Intelligent Design

This Just In: Everything Came From Nothing and if You Don’t Agree You Know Nothing

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Evolution professor Lawrence Krauss is now saying that the universe, and everything in it, came from nothing. Not only that, but there are probably billions and billions of universes that have spontaneously arisen. Occasionally a universe happens to have all the right properties for life to arise spontaneously within it, and that would be us.  Read more

38 Replies to “This Just In: Everything Came From Nothing and if You Don’t Agree You Know Nothing

  1. 1
    champignon says:

    Evolution professor Lawrence Krauss is now saying that the universe, and everything in it, came from nothing.

    Krauss is a physicist, not a biologist.

  2. 2
    Daniel King says:

    To Cornelius Hunter, anybody who denies special creation, whether of the Universe or of entities within it, is an evolutionist.

    Refer to his blog.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    GilDodgen says:

    If something came from nothing, nothing is not nothing, it is something. By attributing creative powers to nothing, one has made something out of nothing.

    Something-came-from-nothing “reasoning” is superbly irrational, and is yet another example of the grand tradition of nonsensical materialistic thinking.

  5. 5
    UrbanMysticDee says:

    When Krauss and Hawking and others refer to “nothing” they really mean “the quantum vacuum that has always existed without any explanation of where it came from.” I would seriously like them to stop hijacking the word “nothing” to mean something other than “nothing.” If they want to believe that the universe always existed (and that matter is a very recent addition brought on by quantum fluctuations to that universe which has existed forever in the past) they are free to do so, but to call the quantum vacuum which has existed for an infinitely long time “nothing” is simply unexcusable.

  6. 6

    If something came from nothing, nothing is not nothing, it is something. By attributing creative powers to nothing, one has made something out of nothing.

    But nobody is “attributing creative powers” to nothing. Saying that something came from nothing isn’t the same as saying that “nothing” has creative powers. It is you who are attributing agency to this thing you are miscalling “no-thing”.

    Something-came-from-nothing “reasoning” is superbly irrational, and is yet another example of the grand tradition of nonsensical materialistic thinking.

    No, it isn’t “irrational”. It requires something other than our habitual linear cause-leads-to-effect thinking, but there is no reason to think that that kind of thinking is the only “rational” kind of thinking. If that were the case, modern physics would have been impossible, and yet it has produced models of enormous predictive power.

    Just because a line of reasoning is counter-intuitive does not make that line of reasoning irrational. Counter-intuitive reasoning is often remarkably powerful.

  7. 7

    What would you call it? And how would you determin whether it has “existed foreever”? What would that even mean?

  8. 8
    Joe says:

    Right, they are attributing creative powers to emergence, without any evidence nor cause-and-effect relationship.

  9. 9
    EvilSnack says:

    Reminds me of a quote from Atlas Shrugged. My apologies, this is from memory:

    “The professor here was saying that everything is nothing.”

    “He certainly would know all about that,” Francisco replied gravely.

  10. 10
    Joe says:

    Hey, I just got a copy of Atlas Shrugged- I tried to read it in the 70s but couldn’t get through it.

  11. 11
    Stu7 says:

    Evolution professor Lawrence Krauss is now saying that the universe, and everything in it, came from nothing. Not only that, but there are probably billions and billions of universes that have spontaneously arisen. Occasionally a universe happens to have all the right properties for life to arise spontaneously within it, and that would be us.

    Wait what happened to the scientific methodology???

    So the metaphysical is back in the mix again; that means God has made a triumphant return to science folks.

  12. 12
    Stu7 says:

    When Krauss and Hawking and others refer to “nothing” they really mean “the quantum vacuum that has always existed without any explanation of where it came from.” I would seriously like them to stop hijacking the word “nothing” to mean something other than “nothing.” If they want to believe that the universe always existed (and that matter is a very recent addition brought on by quantum fluctuations to that universe which has existed forever in the past) they are free to do so, but to call the quantum vacuum which has existed for an infinitely long time “nothing” is simply unexcusable.

    So very true.

    So let me get this right; providing for this new definition of “nothing” — something comes from nothing because the ‘probability exists’.

    Well that’s right up there alongside God and magic.

  13. 13
    Joe says:

    Did someone say nothing from nothing?

    (Beatle #5)

  14. 14
    chaiko says:

    There is an interesting article over at physorg.com 08Jan12, entitled, “Scientists recreate evolution of complexity using ‘molecular time travel.'” It states,”Much of what living cells do is carried out by “molecular machines” – physical complexes of specialized proteins working together to carry out some biological function. How the minute steps of evolution produced these constructions has long puzzled scientists, and provided a favorite target for creationists.”
    More at January 18, 2012, issue of Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature10724

    Michael Behe might want to respond.

  15. 15
    dennis grey says:

    The vernacular idea of nothing is a human invention(and certainly co-opted by the biblical authors). The question of whether a total absence of anything material is a scientifically amenable question. After all, it is a question about material. The discovery by quantum physicists of the quantum foam is fairly indisputable proof that a material nothing is an impossibility. The concept of a material nothing should be dropped and like UrbanMysticDee says above physicists should stop using the word. They are only using because they are trying to discredit the biblical nothing.

    The idea of a “conceptual nothing”(scientific laws), Platonism anyone?, is a separate question and I don’t know if the existence of the quantum foam says anything about that.

  16. 16
    Barb says:

    A quantum vacuum is not nothing; as I have read, it’s a very active sea of fluctuating energy. A sea of fluctuating energy itself requires an explanation for how it came into being.

  17. 17
    Petrushka says:

    Anything that exists requires an explanation unless you want to argue that there are privileged entities that are exempt.

  18. 18
    UrbanMysticDee says:

    I would call it the quantum vacuum, which is what I did call it, twice in fact.

    Saying the quantum vacuum “existed forever” means exactly what it sounds like. The quantum vacuum exists infinitely far into the past. It had no beginning.

    How do I determine whether it has existed forever? I assume you mean me personally. I don’t. I’m just going by what Hawking and others say. All these people who are trying to hijack the word “nothing” are proposing that the “universe” is just one physical structure within a “multiverse” of some huge number (potentially infinitely many) other physical structure “universes” and that things like quantum laws and branes and a vacuum where fluctuations can exist all existed before our one particular “universe” existed. Well, this certainly is not creation from “nothing” and it does nothing to solve the question of why quantum laws or M-theory or whatever exists in the first place instead of nothing-nothing, which has no attributes, no space, no time, no quantum vacuum, no physical laws, nothing. It’s like they say “the universe sits on the back of a turtle,” to which the question is raised “well, what does the turtle sit on?” They answer “We don’t ask that question. We’re content having solved the mystery that the first turtle exists without concerning ourselves upon what it sits.”

  19. 19
    Grunty says:

    “Well that’s right up there alongside God and magic.”

    With one key exception: there is evidence that the quantum vacuum exists.

  20. 20
    Stu7 says:

    William Lane Craig has something to say regarding that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgBZlhp2XqU

  21. 21

    Exactly.

    All theories exempt something. The issue is: what are the properties of that exempted entity?

  22. 22
    Stu7 says:

    All theories exempt something. The issue is: what are the properties of that exempted entity?

    That which exists outside of space and time?

    Can we at least agree that “a seething froth of real particle-virtual particle pairs going in and out of existence continuously and very rapidly” is not nothing?

  23. 23

    I don’t mind what you call it. We can use a place-holder if you like: [] for whatever it is that we exempt from causality at the end of the causal chain.

    What are the properties of []?

    Intelligent? Seething?

  24. 24
    Stu7 says:

    I don’t mind what you call it.

    But it goes to the very heart of the matter! There’s either a void (truly nothing), or a quantum vacuum (something). As has been suggested before, we cannot redefine “nothing” to mean something.

    Does the quantum vacuum exist beyond space and time?
    Is it metaphysical in nature? If so, are we now appealing to forces beyond the natural universe for a first cause?

    We can use a place-holder if you like: [] for whatever it is that we exempt from causality at the end of the causal chain.

    What are the properties of []?

    Intelligent? Seething?

    Let me understand something.
    So there three possible premises for a first cause?

    1. An intelligent agent beyond space and time.
    2. An unguided, non-intelligent source beyond space and time (and therefore requires the abandonment of Methodological Naturalism).
    3. A solely naturalistic cause (Methodological Naturalism).

    Now an eternal universe has been shown to be false (Vilenkin and Guth); therefore there was “a beginning” at some point, so 3 is not possible.

    So are you appealing to an unknown (non-intelligent) source within the metaphysical realm for the creation of the quantum vacuum / universe / energy?

  25. 25

    But it goes to the very heart of the matter! There’s either a void (truly nothing), or a quantum vacuum (something). As has been suggested before, we cannot redefine “nothing” to mean something.

    The problem is that we do not have a clear referent for the signifier “nothing”. It may be that “truly nothing” is a meaningless concept, that a “quantum vacuum” is as void as existence can be. That’s why I suggest that we forget about “nothing” and simply denote whatever it is that we exempt from causality as []. Or Alpha. Or whatever. Let’s call it Alpha for now. Alpha is whatever it is that stops the causal chain.

    Now, you can claim intelligence, benevolence, omniscience, omnipotence, or anything else you like as properties of Alpha, and if you ascribe to Alpha all those properties then you might also choose to rechristen Alpha “God”, or “G-d” or “Jehovah” or “Allah” or even “Zeus”. Or you might decide that the most appropriate properties to claim for Alpha are the properties of quantum foam.

    That’s why I say that the interesting question is not “what is nothing?” but “what are the properties of the substrate of existence?” (Or of “the ground of our being” if you prefer).

    Does the quantum vacuum exist beyond space and time?

    Possibly, I’m not a physicist.

    Is it metaphysical in nature? M

    I don’t know what that would mean in this context. The question to which it is the answer is a metaphysical question, though.

    If so, are we now appealing to forces beyond the natural universe for a first cause?

    Again, I don’t know what that would mean. We are simply considering what the properties of the “first cause” i.e. the cause that is exempted from causality, are. If you define nature as that which is caused, then the first cause (the cause exempt from causality) would be “supernatural” If we define nature as that which causes, then the first cause would be “natural”. But that’s literally, semantics.

    Let me understand something.
    So there three possible premises for a first cause?

    Well, I’m saying that the first cause, Alpha, [], whatever, the uncaused cause, has certain properties. And, with Aquinas, we can start to think about what Alpha is not. So let’s look at yours:

    1. An intelligent agent beyond space and time.

    I would rule this out, because I think intelligence is a property of matter, and Alpha cannot be matter.

    2. An unguided, non-intelligent source beyond space and time (and therefore requires the abandonment of Methodological Naturalism).

    That seems possible, but I don’t see why it “requires the abandonment of Methodological Naturalism”.

    3. A solely naturalistic cause (Methodological Naturalism).

    As I said, I don’t distinguish between 2 and 3, or, at least, I consider the difference purely dependent on how we define “Nature” – as either what is caused (in which case the First Cause is not Natural) or as what causes (in which case the First Cause is Natural). I don’t think language serves us well here.

    But not do I think it matters. What matters is what properties Alpha has, not whether we call it “Natural” or “Supernatural”.

    Is it intelligent? In which case, is it benign? Is it omnipotent? And if not, does it have the properties of a quantum vacuum?

    Now an eternal universe has been shown to be false (Vilenkin and Guth); therefore there was “a beginning” at some point, so 3 is not possible.

    No, it has not been shown to be false. There are several cyclical models that remain possible. And in any case, absolute falsification is not possible in science.

    So are you appealing to an unknown (non-intelligent) source within the metaphysical realm for the creation of the quantum vacuum / universe / energy?

    Well, I don’t know what “the metaphysical realm” would mean. But if we use the word “metaphysical realm” to denote the realm of “uncaused causes”, then either the quantum vacuum is a denizen of the “metaphysical realm” or it is itself the result of some other entity that we do not, as yet, have a description of, and which is.

    My point is, simply: if we say that there has to be a front end to the causal chain, that’s fair enough. But even if we accept that there has to be such a front end (what I have called Alpha) there’s no good reason to ascribe to it the properties of intelligence rather than the properties of quantum foam. And, I would argue, some reason not to.

  26. 26
    Barb says:

    “Anything that exists requires an explanation unless you want to argue that there are privileged entities that are exempt.”

    Like time and space, for example?

  27. 27
    Barb says:

    “No, it has not been shown to be false. There are several cyclical models that remain possible. And in any case, absolute falsification is not possible in science.”

    But there is far more evidence in favor of the Big Bang theory than there is for cyclical universes.

    Oh, and if absolute falsification is impossible in science, then we don’t have to worry about the old chestnut “But it’s not falsifiable!” being applied to ID, now do we?

  28. 28
    Stu7 says:

    The problem is that we do not have a clear referent for the signifier “nothing”. It may be that “truly nothing” is a meaningless concept, that a “quantum vacuum” is as void as existence can be. That’s why I suggest that we forget about “nothing” and simply denote whatever it is that we exempt from causality as []. Or Alpha. Or whatever. Let’s call it Alpha for now. Alpha is whatever it is that stops the causal chain.

    Well I disagree, even if you contend that there can never be nothing, it must still be defined as absolutely nothing or a void.
    Especially in terms of debate and clarity.

    “Wait, when you say nothing do you mean quantum vacuum or nothing, etc, etc, etc.” 😉 Confusion reigns.

    We have to define whether the quantum vacuum is either “the caused” or the Alpha. It cannot be both, as there would be no divide between natural or supernatural; and then God, Zeus and the spagetti monster would all be fair game in the arena of science.

    Now, you can claim intelligence, benevolence, omniscience, omnipotence, or anything else you like as properties of Alpha, and if you ascribe to Alpha all those properties then you might also choose to rechristen Alpha “God”, or “G-d” or “Jehovah” or “Allah” or even “Zeus”. Or you might decide that the most appropriate properties to claim for Alpha are the properties of quantum foam.

    That’s why I say that the interesting question is not “what is nothing?” but “what are the properties of the substrate of existence?” (Or of “the ground of our being” if you prefer).

    And that is precisely the point.
    Sure there might be certain properties analogous to both, but you cannot provide a blanket definition to said properties as each “Alpha” is grounded in a fairly distinct premise.

    Possibly, I’m not a physicist.

    I don’t know what that would mean in this context. The question to which it is the answer is a metaphysical question, though.

    Well I would suggest the quantum vacuum is not supernatural, that electromagnetic waves, albeit possibly transient, are not supernatural.

    Again, I don’t know what that would mean. We are simply considering what the properties of the “first cause” i.e. the cause that is exempted from causality, are. If you define nature as that which is caused, then the first cause (the cause exempt from causality) would be “supernatural” If we define nature as that which causes, then the first cause would be “natural”. But that’s literally, semantics.

    No it’s not semantics, nature cannot be the first cause, an eternal universe is not plausable.
    Again, one cannot apply all-encompassing “properties” to the “Alpha”. It’s just not logical given the opposing premises.

    Well, I’m saying that the first cause, Alpha, [], whatever, the uncaused cause, has certain properties. And, with Aquinas, we can start to think about what Alpha is not. So let’s look at yours:

    1. An intelligent agent beyond space and time.

    I would rule this out, because I think intelligence is a property of matter, and Alpha cannot be matter.

    But surely every potential Alpha would then require an element “of matter”, even 2.

    2. An unguided, non-intelligent source beyond space and time (and therefore requires the abandonment of Methodological Naturalism).

    That seems possible, but I don’t see why it “requires the abandonment of Methodological Naturalism”.

    Surely this is a contradiction. If a non-intelligent Alpha can breach the natural / supernatural barrier to “create” energy / matter, there is no logical reason one cannot ascribe intelligence to the very same Alpha.

    Well anything beyond the natural universe is beyond the scope of methodological naturalism, if it wasn’t God would never a have been ejected from science.

    3. A solely naturalistic cause (Methodological Naturalism).

    As I said, I don’t distinguish between 2 and 3, or, at least, I consider the difference purely dependent on how we define “Nature” – as either what is caused (in which case the First Cause is not Natural) or as what causes (in which case the First Cause is Natural). I don’t think language serves us well here.

    But we absolutely have to distinguish between 2 or 3, if not then science can appeal to an “Alpha of the Gaps” argument.

    But not do I think it matters. What matters is what properties Alpha has, not whether we call it “Natural” or “Supernatural”.

    Sure it matters; “Natural” and “Supernatural” seem like the perfect description of what methodological naturalism can and cannot utilise / study.

    Is it intelligent? In which case, is it benign? Is it omnipotent? And if not, does it have the properties of a quantum vacuum?

    No, it has not been shown to be false. There are several cyclical models that remain possible. And in any case, absolute falsification is not possible in science.

    The way I understand it (from CEH).

    Eternal inflation: Built on Alan Guth’s 1981 inflation proposal, this model imagines bubble universes forming and inflating spontaneously forever. Vilenkin and Guth had debunked this idea as recently as 2003. The equations still require a boundary in the past.
    Eternal cycles: A universe that bounces endlessly from expansion to contraction has a certain appeal to some, but it won’t work either. “Disorder increases with time,” Grossman explained. “So following each cycle, the universe must get more and more disordered.” Logically, then, if there had already been an infinite number of cycles, the universe would already been in a state of maximum disorder, even if the universe gets bigger with each bounce. Scratch that model.
    Eternal egg: The “cosmic egg” model that has the universe hatching out of some eternally-existing static state. “Late last year Vilenkin and graduate student Audrey Mithani showed that the egg could not have existed forever after all, as quantum instabilities would force it to collapse after a finite amount of time.” No way could the egg be eternal.

    Well, I don’t know what “the metaphysical realm” would mean. But if we use the word “metaphysical realm” to denote the realm of “uncaused causes”, then either the quantum vacuum is a denizen of the “metaphysical realm” or it is itself the result of some other entity that we do not, as yet, have a description of, and which is.

    Yeah metaphysical is too ambiguous, “Supernatural” then.
    And that is my question — where does the quantum vacuum lie, is it part of the natural world or is it your proposed Alpha.

    My point is, simply: if we say that there has to be a front end to the causal chain, that’s fair enough. But even if we accept that there has to be such a front end (what I have called Alpha) there’s no good reason to ascribe to it the properties of intelligence rather than the properties of quantum foam. And, I would argue, some reason not to.

    Let’s simplify things. First off though, there’s no way you can justify asserting that your “non-sentient Alpha” is plausible, while dismissing an intelligent Alpha. Either way “it” creates something natural from the supernatural, which would by your own definition (suggesting that an intelligence would require matter) then require, whether or not intelligent, something tangible.

    I guess my own point is this. As a creationist I’ve always been told that science looks solely to the material universe or naturalism for the answers to any and all questions that may arise. Invoking God is considered a big no-no. Yet it seems that very journey into sciencific discovery and understanding has in fact lead us to this very point — the universe must have a first cause initiated from outside (supernatural) our space / time.

    For me personally, I can live with that, but then atheists really need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and remove the God of the Gaps argument from their lexicon as they themselves are essentially appealing to an unguided, non-intelligent, supernatural Alpha as the source for the first cause.

    So if we rewind the history of the universe by 13 billion (or 6 thousand) years; both parties are essentialy invoking a supernatural entity or Alpha as the first cause. The only difference being one is intelligent and the other not.

  29. 29

    Well I disagree, even if you contend that there can never be nothing, it must still be defined as absolutely nothing or a void.
    Especially in terms of debate and clarity.

    But that just passes the buck to defining “absolutely nothing” or “a void”. Those words don’t have referents that we understand.

    When it comes to quantum level, what we think we know ain’t necessarily so. We invented language to deal with the macro world, not the quantum world.

  30. 30

    If a non-intelligent Alpha can breach the natural / supernatural barrier to “create” energy / matter, there is no logical reason one cannot ascribe intelligence to the very same Alpha.

    Nor any logical reason not to.

    But to ascribe a property that we only know as a function of matter to a matter-less entity seems more of a stretch than not doing so.

  31. 31
    champignon says:

    Oh, and if absolute falsification is impossible in science, then we don’t have to worry about the old chestnut “But it’s not falsifiable!” being applied to ID, now do we?

    Um, yes, you still need to worry.

    Absolute falsification is impossible, just as absolute confirmation is. That doesn’t mean that falsification and confirmation are impossible. If it did, then science itself would be impossible.

  32. 32

    And it remains a good test of whether a theory is scientific or not.

    Is there any argument that would falsify ID? No there isn’t, because once you invoke an invisible intelligent omnipotent agent there’s nothing that it cannot explain, from bacterial flagella to levitating saints. YEC if you like.

    Is there any argument that would falsify evolutionary theory? Yes, lots. Evidence of an actual intelligent designer, for one. Violations of nested phenotypic hierarchies in sexually reproducing populations for another. In fact, specific details of evolutionary theory are falsified all the time, which is why biologists keep asking new questions, and getting new leads. Epigenetics is a good recent example.

  33. 33

    But there is far more evidence in favor of the Big Bang theory than there is for cyclical universes.

    Well, no there isn’t necessarily. Some cyclical models postulate cycles of Big Bangs. Here is one:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekpyrotic_universe

    Apparently it fits current data as well as the standard model, but makes differential predictions about some LHC results, not sure which. The big difference is that the Ekpyrotic theory doesn’t require the somewhat klunky Inflation.

    But I’m no physicist, so don’t ask me any more 🙂

  34. 34
    Joe says:

    Read the New Scientist article- “Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event”

  35. 35
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    Is there any argument that would falsify ID?

    Absolutely. Newton’s first rule and all.

    Is there any argument that would falsify evolutionary theory?

    It would have to make some predictions first.

    Violations of nested phenotypic hierarchies in sexually reproducing populations for another.

    It does not expect nested phenotypic hierarchies in sexually reproducing populations.

    The only nested hierarchy it “predicts” is one based on “all life”- see Eric B Knox, “The use of hierarchies as organizational models in systematics”, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (1998), 63: 1–49

    IOW Elizabeth stop with the nonsense already.

  36. 36
    Stu7 says:

    Is there any argument that would falsify evolutionary theory? Yes, lots.

    Not if you keep shifting the goal posts there isn’t 🙂

    Have you read Behe’s The Edge of Evolution?
    What did you make of Chapter 7 surrounding protein-protein binding sites, and the fact that neither malaria (in 10 to power 20 organisms), HIV (10 to power 20 organisms) or E. coli (10 to power 13 organisms) produced any such sites through random mutation.

    Given the diversity of the organisms (virus, eukaryote & prokaryote); their massive population size and rapid reproduction cycle, they offer one of the best examples of just what Darwinian evolution can accomplish? And they produced not one example of such a function, not one.

  37. 37
    Barb says:

    Champignon writes, “Absolute falsification is impossible, just as absolute confirmation is. That doesn’t mean that falsification and confirmation are impossible. If it did, then science itself would be impossible.”

    Absolute confirmation is impossible? So we can’t measure the circumference of the Earth? Or calculate the boiling and freezing points of water?

    Elizabeth Liddle January 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm
    “And it remains a good test of whether a theory is scientific or not.”

    Only if you’re Karl Popper, who proposed this means of deduction. It’s not the be-all and end-all of scientific inquiry.

    “Is there any argument that would falsify ID? No there isn’t, because once you invoke an invisible intelligent omnipotent agent there’s nothing that it cannot explain, from bacterial flagella to levitating saints. YEC if you like.”

    But there is growing evidence of a beginning for the universe. There is evidence that, when interpreted properly, points to a designer. The fact that scientists such as yourself choose to ignore such evidence only proves that you are less interested in finding the truth than you are with confirming your own preconceived notions.

    “Is there any argument that would falsify evolutionary theory? Yes, lots. Evidence of an actual intelligent designer, for one.”

    See above.

    “Violations of nested phenotypic hierarchies in sexually reproducing populations for another. In fact, specific details of evolutionary theory are falsified all the time, which is why biologists keep asking new questions, and getting new leads. Epigenetics is a good recent example.”

    How many times must a theory be falsified before one considers whether or not the theory and hypothesis behind it are completely wrong?

  38. 38
    tjguy says:

    Everything came from nothing did it? Well, IMO, that’s the kind of conclusion you might expect from an evolved ape brain.

    And if they really don’t mean “nothing”, they shouldn’t say “nothing”.

    And if it wasn’t nothing, then where did that “something” come from?

    Why should we trust any conclusion from our evolving animal brains? And why is the conclusion of one evolved brain better than the conclusion of another?

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