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Can science say why it exists ?

  1. Aug 13, 2007 #1
    I hope (am sure too) that there are many intellectual people here and everybody
    tries to develop the most logical and scientific thinking. But when it comes to think about why does this universe exists in the first place the answer always seems to be unscientific. when somebody says there was a particle which existed at the very begining of universe when there was no other object no one can explain why did it exist. So does science lose here and its the limit of al scientific thinking?

    Whenever i think of it i put my mind into recursion . Is it all rubish and has no importance to science. Or its not good to think about it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2007 #2


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    Dearly Missed

    This question belongs in the "Philosophy of Science&Maths"-subforum, I think, I'll alert the moderators to send it there.
  4. Aug 14, 2007 #3
    The answer is unscientific because the question is unscientific. The question "why" asks for a cause. It assumes that a cause is (or was) in existence. Of course, asking for the existing cause of existence itself makes no sense since it already assumes existence. Still, the question is asked often, usually without realizing that "why" is a question with limited backward span. By that, I mean that you can ask "why" for short-term scenarios, like why a billiard ball started moving. You can find a satisfying answer in another previously moving ball that hit it, so the question works for this type of situations. But since the question "why" assumes an existing cause, it has no meaning when applied to the cause of existence itself.

    I realize that many will find this an unsatisfying answer. For those, a few mind-bending answers are available and one of them might trigger a eureka. Here it goes:

    Why is there something instead of nothing? Because nothing is not an option, which is evident from the fact that it is not what we have.

    So why is nothing not an option?

    - Because someone is asking the question and someone must exist to do that.
    - Because nothing has no effect so it cannot matter, it cannot exist.
    - Because nothing is meaningless without something to relate it to.
    - Because nothing isn't real but just a semantic placeholder for the absence of something explicit.

    Essentially, nothing makes no sense, it is pointless on its own, and the only possible alternative is something (in other words: existence).
  5. Aug 14, 2007 #4
    at the beginning of the universe there can be two cases

    either there was something present
    or there was nothing present.

    If there was something present we cannot answer why it was present.
    if there was nothing present we cannot answer why something came out of nothing.

    If some event happened there is a cause for it. for the cause itself there is a cause and so on. at the end i think we will get existence of something as the ultimate cause of every event , after that we are stuck to answer why this ultimate cause to any event exists.
    I think no one can answer this question ?

    "The answer is unscientific because the question is unscientific. The question "why" asks for a cause. It assumes that a cause is (or was) in existence. Of course, asking for the existing cause of existence itself makes no sense since it already assumes existence."
    as you told ultimately we have to assume something existed primarily but why did it exist may seem no sense but it does make sense to me.(i the only problem being i cannot answer this)

    thanks for having discussion over it:smile:.
  6. Aug 14, 2007 #5
    Science can answer why something happens or exists, but the explanation is sometime not enough for the people who have their minds set for a metaphysical, supernatural explanation.

    Something / Nothing is a false dichotomy. Why not a third form? Or 455354321 different forms? Why does 'something' need to come out of 'nothing' to be called 'something'?
  7. Aug 14, 2007 #6
    As I understand science it's not supposed to answer all questions but to simply gain better knowledge. Science is not occupied with finding the truth but with finding better descriptions of our world. It is no failure for science that there exists questions it cannot answer. The great triumph of natural sciences is that it has managed to improve over understanding of the world by use of the scientific method.

    Remember that religious discussions for thousands of years led practically nowhere in improving the understanding of our world. The highly educated and brilliant thinkers of the churc discussed the sky and the stars and rainbows and other physics for centuries and didn't get even close to any of the knowledge we have today. Not until the method of natural science was taken seroius did our knowledge improve. Not until then did our understanding make it possible to foresee the reactions of physical systems. And so we can hope, that our understanding of every aspect of life and existence in this universe will be improved through further work with the scientific method.

    So to me it seems: If you want a truth go to a religion. If you want a better explaination go to natural sciences.
  8. Aug 14, 2007 #7


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    You seem to be a bit mixed up here. What truth is there in religion? Who's truth? Based on what facts? Religion is based on faith.
  9. Aug 14, 2007 #8
    I think religions are just corrupted :rofl:

    Why you want to know about this?
    I really don't think there's a difference between knowing and not knowing the answer to this question.

    And, if you try to find the answer, you would have less knowledge about this world.
    On other hand, if you ignore this thing, and try answering only those question that can be answered, you would have very high knowledge, and more self-satisfaction.
    [That's my philosophy :approve:]
  10. Aug 14, 2007 #9
    I think it also logically possible that there is case #3--that is, that both something and nothing were present at the begin of the universe as a dialectic union, here something, there nothing--and that a dynamic between the two, perhaps with something as a quantum probability entering the spacetime of a local nothing, to form the new thing we call universe out of the nothing.
  11. Aug 15, 2007 #10
    Science is not a way to answer every question you can think of; it is a method for finding and describing what we can observe. Questions are first and foremost the provence of philosophy which forms the foundations for both the sciences and religions. In other words, you are in the correct forum for asking such questions, just a little confused about who should answer them.

    Even the idea that the universe has a beginning is questionable. Scientists have described what they call the Big Bang, but this only describes what we can presently observe. The jury is still out as to whether or not this was the beginning of the universe or just a continuation of the universe. For example, recent astronomical evidence shows that the universe is accelerating in its current expansion and it may be that what we perceive as the big bang was merely another period of accelerated expansion.

    This also brings up the issue of issue of the meaning of words. Words only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a given context. This is not merely my opinion, it is a scientifically substantiated fact. Just after the big bang, for example, the universe consisted of what is called the quark soup for about 100,000 years. This state of affairs was nothing like what we think of when we normally talk about the universe, matter and the forces of nature were quite different, hence we could talk of it as being a different universe altogether if we so choose.

    When you start talking in such broad terms as life, the universe, and everything the definition of words becomes so muddled as to be meaningless. You can choose them to mean whatever you want because the context is simply too broad to allow for finite definitions. This is why people often become confused and have difficulty understanding each other when they start waxing metaphysical.
  12. Aug 15, 2007 #11
    Ok so what i asked was accidently(for me) a philosophical question..
    No one made me to think it its something i just thought myself and was curios how to get the answer.... what do you mean by metaphysical thinkers? am i one :smile:

    @wuliheron thanks, i got a new way to put my question without those "WHY" words. :smile:
    "Did universe had a beginning"
  13. Aug 15, 2007 #12
    I'm just trying to say that science isn't meant to find a truth as religions claim to have done. As I see it the word "truth" always reflects an opinion. You can say that the knowledge from scientific method is better documented than any other knowledge. But I don't think we have found the truth about the world and may never do.
  14. Aug 15, 2007 #13
    I find this a much better question. There are two possibilities.

    If the universe had a beginning then it is possible for something to pop out of nothing, it is possible for something to occur without any cause. Given this possibility, we could see other things popping out of nowhere without any cause. But we never see that, or if it happens we fail to recognize it as something purely spontaneous.

    On the other hand, if we believe that things cannot spontaneously pop out of nowhere without any cause, then we must conclude that the universe has always existed.

    I find this last possibility more satisfying than the first one, but it's only a personal preference. I cannot prove that either option is true or false. Your own conclusion will depend on your starting assumptions.
  15. Aug 15, 2007 #14
  16. Aug 16, 2007 #15
    Saying that existence had no beginning is equivalent to saying that it came from nothing (ie- it is supernatural in origin.) If it always existed, then it had no original cause. Quantum mechanics allows for both possibilities.

    Some say this is merely due to the limitation of human perception and/or words. The meaning of the word "existence", for example, is debated among philosophers. According to Pragmatic Functional Contextualism, when we talk in such broad contexts as life, the universe, and everything the meaning of words becomes so vague as to be useless. Words only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a specific context.

    Of course, that is not to say that it is meaningless to contemplate such things, only that it is futile to attempt to describe any views we might have about them.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2007
  17. Aug 20, 2007 #16
    No, saying that existence has no beginning does not mean that it came from nothing. It means that it was always there. Quantum mechanics allow virtual particles to come out of vacuum.
  18. Aug 21, 2007 #17
    "Quantum mechanics allow virtual particles to come out of vacuum."

    Is this a sufficient reason for somebody to believe in the fact that virtual particles to come out of vacuum ?
  19. Aug 22, 2007 #18
    Words only have demonstrable meaning according to their function in a given context. When you start discussing things like eternity and spontaneous creation the context is so vague and indemonstrable as to be linguistically meaningless other than to claim they are supernatural. Personally, I think metaphysics in general are about as useless as tits on a boar hog.

    Science does not deal in infinities or paradoxes, it deals in that which can be quantified precisely because saying something is infinite or has no origin is about as useless and undemonstrable as claiming so many angels can fit on the head of a pin. That is why such things are the province of philosophy, while the science of linguistics ignores them.
  20. Nov 16, 2007 #19
    The Big Bang begins time, not just space. So it means nothing to ask about "before" this moment. To ask "why" pre-supposes there is a "why" - i.e. it assumes there must be a "reason" for the universe. To ask how the universe was created assumes it was created.
  21. Nov 16, 2007 #20
    Stenger, Victor "Why is there something rather than nothing"

    http://www.csicop.org/sb/2006-06/reality-check.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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