Nothing is something

Lawrence Krauss’s most recent book A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing was released last week. It’s one I have been looking forward to and I downloaded the eBook version this last weekend.

Some readers may have seen a video of one of Krauss’s lectures on this subject – these are what motivated my interest. For readers who have not seen one these lectures I have embedded one below.

I am keen to get into the book. With chapter titles like “Nothing is Something” and “Nothing is Unstable” it promises to be a good read. (I have placed the list of chapters at the bottom of this post*).

Krauss is not only an excellent lecturer he also writes very well. He has a lively style and is able to communicate complex ideas. Lawrence Krauss is one of the listed speakers art next April’s Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne (see A Celebration of Reason).

I wonder if he will pass through New Zealand as part of a book tour?

‘A Universe From Nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009 .

Last year Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow were bombarded with a lot of criticism from religious apologists for their book The Grand Design. I think it helped bring the book to the attention of potential readers. So I hope these moral watchdogs are not asleep and will be just as energetic in their criticisms of Krauss’s book.

My first impression is that A Universe from Nothing actually has more detail than The Grand Design.

So here’s looking forward to some interesting debates.


*Contents of A Universe from Nothing

Preface
Chapter 1: A Cosmic Mystery Story: Beginnings
Chapter 2: A Cosmic Mystery Story: Weighing the Universe
Chapter 3: Light from the Beginning of Time
Chapter 4: Much Ado About Nothing
Chapter 5: The Runaway Universe
Chapter 6: The Free Lunch at the End of the Universe
Chapter 7: Our Miserable Future
Chapter 8: A Grand Accident?
Chapter 9: Nothing Is Something
Chapter 10: Nothing Is Unstable
Chapter 11: Brave New Worlds
Epilogue
Afterword by Richard Dawkins

Index

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37 responses to “Nothing is something

  1. My god (heh) I love science so very much. Lawrence Krauss is tres awesome.

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  2. The “Grand Design” thread must have set some kind of record on this blog — lots of fun to be had dismantling Hawking. By the way Krauss’s “nothing” is not actually nothing.

    For all his undoubted genius Krauss is capable of some basic mistakes.
    Here he is approvingly quoting a Stalinist.
    Here he’s comprehensively torn apart by Bill Craig.
    And then there’s this foolishness.

    If Krauss follows Hawking down the path of M theory and postulates 10^500 universes, he is nuts.

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  3. William Lane Craig? The Genocide supporter? The liar for Jesus? Seriously? LMAO.

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  4. For the empiricist “nothing” is a phenomenon that has never been observed and is incompatible with the big picture provided by all that we have observed, Our well-evidenced, if incomplete, model of the universe is that of a continuum of fields, be they energetic or material manifestations.

    Until evidence is produced to support the concept, “nothing” must remain in the same category as deities, ghosts, hobgoblins and the Easter Bunny. Certainly not within the domain of science.
    Surely we don’t need Krauss to tell us that!

    But then, I guess his book is not really about science – More a circuitous flirtation with the “paranormal”. Which is always a good seller, of course.
    Davies, Hawking and particularly Kaku are among those who have at some time jumped on the quasi-religious band-wagon. Some are still on it!

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  5. Ropata – why is it when I post an article about an interesting book or person you then google to find out something negative to say? Relying on anything you can find as if it were gospel. (well I suppose it is just as good as gospel where anything does go).

    It would be more sensible to read the book and then give your considre3d opinion. the there would be something to discuss.

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  6. Sorry about that. Perhas a I’m little too skeptical. Krauss is an interesting character and I will probably watch the youtube clip soon.

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  7. It would be more sensible to read the book and then give your considre3d opinion.

    It would be a truly unique event.

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  8. FYI I have a well thumbed copy of Krauss’s earlier work, “Quintessence” which was a challenging and mind-expanding read. I also enjoyed his recent lecture in Auckland. But he should not be immune to criticism.

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  9. PS I also was quite skeptical when Bob Cornuke visited my local church in 2004. Perhaps I should have been more diplomatic …

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  10. People’s ideas of course should be open to critique . But people should not be subjected to irrational and crude abuse.

    Again, ropata, you were playing the man rather than the ball – but I think you know that and have expressed done regret.

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  11. Cognosium – can you please explain why you describe Krauss’s book as a “circuitous flirtation with the “paranormal”.?

    I don’t see how you net that as Krauss is usually good at putting the so-called “supernatural” in its place.

    Have you read the book? If so – can you point me to the section which gives you that impression.

    I certainly don’t find anything like this with my cursory leafing through the book.

    However, I think I can see a valid point about some of the popular science books, especially in physics today. The problem is that the physics of the very small and very large is counter-intuitive. This leads to some weird ideas in attempts to provide some sort of image of the science. I think some authors in the process can be guilty of promoting some wrong ideas – especially around quantum physics. These can get taken up by the woo people and such scientists get used as authorities.

    I do think some authors of such books need to be a bit more responsible tin their presentations.

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  12. Hi, Ken

    I admit I have based my opinion upon the video lecture and a some reviews rather than directly from the book. Which I don’t think I will bother with.

    Would you not agree that the concept of “nothing” has, for a very long time now, been quite foreign to science?
    Can you point to any evidence for its existence?
    If you can’t, does that not qualify it for inclusion in the paranormal?

    I did not find the video lecture at all impressive. Most of the material is old hat and has been covered much more effectively by such as Sagan and Feynmann. Hard acts to follow, I must agree.
    The rest is largely speculative, although a better fit to the present “big picture” than some (not all) of the competing models.

    And like Kaku, who is perhaps by far the worst offender, he tends to conflate hypothesis with evidence.

    In one example of such skulduggery he develops his preferred version of “dark matter”. Then – watch carefully for the distraction – he presents us with very technical sounding hardware, an actual experiment carried out at various locations around the world. Wow! this is guaranteed to surely impress the naive viewer. We even have the caption “DETECTING IT HERE”
    But watch for the sleight of hand, he effectively glosses over the critical fact that WE AIN’T DETECTING IT HERE. Which would be a much more appropriate and honest caption!

    If, one day it is unambiguously detected this will bring the model out of the world of mathematical speculation and into the domain of science. But for the time being it has no hard evidence to back it up. Remember, even the existence of the Higgs boson, a key component of the generally preferred (but not the only) model of particle physics. is looking a bit shaky at present.

    The prophet Krauss preaches humility but fails to practice it. He “knows” the universe is flat, he “knows” the number of protons and neutrons in the universe. Just as the string theorists who he, quite rightly, derides “know” that there are 11 (or whatever number is currently fashionable) of spatial dimensions. He, of course makes no mention that there are other theoretical physicists, even those like himself more closely associated with the mainstream, who hold contrary opinions.

    I must admit that my subjective impressions of Krauss are unfavorable. His presentation I find dull and his wisecracks corny. So maybe a little bias creeps in here. On the other hand I also find Dawkins to seem an utter twit on these videos. That awful “Prince Charles” accent doesn’t help. But that no way detracts from my great admiration of his very fine popularizations of genetics.

    On the positive side, Krauss is essentially non-religious, even though he still likes to bring “god” and “the Pope” obliquely into what should be a secular discussion.
    He has a healthy skepticism for string theory.
    Also for the currently popular artifice of using “natural selection” of an infinity of universes to account for “fine tuning”

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  13. Well. cognosium, I do find your view of Krauss rather jaundiced. I have found his presentations refreshing and think he, like Dawkins, is a good communicator (although their styles are very different).

    But there is no accounting for different preferences. I, for example, can’t see why you should drag Prince Charles into it – he is just not at all relevant.

    I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Your comments certainly haven’t put me off the book – I am looking forward to reading it.

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  14. Sure, Ken, don’t let my skepticism put you off.
    Merely voicing an opinion which I am sorry you find “jaundiced”.
    Certainly no offence intended.

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  15. Actually, cognosium, this morning I listened to the recent blogging heads discussion between Bob Wright and Lawrence. You may find it interesting as it raised some of the questions you did.

    A bitt frustrating with interruptions and do on – but still interesting.

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  16. Pingback: Can A Universe Was Formed Out Of Nothingness? | EssayBoard

  17. Pingback: A Universe Was Formed Out Of Nothingness? | EssayBoard

  18. The claim that nothing is something and then comments about the properties “nothing has” don’t really need to be critiqued because they are incoherent. Nothing is not a thing one attributes property to and can discuss the nature from, its the absence of anything, or any properties. Talking about nothing as though it were something is like talking about square circles or married batchelors.

    To see some in here discussing how one could provide evidence for the existence of “nothing” is truly bizzare. Are you guys really that logically illiterate.

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  19. Matt, I think you have to accept that your “common sense” logic is based on “common sense” premises which may not necessarily transfer outside “common sense” experience. And that is actually what humanity now realizes is a fact. That “common sense” ideas derived in the “medium sized world” do not transfer. Or more correctly “common sense” behaviors are just a simplified interpretation of real behaviors we are not aware of – but seem crazy when we discover them.

    In the very small world “nothing” can effectively be something because of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. You may not accept that or understand it but the very fact that your are participating in an Internet discussion relies on quantum physics – irrespective of your belief.

    You probably also reject the idea thst time is influenced by gravity and relative velocity. But what ever your belief you are probably happy to rely on GPS navigation which requires relativity theory.

    The Nobel prize winner Frank Wilcek goes as far as saying that classical logic really is just not up to understanding reality at its most basic level and needs to be developed or changed to do so.

    As for being “logically illiterate” I think to make such a claim about the very things you use reliably in your day to day life implies an illiteracy, or arrogance, which you should be ashamed of – rather than advertising.

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  20. No Ken, I reject the claim that contradictions can be true, that’s all, its a basic principle of logic.

    Your welcome to justify atheism by claiming contradictions are true if you like, good luck with that.

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  21. “William Lane Craig? The Genocide supporter? The liar for Jesus? Seriously? LMAO.”

    Ignore the arguments and engage in character attacks how scientific?

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  22. Matt, I think you are confused. My only reference to atheism was to the Melbourne convention and the hope that Krauss would visit NZ on the way there or back.

    Or do you see my interest in science and science books as “atheism?”

    If so I think you need to sort out your own ideology.

    As for “basic principles of logic” – you still need to recognize the limits of “common sense” logic and belief and avoid extrapolation. Reality at the very small and very large is just not intuitive.

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  23. Absolutely, Matthew.
    I am please to find somebody supports the comments i have made on this.

    As I mentioned before, “nothing” has ever been observed and, as such, has no place in a scientific debate.

    But then I am merely of the empiricist faith.

    Those who dabble in philosophical fields outside that domain love to cling to their mystical world-views. That’s their privilege, I guess.

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  24. Matt – I think you are in the wrong thread. However, this is my reply:

    Matt – so this is your response: “William Lane Craig? The Genocide supporter? The liar for Jesus? Seriously? LMAO.” Ignore the arguments and engage in character attacks …”

    This is your way of voiding the question – have you read the book of Darwin from which the quote was taken, or even the chapters of the origins of human morality?

    OK I’ll take the answer as NO!

    And that you just lifted the altered quote from the creationist echo chamber.

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  25. Ken, principles of logic are necessarily true they hold in all possible worlds, they are not contingently true. If you deny the law of non contradiction you can affirm anything at all no matter how silly, no one can refute it because to do so involves appealing to a fact that contradicts the claim and that’s ruled out. In fact arguing that physics establishes the law does not hold is to appeal to it holding.

    Second pointing out an ad hominen is a fallacy is not avoiding the question is directly addressing the argument. Try engaging in some rational discussion for a change.

    As to your last comment lets recap for your readers, in Moral Strawmannery you quoted me and claimed I misrepresented Darwin by claiming he taught that a moral and social code held by a human species that has evolved must be the same as the most basic of animals or insects. You did this by quote mining me out of context.

    I demonstrated this by providing the quotes.

    You responded by repeating the claim, so I gave the context a second time.

    You then claimed you did not understand me.

    So I provided them a third time.

    You then tried to change the subject, making disparaging remarks about theology, so I asked you again for a retraction and to admit you misquoted me.

    Now when someone engages on your blog in a character attack rather than a sound argument you try and again avoid the question by raising a different subject.

    Again Ken, I ask you be honest with your readers.

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  26. Matt, I don’t see that you have to deny the law of non-contradiction to accept the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Please explain your reasoning there.

    What you may have to do, though, is recognise the law as normally expressed may just be too naive and hence it needs to be made more general. This happens all the time in philosophy – or it should – as we find new knowledge.

    As for ad hominen – heard about glasshouse owners throwing stones? You resort to ad hominen al the time – its a common theological method of diverting discussion.

    And come on Matt – Your mate Craig has justified genocide/ethnic cleansing and infanticide using divine command ideas. He should be criticised – and you should be ashamed to support him. That is hardly ad hominen – its being ethical.

    As for the discussion on Moral Strawmannery which you have restarted from 3 months ago: You have been asked a simple question. Did you read Darwin’s book or the chapters of the origin of human morality from which the amended quote was taken.

    You refuse to answer so I can only conclude the answer is NO.

    You have simply lifted an inappropriate quote from the creationist echo chamber. What are your ethics on such cherry picked quotes?

    In the discussion of human morality Darwins ideas do have some value – although we do know a lot more now. However, the specific amended quote you used does not give any impression of the content of his ideas at all. That’s why my question is relevant.

    Come on Matt. These are interesting questions. Why not deal with them instead of whining and using the “you said I said” tactic.

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  27. Matt, I don’t see that you have to deny the law of non-contradiction to accept the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Please explain your reasoning there.

    Ken, I don’t believe the Heisenberg uncertainty principle entails the law of non contradiction. What I suggested was when people say that “nothing is something” or talk of nothing as an entity with properties or characteristics they violate the law of non contradiction. And when people start talking about proving that “nothing” exists, that’s incoherent and absurd. If something exists then its not nothing.

    As for ad hominen – heard about glasshouse owners throwing stones? You resort to ad hominen al the time – its a common theological method of diverting discussion.

    I see so you defend ad hominen reasoning my engaging in it again. That’s just irrational.
    Even if what you said here true, it proves nothing at all, the fact someone else uses bad reasoning does not mean its bad reasoning when your supporters do it. Intellectual honesty demands you not accept an argument is bad when its used by a theologian and ok when its used for your cause.

    And come on Matt – Your mate Craig has justified genocide/ethnic cleansing and infanticide using divine command ideas. He should be criticised – and you should be ashamed to support him. That is hardly ad hominen – its being ethical.

    Actually that is an ad hominen, someone pointed to Craig’s arguments against Krauss the response was to attack his character, even if Craig was a really unethical person it would not mean the arguments he used against Krauss were flawed, arguments don’t stand or fall on the character of the arguer, this is logic 101 ken, you scientists should not need this pointed out to you.

    You bring up Craig at every moment to distract the issue, I could easily bring up the numerous secular ethicists who unlike Craig who believes that infanticide. Has been permissible in a few rare occasions, hold its generally permissible, like Peter Singer, or numerous others. But that would be a distraction.

    You refuse to answer so I can only conclude the answer is NO.

    Well that’s called an argument from silence Ken the fact someone says nothing about something does not entail a negative answer to the question. Once again all you do is use text book logical fallacies.
    All your doing is showing your dishonesty, note that I also asked you a question. I documented that you misrepresented my position, on three occasions and asked you if you were going to retract the claim. You have no answered me. Turning around then demanding I answer you in this context really only shows how evasive you are.
    The reason I don’t answer you is because it’s irrelevant, the issue is not where I got the quote from. The question is whether I presented Darwin’s positon accurately. I did and you lied about it and said I didn’t. Now you’re trying to change the subject to something other than what it was.
    Heres the rub Ken, claiming that nothing is something and that contradictions can be true because a scientist decides to say so, attacking peoples character, justifying it with tu qoques, ( look it up) trying to change the subject when a criticism is raised , misrepresenting peoples positions and then demanding they ask irrelevant questions when they point to the facts is not really “rational thought” .

    I said Darwin claimed it was possible for rational beings to evolve you believed infanticide was permissible and he did claim that. I did not say anything else about his views one way or the other that was how you choose to distort my position. So going on about these other views is beside the point and merely you distracting people from the fact that you once again lied. Stop trying to co opt science into your little dishonest I hate religion campaign because it’s clear that in that campaign the facts and logic really mean little to you.

    Its funny you denounce the “I said you said” tactic given you decided to write a blog about what I allegedly said. If you bring up topics and base it on falsehoods people will point it out, don’t like it don’t tell lies.

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  28. I think a little quiet self-appraisal could be in order here, Ken.

    Incidentally, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle has no bearing upon this.

    It merely defines the level of indeterminacy of the quantum form of the Hamiltonian geodesic.

    Nothing to do with nothing :>)

    Now, if you were smart, you would, instead of getting your knickers in a knot, point out the importance of nothing (aka zero) to the simple language of mathematics. You could also point out that this does actually reflect upon the real world. After all, if you have nothing in your bank account, for instance, that could be a matter of great practical concern.

    The argument is, I believe, get-roundable but could still be more effective than abusiveness.

    Do you really subscribe to theism, Matt? If so, i can imagine nothing sillier!

    I shall say nothing more…

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  29. Cognosium – I beg to differ. The uncertainty principle enables the coming into existence and disappearance of virtual particle without violating the energy of the system. What we consider nothing turns out to be teeming with virtual particles. This makes it necessary to revise one’s concepts of nothing which one has picked up from the macro world. (Always wise on philosophical issues as otherwise one starts dictating to reality.

    No, no knickers are twisted here. I enjoy these debates, although find there is a problem with theists who tend to get personal and angry. They scream ad hominen at the slightest twist and yet are continually throwing the stones they themselves complain of.

    However, what about you having a go and telling Matt what you think of nothing and the uncertainty principle. It is hardly Kosher to declare “I shall say nothing more . . .” - What is the point of that?

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  30. Matt – Craig is unethical. that is clear as he supports, or at least justifies, genocide/ethnic cleansing and infanticide. So I am just stating a fact – nothing ad hominen about that.

    Yes, my conclusion about your quote mining is “an argument from silence” – as you say. But despite several requests you refuse to answer. Your silence on this is deafening. I think I am warranted in drawing a provisional conclusion there – and questioning your ethics as a result. If I am wrong (and of course that possibility will always exist, then the easiest way to demonstrate that is to answer the question and say you have read the book. The fact that you continue to refuse that surely just amounts to digging your hole even deeper.

    Now Matt – you claim of me that I am “claiming that nothing is something and that contradictions can be true because a scientist decides to say so”. That is silly. I am referring to a book written by a specialist in this area. His contribution to modern cosmology is immense. But he is not the only person to refer to the observed fact that a volume from which everything is removed and therefore is considered “nothing” nevertheless teems with activity. This is hardly “a scientist says so.” Its not theology. Science is derived from observation.

    I see no contradiction between describing a volume as “nothing” and acknowledging that it does in fact contain something because at the quantum level nothing and something are not opposites. That necessity to adjust one’s philosophical understanding as new experience is obtained is hardly new. Consider conservation principles and how they have changed over time.

    I think your naive interpretation of contradiction illustrates the danger of philosophy dictating to science. After all science deals with reality and if something like this is observed philosophy must adjust its interpretation – usually in the direction of better abstraction.

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  31. Richard Christie

    @Matt Talking about nothing as though it were something is like talking about square circles or married batchelors.

    hmm, how then does one talk about nothing— mustn’t it be something in order to talk about it?

    Is nothing necessarily contained? What happens if it isn’t contained?

    These are matters from The Deep, perhaps the answers are in the bible.

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  32. Oh dear, Ken!
    Your remarks make me think of the old quip “every time he opens his mouth he puts his foot in it”

    You answer yourself, you silly boy, when you say : ” teeming with virtual particles”

    That’s not “nothing” that’s merely the absence of atomic or molecular species.

    That absence of matter is still a crude interpretation which we simple chemists use in the laboratory when trying to pump down to low pressures. Where, even using cryogenics, a true vacuum of that kind is virtually impossible to achieve. Some research I was once involved in necessitated pulling down to 10^-9 Torr, which sounds like a pretty hard vacuum. But I was quite horrified when, on a whim, I calculated the number of molecules still in the system!
    But that’s bye the bye.

    That naive use of the word vacuum in physics and cosmology fell into disuse way over a century ago. Ever since the realization that “space”, even those parts between atoms/molecules, is filled by fields. Gravitational, electromagnetic and electrostatic fields are those with which we are most familiar. The paradigm has shifted towards a particular interpretation of the field in modern times but this is, to the best of our understanding, still a continuum that is “seething with virtual particles” . This interpretation of “vacuum” implies that it is empty only of matter, not of energy. So, as far as we know, there is nowhere the “absence of anything” which we could equate to “nothing”

    I think I tried to explain this to you in my first post but it doesn’t seem to have got across. I am sorry if that first explanation was wanting. I hope I have done better this time.

    This talk by Richard Feynman , (the factual aspects of which I presume you will already know), may help put you in the right frame of mind to get a proper handle on the notion of a continuum of fields:

    Another thing to remember is that matter itself is also a part of that field continuum. As are sub-atomic “particles”.

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  33. OK cognosium I suggest you should revise your decision not to read the book. Krauss does explain how inadequate your concept of nothing is.

    Or listen to one of the current podcasts he has been interviewed on. It’s a common approach that people argue against him are continually refining their concept of nothing. It possibly means they are learning something from the discussion.

    Anyway, it is rather frustrating having to counter arguments from someone who refuses to read the book but assumes its contents – incorrectly usually.

    Let’s be clear – we are not talking about a vacuum created in the lab by sucking most of the air out if it. (Perhaps that is why you misunderstood my reference to the uncertainty principle in this regard).

    Using current physics Krauss considers the situation of space containing nothing (and I think you are missing the point by confusing virtual particles with “atomic or molecular species” – that is not what is meant at all). But he goes further, and while he is speculating about the consequences of quantum gravity, his conclusions about the instability of a nothing without space-time are certainly interesting.

    Interesting you are a chemist. I was too – now retired . But a bit of a joke to be referred to now as a “silly boy” – its usually a ” silly old barstard!” these days.

    I may it may not get around to checking out your Feynman clip. My usual attitude to links is that the commenter should be able to convey their argument without them and in their own words. Too often I find the links provided actually are not relevant.

    Anyway, all this is a diversion. Are you trying to argue that Krauss’s conclusion is wrong? That in fact the universe came from something? Why then does it have the specific appearance it has – which Krauss explains is evidence that it did not come from something? Why then is it open and flat?

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  34. Obviously, Ken, you made no attempt to read my post properly.

    I very clearly made the distinction between the crude concept of a vacuum in respect of atomic/molecular species that we use in the lab and the modern (well, not actually THAT modern) concept of a continuum of fields.

    But I see you appear to be beyond reason so I will leave it there.

    I am sorry you had to spit the dummy and not view Feynman’s piece.
    As with all his stuff, its beautifully done.

    Oh, by the way, any male who is not on the wrong side of 70 is likely to be regarded as a boy to me :>)

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  35. OK cognosium you will continue to see me as a boy – but only for one more year! Depending on your definition of “wrong side of 70″.

    By the way, what research were you involved in during your career (I assume you are, like me, now retired -but of course that assumption may be unwarranted)? And who did you work for in NZ?

    As for the Feynman clip – I may already have seen it. It may be one of those on my iPod I am planning to watch. I may even download it again. But my point is that you should be able to make the point in your own words – such linking does not usually help discussion.

    As for the crude concept of vacuum – you brought it up not me. I was referring to the consequences of the uncertainty principle in allowing the coming into existence of virtual particles for extremely short times.

    My point was to show Matt that his concepts of nothing and something as polar opposites need to be revised outside the mundane world of his experiences. That his philosophy should be informed by reality – not determine reality.

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  36. Ken
    Irrational dishonesty at it again,

    Matt – Craig is unethical. that is clear as he supports, or at least justifies, genocide/ethnic cleansing and infanticide. So I am just stating a fact – nothing ad hominen about that.

    Actually as you know Craig does not “support” ethnic cleansing. He thinks that in rare unuausal circumstances infanticide is permissible and he expresses scepticism that these situations ever actually happen in reality. But that is a distraction anyway, because even if Craig did support all these things, the argument still commits the ad hominen fallacy. Because it attacks the character of the arguer rather than providing reasons for rejecting the argument.
    It’s a basic logical point that you don’t discredit a person’s argument by attacking the character of the arguer, an arguments soundness stands on whether its premises are true and the form logically valid, not on the virtues or vices of the person uttering it.

    Yes, my conclusion about your quote mining is “an argument from silence” – as you say. But despite several requests you refuse to answer. Your silence on this is deafening. I think I am warranted in drawing a provisional conclusion there – and questioning your ethics as a result. If I am wrong (and of course that possibility will always exist, then the easiest way to demonstrate that is to answer the question and say you have read the book. The fact that you continue to refuse that surely just amounts to digging your hole even deeper.

    Actually you are not justified in drawing an affirmative conclusion from silence, even a provisional one. From silence one is justified inferring neither a negative or an affirmative.
    But again you are being dishonest here: you now claim the issue was wether I “ have you read the book of Darwin from which the quote was taken, or even the chapters of the origins of human morality?” But that was not the accusation you made, was it Ken, what you said was.

    Recently I have seen the quote reproduced by numerous religious apologists and creationists arguing against “secular morality.” (Almost always the section in bold is omitted – usually evidence that users are just copying and pasting from other apologist posts or articles). And they interpret this to mean that a moral and social code held by a human species that has evolved must be the same as the most basic of animals or insects.

    The accusation here was, not that I had not read Darwin, it was that I had claimed he said that a moral and social code held by a human species that has evolved must be the same as the most basic of animals or insects. Now I did not say that and I have provided evidence I did not.
    So Ken, are you going to retract the claim you actually made? Changing the subject to ask me other questions in the hope you can find something else to pin on me, does not address this. Similarly demanding I answer these new questions and yet refusing to answer the original does not address it either. Will you retract the false claim you made about me ( and also Craig btw) from your site, or are you going to continue to make claims about theists which you know to be false. The ball in your court. I am not going to play your game of changing the subject to different questions everytime your BS is exposed.

    blockquoteNow Matt – you claim of me that I am “claiming that nothing is something and that contradictions can be true because a scientist decides to say so”. That is silly. I am referring to a book written by a specialist in this area. His contribution to modern cosmology is immense.
    The fact a contradiction is uttered by a leading cosmologist does not make contradictions true. It’s interesting that scientists will accept on authority claims from people that violate logic. What was that about not taking things on faith in authority if it goes against reason
    But he is not the only person to refer to the observed fact that a volume from which everything is removed and therefore is considered “nothing” nevertheless teems with activity. This is hardly “a scientist says so.” Its not theology. Science is derived from observation.
    Actually this is a fallacious inference, if you discover that something which you consider to be nothing, is teeming with activity, then the conclusion to draw is that its not nothing, you obviously did not “draw everything” out of it, or something else you don’t know about has influenced it in some way. Noting is not an existent thing with properties or actions. Ignoring an obvious contradiction by taking ignorant swipes at theology does not show contradictions can be true. It’s a matter of logic not theology or cosmology.

    “. Try and I see no contradiction between describing a volume as “nothing” and acknowledging that it does in fact contain something because at the quantum level nothing and something are not opposites”

    Nothing and something are logical opposites. Nothing is the absence of anything at all. Something is the presence of at least one thing. To claim nothing is something is a contradiction, the fact some scientists believe illogical thinks is rarely nothing in favour of them.

    . That necessity to adjust one’s philosophical understanding as new experience is obtained is hardly new. Consider conservation principles and how they have changed over time.

    Your confusing laws of nature which are based on inductive reasoning with basic principles of logic which are not. Scientific theories have to follow the rules of logic and rational thought.

    I think your naive interpretation of contradiction illustrates the danger of philosophy dictating to science. After all science deals with reality and if something like this is observed philosophy must adjust its interpretation – usually in the direction of better abstraction.

    Sorry you don’t get to dismiss logic by claiming the law of non contradiction is naïve. Interesting how you think that you can justify bad arguments with attacks on peoples pscology, all that shows again is that you are logically illiterate.

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  37. No Matt – I am not getting into your game or responding to ad hominen attacks you continue to use.

    I guess its not possible for you to appreciate the beauty and non-intuitive nature of quantum mechanics. It is, after all, well outside your expertise. OK, so you choose to resolve your conflict over the predictions of the uncertainty principle to re-define this special case of “nothing” as “something.” (It’s actually a common reaction if you listen to the criticisms being made of Krauss currently). I choose to revise my philosophy to not see “nothing” and “something” as opposites – in the same way as we don’t see “waves” and “particles” as contradictory (but some people still choose to).

    I consider your solution too mechanical, missing the whole point of the uncertainty principle. But your refusal to accept the facts of quantum mechanics intellectually is hardly a problem – you aren’t working in the area. But it doesn’t change the fact that you use this counter-intuitive science every day. You accept it in practice.

    While on laws of contradiction – strange you don’t see the conflict in on the one hand admitting that Craig has justified, claimed permissible, infanticide (and yes he has also justified genocide and ethnic cleansing in the same texts and replies). And claiming that on the other hand it didn’t “really” mean it, it may never have happened. Oh, I see – you get out of that violation of the laws of non-contradiction by claiming any one mentioning it is guilty of an ad hominen attack!

    Bloody hell – the mental gymnastics of theology.

    (And by the by – I did not claim (as you say): that “the law of non contradiction is naïve.” I said: “I think your naive interpretation of contradiction illustrates the danger of philosophy dictating to science. “

    And I hope I haven’t started a new “you said I said” diversion with that little correction.)

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