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← 'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

BaltimoreOriole's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by BaltimoreOriole

The "nothing" which physicists talk about may not be "nothingy" enough for some theists, but it doesn't "contain" the laws of physics. The laws of physics are simply our descriptions of observed patterns of occurrences; they are not really "laws" which anything "obeys".

Imagine that we observed that our neighbour left his house at 7 am every day. We might construct a "law" for our neighbour which described this behaviour. On observing that the behaviour did not occur at weekends, we might so modify this law. It might then be a useful shorthand to speak of him "obeying" this law, but in fact his house "contains" no such law, nor in fact does he "obey" any such law. This law is our own construct, useful in helping us make real-world predictions, but not having any existence "out there". The "law" is actually found only in our own minds.

As for the "ex nihilo" nothingness which some theists crave, as Stenger points out, there is zero reason to think that there ever was or ever will be such nothingness. We can't create such nothingness, have no evidence of it, nor do we have a theory which predicts its past, presence or future "existence". We don't even know what it would MEAN for there to be such "nothingness". If "something" came from "nothing", then "nothing" would have the PROPERTY of transmutability into "something". But if "nothing" has at least this one property, then how can we describe it as "nothing" in the "ex nihilo" sense?

And why do obscurantists thing that concepts ("ex nihilo") become more profound if they are expressed in Latin? (German or French will sometimes do in a pinch.) My own theory is that they have mathematics envy. They resent those show-offy physicists who look so darned smart when they write their fancy equations, so they want to show gosh-darn-it that they can show off too, in their own way.

Anyway, as far as I can see, the only people who think that something can come from ex-nihilo nothingness are theists, who apparently think that God can pull off this trick. Atheists clearly are not committed to this belief, and I frankly don't even really understand what people are talking about when they say they believe this.

Sun, 17 Jul 2011 15:19:47 UTC | #850435