Lawrence Krauss: A Universe From Nothing

Christopher Hitchens has recommended this lecture several times in recent debates.  That was all the advice and reassurance I needed to check it out and I was not disappointed.

“The Woody Allen of physics” (as Richard Dawkins dubbed him at the lecture’s end) delivers a wonderfully lucid and humorous account at the Atheist Alliance International conference 2009 of how physics can answer the infernal question posed by religious apologists as to why there is “something” rather than “nothing” for the layman.

Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded.  And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand.  It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics.  You are all stardust.  You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time.  They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode.

So, forget Jesus.  The stars died so that you could be here today.

I wish Krauss had been my secondary school physics teacher.

Lecture’s thread at

Lawrence Krauss’ homepage

Lawrence Krauss’ Wikipedia page

Richard Dawkins in conversation with Lawrence Krauss

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5 Responses to “Lawrence Krauss: A Universe From Nothing”

  1. PaulJ Says:

    Your favourite creationist also likes this lecture. (At any rate, he linked to a clip from it….)

  2. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    I was vaguely aware that Mad Ken had been grossly offended by Krauss’ dismissal of the Lord JC. Thank you for inflicting the full Ham joint on me, Paul… 😮

    Krauss would be fired from his university if he made similar remarks about Mohammed? What nonsense!

    The only way to gain your stripes as a militant atheist is by dissing The Religion of Peace!

  3. H.S.Pal Says:


    In his article ‘The other side of time’ (2000) scientist Victor J. Stenger has written:
    “Quantum electrodynamics is a fifty-year-old theory of the interactions of electrons and photons that has made successful predictions to accuracies as great as twelve significant figures. Fundamental to that theory is the spontaneous appearance of electron-positron (anti-electron) pairs for brief periods of time, literally out of “nothing.””
    From here he has concluded that our universe may also come literally out of nothing due to quantum fluctuation in the void, and therefore we need not have to imagine that God has done this job.
    But is it true that electron-positron (anti-electron) pairs are appearing spontaneously literally out of “nothing”? Are scientists absolutely certain that the so-called void is a true void indeed? Because here there is a counter-claim also: God is there, and that God is everywhere. So actually nothing is coming out of “nothing”, only something is coming out of something. Here we want to examine whether scientists’ claim that the so-called void is a true void can be sustained by reason or not.
    There can be basically two types of universe: (1) universe created by God, supposing that there is a God; (2) universe not created by God, supposing that there is no God. Again universe created by God can also be of three types:
    (1a) Universe in which God need not have to intervene at all after its creation. This is the best type of universe that can be created by God.
    (1b) Universe in which God has actually intervened from time to time, but his intervention is a bare minimum.
    (1c) Universe that cannot function at all without God’s very frequent intervention. This is the worst type of universe that can be created by God.
    Therefore we see that there can be four distinct types of universes, and our universe may be any one of the above four types: (1a), (1b), (1c), (2). In case of (1a), scientists will be able to give natural explanation for each and every physical event that has happened in the universe after its origin, because after its creation there is no intervention by God at any moment of its functioning. Only giving natural explanation for its coming into existence will be problematic. In case of (1b) also, most of the events will be easily explained away, without imagining that there is any hand of God behind these events. But for those events where God had actually intervened, scientists will never be able to give any natural explanation. Also explaining origin of the universe will be equally problematic. But in case of (1c), most of the events will remain unexplained, as in this case God had to intervene very frequently. This type of universe will be just like the one as envisaged by Newton: “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.” So we can with confidence say that our universe is not of this type, otherwise scientists could not have found natural explanation for most of the physical events. In case of type (2) universe, here also there will be natural explanation for each and every physical event, and there will be natural explanation for the origin of the universe also. So from the mere fact that scientists have so far been able to give natural explanation for each and every physical event, it cannot be concluded that our universe is a type (2) universe, because this can be a type (1a) universe as well. The only difference between type (1a) and type (2) universe is this: whereas in case of (1a) no natural explanation will ever be possible for the origin of the universe, it will not be so in case of (2). Therefore until and unless scientists can give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe, they cannot claim that it is a type (2) universe. And so, until and unless scientists can give this explanation, they can neither claim that the so-called void is a true void. So scientists cannot proceed to give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe with an a priori assumption that the void is a real void, because their failure or success in giving this explanation will only determine as to whether this is a real void or not.


    Scientists want to prove that God does not exist. Since they want to prove it, therefore they cannot claim that it is already an established fact. So the statement “God does not exist” can be given the status of a theory only and nothing more than that. Therefore its fate will be determined like any other theory of the scientific world. Like any other scientific theory it will have to prove its validity afresh at each and every new instance. So, not by assuming that the void is a real void, and thus not by assuming that there is no God, but by any other means, scientists will have to show that there is no hand of God behind the origin/birth/creation of this universe, and therefore their no-God theory is again validated here. So the scientific community all over the world should realize that the story of the origin of our universe from a vacuum fluctuation is a myth only, not a scientific truth.


    This is about scientists’ claim that our universe has originated from nothing due to a vacuum fluctuation. Here I want to show again that this claim cannot be sustained by reason.
    Abbreviation: origin of the universe from nothing due to vacuum fluctuation (OUNVF)
    We all know that the theorems in Euclidean geometry generally start with some basic assumptions that are accepted as true without any proof. These basic assumptions are called axioms. Similarly scientific theories also start with some basic assumptions. These are called postulates. So far these postulates of scientific theories were all God-independent. I am going to explain what I want to mean by the term “God-independent”. Let us suppose that P is a postulate. Now it may be the case that there is a God. Or it may be the case that there is no God. Now let us suppose it is the case that there is a God, and we find that P is not affected. Again let us further suppose that it is the case there is no God, and again we find that in this case also P is not affected. Then we can say P is God-independent. But in the case under consideration the basic assumption with which scientists start is not at all God-independent. Rather we can say that it is very much God-dependent. Their basic assumption here is this: the void is a real void, and it is nothing but a void. Now if it is the case that there is a God, then this assumption is very much affected, because the void is no longer a real void. If, and only if, it is the case that there is no God, then only it is a real void. Therefore when scientists are saying that the void is a real void, then they are also saying it indirectly that it is the case there is no God, or, that it is a fact there is no God. But my question here is this: are these scientists now in a position to say so? Have their knowledge of the empirical world and its laws and its workings up till now made them competent enough to declare at this stage that there is no God? Because here two points will have to be considered:
    1) They have not yet been able to give a natural explanation for the origin of the universe.
    2) Similarly they have not yet been able to give a natural explanation for the fact that our universe has become habitable for life, whereas it could have been barren and lifeless as well.
    Now it may so happen that scientists completely fail to give any natural explanation for both 1) and 2). In that case will it not be too early for them to suppose that the void is a real void? Because if they are unsuccessful, then they do not know whether there is a God or not, and therefore neither do they know whether the void is a real void or not. But if they are successful, then they definitely know that there is no God. Then only they can say that the void is a real void. So we can say that 1) and 2) are two hurdles that the scientists must have to cross before they can arrive at a place from where they can boldly declare that God does not exist. This is the place that may be called scientists’ heaven. Because once they can reach there, then they will have no hesitation to deny the existence of God. Because now they have explained the alpha and omega of this universe, starting from its origin up to the coming of man on earth and further beyond, and nowhere they have found any hand of God influencing the course of events in any way. But, to arrive at that place can they take any undue advantage? Or, can they try to reach there by any unfair means? Can they already assume that there is no God, and based on that assumption, can they try to cross any one, or both, of these two hurdles? But in case of 1) they have just done that. That is why I want to say that OUNVF is a pure case of circular reasoning.

  4. Bob Says:

    they call it “working on it” you call it “god so might as well stop looking for an answer”

    that stagnates science to say you know something you cannot possibly know.

    Also they have found some interesting things in Orion producing what is needed for planets and life…what if one lands in a “goldilocks zone” like we did.

    You cannot disprove the tooth fair but we don’t treat its likelihood of existing equal with that of it not existing.

    oh yeah and “Now let us suppose…” is not very scientific.

  5. allzermalmer Says:

    “oh yeah and “Now let us suppose…” is not very scientific.”

    It’s actually the basis of the scientific method. Suppose something to be the case, and make sure it’s logically consistent. Then try to combine it with some of your other hypothesis, and derive a prediction of something that you can observe with your senses. Science is built on suppositions, or as Karl Popper put it, “myths”. Scientific is game with rules, but the rules don’t care where the pieces come from or what they are, so long as you make those pieces follow the rules. Ever play Uno with Poker Cards?

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