“Something Can’t Come from Nothing”: Is it More Reasonable to Accept or Reject this Principle?
by Mike Keas
What can we learn from the large volume of comments under my post about whether the Mathematical Laws of Nature Create Everything from Nothing?
Hraefn, responding to MGT2 (who was supporting my claim that “something can’t come from nothing”) wrote:
Your repeated queries as to “how do you get something from nothing” is simply an argument from personal incredulity. Logically fallacious, and thus “illogical”. Theoretical physics is very often counter-intuitive.
Counter-intuitive does not mean illogical. Theoretical physics may be counter-intuitive in some respect, but it is never illogical.
As I teach in my Reasoning course each year, we should realize that “illogical” is a subset of that which is unreasonable. Illogical is a label for an argument that breaks one or more rules of logic (and neither MGT2 nor Hraefn breaks any logical rules in the comments section to my post). To argue in an illogical manner is one way to be unreasonable. But one may construct a logically valid deduction that has one or more premises that are unreasonable. That would be a case of being logical, but unreasonable. Just in case anyone wants to dispute this, I should point out that the atheist author (Lewis Vaughn) of the critical thinking textbook I use in my Reasoning course (pictured here) agrees with me. All the informed theists and atheists that I know share common ground here.
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Now let’s get to the main point of today’s post. Hraefn and SkepticNY are being quite unreasonable in their recent comments in the following manner: They think that it is more reasonable to reject than to accept the widely held principle: “something can’t come from nothing.” Notice, I’m not making any claim about either side in this dispute having (or not having) a “proof.” I’m simply asking my atheist friends to think about which is the most reasonable alternative … to reject or accept the principle: “something can’t come from nothing.” And I really do appreciate you guys taking the time to interact on my blog. You are among my atheist friends. I think you guys are reasonable about many things (e.g., I suspect you believe in all the laws of logic, as do I), but your rejection of the principle “something can’t come from nothing” is not one of the items about which you are thinking reasonably. Let me explain.
Ever since Plato in his cosmological book called the Timaeus, the vast majority of people who have thought (and wrote) carefully about ultimate origin questions and the nature of reality have agreed with Plato that “something can’t come from nothing.” Even the average person who has not studied philosophy, when presented with the principle that “something can’t come from nothing,” will have this very clear thought that this is at least more likely true than not true. How do we make sense of this widespread epistemic situation?
Some things are known to be true because they are self-evident. The laws of logic are self-evident, once you have taken the time to study them. For example, the deductively valid form of argument known as modus ponens is self-evidently true…
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