Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world's leading thinkers

Why The World Exists:

The origins of existence

Welcome to iai tv. You are limited to 20 minutes of video a month without signing up. X
Membership is completely free, and gives you unlimited access to our videos, articles, courses and much more
Already a member?
You have used half of your monthly limit of videos. Sign up to continue watching. X
Membership is completely free, and gives you unlimited access to our videos, articles, courses and much more
Already a member?
You’ve reached your monthly video limit.

Want to see more?

Sign up to continue watching. Membership is completely free, and gives you unlimited access to our videos, articles, courses and much more.
Already a member? .
IAI TV videos are for personal use only. For commercial or educational licensing please contact TVF International
  • The Debate

    Why The World Exists

    From the size of an electron's charge to the cosmological constant, the universe appears to be mysteriously fine-tuned to support life. Can dark matter or infinite parallel universes explain why the world exists, or are such questions fundamentally insoluble?

    The Panel

    Templeton Prize-winning cosmologist George Ellis, theoretical physicist Laura Mersini-Houghton and Oxford philosopher David Wallace dispute the origins of existence.

  • Find out more about speakers

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Laura Mersini-Houghton
    The Pitch
    Our world exists as one of many
  • David Wallace
    The Pitch
    This question is unanswerable
  • George Ellis
    The Pitch
    Science will never explain why the world exists
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    A scientific explanation
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    Why do laws exist?
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    The future of cosmology
Want to learn more about our speakers?
Join the conversation

to post comments or join now (only takes a moment). Don't have an account? Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Google to get started:

Tue Pho on 16/12/2015 12:37am

Tôi cùng quan điểm với Lap Le. Câu hỏi hợp lý hơn là nó tồn tại như thế nào? Đối với triết học nó là Vật tự tại. Với tôn giáo là Thượng đế..Nói chung đó là sự hoàn thiện. Việc ý thức đặt câu hỏi chứa đựng một sự hiếu kỳ và suy giảm nào đó. Trong khi vận hành cùng nó, tức vũ trụ, chẳng hạn bằng vận tốc ánh sáng, tôi chẳng còn thời gian để đặt câu hỏi. Để đặt câu hỏi, cần có một tách ra và lùi lại. Nghĩa là tạo thành một thời gian, và cả là không gian ảo có tính nhị nguyên. Bản chất vấn đề ở chỗ, ý thức nhân loại chưa vươn đến thần thức, một hiện diện và chuyển động trực tiếp cùng toàn thể. Nói như vậy không phải việc phủ nhận các tìm kiếm và truyền thông của ý thức mà ngược lại...

rayjwilson on 16/07/2015 5:56pm

Silly question Why? it presumes purpose science tells us How, George Ellis appears to believe the universe is fine tuned for life, can't imagine why he would think that (unless its a religious thing!)

deeboyy on 03/07/2015 11:29am

George Ellis has the most insufferable manor.

Daniel Bollag on 02/10/2014 10:16pm

I agree with the math and the general question of where a black hole comes on if the collapsing*no longer has the mass to cause it. However the below paper suggests a different answer to that very puzzling question it suggests that the black hole is puncture in space time and therefore the gravity is coming from outside our universe please see below paper:


Singularity is a Puncture in Space-time.

Gravity is geometrical in nature and implies elasticity/plasticity, which infers a break- ing point to our universal fabric. The assertion of the author is that when a mass reaches its Schwarz-child radius, it has reached the breaking point of our universe and as a consequence, may puncture it. This may in turn expose our universe to the "Absolute Gravity" (g=c in all directions) of infinite space outside our universe (this does not take into account any other universe that may exist). Out of this process, a black hole forms from the point of singularity/puncture until the original point of the Schwarz- child radius. We will discuss some of the possible consequences of this theory as well as its possible effects on universal expansion and its multiverse implications.

Full paper can be found below:

thelonious-monkey on 11/08/2014 3:08pm

What has this chair got against David Wallace??? Jeez, let the guy finish a point once in a while.

Sue RM on 17/02/2014 4:25pm

I agree with David and Laura that comsology can continue to progress, although it seemed short-sighted for her to suggest we were nearing the pinacle of understanding. Science has continually proven to find answers to questions that weren't even asked a generation before. I see no reason why this should stop now.

Eddie Graf on 17/02/2014 4:25pm

The progress of Cosmology in the last few decades is staggering. The planck satellite data has ruled out a number of theories of the multiverse, and kept others. Laura seemed confident in the the existence of other universes and was ready and willing to refute any counter claims from George when it came to the data. She definitely had him on the back foot.

Hoong Wah Looi on 10/02/2014 8:50am

Whether an object exist or not depends as much on the existence of the observer as the object.

If there is absolutely no way or means for the observer to detect the object or interact with the object i.e. the object and observer are absolutely mutually transparent, the object does not exist as far as the observer is concerned!

That's why I maintain that the world exist because I exist!

T MM on 08/02/2014 11:46pm

Both a set, and it's complement null set I.e.{ }, can be considered. So it would seem that the law of excluded middle does not ecessarily have to apply. Also even a number system I.e.set {{ }} etc. can be constructed from the null set.

doctorshankar shankar on 08/02/2014 4:29pm

I wanted to read the transcript.

Lap Le on 14/01/2014 6:22am

Why the world exist? Why the universe exist for that matter?--I think it is a meaningless question. "Why" implies an intention or purpose to which the world exist, and thus our existence to observe the things which exist around us. I don't think it is a fair question to question to be asking. A better question, I think is "How the world exist?" rather than "why". It is meaningless, just as if we were to ask, "What is the color of jealousy or envy?" It makes perfect grammatical sense, but meaningless. Therefore, to have a debate about this is does not get us anywhere, unless we make an unfair assumption that the universe or this world needs a creator. Thus, to answer, "Why the world exist?" requires us to know the intention or the mind of "God" or some external entity which created this world. But if the is the premise, it would be hard to make a follow-up argument against the opposition. It takes us back to square one again, to disprove the premise. Either way, it is an unfair question and a meaningless one.

hw looi on 13/01/2014 6:26pm

♥ ;)

As Far AS I Am Concerned, The World Exist Because I Exist ! ♥ ;)

Mahdi Kouretchian on 13/01/2014 5:45pm

Human race is doomed to remain in uncertainty and confusion. Every time we claim that our knowledge can describe our surrounding, new observations put our theorems, considered as undeniable facts, into query. Surprisingly, the Universe always behaves in the same way we perceive it. Hence, every time we learn to change our point of view, new possibilities and horizons open upon us. The concept of God, as the creator of all beings, had been formed before the awkward concepts of quantum mechanics were created. At that time, people believed that truth is some thing achievable. However, there is so much certainty about this belief. Quantum mechanics revealed a world filled with chaos. But, to our surprise, above all these chaotic interactions one can see order and harmony. Does it relate to a mighty being like God? Or, we should change our thoughts in order to reach a deeper understanding about our mysterious Universe. As far as I am concern, it is the matter of taste and the experiences each human kind, as a unique being, has been through to choose one of above reasons explaining the existence and origin of the Universe.

Tanya Hazelden on 13/01/2014 3:06pm

If you study early mythology they use stories of gods and goddesses to try to explain and understand the basics of nature. Humans have always been questioning and trying to understand their environment. We watch and learn from each other, that is why we love tv and films, they help us better understand the drama of emotions. Sciences such as biology and psychology help us better understand ourselves. We know all life is created through the act of sex, our parents created us, and if we have sex with another of the same species opposite sex we too can create new life. No life just magically appears, it is a process, parents have sex and that starts a chain reaction that builds another body. This pattern is seen with nearly all life forms, even plants whom don't openly have sex, but use the wind and insects to carry their sperm like matter to create new life.

From years of studying biology we know how our lives started, how we are made. But we have yet to discover how the first forms of life got started or why on this planet is there so much life. Ppl talk of finding aliens on other planets, yet seem to forget that life has been on this planet for billions of years and there are millions of species. There are humans that live in remote places that still live tribal, yet ppl think they will find more intelligent life on another planet? Logically we know to travel around space would require very high intelligence due to the vast distances between solar systems thus they would have to understand the laws of the universe and work around them, something no species on this planet is even close to achieving, well apart from in their imaginations, playing on the dream dimensions where u simply just fold the universe like paper and create worm holes, or create machines that can play with time..

Science prefers evidence, theories are fun, but it's only a fact if it's backed up with evidence. Same as our view on the legal system, what is the case and what does the evidence say.

We know how light works, we can look at the near universe with amazing technology and calculate that we are seeing it's history. So in theory if we sent a telescope a few billion light years away from earth we could watch it's history unfold. This is of course so much easier said than done ;-) but it is a way we could answer the questions of how life came to be on Planet Earth, if the telescopes were powerful enough we could watch history as it forms, just by positioning the telescope at certain light distances from the Planet.

Some ppl are more spiritual and don't like the idea that they are here only because their parents had some sexy fun. They want more inspiring answers, that humanity is more than just another species trying to survive life on Earth. But if you look at most religions, they reflect our understanding of the parents whom created our bodies, in a moment of blissful orgasmic our biology rewards us. Nature rewards and punishes us according to when is healthy and non-healthy for our growth and progress. We know our parents didn't code our DNA and we know it wasn't the Dinos, so it raises greater questions. Though parents keep the chain of life going, what created the DNA. Then we draw what we know from life, is it like a parent creator, is it a subconscious ability to adapt to environments? I don't believe these questions can't be answered, but it still requires years of research. If we can look to the stars and know they are hugh suns, look at the hugh variety of galaxies and nebulae we know the universe isn't all neat and ordered, it does abide laws of nature, but I believe the answer is really complicated. They say thinking is exercise for the brain and some theories are amazing, most inspire great works for films, so never give up seeking and trying to discover...

Asm Hossain on 13/01/2014 2:38pm

I believe God created us,also the universe,that's why we does exist!Materialistic thinking could not able to reached a man up to the God!

Steve Antal on 13/01/2014 1:05pm

As a physicist I've often pondered this question. Niels Bohr, Al Einstein, Richard Feynman... all realized that the conscious component can not be ignored. I to feel this way. I wrote a book which starts "It is the Quest for all things to exist, the quest for living things to experience existence, ant the quest for intelligent beings to comprehend why they exist. I believe this world is a thought, this universe is God, and we,,, star dust are the universe experiencing itself.

Max Turiel on 13/01/2014 1:03pm


Max Turiel on 13/01/2014 1:03pm's_incompleteness_theorems

Sally on 20/12/2013 3:34pm

Science may be continually disproved, but it does progress. Look at the leaps and bounds we have made in medicine! Science moves onwards and upwards and there are no barriers in which could ever stop us in finding out everything there is to know - I'm not saying this is in our immediate future - but it is in the future of mankind. One day, we will be able to say with certainy why the world exists with one unified theory.

Anna Mors on 19/12/2013 4:21pm

If you look at the history of science, scientists are continously disproving one and another in the search for the 'truth'. But we will never be able to ascertain 'the truth'. Ever. Theories are based on induction and inevitably are based on other people's theories (take Newton's laws, for example) which, whilst appear to be the 'true' (Newton's theories got us to the moon afterall) we must except that one day they will be disproved. Therefore, we will never be able to answer the question with absolute certainty as to why the world exists. This question is unanswerable.

Copy and paste the code below to embed or link to this video.

Embed options
  • Video Seek
    Converted to a link which jumps to that point in the video
    Example: 00:34
  • Bold Text
    Example: [b]Bold[/b]
  • Italic Text
    Example: [i]Italics[/i]
  • Underlined Text
    Example: [u]Underlined[/u]
  • Website link
    Link to another website or URL
    Example: [url][/url]

Rate this talk with three clicks. You can choose 3 words, or vote for the same word 3 times.

Why sign up for the iai?
  • Discover new ideas
    Free and unlimited access to hundreds of hours of debates, talks and articles from the world's leading minds, as well as courses that rival top academic institutions.
  • Have your say
    Join the iai community and engage in conversation and debate around the issues that matter.
  • Hear it first
    Be the first to hear about our video releases, articles and tickets to our upcoming events.
Sign me up