Is it possible that the universe created itself from nothing?
- Theologically speaking, it is impossible.
- Scientifically speaking, it is quite feasible.
(a) The Theological View
All religions founded by man imply the existence of a supernatural creator as necessary to originate our universe. Such theses have no difficulty in reliably demonstrating the impossibility of self-creation. In short: without a divine being as the primary cause, there would be no universe because nothing can appear out of nothing! And what science calls the Big Bang is simply the instant when God created the universe.
Religions, to substantiate the postulates of their theological theses, employ sacred ancient books, crafted under “divine revelation,” whose doctrines establish their essence in dichotomies such as punishment versus reward, altruistic concepts like love and compassion, or in the powerful idea of eternal life after death. It is also interesting to mention that in this post-modern era new theological theses have appeared, generated by “spiritual” groups that support their proposals in a potpourri of Oriental and Christian religions, seasoned with some pseudo-science and pop-psychology. This includes but is not limited to the Scientology, UNARIUS (Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science), Jungian Universal Consciousness, and countless other “New Age” spiritual sects.
Another point to be clarified is that the theological thesis I am discussing here is utilizing ‘circular logic’ for its validation. In other words, they use a logic based on postulates that do not require mathematical or physical proof to be valid.
(b) The Scientific View
Under the lens of science, the self-creation of our Universe is a completely reasonable likelihood: We know with certainty that our universe has existed for approximately 14 billion years, and Einstein tells us that when we look back through the space-time continuum, space begins to curve, heat intensifies, and density increases. But when we reach to trillions of a millionth of a second before the precise moment of the Big Bang, we crash against an insurmountable wall, known as the Planck Wall.
The Universe as it was when it was up against the Plank Wall was called the Spacetime Singularity, or simply Singularity by Einstein. During that time, our universe, with all its billions of galaxies, suns, and planets, was concentrated into a space smaller than the nucleus of an atom. During the singularity, the concentration of matter was at an absolute maximum and the laws of classical physics were useless. It is here, at the Planck barrier, that Einstein’s interaction of cause-and-effect within our classic reality arrives at its end. Henceforth, we enter into the realm of the quantum reality, that world of effect-without-cause and with counter-intuitive laws in which our common sense is very much out of place.
If we continued backing up in time toward the origin of the universe, beyond the Planck wall, we will reach a point of concentration where space and time do not exist. That is to say: there is, at a certain point, nothing. The Big-Bang theory and its complement, the Inflationary theory, describe this phenomenon. Obviously in this nothingness where time does not exist, the concepts of past, present, and future lose their meaning. As do the causes, since to have an effect in the present it must emanate from a cause in the past. In brief, without time, there is no past. And without past, there is no cause.
However, if there is no primary cause, how was our Universe created? According to science, it was created due to a quantum fluctuation within a primordial vacuum (a typical example of an effect-without-cause within the quantum world). This implies that our universe arose from a vacuum, (or nothing,) without the need for an intervention via external agents.
But is this assertion verifiable?
In order to be 100% sure of this scientific affirmation, we would have to be able to recreate a mini Big Bang that would produce the two unique ingredients indispensable for the creation of a universe: Energy and Space. Energy capable of forming matter (you can think of matter as “frozen energy”) and a space made of four dimensions (a space-time continuum), that is, three-dimensional space plus a fourth dimension containing time. Doubtless, to think about the possibility of constructing a suitable laboratory to duplicate these components is totally absurd. Therefore we must be satisfied with the verification of those physical evidences existing within our universe foretold by the cosmological theory as well our own well-oiled logic of inductive and deductive reasoning.
Within the cosmological theory, two axioms are absolutely crucial:
(1) Nothingness is an active vacuum, meaning: a quantum vacuum.
(2) From Nothingness, or space, all matter of the universe is born spontaneously.
(1) Nothingness is an active vacuum
First of all, the quantum vacuum is technically not empty. The vacuum is actually full of quantum fluctuations where its energy creates, spontaneously and constantly, pairs of particles and antiparticles that are mutually destroyed, and whose existence is so ephemeral that it is impossible to observe them directly. However, it has become possible to detect them through their indirect effects. In 1955, the Nobel Prize-winner, Willis Lamb, verified the existence of these virtual particles that appear from nothing within the quantum vacuum. His experiment is known as the “Lamb shift” test.
But to create matter requires energy, so: where does this energy come from which allows the creation of these virtual particles? Indeed, they arise from the vacuum energy. This is a class of zero-point energy, or energy that is associated with the emptiness of the space vacuum. It is the lowest possible energy that a quantum system may have, meaning that it is the energy that remains when all other energy is removed from the system. It turns out that the zero-point energy existing within space has important cosmological consequences.
(2) From Nothingness, or space, all matter of the universe is born spontaneously
As we already know, from the moment that our universe was no larger than an atom, only the laws of quantum mechanics are able to give us some understanding of the phenomena that were taking place. At first sight, the intergalactic space of today appears empty… But it isn’t! It is in fact full of dark matter, cosmic particles, neutrinos, radiation, dark energy, and naturally, is overcrowded with quantum vacuum fluctuations. And it is from a primordial quantum vacuum, of zero-point energy, that our universe somehow emerged.
The universe was born from nothingness, specifically of a fluctuation from a quantum vacuum of zero-point energy, in which time and space were nonexistent. Hence, as time does not exist before the Big Bang, there isn’t any sense examining the possibility of a primary cause since any present effect, by definition, must come from a cause of the past. As a result of this premise, it is highly improbable that the alternative, theological view of an externally-sourced universe holds validity. Therefore, we must accept and embrace the scientific view of ‘something from nothing’ as the most likely origin theory of the universe.
Karl de Azagra