Skeptical Sunday: A Universe From Nothing
A common claim made by theists of all stripes is that everything can’t have come from nothing, therefore God made it. In its purest form this is called the Cosmological Argument for God. It goes something like this:
-Everything has a cause.
-Nothing can cause itself.
-The causal chain cannot go back forever.
-Therefore there is a First Cause that is itself uncaused and started the causal chain.
The Cosmological Argument has some serious problems, namely that its conclusion directly contradicts its premise. (Everything has a cause >< There is something that does not have a cause.) It’s essentially a case of special pleading. “Everything has to follow the rules except this one thing which doesn’t and that’s God.”
Some apologists have tried to get around this by making the alternate version known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which goes like this:
-Whatever begins to exist had a cause.
-The Universe began to exist.
-Therefore the Universe had a cause.
They’ll argue these premises at great length (and when we get to Chapter 5 of CFAC we’ll find William Lane Craig doing exactly that), but ultimately the argument still boils down to a case of special pleading. It asserts two sets of items: things that have a beginning, and things that do not have a beginning. The set “things that do not have a beginning” holds exactly one item: God. So despite the rhetorical hand-waving that they can fill pages/hours going over, the Kalam argument is “Everything but God began to exist,” i.e. “Everything has to follow the rules except this one thing that doesn’t.” Special pleading.
Still, the argument seems potent. It’s absurd to think that something could have come from nothing, right?
This video comes from a series of science lectures presented as part of the Atheist Alliance International convention that took place in Burbank, CA a couple of weeks ago (I wish I could have gone, but I couldn’t afford the registration this year. Next year I hope to attend this and The Amazing Meeting). Lawrence Krauss argues that, based on what we know about the universe and the laws of physics, the universe not only could have begun from nothing, but that if there had ever been “nothing,” it would have inevitably had to become “something.”
It’s a pretty dense lecture and it’s a full hour of info, I recommend it for background listening while working on other computer-based tasks.