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A Speculative Metaphysical Postulate: Existence is like a complex mathematical equation equaling 0. The COSMOS exist in appearance; the sum of everything annihilates all existence, leaving only infinite space. 
But my opinions are often wrong.

-Shawn. C

In his book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, Stephen Hawking explains that the laws of physics demand the existence of something called ‘negative energy’ if we take conservation of energy, momentum, charges, etc seriously.

Here is a paraphrase from his book:

A simple analogy can help make sense of this strange but essential concept. Think of a man who wants to build a mountain on a flat plain. To do this, he digs a hole in the ground and uses the soil to make the mountain. At the same time, he is also creating a hole, which is essentially the negative version of the mountain. The soil in the hole is now the mountain, so it all works out. This is the same as during the Big Bang and the production of massive amounts of positive energy, simultaneously creating the same amount of negative energy. This follows the law of nature: the positive and negative must always add up to zero. So, where is the negative energy today? It is in the third ingredient of the cosmic recipe: space. According to the laws of gravity and motion, space is a vast store of negative energy, enough to ensure everything adds up to zero.1

Moreover, the annihilation of matter occurs in our world. For instance, electron-positron annihilation can occur at low energy when an electron (e) and a positron (e+, the electron’s antiparticle) collide, yielding energetic photons: e+  e+ → γ + γ. It may be possible that γ + γ → 0. However, in our current understanding of physics, photons do not have antiparticles (γ) in the same sense as electrons and positrons.

What should we make of the above statements?

I’m doing a speculative, a priori metaphysical exercise for fun. I do not claim any physical evidence for my metaphysical postulate, so it does not warrant belief. It is an imaginary exercise, a fun activity.

Given the above disclaimer, what could be the underlying explanation of our reality?

I have two potential views.

Metaphysical Postulate 1
Pockets of appearance in an infinite space.

The first version of the metaphysical postulate is the idea that what we perceive as reality (our universe and its contents) is just one of many ‘pockets’ or isolated areas within an infinitely larger space. This means some areas are completely empty while others areas manifest existence.

Metaphysical Postulate 2
The world is literally divided, like a coin, with two sides.

The second version of the metaphysical postulate symbolizes a dualistic nature of reality, where two fundamentally different aspects exist in tandem. It is not that each substance has an opposite side, but the entire universe has an opposite side. One cannot meet the other without annihilation. In a science fiction example, it is like the upside-down world in Stranger Things, but in this case, no one can visit the other side without annihilation.

The first view sounds more plausible than the second view, so I will suppose that the first view is correct. But you may ask, what caused the world’s appearance as we see and feel it?

My answer is nothing. In fact, there is no initial cause or effect. The imbalance is merely an appearance. The universe without appearance is one possible appearance among infinite possible appearances or configurations. Suppose there is an endless configuration, and we conceive no physical appearance as one configuration. In that case, it is more probable that there is a physical appearance rather than none, supposing that a talk of probability makes sense. Therefore, this may answer the question: Why is there something rather than nothing. The existence of the appearance of something is astronomically more probable than no appearance across the infinity of the universe. When we presuppose that space is infinite, we may be committed to the view that everything that can manifest exists somewhere and at some time (David Lewis’s work on all possible worlds would be relevant here: On the Plurality of Worlds, 1986).

We may even say that, ontologically speaking, there is no difference between existence and non-existence. They are different manifestations of a single underlying reality. However, we can only ‘be’ in the mode of existence. In other words, existence and non-existence are different, but one is not superior, priori, or more real than the other. Even the word ‘ontology’ only makes sense in a world where people like us, rational beings, are manifested.

There may be two broad reactionary implications. The first is in the direction of nihilism. The second is in the direction of a sense of marvel. I hope you choose the latter since nihilism sounds destructive, and I think there are good reasons to belive in the latter beyond pragmatic grounds.

But don’t get me wrong. Our experiences are real. At least, that I believe, but I will not argue about it here. Still, I think space and time restrict how existence (or appearance) can manifest in subjective (how we perceive) and objective (external reality). This reflects Kant’s idea that the very framework of space and time limits our perception and understanding of existence, which may also extend to things-in-themselves. However, the scenario in this post merely speculates about the foundation of our world or how it has come to be. Also, this does not necessarily preclude God but allows for existence without God. If God is magical, it may exist without us understanding how.

Conclusion:

Are there any reasons to believe in this metaphysical postulate? Various traditions harmonize with this view. For instance, Buddhism comes to mind. But no, not yet. There isn’t, because we have no sufficient physical evidence to believe in such a world, that it doesn’t warrant belief in this fun metaphysical imagination. It is merely a metaphysical possibility at best. But even if the hypothetical universe is correct, I maintain that our experiences are real and meanings are attributable (Existentialist ideas may help here) We may still immerse ourselves in the sense of marvel even if the foundation of our existence is nothingness.

  1. Hawking, Stephen (2018). Brief Answers to the Big Questions. New York: Bantam Books. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-9848-1919-2. ↩︎