Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry offers an example, using Larry Krauss as a springboard:
Metaphysical claims are claims based on a certain type of logic — metaphysical logic. For example, the claim that a universe of finite causes cannot explain its own existence and so must find its source in some infinite ground of existence, an uncaused cause, is a logical claim, which can be debated using a specific set of logical tools, just like mathematical claims. Maybe it’s wrong. But it’s a logical claim, not a scientific claim.
I point this out because, circling back to Krauss, this sort of confusion is endemic. Krauss in fact wrote a whole book-length non-sequitur about this: a book titled A Universe from Nothing, which became a New York Times best-seller and in which, as the title indicates, he tries to argue that physics supports the idea of a universe appearing out of nothing. He writes: “What would be the characteristics of a universe that was created from nothing, just with the laws of physics and without any supernatural shenanigans?” Well, “just the laws of physics” is not nothing. So, yes, if you define “nothing” as “not nothing,” you can account for the universe appearing from “nothing.”
And this is the basic error: Because science can only adjudicate empirical claims — and indeed only one specific type of empirical claim — it cannot, by definition, adjudicate non-empirical questions, such as why empirical claims are possible to begin with. Theistic claims about the creation of the universe are logical claims; these claims may be wrong, but they cannot be adjudicated with science. (And in this specific sense, certainly, the magisteria do not overlap.)
Krauss has not heeded philosopher Ed Feser’s wish that he shut up already.
He will likely continue to claim that, according to his formula, something can come from nothing.
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