Last week I mentioned that when I dropped my daughters off for piano lessons, I waited at a Barnes and Noble and looked at A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing. Living and working in the area I do, just north of Berkeley in the SF Bay Area, I talk to people like the author more often than most. I had just talked to a scientist the previous week and had a conversation about this type of subject matter. I have put this book on hold at my library, so at some point, I'll put a little more time into it, but I spent thirty minutes scanning it to get the drift of his argument.
First, the atheists who write these books don't start with science and end up with no God. They start with no God and look to science to somehow justify it. They don't want a God to exist. Of course, that's what Romans 1 says about them. And they are well-described in 2 Peter 2. They don't want a boss, or as Christopher Hitchens called Him, a Big Brother, watching over what they do. And that's how this book reads too, the little I read of it.
Second, when they attempt to represent the Bible and Christianity, they very often don't and really can't get it right. Then they use subtle mockery that they seem to think will bypass most Christians and get picked up by their pals for whom these books are really written. They don't understand God's Word. What they've picked up is the caricature that is satisfying to those who already have made up their minds about Christianity. I have yet to read an atheist screed that comes close to putting a dent in the Bible, including the things written by Bart Ehrman.
Third, and I hinted at this in the previous paragraph, these books are not written to prove anything to someone. They are written to prop up people like themselves, who don't want an authority in their lives, who want to do what they want to do. They are the apologists for a guilt-free lifestyle. They don't prove their point. They don't even come close. You find out that they didn't even think they could prove their point---what they're really trying to do is to cause doubt. And they can make points without proving them, because they are writing a book and no one is arguing with them. When someone does that again and again in his book, it not only doesn't prove a point, but it becomes very frustrating and irritating to work your way through.
Lawrence Krauss is the author here, and I guess he became famous from a youtube presentation. And he takes off from the concept of A Universe from Nothing, which is what us Christians believe. The Genesis account says that everything came from nothing. The Hebrew word bara in Genesis one is 'to create out of nothing.' That's what got my attention as it sat on the Barnes and Noble table. So I began leafing through.
Krauss thinks that the universe came from nothing. That's right. That's what he too says he thinks. Just like us, right? Wrong. He defines nothing, unfortunately, as something. He says that nothing, which is actually space, has electromagnetic energy in it. At that point, you could pretty much smile, maybe even laugh, close the book, and put it back down. It's like a bad infomercial that you watch for 20 minutes until you get to the catch. There is a reason some of these products are not in regular stores. This book only makes it because it's written by someone who got famous on the internet, he graduated from the politically correct places, MIT and Harvard, and he is taking a very academically elite and approved position. He mixes in enough very complex science, that deals with problems that are very, very difficult, that it must mean that we should listen to him, because he's so very smart. Most of the science is worthless. Maybe all of it. It's like getting a PhD in the Rubics cube. You've figured out a problem, that in the end doesn't matter. He's actually a kook. His stuff is crazy.
Krauss went into his field, not to figure out origins of things, but to predict how they would end. He's looking to find the ending of everything. And he's obviously very heavily funded for this project. What a waste of money. I would say it's a joke, except it's so sad.
One of the arguments in the book is that things could have originated from something other than God because 'just look at the snowflake.' Each snowflake is different and yet no snowflakes, according to Krauss, need to be explained by God. They can be explained, Krauss says, by the laws of physics. And since snowflakes came from the laws of physics, voila, everything came from the laws of physics. I wag my head and say sarcastically, "Good one." If you're like me, a lot of questions follow. What about the hydrologic cycle? Where did water come from? What about gravity? What about clouds producing snowflakes? What about a planet that isn't so close to the sun that all the water is burned up? And then in the end, aren't snowflakes still snowflakes? They might all be different, but each one of them is still a snowflake. It isn't like physics made something in a snowflake that then turned into something else. So that little example doesn't do it for me. Maybe Krauss doesn't think anyone will ask any questions like this because it would be to question Krauss, which wouldn't be smart because he's so smart---at least all his friends tell him he is.
Krauss spends a lot of time on Einstein's theories and what they, and things that developed from them, mean to the understanding of origins. One thing that I got from Stephen Hawking's book that came out 25 or so years ago and now Krauss is that everything came from a big bang, because of the way everything is moving, the way the universe is expanding. A big question comes to my mind when they say the universe is expanding, and that is, how do we know it is expanding? To know that the universe is expanding, don't we need to have been to the edges of the universe to watch it expand? And last time I checked, we're a long ways from being able to do that. For instance, I can look at my belly and notice it is expanding, because of the number extra holes being used in my belt. So maybe to these guys, because of their math and science, it looks like it's expanding, because of what they see from their very limited perspective, despite the amazing power of their very expensive and large telescopes. I don't doubt that to them it looks like it is expanding. They would probably correct me at this point---"it does." OK, it does. But perhaps it only looks like it is, but it really isn't.
After Genesis 1:1, everything was a mass of matter and space, that included water. And perhaps after that, God really did send it outward to the furthest reaches of space, so it has that flung out there look to it. That might sound like a joke to some, but it wouldn't surprise me if it looks like it was once a mass that then got moved outward into the immensity of space that it presently is. Why would I think that is like that? Because that's how Scripture reads that it could have occurred too. These types of appearances don't clash with what we read in the Bible, even if we are reading them correctly from our smallness.
When I talked to the scientist while I was out evangelizing, he said his issue was the problem of suffering. Since he didn't have a satisfying answer, according to him, to why people suffered, especially children, then he wasn't prepared to believe in God. He called himself a non-believer. I think there are good answers to the problem of suffering. It's not even a problem, they're such good answers. They're in the Bible. But will someone believe them or not? I do because they're the truth, and that's what matters the most---what is the truth? (sounds almost like a good blog name) God's Word is Truth. I like the Bible answers to suffering because they are the truth. They might not satisfy someone, but that doesn't make them less true.
The guy that can do the longest and most difficult math problem is still stuck on a planet. He's still going to die. He is still breathing God's air and eating the food that God sustains from His creation. I'm not going to take him too seriously.