03 October 2014

That Nagging Six Year Old's Question

With, truly, no intention to annoy or offend my friends "of faith," I think this passage is unalloyedly true:
« [Your child asks…] 'Where did I come from?' If you are an up to date liberated parent you are apt to leave God out of it, nor will you employ — it goes without saying — the antiquated dodges of stork or cabbage leaf. You will no doubt explain about sperm and ovum, and perhaps about penis in vagina, also about DNA, and maybe a little about natural selection. All that time your child be looking you in the eye with your trusting gaze, and if you have a truthful bone in your body, you will be embarrassed. With all the stunning modern discoveries of cosmology and the biosciences, you really don't know the answer. Nobody does. Not the unbeliever, not the believer. Faith is hope, not fact. »
--Herman Wouk, The Language God Talks (2010).

I say this having read A Universe from Nothing, by Lawrence M. Krauss, which claims to explain how it is not only possible but necessary for (a) universe to emerge from nothing. I believe I understood what he was saying, but, despite his claim, he still has not answered, without changing the meaning of "nothing" from its ordinary sense, the question I, among millions of others, asked when six years old, "why is there something rather than nothing?" The answer, God, of course, just invites infinite regression. I've read a fair amount among the sages of the World over the years, but no one gives a really satisfactory answer to this. (Some say it's a silly question, but I beg to differ: it is a fair question, even if, as scientists are wont to do, you substitute "how" for "why," since most philosophical "whys" aren't really scientific questions. "Not even wrong," they like to say).

Because, I suspect, this question is literally beyond the conceptual mind of human beings to understand.

1 comment:

  1. If you're interested, my thinking on the question "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is at:


    Even if those thoughts are incorrect, I think the question is answerable if we can look at things in a different way. As Edison said, I think?, the surest way to succeed is to just try one more time. So, I hope people don't give up on this question. Thanks.



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