Does cosmology rule out God — or at least render Him superfluous? Lawrence Krauss thinks so:
“Science has changed the way we think about ourselves and our place in the cosmos, and the astounding progress of the last forty years has led us to the threshold of addressing key foundational questions about our existence and our future that were previously thought to be beyond our reach.
“Because these questions are the very ones that humans have asked since they started asking questions, the public deserves to share in the excitement of our scientific quest to understand the biggest mysteries of our existence. As Steven Weinberg has stressed, science doesn’t make it impossible to believe in God. It however makes it possible to consider a universe without one.” — Nikki Cassis, Arizona State University Press Summary of A UNIVERSE FROM NOTHING
All this time we’ve been overlooking something — or, rather, nothing:
“For 2,000 years people have been asking where our universe came from and why there is something rather than nothing. The book is designed to teach about the revolutions in cosmology; but at the same time it is designed to answer that question that a lot of fundamentalists ask: ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’ as a proof that there must be God. Everything that we know about the universe allows for it to come from nothing, and moreover all the data is consistent with this possibility,” says Krauss, who teaches in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Physics in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. — ASU Press Summary, ibid.
And we thought the word “nothing” meant “no thing.” How naive, says Krauss:
Many people hold fast to the philosophical expression that something cannot come from nothing. They claim that since we live in a universe that has something this confirms or at least supports the theological doctrine that a divine creator, or some external force, created the universe. However, many physicists disagree, Krauss included. Against the claim, they cite recent scientific advancements. — ASU Press Summary, ibid.
The origin of the universe, Krauss insists, is purely a “scientific” concern and not one for theologists:
As Krauss argues, the question of creating something from nothing is first and foremost a scientific one—as the very notions of ‘something’ and ‘nothing’ have been completely altered as a result of our current scientific understanding. As a pioneering theoretical physicist at the forefront of exploratory cosmology and particle physics, Krauss tackles the timeless enigma by showing how science has literally changed the playing field for this big question.
The latest physics research into the origins of the universe shows that, not only can our universe arise from nothing, but more generally, the laws of quantum mechanics and relativity imply that something will generally always arise from nothing. Even space, and the very laws of physics, may so arise.
. . . “Recent discoveries about the nature of the universe involve remarkable developments that make it plausible to consider God as unnecessary,” says Krauss. — ASU Press Summary, ibid.
But not everyone agrees with Krauss:
[According to an approving article in PhysOrg about the book] it’s OK to toss out the principle established since antiquity that “out of nothing, nothing comes.”
Many people hold fast to the philosophical expression that something cannot come from nothing. They claim that since we live in a universe that has something this confirms or at least supports the theological doctrine that a divine creator, or some external force, created the universe. However, many physicists disagree, Krauss included. Against the claim, they cite recent scientific advancements.
Since it would be distasteful for these unnamed “many physicists” to pursue the theistic implications of the evidence, Krauss has found a way to imagine pulling the cosmic rabbit out of the nonexistent hat.
His secret is to redefine nothing as pregnant with virtual particles emerging from the void. But readers may well ask if this really starts with nothing, and if not, whether the starting point exhibits the attributes of God.
PhysOrg was apparently not concerned about those difficulties. Instead, it trotted out the usual archbishops to grant the imprimatur to this evolutionary cosmology: “As he demonstrates, it is possible, and in fact suggested by observation that our universe arose through entirely natural processes, just as Darwin demonstrated that the diversity of life on Earth could arise by natural processes,” the article ended, failing to define natural, since it would seem quite unnatural to expect something from nothing. “Indeed, Richard Dawkins, in the afterword of the new book compares Krauss’ book in significance to Darwin’s ‘Origin of the [sic] Species.’” Well, then, that settles that. — CREVO, December 17, 2011
And another source says Krauss, possibly intentionally, employs the old bait-and-switch deception:
“There is a valuable lesson here,” [Krauss] continued. “As [Belgian priest and astronomer Georges] Lemaitre recognized, whether or not the Big Bang really happened is a scientific question, not a theological one.”
This lesson certainly is important, but not because it is true—it is, in fact, exactly wrong. Its importance lies in the author’s misuse of it to promote faith in God’s non-existence.
In this bait-and-switch tactic, Krauss tried to covertly transpose the question of ultimate origins from the realms of theology and philosophy to the realm of science. This way, he can claim authority on the matter and then dictate its terms.
But strict science tests that which is repeatable, and history is not repeatable. Science did not write the Big Bang story. That required immense imagination and deliberately ignoring a wide range of scientific observations that contradict the Big Bang, such as the universe’s clumpy mass distribution and galaxies that appear to be billions of years more mature than the model predicts. — Brian Thomas, “New Book Says Universe Came from Nothing”
In Thomas’s view, philosophy and not science shapes Krauss’s arguments:
Whether intentional or not, Krauss baited the reader by rightly ascribing astronomical observations to science, and then in the same breath switched to ascribing historical speculation to science.
Nothing is supposed to mean just that—”no thing,” which involves the complete absence of any matter or force or space. So, the only way that a universe could come from nothing is if “nothing” is redefined. Krauss unashamedly did just this. According to the Arizona State University news release announcing his new book, “nothingness is unstable….nothing doesn’t mean ‘nothing’ anymore.”
Of course, only “something” can become unstable, not “nothing.” — Brian Thomas, ibid.