Sara asked

Why is there something instead of nothing? By ‘something’ I mean ‘everything’ in the known universe.

Answer by Craig Skinner

A classical question in metaphysics.

I count as non-explanations:

1. That God decided it so

2. That there is an ethical necessity for good to exist, so something must exist

3. That it’s just a brute fact.

My take is:

Don’t accept the unstated assumption in the question. The question assumes that ‘something’ and ‘nothing’ are different kettles of fish. But maybe they aren’t. I suspect that if all the mass/energy in the universe (physicists count gravitational energy as negative, mass and other types of energy as positive) were aggregated, the exact total would be zero. Similarly total positive charge exactly matches total negative charge, giving net zero. In short ‘everything’, far from being different to ‘nothing’, is just ‘nothing-carefully-arranged’. Indeed this is exactly what we would expect if ‘everything’ popped into existence from ‘nothing’ at the Big Bang.

Hold on, you say, the question now becomes ‘why is there nothing-carefully-arranged rather than absolutely nothing’, these seem different. Indeed they do. Let me suggest that ‘absolutely nothing’ is an unstable state which must eventually decay into ‘nothing-carefully-arranged’ producing universes aplenty.