Q & A: If 1 = 0 is absurd, then is not bringing something out of nothing also absurd?

Question: If it is logically absurd to say that Allah can create a “one” out of a “zero” then so too must it be absurd to say that Allah can bring something out of nothingness. Therefore, the cosmos has always existed because it is logically absurd to say that the cosmos was created out of nothingness.” How would we respond to such an argument?

Answer: The number one is not a thing. It is an idea in the mind only, representing the count of “one.” 1=1 simply says that “one” thing equals “one” thing, so you cannot say 1=0, or that “one thing is nothing.” That does not mean, however, that “one” thing cannot become nothing. It can, because Allah can annihilate the thing that had the count of “one.” For example, “one” man = 1 man, then later he was annihilated, so it is no longer existing, and therefore has a count of 0. It is important to distinguish between “being” one and “becoming” one, or being zero and becoming zero. What is impossible is that “one” be “zero” and “one” at the same time. Mathematical expressions in the normal sense refer to “being” and not “becoming.”

[Shaykh] Abu Adam

4 Responses to Q & A: If 1 = 0 is absurd, then is not bringing something out of nothing also absurd?

  1. Bro says:

    As sallamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

    Dear Sheikh Abu Adam,

    I don’t understand how your reply relates to the objection that Na’adhubillah Allah cannot bring something out of nothing therefore the cosmos has always existed.

    Can you please clarify/explain in this for me.

    Jazak Allah Khair.

    Wa alaikum as sallam

  2. Assalaamu^alaykum,

    The point is that 1=0 is indeed impossible, but 1=0 means simply that one is not zero at a particular point in time. It does not mean that 1 cannot BECOME 0: 1->0. So just as 1 can be zero, zero can become 1. I.e. what is impossible is that 1 can be EQUAL to zero, but it is not impossible that it becomes zero. For example, if you have 1 car, then that is one car and not zero cars. It is possible, however, that you have no car tomorrow, so in this case 1 has become 0. If you get another car after tomorrow then 0 has become 1 again.

    In other words, the assumption of the question, which says that 1 cannot become zero is false. We do not say that 1 cannot BECOME zero, we say that 1 cannot BE zero, and that is entirely different.

    Hope that helps,
    Abu Adam

  3. Bro says:

    As sallamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

    Jazak Allah Khair Sh. Abu Adam.

    I understand now. However couldn’t the reply be that if the universe cannot come from nothing then how did Allah create it from nothing? My response would be that if pre-existing things are required then it will lead to the infinite regress problem. Therefore due to Allah’s All-Powerful nature He can create without prior existing materials. But(Na’adhubillah, nothing bad implied) does that solve the problem of something from nothing?

    Wa alaikum as sallam

  4. We do not say that the universe can’t be created from nothing. On the contrary, we do say that Aļļaah created it from nothing. More than that, we say that it MUST have been created from nothing, or we will end up with proposing infinite regression. As stated in ĥadiitħ, before creation only Aļļaah existed, then He created water from nothing and then the ˆArsħ.

    Hope that helps,
    Abu Adam

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