A Universe from Nothing? A Critique of Lawrence Krauss’ Book, Part 2
In his latest book, A Universe from Nothing, famed astrophysicist Lawrence M. Krauss claims to have shown why the latest physics proves that God is not necessary to explain the universe’s existence and features.
He asserts that the universe came from “nothing” rather than from God. However, the different “nothings” that Krauss appeals to for his explanations are really “some things”—“some things” that demand nothing less than the existence and involvement of the biblical God.
On Monday, I began this critique of Lawrence Krauss’ new book, A Universe from Nothing, with an evaluation of his arguments for a natural cause for the universe’s beginning. Unfortunately for Krauss, all of his suggestions have serious flaws that he has neglected to address. Here I continue my critique with a look at how the features of universe better fit with a theistic explanation.
Krauss’ Impersonal God
Krauss ends his attempts to eliminate God as the universe’s necessary Creator with the following proposal: “If the laws of nature are themselves stochastic and random, then there is no prescribed ‘cause’ for our universe.”1
What Krauss suggests by appealing to “stochastic and random” laws of nature is that some process might exist that randomly produces all conceivable sets of physical laws and cosmic features. That being the case, then, perhaps our universe’s life-friendly physical laws and cosmic features may be the product of pure chance rather than divine design.
A major problem with this proposal is the question of what or who generated the “stochastic and random” laws of nature. That generator cannot be pure nothing; it must be something greater than the laws of nature and greater than any possible generator of laws of nature. Krauss concedes this point when he writes, “One cannot rule out such a deistic view of nature.”2
In other words, Krauss seems willing to accept the existence of a deity who limits his creation activity to setting up the laws of physics and bringing the universe into existence. But then Krauss’ god remains inactive and impotent throughout the past 13.75 billion years and presumably on into the future.
Finally, Krauss writes, “There is something simply because if there were nothing, we wouldn’t find ourselves living there!”3 I agree. I would also add that, therefore, we could not have come from nothing. Krauss herein disproves the very premise for his book.
Throughout A Universe from Nothing Krauss keeps changing his definition of “nothing.” Almost all his definitions are not really nothings but actual “some things.” It reminds me of what my younger son, David, said in his early teens when his mother asked him, “What’s under your bed?” He replied, “Nothing.” What he really meant was, “Nothing I want you to find out about.”
When physicists like Krauss write about nothing, they refer to one of the following five definitions of nothing, which like David’s nothing, are actually something:
- A lack of matter or energy
- A lack of matter and energy
- A lack of matter, energy, and the four large expanding space-time dimensions of the universe
- A lack of matter, energy, and all the ten space-time dimensions of the universe
- A lack of matter, energy, the ten space-time dimensions of the universe, and any possible dimensions and/or sets of laws of physics existing beyond the universe’s ten space-time dimensions
Note that none of these five “nothings” eliminate the need for Something beyond them that explains how the “lacks” became filled.
Where do all the some things come from? A fundamental principle of cause and effect is that effects always come after their causes. Moreover, effects are never greater than their causes. No human has ever seen these principles violated. They actually undergird the entire scientific enterprise.
Consequently, atheism and naturalism are self-defeating in that they demand that the living come from the nonliving, the conscious from that which lacks consciousness, the personal from the impersonal, the mindful from the mindless, the emotional from the emotionless, the willful from that which has no will, and the spiritual from that which is unspiritual. To explain everything that we observe, there must exist a causal Agent beyond the universe that is living, conscious, personal, mindful, emotional, volitional, and spiritual, plus orders of magnitude more intelligent, knowledgeable, powerful, caring, and loving than any human. The God of the Bible fits this description exactly.
In A Universe from Nothing, both Krauss and Richard Dawkins (in the afterword) credit Charles Darwin with eliminating the need for divine intervention.4 Krauss refers to a workshop on the origin of life sponsored by the Origins Project that he heads up at Arizona State University. He claims the workshop demonstrated “plausible chemical mechanisms by which this [naturalistic explanation for the origin of life] might be conceivable.”5
I do not deny that biochemists are “homing in closer and closer every day to specific pathways that might have allowed biomolecules, including RNA, to arise.”6 My Reasons To Believe colleague Fuz Rana has demonstrated that beautifully in his book Creating Life in the Lab. Fuz, however, shows that those chemical pathways are irrelevant to the conditions we know existed on Earth at the time of life’s origin. The fact that biochemists have succeeded in demonstrating some of the necessary chemical pathways in their high-technology, well-funded laboratories simply proves that someone much more intelligent, knowledgeable, and better funded (more powerful) than those biochemists must be responsible for life’s origin on Earth.
Special Time and Place
Krauss endorses the Copernican Principle, “that there is nothing special about our place and time in the universe.”7 It’s true that we do not reside at the center of the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies or at the center of the Local Group of galaxies or at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy or at the center of the solar system. Nonetheless, our location is special.
We are living at the only location within our solar system, galaxy, and cluster of galaxies where it would be possible for us to launch and sustain high-technology civilization. We also exist at a special and unique time. This is the one epoch in cosmic history where our civilization is possible. That specific location and special time are also the best possible time and place for us to observe the vast cosmic reaches and directly witness the cosmic creation event. All this is explained in my book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is.8
Krauss does concede that “We live at a very special time … the only time when we can observationally verify that we live at a very special time.”9 However, he overlooks the theological implications of our living at a very special time (and place): so that we may see the full extent of God’s handiwork revealed in the record of nature.10
Like so many other famous nontheistic physicists,11 Krauss declares that modern scientific advances have rendered philosophy and theology irrelevant. He writes, “Theology has made no contribution to knowledge in the past five hundred years.… No one has provided a counter example.”12 We at Reasons To Believe have provided many. For example:
- The Bible alone predicted all the fundamentals of big bang cosmology thousands of years before any scientist discovered these cosmic features.13
- The Bible predicted that darkness was a real substance with geographical locations in the universe.14
- The Bible predicted the order and the details of Earth’s natural history.15
- The Bible gave us the scientific method.16
In A Universe from Nothing, Krauss writes, “The goal of science was to explain why the universe had to be the way it is.”17 That goal motivated me to write Why the Universe Is the Way It Is. Unlike Krauss, I conclude that the features of the universe declare the glory, majesty, and righteous of the biblical Creator.18 God uses the universe’s features to simultaneously fulfill over a dozen different purposes, among them serving as the optimal theatre in which God eliminates all evil and suffering and prepares willing humans for eternal and unimaginably rewarding careers in the new creation.19
Part One of “Universe from Nothing?: A Critique of Lawrence Krauss”
- Lawrence M. Krauss, A Universe from Nothing (New York: Free Press, 2012), 176.
- Ibid., 173.
- Ibid., 177.
- Ibid., 147, 190–91.
- Ibid., 147.
- Ibid., 123.
- Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 43–124.
- Krauss, 118.
- Psalm 19:1–4; 50:6; 97:6 (NIV, 1984).
- See for example The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
- Krauss, 144.
- Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 3rd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), 23–29.
- Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), 60–63.
- Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), 17–68.
- Ibid., 19–20, 195–97.
- Krauss, 175.
- Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, 125–45.
- Ibid., 147–206.