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A Universe without Purpose
Lawrence M. Krauss - Los
[COMMENT: This is a superb piece
from the secular point of view.
Read it well and remember its main points.
They are, in
my humble opinion, all wrong, but they are what you will encounter "out there"
from secular writers. This why we Christians MUST learn how to defend our
See good responses to the kinds of issues presented by this article at
and also some at the end of the
online article itself.
The author apparently admits the "anthropic" principle, that the
cosmos appears to be designed for our habitation. And indeed that is
precisely the case. But he denies the reality of this principle, retaining
only the formal existence of it. It is there, but not true (whatever that
For a coming alternative to this view, see
which promises to reverse many of the anomalies of relativity and quantum
mechanics, etc. I think they will succeed.
The Road to Emmaus is about Common Sense Religion,
basing our belief on logic and fact, as does the Bible (see
The Authority of Scripture in a Scientific
The writer below takes the Freudian view that we
imagine God so that we can be comfortable in an otherwise very uncomforting
cosmos. See my response to
Freud. Visit also
Personality, Empiricism, & God, my D. Phil. thesis on the relation between
science and religion, which gives, I think, an airtight case for the
Cosmological Argument for God. The author below is wrong both
Krauss's apparent belief that because he can
"explain" the bizarre anomalies of relativity and quantum mechanics
mathematically, he can do it in the real world as well.
Note his quote
from Wes Bausmith at the top of his article, "Science has taught us to think the
unthinkable..." But that is a gigantic,
blind, and irrational leap of "faith". Science
cannot teach us to think the unthinkable
without betraying its search for truth. It results in the collapse of
rational science because it violates the two
fundamental laws of all science, including those of theology, the law of
non-contradiction and the law of sufficient cause. Some seem to think that
they have discovered a new and profound (never mind that it is contradictory) truth about life. But when
Biblical people do that, they accuse us of irrationality. And they are
I want to return the favor. The article below
accuses us Christians, especially the Intelligent
Design people, of irrationality. But it is Mr. Krauss who fails in the
rationality department. The cosmos which he proposes is fundamentally
irrational for its violation of the two fundamental laws of rational thinking.
Here is a question for Mr. Krauss: Given what
you write in your article, how would you know if you were wrong? What
rational standards are left by which you might measure your ideas to be
mistaken? Would you still apply the two basic principles above? And
if those two principles are still valid, how do you justify your reasoning
The rational response to contradictions in reality
(such as given us by relativity and quantum mechanics) is to conclude that
something is wrong here, not that we have a new and profound contradiction which
we must honor as true. Nonsense by any other name is still nonsense. E. Fox]
New revelations in science have shown what a strange and remarkable
universe we live in.
Science has taught us to think the unthinkable. Because when
nature is the
(Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times)
The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps
the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to
confront on a daily basis. Everywhere we look, it appears that the world
was designed so that we could flourish.
The position of the Earth around the sun, the
presence of organic materials and water and a warm climate all make
life on our planet possible. Yet, with perhaps 100 billion solar systems
in our galaxy alone, with ubiquitous water, carbon and hydrogen, it
isn't surprising that these conditions would arise somewhere. And as to
the diversity of life on Earth as Darwin described more than 150 years
ago and experiments ever since have validated natural selection in
evolving life forms can establish both diversity and order without any
As a cosmologist, a scientist who studies the
origin and evolution of the universe, I am painfully aware that our
illusions nonetheless reflect a deep human need to assume that the existence
of the Earth, of life and of the universe and the laws that govern it
require something more profound. For many, to live in a universe that may
have no purpose, and no creator, is unthinkable.
But science has taught us to think the
unthinkable. Because when nature is the guide rather than a priori
prejudices, hopes, fears or desires we are forced out of our comfort zone.
One by one, pillars of classical logic have fallen by the wayside as science
progressed in the 20th century, from Einstein's realization that
measurements of space and time were not absolute but observer-dependent, to
quantum mechanics, which not only put fundamental limits on what we can
empirically know but also demonstrated that elementary particles and the
atoms they form are doing a million seemingly impossible things at once.
And so it is that the 21st century has brought
new revolutions and new revelations on a cosmic scale. Our picture of the
universe has probably changed more in the lifetime of an octogenarian today
than in all of human history. Eighty-seven years ago, as far as we knew, the
universe consisted of a single galaxy, our Milky Way, surrounded by an
eternal, static, empty void. Now we know that there are more than 100
billion galaxies in the observable universe, which began with the Big Bang
13.7 billion years ago. In its earliest moments, everything we now see as
our universe and much more was contained in a volume smaller than the
size of a single atom.
And so we continue to be surprised. We are like
the early mapmakers redrawing the picture of the globe even as new
continents were discovered. And just as those mapmakers confronted the
realization that the Earth was not flat, we must confront facts that change
what have seemed to be basic and fundamental concepts. Even our idea of
nothingness has been altered.
We now know that most of the energy in the
observable universe can be found not within galaxies but outside them, in
otherwise empty space, which, for reasons we still cannot fathom, "weighs"
something. But the use of the word "weight" is perhaps misleading because
the energy of empty space is gravitationally repulsive. It pushes distant
galaxies away from us at an ever-faster rate. Eventually they will recede
faster than light and will be unobservable.
This has changed our vision of the future, which
is now far bleaker. The longer we wait, the less of the universe we will be
able to see. In hundreds of billions of years astronomers on some distant
planet circling a distant star (Earth and our sun will be long gone) will
observe the cosmos and find it much like our flawed vision at the turn of
the last century: a single galaxy immersed in a seemingly endless dark,
empty, static universe.
Out of this radically new
image of the universe at large scale have also come new ideas about physics
at a small scale. The Large
Hadron Collider has given tantalizing hints that the origin of mass, and
therefore of all that we can see, is a kind of cosmic accident. Experiments
in the collider bolster evidence of the existence of the "Higgs field,"
which apparently just happened to form throughout space in our universe; it
is only because all elementary particles interact with this field that they
have the mass we observe today.
Most surprising of all, combining the ideas of
general relativity and quantum mechanics, we can understand how it is
possible that the entire universe, matter, radiation and even space itself
could arise spontaneously out of nothing, without explicit divine
intervention. Quantum mechanics' Heisenberg uncertainty principle expands
what can possibly occur undetected in otherwise empty space. If gravity too
is governed by quantum mechanics, then even whole new universes can
spontaneously appear and disappear, which means our own universe may not be
unique but instead part of a "multiverse."
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Date Posted - 04/16/2012 - Date
Last Edited -