If you will give me just a few minutes of your time, I would like to talk about nothing. Now, I know you may be thinking, “Well, if you are going to talk about nothing, then why are you talking about something?” But I don’t want to talk about something. If I wanted to talk about something, I could practically talk about anything, because everything that exists is something. Yet, I want to talk about nothing. That is, I want to talk about the concept of nothing, not say nothing, because clearly I am saying something! Confused? It sounds an awfully lot like the Abbott and Costello bit called “Who’s On First?” doesn’t it?
Early this year theoretical physicist, Lawrence Krauss, released a book entitled A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing. He attempts to promote the idea that the universe could have risen from nothing, thereby removing the need for a Creator or First Cause. Many people have been intrigued by the title. Krauss has garnered a lot of attention as of late. In fact, he has become ubiquitous, many who did not know his name now do. He even garnered an appearance on the Colbert Report, which was highly entertaining.
Prominent spokesperson for Atheism, Richard Dawkins, seems to think that Krauss’ work is the nail in the coffin of the Theist. He writes, “Even the last remaining trump card of the theologian, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?,’ shrivels up before your eyes as you read these pages. If ‘On the Origin of Species’ was biology’s deadliest blow to supernaturalism, we may come to see ‘A Universe From Nothing’ as the equivalent from cosmology. The title means exactly what it says. And what it says is devastating.” I am unsure why Dawkins feels the need to dote on this title, because the book answers no such question.
The problem rests on that pesky, little word, “nothing.” Krauss asserts that the universe did arise from nothing, but the nothingness from which he says the universe came is the quantum vacuum. Do you see the problem? He has renamed something (the quantum vacuum) nothing, when clearly it is something. The quantum vacuum is essentially empty space, but it is rife with energy, it also weighs something. So what we have here is still something. Krauss doesn’t answer the question of why there is something when there should be nothing. He merely steps the question back a step. He has not dealt with the fact that one must explain where matter, energy, and the physical laws that our universe operates under come from in the first place. He simply redefines the term “nothing” to fit with his own naturalistic presuppositions that there is no God.
So that leaves us with our original topic to discuss, nothing. What exactly is nothing? Aristotle mused that, “Nothing is what rocks dream about.” That is to say, nothing is a complete absence of anything. It is a term of universal negation. Physics cannot describe nothing, because nothing has zero properties to be described.
Christianity has always maintained that God created the universe Ex Nihilo, literally out of nothing. When it comes down to it, something has always existed. There is something that has always been out of necessity. Christians would say that this is God, whereas Krauss must appeal to a multi-verse (an infinite number of universes). Modern cosmology points to a specific beginning of the universe which seems best explained by an external, necessary agent, God.
So, as it is, the title of Krauss’ book is misleading, but I am sure it helped the book to move. He has done well with it, and it has offered him a greater degree of notoriety, to which I say kudos. Yet, it is possible that some laity will take his definition of “nothing” at face value when his nothing is really something.
As it turns out, nothing from nothing is still nothing, because nothing ever could.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” –Genesis 1:1
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
William Lane Craig Vs. Lawrence Krauss Debate
New York Times Review of Krauss’ book by David Albert