Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The Universe Exists Because It Has To

  1. Jan 21, 2010 #1
    This is an attempt to recognize a base physical property of the universe itself that also describes why it must exist according to this property. This approach is very counterintuitive, but should not be misinterpreted as ontological or metaphysical. Intuition is a human notion based on everyday human experiences... the existence of the universe in it's entirety is not an everyday human experience and, thus, should not be limited by those notions. This is an analysis of a physical observation of the universe itself:

    First, think about the concept of 'nothing' or 'zero'. These are simply just that, concepts, used to help illustrate a human-made string of reasoning. But these concepts are not, themselves, physical properties of the universe. When we hold an apple in our hand we can say we have an apple, but when we take it away we cannot say we are holding 'no apple' anymore than we can say we are holding 'no egg', or 'no rock', or 'no anything' for that matter. It's just a man-made concept to help illustrate that line of thinking.

    In actuality, there is no such thing as 'nothing', and that is a physical property of the universe itself. Even in 'empty' space there are a slew of virtual particles bubbling about as well as various forces interacting with each other. Since matter and energy are never created nor destroyed (simply altered), and the universe is made of matter and energy... it can be assumed that the universe would never stop existing by it's very own physical properties. It can also be conjectured from this line of logic that since 'nothing' is not a physical property of the universe itself, it exists as a result of some base rule set, and was not required to have been created from 'nothing'.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2010 #2
    All you have done is define existense as an essential part of the universe, and then claimed your defintion as proof that your definition is true.


    which is similar to this argument for the existense of god:


    All we really know is that the universe, in some form, does exist. How it came about, or if it did... who knows.
  4. Jan 21, 2010 #3
    Incorrect... I'm saying that existing is a physical property of the universe and that not existing is not a physical property. I have used physical property in order to directly stave off any ontological or metaphysical approach. Matter and energy are never created nor destroyed... the universe is made of matter and energy... these are physical and measurable qualities.
  5. Jan 21, 2010 #4
    Well yes, this is where your biggest problem lies. I could say the same thing about an apple.
    An apple is made of matter and energy, so since matter and energy can't be created or destroyed, you can't create or destroy my apple. My apple exists because it must exist, existing is a property of my apple. My apple has no beginning or end.
    Well... it was a nice try.
    Problem of induction.
  6. Jan 21, 2010 #5
    Actually, you have just illustrated my point exactly. If you re-read above, I state the well-know scientific fact; "matter and energy are never created nor destroyed (just altered)." You are correct in saying your apple has no beginning or no end... though it wasn't always an apple. The particles/energy that make it up have changed states and forms many time throughout their existence... but they were never created nor destroyed. I'm not stating the universe only existed in one form exclusively, just that it was never created nor destroyed according to it's own laws of physics (which are a byproduct of it's physical nature).

    This is a forum for discussion and open thought. Your sarcasm doesn't further validate any additional point you were attempting to make... though it too was a nice try. ;)

    Yes, the good old problem of induction... the ace in the hole inevitably pulled in an attempt to stifle creative thought/theory-building. If Einstein had worried about induction so much, there would be no theory of SR or GR. If Newton had been tripped up by the induction problem, he would never have induced his theory of gravity. If Maxwell had not been willing to make assumptions based on previous observations, then the Electric and Magnetic forces would still not have been unified into the Electromagnetic. There would be no scientific discoveries, for that matter, that had anything to do with inductive reasoning or the theorized relationships between sets of observations at all. Induction claims that we cannot assume to know any future events based on observations of the past. It also says, even the laws of physics could not be certain to behave the same in the future as they did in the past... meaning that these entire Physics Forums would be useless. For the sake of everyone's time here, we are assuming that this is not so...
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
  7. Jan 22, 2010 #6
    This is what is called a category error. The apple does have a beginning and end. Because an apple is a biological thing. It may also be made up of matter and energy, but that is not the essential quality in an apple definition. (One can talk about apples without refering to matter/energy) Similarly, matter and energy exist in spacetime. So 'the universe' actually refers to something more than just matter and energy.

    Equating apple with matter/energy is an error, just the same as equating matter/energy with the universe is an error. Its not about whether an apple is made up of matter/energy, the problem you are running into is a matter of definition, of how you categorize. Many problems in philosophy are of this nature.
    It doesn't much matter, in order to talk scientifically about 'a universe' you would need multiple instances of universes in order to understand their properties. The fact that in physics, matter/energy operate based on certain rules is irrelevant, physics tells us for instance that many of the rules of physics break down at the high energies associated with the early universe, so the rules of the universe change. Many physicists agree that assuming multiple universes can exist, there is no requirement that the rules would be the same for every universe.
    Making claims about what your argument does, when it does no such thing, doesn't really forward the discussion, either.
    Dismissing the problems inherent in your position is not the same as addressing them in an open and thoughtful way.
    This just shows you don't know much about the problem of induction. David Hume, who defined it as a problem, was an staunch empiricist, which means, he believed knowledge could only be derived through... observation. This was a radical departure from the philosophy of rationalism, which relied on logic to find knowledge. So claiming the problem is an attack on science is simply false.

    Actually, induction is a form of reasoning that involves drawing conclusions about 'unobserved' phenomena, based on 'observed' phenomena. Future events are just one example of this. The 'problem of induction', as defined by Hume, states that inductive reasoning has no 'justification'. Hume never claimed we shouldn't use it, in fact, he stated very clearly we have no choice but to use it.

    You might want to actually read up on Hume before you start making wild claims about how the problem of induction makes physics useless. Its really not what he said, nor what philosophers who understand the problem are likely to claim.
  8. Jan 23, 2010 #7
    No, actually the error is in your way of choosing to categorize the argument. You seem to lack a crucial understanding of my point entirely. You say an apple and the universe are separate entities, but I am referring to the most base forms/rule sets of the universe. An apple cannot exist outside of the universe... it is a direct byproduct of the physical laws and interactions of the universe. It is not a separate entity from the universe as you claim, but is instead a form of the universe itself. You seem to think an apple can exist without the universe... but this is not so. Also, spacetime is never created nor destroyed... again furthering my point.

    Actually, it is completely about what the apple is made of. The apple itself means nothing. As I stated above, there is no difference other than a state change between an apple an some other form in the universe... as Carl Sagan once said "We are made of star stuff."

    Yes, once again you have proven my point. You say you would need multiple instances of the universe to understand their properties... yet you also say the rules of the universe change. That is the multiple instances of the universe. The state of the universe is constantly altered. The same as the big bang, or the singularity of a black hole, or anything else that alters the universe itself. My point is, the universe is malleable and constantly changing... but it has never been created nor destroyed. Even the big bang only goes as far back as an infinitely dense quantum speck... science doesn't accurately speculate about anything before the big bang.

    Actually, considering I started the thread, this entire conversation is propelled by my argument. It is only you that attempts to stifle the further analysis of it.

    I think you are perhaps confused on the problem of induction yourself. Inductive reasoning is drawing conclusions from past observations... as I have said before. Newton INDUCED as opposed to DEDUCED his theory of gravity. He made assumptions about gravity based on previous observations. This is readily known. The problem of induction would have claimed that this would not be a reasonable approach... yet it was one of the most influential discoveries of mankind.

    I stated this definition of induction exactly in my old post. Also, my entire argument is that inductive reasoning DOES have justification... as in the many great scientific discoveries that utilized it to formulate their theories.

    I am well acquainted with Hume's work. If you would stop putting word into my mouth it would also be helpful in having an open discussion. I never said induction makes physics useless... I said if every scientist got tripped up by induction, then many of the GREAT discoveries that utilized inductive reasoning would never have happened.
  9. Jan 23, 2010 #8
    No I did not. I said you were making a category error.
    You said:

    They are not equivalent concepts. They occupy different epistemological domains.

    I don't go to the store to buy matter and energy. I can't eat a universe.

    Well, that is your claim....
    That doesn't mean human beings have the properties of stars or vice versa.
    If it did, the earth would be a fireball, and stars could have bad breath.
    Now you are making a claim about the nature of time. Which brings us back to induction.
    Yes, that is your claim. I undestand this. I don't think you have shown it to be true.
    So how exactly do you know that the universe wasn't created?
    Uhm... ok.
    No, induction is a form of reasoning, which is why it is called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_reasoning" [Broken]. Hume's description of the 'problem of induction' details the fact that using induction is not justified.
    Except, this arguement relies on induction. You can't justify induction.... with induction, so science doesn't justify induction.

    Bertrand Russel offered a good example.

    A chicken has lived on a farm all its life.
    And every day, the farmer brings food.
    For the chicken's entire life, every day, farmer, food, farmer, food.
    Using induction, its perfectly reasonable to assume that tomorrow the farmer will bring food.
    Observation proves it.
    The chicken can be confident about this, the chicken can know that it is true.
    Until the day the farmer brings an axe.
    And on that day the chicken learns the problem of induction.

    Again, induction doesn't justify induction.
    If you had solved the problem of induction, you would be very famous.
    But feel free to continue trying... I'd hate to stifle you.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Jan 23, 2010 #9
    No, this is not an error of epistemological concern. It is an error of what you are choosing to analyze vs. what I am talking about. You are making observations of the macroscopic nature of the universe. Describing the most base form of the universe requires a look at it's most basic form, which has thus far shown itself to be the quantum scale (and theoretically even smaller if you believe in ideas such as string theory). The humans and stars and even the apple are all comprised of the exact same particles (bosons, fermions, etc.) and subject to interactions of the exact same four forces (electromagnetic, weak nuclear, strong nuclear, gravity) they just exist in different arrangements. You seem concerned with the difference between a sand castle vs. a sandstorm... while I am concerned with the sand itself. Of course that's not a perfect analogy, but you get my point. And yes... you CAN eat the universe. The 'universe' is simply a blanket statement for everything that exists.

    Yes, that is why this is a philosophical forum.

    As stated above, your observation of macroscopic properties is irrelevant as they are all different byproducts of the exact same laws of physics. The physics itself is the true nature of the universe. It is the most basic rule set that everything can be defined by.

    I never claimed to know anything for fact... just as you don't know the universe was created for a fact. But this is a discussion about that subject. When dealing with subjects of this complexity, scientist invoke Occam's Razor, meaning that they take the path of least complexity if different possible scenarios present themselves. To speculate on what came before the universe (whether it was created, or was a completely different set of physical laws) is a complete guess at our current scientific state. There are infinite possibilities about how the universe could have come about, and to conjecture about them would be a complete shot in the dark that no amount of reasoning, or scientific evidence could confirm or deny.

    Yes, I have defined induction exactly as this definition two separate times now. I don't understand why you keep explaining to me what I have already stated I know to be true. I understand that Hume thought it was not justified, but I will explain how I think it is justifiable...

    Yes, well a chicken is a bad example because a chicken cannot reason on the heightened level we are discussing. But let's take your scenario and apply it to a reasonable man. Induction CAN be justified, because purely through use of inductive reasoning, a man can look at past observations and make a conclusion that past observations don't always lead to correct future assumptions. Though he can become used to getting the food everyday, it would be no surprise to him if one day the food stopped coming because he would have observed many scenarios in his life where past observations had failed to produce predictable results. It is justified because it comes with the awareness that it is not infallible, but it none the less is a great tool when used with that understanding.

    The problem of induction cannot be solved as it is not that type of problem, it is a problem in the sense that it is a tool with inherent limitations. But as I demonstrated above, these limitations can be fully understood, thus providing a way to effectively use the tool to find wonderful new discoveries. I take the Newton example again. Newton induced his theory of Gravity, arguably the most important scientific discovery of the modern era. Yet it cannot prove that tomorrow the laws of physics won't up and change completely rendering his discoveries obsolete. But, until that time comes (if ever) it has been responsible for an intellectual, scientific and technological boom for all of humanity. The use of inductive reasoning has had very real consequences and therefore is fully justified.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  11. Jan 23, 2010 #10
    Then you are not talking about the universe.
    I'm pretty sure i can't, but I'd love to watch you try.
    If that were true, it would explain dark matter and dark energy, the two things that arguably make up most of the known universe.
    "The Universe exists because it has to"
    Occam's razor is a guess. Its about what is likely, not what must be.
    And yet you still don't seem to understand what it means. Which is pretty impressive really. I have found people usually figure it out when presented with Russel's chicken example. And yet you still seem not to get it.
    It is either induction or it isn't. Induction is not complicated, although it can be hard for some to understand.
    You're using 'justified' in a very loose and non-philosophical way.... which is why you are missing the point. Hume never said we shouldn't use induction. He considered it very useful.
    Yes it has real consequences, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I win at games of chance, sometimes I don't. Winning doesn't mean betting on red was justified.
  12. Jan 23, 2010 #11
    Yes, in fact, I am. As I stated, the sand is an imperfect analogy, but I thought you were able to make the connection. Not so I see. Let me rephrase this... I am describing the universe by it's base elements, on the quantum and microscopic levels, because the macroscopic reality is simply a byproduct of those.

    The apple is made up of the same fermions and bosons that are found everywhere... so, feel free to watch.

    Scientists are only beginning to understand dark matter and dark energy, they are still mostly mysteries. But I can tell you one thing for sure.. they are part of the physical laws of the universe.

    Yes, this is the title of my thread on a site called Physics Forums, under the philosophical section... meant for initiating conversation and open thought. The fact that you assume anything other than that seems to be your own problem not mine.

    No, Occam's Razor is not a guess, it is the principle that assumptions introduced to explain a thing must not be multiplied beyond necessity. It's the very opposite of random guessing actually, as it tries to eliminate unnecessary complexities.

    If these are the types of comments I am going to expect from an "open-minded philosopher", then I would rather we ceased this discussion. I have nothing I can learn from you because all you are concerned with is winning an argument, as opposed to being correct, or pursuing an open discussion. Feel free to no longer comment, unless you attempt it in a progressive way.

    Apparently, as you seem not to grasp it.

    I... know... this will be the 3rd time that I have to tell you that I understand Hume's stance on induction. Please stop saying the same thing over and over. Either read my post and disagree with it, or engage in open discussion.

    It is justified if you are expecting an outcome from the betting as opposed to a pre-determined outcome. You are assuming that winning is the only favorable outcome. This is a bad analogy, because you are already favoring a result. When Newton induced gravity, he did not favor any outcome over another. He simply took what he could from past observations and induced what became his theory. He didn't win or lose. He simply created an idea that, in the future, could very well be debunked should the laws of physics change completely or if we discover a part of the universe which has alternate laws of physics. I wouldn't necessarily say that Newton won, all he did was produce an outcome. But his outcome has had many beneficial effects for humanity thus far.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  13. Jan 24, 2010 #12
    Thats was is called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greedy_reductionism" [Broken].
    No, you said you could eat a universe, which means, all the fermions and bosons that exist.
    See, this is the problem when you equivocate things, it tend to become nonsensical.
    They are not part of the physical laws yet.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  14. Jan 24, 2010 #13
    No, I said the apple is no different from anything else in the universe, and by eating the apple you are eating the universe. The same as if I said I was eating bread when I was eating a slice of the whole loaf. I never once said eating the whole universe, there you go once again manipulating words.

    Just because man hasn't discovered them doesn't mean they aren't constantly affecting us by making up about 96% of the known universe. Let me quote something you yourself said on another thread, maybe you'll listen to yourself since you won't listen to me: "You cannot 'prove' that something doesn't exist, simply by saying you've never seen it. You cannot 'prove' that something unseen exists based on what you can see."

    On that note: Dark matter and dark energy have never been proven to exist yet. They are speculations based on observations... their nature is inductive. You of all people should never have brought this up as an argument. When you chose to use them to try to excoriate my theory, you openly contradicted your 'belief' in the problem of induction. Someone that truly believed what you claimed would never have treated the concepts of dark matter and dark energy as concrete arguments to debunk an idea.

    First off, this is a philosophy forum, open to new ideas. Secondly, you have not proven me wrong in any way despite what you assume to know. Thirdly, likewise, what you believe doesn't matter to me either.

    By saying Occam's Razor is a guess you are 100% wrong. Occam's razor is an attempt to reduce error if a guess is made... in fact it's the only thing preventing pure guesswork. So for you to say it's a guess is not only incorrect, but could only mean the guess was random in nature. I'm flattered you would like to blame me for this error, but unfortunately it's only you that put these incorrect words into your own mouth, regardless of what you knew was implied by your statement or not.

    As stated above, my argument has not failed in any way, at least not any way in which you have shown. The only thing that has failed is your desire to communicate. You'll note, it is me that started a thread to discuss an idea, and you that has come here attempting to do nothing but debunk it in an aggressive way, without success might I add.

    Well, I am telling you, you are wrong. But just because I say that doesn't legitimize it does it?

    That's what I said exactly.... Do you even read my posts? I literally said: "This is a bad analogy, because you are already favoring a result. When Newton induced gravity, he did not favor any outcome over another"

    Maybe if you spent more time reading my responses and less time thinking of ways to attack them, you wouldn't repeat things that have already been addressed so much.

    Once again, I will quote an earlier text of mine which you seemed to have missed... yet again: "The problem of induction cannot be solved as it is not that type of problem, it is a problem in the sense that it is a tool with inherent limitations... these limitations can be fully understood, thus providing a way to effectively use the tool to find wonderful new discoveries."

    I give you the courtesy of reading your entire post and responding accordingly. Please return that courtesy.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  15. Jan 24, 2010 #14
    The universe, even by your own definition is everything, so it is the whole loaf.
    So you can eat 'everything that exists'. Like I said, I'd like to see you eat everything that exists.

    matter/energy is not equivalent to the universe, any more than a slice of bread is.
    If they haven't been discovered yet, you can't rationally claim it exists. You can only say you think they might, and say why.
    That is NOT what inductive means.

    An inductive argument about matter would be: the copper samples I have examined conduct electricity, therefore all copper conducts electricity.

    Dark Matter and Dark Energy are different. It is more of a 'deduction' issue.

    If our understanding of gravity is true, a galaxy requires x amount of mass, or it will fly apart.
    But we don't observe x amount, we observe much much less mass.
    So either our premise, about the nature of gravity, is wrong, or there is more mass hiding out there somewhere; dark matter

    If our understanding of gravity is true, the expansion of the universe should be slowing.
    But we don't observe slowed expansion, we observe an accelerated expansion.
    So either our premise, about the nature of gravity, is wrong, or there is some other force causing the universe to expand; dark energy.

    In both cases, the names we give these phenomena are unimportant. Dark matter might not be matter at all.
    I did no such thing. Even if dark matter was arrived at by inductive reasoning, the fact induction can't be justified doesn't limit me from using it. As Hume said, we can't avoid using it.
    And yet I did, so maybe you are wrong about what I believe.
    Which I have been saying all along by the way.
    True, Hume proved you wrong long ago.
    Which may be why your reading comprehension is so poor.
    It is still a guess.
    Never heard of an educated guess?? I never qualified it. You assumed I meant random. You are the one who is trying to put words in other peoples mouths. Not me.
    And it wouldn't have mattered if he did. Being right doesn't justify induction, any more than being wrong impugns induction.

    Pot Kettle Black.
    The fact you can use induction doesn't mean you are justified in using it.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  16. Jan 24, 2010 #15
    so far, I agree with JD's logic
  17. Jan 24, 2010 #16


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Evolver, your proposal reminds me a lot of the anthropomorphic principle. It's not very satisfactory (especially to philosophers) but it may hold some truth. Getting at that truth has shown to be very difficult though, hasn't it?

    Evolver + JoeDawg:

    At one point, I think you guys are arguing from different definitions of physics. JoeDawg is using the academic definition of physics: the study of the physical world. Meanwhile, Evolver is talking about the actual physics that are independent of physicist's observations (but that physicist's are able to approximate with better and better accuracy as the centuries go by). Of course, you'll have assume with me that we're not brains in vats to see this viewpoint clearly.
  18. Jan 24, 2010 #17
    I said the universe is a blanket statement for everything that exists. Since the apple exists, it is then considered part of the universe. I never said the apple was the entire universe, I merely said the apple is something that exists and is made up of the same elementary particles as everything else in the universe. You are twisting my argument.

    The bread cannot exist outside of the universe. They are innately inseparable.

    We see effects occurring and have no answer for them. There is clearly some element of the universe we have not properly understood. When the ancient Egyptians thought the Sun was a God flying about in the sky, it didn't change the fact that the Sun held the Earth within it's gravitational field and cast high energy neutrons onto it's surface.

    That is what inductive means. Inductive reasoning is creating general principles based on past observations to speculate about unknown events... and that's exactly what dark matter/energy are. Scientists observe that there are unknown forces acting on the physical universe, therefore they have theorized two hypothetical candidates: dark matter and dark energy. You're right, they may not be responsible for the forces... but the current ideas of them are more literal than you claim. Scientists treat dark matter as a form of matter invisible to electromagnetic radiation which has gravitational properties. Dark energy is treated as a form of energy that interacts with gravity and photons and hastens the expansion of the universe. These ideas were induced... They are general principles that were created, based on previous observations of the universe, in order to speculate about it's unknown events.

    Since Hume said we can't avoid using it, then stop bringing it up as an attempted counter argument. If it's unavoidable then it doesn't really matter if it's justified or not does it? In fact, the fact that it can't be avoided would appear to make it justified, as it is an attribute seemingly inseparable from the process of theory building.

    And you are wrong about what I believe... this doesn't solve anything.

    Rather, it seems he has proved you wrong.

    This makes absolutely no sense in the context of this argument. Nice attack though.

    Occam's Razor is not a guess of any kind. It's a principle that is followed to remove unneeded complexities when multiple, competing hypotheses present themselves. When you call it a guess, you are incorrect.

    I'm saying this... I've said it three times now. I am the one that said you were making an erroneous argument with the 'losing vs. winning while betting on red' analogy, because you were making induction about losing vs. winning. It was you that did this, not me.

    As I said above, if induction is unavoidable, justification is not really an issue.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  19. Jan 24, 2010 #18
    Yes, my argument does have elements of the anthropic principle (not to be confused with non-humans endowed with human-like qualities described as anthropomorphic :smile: ). But even then, they are more elements of the weak anthropic principle as opposed to the anthropic principle.

    You are right though, assuming there is no Solipsism or Brain-in-a-vat scenarios, I agree that JoeDawg and myself are approaching this discussion from different angles.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  20. Jan 24, 2010 #19


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    JoeDawg is doing a pretty good job of knocking down every pin Evolver sets up, and he's doing it pretty patiently and rationally.

    Evolver, I have got to say your premise is pretty textbook circular.

    All your claims in your opening post lead to, not one, but two possible outcomes:
    1] the universe exists, and has all these physical properties
    2] the universe does NOT exist and therefore there are no physical properties to be had - or to be violated

    "In actuality, there is no such thing as 'nothing', and that is a physical property of the universe itself. Even in 'empty' space there are a slew of virtual particles bubbling about as well as various forces interacting with each other. Since matter and energy are never created nor destroyed (simply altered), and the universe is made of matter and energy..."

    These are all properties of the universe. If there is no universe, none of these properties are violated either.

    So, both possibilities are valid. Thus, you have not demonstrated it must exist.
  21. Jan 24, 2010 #20
    The matter/energy of the apple was never created and can never be destroyed, but the thing is, it was not and will not stay an apple.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook