Suddenly 3 chords came together and I had a melody that I thought I would blog about.
The first chord came in a very interesting book by Charles Seife called Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea. This chord has been playing the longest.
The second chord occurred once while watching a debate on-line about whether religion still had value. A difficult debate to have to say the least, but in that debate a physicist posited one of life’s larger questions which to be honest I am not sure I had asked before even though I like to think about such things. “Why is there something rather than nothing?” This chord was played again just recently by a fellow blogger who asked those in the blogosphere to answer the question “If God created the universe, why did he do it?” This is like striking the same chord, but in a slightly different key.
The third chord was just now struck after reading a blog post by another blogger who had the statement “You cannot define yourself in the absence of another.”
So now let me try to bring it together if I can. One of the intriguing thoughts I had from the first chord was how concept of nothing was tied to the concept of infinity. Mathematics before was tied to geometry. Things with area and volume and shape. There was no room for zero, nor was their really room for the infinite. Accepting zero as a number meant you also had to accept infinity because when you divide any number by zero that is what you get (or negative infinity if you want to be picky). Here we have two things are really the exact opposite of each other: everything and nothing. I find that absolutely fascinating. At least in a mathematical sense, one defines the other.
The second chord further made me contemplate nothing. You might be thinking to yourself “Contemplating nothing Swarn? You must be popular on the weekends with all that excitement”. And you might be right with your sarcasm. Well even if you are wrong with your sarcasm, I do appreciate sarcasm. Anyway, back to nothing. So in the answer to the question why is there something instead of nothing, I thought, well if there is just nothing. Then not only is it not very exciting, there really is nothing to define. In fact you can’t even define nothing, unless there is something for which to compare it to. Pure nothingness or non-existence, even in the presence of something can at best be only categorized as such. There are no measurements to be made or pictures to take of it. It’s nothingness.
With the 3rd chord the melody began. I thought about definitions of words. I thought about any definition you might look up in the dictionary. Not surprisingly you’ll find other words there to help you understand what one word means. You can look up those words. But what if words started to disappear from a language? As this happens our ability to define any one word disappears. I then imagine 3 words left “cat”, “dog”, and “not”. Cat – not dog, Dog – not cat. The word “not” doesn’t get a definition, you just have to learn it contextually. 🙂 Definitions of any word cannot occur in the absence of other words. More to the point it seems sensible to me that in answer to the question why is there something instead of nothing the answer becomes “there has to be”. We cannot even know nothing without their being a universe. Whatever everything might be it’s in the universe. Or multiple universes I suppose. And anything that isn’t, is nothing. Nothing by itself, as already discussed, has no value either. Nothing and everything are two sides of the same coin. They define each other.
Now right now you are probably thinking I want to have what he’s smoking, or else “Get a job hippie!” (I have a job thank you! 🙂 ). So what if there is no reason for everything other than existence had to happen? And what if, as Douglas Adam said, “Whatever happens, happens”? What if it’s then all on our shoulders to create purpose? Maybe that’s the best gift we can give to someone. The freedom to develop their own purpose in life. With the recognition of course that purposes can change as we do as well as the universe around us.