Analogy: the absence of light
You’re in a deep cave. The tour guide directs you and those with you to find a comfortable place to stand, or lean, and to get ready for the sensation of total darkness. Then he switches off the lights. The darkness is so complete that you imagine it to have density and weight. You experience for the first time not merely darkness, nor deep darkness, nor a different kind of low-level light, but the entire absence of light. So it would be a mistake to think of the cave as merely differently-lighted than other places, wouldn’t it? Nothing in this environment would inform you about the properties of light.
The absence of matter and time
A diagram of the Big Bang will show a rapid expansion from the tiniest bit of matter, and then the formation of subatomic particles, then atoms, galaxies, stars, and planets. Time commences at the moment of the big bang. These are fascinating features of the prevailing theory of the origins of the cosmos. But how would we measure in time what occurred immediately before? What was physically there before that first moment?
According to the theory, nothing. This nothing was not dark matter or space or a vacuum of some kind. It was nothing. The absence of physical reality entirely. When stuff appeared, according to the theory, it did not come from other stuff. It came from the absence of stuff. It is meaningless to talk of where this first bit of stuff appeared, because before it appeared, there was nothing. It is meaningless to talk of the “moment” before the big bang, because there was no time. Again, there was nothing.
Something from nothing
Nothing material, anyway. But materialists have to be saying that the something we have came from nothing. It is among the chief problems with materialism as a belief system. How does this get addressed, then, by materialists?
Something from something
Usually, by bending the concept of “nothing,” making it mean, essentially, something. Something cannot come from nothing. But something can come from something else. So the word “nothing,” and the concept it signifies, are made to adjust. When a materialist says “nothing,” he really means “something we haven’t defined, or don’t understand.” The real meaning of “nothing” is discarded.
This semantic sleight-of-hand has implications far beyond explaining the Big Bang in purely material terms. This substituting of the concept and of the word “nothing” allows us to think that we can reject Christianity (or any other belief system) and replace it with nothing, when in fact, we’re not replacing it with “nothing,” but rather with “something else.”
Because we think that replacement is “nothing” rather than something, that something tends to go unexamined. We think that what we’re left with upon rejecting Christianity is neutral. It is not.