principles of Quantum Mechanics (Dirac), Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Field Theory (Dimcock), Modern Physics (Serway). I can give you many more if you need them. Most of these are readable to any student who has a strong understanding of integral and differential calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and vector calculus (a semester or two of real/complex analysis, partial differential equations, and topography would be very helpful!). I’ve read some of your other posts on theology and I am wondering if you’re overstepping your bounds on this issue.

    • Hello Redding and thank you again for commenting on my post. I appreciate the reply.

      I would have to say that you didn’t necessarily even touch my first response or respond to my accusations of your irrelevance regarding the uncertainty principle and theoretical physics/math. I do not have an exhaustive understanding in quantum physics, and I do not think I presented myself as far more competent than what you appear to be or to what the common physicist also happens to be.

      I congratulate you on your accomplishments in understanding those particular mathematical equations and such, but it is essentially irrelevant to almost everything you initially brought up. You do see however what I am pointing out don’t you? I respond to your rebuttal of the uncertainty principle and theoretical physics and you then question my competence on partial differential equations, real/complex analysis, and so on – we from the spectrum of philosophy happen to call that fallacious.

      If you have an argument or objection, then I encourage you to present it with supported reasons that deduce to a sound conclusion. Otherwise, I am not obligated to establish my competence before you.

  6. I think its valid for me to question your competence when you cant understand the very basics of quantum field theory. (Dont pretend to understand any of it without a rigorous background in applied mathematics) You say things like, “The problem with Hawking’s model is that one first must understand that quantum physics is grounded upon Werner Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle.”” You challenge Hawkings theory with nothing more than a poor understanding of the uncertainty principle. In all honesty your article was a good laugh for me and several of my colleges.

    • Okay Jesse, I’ll make this my last reply to set things rather clear for you.

      You commit the fallacy “ad-hominem circumstantial”. It is a logical fallacy where the opponent attacks the circumstances of his interlocutors position rather than address his arguments as such. This fallacy falls under the category “Fallacies of Attack”, and shares a close relationship with it’s brother fallacy, “ad-hominem” meaning ‘to the man’.

      In other words, your statement “you can’t even understand the very basics of quantum field theory” is not a premise that will follow to the conclusion that my post or any of my statements are therefore false. You attack the circumstances of my knowledge regarding the material, and in turn, I in a philosophical manner basically called you an asshole because you are attacking something illegitimately that is irrelevant to the initial objection you had brought up in your first comment.

      If you wish to laugh at what I post, than it is your prerogative. But as I said before, if you have objections or counter factuals to my post, present it in the form of a rational argument that attacks the propositions I use, and not my character or what I do/do not know on the subject.

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