"empty space" creating a separation between objects somehow. Huh! Not good enough for honest scientific sensibilities in the quantum age. What's that "emptiness's" secret for doing so?"
If there was no separation between any 2 or more objects, 2 or more objects could not exist. 'They' would all be one object.
If there was no space how could we describe ...[text shortened]... cause and effect?
Space and time are not physical objects, but both are real and can be defined.
Some say "time is an illusion" but I don't exactly count myself among them, because I don't think we've entirely nailed down, scientifically, what time is -- or at least, what we perceive it to be.
As for "empty" space, this comes back to the idea about perception. What is empty space? For that matter, what exactly is an electron or quark? These are not trivial questions, nor do I think they can be waved off as "merely" philosophical or, at best, metaphysical.
While I do not expect that our science will ever be able to answer all such questions, I believe that better answers for the nature of space and time can be discovered -- if we ask the right questions.
The empty space in a room disappears with the closing of one eye. Now there's just a flat picture, and different sensory input -- such as extending a hand into the space -- is needed to perceive the emptiness. A crude example, but one which conveys the basic idea that much of what we sense of the physical world is a construct of mind. The mind is the ultimate model-maker, taking raw sensory input and arraying it into something we can navigate through and live in. This fact is relevant to physics to the extent that how we think and theorize about the physical is indelibly colored by our senses and minds.
Admittedly I'm driven to this way of thinking by Buddhist ideas about emptiness and contrast. Ol' Shallow Blue's link has a cartoon in it showing someone rambling about light and darkness. Indeed, all structure arises from contrasts. Shadow play. An electron can be defined just as well by all the things it isn't as all the things it is, but even still, it has no essence that admits complete explanation, because any essence of a thing is a thing in itself that would require in its turn a further explanation. "Turtles all the way down," as the saying goes.
Shallow Blue will scoff at all this, most likely, but it strikes to why I say physics cannot answer all the questions, and also why some questions remain stubbornly unanswered. I believe physics can go much deeper than heretofore, and part of the process will be to question all the answers we think we know about the nature of spacetime itself.