Atomism and its Problems

The idea that everything is composed of tiny indivisible particles is nothing new. The Greeks, Indians, and Muslims that predecessed us over a millenium ago all developed theories of atomism. The problem is that none of these theories, including the modern one, are logically possible. I do not believe the world is composed of atoms, or tiny particles of any source. Rather, I support an ontological view of matter which argues that everything is one thing (call it a substance if you want, though that is not entirely accurate) molded and morphed into different things. Our ontological uniqueness does not come from the fact that our atoms are arranged differently, but rather because of a superphysical element which allows the potential of our substance to be realized.

So what is the big problem with atomic theory? It is infinitely regressive. There was a point in time when we believed that the atom was the small unit of matter, and that it was indivisible. Then we found protons, electrons, and neutrons. And now, we’ve found quarks and neutrinos. As long as something can be identified as having a size that we can perceive, it can get smaller, it must have parts. Why must it parts? Because, if particles do not have parts, they cannot aggregate or come together to form something else. Even a round ball has parts; every point on its surface is another part where another ball can touch. Some may say that essential particles are possible because they can aggregate by an inherent force like gravity. The problem is that they still cannot stick together unless they have parts, and if they have parts, then they can get smaller. The idea that matter is particulate is doesn’t make sense because the existence of an essential particle is necessary and yet impossible. Anything with dimensionality is divisible. What does this mean? If there is a substance which is essential to all matter, it must definitely be imperceptible. If we can see it, it has at least two dimensions, meaning it can be divided, meaning it is not essential.

Atomic theory is also self refuting, and it requires the existence of empty space to be possible. I will try to explain both of these points in turn. Try to imagine a lawn with a boy and a dog standing in it two feet apart. Some may say that an arrangement of particular atoms led to the development of a person, and a different arrangement of atoms led to the development of the dog, the grass, etc… The problem with this contention is that it supposes that all these things are separate when they are not. They are connected by the air, which is composed of the same quarks as neutrinos as everything else, just arranged differently. So, when examining it on a subatomic level, how do we know where the human ends, and the air begins, or where the air ends, and the dog begins? Our eyesight is limited, so we can draw large ontological distinctions to serve our own purposes. Although, when examined at the most microscopic subatomic level we have reached, all these things would be practically indistinguishable. We aren’t yet certain of how subatomic particles aggregate either. Atomism actually necessitates that everything is one unified thing. The only way two things can be distinct is if complete emptiness exists between them. The stars and planets can be said to be ontologically separate. Zoom out your perspective and see that everything on our Earth is connected. The same things are buzzing and vibrating against one another. Nothing is completely separate from anything else. Everything must be one, and you can call it whatever you choose: Brahma, Toapeiron, Potential, etc…

So what is the world made of then? I do not have the answer. I know that the only thing we can perceive which is not a substance is light. While it may behave like a particle at times, it is not ontologically particulate. Light can aggregate without parts or dimensions as well. In fact, an 12th century Islamic philosopher by the name of Suhrawardi developed an entire ontology of matter based upon light. I give it more credence than modern atomic theory. I know that everything must be one thing, molded to appear as separate unique entities. Because no two things are separated by a void, on Earth at least, it is not possible for anything to be ontologically unique.


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