The following argument seems to me to be valid and sound.
1. If nothing exists necessarily, then there is a possible world in which nothing exists.
2. We cannot conceive of a possible world in which nothing exists.
3. Therefore, there is no possible world in which nothing exists.
4. Therefore, something exists necessarily.
(1) is not a reification, as though I am saying that something exists necessarily, and we call it “nothing.” Rather, the antecedent means that the category of things that exist necessarily is empty. If that is the case, then there is a possible world with nothing. Not simply a dead universe, but nothing: void of rocks, light, edges, anything.
(2) is very plausibly true as well. For although I can imagine a possible world of nothingness I cannot really conceive of it. Every time I try to think of a universe of nothingness, my mind instantly fills in some detail. A small beam of light, an edge to the nothingness (where something is), etc. Of course, from these two premises it follows analytically there is no possible world containing nothing. Then, by modus tollens, something does in fact exist necessarily.
Suppose one wishes to deny (2). In that case, he thinks it is entirely possible there is a world full of nothingness, and hence the antecedent of (1) is true. But here’s the interesting part: if there are no necessarily existing things, then to say that “X exists necessarily” is necessarily false. That is to say, there just is no possible world in which a necessary being exists if (1) is true! Hence, although one may deny (2) and feel very comfortable, he is also committed to the further proposition:
5. It is impossible for something to exist necessarily.
(5) is a much bolder claim than anything above, and it is a logical entailment of a denial of (2). I find it is much more plausible to think that there is no possible world of empty nothingness than to think there is such a world, and that it is impossible for that world to be occupied by a necessary being.
So what?, one may ask. This gets us a necessary being, but it may not be God. Fair enough. But it’s not very plausible to be the universe either. First, why could the universe not have been any different than it was? Couldn’t some of the quarks have been different? If the universe is necessary, the answer is “no.” It is easy to conceive of a universe that is identical save for one small fact (like a particular tiny rock on a particular asteroid being red instead of brown), but the universe’s necessity means not only would that not have happened, but that it was impossible! Second, a necessarily existing thing seems more plausibly to be the ground of all reality. It makes more sense to posit a maximally-great being than it does to posit a necessarily-existing universe. This argument does not get us all the way to the Christian God, or even necessarily to God. But I think it opens the door to consider that the first premise of the modal ontological argument (“it is possible that a maximally-great being exists”) is possible after all. If it is possible, then by modal logic, the conclusion “therefore, a maximally-great being exists” follows!-------------------------------------------------------------
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