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Is there a theory of everything?

  1. Jul 9, 2008 #1
    Here is an argument against the idea that there can exist a "theory of everything".

    Consider the trivial true and false theories, which explain every fact about the universe, the universe being defined as all those things (events,entities,etc.) that exist/that can be a cause:

    Trivial true: everything in the universe is caused by something(s) inside the universe.

    Trivial false: everything in the universe is caused by something(s) outside the universe.

    As can be seen, both "theories" have explenatory power equal to zero, and are just each other's complement.

    Any real theory though should have an explenatary power greater then zero, or would be meaningless.
    This would mean for such a theory, it could not explain all facts or be wrong.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2008 #2
    The flaw here is the definition of 'universe'. Because as far as I see it, 'everything' is equivalent to 'universe'. And what we all have trouble understanding or comprehending is: HOW did everything (all those things) get here/there in the first/whatever place?
  4. Jul 10, 2008 #3


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    ??You give two "theories" that explain nothing and immediately jump to the conclusion that any theory must either not explain everything or must be wrong. How does that follow?
  5. Jul 10, 2008 #4
    I don't get how what you posted are theories. They're just claims of what you think the universe is based on without any proof at all.

    There are no /bases/ for your suppositions. I don't even get how your methods are valid in voiding present-day theories regarding the universe.
  6. Jul 10, 2008 #5
    Everything is a bit broader concept, I think, because 'universe' is only the physical aspect of it.
    There are also abstract things, which don't exist in physical forms.

    Your question about 'how did everything get here' is basically a questions about what substance the world consists of, because the way you can answer the first question, depends on how you answered the latter answer. And the principal choice for that is either matter or mind (consciousness).

    When contemplating this, I could of course form the opinion that the basic substance of the world is my own consciousness (the real reality would then be my own consciousness, the world outside of my consciousness would then just be the imagined reality).

    This position however rises two problems: the first one is that there are other minds. the second one is that I have no eternal past memory, in fact it totally fades away at an age of about 4 years.

    From outside sources however I know the world was already there before my consciousness started.

    From this contradiction, the only possible resolution to that was to assume that not consciousness, but the (material) world itself was the fundamental thing, and that even consciousness has to be based on the material world. Being fundamental or essential to the world, this in fact means that there is no 'begin' to it, since only non-fundamental things have a begin.
  7. Jul 10, 2008 #6
    I should add a middle step there, yes. Any "real" theory is somewhere in between the trivial false and trivial true theory, excluding the trivial false and true theories.
  8. Aug 3, 2008 #7
    Why is there something instead of nothing?

    I don't know the ultimate answer, but my point of view is that any mathematical structure that is consistent (non-contradictory) exist as such (it exist as a logical structure just by being possible).

    From nothing, the empty set exist.
    From there you can build the integers, and all other numbers, and everything else.
    From nothing everything.

    This interesting article expand on this:
    -- Max Tegmark, Is the "theory of everything" merely the ultimate ensemble theory?
    -- Published in Annals of Physics, 270, 1-51 (1998).
    -- http://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/toe.pdf
  9. Aug 3, 2008 #8
    This is interesting but the really non-trivial step is
    because this requires a conscious being to think about it. :smile:
  10. Aug 3, 2008 #9
    I missed the original conversation. I'll answer robheus anyway. Let me construct a TOE following Feynman (I love this argument)

    Make a list of all fundamental laws. There are both of the form "left member equal right member", let them be indexed by [itex]i\in {\text{fundamental laws}}[/itex]. So we can write [itex]A_i=B_i[/itex]. Now push back everything to the left [itex]A_i-B_i=0[/itex]. Finally, sum all squares, and lo and behold the TOE :
    [tex]\sum_i \left(A_i-B_i\right)^2=0[/tex] :rofl:
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