Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing

In his new book, A Universe From Nothing, Lawrence Krauss makes his claim that nothing can spontaneously generate something; specifically, our universe. Yet he continuously refers to nothing as being full of various things. If nothing else, it contains the laws of physics, particularly of quantum physics. Like so many New Atheists, Dr. Krauss is a fine scientist, but a terrible theologian. Like his mentor, Richard Dawkins, he is a careful and thoughtful practitioner of empirical reasoning as long as he remains within the confines of his area of study. Also like his mentor, he descends into the very prejudice and emotionalism he condemns in extreme theists as soon as he ventures into religion.

I prefer the statement of Dr. Marvin Mueller, "It does not seem possible for nothingness (as known to physics) to exist anywhere at any time."

It is a long established fact that the branch of philosophy now known as science is superb at determining the nature of the objective world and of the laws which underlie reality. It is also a long established fact that science is limited to the empirically testable. If a reality exists which supersedes the empirical world, science is useless in detecting or analyzing it. That does not mean that such a supernatural reality does exist, only that by postulating its ability to exempt itself from the limits of physics, one makes it, by definition, beyond empirical testing.

Certainly individual details and claims can be tested, but the fundamental existence or nonexistence of such a super reality is outside the scope of science.

Finally, I find it very amusing when I hear Dr. Dawkins' sneering references to philosophers as a sort of glorified fools' guild. He should take a freshman course in the subject. There he will learn that science is a branch of philosophy. Admittedly, a limited and specific branch, but of philosophy, nonetheless. That being so, every scientist is a philosopher.

Reference: The November/December issue of Skeptical Inquirer

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