III Publishing

On Nothing
August 15, 2010
by William P. Meyers

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Child: My parents say you are an atheist.

Meyers: I have a positive system of knowledge called Natural Liberation Philosophy. But yes, in your parents' culture that makes me a kind of atheist.

Child: I don't see how you can say there isn't a God. How did everything get here? God created everything.

Meyers: When we humans create something we make it from things that are already here. We use the phrase "create a cake" to mean "bake a cake from ingredients." Except for what people make, things don't need to be created. They just are. We don't create trees: they just grow. Scientists say everything is made of matter and energy, and matter and energy can't be created or destroyed.

Child: But God had to create something in the first place.

Meyers: People say things like: God created the Universe out of nothing. But pretend for a moment the Universe needs a Creator. The theory behind that would be that a Creator is necessary for the Universe to exist. But what created the Creator? The Creator would need to be self-creating. And once we allow for something to be self-creating .. do you think we should allow self-creation?

Child: Yes!

Meyers: Then we might as well allow that the Universe itself is, or at some time was, self-creating. Do you see how much of your problem comes from applying the word "create" in a context where it does not apply?

Child: [Silence]

Meyers: Let me help you here. Do you think there would be nothing, if God or the Universe had not been self-creating!

Child: Maybe God is the Universe, but there would be nothing if something had not been made!

Meyers: Some would argue that nothing can beget only nothing. But consider how we use the word "nothing." It makes sense in everyday use. What did you bring home from the store? Nothing. What are your plans for the day? Nothing. What did you accomplish on your hike? Nothing. Nothing is a lot like zero.

Child: So?

Meyers: Nothing is a sort of counter. It is the absence of things to count. But I can count billions of people, 10 or so planets in the solar system, millions of stars in the sky, million of galaxies in the Universe. Reality is something. The Universe is something. They are not nothing.

Child: But they were nothing before the world was created.

Meyers: You are applying a human word where it should not be applied. You are using it out of context. Nothing is a contrast to the existence of particular things. You are trying to make it contrast with Everything, or the Universe.It only makes sense within a system of things. You can try other language constructions. Here is one: outside our system of reality. Outside reality, in short. You can make what sounds like a sensible sentence: outside of reality is nothing.

Child: Exactly. Outside of reality there is nothing. And before reality there was nothing. So you still need God to create everything.

Meyers: For there to be before, there has to be time. Time would be something. Not nothing. The nothing of time would be No Time. That makes sense in everyday life: no time to do my homework! But no time at all, or a time before the Universe began, those are just misapplying the English language.

We might say, take away the entire universe, and there would be nothing. But the universe can't be taken away. Parts of it can be wrecked, but it can't be destroyed. The absence of the entire universe is an impossible construct. Nothingness, in the absolutely nothing sense, is a misconception.

Child: So what is the point of all this bull about God and philosophy?

Meyers: Exactly. You are in a very real world. Learn all you can about it. Do what you think is right within it. And beware that many humans have become very confused over the course of civilization by using the same word to mean two or more things, or by extending an analogy way beyond its reasonable context.

Child: Maybe. But what happens to people when they die, if there isn't a God?

Meyers: I think you can figure that out for yourself. Run along now. I need to check my text messages.

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