Okay, this has been bugging me for quite a while and wasn’t on my mind until today.  I was talking with my friend (whom we share both similar and drastically different spiritual views) about what constitutes as “nothing”.  Yes…we were talking about the origin of the universe.  And we’ve both heard the “nothing doesn’t really mean ‘nothing'” when it comes to the “nothing” of the universe.


Now, I’m a stickler for actual definitions of words.  I hate swear words (well…a love/hate relationship with them) because they’re often used out of context.  A “bitch” isn’t a horrible woman.  It’s a female dog.  An “ass” isn’t an unintelligent person or someone’s buttocks.  It’s a donkey.  How these words come to new and often ridiculous meaning is beyond me.  So I’m going to break down the word “nothing” to see if there’s a way that can fit in the concept that “nothing” doesn’t mean the “absence of things” (whatever “things” are).


Firstly, nothing is technically a compound word composed of the words “no” and “thing”.  But first let’s go into the definition of “nothing” as a whole word.


Nothing (pronoun; according to Collins English Dictionary)

1) (indefinite) no thing; not anything, as of an implied specific class of things (IE: I can give you nothing.)

2) No part or no share (IE: I have nothing to do with this crime.)

3) A matter of no importance or significance  (IE: It doesn’t matter, it’s nothing.)

4) Indicating the absence of anything perceptible; nothingness

5) Indicating the absence of meaning, value, worth, etc. (IE: Amounting to nothing)

6) Zero quantity; nought


The last one is to be broken up into different subcategories, but I believe that the point is made regardless.  In this case we’d be working with definitions 1, 4, 5, and 6.  Specifically 4 (which I bolded for importance sake), the absence of anything perceptible.  Of course one can say of the universe that this means that there are things out there that we cannot perceive and these are the things that started the universe.  However that will lead to a few questions.  One, how do you know there are things out there that you cannot perceive?  Two, how do you know that these are the things that started/lead to the beginning of the universe?  And three, would the definition of nothing under these constraints continue to be pushed back further and further once these objects that could not be perceived become perceived?


I suppose then that I should define what “perceptible” means so that is clear as well.


Perceive (verb; as defined by Collins English Dictionary)


1) To become aware of (something) through the sense, especially the sight; recognize or observe

2) To come to comprehend; grasp


So that we’re very clear on what it means to “perceive” something.


What I’m annoyed with so much by this notion of “nothing” doesn’t mean what you think “nothing” means is that it’s a term created purposely to suit what the “scientist” needs the term to mean.  We know the universe had a beginning.  We know this beginning meant that not a thing existed in the universe before the universe existed.  What we don’t know is the means that the universe began.  There’s a point where science needs to acknowledge that it will never be able to explain everything.  Changing the definition of a word to fit what you want it to mean doesn’t make the new definition more valid.  Just because people say “bitch” to mean a woman (generally; it can also be used towards men) who’s rude, mean, insensitive, etc. doesn’t negate the fact that that’s not what a bitch is.  In proper context it’s a valid word used to describe the female gender of a canine.


What did the definition of “nothing” become?  It now describes an infinite void where nothing except the universe contained inside of it can exist.  So now I have to figure out what “void” means.


Void (noun; from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)


1) An empty space

2) A vacuum


This now forces me to define two more things, “empty” and “vacuum”.  Defining empty however will just circle back around to the definition of nothing (as “empty” as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is defined as “holding or containing nothing”.  Vacuum circles back around to both the definitions of “empty” and “void”.  That is aside from the definitions of it being “a state of being sealed off from external or environmental influences; isolation”, but that’s not a definition to work with anyways.  The ones we would be working with would be “absence of matter”, “a space empty of matter” (which is very similar to saying an absence of matter), or “a space relatively empty of matter”.


Honestly, I could go on and on breaking down words until there is a decent enough definition, however I think the point stands.  What definition of “nothing” are we going by?  A linguistically established standard of nothing that everyone is aware of and can look up in any basic dictionary?  Or a “scientifically” created version of “nothing” created because there needed to be a new definition of “nothingness” in order to fit in with the mold that “scientists” needed “nothing” to fit into?