'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009



[First posted 11/04/09]

58 comments:

Jason said...

I've seen this. It's an excellent presentation.

Chris said...

The video's credibility was shot when I saw Richard Dawkins. If I were an atheist I would want to seperate myself from Richard Dawkins if I wanted to be taken seriosly and/or respected.

UnBeguiled said...

And Chris your credibility is shot by admitting you judge the credibility of a lecture according to your feelings about the person who introduces the speaker.

Chris said...

Your right. Point taken...

Chris said...

I just get frustrated when someone like Dawkins mischaracterizes so much of religion. Its hard for me to look past that and listen to this other speaker. I equate the two of them. However, I started to watch the video and the speaker seemed kind of smug like Dawkins so that turned me off as well.

bob said...

..."kind of smug like Dawkins"...

Honestly, I have never understood this characterization of Dawkins. Is it the British accent? I have listened to numerous talks by Dawkins and have never once thought he was "smug". Perhaps any atheist who has the gal to vocalize their honest thoughts about religion (Christianity) is smug?

Chris said...

I don't think he's smug all of the time but he definitely can be.

"Perhaps any atheist who has the gal to vocalize their honest thoughts about religion (Christianity) is smug?"

The problem with Dawkins is not that he is an atheist but that he belittles religious adherents. This is one thing that he took so much heat from in the God Delusion,even from agnostics like philosopher Michael Ruse.

UnBeguiled said...

There is no polite way to tell someone their most cherished belief is nonsense.

bob said...

Chris, can you think of any Christian spoaks-people who "can be smug"? I can run you a list if you like - Dobson, Falwell, Craig, Hagee, Copeland, Swaggart, Shuler, Robertson, etc.

From my perspective, any Christian who claims to KNOW that if I don't believe as they do, that I will spend eternity in hell, that is smug. That is the height of smugness.

Just a few days ago, a friend of a friend (a young female college student) refused to go to a seminar by Nobel Prize winning Chemist Harry Kroto because she found out that he is an outspoken agnostic who finds it absurd that so many people in the US are young earth creationists.

Who was smug?

Chris said...

Bob

I would agree with you that the people you listed are smug.

UnBeguiled

Well one way is to try to respectfully discuss issues instead of attacking those who disagree. Just a thought!

GungFu said...

Chris, I think you need to listen/read more Dawkins, this accusation is totally baseless. He does go out of his way, most of the time, to be respectful. It's only in response to creationists extremely dishonest tactics has he become so outspoken, have someone who doesn't know anything about your job tell you that it's meaningless is meaningless. His metaphor is quite apt, "What if you had studied Rome, all it's architecture, all it's literature, then a high school drop out comes & says that Rome never existed?" Many people charging all the new atheists with being "smug" & "vitriolic" forget that this is in response to a million religious people attacking FIRST. On no grounds other than a book written by some desert tribe.
And if you give is a chance, Krauss is smart & hilarioous!

GungFu said...

Also, everyone should check out the lecture with Dennett about atheist preachers. Funny stuff.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_9w8JougLQ&feature=SeriesPlayList&p=D62809AD452EDB98

Chris said...

Gung Fu

I definitely agree that it is frustrating to have people argue against evolution when it is universally accepted by scientists.

"What if you had studied Rome, all it's architecture, all it's literature, then a high school drop out comes & says that Rome never existed?"

Thats funny... Did you know that Richard Dawkins actually quoted a scholar who thinks Jesus never existed. Thats funny for him to say when no reputable scholar denies Jesus was a real person.

Chris said...

"Many people charging all the new atheists with being "smug" & "vitriolic" forget that this is in response to a million religious people attacking FIRST."

So they should do it back?

Another problem with Dawkins is that he treads on ground that he doesn't even take the time to understand ie religion,philosophy. I love how he talks about Aquinas' five ways and then says, "Who then created God?" Thats totally missing the point of the argument. He should study up more before he writes a book on concepts he doesn't understand.

Piero said...

Chris, perhaps you could explain to us all who created God, or why the question cannot be asked.

Chris said...

I should rephrase my previous post: In Aquinas' Second Way, everything that comes into existence needs a cause for its existence. There must be something that was never caused or else there will be an infinite regress. Dawkins says " This has to be terminated by a first cause, which we call God. Philosopher Eric Reitan explains that this is confused. "What Dawkins misses is Aquinas' point that everything of a certain kind-namely that which comes into existence-requires a cause, we need the chain of causation to be started by something of a different kind-namely something that does not come into existence."

This is just one example of Richard Dawkins not understanding the arguments he is dismissing.

GungFu said...

"Thats funny... Did you know that Richard Dawkins actually quoted a scholar who thinks Jesus never existed. Thats funny for him to say when no reputable scholar denies Jesus was a real person."

Which scholar & when did he say this? The whole 'jesus never existed" is a touchy subject, some take it as obvious, others think it's preposterous.

"So they should do it back?

Another problem with Dawkins is that he treads on ground that he doesn't even take the time to understand ie religion,philosophy. I love how he talks about Aquinas' five ways and then says, "Who then created God?" Thats totally missing the point of the argument. He should study up more before he writes a book on concepts he doesn't understand."

Well, it's not like atheist are going door to door, or arguing that no one should be able to believe. There's a big difference between arguing intellectually over something & being hateful or bigoted. Or even worse, said that you deserve to die because of you unbelief. No one is threatening theists with violence, but atheists have always been under the threat of violence. It only under the past few hundred years that you could even say anything critical of the church, let alone profess atheism.

I think he understands Christianity fine, he may not have delved into serious theological issues, but that's not what his book was about. He's a popularizer, his job was for the longest time to further scientific understanding of the public. He's addressed this, Dennett even says that he asked him if there was anything he should read to be more 'up with the times'. I have been humbley suggesting, through comments & the like, that he read John's book!

Chris said...

"It is even possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, historical case that Jesus never lived at all, as has been done by, among others Professor G. A. Wells of the University of London in a number of books, including Did Jesus Exist? Although Jesus probably existed.”

G.A. Wells is a professor of German I might add!

"I think he understands Christianity fine, he may not have delved into serious theological issues, but that's not what his book was about. He's a popularizer, his job was for the longest time to further scientific understanding of the public."

Maybe he should stick to science. I agree he is a popularizer however I believe he should understand philosophy better before he starts trying to discuss philosophical arguments.

GungFu said...

If theists would have stuck to religion, there wouldn't have been a problem If religious people wouldn try to stick their holy books in schools in the place of science books, there would BE this atheist 'uprising'. I, for one, have always been a 'skeptic' or agnostic, it is only after the repeated attacks on science, the goverments reliance on religous leaders for guidance, & the violence perpetuated in the 'name of god' did I become outspoken. It is only by actually studying the abrahamic religions that turned me from 'agnostic' to 'atheist'.

It isn't that Dawkins doesn't understand Aquinas's point, it's that it's NONSENSE. Saying that everything needs a cause except for this one thing is like saying something can be 'A' & not 'A' at the same time, It is a logical impossibility. That 'thing that started causation" must have had a beginning & a cause as well. If not, then things DON'T need a cause, thus undermining the premise of the argument. I can't believe people are bitching about Aquinas & Augustine, there have been several philosophers since then who have dismatled their arguments, Dawkins doesn't need to do it. And, if you'd really read his book, he's not a philosophically ignorant as most think.
So, maybe theists should stick to their holy books, until then, as they say, 'it's on'.

UnBeguiled said...

GungFu:

I was 12 the first time I heard a cosmological argument. I remember thinking to myself "Wow. This guy is an idiot!"

That was 30 years ago, and I have the same reaction now. The feebleness of such arguments really cannot be exaggerated. They do teach us this though: something has gone horribly wrong in the brain of a person using that argument. That's an important lesson.

Chris said...

"I was 12 the first time I heard a cosmological argument. I remember thinking to myself "Wow. This guy is an idiot!"

Your probably didn't understand it. Ah ignorance!

Obviously philosophical arguments can be argued against if one doesn't agree with the premises. They can still be sound arguments though.

Its interesting how you attack the argument when even scientists try to study the origins of the universe. To them, to just say the universe is eternal is a non-answer.

Chris said...

"there have been several philosophers since then who have dismatled their arguments,"

Really? Who?

"And, if you'd really read his book, he's not a philosophically ignorant as most think."

There have been so many books I have read by philosophers discussing Dawkins' misunderstanding of philosophy. I can name some if you like. He should just stick to science.

UnBeguiled said...

Chris,

The overwhelming majority of living philosophers are atheists. Those philosophers who do find the traditional arguments for theism persuasive are on the fringe.

(But that's no argument against theism, just a statement of fact.)

Current philosophers interested in atheology include Michael Martin and Graham Oppy, if you are really interested in the arguments. Most working philosophers ignore superstitious claims.

GungFu said...

"Really? Who?"

How about Hume, Kant, Russell, for starters.

:There have been so many books I have read by philosophers discussing Dawkins' misunderstanding of philosophy. I can name some if you like. He should just stick to science"

There's your problem you've read misrespresentations & strw-men of what Dawkins really argues. Why not read Dawkins before his critics, & his response to those criticisms before you form an opinion. Name seom, & I;m sure they will be those Christian apologists who misconstrue everything he says. Philosphy started science, they are intertwined, you cannot seperate them. Theology, on the other hand, canbe seperated, as it is not a valid form of dicovering truth, just amking shit up, They should just switch to fiction novels. So until theologists & apologists stop telling people who to do science, Dawkins has every right to defend himself.

Chris said...

"Name seom, & I;m sure they will be those Christian apologists who misconstrue everything he says."

To name a few:

Eric Reitan, Keith Ward, Charles Taliaferro
They don't misconstrue what he says. Even for a laymen like myself, I can see his flawed discussion of philosophy.

I'll have you know that Immanuel Kant was a believer even though he had different views of God. Hume has been dismantled just as much...

GungFu said...

So let's look at the hipocracy you just put forth. You, an admitted philosophical laymen, are going to criticize a well known scientist for philosophical unsophisitaction? Like I said, it wasn't supposed to be a philosophical treatise on atheism, more on a conciousness raiser. He wasn't addressing Plantinga & Swindeburg, but the christianity that most people adhere to. Any normal christian on the street would be appaled at some of the theologians ideas of god, & would be shocked at the biblical crticisms & errancies. If you want really philosophical atheism read Machael Martin, Keith Parsons, Kai Neilson, Colin McGinn, Graham Oppy, the list goes on.

What does it matter if kant believed in god? He was full of bad metaphysics. Have you ever seen a ding a sich? Doesn't discount his refutaion of the ontological argument.

Oh, & I would love to hear how Hume has been dismantled. By whom? William Lanne Craig? HA!

And where is this arbitrary disction coming from that those should stay in their respected fields? Singers become actors, actors become poloticians, musicians become scientists. Who's to say who can dabble in what field of study? Like I said, if theist want to make this rule that science shouldn't mess with religion, then they need to listen to their own advice.
Lastly, I dont't need to study astrology or go through a scientology class to know that it's bullshit.

Chris said...

Its not that he can't dabble in philosophy but he needs to understand better the arguments he is critizing.

"So let's look at the hipocracy you just put forth. You, an admitted philosophical laymen, are going to criticize a well known scientist for philosophical unsophisitaction?"

The point is that even a laymen like myself can see bad logic being displayed. It would be hipocracy if I were to criticize Dawkins for writing books on subjects he didn't understand and then I did the same thing. I admit I am a laymen but I am not making money on a subect I am ignorant of. Big difference!

Chris said...

Hume has been discussed by the 3 authors I mentioned also...

Piero said...

Chirs:
"We need the chain of causation to be started by something of a different kind-namely something that does not come into existence."
If it is possible for something to exist while not having come into existence, it is also possible for something to have come into existence without a cause. Both possibilities are equally counterintuitive and incomprehensible, but the second one has the advantage of doing away with the need for god.

Chris said...

Piero

You are correct yet we don't know which way it is. I think the point of the argument is that it is not unreasonable to believe in something outside the universe. It really depends on how you want to view existence.

Piero said...

Chris:
It is unreasonable in the sense that "outside the universe" demands an explanation which is bound to be impossible even in principle. What's the point?

Chris said...

So are you saying cosmologists should stop studying the origin of the universe?

GungFu said...

Just googled those names, just as I thought, all christians. It is a favorite tactic of apologists to straw man & ad homenim instead of actually adressing the arguments. Seems like that's what's going on here. I'd like you to give me a specific example of the 'bad logic', let's analyze it. I have actaully READ 'The God Delusion" cover to cover, while I'll admit he's no Michael Martin, I hardly see these charges justified. I would also love to hear how Hume has been 'dismantled', he wrote on a range of topics, not just miracles. And if it's his miracle argument your talking about, well I'm just going to laugh. I have heard/read all the supposed 'refutaions' of this, & they are all severly lacking.

I'd like to point out again more hipocracy, you charge Dawkins with being smug, then write this...

"Your probably didn't understand it. Ah ignorance!"

I won't mention the typos, because I've made some serious ones here, rereading my comments. It's time for new batteries in my wireless keyboard, I guess.

The point Piero is making is that we have no, none, ZERO reference to 'what was before the big bang' or if/how time acted/existed. It IS impossible to imagine ANYTHING 'outside of time', let alone a being. The very word, to be, is rooted IN TIME. As soon as something outside of time interacts with time, is it not now subject to time as well? These concepts are incomprehensible. What's north of the North Pole? And if your only thing you have to back it up is' well that's how I view things', then don't expect to be able to construct a cogent argument that will convince someone else.
And once again, since you didn't respond, I will reiterate, I don't need to reach OTIII to know that our evil deeds are not the cause of thetins inhabiting my body from Xenu.

GungFu said...

No, Chris, I think he's saying that we SHOULD study things. Instead of, every time we reach an impasse, inserting 'goddidit', we should actually try to find out the real answers. Saying 'goddidit' only raises MORE questions than it answers.

Chris said...

Just googled those names, just as I thought, all christians. It is a favorite tactic of apologists to straw man & ad homenim instead of actually adressing the arguments.

So are you saying that because they are Christians they automatically discredit Dawkins? Eric Reitan, for example, isn't fully convinced by the Cosmological arguments nevertheless he believes Dawkins didn't take the time to understand the arguments.

"I'd like to point out again more hipocracy, you charge Dawkins with being smug, then write this...

"Your probably didn't understand it. Ah ignorance"

I agree that I reacted harshly it just frustrates me when you called Thomas Aquinas an idiot when nothing could be further from the truth.

Regarding Hume, I don't really know if he has been dismantled. The thing with philosophy is people will always disagree with each other. You are basically saying that philosophers like Aquinas' views have been criticized so we should discard them. The point is that Hume has been discussed just as much and people have disagreed with his ideas.

GungFu said...

"are not the cause of thetins "

*are not caused BY thetins* I'm going to change those batteries, I swear.

GungFu said...

I didn't say Aquinas was an idiot, he did the best he could with the information he had at his time. That is the only thing any of us can really do. At this point, the information available points to no god, at least non that we have conceived in our paltry couple of millenia of trying to form coherent thought.

Once again, you say it, you're not explaining it. How did he misunderstand? The form that Aquianas put forth is not that hard to get, it's nowhere near as complicated as say, the kalam version. The whole thing is fallacious, like I said, it's like saying something can be 'A' and 'not A' a the same time. Either everything that exists has a cause, or it doesn't. You cannot create a specail rule for god.

I'm not saying it discredits them, but is doesn't help their credibility. They have an emotional investment in it as well. We could all be said to have that, but my job doesn't depend on what I believe. It's a bit different. Now you could say, how is this different than those creationists/evolution thing, 'both are attacking belief! Here's the difference, when creationists doubt evolution & ask for evidence, there is plenty to put forth. When an atheist asks a theologian for evidence of god, all of a sudden, it's not in the realm of science, blah blah. Yet, then they will be the first ones to jump no a scientific advancement if it somehow confirms their beliefs. I, & obviously many others, are tired of seeing them have their cake & eat it, too.

Piero said...

Chris:
Of course I would not want scientists to stop trying to understand the origins of the Universe.
There are two possible outcomes of that quest:

- scientists will eventually understand the process in terms of the laws of physics (current and newly discovered)
- scientists will forever be unable to understand the process in terms of the laws of physics (current and newly discovered)

The point is that we'll never be able to ascertain whether the second possibility holds. How can you tell now that no explanation will be discovered in the future? In the absence of good evidence to the contrary, it is safer to assume that a scientific explanation will be found eventually.

The alternative (i.e. the existence of a timeless, spaceless creator) is by definition beyond our reach. In other words, unless that creator can make itself intelligible, we have no hope of ever proving its existence.

Chris said...

"In the absence of good evidence to the contrary, it is safer to assume that a scientific explanation will be found eventually."

That is the key difference between you and I. This right here says to me that you are a naturalist and you think science is the only real knowledge. I disagree.

"When an atheist asks a theologian for evidence of god, all of a sudden, it's not in the realm of science, blah blah. Yet, then they will be the first ones to jump no a scientific advancement if it somehow confirms their beliefs. I, & obviously many others, are tired of seeing them have their cake & eat it, too."

Science can neither confirm or deny that there is a transcendent being. There are other reasons one might believe in God such as a religious experience.

GungFu said...

Then please give me an example of knowledge gained by supernatural means that could not have been gained by purely natural means, or already in the believer's head.

Prime example of my point, NOW science can't say anything, but you will jump on the big bang as soon as you can to confirm what cannot be confirmed...you CANNOT have it both ways.

Religious experiences can be explained, and in fact are being explained. Neuroscience can show what goes on in the brain during a religious experience, & it's purely activities of the brain, no supernatural need be inserted. Most of what is described as 'religious experiecnce' is a result of temporal lobe epilepsy, and can be induced artificially.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKbeLfhHvPY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iMmvu9eMrg

Sam Harris just finished a study about the correlates between nonreligious belief & religious, showing that the same areas of the brain are used. Thus, 'faith' is not a speacial belief, but like any other.
http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/the-neural-correlates-of-religious-and-nonreligious-belief/

And, the morality arguments can be explained by neuroscience as well..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnXmDaI8IEo

So, given that religious experiences can be explained, & you yourself admit that science can prove god, believers should just give up trying to convince people. Belief in God is a dark cloud that has covered humanity for too long, & it's about damn time that the sun come out.

Chris said...

"Prime example of my point, NOW science can't say anything, but you will jump on the big bang as soon as you can to confirm what cannot be confirmed...you CANNOT have it both ways."

Once again you are misunderstanding my point. I think the limits of science leave the possibility of their being a transcendent reality, not that I can prove there is such a reality.

"Neuroscience can show what goes on in the brain during a religious experience, & it's purely activities of the brain, no supernatural need be inserted."

Neuroscience can study what the brain is experiencing during these events however they can not state whether it's caused by natural forces or supernatural forces. It has simply not be proven that epilepsy causes religious or mystical experiences. If you reference the God helmet I will slap you...

"Belief in God is a dark cloud that has covered humanity for too long, & it's about damn time that the sun come out."

When you say comments like that it becomes clearer that your hatred of religion disallows you to have a peaceful dialogue with those who disagree with you.

Gandolf said...

Chris said...
"Piero

You are correct yet we don't know which way it is. I think the point of the argument is that it is not unreasonable to believe in something outside the universe. It really depends on how you want to view existence."

While passing on the subject of reasonable v unreasonable.

So then is it "unreasonable" to think that if there does be something outside the universe that is infact "intelligent" and a omnipotent supreme and especially a "all knowing" all loving,graceful,merciful father etc.

That it is (MORE LIKELY) he would be caring and thoughtful and understanding etc.

So then surely! he (MOST LIKELY) would have supposedly quite likely bothered to be in more personal touch quite often well before now! with everyone!! on this planet?.At least once or twice even?.

Seems MORE likely surely?.I personally even hazard to bet MOST likely for sure!!.

Yeah maybe Its not quote:.. "unreasonable to believe in something outside the universe"

But in my opinion it does seem a little rather (unreasonable) though, to think there be some intelligent force outside the universe who just simply decided he dont be bothered to be intouch with us that much.Infact seems he bothers to be intouch, hardly at all....Seems he only ever really appears in silly old books!.

Its like humans living a childhood dream,where anything is always forever possible.The improbable becomes quite possible,just like in a nightmare where the dreamer finds themselves "unable to swim" away from some shark who is swimming hungrily after them in their dream.

You really know MOST LIKELY there is no real factual sharks in your sleep.But the silly posibilitys still stick around to haunt folks trapped within the mere thought.

GungFu said...

It's really funny, you threaten me with violence (obviously in a jokingly playful manner, but that's beside the point) then procced to complain about a peaceful conversation. You really just underscore one of the main problems of religion. One that I think even atheists overlook, it;s what it does to you thinking. You allow yourself to hold contradictory ideas in your head for so long it becomes second nature, something being 'A' & 'not A' starts to be ok in your mind. It's not.
The first movie references the helmet, & shows it doesn't work. They tried it on Dawkins, nothing happens. It wasn't all about the helmet, there is alot more work being done. And if there werew some supernatural agent causing these brain states, it would be detectable. There is no need to insert unnessecary metaphysics to what can be explained by natural means.
Finally, yes, science is 'pwerful' enough to test for god, as we see with the tests done on the efficacy of intercessory prayer. & the data shows, there is no god answering those prayers. The large hadron collider has a chance to find out what happen milliseconds after creation, pretty close to god, I'd say.

Piero said...

Chris:

I think GungFu's challenge sums up my position:

"Then please give me an example of knowledge gained by supernatural means that could not have been gained by purely natural means, or already in the believer's head."

I would go as far as to define knowledge as a configuration of synapses which allows someone to make predictions with a greater than random rate of success.

No "supernatural knowledge" has so far passed this test.

Chris said...

"And if there werew some supernatural agent causing these brain states, it would be detectable. There is no need to insert unnessecary metaphysics to what can be explained by natural means."

No it wouldn't. Here's a quote by neuroscientist Andrew Newberg." If you ate a freshly baked, piping-hot slice of apple pie and took a SPECT scan at the moment of your first bite, the parts of your brain that register shape and form, smell, taste, memory, and association would all light up, while other areas of the brain not involved in the task would go dark. This experience leaves its footprint on the brain in much the same way as does a peak meditative moment. But does that mean the apple pie isn't "real"?

Yeah I apologize for the slapping comment. My emotions got the best of me. I just wish religious adherents and atheists could have peaceful dialogue without polemics and condescension.

Chris said...

Piero

"Then please give me an example of knowledge gained by supernatural means that could not have been gained by purely natural means, or already in the believer's head."

You seem to think that because science has taught us so many things than it is exhaustive and unlimited in its reach. Even the multiverse is viewed by some as supernatural b/c it can not be empirically verified.

Piero said...

Chris, would you please stop beating about the bush and give an example?

GungFu said...

Nice quote mine. Now, that is a really bad analogy, quite simply because there's an easy way to test if the apple is real. Look in their hand! We already start the experiment knowing that there is an object causing the brain activity. Also, our brain lights up when there's NOTHING there. the same areas that light up when YOU eat an apple pie will ight up when you watch someone else eat it. That goes for just about everything so far (neuroscience is still new, mind you hehe) our brains 'mirror' what we see. It CAN be caused by 'nothing'.

Notice, all the while, you still can't give an example, & whine how science isn't good enough. One example?

Chris said...

Did you just miss my example of the multiverse? Once again you are missing my point. Science is not at war with religion as so many of you be believe. You think b/c it has explained so much, religion needs to be discarded. Must I say again that people can do science and believe in the supernatural. Its how one views the world.

Well obviously the apple pie was real. I think his point is we can study the brain but science cannot know if the experience is just in our heads or not. It can just study the physical.

"whine how science isn't good enough. One example?"

How am I whining? I am just stating that I am not a reductionist like you are. There is a mystery in the universe and I don't believe science can answer every question. Many scientists would agree with this statement. Once again it depends on your worldview.

Chris said...

I am reading a book called The God theory written by an astrophysicist. In it he talks abouth the same issues we are talking about here. I like this quote," For some reason, the eleven or twenty six-dimensional string worlds of scientific theory are plausible, but the supernatural realms of mysticism are judged to be mere superstition." Before this he also says that when people talk about "transcendent spiritual realities" they are scoffed at even when scientists do similar things. The author states this arises because of the dogmatic reductionism of a lot of modern science.

GungFu said...

Your right, science is not at war with religion, religion is trying to declare war on science. Creationism, Intelligent design, religion attacks science, because it proves it WRONG. I'm not saying that because science has explained so much that religiob should be discarded, I'm saying religion has explained NOTHING, THAT"S why it should be discarded. Not only that, but it impedes us from advancing & finding REAL explanations.

Did you totally ignore my point about mirror nerons? Brain states CAN be caused by nothing. OIr artificially induced, LSD & MDMA?

In order to charge reductionism, wouldn't you have to prove there is a 'bigger reality' out there? From what are we reducing? And why do people still want to cling to iron age 'mystery'? What makes you think scientists can't have that 'mysterious' feeling when studying the universe, they say they do. No one has claimed that science has figured out everything. There's still plenty of wonder & mystery.

That 'reason' you refer to is EVIDENCE. While string theory is fantastic & sounds science fiction, there is STILL more empirical evidence for it than 'transcendental spiritual dimensions'.

Piero said...

Chris,
"For some reason, the eleven or twenty six-dimensional string worlds of scientific theory are plausible, but the supernatural realms of mysticism are judged to be mere superstition."
Yes, for some reason. The reason being that string theory won't become science until it makes a testable prediction. It is a candidate for a scientific theory, but it is not one yet. Mysticism and the supernatural realms, on the other hand, are the fairyland where anything goes, where your hunch is as good as anyones else's. In other words: bollocks.

Piero said...

Oh, and Chris, I'm sorry to say that your example of the multiverse sucks. For a start, its proponents are not mystics, but scientists; and the fact that it is untestable is precisely the reason why no new knowledge can arise from it. You can choose to believe it or not: nothing changes.
We might also choose to believe we are living in a computer simulation run by superintelligent beings. There is no way we can disprove that possibility, and there is no way we can acquire new knowledge from it.

Chris said...

"The reason being that string theory won't become science until it makes a testable prediction. It is a candidate for a scientific theory, but it is not one yet."

But by the very definition of science string theory would only have indirect evidence but couldn't be proven empirically. Therefore it would be supernatural.

"In order to charge reductionism, wouldn't you have to prove there is a 'bigger reality' out there?"

No I wouldn't. I don't have to prove anything and I am not claiming to. All I am saying for the 100th time is that I think it is reasonable to believe in a supernatural reality. Reductionism is a faith statement as well and shouldn't be treated like the only way to view reality.

"Not only that, but it impedes us from advancing & finding REAL explanations."

Well it shouldn't.

"Brain states CAN be caused by nothing. OIr artificially induced, LSD & MDMA?"

Are you saying that hullucinations resulting from lsd are the same as mystical experiences? Even you said that neuroscience is a young field so maybe you should not make sweeping generalizations..Just a thought!

Chris said...

"You can choose to believe it or not: nothing changes."

Well by that logic I can believe in a transcendent reality or be open to it.

Piero said...

Chris:
"Well by that logic I can believe in a transcendent reality or be open to it."
That's perfectly all right with me. As long as you don't ask for tax exemptions.

Chris said...

Piero

Fair enough!

Dan said...

I watched this video in amazement. I am a student of physics and a Catholic. With respect to both of those aspects, this theory is beautiful! A universe from nothing? That hardly conflicts with my faith which embraces science and believes that the universe is "creatio ex nilhilo" (i.e. created from nothing). Does Krauss think he's somehow disproved God with this theory? Hardly.

What he does do is make a fundamental error as a scientist. He attempts to answer a question of "Why?" with a theory of "How?" This is bad science. Science is the best way to understand how our universe works, but science by its very nature cannot answer questions of absolute meaning.

Whereas Krauss takes his theory to mean no God is necessary for the universe to come into being, I take his theory as an elegant physical description of a theological truth. Which interpretation is right? Well that's a matter of BELEIF! Whether you're Krauss or a Catholic, finding an answer to Why the universe was made is simply a matter of belief, and Krauss should admit his faith in nothing.