Why is there something rather than nothing? The question is not only unsatisfactory, but it is inappropriate. Why? Because of ‘why’. Semantics aren’t always important, but in this case, semantics are of great importance. The question is wrong. Let’s examine a ‘why’ question: “why did the boy cross the road?” To get to the other side. Contrast that question with the following question: “how did the boy cross the road?” He first came to a full stop. Then he proceeded to look to his left and to his right. Upon seeing that there were no oncoming vehicles, he crossed the road. See the difference? ‘Why’ is followed by a simple answer; ‘how’ is followed by an explanation. Why is that?
'Why' questions are addressed by some cause; hence 'because'. They define an end and not the means to an end. For instance, 'why do you take out the garbage?' is followed by 'because I don't want my kitchen to stink' or 'because I don't want to invite house flies'. 'How' questions are addressed by x number of causal events; they are addressed with descriptive and detailed explanations. Notice the semantics in the following requests: “teach me why to play guitar” and “teach me how to play guitar”. The former isn't grammatically wrong; it's simply awkward. That request is semantically inappropriate. The latter is semantically appropriate and anyone with a good grasp of the English language knows that. This is precisely why the question is wrong. “Why is there something rather than nothing?” is semantically improper. It also oversimplifies the universe; it makes it seem as if the universe can be answered by one cause. Ironically, the person who asks that question usually addresses it by providing one cause. That leads us to two more reasons why the question is wrong: the fact that the question is wrong leads to a wrong answer; also, the question is asked with a presupposition in mind.
Do not confuse what I’m trying to say; an unsatisfying answer and unsatisfactory answer aren’t the same. I don’t like the answer these people give me when they ask the question, but that matters not. Consider the following example: one could ask an associate at H&M, “why don’t these jeans fit me?” Of course, in general, one will be unsatisfied by the answer; however, his/her answer isn’t unsatisfactory. “It isn’t your size” or “it’s too small for you” is a satisfactory answer because it addresses the question asked. “God created the universe” and not just any god, but usually their god and only their god is an unsatisfactory answer because the answer cannot be substantiated. Moreover, though it satisfies the person asking the question, it doesn’t satisfy the person given the answer—unless the person given the answer shares the sentiment. Unfortunately, answers do not work that way; true answers are universally satisfactory though they aren’t universally satisfying. Also, true answers cannot harbor presuppositions. The person asking the question is only asking in order to give you an answer they’re satisfied with—an answer they deem satisfactory. They could care less if it actually addresses the question and they could care less if it satisfies the person being asked.
I am appalled by the fact that physicists and philosophers continue to bypass the semantic issue with this question. The question should have been discarded mainly due to its impropriety. More importantly, it should have been corrected. Thankfully, I can do that now. “How is there something rather than nothing?” is the question that should concern us. Not only does that question do the universe and its complexity justice, but it is the prelude to descriptive causal events—descriptive processes. One should expect a detailed answer that describes the universe from its primordial state till now, and that answer should become more detailed given more information. The erred version of the question isn’t addressed so elegantly, but more importantly, it isn’t addressed so honestly. “How is there something rather than nothing?” doesn’t harbor predilections. Not only am I prepared to give you a satisfactory answer; I’m also prepared to substantiate my answer. If you’re a believer, you might not be satisfied by the answer. On the other hand, I’m satisfied with the answer. However, I’m not satisfied with it because it doesn’t include their god; I’m satisfied with it because it addresses the question, provides details and is supported by evidence. The answer and the question may not be universally satisfying, but they are universally satisfactory. A believer may claim that his/her god is involved in the details outlined by the answer, but that doesn’t change the answer. That simply requires added explanation—explanation that they cannot provide. Thus, in the end, they are left with the original answer. “Don’t forget that my god is in there somewhere” does nothing to change the answer. We both accept it and thus, we both find it satisfactory; the problem is that one of us is reluctant to feel satisfied with the answer. Thankfully, satisfaction doesn’t matter and when it comes to answers, it is seldom guaranteed. Ultimately, “how is there something rather than nothing” is the correct question. Let us do away with the wrong question.
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