God, I really do love this stuff. I mean, just contemplating it is simply mind-bending. I also enjoy both Qaballistic and Taoist cosmological stances on this issue. I think, taken properly as metaphor, these views present a couple of very valid perceptions on the issue.
For instance, from what I know of Qaballah, there are three layers of 'Nothingness' that technically preceded the existence of ANYTHING. The first is Ain - or 'Nothingness in and of itself, ' not even 'nothing' as we can conceive it even existed. The second is Ain Soph - or 'Nothingness.' The differences are wholly esoteric. The third is called Ain Soph Aur - or 'Pregnant Nothingness.' This is what is known to the Qaballists as 'The Light.' So to sum up, Ain is the idea of nothingness, ain soph is nothingness, and ain soph aur is 'somethingness.' It's this third that I find most interesting, because this is what reminds me of the singularity. Something which exists, but that is not distinguished from anything else. Their concept of the numbers and their corresponding letters, (the early Hebrews were very fond of their alphabet), being the first things to exists is pretty interesting. For instance, to define space as we know it, four objects would have to exist. If one one existed, there could be no difference between that thing and anything else. If two things existed, by what measure could they be seen as different, (unless there was something conscious to be aware of that difference,)? If three existed, there would be no depth to the universe at all. Imagine three objects... in what ways could you arrange them so that they would not make a simple flat triangle between them? Introduction of a fourth object in space would provide a necessary 'counterweight' to the three original objects. The Qabbalists' fourth Sephiroth is attributed to Space and Time or 'dominion.'
I know, all this seems very esoteric, but as a metaphor for astrological cosmology, it's very intriguing to me. Here is a little overview of Qabbalistic cosmology.
The Taoists have a similarly fascinating view of the origin of the cosmos. In the Tao Te Ching,
"The Tao begets One;
One begets Two;
Two begets Three;
Three begets the myriad things"
In this case it is explained that in the beginning there was this 'stuff' or 'thing' called the 'Tao.' Initially, the thing called "Wu Ji" or 'Tao,' which has a distinction from the 'TaiJi' (sound familiar? Tai Chi martial arts derives its philosophical principles from the TaiJi) in only a way similar to the Hebrew's Ain and Ain Soph. The Taiji is the somethingness. It is split into Yin and Yang at which point those parts split further. The above quotation is therefore incorrect. Indeed it should be read:
Tao gives birth to unity, unity gives birth to duality,
Duality gives birth to trinity, and trinity gives birth to all things.
All things are wrapped by yin and contain yang,
And their pulsing energies marry.
I just really love this type of philosophy. And as physics approaches a decent 'Theory of Everything' I look forward to seeing how these ancient viewpoints measure up over time. (As long as no one makes the mistake of interpreting them literally, there shouldn't be any problems.)
Another good link is This.
Also Fritjof Capra's book The Tao of Physics is pretty darned interesting.