Maybe some of you can relate to this. There has been several times in my marriage that my wife has sensed a disturbance in the force. In other words, I’ve done a bad job hiding my displeasure with something. She asks me, “What’s wrong?” Sometimes I answer her with exactly what the problem is. Sometimes though, I answer with the famous word, “Nothing”.
Now at that point our conversation usually deteriorates into something less than pleasurable. Usually my wife becomes aggravated at the fact that I’m holding out and I become aggravated that she’s harassing me to answer her with a more accurate description of the cause of my unsatisfactory condition.
But let me ask you, how does she know that I’m being less than forthright with my answer? What tips her off that my scowl is an effect that has a cause? What makes her believe that there is something rather than nothing that has ruined my usual happy-go-lucky attitude?
The first possibility is experience. Maybe after twenty years of marriage she has seen me in this condition enough times and each time a cause (something) has been revealed, that now she assumes the obvious. There has always been a cause to his condition, she might say to herself. So this time should be no different. Experience has taught her to disregard my answer of “nothing” and assume that in fact it is something.
The problem with that is the fact that she was questioning my answer twenty years ago. Probably the first time that she ever asked me “what’s wrong” and I answered “nothing”, she doubted the truth of that answer. That in itself should rule out experience as the reason she might have to doubt me. Although it may be a factor, it is probably not the cause of her suspicion.
Another possibility is that an outside source has informed her that there is in fact a source of my displeasure. It could be the case that I am upset about a specific thing and she has come upon the evidence of that thing. This evidence has lead her to immediately doubt my answer of “nothing” because she has observed evidence of something.
The problem here is that many times my wife actually has no idea why I am displeased or upset. There has been no evidence and because of that it would have been impossible for her to observe any. She doubts my answer, but not because of evidence but there must be a reason for her doubt.
There could be another possibility. Maybe my wife doesn’t believe in the existence of nothing. Maybe she believes that there is no condition that satisfies the definition of nothing. “The absence of anything”, she might say, “Is a logical impossibility”.
The problem with this is the fact that my wife believes strongly in the concept of nothing. Nothing is what I do when I’m off work, she claims. It is what I’m thinking about when I pick up the wrong thing at the grocery store. Oh, she believes in nothing.
What in the world does all of this have to do with apologetics? Well, maybe nothing but lets see.
When skeptics question the origin of the universe, they often decide that it could not have been the effect of an ultimate cause. Many of them can’t tolerate the idea that the universe came from something. Their answer for what caused the universe to come into existence, like my answer to my wife, is simply nothing.
Imagine that. Many people who claim to be intellectual use the same excuse as I do. The problem is that I am making an excuse about the groceries. They are making an excuse about one of the things that matter most.
Use your imagination to understand the reason that many skeptics give their answer.
What caused the universe to exist? They say, “nothing.”
Nothing is a poor excuse for anything…