by Richard E. Noble
“Nothing” has been on my mind, ever since I can remember. As a child I often thought about “nothing”, day on end. As a teenager it was a constant pre-occupation. Little did I know that “nothing” was really that important. I have since discovered that “nothing” really matters.
“Nothing” is a key concept in Philosophy, Religion and Science. If you believe that “nothing” is possible, religiously speaking, you can be a Jew, a Catholic, a Protestant or a follower of Islam. If you believe that “nothing” is impossible you can be a Hindu, a Pantheist, an agnostic, possibly some type of Protestant or an atheist. Followers of Confucius, Tao, and Buddha don’t really care about “nothing.”
They care about other things but not about “nothing.”
In Philosophy John Paul Sartre wrote a whole book about “nothing”. It was entitled “Being and Nothingness”. I’ve never read any book about anything that was more confusing than Mister Sartre’s book about “nothing”. Trying to figure out “nothing” isn’t easy. There is more to “nothing” than meets the eye.
Lots of Greek philosophers thought about “nothing” - Empedocles, Zeno, and Epicurus to name but a few. In Philosophy all of those who believe in “nothing” believe in God. In fact, they believe that God is “nothing.” If God were something, He could be defined, and God is beyond definition. Christians are the most devoted followers in their belief in “nothing.” To say that “nothing” is impossible would be to deny the divinity of Jesus. Because If God were something, He would have to be all things. He can not be one thing in particular. If He were all things, then all things would have to be divine. If all humans were consequently Divine then what would distinguish everybody else for Jesus? They had a big vote on this at the council of Trent or Nance or someplace. At this council the Pope and all his Cardinals voted strongly in the favor of “nothing.” The Roman Catholic Church has played a big part in establishing “nothing” throughout the world. Martin Luther once proclaimed that God was busy cutting rods from birch trees for those who persisted in asking questions about “nothing.”
Science is in a big ta-doo about “nothing” also. Lavoisier came to his notion that matter could neither be created nor destroyed. This is now called the law of the conservation of matter. Mayer came to a similar conclusion about energy. Now we have the law of the conservation of both matter and energy. But these laws or theories give confirmation to the impossibility of “nothing”. Both Lavoisier and Mayer had established that something is always something and can never be turned into “nothing.” But then came that famous war correspondent and part time scientist, Albert Einstein. As a part of his theory of relativity he proclaims that Space and the aether are “nothing.” He claims that space and the aether are a mere attribute of matter. This is confusing but as long as matter and energy are still indestructible and only convertible, science is still Hindu. But recently some folks are talking about anti-matter and matter and the notion that when they collide they annihilate one another and turn into “nothing.” If all the matter in the Universe could be annihilated then “nothing” can be possible. If nothing is possible then science is no longer Hindu but Judeo/Christian. God would be “nothing” and “something” would be His unexplainable miracle.