Much They Do About Nuthin.
Victor Stenger, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, in this piece, makes a rather pitiful attempt to defend the folly of Lawrence Krauss — a folly about which I’ve written something on, here.
Victor’s piece was a response to David Albert’s criticisms of Lawrence Krauss’s book ‘A Universe From Nothing’, where Lawrence attempts to make the case that the universe created itself from nothing without the need for God.
Clearly, no academic consensus exists on how to define “nothing.” It may be impossible. To define “nothing” you have to give it some defining property, but, then, if it has a property it is not nothing!
Notice how smart people like Victor choose instead to play dumb, feign ignorance, and create problems where none exist rather than acknowledge the obvious, because doing so exposes their pretensions to the certainty with which they hold their conclusions. And the ‘obvious’ is that ‘nothing’ simply means ‘not anything’. Presumably, aside from the willfully obtuse, anyone who’s gone through philo 101 will scarcely think ‘nothing’ an unfathomable concept as Victor would have us believe.
The “nothing” that Krauss mainly talks about throughout the book is, in fact, precisely definable. It should perhaps be better termed as a “void,” which is what you get when you apply quantum theory to space-time itself. It’s about as nothing as nothing can be. This void can be described mathematically. It has an explicit wave function. This void is the quantum gravity equivalent of the quantum vacuum in quantum field theory.
In other words, the “nothing that Krauss mainly talks about” isn’t actually ‘nothing’. However, I don’t think an admission of this on their part will ever be forthcoming, seeing as they continually choose to ignore the fact that something that can be “described mathematically”, has an “explicit wave function”, and, as Hawking says, ‘still subject to the laws of physics’, IS NOT NOTHING, or, for that matter, not not anything.
Victor gives us more tripe:
So, the real issue is not where our particular universe came from but where the multiverse came from. This question has an easy answer: the multiverse is eternal. So, since it always was, it didn’t have to come from anything.
Oh, it “has an easy answer[!]” he says. Why, “it’s eternal[!]” he says. Why, the easy answer is that we’re one of an infinite number of universes –the multiverse. Why, we neither need to explain where the multiverse comes from nor explain how a universe generating mechanism could work, because, why, “it’s eternal[!]”. Riiight, Victor. As far as I’ve been able to gather, string theory, or any other unifying theory for that matter, hasn’t enough evidence going for it for you to assert with such confidence that the easy answer is “the multiverse”. Even if the multiverse were true, that doesn’t get you off the hook, and only puts the problem a step back, since, we can still ask: ‘where did the multiverse come from?’ An infinite regress will still rear its ugly head. And, you don’t have any evidence –none whatsoever– that universes can be eternal; logic even dictates that nothing material can be.
And more nonsense from Victor:
Why should nothing, no matter how defined, be the default state of existence rather than something? And, to bring religion into the picture, one could ask: Why is there God rather than nothing? Once theologians assert that there is a God (as opposed to nothing), they can’t turn around and ask a cosmologist why there is a universe (as opposed to nothing). They claim God is a necessary entity. But then, why can’t a godless multiverse be a necessary entity?
The “godless multiverse” cannot be a necessary entity for the same reasons, say, a banana can’t be a necessary entity. If Victor knows those reasons –why a banana can’t be a necessary entity– then, presumably, he knows why a godless multiverse, likewise, can’t be a necessary entity. Nothing material can exist by a necessity of it’s own nature. It is precisely the contingent aspect of the material that makes it illogical for it to exist out of some necessity of its own nature. And this just brings us back to the cosmological argument (which is what Lawrence’s book, in a sense, is trying to refute) which states that a first cause, or prime mover –in other words, a necessary being– is needed to escape an infinite regress of events.
Ho hum. Lawrence Krauss hasn’t refuted the God hypothesis, and Victor Stenger fails to defend Lawrence’s non-refutation of the God hypothesis. These guys are as intellectually accomplished as one can hope to get, so they shouldn’t be acting as though they were obtuse and only theoretically capable of learning. Nuff said.