Lawrence Krauss - A Universe from Nothing

February 6, 2012

Host: Chris Mooney

We had Lawrence Krauss on Point of Inquiry less than a year ago, to discuss his recent book on the scientific works of Richard Feynman.

But in order to keep up with him, we had to have him on again. Already.

You see, Krauss has a new book out that's causing quite a stir right now—A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing.

Here's a hint as to why: Krauss's answer to this age-old question isn't God. In fact, as discussed on the program, Krauss has arguably written the book that "kicks God out of physics."

And along the way, he also manages to explain a heck of a lot of science.

Lawrence Krauss is an the internationally known theoretical physicist and popular author. He has published hundreds of scientific papers, as well as acclaimed books like the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek and Fear of Physics. He's director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Comments from the CFI Forums

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Yep, even nothing has potential. I especially liked his observarion that something from nothing was inevitable.

Posted on Feb 07, 2012 at 3:19pm by Write4U Comment #1

I haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast yet, but I read the book last week. I recommend the book very highly. Physicists are seemingly on the verge of proving that nothing is unstable and universes will pop into existence randomly. Philosophically, this makes a lot of sense. Now we just need some method to detect a signal of this happening. Even if it cannot be proven in our lifetimes it is a very intriguing possibility. Much better than goddidit.

Posted on Feb 07, 2012 at 5:32pm by DarronS Comment #2

Nothing ain’t really nothing it seems. What a cool topic, and Krauss is always a fun guest.

Posted on Feb 07, 2012 at 7:27pm by mid atlantic Comment #3

The presence of nothing implies something in itself. Only a void presents the absence of everything. But obviously there never was a void, only a geometric singularity of nothing and that is something.

Posted on Feb 07, 2012 at 11:45pm by Write4U Comment #4

Why does the universe exist?(just under half the program time) Perhaps the largest of big questions.  Stick it to those conservative Christian fundamentalists. (a little over half the program time) An idea as big as a grade school play yard, but life itself to liberals intent on highjacking science, skepticism, and all the power in human society. Demonize and stigmatize the competition.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 at 7:35am by rg21 Comment #5

rg21, if you had a point there it is obscured by your poor writing. You should try using complete sentences with a subject to perform an action, a verb to indicate the action, and a direct object to receive the action. Now, try again and explain to us exactly what point you wanted to make.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 at 7:56am by DarronS Comment #6

“Why does the universe exist” may be the largest and most fascinating of big question although ironically it consumed just under half the program time. In contrast, tormenting and mocking conservative fundamentalist Christians and the glee garnered from so doing, an exercise that consumed a bit more than half the program time, is no more consequential or intellectually significant than the taunts of mean and insecure third graders in a school yard. However, for liberals intent on highjacking and prostituting the skeptical movement and science as they do everything else they can get their hands on, it means as much as life itself.
  Now can I ask in reciprocity from leftists to use proper, respectful, and polite language without slang or vulgarisms wherever they may be from now on?

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 at 8:39am by rg21 Comment #7

“Why does the universe exist” may be the largest and most fascinating of big question although ironically it consumed just under half the program time. In contrast, tormenting and mocking conservative fundamentalist Christians and the glee garnered from so doing, an exercise that consumed a bit more than half the program time, is no more consequential or intellectually significant than the taunts of mean and insecure third graders in a school yard. However, for liberals intent on highjacking and prostituting the skeptical movement and science as they do everything else they can get their hands on, it means as much as life itself.
  Now can I ask in reciprocity from leftists to use proper, respectful, and polite language without slang or vulgarisms wherever they may be from now on?

Do you know “why” the universe exists?

IMO it is an unanswerable question.  We have a pretty good idea “how” the universe exists.  Does there need to be a “why”?

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 at 3:43pm by Write4U Comment #8

In his conversation with Chris Mooney, Lawrence Krauss uses the term “miracle” to describe aspects of the universe, and therefore by definition existence. The definition of miracle includes ‘a wonder’ or ‘a marvel’, and ‘a surpassing example’, but those two follow ‘1. an effect or extraordinary effect in the physical world ... ascribed to a supernatural cause’, & ‘2. an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.’ 

It is the first two definitions that are universally enculterated in humans. God is the first association I make when I hear the word miracle, and with the theists I know it is the only association made. Most literally are unable to hear anything else.

Any evidence advanced that is intended to negate the existence of the supernatural, but includes any variation of the word miracle, usually negates itself. No matter how the author or speaker intends the use of ‘miracle’, the only thing the theist hears following it is confirmation of the existence of a deity.

Frustrating experience informs me that this is not mere insignificant niggling on my part. If current debate in the US and around the world re secular vs religious, or left vs right both politically and culturally demonstrates anything, it is that language is meme that both unites and motivates ideologues, and also screens ideas and limits open inquiry potential.

While on this rant, I will identify another (seemingly unrelated, but I believe actually linked) critical semantic error: the linkage of the biological condition of sexual orientation to the moral value “lifestyle choice”, and therefore automatically subject to divine approval—and god thinks like me.

Lifestyle choice is a misused term that ought to reflect actions like buying in suburbia vs renting in an apartment in the city, or bicycling instead of driving, or vacationing at the beach instead of the mountains. It has nothing to do with biological sexual orientation.

The people hostile to LGBT Americans accessing the identical palette of rights guaranteed and accessed by heterosexual citizens uses an erroneous definition of ‘lifestyle’ based on a counter-factual understanding of existence. To a great extent, this is the same group of people who want Goddidit to be the only explanation for existence. These are just two obvious examples of the anti-evidence mindset evidenced by this group. Changing/ending anti-evidence thinking begins with careful vocabulary selection.

Posted on Feb 12, 2012 at 11:56am by 1984isnow Comment #9

rg21, thank you for updating your post. I think you mistook what Krauss was saying, though. As W4U pointed out, “why?” is the wrong question. I did not hear him say it in the podcast, but in the book Krauss explains the reason “why?” is the wrong question and points out the correct question is “how?” There is no “why?”: the universe simply exists. Asking why is meaningless because the universe sprang spontaneously from nothing.

Where did Krauss torment and mock conservative fundamentalist Christians? He used science to explain where their beliefs are wrong. Part of the reason he wrote the book is to counter creationist arguments that the universe requires a god. Showing that the universe erupted from nothing proves a god is not necessary, thus the time spent refuting ancient mythology.

1984isnow, I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Krauss used the word “miracle” one time as far as I recall. Focusing on that and ignoring the rest of his talk shifts the discussion way from the important aspects and into an irrelevancy.

Posted on Feb 12, 2012 at 3:32pm by DarronS Comment #10

From Wiki,

In casual usage, “miracle” is seen as any event that is statistically unlikely but beneficial, (such as surviving a natural disaster), or simply a “wonderful” occurrence, regardless of likelihood, such as a birth. Other miracles might be: survival of a terminal illness, escaping a life threatening situation or ‘beating the odds.’ Some coincidences may be perceived to be miracles.

Posted on Feb 12, 2012 at 5:32pm by Write4U Comment #11

I look forward to reading Krauss’s book soon. I regret that my comments indicate that I fixate on a single detail—while I am unable to prove so with a forum response, I assure you that I listened to the entire podcast with avid interest. Believers in magical explanations equate belief with knowing and undermine all actual knowledge as a result. Evidence will, sooner or later, interest people more than mystical belief. At that point faith in a myth explanation for a who & why singularity event will begin to gradually be replaced (for the vast majority, hopefully) by the gratification of discovering and comprehending evidence that explains ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘how’, and the physical explanations for ‘why’ they are synergistic. And if it is discovered in the process that there is such a thing as a real supernatural ‘who’ of some sort—although I see no reason to nurture such an expectation—such a discovery will only add to the single magic that matters, reality (as Dawkins titles his recent book).

My interactions with people of faith inform me that unless the word ‘miracle’ is used with extensive qualifying comments, as per the example above, it is almost absolutely certain that any other thing being communicated in the sentence in which it is used is automatically absorbed by the theist filter, and what little chance existed to penetrate theist consciousness takes an almost certain fatal blow in the process. I see and experience this time and time again in debates between reality and religion theism, whether the topic is science or atheism/religion or socio/political, and I am absolutely convinced that carelessness with term usage removes at least 75% of what is, at best, only a slim opportunity out of the gate to reach Reason Center inside a believer. I can absolutely guarantee that in argument, loosely/broadly defined terms is the basis used to undermine a sound statement with one spurious.

Posted on Feb 13, 2012 at 6:48am by 1984isnow Comment #12

Believers in magical explanations equate belief with knowing and undermine all actual knowledge as a result.

That is a great line. Please use it in some of the religious discussions going on right now, such as this one. You are absolutely right: theists substitute faith for knowledge and cannot/will not admit their faith is based on nothing more than wishful thinking.

Posted on Feb 13, 2012 at 6:58am by DarronS Comment #13

A Universe from Nothing – Video with Lawrence Krauss

  Here is a video from RDF with Richard Dawkins introducing Lawrence Krauss.

http://www.openculture.com/2011/09/a_universe_from_nothing_by_lawrence_krauss.html

Here you can see Krauss in action and observe some of his graphs and diagrams.

TT.

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 at 10:13am by Ted Tyler Comment #14

I appreciate the Krauss video. He and Dawkins are two of the best at plainly communicating ideas that are not always easy for me to grasp. When they finish a sentence, I often find myself saying “Aha!” as I experience a eureka moment. I am not ready at that point to teach a class on the material, but I have just taken a giant step in processing reality.

Here is a video of a lecture I watched recently on determining and evaluating evidence that offered some perspective I was unfamiliar with. It might be particularly useful for Egor on his journey:


Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and Other Delusions: Just Say No! from Philosophy News on Vimeo[/img]http://vimeo.com/36676883.
Sorry, it will be necessary to copy/paste—I don’t have this link process figured out.

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:41pm by 1984isnow Comment #15

http://vimeo.com/36676883

Yes…..check out the video above and watch Krauss video with intro by Dawkins at YouTube…..it last a little over an hour, not for people with a short attention span,....hold on to your seat because it is great and entertaining to boot.

The podcast was excellent too….oh, how we starve for this type of “real” information.

This is really “good stuff”.

Posted on Feb 24, 2012 at 7:01pm by G23 Comment #16

It is always frustrating to see a Science v. Religion debate that doesn’t allow for any plurality on the side of Religion. It is always assumed that “God” is the Judeo-Christian deity, and that there can be no other concept of a “supreme being.” I find it to be incredibly short-sighted and narrow-minded for the science side to automatically assume that by “god” the opposing viewpoint must mean a “supernatural” figure outside of our existence that caused it all to be. What if the universe itself was “God” and we are all the “microbes” and “cells” living within it’s body. This being not being “supernatural” but exactly “natural.”  For a layperson’s perspective on origination, existence and conception please read my blog: http://kinecognition.blogspot.com/

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 4:14pm by ISeeAMuse Comment #17

Perhaps the reason so many of these debate focus on the Judeo/Christian/Islamic religious views is that those are the vast majority in our society, and the ones that keep trying to inject their supernatural thinking into our schools and governments.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 5:39pm by DarronS Comment #18

It is always frustrating to see a Science v. Religion debate that doesn’t allow for any plurality on the side of Religion. It is always assumed that “God” is the Judeo-Christian deity, and that there can be no other concept of a “supreme being.” I find it to be incredibly short-sighted and narrow-minded for the science side to automatically assume that by “god” the opposing viewpoint must mean a “supernatural” figure outside of our existence that caused it all to be. What if the universe itself was “God” and we are all the “microbes” and “cells” living within it’s body. This being not being “supernatural” but exactly “natural.”  For a layperson’s perspective on origination, existence and conception please read my blog: http://kinecognition.blogspot.com/

I am sure most here have entertained such thoughts. We can also point to the earth as Gaia and to all animals including ourselves as biospheres. Foreign organisms in and on our bodies far outnumber our human cells.
But even if you consider the universe as an organism, what does that change? The problem inevitably is that of intelligence. Where is the brain?
Without a brain the universe is just a vast expanse of space being host to a vast number of burning balls and rocks, some of which may support life, held together by gravity.

That does not mean that science rejects visions of the universe being an expanding singularity, or a fundamental connectedness of forces and universal laws (or universal constants), there is even talk about a holographic universe, as well as a fundamental fractal geometry. But intelligence, or even sentience? That concept never fails to introduce a host of logical obstacles, such as does the universe care?

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 6:30pm by Write4U Comment #19

I am sure most here have entertained such thoughts. We can also point to the earth as Gaia and to all animals including ourselves as biospheres. Foreign organisms in and on our bodies far outnumber our human cells.
But even if you consider the universe as an organism, what does that change? The problem inevitably is that of intelligence. Where is the brain?
Without a brain the universe is just a vast expanse of space being host to a vast number of burning balls and rocks, some of which may support life, held together by gravity.

That does not mean that science rejects visions of the universe being an expanding singularity, or a fundamental connectedness of forces and universal laws (or universal constants), there is even talk about a holographic universe, as well as a fundamental fractal geometry. But intelligence, or even sentience? That concept never fails to introduce a host of logical obstacles, such as does the universe care?

Is it so inconceivable that the Universe might have a mind? Is logic the only way toward knowledge? I have incredible love and respect for the scientific process, and the great innovation that science allows for, but am consistently stymied by the wide disregard for any insight that might come from feelings and intuition. We have feelings, and they are an invaluable part of our perception. So why leave them out of our processes of learning? And by that token, shouldn’t the Universe have feelings? What might the universe want? Doesn’t it care? Could this conversation even occur if it didn’t?

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 6:53pm by ISeeAMuse Comment #20

It is always frustrating to see a Science v. Religion debate that doesn’t allow for any plurality on the side of Religion. It is always assumed that “God” is the Judeo-Christian deity, and that there can be no other concept of a “supreme being.” I find it to be incredibly short-sighted and narrow-minded for the science side to automatically assume that by “god” the opposing viewpoint must mean a “supernatural” figure outside of our existence that caused it all to be. What if the universe itself was “God” and we are all the “microbes” and “cells” living within it’s body. This being not being “supernatural” but exactly “natural.”  For a layperson’s perspective on origination, existence and conception please read my blog: http://kinecognition.blogspot.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism  Belief that the universe is god is called Pantheism. There is plenty of room for Religious/Spiritual pluralism in the Science vs. Religion debates; any sentient god concept is incorrect however, no matter how it’s framed.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 7:03pm by mid atlantic Comment #21

I am sure most here have entertained such thoughts. We can also point to the earth as Gaia and to all animals including ourselves as biospheres. Foreign organisms in and on our bodies far outnumber our human cells.
But even if you consider the universe as an organism, what does that change? The problem inevitably is that of intelligence. Where is the brain?
Without a brain the universe is just a vast expanse of space being host to a vast number of burning balls and rocks, some of which may support life, held together by gravity.

That does not mean that science rejects visions of the universe being an expanding singularity, or a fundamental connectedness of forces and universal laws (or universal constants), there is even talk about a holographic universe, as well as a fundamental fractal geometry. But intelligence, or even sentience? That concept never fails to introduce a host of logical obstacles, such as does the universe care?

Is it so inconceivable that the Universe might have a mind? Is logic the only way toward knowledge? I have incredible love and respect for the scientific process, and the great innovation that science allows for, but am consistently stymied by the wide disregard for any insight that might come from feelings and intuition. We have feelings, and they are an invaluable part of our perception. So why leave them out of our processes of learning? And by that token, shouldn’t the Universe have feelings? What might the universe want? Doesn’t it care? Could this conversation even occur if it didn’t?

Yes the universe shows its goodness and cleanses itself from immorality with supernovae and supermassive black holes or an occasional asteroid destroying most of life on earth. Mass extinction is the only way to teach ‘em. Kinda like a “final solution”.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 7:18pm by Write4U Comment #22

Is it so inconceivable that the Universe might have a mind?

Yes

Is logic the only way toward knowledge?

Of course not. Acquiring knowledge requires logic, curiosity, determination, patience, intellect and creativity.

I have incredible love and respect for the scientific process, and the great innovation that science allows for, but am consistently stymied by the wide disregard for any insight that might come from feelings and intuition. We have feelings, and they are an invaluable part of our perception. So why leave them out of our processes of learning?

The problems with feelings and intuition is they are not repeatable. The scientific method is the best we have developed for acquiring knowledge. Feelings and intuition lead to all manner of nonsense, such as religion and new age mysticism.

And by that token, shouldn’t the Universe have feelings? What might the universe want? Doesn’t it care? Could this conversation even occur if it didn’t?

Why should the Universe have feelings? The Universe is made of four percent baryonic matter and the rest is nonbaryonic matter and a form of energy we do not understand. Just because we don’t understand some things doesn’t give us license to ascribe feelings to the Universe. Where is your evidence the Universe has feelings?

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 7:44pm by DarronS Comment #23

The evidence that the Universe could potentially have feelings lies in the fact that feelings exist.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:33pm by ISeeAMuse Comment #24

The evidence that the Universe could potentially have feelings lies in the fact that feelings exist.

That is pretty thin evidence. Do you have anything substantial?

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:34pm by DarronS Comment #25

insight that might come from feelings and intuition. We have feelings, and they are an invaluable part of our perception. So why leave them out of our processes of learning? And by that token, shouldn’t the Universe have feelings? What might the universe want? Doesn’t it care? Could this conversation even occur if it didn’t?

I just happen to be reading here as ISeeAMuse writes. I will take a quick stab at a reply, although I know I have previously read better responses to these questions. At the least I might stimulate others.

Insight is in some instances the initial step in the formulation of hypothesis, the first step in the process of identifying and testing evidence in order to determine reliable conclusions. It is certainly a function of perception, but it is useful to be ever watchful for cognitive dissonance, and beware its effect on perception. The scientific process is the only reliable method of screening dissonance, as well as bias and other inadvertent and/or unrecognized mistakes that affect objective processes and resulting conclusions.

Feelings about perceptions are no different from all feelings: they serve to attract our attention to a condition, and afterward are immediately best discarded, or at least isolated and carefully monitored to prevent their interference in subsequent efforts at achieving rational processes. This requires practice, the amount depending upon an individuals existing mindset, but persistent practice does make it possible to recognize feelings, limit or mitigate any negative impact they may introduce, and utilize the experience of that feeling (and all others) to recognize that one is separate from one’s feelings, just as all reality is separate from feelings. And that is my brief intro to mindfulness practice, which in my opinion is integral to critical thinking and skepticism.

The remarks about the Universe anthropomorphize an entity that, as is already noted in preceding comments, exhibits no characteristics of sentience, nor any possibility of possession of (a) mind. I am aware of no evidence which exists to support this surmise. It seems to me it is a concept purely imaginative, which while something perfectly legitimate to muse upon (sorry), remains pure speculation. Not unlike speculation upon the concept of a supernatural deity. In truth, substitute the word God for the word universe, and the proposition is virtually identical to deity concepts. Speculation devoid of evidence does not constitute a proposition that is necessary, or even advisable, to accept.

As with the concept of supernatural entities, the notion is unfalsifiable and therefore not a testable hypothesis. Having said that, and mindful that I am virtually certain there is no possibility the universe feels, thinks, cares, or is in any way capable of such processes, the most honest response I could offer as to whether it is possible the universe may do all of the things listed above, and in fact it may be necessary that the universe must be capable of these actions in order for this or any conversation to occur, is: “I don’t know.”

EDIT: Sure enough, it takes me so long to say what I want that a 5-way conversation transpires while I slog to the end, and it contains great answers. I become acquainted with Baryonic. And Muse injects Anselme’s ontological argument, which usually is waiting in the wings when singularity is posited:

‘The evidence that the Universe could potentially have feelings lies in the fact that feelings exist.’

I’m a little disappointed with this particular ontological approach. If this proposition were true, rocks could have feelings. Magma. Molecules. Atoms. Protons. Infinite regression.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:37pm by 1984isnow Comment #26

The evidence that the Universe could potentially have feelings lies in the fact that feelings exist.

How would that work? Our feelings are purely the result of our biochemistry.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:03pm by mid atlantic Comment #27

By feelings I guess I might be proposing levels of awareness, where thought and reason are, as yet the most highly “evolved” form of cognition. The question that gets me is what is doing the cognition? If we can all be broken down into various elements and chemical reactions, what is directing our choices? Where do our opinions come from? What is a perspective? This is what makes me believe in belief, and in the idea of a soul.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:19pm by ISeeAMuse Comment #28

1984isnow,

You did stir a question of “what are feelings and what causes feelings”? And how does the universe experience them?

I think we can safely rule out feelings produced from our experience by the 5 senses. Whatever the properties the universe has, it does not see, hear, tastes, smells, or touches (in human terms).
Thus we are left with emotional feelings. But this requires at least a psychological ability or mindset to experience a sense of the difference between right and wrong, i.e. morality, or feelings of love, hate, disgust, i.e. personal emotions.

Can anyone point to a universal condition which can be explained as “knowing or experiencing” the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, love, hate, etc?  And if we were to use those as examples by which to fashion our human existential feelings, how would these feelings dictate our behavior?
Any concept of a “right, good, and loving” universe leaves out all the balancing forces which are dictated by universal rules. Thus the concept of a singularity that is all right, all good, and all loving is logically wrong. It would require a seond singularity which is all “wrong, bad and hateful”.
And now there are two!  Human spiritual feelings that assign a morality of any kind to the universe are logically contradictory.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:48pm by Write4U Comment #29

The questions that you ask are a good starting point for continuing to self examine those areas….Who are you? What makes you, you?  You need not have an outside force nor a soul for you to make choices, to have ideas, to have a conscience or morality, to have an imagination, etc. 

Human Consciousness is a bit of a Trickster and can lead to a deceptive view of Reality.  Do not fear to look at this area of self reflection without giving up believe in the sense that there is some kind of controlling soul that is miraculously making/helping make choices for you.  Think of all the choices your body made today,....how many of them were even considered at a conscious level, not many….. and then of the choices you think you made, how many of these, so called choices, were really you rationalizing that they were your choices after the fact….a self validation of the self.

The major point though is that you do not need a soul for any of this.  The idea of a soul is a soothing story that tricks us into thinking that we a something constant and consistent….and, maybe really fraudulent, something that exists forever.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:53pm by G23 Comment #30

It is your business to invest in belief sans evidence, but why accept such a burden when there is no requirement to do so? What is ‘belief in belief’ besides an emotional investment in no thing?

If I say to you I had a feeling something wasn’t right when I saw a city bus coming down the street last night, and that I saw a pink tri-horned rhinoceros drive the bus into the lake, is it something you are willing to believe is true based on my feeling or my claim?

What is the difference between my insistence on the rhino driving a bus, or a claim I make that I know the universe thinks, or that I know God exists because sometimes I get this feeling that just appears when it did not exist an instant before, and it has to come from somewhere, does it not? It is just such an awesome, powerful feeling. It makes my skin tingle, my whole body feels energized and filled, my eyes water a bit, and I am so grateful, so humble. Some feeling this powerful just has to be the presence of God. Who is to say it is not God?

By the way, my 6 year old was in her first school play last night, and it was so cute. Just thinking about her right now, on that stage last night in a little pink outfit singing and trying to do simple dance moves, it was so precious, it just gives me this powerful feeling of closeness, and fills me with joyful love ... Hey, wait a minute! Is this some kind of trick?

It is simple good sense to prioritize good evidence and critical thinking over ideology and preconceptions, which includes declining to accept propositions without good evidence, and letting go of conclusions when the evidence doesn’t support them. Feelings and belief do not constitute evidence of anything but feelings and belief.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:58pm by 1984isnow Comment #31

But not evidence, thus is the same as saying the pink rhino is driving the bus.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:02pm by Write4U Comment #32

What if you knew that all of your feelings and “Peak Experiences” were part of the evolution of Human Consciousness… that they were all bits and pieces of our biological survival?

Some parts of the human consciousness that we have inherited from our ancestors is truly flawed, redundant, and inefficient.  Human kind has survived even though we have these flaws, but the power of self reflection was part of the package…and with it came science….. Why in any of this do we need to believe that something supernatural had to happen?

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:19pm by G23 Comment #33

What if you knew that all of your feelings and “Peak Experiences” were part of the evolution of Human Consciousness… that they were all bits and pieces of our biological survival?

Some parts of the human consciousness that we have inherited from our ancestors is truly flawed, redundant, and inefficient.  Human kind has survived even though we have these flaws, but the power of self reflection was part of the package…and with it came science….. Why in any of this do we need to believe that something supernatural had to happen?

So what are you saying? That evolution works? That it is the universe’s plan for HUMANS only. Or is it just the natural way things work for all organisms? How do you know that our inherited survival instincts are truly flawed and inefficient and redundant? We are but a recent species and all other existing species of life seemed to have done well in spite of their lack of self reflection.

Are you an ID proponent? Or are you an AI proponent?  What is a “Peak Experience”?  X-games?  Sexual ecstacy?

Perhaps I am not getting a clear picture of what you are saying. I agree with some of what you say, then in the next sentence you say something which seems contradictory. Perhaps it’s my mindset, and perceive things that are not there… :cheese:

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:18am by Write4U Comment #34

By feelings I guess I might be proposing levels of awareness, where thought and reason are, as yet the most highly “evolved” form of cognition.

You would put feelings above Differential Equations on the cognition scale? You must be thinking with your emotions. :-)

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 5:57am by DarronS Comment #35

By feelings I guess I might be proposing levels of awareness, where thought and reason are, as yet the most highly “evolved” form of cognition.

You would put feelings above Differential Equations on the cognition scale? You must be thinking with your emotions. :-)

No, I would put them on par. Quantity and quality are two halves of one whole of valuation.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 7:02am by ISeeAMuse Comment #36

The word feelings has such a wide variety of definitions it is perhaps too fuzzy a term to be useful in this sort of discussion. Its use so far creates a concern, at least on my part, that goalposts are being moved, although I think this is an inadvertent cognition error and not the result of deliberate intent by 4Muse.

I don’t agree at all that quantity is a value equal to quality, or that the two combined are equal halves of a whole.

Some definition of terms is necessary at this point, and 4Muse may not agree with this one. But assume for the sake of this argument that quantity means any measurable amount of evidence, and quality is defined as validity of measurable evidence and validity of reasoning from that evidence.


If the total amount of evidence and reasoning from that evidence is erroneous and therefore of diminished if not outright worthless quality, then an infinity of that quality of product is not worth the smallest measure of a product that possesses quality in any measure.

If the smallest measure possible of evidence, and any reasoning from that evidence, is not proved invalid, that measurable quantity of evidence serves as a sufficient proof claim. Increased quantity of evidence of identical quality, in this case, does not improve the truth value of the smallest quantity possible, it simply only adds repetition of identical evidence. Volume of quantity adds to or detracts from quality as defined only based on the validity of each claim in the quantity of claims presented.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 8:10am by 1984isnow Comment #37

The word feelings has such a wide variety of definitions it is perhaps too fuzzy a term to be useful in this sort of discussion. Its use so far creates a concern, at least on my part, that goalposts are being moved, although I think this is an inadvertent cognition error and not the result of deliberate intent by 4Muse.

I don’t agree at all that quantity is a value equal to quality, or that the two combined are equal halves of a whole.

Some definition of terms is necessary at this point, and 4Muse may not agree with this one. But assume for the sake of this argument that quantity means any measurable amount of evidence, and quality is defined as validity of measurable evidence and validity of reasoning from that evidence.


If the total amount of evidence and reasoning from that evidence is erroneous and therefore of diminished if not outright worthless quality, then an infinity of that quality of product is not worth the smallest measure of a product that possesses quality in any measure.

If the smallest measure possible of evidence, and any reasoning from that evidence, is not proved invalid, that measurable quantity of evidence serves as a sufficient proof claim. Increased quantity of evidence of identical quality, in this case, does not improve the truth value of the smallest quantity possible, it simply only adds repetition of identical evidence. Volume of quantity adds to or detracts from quality as defined only based on the validity of each claim in the quantity of claims presented.

ok, what if the reasoning of an abundant quantity and quality of evidence is proved with a hgh degree of certainty and there is no evidence that anyone can intuitively feel this evidence, i.e. quantum, let alone conclude that this evidence points to an intelligence, then which is the more reliable method and reasoned information?

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 1:48pm by Write4U Comment #38

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color=gray]‘if the reasoning of an abundant quantity and quality of evidence is proved with a hgh degree of certainty’[/color]

If something is proved, degree of certainty does not apply. If there is a high degree of certainty about a falsifiable hypothesis, it may be promoted to theory pending the outcome of testing/repeatability by others. A ‘feeling’ that a claim of proof is accurate or inaccurate is only emotion that accompanies a conclusion based on some form of rationale. The feeling may be either positive and favorable toward the claim of proof, or negative and unfavorable. Or neutral, but that is a null conclusion and not useful for answering your question. Any such feelings are irrelevant toward either confirming or denying the proof claim. Proof claims are solely concerned with producing and verifying evidence, and conclusions based upon analyzing and testing that evidence. Any conclusion that claims certainty without evidence in support is only accurate if the claimant is lucky and doesn’t yet know it. When “I don’t know” is the only honest answer, it is the best answer. It is always better to acknowledge not knowing than claiming certainty one is unable to provide proof of.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 4:16pm by 1984isnow Comment #39

[

color=gray]‘if the reasoning of an abundant quantity and quality of evidence is proved with a hgh degree of certainty’[/color]

If something is proved, degree of certainty does not apply. If there is a high degree of certainty about a falsifiable hypothesis, it may be promoted to theory pending the outcome of testing/repeatability by others. A ‘feeling’ that a claim of proof is accurate or inaccurate is only emotion that accompanies a conclusion based on some form of rationale. The feeling may be either positive and favorable toward the claim of proof, or negative and unfavorable. Or neutral, but that is a null conclusion and not useful for answering your question. Any such feelings are irrelevant toward either confirming or denying the proof claim. Proof claims are solely concerned with producing and verifying evidence, and conclusions based upon analyzing and testing that evidence. Any conclusion that claims certainty without evidence in support is only accurate if the claimant is lucky and doesn’t yet know it. When “I don’t know” is the only honest answer, it is the best answer. It is always better to acknowledge not knowing than claiming certainty one is unable to provide proof of.

I agree with most of that post (except as highlighted in red). By your assertion acceptance of a theory based on a high degree of certainty (by consensus) depends on what side of the bed you got up from.
But the subject is not the definition of paradigm or theory, the subject is the existence of a universal intelligence or emotional investment. For this there is no proof of any kind and relies solely on personal feelings. If feelings are irrelevant to confirmation of a universal sentience, then we can only end up with mysticism and mythology, without any degree of certainty.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 4:43pm by Write4U Comment #40

This may be TLDR, but I’ve edited all I can for today. Tomorrow I will probably look at it and see easy ways to cut it by two-thirds. No clue how to manage the color tool.

‘I agree with most of that post (except as highlighted in red). By your assertion acceptance a theory based on a high degree of certainty (by consensus) depends on what side of the bed you got up from.’


I expect this statement (the one you place in red above) is confusing because I am commingling scientific proof of certainty with establishment of truth in non-scientific areas. My intent was/is to assert that any claim or assertion that is established as proved beyond dispute, must then by definition be a statement that is so certain it is absolutely free from uncertainty.

If evidence and evaluation/testing of evidence establishes absolute proof of any claim, there is not some degree of certainty of the claim of absolute truth; no, that claim becomes one of complete certainty, a certainty beyond a single degree (or any unit) of doubt.

Very few statements in any endeavor attain this acceptance of certainty, and in science this is only applied to Laws. And in science, and also all other endeavors, future evidence discoveries my necessitate alterations to previous truth claims. Certainty is, in this sense, relative: certainty claims are not guaranteed absolutes. They are valid until proved otherwise. This, I think, is a main source of conflict for the faith believer, and between the faith believer and the skeptic. Religious dogma is rife with (invalid and unfalsifiable) absolute truth assertions, and people who unquestioningly accept these assertions as absolute truth expect reality to reflect these ‘truths’. When conflict arises, reality must be altered as necessary to conform to dogma, and all communication breaks down.

The sentences you highlighted in red are my attempt to explain ‘feelings’ and their relationship to truth claims. I only mean to convey that feelings is just a word that people sometimes use to describe the emotion that accompanies a thought process that is employed to evaluate and test truth claims. I place the word within quote marks so that, two sentences later, the reader will associate that word with my statement that feelings are irrelevant to establishing the veracity of truth claims.

In hindsight, I see that my meaning is clarified if I place quotes around ‘feelings’ in that sentence also, or perhaps place the hyphenated so-called before the word feelings. I do not intend to give feelings status they do not deserve. Feelings are an emotional response to some stimulus, not a sentient property, and that is all that feelings are. That emotional response is an alert to pay attention to the stimulus, and see if it demands a reaction. That is the only useful thing a negative feeling accomplishes. Feelings must be managed with astute discernment to avoid harm from them. Allow negative feelings to disappear as rapidly as possible; near instantaneously is best. Joy or happiness or any other positive feelings are something to savor while mindful that, like all consciousness, they are of a nature to dissolve, impermanent and subject to change. It is of no value to cling to feelings, and may be harmful to one degree or another to do so, and especially to identify transient feelings as Self..

I state in one sentence that the bar for hypothesis to be elevated to theory is established by its ability to be tested and repeated by others, and that is the sole necessary consensus that I mention. It is also the sole necessary consensus that is applicable. A group of people who do not test and verify, but perhaps raise hands in a vote at a town meeting or something like that, may vote anything they like up, down, sideways, or plaid: such an action is as valid as someones feeling, or intuition, or fervent wish as a result of childhood indoctrination in myth.

I absolutely agree that any contemplation of universal intelligence/sentience, or supernatural deities, and singularity explanations associated with those things is pure speculation informed by myth and mysticism with no degree of uncertainty. I have such low expectation of the possibility of such speculation ever proving true I would like nothing more than to say, “Impossible!” But I am content to settle for, “I doubt this with all my conscious awareness, but I honestly simply do not know, and am not aware of any way that exists to establish evidence of non-existence. And nobody can prove I did not see a tri-horned pink rhino. It would be pretty easy to prove I did not see one driving a city bus into a lake, though.”

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 6:37pm by 1984isnow Comment #41

:-)  We agree.  Though I did see a fish jump out of the lake, swallow a stork and return back to the lake. I can prove it. It was on tv just the other day… :lol:

p.s. the Font Formatting tool is not available in the Fast Reply mode. But it is available in all other modes, including pic attachment.

Just highlight and select Size or Color from the drop down menu

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 at 9:17pm by Write4U Comment #42

Cool, Prof Krauss, thanx for writing this book to begin to whet our appetite for things weird and wonderful like nothing and the Universe and the juxtaposition of the two.. Reading Prof Krauss monthly in Scientific American for what seems like forever, it was inevitable he’d come up with this idea.I got the book immediately and am enjoying it to say the least. I recall a paperback book by Isaac Asimov entitled “Of Time, Space and Other Things” which I loved(I’ve tried to read all >200 of his books but some are out of print). Everything I know about science, almost, I got from Prof Asimov, Carl Sagan, and my high school Chemistry/Physics teacher, oh…and Bill Nye, and even Mr Wizard way back when. Prof Asimov has a chapter in the book called ‘Nothing Counts!” Part II Chapter 12, page 149. In it he discusses how numbers&manipulating; them since intro of zero and Arabic numerals was a great timesaver and how we humans would be nowhere without nothing to guide us(not a double negative, promise).It did appear Roman numerals were cumbersome to calculate with. And as humans progressed with writing and numbers they decided to put the alphabet together with numbers since both had the peculiarity of being ordered and arranged predictably, which helped in manipulating these particular sets of symbols. Until ‘nothing’ or zero was used to fill the gaps of numbers limited to raising the value or results of calculations it was confusing as actual gaps were used as in say A A for 101 or 202. so without a place holder some may have accidently left the nothing gap out which changed the whole value og the sequence.So, the point is a symbol for nothing had to be created and it was the nought symbol, or zero. No one knows who the guy was, but he was a Hindu, lived in the Ninth century, and sadly it took humans 5000 years to come up with ‘nothing ’ or the value of the next digit after the 9 numbers have increased one by one, it’s so simple yet as I said it took mathematicians 5000 years to come up with this simple idea. Nothing, empty, Hindu word sunya, zero(Which,BTW, was bastardised from an Arab word, sifr)became where we got cipher from. So, I guess you could say humans collectively laid an egg on this one, this ‘nothing.’...was that a cackle in unison I heard?  Thnx, again Prof Krauss.Kudos.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012 at 9:01am by Ray9845 Comment #43

I watched a youtube video of this or one of his University tours with Richard Dawkins. Although he gets a nice welcome, he’s very awkward to a crowd and I can totally relate. It’s easier to write while you have plenty of time to think and edit. At the end, the first person to stand up for questions from the audience was an even more nervous apologist who had to read from notes he prepared. It threw Krauss off and as he started to respond, he lost track of thought and fumbled. He promised that it would come back to him and he’ll respond then but it didn’t happen (at least during the recording). I can just imagine that that footage was used (is used) as a mockery of him in the apologist circles as someone who couldn’t respond to a surprise audience member as if he intended his audience to be absolutely friendly and missed screening the heckler at the door.

I am glad that the subject of ‘something from nothing’ is raised a little more seriously. Although on the right track, he’s wrong in his particulars there though. I so want to scream out what I know but I feel that since the system of recognition follows strict guidelines, I’m afraid of saying something that others will hijack as their own ideas. I believe even this site required that we accepted that what we say here is the property of “Center for Inquiry” and is theirs to use as they feel. I tried to talk to my brother about it but it requires too much fixing of his own mental misconceptions of the science he thinks he knows. For instance, he thinks that Einstein’s Relativity is Galilean Relativity. He also believes that the world during the dinosaurs was a tiny earth with a giant atmosphere in which the Earth acted (and still acts) as a sponge for the gas, etcetera… . 

I’m presently trying to get formally qualified because I am totally self-taught and it’s frustrating to think that it’s going to take four or five years before I get to the point that I have a recognized degree in order to be publishable. But I already have a partially closed theory of everything (some of the missing detail is things like the particular shape of matter that, though I see in my head, requires a very powerful computer to illustrate.) I’ve also ‘unified’ the forces and so far, everything fits with the data as I understand it.

I hope that one day I could work with someone like Krauss.

1984isnow,

I understand what you may be thinking. In order to trust or believe in anything, we only have our own subjective experiences to go by and so you perceive thoughts and feelings as the purest evidence you can trust. What you have to do though is to question everything you sense to ‘reduce’ it to something with precise meaning. You may claim, for instance that you have an overwhelming ‘feeling’ of joy and happiness at watching your daughter perform. But your error is that you labeled it “God” and then transferred or associated the other definitions of “God” that you learned from elsewhere and equated them as one and the same. You’re just conning yourself!

Some business or positive self-help group for instance tells you that you must take out the word “can’t” in your vocabulary and replace it with “can”. In some contexts while communicating with others you may use “can’t” and find that at every use of it, you are reprimanded for it because it is negative and non-functional. They tell you that you must take the word out completely, it is “stinkin’ thinkin’” The problem with this is that you’ve come to believe that when you hear the word “can’t”, you transfer it to an instance of “stinkin’ thinkin’” and all of the connotations it implies. So you start to notice that when others use it, you automatically assume that they certainly have a negative attitude. You are now brainwashed because you interpret a reality out there that doesn’t sufficiently qualify another person’s intended meaning. This is called transference. And it is no different than your belief that your feelings actually ARE God itself.

“God is love. Love is God. God is in you. He is in me. He is everywhere. He is the Son, the Ghost, the Holy Spirit….”

The logic is: A = B, B = A, A = C, A = D, A = E, F and G.  Therefore, if Z, then A! (by human associative induction)

Posted on Dec 10, 2012 at 7:05pm by Scott Mayers Comment #44