Tag: Creation


Review: A Universe From Nothing

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.


Worth Reading: Evolution Edition

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has feathers like a duck, then it probably is a DINOSAUR.”

The title of this essay was inspired by the classic 1932 Marx Brothers comedy, Horse Feathers. Sadly, most readers are too young to make the connection with the goofy professors of Huxley and Darwin colleges portrayed in that film. But what was written at the end of last year about dino feathers in the scientific literature is funnier than what was written in Horse Feathers, so this will be an entertaining column, anyway.

Science Against Evolution

The evolutionist actually agrees with us! He admits that both similarity and difference are cited as proof of evolution, which was precisely our point.

However, he plays the Intellectual Superiority card. He has the intellectual ability to see how this could be, even though simpletons like us don’t understand.

Then he plays the Boldface Bluff card. He says, “there remain quite a few ways to disprove the theory,” but he doesn’t say what they are.

Then he plays the Post-prediction Card. They haven’t found anything that disproves the theory because every difference and every similarity is “predicted” by the theory (after the fact).

It is the “explanatory ability” of the evolutionists to explain away every obvious error in the theory, not the power of the theory itself, which keeps it alive.

Science Against Evolution

The crucial point of this next article is that while species do change to adapt to their environment, they change back when their environment changes again. The changes, in other words, aren’t permanent. And it’s a good thing they’re not, because the changes actually reduce their adaptability, thus reducing their general ability to survive.

How do species change? According to Darwinists, physical differences result from the accumulation of small changes over many generations. But observations—like a recent report of steelhead salmon that changed in one generation—show that dramatic trait changes happen fast. What does that mean for the evolutionary concept of the way species develop?

While observing the migrating salmon population that inhabits Oregon’s Hood River, an Oregon-based team of researchers built detailed family trees of multiple fish generations. They used genetic fingerprinting to discover that after just one generation, fish that had been transported to hatchery ponds produced more offspring than their wild counterparts. However, the pond-bred fish didn’t fare very well when they were placed back in the wild.

Institute for Creation Research

What is it that distinguishes life from non-living entities? A new peer-reviewed scientific paper by David L. Abel, “Is Life Unique?,” attempts to answer that question, noting that “Life pursues thousands of biofunctional goals,” whereas “Neither physicodynamics, nor evolution, pursue goals.” Is it possible that unguided evolution and strictly material causes produced life’s purposeful processes? According to Abel, who recently edited The First Gene, the answer is no.

The paper explains that life’s goals include the use of “symbol systems” to maintain “homeostasis far from equilibrium in the harshest of environments, positive and negative feedback mechanisms, prevention and correction of its own errors, and organization of its components into Sustained Functional Systems.” But the article notes that “the integration and regulation of biochemical pathways and cycles into homeostatic metabolism is programmatically controlled, not just physicodynamically constrained.” This programming is termed “cybernetic” — yet according to the paper cybernetic control “flows only from the nonphysical world of formalism into the physical world through the instantiation of purposeful choices.”

Evolution News and Views


Review: Questions of Truth

nullQuestions of Truth: Fifty One Responses to Questions
John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale

Questions comes from the questions asked of two working physicists, and their answers to those questions. the goal is to present a set of Christians beliefs that can work with science (or rather Science), rather than a set of Christian beliefs that are, apparently, contrary to current scientific thinking. The entire underlying thesis of this work is questionable; science changes it’s mind about every 20 years, but God hasn’t changed his mind, ever.

To understand the model the authors take it’s best to let them speak for themselves.

The Bible is not a book but a library, with various types of writing in it. There is much history, but there are also symbolic stories that convey truths so deep that only a story form could express them. (That is the true meaning of that much-abused and misunderstood word myth, very different from that of a simple fairy story.) In interpreting the Bible it is important to work out what kind of writing one is reading. For example, Genesis 1 is not a literal account of a hectic six days of divine activity, given to save us the trouble of using science to discover the remarkable history of the universe. Instead, it is a piece of theological writing that uses a symbolic story to convey the theological truth that nothing exists except through the creative will of God (“and God said, let there be…”). -Page 7

Here, God is a god of the gaps. That which can be explained by science we should leave to science. That which cannot be, well, that’s a fine place for religion to do it’s stuff. The questions are divided into several sections, including the concept and existence of God, the Universe, Evolution, evil, human beings, and finally religion.

The most useful part of this book comes after the last chapter and conclusion. Specifically, the appendix on the arrangement of the Universe in a way that allows for life is explained in detail to a level that almost anyone can grasp. It’s worth buying this book for this single appendix, even if you don’t read the remainder of the book itself.


Notable: A Cloud Over Ownership

Our possessions define us. Yet today the definition of possession itself is shifting, thanks to cloud services that store some things we hold dear on distant Internet servers. When those belongings reside in Netflix’s video service, Amazon’s Kindle bookstore, or Apple’s coming iCloud service, they become impossible to misplace, and easier to organize and access than before. They also gain new powers over us, and slip free of powers we once held over them—powers that have shaped our thinking and behavior for centuries. One consequence is to give the companies that provide cloud services tremendous amounts of unchecked control over these possessions. In some cases, that control has already been abused.Despite the supposed revolution wrought by digitization, mass computing has until now left the fundamental nature of our possessions untouched. Collections of content have adorned the shelves and walls of our homes, schools, and courts since the Enlightenment. Nearly all of us (who are old enough) collected vinyl records in the 1970s, videotapes in the ’80s, CDs in the ’90s, and DVDs in the ’00s. Digitization simply morphed our urge to collect atoms into a thirst for curating bits, piled up on home computers.In this age of streaming, however, possessing a personal content collection is a logical inconsistency. The 200 movies in my Netflix instant queue form an aspirational list, not a personal collection. Once I actually watch a movie, it disappears from the queue—the reverse of what happens on my shelf of DVDs. Personalizing a cloud-based collection of content is a pale imitation of what physical possession can offer. Even were I to show dinner guests my Amazon Kindle account, they wouldn’t gain the insight provided by a glance at a shelf in my dining room or the stack of books on my nightstand. There will never be a well-worn copy of my favorite digital book.Dissolving physical possessions into the cloud is certainly convenient. It may even make us less covetous and more inclined to share. But this new form of property is also shaping up to have more serious consequences than the loss of a few conversations. One is that those previously inanimate possessions can now talk about you behind your back. –Technology Review

I don’t know that my possessions define me —but I can say this much: when you suck every possible thought out of everyone’s head the moment they think it, all in the name of “recording” it “for your own good,” you’re essentially sucking every possible incentive to invent, to create, out of life. The digital society will ultimately be a boring one.

Maybe this is one of the underlying causes of our malaise in inventing new things today. Maybe, just maybe, we realize the futility of writing something new, or thinking something new, in a world where anything new is immediately seized for the benefit of the first person who can record it.


Get Your Own Dirt: A Retelling

The keys rattle as he pulls the chain from his lab coat, finds the right one, and unlocks the door.

“Just this way, Frank, and I’ll show you this new experiment I’ve been working on…”

“This should be very interesting, John. Thanks for coming all the way down here…” The pair of scientists stop. A man is sitting on a stool, calmly examining a small beaker that had previously been standing on the table.

“Hey! Who are you?”

“I am a prophet of God, of course.”

Frank looks over at John. “This is the new experiment you’ve been working on?”

John turns to the man: “You can’t be! God doesn’t exist! Now get our of here, you…”

The man replies, “You have a bit of a problem, don’t you? If God doesn’t exist, than I can’t be a prophet of God. And yet, here I am.” He swirls the beaker he has in his hand. “Interesting stuff here. What is it?”

John’s eyes narrowed. “Stop that! Put it down carefully! It’s a pure quantum field, held in statis in a fluid of…” Frank’s eyes bulged. A quantum field? In a jar?

The man continued swirling the jar. “Oh, wow! That’s really interesting. What did you intend to do with it?”

His face flush, John replied, “I’m going to perturb it, and prove the universe could come from instabilities in the quantum field. Now get our of here! This is my lab!”

The man gave the beaker a thump on the side with his finger. “You mean like this? And why would you want to prove the universe can come from the disturbance of a quantum field?”

“Because if I can prove the universe started with a fluctuation in a quantum field, I can prove God doesn’t exist –that God doesn’t need to exist.”

The man considered this for a moment. “And what did you intend to do with the little universe that resulted from your experiment, if it worked? Did you intend to provide the little people who you think will evolve a nice world to live on, or not? And what if they decide you don’t exist? What would you do then?”

“No world will be created by my experiment, just some bits of matter!”

“And yet, you think our world was created in this way, right? How do you know? Who are you to play god?”

“Just get out of here, would you? I’ve no time for this nonsense.”

“Okay, have it your way.” The tucked the beaker into a pocket of his jacket, and rose from the stool.

“Hey, you can’t take my beaker of quantum field! It took me years to extract that from reality as we know it! It’s mine, and I’m going to prove God doesn’t exist with it, for once and for all.”

The man calmly maneuvers around John and Frank, both of whom seem powerless to resist.

“Create your own quantum field to prove your theories with, rather than taking a slide of God’s.”


Inspired by a long post over at Evolution News and Views considering some answers to hard questions by one of these so-called “new atheist.” If the quantum field existed, then the universe didn’t come into being from nothing. If the quantum field didn’t exist in the first place, then there is no universe. Nothing can’t result in something, and it’s nonsense to talk of “variations in nothingness.”


The Hidden Reasonableness Argument

Listen to this three and a half minute clip of Dr. Dean discussing atheism before you read the rest of this post.

Dr. Dean does an excellent job of explaining the problem with this line of argument:

You can’t teach intelligent design in schools, because intelligent design is religious. You can teach evolution because it’s not religious, but rather scientific.

The heart of the argument is this false statement: Atheism isn’t a religious belief. But there are a lot of folks who would say this statement is true, rather than false. Dr. Dean’s argument is that if you classify this statement: “God exists,” as religious, then you must also classify this statement: “God doesn’t exist,” as religious. But why must both of these statements be classified as religious?

Let’s begin with the first statement: “God exists.” Why do we classify this as a religious statement? Because there is no scientific proof of God’s existence, so we must accept His existence as a matter of faith. In other words, religion is based on evidence that is not what we would classify as empirical. Using this line of reasoning, let’s examine the second statement: “God doesn’t exist.” On the face of it, this isn’t a religious statement, because you are claiming something that cannot be proven to exist doesn’t, in fact, exist. In other words, you can make the argument that claiming God exists is religious because there is no proof, but that claiming God doesn’t exist isn’t religious because there is no proof of God’s existence.

This reasoning makes one vital assumption: That we don’t need proof to claim God doesn’t exist. The corollary to this is belief in God is unreasonable, while atheism is reasonable.

In other words, the statement “atheism isn’t religion,” begs the question.The statement assumes that while God’s existence needs to be proven, God’s nonexistence doesn’t need to be proven. But if there is no empirical evidence for God’s existence, it follows there is no empirical evidence for God’s nonexistence, either. And if there is no evidence for the non-existence of God, believing there is no God is a matter of faith. Hence, atheism is a religious system based on faith.


Alternative Creations

One favorite technique of critics of the creation account given in Genesis is to compare the Genesis account with other creation accounts. This is actually a useful exercise, but it doesn’t quite yield the result those who try and tear down the Genesis account anticipate, or want. The reality is the creation account given in Genesis is actually radically different from alternate creation accounts.

When above [Enuma elish] the heaven had not (yet) been named, (And) below the earth had not (yet) been called by a name, (When) Apsu primeval, their begetter, Mummu, (and) Tiamat, she who gave birth to them all, (Still) mingled their waters together, …. (At that time) were the gods created within them….They lived many days, adding years (to days)…. The divine brothers gathered together. They disturbed Tiamat and assaulted(?) their keeper….

This is a quote from a creation myth translated from Babylonian tablets. Those who would point out the similarities, to prove the Genesis account was taken from some other, earlier, account, would say, for instance, the beginning of this Babylonian account is very similar to the account we find in Genesis.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. Genesis 1:2

There’s something missing here, though, isn’t there? Isn’t there a bit before Genesis 1:2?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

For the actual creation, the Babylonian version has no counterpart. Things already existed in the Babylonian version, and we hear about how they were changed from what they were to something else. But we don’t get at actual creation in the Babylonian version at all. It’s like the scientist who challenged God by saying they could make life. God accepted their challenge, but told them to get their own dirt.

The next bit to compare is about how two gods, Apsu and Tiamat, beget all the other gods, and hence shaped the land, creatures, and everything else. This is supposed to be similar to God creating.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3

And it does seem similar, if you don’t look too closely. But in the Babylonian version, the two gods, Apsu and Tiamat, beget the other gods. In the Genesis version, God doesn’t beget anything, He speaks it into existence. There is a world of difference between the two. What of the gods themselves? Although the actual Babylonian myth doesn’t tell you who Apsu and Tiamat are, we know them from other documents. Apsu is the marshlands, while Tiamat is a great sea serpent.

There are two notable points here. The first is the gods in the Babylonian myth are actually part of nature, or intertwined with nature. Apsu is not just a god of the marshes, he is somehow intertwined with the marshes, unable to exist apart from them. In a sense, Apsu is the marshes. Tiamat is much the same way, not just a sea serpent, but the essence of the sea herself, in some way.

We find this serpent/sea motif in many creation accounts, as well. In the Sumerian account, Asaq is a giant serpent who restrains the waters, who are in rebellion against the gods. In the Indian account, Vrtira is also a serpent who restrains the waters. in Genesis, God creates these serpents, and the sea they live in, showing His mastery over all of them.

What does all this tell us about these various creation accounts? That the Genesis account stands unique among all the various creation accounts. And if the creation account in Genesis stands apart from all the other creation accounts, the God of Genesis also must stand apart from all the other religions. That Christianity and Judaism are unique among the religions, no matter how much the critics might try to pull all the religions together.

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