The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Was there space before the universe came into existence.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 733 times Debate No: 98274
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




I would argue no space is an impossibility.

Trying to imagine no space is impossible. Because space always surrounds a point of nothingness.


== My Case ==

As this is a three-round debate, I'll begin arguing from the first round.

Let's begin by defining "space." According to the Britannica Encylopaedia, "Space [is] a boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction." [1] In other words, space is essentially the region between objects, i.e. the distance between two objects in any given direction. Next, let's define "universe." The universe is defined as all of time and space, and its contents. [2] Moving onto my arguments.

1. The "universe," by definition, includes space. That means, assuming the universe came into existence, there was no space "before" it because space is a *part* of the universe. That's simply true by definition.

2. "Space" is the three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur (an "event" is basically interaction between objects), and have relative position and direction. As such, space assumes the existence of objects. Without any objects, there's no distance "between" objects, so there's no such thing as "space." The concept essentially becomes meaningless without objects. Since objects are, by definition, part of the universe, there are no objects sans the universe. Thus, "space" is meaningless without the universe.

3. The resolution says that space was there before the universe "came into existence." The phrasing of the resolution assumes an origin of the universe. But for something to "come into existence," or have an origin, it requires time. By definition, time is a *part* of the universe -- it is a dimension. Thus, there couldn't be anything "before" the universe because the notion of something "before the universe" is inherently incoherent. Stephen Hawking explains that "space and . . . time together, are indeed finite in extent, but without boundary. They would be like the surface of the Earth, but with two more dimensions. The surface of the Earth is finite in extent, but it doesn't have any boundaries or edges. I have been round the world, and I didn't fall off. . . . Thus, the universe would be a completely self-contained system. It would not be determined by anything outside the physical universe, that we observe." [3] What that essentially means is that the notion of a "beginning" of a universe is incoherent. The universe didn't "come into existence" because there are no initial boundaries in the universe. As an extension of this, philosophers and scientists are increasingly beginning to accept a theory of time called eternalism, in which time is merely an extension of space, which implies that there are no "preceding" or "succeeding" events: every set of events, i.e. every point in time, is a reality. This further vindicates Hawking's theory. [4]

== Rebuttal ==

Now let's look to their argument. Pro essentially argues that it's not possible to imagine the lack of space, therefore there was no lack of space. I've got three responses to that.

First, the ability to imagine is not a precondition for possibility. Just because we can't "imagine" something doesn't mean it can't possibly exist. The human brain does not have infinite imagination capacity, or the ability to imagine every single possible thing.

Second, it relies on a flawed conception of "space" itself. "Space" is not "something that surrounds a point of nothingness." It's the distance between objects in multiple directions. If there are no objects, that "emptiness" isn't space. That's vacuum. "Space" is a dimension, not a region of emptiness. So, in fact, we *can* imagine -- or at least comprehend -- a lack of space. Because there's no space without the existence of objects.

Third, it's not mutually exclusive to negating the resolution. In other words, the resolution doesn't require me to defend that, at some point, there wasn't space. It just requires me to defend that "there wasn't space before the universe came into existence." If the universe *never* came into existence, then there's no point in time when there wasn't space, so the world under my third argument still exists. Thus, it doesn't fulfill Pro's BOP.

To conclude, I've demonstrated that (1) without the universe, the concept of "space" is incoherent, (2) space requires the existence of objects, and sans the universe, there aren't any objects, and (3) the universe never really "came into existence," so Pro's position is incoherent. I've also shown that Pro's single, under-developed argument fails because it's inconsistent with basic physics and philosophy. For those reasons, vote Con.

[4] Theo Kuipers, "General Philosophy of Science: Focal Issues," p. 326
Debate Round No. 1


Theory is not proof of anything.

Space is an intangible reality that we are all aware of.

Time is an intangible reality that we are all aware of.

Your definition: Space is a boundless three dimensional extent in which objects and events occur.

Essentially, not just the region between objects and events, but also the region in which objects and events occur.

From The Free Dictionary:

Definition 2: The infinite extension of the three dimensional region in which all matter exists.

Definition 3: The expanse in which the solar system, stars and galaxies exist.

Definition 4: An extent or expanse of a surface or three dimensional area.

Definition 5: A blank or empty area.

None of these definitions rely on the existence of objects or events to define space. Space is clearly defined as something in which objects and events are able to occur.

Your definition: The universe is all of time, space and its contents.

This definition is clear. Space and it's contents. Not contents and the regions between.

Therefore, based on your definition of the universe. My question would be: If all the "contents" of the universe were removed would space still remain.
As all five definitions of space, do not necessarily rely upon the existence of events or objects. I would propose that the answer to my question would be yes, space would still remain.

Theories abound regarding the contents of the universe (matter).
As theory is not proof of anything. Ultimately we are left with only two choices. Something from nothing or, always something.
But! Regard these two statements for long enough and you realise they both rely upon the same upon principle. That is, something from nothing. The supernatural ability to come into or be in existence, without explanation.

As you rely heavily on scientific theory to enforce your argument. My use of words such as imagination and supernatural, may at first appear superficial. But let's, once again pay regard to definition here.

From The Oxford Dictionaries:

The faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images, or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

The ability of the mind to be creative and resourceful.

An idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action.

(Of a manifestation or event) Attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.

As science is only able to theorise upon the reasons for the existence of matter and the universe. And as imagination and theory are essential the same. I therefore, consider it reasonable to use imagination as a means of verifying a supernatural event. That is to say, the question of existence of the universe. The answer to which, still lies beyond scientific understanding and the laws of nature.

In conclusion:
I am satisfied that my arguments validate my question.

As imagination is the only means we have available to us, to allow us to try and gain understanding of supernatural events. I consider my initial proposition to also be valid. That is, it is impossible to imagine " no space".



Vote Con because Pro fundamentally misunderstands basic concepts in physics such as the meaning of "space," and the distinction between a "vacuum" and "space," and because they've failed to respond to any of my arguments adequately.

(1) Extend my definitions of "space" and "universe."

Pro brings up a bunch of definitions of "space" from the Free Dictionary. They say "none of the definitions" relies on the existence of objects to define space. A few problems with that. One, definitions #2 and #3 both define space as a region with objects - definition #2 says it's the region where "all matter exists," and definition #3 says it's where "the Solar System, stars, and galaxies exist." All of these are objects -- without their existence, under these definitions, space can't exist. Two, the debate is about physics -- use the definition of "space" used by physicists. Take a look at any textbook of special relativity -- space has always been defined as the distance between A and B in multiple possible directions. [1] Without objects, space is incoherent. Vote Con right there: without the universe's contents, space becomes incoherent. Pro also *drops* my response that what Pro is talking about when they say "we can't imagine nothingness" isn't space -- it's vacuum. Space is a dimension. Vacuum is not. Vote them down because of that as well -- they've fundamentally misunderstood the concept of "space," so the resolution itself is incoherent.

Next, let's look to the clash on what the "universe" is. By *definition,* the universe encompasses all space. Even Pro's own definition of "universe" has "space" in it. If there was anything before the universe, then space wasn't part of it. Pro completely *drops* this point of clash as well. Extend the definition of "universe" which is more than sufficient to independently negate the resolution.

(2) Extend that "imagination" is insufficient to justify science.

Pro's only response to this is that a scientific theory is essentially the same as imagination. That's nonsense. A scientific theory could be *demonstrated* fact as well. Indeed, a scientific theory is a "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." [2] Inability to "imagine" is insufficient reason to reject something because things can have *proof* that we can't imagine. Furthermore, Pro drops that we can "comprehend" stuff that we can't "imagine." Pro then says that the origin of the universe is "supernatural." Reject this claim since there's no justification.

Science requires substantiation. That's it. You can substantiate stuff that you can't imagine. Therefore, inability to imagine is insufficient reason to reject the truth of something. Vote Con right there, because Pro's justifications are weak.

(3) Extend that the universe never "came into existence."

Pro drops my argument that the universe never even "came into existence" because something "before" the existence of time itself is incoherent. Time is a presupposition of something being "preceding" or "succeeding." Pro loses at the point at which they drop this, because Pro's position is completely meaningless if this argument holds. Since I've presented *evidence* for this notion to be true, vote Con because Pro has literally no means of affirming by assuming so much in the resolution.

For all the above reasons, Vote Con.

[5] Sklar, "The Philosophy of Physics," p. 43
Debate Round No. 2


Vote Pro.

Con's argument is completely destroyed in their opening statement. With a complete disregard and fundamental misunderstanding of definition.

From the Oxford Dictionaries.

An abstract idea.

Existing in thought or as an idea but not having physical or concrete existence.

A space entirely devoid of matter.

What is concept? If not imagination. What is abstract? If not imagination. What is a vacuum? If not an empty space.

With regard to the definitions of space I cited previously. Con pays no regard to literal presentation here.
A region "with".
A region "where".
A region "in which".
Quite clearly, there is no necessity for the existence of objects or events, for us to be able to define space.

With regard to the universe: What con states, is a truism. If you have independent, separate objects "within" a space, then obviously there will be space in between. This is a reality that we are all aware of. A reality that does not need a scientific explanation.

Con. Then goes on to state that "science requires substantiation". There is a fundamental misunderstanding of science and it's definition here. (in short) Science is simply, the study of the natural world.

Theory requires substantiation. In order to verify scientific study and provide us with factual truths.
At this present moment in time, there are no factual truths available, to enable us to understand the existence of the universe.

Therefore, the existence of the universe remains a supernatural phenomenon. (Please regard the previously cited, literal definition of supernatural).

As all definitions of space (and vacuum). Provided by both Pro and Con. Emphatically state that objects occur "within" space. It is reasonable to postulate that. If all matter was removed from the universe, then "the space" would still remain.

The existence of the universe, still remains a supernatural phenomenon. I therefore reiterate my previous standpoint.
Imagination is a valid tool for understanding events, which still lie beyond scientific understanding and the laws of nature.

I would therefore ask those who might vote upon this debate. To take a moment or two, to try and imagine a state of complete "nothingness". I would propose, that it is impossible to imagine a point of "nothingness". As you will always, eventually imagine an empty "space".



Who had more convincing arguments?

The answer: Con. Pro had the entire burden of proof in this debate, and failed to fulfill it. Vote Con on arguments for the following reasons:

(1) Pro says the universe's existence is "supernatural" because knowledge is impossible within the universe -- and therefore imagination is a legitimate way to gain truth. First, Pro doesn't prove that you can't gain truth through any empirical means within the universe, or that the universe is beyond "nature." Second, if truth is impossible, there's *no* means -- including imagination -- to gain that truth. If truth is impossible, imagination remains illegitimate. Pro doesn't advance the link between imagination and the impossibility of truth. Thus, vote Con because Pro's sole argument that fulfills their burden of proof -- that we can't "imagine" a world without space -- fails, because even if the scientific method is false, imagination remains illegitimate. It's their BoP to demonstrate otherwise.

(2) Regarding space, Pro *drops* that scientific definitions are more important to this debate than dictionary definitions. For this reason alone, you can ignore all their definitions of space and vote Con because the scientific definition of space is dependent upon objects. Pro also constantly confuses "space" and "vacuum." Vacuum is a region of nothingness. Space isn't that -- space is a dimension. Space is an actual "thing." For their fundamental misinterpretation of the idea of "space," vote Con.

(3) Extend my point about the definition of "universe," which Pro, once more, drops entirely. Pro keeps saying if you remove the matter from the universe, space remains. Even if I were to agree with that, they lose anyway because the debate isn't about a world where *matter* doesn't exist, it's about a world where *the universe* doesn't exist. The universe is defined as including space. Without the universe, space doesn't exist because space is a part of the universe. Vote Con just because of that.

(4) Finally, extend my entirely dropped point about how the universe never came into existence. A key assumption in the resolution as it is worded is that the universe "came into existence." I proved that this assumption is false, by citing Hawking and other experts. Pro doesn't contest this *at all.* This means their entire position in this debate is meaningless, so Vote Con right there.

Each of these four reasons is independent, and you can vote Con simply if any *one* of these reasons is true.

Who had the more reliable sources?

The answer: again, it's Con. Two reasons Pro's sources are flawed. One, Pro's only sources are dictionaries. They use those in definitions alone. I proved that we can't rely on dictionaries for scientific definitions because scientific concepts are distinct from literary terms, and that since scientific definitions actually exist, we should use those when debating such issues. Pro drops this point entirely, thus conceding by omission that their sources are -- for the most part, at least when dealing with scientific terms such as "universe," "space," and "nothingness" -- unreliable when talking about this resolution. Two, Pro often fails to justify with sources multiple claims, such as the idea that imagination is as reliable as the scientific method in justifying empirical claims.

By contrast, I've used (1) books written by noted scientists and philosophers, such as Skylar and Kuipers, (2) articles written by physicists such as Stephen Hawking, (3) scientific definitions from the UNH Experimental Space Plasma Groups, and other reliable sources and (4) more reliable Internet sites such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica. I didn't make many/any bare assertions, instead justifying all key assertions (e.g. the idea that a "beginning" requires time; the idea that the universe never came into existence; all my definitions) with proper and more than adequate sourcing from such reliable sources. While Pro's sources are either (a) grossly insufficient, or (b) nonexistent, I made multiple well-justified arguments from extensive citations of various scholars, etc. Thus, vote Con on sources.

Vote Con on both arguments and sources, for all the above reasons.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
>Reported vote: ChadIrvin// Mod action: Removed<

1 points to Con (S&G). Reasons for voting decision: I basically gave the slight edge to con since both sides presented reasonable arguments, but I saw that con had slightly better grammar and spelling. I also believe that before time as we know it, God existed in a time we don't understand and He created all things. I have to go with the Bible, being a Christian, and in the Bible it states that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.... and the earth was void and and empty...." This means that nothing existed but God. The idea that there was "space" before God created all things is something I don't believe existed.

[*Reason for removal*] S&G is insufficiently explained. The voter is required to only award this point in instances where one side"s arguments are difficult to understand as a result of how they are written. Slight differences may not be used as a means to determine who gets this point.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
ChadIrvin's vote should be removed.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
Thanks for the vote, TUF.
Posted by LordDeclan 1 year ago
I did not mean don't use words. I meant don't base your argument on the technicalities of definition but rather on actual concepts.
Posted by Sonofcharl 1 year ago
How else is it possible to debate? Other than with words. (Sign language maybe, if one is deaf).
Posted by Sonofcharl 1 year ago
There is no evidence. Only theory.
Theory is not proof of anything.
Posted by LordDeclan 1 year ago
Pro's idea of arguing with words I.e "subjective expressions of human knowledge" instead of theory I.e "looking at evidence and creating an idea to explain something" is utterly ludicrous.
Posted by TheBenC 1 year ago
What do you think "space" is?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TUF 1 year ago
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