Lawrence Krauss Praises “Open Questioning” of Science

by Dr. Danny R. Faulkner on September 22, 2015
Featured in Danny Faulkner

In a recent opinion piece, physicist Lawrence Krauss commented on the case of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk of court briefly jailed for her refusal to issue any marriage licenses to avoid having her name on same-sex marriage licenses, based on her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Krauss used this opportunity to discuss his approach to science. He wrote,

The notion that some idea or concept is beyond question or attack is anathema to the entire scientific undertaking.

He further wrote,

Whenever scientific claims are presented as unquestionable, they undermine science. Similarly, when religious actions or claims about sanctity can be made with impunity in our society, we undermine the very basis of modern secular democracy. We owe it to ourselves and to our children not to give a free pass to governments—totalitarian, theocratic, or democratic—that endorse, encourage, enforce, or otherwise legitimize the suppression of open questioning in order to protect ideas that are considered “sacred.” Five hundred years of science have liberated humanity from the shackles of enforced ignorance. We should celebrate this openly and enthusiastically, regardless of whom it may offend.

Krauss can't seriously mean this, or else he hasn't thought this through. There are two scientific claims presented as unquestionable today: the naturalistic origin of life and anthropogenic climate change. Here at Answers in Genesis, we clearly question the naturalistic origin of life. If Krauss really believed what he wrote, then he would applaud us for daring to question dogma, not attack us, as he has in the past.

While Answers in Genesis generally does not get involved in the climate change debate, those promoting the idea that man is causing climate catastrophe are quick to claim that this is “settled science,” the debate is over, and that there is a scientific consensus on the issue. Similar claims are made about evolution. When it comes to these two issues, evolution and man-induced climate change, there clearly is a movement to stamp out any dissent. Hence, Krauss’ opposition to Answers in Genesis would seem to violate his comments quoted above. Perhaps Krauss doesn’t think that these two ideas, evolution and man-caused climate change, are scientific claims.

I have previously commented on how Krauss says that he deals with big bang doubters. In his book A Universe from Nothing, Krauss seemed to suggest that it is beyond dispute that the big bang happened. If so, then at the very least Krauss is close to exhibiting the sort of attitude that he claims is anathema to the entire scientific undertaking.

In the past there seems to have been more tolerance toward those who disagree with the big bang model. That could be because some very big guns in astronomy, such as Sir Fred Hoyle and Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge, opposed the big bang model. However, two of those three are deceased, and prominent big bang doubters appear to be lacking among today’s astronomers. Perhaps with Krauss’ help, the tolerance that he supposedly teaches will vanish even when it comes to the big bang.

In his piece, Krauss further wrote:

“My practice as a scientist is atheistic,” the biologist J.B.S. Haldane wrote, in 1934. “That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career.” It’s ironic, really, that so many people are fixated on the relationship between science and religion: basically, there isn’t one. In my more than thirty years as a practicing physicist, I have never heard the word “God” mentioned in a scientific meeting. Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature—just as it’s irrelevant to the question of whether or not citizens are obligated to follow the law.

If Krauss has never heard God mentioned at a scientific meeting, perhaps he hasn’t attended the right meetings. God is not a common topic, but He does come up occasionally in science meetings. A few years ago at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, there was a session on Intelligent Design. Judging from the presentation given by an officer of the society, a better title of the session would have been “What’s wrong with ID, and why we’re against it.” So many people wanted to attend that session, the organizers had to move it to the Grand Ballroom in the convention center. God was much in discussion that morning.

Or consider Stephen Hawking’s description of his presentation at a cosmology conference at the Vatican in 1981 (recounted on p. 116 of his 1988 book A Brief History of Time). At the conclusion of the conference, the attendees had a session with the Pope, who cautioned them about enquiring into big bang itself, because that was the creation of God. Hawking commented that had the Pope attended his presentation at the conference, the Pope would have seen that there is no need of God.

Both Haldane and Krauss confuse historical science with experimental or observational science. We creationists agree that God does not generally alter the way in which the universe now works. Rather, God sustains the current world through the power of His word (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). It is the regularity of how this sustaining operates that makes science possible. It is no accident that science as we know it developed in Christian, and more specifically, Protestant, Europe. However, Haldane and Krauss assume that God has never intervened in the world in the past. It is clear that fiat creation is a departure from how the world now works. Science itself neither proves nor disproves that. Krauss, Haldane, and others have extrapolated the methodology of how we study the world as it now exists indefinitely into the past, and consequently they somehow believe that that proves that a Creator does not exist. All that that proves is that God does not exist in their worldview, but we already knew that.

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