Windsor Humanist Society

December 21, 2009

‘A Universe From Nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss, Atheist Alliance International 2009

Filed under: The Sciences — moderator @ 2:36 pm

Lawrence Krauss gives a talk on our current picture of the universe, how it will end, and how it could have come from nothing. Krauss is the author of many bestselling books on Physics and Cosmology, including “The Physics of Star Trek.”

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
http://richarddawkinsfoundation.org

Atheist Alliance International
http://atheistalliance.org

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2 Comments »

  1. A. Circular Reasoning

    In his article ‘The other side of time’ (2000) scientist Victor J. Stenger has written that as per the theory of quantum electrodynamics electron-positron (anti-electron) pairs can appear spontaneously for brief periods of time practically out of nothing, which clearly shows that anything that has a beginning need not have to have a cause of that beginning. Here he was actually rebutting Mr. William Lane Craig’s claim that anything that has a beginning must have a cause. Electron-positron pairs begin to exist, but they have no cause of their beginning, because they appear literally out of nothing.
    From here he has concluded that our universe may also come literally out of nothing due to quantum fluctuation in the void, and therefore we need not have to imagine that God has done this job.
    But is it true that electron-positron (anti-electron) pairs are appearing literally out of “nothing”? Are scientists absolutely certain that the so-called void is a true void indeed? Because here there is a counter-claim also: God is there, and that God is everywhere. So actually nothing is coming out of “nothing”, only something is coming out of something. Here they will perhaps say: as there is no proof for God’s existence so far, so why should one have to believe that the void here is not a true void? But even if there is no proof for God’s existence, still then it can be shown that scientists’ claim that the universe has literally come out of nothing is a pure case of circular reasoning. If believers say that the void is not a true void at all, and if scientists still then hold that it is nothing but a void, then this is only because they are absolutely certain that God does not exist, and also because they think that God’s non-existence is so well-established a fact that it needs no further proof for substantiation. But if they are absolutely certain that God does not exist, then they are also absolutely certain that God is not the architect, designer, creator of our universe, because it is quite obvious that a non-existent God cannot be the architect, designer, etc. So their starting premise is this: God does not exist, and therefore our universe is definitely not the creation of a God. But if they start from the above premise, then will it be very difficult to reach to the same conclusion?
    But their approach here could have been somehow different. They could have said: well, regarding void, it is found that there is some controversy. Therefore we will not assume that it is a void, rather we will prove that it is such. Then they could have proceeded to give an alternate explanation for the origin of the universe, in which there will be neither any quantum fluctuation in the void, nor any hand of God to be seen anywhere. And their success here could have settled the matter for all time to come.
    By simply ignoring a rumour one cannot kill it, rather it will remain as it is. But if one takes some more trouble on him and exposes that it is nothing but a rumour, then it will die a natural death with no further chance of revival. Let us say that the saying that there is a God and that He is everywhere is nothing but a rumour persisting for thousands of years among mankind. What scientists have done here is this: they have simply ignored the rumour and thus kept it alive. But it would have been far better for them if they could have killed it, as suggested by me.

    B. “Circular Reasoning” Case Reexamined

    There can be basically two types of universe: (1) universe created by God, supposing that there is a God; (2) universe not created by God, supposing that there is no God. Again universe created by God can also be of three types:
    (1a) Universe in which God need not have to intervene at all after its creation. This is the best type of universe that can be created by God.
    (1b) Universe in which God has actually intervened from time to time, but his intervention is a bare minimum.
    (1c) Universe that cannot function at all without God’s very frequent intervention. This is the worst type of universe that can be created by God.
    Therefore we see that there can be four distinct types of universes, and our universe may be any one of the above four types: (1a), (1b), (1c), (2). In case of (1a), scientists will be able to give natural explanation for each and every physical event that has happened in the universe after its origin, because after its creation there is no intervention by God at any moment of its functioning. Only giving natural explanation for its coming into existence will be problematic. In case of (1b) also, most of the events will be easily explained away, without imagining that there is any hand of God behind these events. But for those events where God had actually intervened, scientists will never be able to give any natural explanation. Also explaining origin of the universe will be equally problematic. But in case of (1c), most of the events will remain unexplained, as in this case God had to intervene very frequently. This type of universe will be just like the one as envisaged by Newton: “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.” So we can with confidence say that our universe is not of this type, otherwise scientists could not have found natural explanation for most of the physical events. In case of type (2) universe, here also there will be natural explanation for each and every physical event, and there will be natural explanation for the origin of the universe also. So from the mere fact that scientists have so far been able to give natural explanation for each and every physical event, it cannot be concluded that our universe is a type (2) universe, because this can be a type (1a) universe as well. The only difference between type (1a) and type (2) universe is this: whereas in case of (1a) no natural explanation will ever be possible for the origin of the universe, it will not be so in case of (2). Therefore until and unless scientists can give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe, they cannot claim that it is a type (2) universe. And so, until and unless scientists can give this explanation, they can neither claim that the so-called void is a true void. So scientists cannot proceed to give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe with an a priori assumption that the void is a real void, because their failure or success in giving this explanation will only determine as to whether this is a real void or not.

    C. Scientists have taken a forbidden step

    This is about scientists’ claim that our universe has originated from nothing due to a vacuum fluctuation. Here I want to show again that this claim cannot be sustained by reason.
    Abbreviation: origin of the universe from nothing due to vacuum fluctuation (OUNVF)
    We all know that the theorems in Euclidean geometry generally start with some basic assumptions that are accepted as true without any proof. These basic assumptions are called axioms. Similarly scientific theories also start with some basic assumptions. These are called postulates. So far these postulates of scientific theories were all God-independent. I am going to explain what I want to mean by the term “God-independent”. Let us suppose that P is a postulate. Now it may be the case that there is a God. Or it may be the case that there is no God. Now let us suppose it is the case that there is a God, and we find that P is not affected. Again let us further suppose that it is the case there is no God, and again we find that in this case also P is not affected. Then we can say P is God-independent. But in the case under consideration the basic assumption with which scientists start is not at all God-independent. Rather we can say that it is very much God-dependent. Their basic assumption here is this: the void is a real void, and it is nothing but a void. Now if it is the case that there is a God, then this assumption is very much affected, because the void is no longer a real void. If, and only if, it is the case that there is no God, then only it is a real void. Therefore when scientists are saying that the void is a real void, then they are also saying it indirectly that it is the case there is no God, or, that it is a fact there is no God. But my question here is this: are these scientists now in a position to say so? Have their knowledge of the empirical world and its laws and its workings up till now made them competent enough to declare at this stage that there is no God? Because here two points will have to be considered:
    1) They have not yet been able to give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe.
    2) Similarly they have not yet been able to give a natural explanation for the fact that our universe has become habitable for life, whereas it could have been barren and lifeless as well.
    Now it may so happen that scientists completely fail to give any natural explanation for both 1) and 2). In that case will it not be too early for them to suppose that the void is a real void? Because if they are unsuccessful, then they do not know whether there is a God or not, and therefore neither do they know whether the void is a real void or not. But if they are successful, then they definitely know that there is no God. Then only they can say that the void is a real void. So we can say that 1) and 2) are two hurdles that the scientists must have to cross before they can arrive at a place from where they can boldly declare that God does not exist. This is the place that may be called scientists’ heaven. Because once they can reach there, then they will have no hesitation to deny the existence of God. Because now they have explained the alpha and omega of this universe, starting from its origin up to the coming of man on earth and further beyond, and nowhere they have found any hand of God influencing the course of events in any way. But, to arrive at that place can they take any undue advantage? Or, can they try to reach there by any unfair means? Can they already assume that there is no God, and based on that assumption, can they try to cross any one, or both, of these two hurdles? But in case of 1) they have just done that. That is why I want to say that OUNVF is a pure case of circular reasoning.

    Comment by H.S.Pal — November 26, 2010 @ 2:19 am | Reply

  2. [...] produces more exponents of atheism than physics. Steven Weinberg, Lee Smolin, Victor Stenger, Lawrence Krauss, and Stephen Hawking are notable examples of physicists who trumpet their view that science has not [...]

    Pingback by Clay Farris Naff: If Infinity Is The Devil, What Is God? | www.iflickle.com — May 7, 2011 @ 11:40 pm | Reply


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