And he does. Which he has proven time and time again; and has, unsurprisingly, furnished us with more evidence of it:
In defense of Lawrence Krauss’s latest piece of intellectual self-immolation, Jerry argues:
“But if in fact one construes science broadly, as a combination of reason, empirical study, and verification, yes, existence of God should show up in “scientific” inquiry.” [But it does not, he goes on to argue].
If one “construes science” in such a manner, then yes, the existence of God, contra Jerry Coyne, does show up in “scientific inquiry”, for if we were to take, say, the argument from first cause, then we’re starting from principles that are not only based in reason, but are also empirically verifiable, and have in fact been empirically verified before the process of ’empirical verification’ had even been conceptualized.
But it’s even worse than that for Jerry, since “science”, so broadly construed, makes everyone a scientist — yes, even the theologians he expends great effort to criticize — for (almost) everyone goes about his merry way using reason, empiricism and verification. Apparently for Jerry, the mere act of mixing peanut butter and chocolate because reason and empirical verification has determined that the result can be extremely pleasing to the palate is already to do science.
And since Jerry is defending Krauss’s piece where Krauss argues all scientists must be militant atheists because “Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature . .”, then Jerry (and Krauss for that matter) might as well ride the crazy train all the way and argue all bakers need to be militant atheists given that belief or nonbelief is like totally irrelevant to making a cake.
And these guys — these scientists, no less! — claim to be rational and evidence-based.
As an aside, I can certainly say I used reason and have empirically verified that on matters philosophical Jerry Coyne demonstrably does not know what the hell he’s talking about. So, really, it’s just science.
But, yes, I’m sure other Christians like myself will be vastly amused to know that, as per Jerry, we can all start happily referring to each other as fellow scientists, since his broad definition of science not only grants us the status of scientist, it also grants theology the status of science.
Arguing with Lawrence about matters that don’t require the use of bunsen burners, the Hubble telescope or integrated calculus, is increasingly proving to be more than a bit sisyphean. The guy might be smart on matters scientific, but on everything else, he’s downright incapable of learning. As others have already written on his inimitable incoherence, I will, in this piece, skip his mistreatment of Kim Davis and Planned Parenthood, and concentrate on his central claim, which is that “all scientists should be militant atheists”.
Lawrence Krauss, as you might recall, is the author of A Universe From Nothing, where he purports to have solved how universes can come from nothing, only to say that ‘nothing’ is actually something, and in fact turns out to be a whole lot of something from which universes can emerge. That book itself is enough evidence that this guy is a hack. I mean, if I sincerely proposed that cars can come from nothing, only to say that by ‘nothing’ I actually meant large production assembly lines, I’ll be put into a mental asylum.
I won’t bother to link to his intellectually sloppy diatribe, you can google that for yourself, but let’s allow him to make his case and see if, like he claims, “all scientists should be militant atheists”.
So far as I can see (and, indeed, one would have to look past Himalayas of play-ground rhetoric) his primary argument for the claim is that science does not — indeed, cannot — have “sacred” ideas, as everything should be open to criticism, thusly somewhat precluding, by fiat, subscription to any religious idea. Therefore holding religious views alongside scientific ones (the case for a religious scientist) is to be cognitively dissonant at such an epic scale as to be laughable and worthy of not only dismissal, but outright derision.
Of course, Lawrence makes no distinctions — and is likely ignorant of the distinctions — between methodological and metaphysical naturalism. A fatal error, as we will see.
Since science is the study of nature, it is by it’s very nature methodologically naturalistic in that it needs to presuppose naturalism to work. That is because in science, for every phenomena under study, the required explanans is a natural one, and this axiomatically rules out the supernatural from the getgo. Again, that is simply how science is done, else it’ll cease to work and render us unable to build upon knowledge already acquired. Because a supernatural explanans, unlike a natural one, wouldn’t be within our ability to understand, let alone control, a scientist needs to find natural causes against which he can test and compare other natural facts about our universe. So, every scientist, to do science, needs to adhere to a strictly naturalistic methodology. That is simply what science requires — that scientists, to put it trivially, use the scientific method.
Lawrence, however, does a little sleight of hand, citing that very requirement and extrapolating it to argue for the philosophical position known as metaphysical naturalism, which is the position that only the natural, or in his case, only the physical, exists. This is, needless to say, illogical, since one simply cannot infer from study of the natural that the supernatural does not exist.
So, his conclusion that ‘metaphysical naturalism’ — atheism — is true, or that it’s a view that scientists ought to hold (making them, of course, atheists) is non sequitur.
Or to spell it out in simpler terms (let’s see if you can immediately spot the illogic): As per Lawrence, belief in naturalism is the logical entailment of presupposing naturalism to do science!
Again, here is what he’s saying, further simplified: To be a scientist, you have to believe science is the only way to describe reality.
Or here, again we can go on and simplify Lawrence’s claim until his logical misstep becomes clear to even the most moronic of individuals:
Scientist = Someone who believes science is the only way to describe reality.
Of course one could be pedantic and point out the self-refuting nature of that statement in that it is a statement that purports to describe reality but isn’t itself knowledge that was acquired through science, but let’s overlook such abstract arguments for now.
So far so good?
It is but incumbent then for us to investigate what it means to hold the view that science is the ‘only way to describe reality’. And I’d say the best way to do this is to look at the nuggets of wisdom these “militant atheist-scientists” impart.
On meaning and purpose:
“the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” — Steven Weinberg, scientist; militant atheist.
“[The world] is physical and purposeless” — Jerry Coyne, scientist; militant atheist.
“DNA just is. And we dance to its music” — Richard Dawkins, scientist; militant atheist.
“Nihilism—even my “nice nihilism” is a public relations nightmare. Most of my fellow travellers think that if the scientific worldview saps morality of its truth, correctness, justification.. They might be right. It’s an empirical matter.” — Alex Rosenberg, Philosopher, Militant Atheist.
“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” — Richard Dawkins, scientist; militant atheist.
On freedom of the will:
“Sam Harris says the concept of free will is incoherent. Humans are not free and no sense can be given to the idea that we might be” — Paul Pardi, on (scientist and militant atheist) Sam Harris’ book Free Will.
“..but in the end we are simply federations of molecules, tissues, and neurons whose morphology, physiology, and behavior are determined by interactions between genes and environment..” — Jerry Coyne, scientist; militant atheist.
So, to be a “scientist“, these are, from the horses’ mouth, the logical entailments:
1. The universe is “pointless“, “purposeless“, any meaning we can derive from this “pointless” and “purposeless” universe can only be subjective (“personal” for Jerry Coyne), and ultimately as valid — that is to say, equally as “pointless” — as anyone else’s subjectively derived meaning.
2. We have no free-will — every belief we have and choice we make had been determined by temporally prior states that are essentially traceable to some initial state moments before the big-bang. In other words, it’s all an elaborate kabuki dance, as none of us are free to choose or believe anything.
3. Morality is an illusion; there is no good and evil. These feelings of right and wrong are merely illusory; sentimental predispositions that are the result of our particular evolutionary history.
Yet, suddenly — suddenly! — when it comes to religion, evil suddenly can exist, as long as it’s in the form of religion, of course!
Suddenly, we have purpose; to point out religion is evil.
Suddenly, there are moral absolutes! — religion is absolutely immoral.
And suddenly, meaning can be made to be objective, as the meaning derived from religion is often said by them to be objectively wrong.
And yet, according to Lawrence, we, the indoctrinated sheeple, seem to be afflicted with some debilitating form of cognitive dissonance.
In a piece for Newsweek entitled ‘The Godless Particle‘, Lawrence Krauss, of the newly discovered ‘Higgs Boson’, tells us:
[I]t validates an unprecedented revolution in our understanding of fundamental physics and brings science closer to dispensing with the need for any supernatural shenanigans all the way back to the beginning of the universe—and perhaps even before the beginning, if there was a before.
This type of propaganda should be familiar to anyone who’s been able to read Lawrence’s latest book ‘A Universe From Nothing‘ (for which David Albert has some choice words) where he uses a textbook bait- and-switch to mislead everyone into believing that the question of why there’s something rather than nothing had been, through science, now dispensed with. Of course, as expected, once the smug and philosophically ill-informed Krauss got cornered by the people who, very much unlike him, actually know something about the issue, he retreats into the switch, saying something boringly similar to what’s written near the end of his book:
“what is really useful is not pondering [the] question” but rather “participating in the exciting voyage of discovery.”
In other words:
” Uh, I know I said I’ll be answering the question of why there’s something rather than nothing, but, actually, I wont, because, well, I cant, and, uh, well, I only said that so you’ll buy my book.“
Unfortunately for Krauss, however, the discovery of the Higgs confirms the model –the standard model– upon which the more contemporary cosmological and teleological arguments for God’s existence have been formulated. Also –again, unfortunately for Krauss– the classical formulations of these arguments, like the ones from Aquinas and Leibniz, won’t budge either, Higgs or no Higgs, because the metaphysics that undergirds them, of which Krauss will seemingly be forever ignorant, is not of the sort that can be disproven by science, for they flow from premises needed by science itself to make sense of its own evidential presuppositions.
Although nothing about the Higgs Boson suggests anything close to what Krauss would have us believe, he nevertheless asserts it so emotively as though his conclusions were so obviously entailed by the Higgs’s discovery that it needn’t any further explication, thusly giving us more examples of his incompetence on the issue.
The upside to all this farcical boot-strapping, it seems to me, is the frisson of self-adequacy it gives us average kooks, as it is a clear example of how even remarkably smart people can at times say things that are so blitheringly stupid.
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.
Oh Brother, Lawrence Krauss is back to his old tricks again. No doubt wanting to follow-up on the success of Hawking’s last philosophically bankrupt work of semi-fiction, Lawrence has a new book coming out entitled ‘A Universe From Nothing‘, where he still, just like his buddy Hawking, surreptitiously defines “nothing” as a sea of quantum energy governed by physical laws. When will he ever realize that this state-of-affairs is not nothing? Never, it seems.
In his interview with Robert Wright a while back, bemusement ensued. Naturally, Robert, being the all-around erudite that he is, questioned this definition of nothing, which Lawrence seems so beholden to despite the consequences on his philosophical credibility, as it seemed so diametrically opposed to the kind of nothing that’s in many a philosopher’s mind.
If the audience was able to listen to that interview astutely, Lawrence, after multiple attempts at verbal calisthenics to evade the question, thusly proceeded to make the rather epic and utterly impotent extrapolation that, because of cosmology’s winning streak in its ability to show causally prior states to what was previously assumed to be nothing, cosmology, in time, can also –will also, in fact– show how the universe came from philosophical nothingness. One wonders what gives?
The problem for Lawrence is that, should he be able to show that universes come from philosophical nothingness, rather than providing a metaphysical framework for his atheism –which seems to be the real intention of his book– he’ll be providing one for theism instead:
If something can come from nothing, then ANYTHING can come from nothing; if the universe can come from nothing, then so can pink bunnies, spaghetti monsters, and evil, moustache-twirling genitalia. In fact, if the universe is infinitely old, as Lawrence seems to think, then all those things have already materialized from nothing infinitely many times. Absurd ain’t it?
If the universe can come from nothing, then anything can come from nothing since there’s nothing in the universe; no quality to it; not one iota about it; not anything about it; nothing about it, that would make “nothing” tend to produce it, because before it was produced, it wasn’t anything! The old Scholastics weren’t stupid. There’s a reason why they took it as metaphysical truth that from nothing, nothing comes; ex nihilo, nihil fit.
That’s why anything (the universe, in this case) that arises from “nothing” will more plausibly have a personal-agent-type teleology; an agent who had the intention of producing from nothing that which was produced from nothing (and this, as Aquinas likes to say, we call GOD). Else, you’ll have to accept the absurd and patently untenable consequences, as illustrated above, that would ensue from its counter-factual (good luck defending against a reductio ad absurdum).
Lawrence was unsuccessfully trying to foist on Robert his feeble definition of the word nothing. And since Robert didn’t quite buy it, he backtracks in an attempt to salvage any credibility for his book, and manages to make a case for theism. Lucky for him that Robert was either ignorant of the particular philosophical argument or was being too polite to point it out.
I would recommend Lawrence’s book though, but for the science and not for the philosophy. Lawrence, of course, will say it’s a book on science. But that only yet again shows his complete ignorance of philosophy; he’s so ignorant of philosophy that he’s scarcely even cognizant that he’s actually philosophizing.