Making Nothing out of Something
To the lay observer, questions raised by the mere existence of the universe can be overwhelming to the point of incomprehensibility. What existed before the universe’s creation? From where did it arrive? What is its future? And, most stupefying, why is there something at all rather than nothing? Posing such questions tends to land one in the realm of the transcendent if not the outright religious.
Or does it? For the American theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss, material cosmology, not religion, holds all the explanations. A Universe from Nothing claims to answer at least one of cosmology’s big questions in its very title, while promising answers to others somewhere in the book’s pages. The author’s ultimate aim, however, is not “merely” to explain the origins of the universe, but rather to use that explanation as an argument against religious belief. Like the bestselling evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (who supplies the book’s afterward), Krauss is one of a new breed of atheo-activist scientists, and A Universe from Nothing is the latest installment in a line of scientific-polemic hybrids that might soon warrant its own labeled section at a bookstore-chain outlet near you.
About the Author
Joshua Gelernter is a student at New York University. He has written for the New York Sun, the Jerusalem Post, and others. This is his first appearance in Commentary.