September 28, 2003
I've encountered this question in conversation elsewhere as well and do you know that it's a truly strange question to me?
I've gotten so accustomed to thinking about the Universe and Reality in a particular way that when people ask this question I am greeted by renewed bewilderment every single time. And then I have to think slowly through the answer all over again.
I'm about to drop some hard-core metaphysics on y'all today. Hold on to yourself.
The answer is: There is no reason for the Universe.
Now, before you decide that there's no reason to go on living because of this revelation, let's look closely. Also, I'm not going to talk about the point of life right now, so just stop trying to go there.
If you ask "Why is there a Universe" you're asking for something: a purpose or a reason for existence. Reasons are not held by inanimate objects either, so the question assumes that there is some consciousness behind the Universe.
'Why' asks for a Reason and, so assumes Consciousness.
Consider the very concept of Consciousness. This is a tough because it's an axiomatic concept. It's an idea that you just can't get away from and any effort you make to counter the idea of it is based upon the assumption that it is what it is.
What is "Consciousness?" It is the sum of those things of which one is conscious. I know it sounds like a tautology or a circular statement, but consider it carefully, because I also don't intend to get into explaining axioms right now either.
Here, I'm talking about the Universe as a synonym for "Reality" or "Existence;" it is the sum of all things that exist. (Existence is another axiom, by the way.)
So, how does this relate to the Universe? Well, you can't very well have consciousness if you don't have the Universe can you? See, if there weren't any things in existence, then there'd be no things of which one could be conscious and thus, we conclude that you can't have consciousness without existence. (I was tempted there to also explain that consciousness is a thing that exists as well, but that's also derivative of this post.)
Not to be repetitive, but when you ask "why?" You're asking for a purpose. In asking for a purpose, you're assuming there's some form of consciousness giving that purpose.
Getting to the point
This all boils down to that first-cause foolishness you may have learned about while reading up on St. Thomas Aquinas. It says that everything is the effect of a prior cause and that God (Oh dear) is the First Cause. But that holds for about five seconds before some smarty-pants says, “Well, if everything has a cause, what’s the cause of God?” And then all hell breaks loose (pun alert!) so, we don’t use the First Cause argument any more.
That’s why the original question is so bizarre. Just asking the question gets you off to a bad start and that’s why it should confuse you when someone asks it.
So, I just want to say: Stop asking why there is a Universe.
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