Why is there anything at all?

Tl;dr: There is no fundamental difference between an abstract and concrete object.


So I know that this is going to sound a little "out there", or very "out there", and what I'm proposing in the text is not scientifically verifiable - or rather falsifiable. This is an idea that I've been thinking about for a while that I just wanna get out there. I don't want to attach any personal claim to it, it's an idea that is - I think - in the current zeitgeist, in the current collective unconscious, and I'm just distilling it into a small overview. I don't claim and I don't wish to claim that this is truth. And, it might as well be that with continued education I will be surprised about how wrong I was. Finally, I'm being relatively informal here to avoid making this text hard to read and pedantic. So with that out of the way let's jump into it.

The Problem

For any observation we can ask why it is as such:

Any such question can be answered by a causal explanation:

And we can apply this ad infinitum:

One would think that this would go on for infinity, but perhaps reality is structured in such a way that it ends up in a cycle:

An alternative is that it ends up with an explanation that is non-causal:

What is non-causal?

A non-causal explanation is something that we cannot ask "Why?" to. It simply necessarily exists. One potential non-causal explanation is that our universe is simply one potential universe in a set of infinitely many universes. And that each element in this set contains the mathematical relations needed to generate each universe. Because if you think about it, the information of permuting all potential universes doesn't need a causal explanation. It already essentially exists. It exists outside of what we perceive as matter and space and energy. It just is, and it doesn't need to be encoded in some script or language or even be active in our minds, as they're mathematical relations. It's something that exists regardless. Let's call this the "universal structure".

And so, I'm starting to see a pattern where... "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is answered by: "Because by necessity there can be nothing else than the universal structure.".

And perhaps we can give some structure to this set. Perhaps an element in the set contains another set of universes but with a slight tweak depending on that element. And this can go on for as deep as one would like. One can nest universes in a sense, or nest the rules to generate these inside of each other. If we were to suppose that we could somehow visualize this universe by projecting it into a 2D picture, then we can visualize this as a fractal.

And at any point that you zoom in - you could either zoom in infinitely, or you could zoom into an arbitrarily nested universe. And it also allows for us to conceive of the notion of gods in classical thinking. Because there can be an element in the set that has the mathematical structure of a personal being controlling a universe, and that personal being could be attributed by the inhabitants of that universe as their "God".

And so perhaps among all these sets, there's an infinite number of gods with an infinite number of variables being ever so slightly different so they all have distinct personalities. And perhaps these gods realize the same as I'm realizing, and they wish to interact with the other gods, and because they have potentially infinite power over their domain they can instantiate all the gods in their neighborhood into their universe and then make themselves part of their own universe. And that's where you can get the idea that the god of a universe has inserted itself, into a person, or an animal, or a tree or a stone or any other part of that universe. And has also inserted the simulated other gods into other parts of that same universe.

Just to try to communicate and to see how its like. To lose itself in the infinity of existence. Because what else is there to do?

Analogy: The Library of Babel

What I've just described is analogous to a library, an infinite library: "The Library of Babel". One can imagine that this library also exists regardless of us having encoded it. This library is infinite, it contains infinitely many books, and the books may contain more books, and a book could be infinite, and with that permutation we get all possible books in the universe. All possible stories that could ever be written are described. Now, that's analogous to the set of all potential universes in the sense that all mathematical relations that can be written - have been written, similar to those books.

The idea makes it possible - in fact fully plausible - that there exist universes that are infinite in time, and that are infinite in novelty, and even universes that have exceptions to the relational rules. For instance a universe can be specified such that at a particular point in time at a specific coordinate (if it's in some form of space), an abnormality happens. And because there's no limit to these there can be universes that have conventional mathematical structures full of abnormalities. Now, what one could argue is that essentially the set of all universes is just the set of all possible stories. What the laws of physics so far discovered allow us to do is essentially figure out how we can predict parts of our own story at a future time. So perhaps we can even escape the idea that the set of all universes needs to have mathematical relations. Perhaps it's as simple as all potential "stories" just exist, and we just reverse engineer this universe to figure out where we are located in the universal structure. But I like the idea of infinite novelty. It means that maybe it's not our universe but there are universes out there that are infinitely intricate and interesting. And for the creatures that perhaps inhabit those universes there's an infinite amount to learn about their universe. There's an infinite amount of things to utilize and take some kind of joy in - in existence itself. It's a very strange thing to exist. To be. To wander in that which is.

Closing thoughts

This idea is inspired by Max Tegmark. It's an idea that I find somewhat appealing because there doesn't seem to be any other way of explaining that which is. There doesn't appear to be a way for me to explain existence at all. This could explain why there is stuff, and why we experience things. The argument I've presented is essentially that abstract and concrete objects are not fundamentally different. They're the same thing.

But still, even that is weird. I can't help think but, well, time goes forward, but since each element of the set, the so called universe set, is just a mathematical structure - then time is defined for all possible futures - and we could just be living in a cycle. Living the same life, reincarnations thereof over and over. What then is truly experiencing? You could say: Well suppose I am a god of this universe and I'm experiencing this thing - this being - this person, and after that ceases I will go into something else and continue from there and do that essentially ad infinitum, until time goes to infinity, and then going an ordinal higher. When time essentially wraps around to T=0 I will start that whole experience again. I don't know. But I do find it interesting. It's an idea that at least sounds somewhat plausible in terms of the metaphysical. That's all.

A different investigation into this topic: Why Is There Anything at All? Peter van Inwagen and E. J. Lowe