Got a question from Rick today who asks…
Message: Do atheists believe that everything came from nothingness or do they believe that something has always been?
Great question Rick!
This is a common question that most atheists get from believers and it’s understandable why. Believers are taught that all things have a beginning and that beginning starts with their god. So when they meet an atheist one of the first things they ask is “If there is no god, how do you think everything got here?” to which the atheist will more often then not responds with “How did your god get here?” showing the inherent hypocrisy in the question. Most theists are taken aback from this question because to them, their god has always been, he has no beginning and he has no end, so the question seems as ridiculous to them as the original question does to the atheist.
To most atheists we’re happy with answering “I don’t know”. Which in my opinion is the most honest answer anyone can give from either side of the theological fence. Even if you believe that a god created everything, that doesn’t tell you how he did it. Imagine asking a waiter how your meal was prepared and he answers with “The chef made it”. That really doesn’t answer your question does it? If the waiter actually knew, he would either explain how the chef cooked everything, or would say “I don’t know, let me ask the chef.” and you would be satisfied with his answer. However since no one actually can go talk to god and find out how it was all done, believers are stuck in the same pot with atheists in their “I don’t know and neither do you” soup.
That aside, when we do find the answer it will likely come from science and not from religion. Today the best answer for how something can come from nothing comes from Lawrence M. Krauss who is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist and who is the Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of Arizona State University’s Origins Project. Wikipedia notes that he has been “Working mostly in theoretical physics, Krauss has published research on a great variety of topics within that field. His primary contribution is to cosmology, as he was one of the first physicists to suggest that most of the mass and energy of the universe resides in empty space, an idea now widely known as dark energy. Furthermore, Krauss has formulated a model in which the universe could have potentially come from “nothing”, as outlined in his 2012 book A Universe from Nothing. As his model agrees with experimental observation such as the shape of the universe and the energy density of the universe, it is referred to as a “plausible hypothesis”
If you have the time, there’s a great video on youtube where Krauss explains in a lecture at Harvard how a universe can arise from nothing. It’s a long video, over an hour, but it’s worth the watch. (here)
Well Rick I hope that helps. Thanks for the great question and feel free to discuss it more in the comment section below.