This ancient question has resurfaced in modern science and atheism. The discovery of the Big Bang as a beginning for the universe in the 20th century was a complete surprise, igniting a debate about what caused everything, space and time, to spring into being. The hint that a cause beyond science is implied has been picked up by prominent atheists who have tried to supply scientific accounts of “nothing” from which the universe – or a multiverse – could emerge.
They don’t achieve their goal and, though they reject it, philosophy can show why. And the question remains a fascinating one. We explore how the ancient discussion of the relationship between something and nothing can profoundly inform the contemporary debate.