I am new to this group, but I would like to introduce myself by drawing attention to the most fundamental question of all - "why is there anything and not simply nothing at all?" It could be stated alternatively as "why does existence exist?" I raise this question because it seems to get overlooked by cosmologists who talk about big bang theories without considering where the combustible material came from for a big bang to occur, and by philosophers concerned with a first cause or prime mover without considering what the very origins of space and time themselves were. It has to be born in mind that "nothing at all" is exactly that - nothing - not a void waiting to be filled which necessitates the existence of space and time. And the question begins with the word "why" and not "how" although any thoughts on "how" would be interesting to hear.
That is what is so interesting about quantum physics, even physicist can't make sense out of what they observe. Nothing fits Newtonian physics. Lawrence Krauss offers the best explanation of nothingness that I have read. We exist, now, in a period of not knowing this aspect of a natural order. The fun is in reading and following progress. Those physicist who actively oppose Krauss or Kaku offer compelling evidence against "nothing".
Time is a construct of the human mind.
"time itself is a social construction. 'What any group of people think about time ends up being a result of them interacting with each other and socialization processes,'"
~ Allen Bluedorn, University of Missouri management scholar
The railroads needed to maintain common timetables, and in 1883 The U.S. national time standard emerged.
We live in interesting times.
"May you live in interesting times", often referred to as the Chinese curse, is the purported translation of an ancient Chinese proverb and curse. However, no Chinese source has ever been found.  Wikipedea
There is nothing at all. The idea of anything is an illusion. Illusions evolve, along with the creatures having them. So there are only two things: nothing, and evolution. Except for evolution, there is no anything.
Hi Rose – Welcome to the group. I love the way you think. I don’t know the answer to your question but I can wave my hands at it a little with a philosophical argument that incorporates some empirical evidence. Science asserts that on the quantum level particles randomly pop out of existence and randomly pop into existence from nonexistence. Moreover, quantum mechanics completely honors the probabilities of the possible outcomes associated with a quantum situation. Of course probability is founded in randomness. These data suggest the hypothesis that in some way complete randomness is the foundation of existence and nonexistence. That is, they suggest that existence and nonexistence are founded in utter unguided chaotic nonsense. Suppose otherwise – Then there would be a meaningful first cause for existence and nonexistence and we would be left with the question of why it existed. On the other hand utter unguided chaotic nonsense (complete randomness) would necessitate existence and nonexistence in the form of possible outcomes of its randomness even though it as their cause had no meaning. (There would be no beginning nor end for existence nor nonexistence with this hypothesis.) In the same way other opposites on the quantum level would be necessitated and the laws of physics on the macro level would be generated by probabilities being honored thru quantum mechanics on the micro. Of course this is only a hypothesis but it provides for existence (including multiple universes) and nonexistence to be fully accommodated at any point in time for no reason.
Great discussion and replies.
This question, in my opinion is entirely a philosophical one, often thrown by theists at atheists to support their argument that the so called creation has a purpose. No such purpose is evident. Everything that we see or know about exists because the most fundamental particles exist. They exist without a purpose and so everything is there because it is there, just as we are there because we happen to be there. In fact our existence is a proof that something, or everything, can exist without purpose. This is also evident when we accept that there is no creator.
As I understand the purpose in nature is to reproduce, to self-replicate. If an organism doesn't bring forth the next generation, there is no consequence, other than the end of that individual's line. There are either other specimens to carry the line, or the species becomes extinct.
I think that the roots of our desire to perpetuate life are in the process of biological evolution. Real struggle for life started when organisms became aware of their existence and of the pain of death, which often was cruel in the early times of evolution. This struggle must have been the cause of the desire to perpetuate existence. We are at the highest level of such awareness and at the highest level of the desire of perpetuating life.
Hi Rose, welcome to the den of the damned (in the fires and torment of hell as our Xtian “friends”believe ).
What you are confused about is a condition you share with almost all physicists, cosmologists, theorists or mathematicians. That is what makes science exciting – there is always a frontier, an insight of great magnitude, a discovery that changes our understanding of the universe, a new technology and others that make science a place of wonder and hope.
IMO, the label “Big Bang” is unfortunate (was originally used by it's detractors) – an “Expansion” is more accurate. My personal preference is a “Crystallization”.
Why there is anything at all, is a real question.
Why the laws of physics are what they are, is a real question.
Yes quantum fluctuations can bring something out of a vacuum, but why do quantum fluctuations happen? Why is there spacetime, why are there four dimensions, etc. Is there some inevitability to it?
Deep questions, no real answers that I know of.
Laura, the 'something' in the question 'Why there is something rather than nothing?' refers to the matter in the world and not to nature's rules. The question about natures rules is another matter, another question. To my mind, the answer to this question may have something to do with the nucleosynthesis that started after the big bang.
Not true, the matter comes to be because of nature's rules. So why are nature's rules what they are?
Laura, I am not a scientist. If the question relates to natures rules its answer should be obvious. All matter has come from the most simple element, hydrogen.Valency bonds must have emerged automatically as electrons, protons and neutrons combined to create heavier elements, depending on their particle content. All rules of nature, in my opinion, must have emerged in similar obvious ways. Could this be right?