Why Science Can't Explain Why There's Something Rather than Nothing

While scientists jump to answer this notoriously difficult question, scientific observation is not well suited to finding the cosmic will that the question implies. This stumper is better left alone.

What's the Latest Development?


New revelations in quantum physics suggest that our conception of nothingnessa vaccuum in which no matter exists—does not really correspond to reality. "According to the probabilistic dictates of quantum field theory, even an apparently perfect vacuum seethes with particles and antiparticles popping into and out of existence." The implication of this revelation, says prolific theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, is that the famous question "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is turned on its head. Infamous firebrand Richard Dawkins claims that the remaining trump card of the theologian has shriveled up. 

What's the Big Idea?

Science writer John Horgan meets the scientists' enthusiasm with a great deal of incredulity. Not because they are necessarily wrong but because in their eagerness to provide an answer to such a difficult question, they misunderstand it. Admittedly, that may be because asking "Why is there something rather than nothing?" attributes a willpower to the Universe that it may simply lack, or perhaps the volition which the question implies is a concept our monkey brains are comfortable using, but one which may not correspond to the Universe. Horgan says science can explain how the Universe came to be but cannot account for the simple fact that it is

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