I have at various times found myself at odds with certain philosophers who think they have a monopoly on rational or logical thinking. This particularly seems to be the case with philosophers of religion, whether they are religious or atheist. Quentin Smith said that specialists in PoR always make better arguments than non-specialists. This is based on nothing more than their training, but it ignores what it takes to make a sound argument: the logic must be valid, and the premises must be reasonably supported. And this, in my experience, is where theistic philosophers usually fall flat. It doesn't matter whether you have a good grasp of the nuances of theistic arguments - if they are based on unsupported assumptions, they are not good arguments. Philosophers tend to get lost in all those nuances - the twists and turns of logic that comprise theistic justification for their belief - and they forget the more basic aspects of sound argumentation. They don't bother to ask whether the assumptions that are the basis of those arguments are really true.
I was called ignorant by Jeffery J Lowder when I suggested the possibility that the universe might have emerged from nothing at all, in keeping with the theories posited by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss. Lowder's objection is that it isn't really nothing that the universe comes from - it's a quantum vacuum, which is something. I am supposedly ignorant of the philosophical concept of nothingness. But it isn't just me. My ignorance is shared by Hawking and Krauss and others, who have made a case for the universe arising from nothing. Victor Reppert made a post titled Earth to Lawrence Krauss, where he arrogantly calls out the supposed ignorance of the famous physicist with a quote from Manuel Alfonseca:
Second: out of nothing one can create nothing. Nothing does not exist, as we know since the time of Parmenides. As usual, nothing is confused with the vacuum. A vacuum is not nothing, because it has several qualities (space, time, energy, existence) that nothing does not have.To which I might reply: "Earth to Victor: Your concept of nothingness is nothing more than a philosophical fantasy, just like your concept of God. It has no basis in reality."
This raises the question of what exactly is meant by the word 'nothing'. Alfonesca seems to be confused about it. If we are talking about possible worlds, we cannot deny that at least in our world, nothingness does not exist, because the world contains something - it is not an empty world. And I think that's what Parmenides was talking about. So we can all agree that at least in our world (which, for purposes of this discussion, includes whatever might have given rise to our universe), nothing does not exist, in the sense that was meant by Parmenides. But that doesn't settle the question. What was it that gave rise to our universe?
If we narrow the scope of our question to the set of all things contained in our world, we can ask, is there something in that set from which the universe emerges? That answer might be that there is some existing thing (like God, for example), or it might be that it is the null (or empty) set that gives rise to the universe. The null set is, of course, a legitimate subset of all sets. But the latter possibility runs afoul of the long-standing philosophical belief "From nothing nothing comes". So according to those who agree with this philosophical presumption, there must be some existing thing that the universe comes from. My challenge to philosophers who hold to this principle is: "Prove it."
The traditional case for it is based on induction - it is what we have observed through the ages. Conservation of mass and energy tells us that things are made from other things. But more recent observation tells us otherwise. Particles do pop into and out of existence. And modern physical theory postulates that the same is true of the universe itself. What is the quantum vacuum? Many people, mainly for philosophical reasons, believe that it is actually something. Even physicists have described it as a "seething sea of particle pairs, energy fluctuations and force perturbations popping in and out of existence". But this is somewhat misleading. Yes, as we understand it, the reality is that this seething sea exists, but it is a sea of things that pop into existence from the vacuum. In other words, if we consider only where those particles and fields come from, not the "seething sea" of things that arises from it, then we are left with nothing. And as Lawrence Krauss puts it, "nothing is unstable". So that seething sea of things must inevitably arise from it.
And all those properties that Alfonesca attributes to this vacuum (space, time, energy, existence) are not real properties of the vacuum. They are properties of the detectable physical things that come into existence from the vacuum, not properties of the vacuum itself. Without all those things popping into existence, there would be nothing to measure - no detectable energy density, no electromagnetic fields, nothing to distinguish it from a true philosophical nothingness, except for the simple fact that things come from it.
If philosophers want to insist on this definition of nothingness as being the source of nothing, they can keep playing in their sandbox, and calling physicists ignorant for saying that the universe comes from nothing. But in the world I live in, the concept of philosophical nothingness is just a fantasy. In the real world, nothing is the vacuum that's left if you remove all matter and energy. Yet despite what the philosophers say, that vacuum still gives rise to stuff. So go ahead and call Hawking ignorant. Call Krauss ignorant. And me, too. What the philosophers haven't done is to prove their assertion that nothing comes from nothing.