Physics Creating the Earth

In the beginning were the laws of physics (not!).

Outspoken “anti-theist” Lawrence Krauss appeared on CNN’s Faces of Faith program last Sunday to explain how the universe created itself from nothing. Krauss, in London at the time, was interviewed about his new book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing. Many of our readers were disappointed because creationist astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner,1 originally asked by CNN to appear on the program, was not included. CNN reported late Saturday they were having difficulty with Skype and needed to cancel.2

Krauss says he would prefer a universe without God. He therefore wants to celebrate how the laws of physics explain how the big bang happened without any “supernatural shenanigans.”

The big bang model suggests, colloquially speaking, that in the beginning “nothing” exploded. Those who recall the law of conservation of mass and energy would consider this event a primordial violation. Krauss’s book explains how he believes the big bang happened without violating this law.

According to Dr. Danny Faulkner,

Lawrence Krauss’s new book, A Universe from Nothing, is well written, and is one of the best treatments of the subject, the subject being how some physicists think that the universe came into existence apart from a Creator. His thesis is not new, for others have already made similar arguments. This contention is speculative and controversial, even among people who largely agree with Krauss.

In the interview Krauss came across very confident, but he used many cautionary words such as “plausible,” “could,” “probably,” “possible,” and “can.” Indeed, his book is filled with such terms, indicating the speculative nature of what he is saying, though many people reading and listening to him will miss this caution and come away thinking that Krauss has somehow proved that God does not exist.

Krauss criticizes creationists for assuming God was involved in our origins  rather than seeking alternative explanations. But Krauss makes his own assumptions. Dr. Faulkner explains:

Other physicists view Krauss’s case as controversial, because it is a bit premature, relying upon a number of assumptions about quantum mechanics and cosmology.

Krauss was also a bit smug in asserting that he doesn’t presume answers before asking questions, unlike those who believe in creation, even calling those who believe in creation lazy.

Krauss clearly has made some assumptions, such as his atheistic bias, though he backpedalled a bit on that one in direct response to a question, insisting that he is more of an anti-theist. He says that there is no evidence for God, though he didn’t explain what kind of evidence that he might accept.

Would he consider testimony from someone who talked with God? Moses, the writer of the biblical account of creation made just this claim, and I expect that this is what Krauss had in mind when he dismissively referred to “Iron Age peasants.” However, Moses was Bronze Age, not Iron Age. Nor was he a peasant, having been raised in the house of Pharaoh and thus educated in the best schools then available.

So how do the laws of physics supposedly explain how the universe created itself from nothing? Big bang cosmologists need a source of “negative energy” to balance the massive amount of energy of our universe, which was supposedly produced by the big bang. In physics we normally assign a negative value to gravitational potential energy. Some physicists propose our expanding universe could therefore generate the necessary negative energy. Dr. Faulkner explains,

This is the escape hatch that Krauss and others propose, that the sum of the energy in the universe is exactly zero, so the universe appeared in a manner that did not violate the conservation of energy.

Of course none of this is proved, and Krauss does admit this, though many people reading his book or watching the interview may miss that point.

But there still remains the problem of where the physical laws, came from. The best that Krauss can argue is that those laws came into existence with the universe, so that the universe popped into existence in a manner that is consistent with itself. This is the meaning of the “ultimate free lunch,” a phrase Krauss used in the interview.

Thus, Krauss asserts—completely without proof—that the laws of physics created themselves along with everything else. This reasoning is circular.

Big bang cosmologists cannot confirm their assertions in the untestable unobservable ne’er-to-be-repeated past. Yet Krauss “celebrates” these assertions as if they were actual discoveries because they make him more comfortable with his decision to ignore the possibility that a Creator God exists.

Nevertheless, God’s Word tells us that people suppress the truth that their Creator exists, fooling themselves. (See Romans 1:18–22.) The laws of physics3 cannot explain their own existence. An orderly universe could not spring into existence from a random event. The very consistency that God established when He created the universe is what makes the laws of physics work so reliably. Krauss’s “ultimate free lunch” isn’t really free. The “escape hatch” he relies on may work on paper, but God will not be impressed. God says that those who, seeing His creation, refuse to acknowledge His existence “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). And God’s assessment of their intellectual prowess: “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).

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  1. Dr. Danny Faulkner is a professor at the University of South Carolina Lancaster. He has a Ph.D. in astronomy from Indiana University as well as a M.S. in physics from Clemson University.
  2. News to Note, September 22, 2012
  3. General relativity is the physics of very large physical systems. Quantum mechanics is the physics of small particles like atoms. Together they form the basis of modern physics and explain much of what we see in nature. However, some people pervert these theories to support unbiblical positions. Big bang cosmologists are actually extrapolating observations about the behavior of subatomic particles (the Heisenberg uncertainty principle from quantum mechanics) to what they want to believe happened 13.7 billion years ago on a (literally) universal scale. Read more about them at “Do Creationists Believe in “Weird” Physics like Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and String Theory?


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