Why is there something rather than nothing? The Stoics provide an answer.

Our scientifically estimated 13.6 billion year old universe could have come from nothing as bizarre as that is to conceive in our minds.  How could something come from nothing?  This question never seemed to bother the ancient Greco-Roman philosophers as much as it did later Medieval philosophers.  God created the universe ex nihilo according to the Medieval interpretation of the Bible so it was thought that there was nothing in the beginning.  If an atheist during the Dark Ages had dared to question the existence of God, she would’ve been met with the question, “well, then how could something come from nothing?”

The ancient Greek and Roman philosophers never cared too much about the issue of how could something come from nothing because they just assumed something had been around since eternity so there was never a nothing.  The Stoics, for example, just assumed the universe had always been.  It, like a fire, sets off, sustains itself, and then extinguishes itself only to be set off again and this process goes on forever.  In fact, the universe is always dying and being reborn and everything that happened in all the previous universes happens in this universe.

The ancient Greco-Roman philosophers tended to have a cyclic vision of time that the universe would be born, sustain itself, die, be reborn and repeat ad infinitum.  This didn’t just happen cosmically but microcosmically.  Civilizations would be born, sustain themselves, and then die, only to have new civilizations be born from those civilizations.  It really wasn’t until Christianity that Western Civilization got the concept of linear time that began at some certain point, say, 4004 BC and terminates on Judgment Day say 2000-something when Jesus is supposed to return.

Anyway, it’s still possible the Stoics are right.  Maybe even though our universe had a beginning, our universe was just born from another universe that is part of an infinite multiverse that has always existed and will never die.  If our universe came from another universe, then it came from something, and if the multiverse is always there, then we never have to deal with the question, “how did something come from nothing?” because something has always been forever and ever.

Before the universe began, it might’ve been a singularity that went unstable.  While mathematically singularities are difficult to describe and physics breaks down, it’s possible that that singularity could’ve been eternally existing, thereby making it never needn’t of an explanation for where it came from.  The singularity had always just been, eternally existing.  Therefore, something never did come from nothing.

This is all just speculation but it makes you wonder how old things really are.  While our universe appears to be 13.6 billion years old.  How old was the singularity before it?  How old is everything outside our universe IF there is an OUTSIDE.

The Stoics had their answer so what is yours?

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Who was right about the Cosmos? Epicureans or Stoics?

Out of the Epicureans and Stoics, who was right about the Cosmos?  Both!  Marcus Aurelius said he’d follow Stoic ethics whether or not the universe was random or providential (specifically deterministic).  Well, it turns out they were both right.

The Epicureans believed that the universe was composed of atoms that swerve randomly/chaotically.  We were just an assortment of atoms and the void.  Well, they were basically right.  Only atoms as we now know them are actually divisible (as opposed to what atom actually means in the Greek “indivisible).  The real “atoms” of today are like quarks and leptons.  On the quantum level, quarks and leptons and even atoms behave randomly.  We can only probabilistically determine what their momentum or position will be.  Quantum mechanics agrees very strongly with Epicureans.

What about the Stoics and their notion of the Logos?  Well, Logos is just a law of the universe.  It turns out that today there are many laws.  Physicists hope to unify all the laws of the universe into one fundamental laws that we can derive all the lawlike equations from.  The Stoics were definitely right to believe there was something lawlike to how matter proceeded through time.  There are lots of patterns in nature that science has now revealed to us.  There’s a rhyme and reason to almost everything today.  We just need sophisticated computers to spit out equations that let us know the rhyme and reason.

What’s more?  The idea of Logos as a fiery animate matter organizing inanimate matter may seem far fetched.  But what if we replaced fiery animate matter with energy?  Energy is the ability of matter to do work on other matter.  It’s not clear exactly what the Stoics had in mind but it sounds kind of like energy when they talk about the fiery Logos.  Not just the lawlike behavior of it but its input of energy.

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