Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In the Beginning … Nothing?

The Law of Cause and Effect is among the most fundamental rules of science. At least it used to be. If you had told most people in the past, including brilliant atheists, that there was an effect without a cause, they would not have taken you seriously. In fact, unbelievers denied the existence of God using this very idea. “Who created God?” they would ask, assuming that even God had to have a cause behind Him.
However, if God is not the ultimate cause, who or what is? The problem has been that no one could come up with a plausible alternative to God. In the beginning … what? Matter? Energy? The Second Law of Thermodynamics affirms that the universe, including for example the Sun, is running down. Energy is being expended, not sustained. Nothing in the material universe could have existed from all eternity. It just couldn’t.
Some then tried to claim that a very tiny bit of something somehow multiplied and produced the vast, complex array that we call the cosmos. Once again, however, no one could explain how that “bit” could have existed eternally, or how something so little could cause something so much greater.
So we are back to God, or should be! In fact, scientists who believe in God – and there are myriads of them – have no problem with the fact that God made all things from nothing. Heb 11:3 declares, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
However, those who presuppose that there is no God are in crisis. They have come to a cliff, facing a chasm that they cannot cross. If matter was not here from the beginning, if energy did not work on that matter to “create” a “bang” and bring life from non-life, and if there is no God, they are out of answers!
What about evolution? In addition to all its other problems, assumptions, and missing links, this unproven theory lacks a starting point. If man evolved from A … that evolved from B … that evolved from C … what is the first thing, or being, or source that gave rise to all the others? We are back to cause and effect! Evolution demands multiple effects with no ultimate cause or clear intermediate causes! It has no beginning point to offer, especially now that theories of eternal matter or everlasting energy have proven false!
So what’s the latest? How do we get a universe without an origin, a creation without a Creator?
Hold on. The answer is coming. Yes, we are told, atheists have a solution. Are you ready? Some of them are saying …
In the beginning … nothing!
I am serious. The latest idea, presented with a straight face and accepted as quite reasonable by the truly intelligent, is that there is no cause after all. The law of “every effect has a cause,” that “this came from that,” has now become the law of “the first effect had no cause” and “everything came from nothing.”
Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and Director of the Origins Institute at Arizona State University, published A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing. This book, as its title suggests, purports to explain how something---and not just any something, but the entire universe---could have emerged from nothing, the kind of nothing implicated by quantum field theory.
Wait … did you say quantum field theory? Is that the best we have?
Krauss says, “And while we don’t yet know the ultimate origin of life, for most people it’s plausible that at some point chemistry became biology. What’s amazing to me is that we’re now at a point where we can plausibly argue that a universe full of stuff came from a very simple beginning, the simplest of all beginnings: nothing.”
Huh? What’s that? Say it again? “… we’re now at a point where we can plausibly argue that a universe full of stuff came from a very simple beginning, the simplest of all beginnings: nothing.”
According to Ross Anderson, writing in The Atlantic, “It’s a story that Krauss is well positioned to tell; in recent years he has emerged as an unusually gifted explainer of astrophysics. One of his lectures has been viewed over a million times on YouTube and his cultural reach extends to some unlikely places---last year Miley Cyrus came under fire when she tweeted a quote from Krauss that some Christians found offensive. Krauss’ book quickly became a bestseller, drawing raves from popular atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, the latter of which even compared it to The Origin of Species for the way its final chapters were supposed to finally upend the ‘last trump card of the theologian’”.”
Did you catch that? The well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins, sees this “big nothing” as sufficient to overthrow the theologian’s arguments for God’s existence? Krauss says, “We don’t know … plausible …” That unseats faith in God?
Think back with me about this.
When scientists declared that life cannot spontaneously generate from non-life, the theologian already knew that.
When scientists admitted that they could not find the links to prove evolution, the theologian already knew that.
When scientists proclaimed that the universe had a beginning, the theologian already knew that.
When scientists realized that matter and energy could not have existed eternally, the theologian already knew that.
And now, when scientists say, it all started from nothing, the theologian already knew that, too. “In the beginning God.” That’s it. In the beginning, there was no universe, no matter, no creation. Not until He brought it all into being, ex nihilo, from nothing.
Dawkins’ bold statement makes me think of Robert Jastrow’s famous comment. Jastrow (1925 – 2008) was an American astronomer, physicist and cosmologist. He was a leading NASA scientist, populist author and futurist. He wrote, "… scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause, there is no First Cause. … This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized."
"Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proved that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks: What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter or energy into the universe? And science cannot answer these questions, because, according to the astronomers, in the first moments of its existence the Universe was compressed to an extraordinary degree, and consumed by the heat of a fire beyond human imagination. The shock of that instant must have destroyed every particle of evidence that could have yielded a clue to the cause of the great explosion."
"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
—Robert Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe, (1981), p. 19.
Now consider the title of Anderson’s article in The Atlantic:Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?”
Are you kidding? Physics – at least all that physics has actually proven – has shown faith in God to be the only thing that is not obsolete! Theories come and go. God remains.
Note what Krauss further admits in response to this question from Anderson:
Anderson: “Your book argues that physics has definitively demonstrated how something can come from nothing. Do you mean that physics has explained how particles can emerge from so-called empty space, or are you making a deeper claim?” 
Krauss: I’m making a deeper claim, but at the same time I think you’re overstating what I argued. I don’t think I argued that physics has definitively shown how something could come from nothing; physics has shown how plausible physical mechanisms might cause this to happen. I try to be intellectually honest in everything that I write, especially about what we know and what we don’t know. If you’re writing for the public, the one thing you can’t do is overstate your claim, because people are going to believe you. They see I’m a physicist and so if I say that protons are little pink elephants, people might believe me. And so I try to be very careful and responsible. We don’t know how something can come from nothing, but we do know some plausible ways that it might. 
But I am certainly claiming a lot more than just that. That it’s possible to create particles from no particles is remarkable---that you can do that with impunity, without violating the conservation of energy and all that, is a remarkable thing. The fact that “nothing,” namely empty space, is unstable is amazing. But I’ll be the first to say that empty space as I’m describing it isn’t necessarily nothing, although I will add that it was plenty good enough for Augustine and the people who wrote the Bible. For them an eternal empty void was the definition of nothing, and certainly I show that that kind of nothing ain’t nothing anymore.
It’s not just theologians. Even fellow scientists take issue with Krauss’ conjecture. Look at this review of Krauss’ book, written by David Albert, a professor of philosophy at Columbia and the author of “Quantum Mechanics and Experience.”
The more I read and think, the more I believe Genesis! God took nothing and created all.

1 comment:

Alvin Jennings said...

Cory, thank you for this and for your articles that are true and reasonable to the believers mind, and should also be true and reasonable to all the intellectuals as well. Blessings to you for your faithfulness and many works that bring honor and glory to the Creator of the universe. I also pray God's blessings on all His faithful believers of the WORD OF TRUTH, the Holy Bible. We can "say nothing against the truth but for the truth." Alvin Jennings