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Quantum Vacuums, Nothing, and Krauss’s Conundrum

December 19, 2014

Some arguments against the Kalam Cosmological Argument say things like:

“Virtual particles have no cause/they just appear in a quantum vacuum, which is ‘nothing'”
“A quantum vacuum is ‘nothing'”
“The universe started with a quantum vacuum”

Let’s tackle these in order.

Virtual particles appear in a quantum vacuum, or vacua, because there may be more than one, when energy fluctuations in the quantum vacuum/vacua cause particles to appear which quickly disappear. The fluctuations within the quantum vacuum are the cause.

Now lets take a look at the claim–championed by Lawrence Krauss, that a quantum vacuum is “nothing”.

“Nothing” is the lack of existence and anything existing. A quantum vacuum exists within and is part of the natural world, Moreoever, as mentioned before, there can be quantum vacua–more than one. Anything you can count is certainly not “nothing”. To say that one can count a thing which does not exist is absurd.

Now lets look at Krauss’s conundrum. Lets oblige Krauss and say that the very first thing was a quantum vacuum, from which the universe began. This brings up two big problems for Krauss.

1) If we say the quantum vacuum always existed, that would be saying that a natural thing has existed forever, committing the fallacy of a infinite regress, an impossibility.

2) If we say that the quantum vacuum appeared at some time in the past, we have to posit that a natural thing appeared from literal nothing. If there was no natural cause or event to create the quantum vacuum–and in literal nothing there is not–that would mean the quantum vacuum appeared UNnaturally, or supernaturally. And that’s exactly what Krauss is so desperately trying to avoid.

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