A Universe from Nothing? Lee Smolin Sasses Lawrence Krauss’s Confidence Atheism

Buried deep in the comboxes of a post at the blog site What There Is and Why There Is Anything, the physicist Lee Smolin took the time to weigh-in on whether one of his colleagues, Lawrence Krauss, should be claiming that physics has eradicated God from the creation equation. It strikes me as a pretty clear-headed (and damning) critique. Here is Smolin’s key paragraph:

The reason to prefer science to religion as a source of truth about the world cannot be that science offers the better story to explain enigmas like why the world exists or consciousness. To the contrary,  science offers nothing to compete with the certainties of religious dogmas on such questions. The reason is that science has a far  higher standard for belief and this standard results in knowledge that is limited in scope and always provisional. But it is the best knowledge we can have, if by knowledge we mean provisional understanding that can be established and defended by rational argument from public evidence. Science may someday yield an understanding of how and why the universe came to exist, but the fact is it does not presently. The speculation some scientists indulge in on these topics does not amount to verified knowledge. Therefor[e] it is a mistake to compete with religion on explaining how or why the universe began because it is a fight we can only contest by giving up the methodologies and standards to which we owe our entire success.

If you don’t know something, you don’t know something. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know”–especially when you don’t.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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