Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

Global Atheist Con: Lawrence Krauss

Laurence Krauss is a physicist. His talk was titled “A Universe from Nothing”, which by no small coincidence in the title of his book.

“A Universe from Nothing” is also the title of this video he gave in 2009.

It would probably be a good idea to watch this video, rather than reading what I’m writing about it. I’m not a physicist, so I’m very likely to get it wrong. Krauss explains the origins and fate of our universe in a clear style which even Cardinal Pell would understand. (“Though he’s never thought about anything deeply in his life!” snipes Krauss.) This feeling of understanding ends immediately after the talk, leaving you with pages of notes full of gibberish. Perhaps my gibberish will make sense if you watch the talk first.

Here are some thoughts that I’m sure I got right.

• People ask, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” But nothing isn’t as nothing as we used to think it is. ‘Nothing’ has energy. Empty space is actually a brew of particles that pop in and out of existence on tiny timescales. These particles have an impact on the mass of our bodies. Gravity plus quantum mechanics allows space itself to appear from nothing. So a universe from nothing is not only plausible, but likely.

• It was once thought that the universe was slowing down, and would end in a ‘big crunch’. (I remember hearing that back in the 70s.) But now that appears to be wrong. (Krauss: “Was the data wrong? It often is. The first set of data is always wrong.”) It now appears that we live in a ‘flat’ universe that will keep expanding forever, but more and more slowly. Krauss says that only a flat universe could arise from “nothing” and keep existing long enough for us to be here.

• “The best state to be in if you’re a scientist in to be confused. And I am.”

• “The real universe is more inspiring than any fairy tale.”

1 Comment

  1. I understand your confusion. This redefinition of "nothing" seems to be sweeping the world of physics. The popular physicists like Hawking and Krauss are all latching on to a new definition that confuses the philosophical with the physical.

    "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is a philosophical question. It has been posed for eons and represents "nothing" as a complete void of anything at all. No vacuum, no "just an absence of matter," but absolutely, purely, nothing.

    The current trend in physics dismisses this historic definition for one that they can more readily deal with. After all, by its nature, physics can only deal with, well, physical things. It cannot address the functions or states of pure nothingness, because there is nothing there to examine.

    So while Hawking and Krauss jump forward claiming to have answered why there is something instead of nothing, they do so by failing to explain how their starting state of a vacuum or "nothingness with energy" came to exist. They have no answer to the question the way it was originally posed. So they just redefined the question.

    Science still militates against the notion that from absolute pure nothingness can anything spring forth. It just never happens, and is still a scientifically absurd proposition.

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