Wondering why they exist isn’t done by grasshoppers or grizzly bears or people struggling to hang on to existence. Those who flaunt religion like a badge of virtue reject the question. Those of deep faith may offer a tolerant pat on the head. The question only concerns philosophers, scientists, and others who refuse to leave well enough alone.
A new book by Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist? asks smart people, and I want to know what they think because I ask it at night. It helps me fall asleep.
I try to imagine non-existence—nothing—but it eludes me. The ancient Greeks had Hypnos and Thanatos—sleep and peaceful death—and they were brothers. Awake, I’m embedded in existence. When asleep, I slip out, but when I wake up, existence absorbs me once again. I certainly don’t imagine that the world vanishes when I lose consciousness of it, and cannot imagine no world at all. Nothingness is unimaginable.
Recent scientific theories that posit infinite Universes are easier to conceptualize than Nothingness. A Megaverse of Infinite universes is conceivable although tricky. No matter how you divide infinity, the result is always infinity, so if there is one Universe with life, there are an infinite number! Life times infinity has glory,
It seems bound into the newly discovered Higgs Boson, proving that a Higgs Field pervades our Universe. You might say that something like a Higgs Field has already been imagined; “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” (Genesis 1.2)
The Higgs Field gives every other particle weight; which is the essence of existence. Different particles have different weights, so we also get information. The closest I can imagine to Nothingness is a Universe of energy/mass and information. Another word for information is form. I can’t imagine any thing without form, even a blob has it, so energy (which can be mass) and information go together.
(A sly assignment I used to give choreography students was to create a dance study without form. Whatever they came up with, other students could always detect form in it.)
These are some of the thoughts that make me so eager to read what really smart people have to say when my copy of Why Does the World Exist? arrives in the mail.