- Education and Science
The Universe Shouldn't Exist
When I say that, I don’t mean that I am angry at the universe and want it to stop existing. I’m all for the universe. I mean that, logically, it shouldn’t exist. As humans, logic is probably the best thing we have going for us, but this universe thing we live in isn’t as big of a fan.
Let’s start out with a little history. A long time ago, there was this guy named Thomas Aquinas who wanted to prove that God exists. His first proof goes kind of like this. Everything has a cause; things just don’t pop into existence, or pop out. So, if everything has a cause, at some point there must have been a first cause that started the universe. However, if everything has a cause, then that first event must also have a cause. But that’s impossible; if a first event had a cause, it would no longer be the first event. Therefore, Aquinas believed, something outside of our universe must have been the cause of our universe’s first cause. Aquinas believed that this outside cause was God.
However, his conclusion just shifts the problem. If we accept that God created the universe, we have to ask, What caused God? If we believe that the first thing to come into existence was God, then how can we explain his existence? He would have had to have caused himself, which is impossible; if God has to cause himself, then he doesn’t exist yet, and if he doesn’t exist, he doesn’t have the power to cause anything.
Though his argument fails to prove that God created the universe, it does bring up a really weird problem. How the hell did our universe get here? At some point in time, the first cause of our universe had to have spontaneously come into being without explanation. It might take a while for the strangeness of this concept to really sink in. Imagine an empty void. There is no air, no energy, not even the smallest atom of matter. Then something appears, from absolutely nothing. Not only did this matter/energy/whatever appear, but there was enough of it to create our entire universe. That is some weird ass shit. Intuitively, it seems impossible, but it happened.
Or maybe it didn’t. If the universe never started existing, then it must have existed for an infinite amount of time. This possibility seems even stranger. Infinity means the universe has no explanation. It also means a really, really, really long time. Have you ever heard about monkeys with type writers eventually recreating the entire works of Shakespeare? In an infinite amount of time, monkeys would have necessarily recreated the entire work of Shakespeare. No matter how small a chance there is of something happening, if there is any chance at all, given an infinite amount of time, that thing will happen. Infinity times anything is still infinity. That means that every time you make a choice, at some point in the past, there was a situation in which, on an alternative earth, you made a different choice. It means that the earth has been created an infinite amount of times, and in some versions of Earth, humans never existed. Any possibility you can imagine has happened, if we accept that the universe has existed for an infinite amount of time.
Either way our universe is very, very strange.