I got my own copy of Lawrence Krauss’ A Universe from Nothing for a variety of reasons. For one, physics has always been a love of mine, along with cosmology. Perhaps the most pressing reason, I was writing an article for the Tomorrow’s World magazine that would touch on similar topics. And, lastly, I suspected it would be a polemic against God and an attempt to assault one of the pillars of belief in a God, and it seemed a good idea to poke my head in and see what is the cabal had come up with something new.
On the polemic front, boy howdy, was it ever. But a regrettably silly one, which was both a shame and an encouragement. A shame because Krauss is such an intelligent man, and seeing him step in the middle of such dumb arguments here and there without bothering to note the condition his shoe is in is a disappointment. But it was an encouragement, too, to see how terribly impotent an intelligent atheist of Krauss’ caliber is at addressing the central thesis of his own book–that a universe can supposedly come out of nothing. To see him redefining “nothing” (all while hilariously accusing his philosophical opponents of doing the same and while doing so for apparently the very motivations he ascribes to them) to allow him to “fulfill” the promise of his book’s title produced sort of a weird combination of feelings: the contortions and justifications painful to watch, yet it was satisfying to see how necessary they were for him to go through.
In fact, Richard Dawkins’ triumphant gloating in the afterward (in which his level of praise for the book is nothing short of deeply embarrassing) would come across as comical to anyone who actually realizes just how far short Krauss’ book has fallen of it’s goal. Actually, Dawkins’ afterward comes across to me much like the unintentionally hilarious press conferences from Iraqi Information Minister “Baghdad Bob” during the second Gulf War. Remember some of those whoopers? My feelings–as usual–we will slaughter them all… Their infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad. Be assured, Baghdad is safe, protected… Yesterday, we slaughtered them and we will continue to slaughter them. All while, of course, news footage shows American and allied troops marching across Iraq at will and Iraqi forces surrendering in droves. Richard Dawkins’ afterward is a great “Baghdad Bob” imitation. Yes, Dr. Dawkins, we understand: The infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds at your gate and atheistic cosmology is safe, protected… Got it.
But, the whole point of my post was not for me to go on and on with my own review (which is all I’ve done so far) but, rather, was to point you to a better one: the New York Times review of Lawrence Krauss’ book, published back in March as an article titled “On the Origin of Everything” and written by David Albert. Credited by the Times as a professor of philosophy at Columbia and the author of Quantum Mechanics and Experience, Dr. Albert effectively takes Dr. Krauss out to the woodshed, exposing in a brief article the fundamental mistakes and pretensions at the heart of Krauss’ book. Like Dawkins before him in The God Delusion, Krauss in his book falls startlingly short of his goal and represents either a willful ignorance or an ignorant will, and David Albert’s review highlights some of the reasons why in a manner more concise than I will even pretend I could do. So if you are interested in getting A Universe from Nothing (and the speculative physics is fascinating even if the metaphysics is terrible) or if you just want to be prepared to defend simply and easily against the latest fashion in atheistic slight-of-hand cosmology, read Albert’s review.