He: Are you doing anything just now?
Me: (thinking) I bet he wants help cleaning the pond .... (speaking) Oh, yes, I am really, really busy ... I’m, um ... um ... well, it’s not like I’m doing nothing!
What does nothing mean? Astronomer Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Baker, 2008). points out that scientists, theologians, and philosophers define nothing differently. It can mean “a complete lack of:
1. Matter;And he asks,
2. Matter and energy;
3. Matter, energy, and the three big cosmic space dimensions (length, width and height);
4. Matter, energy, and all the cosmic space dimensions (including the six tiny space dimensions implied by string theories)
5. Matter, energy, and all the cosmic space and time dimensions;
6. Matter, energy, cosmic space and time dimensions, and created nonphysical entities;
7. Matter, energy, cosmic space and time dimensions, created nonphysical entities, and other dimensions of space and time;
8. Matter, energy, cosmic space and time dimensions, crated nonphysical entities, and other dimensions or realms-spatial, temporal, or otherwise; or
9. Anything and everything real, created or otherwise.
So what kind of nothingness did the universe come from? According to the space-time theorems of general relativity, not from the first five or possibly six kinds on this list. In other words, the universe could not possibly have arisen fro matter, energy, and/or any of the space-time dimensions associated with them, either existing or previously existing. The reason number 6 remains open to debate is that, depending on one’s theological/philosophical perspective, created nonphysical entities may or may not be endowed with the ability to create space-time dimensions.Clearly, it is so much "top think tank" trouble to just be doing nothing, that one may as well be doing something, even cleaning the pond.
The space-time theorems also eliminate option number 9. The universe of matter, energy, space, and time is, in itself, an effect. Every effect is generated by a cause. Absolute nothingness - the complete lack of anything and everything - cannot be a cause or causal agent. That is ruled out by definition and also by observation. If absolute nothingness could spontaneously produce something, scientists would see new somethings arising everywhere. Instead, they see the consistent operation of the first law of thermodynamics, which says the total amount of matter and energy within the universe can neither be increased nor decreased.” (p. 130-131)
(Ross heads up Reasons to Believe, an Christian apologetics ministry aimed at scientists, based in Pasadena, California.)