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← Afterword from Lawrence Krauss' New Book - A Universe From Nothing

Kasterfin's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Kasterfin

Whilst I will definitely be buying Krauss' book merely for the Physics, and for Krauss' excellently clear and incisive writing, I still feel that there is a role for the 'armchair philosopher' in this final vanquishing of the supernaturalist. Unfortunately, it is not true that quantum gravity, or any such theory, leaves absolutely nothing unexplained. There will have to be some very minimal brute fact somewhere down along the line - the existence of the initial singularity, the timeless state the universe existed in 'before' real time took over from imaginary time (in the hartle-hawking model), the space-time foam etc, as theologians gleefully point out.

However, this initial 'something' really is an uncaused cause; we know this because at the 'moment' of creation our concepts of space and time break down. Despite the insistence of some physics-ignorant theologians, there is NO TIME in which a creator can create the universe.

It is not true to say that we atheists believe that 'being arises out of absolute non-being' (as WLC once said in his debate with Krauss), merely that the universe IS (there was no time at which it didn't exist) and performed 'the ultimate bootstrapping trick' (as Dennett says) - assembling itself away from very nearly nothing, but only nearly nothing.

Needless to say, this 'nearly-nothing' is a far, far, easier brute fact to accept than an alternately timeless and not timeless disembodied omnipotent mind. The mistake all theologians make, and which philosophers like Hume pointed out long before we actually found the real explanations, is in thinking of 'mind' as something simple and fundamental that can be a cause, rather than a very complex effect that has to be explained.

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 12:06:04 UTC | #904025