A Universe From Nothing
Lawrence M Kraus
The purpose of this book is simple. I want to show how modern science, in various guises, can address and is addressing the question of why there is something rather than nothing: The answers that have been obtained—from staggeringly beautiful experimental observations, as well as from the theories that underlie much of modern physics—all suggest that getting something from nothing is not a problem. Indeed, something from nothing may have been required for the universe to come into being. Moreover, all signs suggest that this is how our universe could have arisen. I stress the word could here, because we may never have enough empirical information to resolve this question unambiguously. But the fact that a universe from nothing is even plausible is certainly significant, at least to me.
Dr. Kraus’s argument is that “nothing” is really a large energy field primarily composed of dark energy (energy we cannot measure or prove exists, but must exist based on mathematical descriptions of our universe assuming a big bang origin). Energy fields, by their nature, are unstable, constantly creating matter and anti-matter in equal proportions through shifts in their quantum state.
Given an infinitely large energy field, an infinite number of universes must be created and destroyed over any given series of moments in time. If a universe, once created, expands rapidly (such as the big bang), then it will, by quantum rules, exist for a long period of time –creating a universe just like the one we live in.
If this all seems a bit thin once you’ve taken the book length explanation of the “beautiful math” out, that’s because it is, in fact, a bit thin. But more than thin, Dr. Kraus’s work is shot through with logical errors that should make any thinking person shudder.
How do we know this infinitely large energy field exists?
First, because our current observations give rise to a set of formulas that imply it must exist. We know our observations and conclusions about those observations are right because they give rise to accurate predictions of what really happens. Except for the energy that God seems to have mislaid and yet is required for these mathematical expressions to actually predict anything. In any other field a set of explanations that can only account for 3% of the observed phenomenon would simply be thrown out. But atheists are desperate for an explanation, and so they turn the 97% of things they can’t explain into the explanation for the 3% they can.
Second, because the formulas thus produced are “beautiful.” Why a universe which arises from random chance should “evolve” creatures that value beauty isn’t something the author cares to explain, although he relies heavily on the beauty of his explanation to convince his reader.
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Because there is no such thing as “why,” in the real world, only “how.”
When we ask, “Why?” we usually mean “How?” If we can answer the latter, that generally suffices for our purposes. For example, we might ask: “Why is the Earth 93 million miles from the Sun?” but what we really probably mean is, “How is the Earth 93 million miles from the Sun?” That is, we are interested in what physical processes led to the Earth ending up in its present position. “Why” implicitly suggests purpose, and when we try to understand the solar system in scientific terms, we do not generally ascribe purpose to it.
Thus totally misunderstanding the entire cosmological argument for God’s existence, Dr. Kraus simply lays it aside (other than to poke fun at his misunderstanding of it periodically). The point of the cosmological argument is that we do, in fact, ascribe purpose to almost everything. How do inanimate objects come to have purpose?
Why is it great thinkers through the ages have been Christians?
Neither Aristotle nor Aquinas knew about the existence of our galaxy, much less the Big Bang or quantum mechanics. Hence the issues they and later medieval philosophers grappled with must be interpreted and understood in the light of new knowledge.
Because they were flat out ignorant, of course. The author here assumes a “god of the gaps” theory, that God can only exist within the gaps of our understanding about how the world works. He believes that if everyone in history knew what he knows, none of them would have ever believed in God in the first place.
The bottom line: if this is all the atheists have, they should withdraw from the ring. There’s no knockdown argument against God here –there’s barely an argument at all. Beautiful formulas in a universe bereft of purpose and beauty won’t replace God. Especially when those formulas are based on greater faith than simply believing in God in the first place.
A well written try, but ultimately a fast food snack in a world in need of a steak dinner.