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Friday, March 23, 2012

Do physical laws explain the origin of everything?

Physicists have been looking for a "Theory of Everything" for a long time. No such theory has been universally accepted, to this point.

A recent book, A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, by Lawrence M. Krauss, begins by stating that the author is no fan of a supernatural creator. (p. xi) Then, it goes on to say that "The purpose of this book is simple. I want to show how modern science . . . can address and is addressing the question of why there is something rather than nothing." (p. xiii) And there is an afterword by Richard Dawkins, no less, who congratulates Krauss on his answer to the question of the subtitle, and also writes that
We may not understand quantum theory (heaven knows, I don't), but a theory that predicts the real world to ten decimal places cannot in any straightforward sense be wrong. Theology not only lacks decimal places: it lacks even the smallest hint of connection with the real world.

I found it most interesting that Dawkins referred to heaven, which, he says, he doesn't believe in. But never mind. The New York Times published a review of Krauss's book, which review mentions Dawkins, as well. The author of the review does not question the laws of quantum mechanics, which Krauss believes explain our very existence. But he does write: 
But the laws have no bearing whatsoever on questions of where the elementary stuff came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular elementary stuff it does, as opposed to something else, or to nothing at all.
In other words, Krauss has not really explained nearly as much as he, nor Dawkins, think that he has.

Nor, says the review, do the laws explain why those very laws exist. (Krauss has no such explanation, either, and says so.) In other words, we still do not know, from a scientific standpoint, why there is something, rather than nothing. I don't think we ever will. As the writer of Hebrews put it: 11:3 By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible. (World English Bible, public domain) By faith, not by experiment. Dawkins and Krauss have faith, but it's a faith that there is no meaning, no purpose, to the existence of the universe. Those of us who believe in a supernatural Creator believe that they are wrong, but we can't prove it.

I have previously written on the weirdness of modern physics, here and here.

Thanks for reading.

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