Thursday, April 26, 2012

Paleolibrarian Guest Blogger Commentary: Book Review: A Universe from Nothing

*By Ben Edward Akerley

Ben Edward Akerley
 Lawrence M. Krauss directs the Origins Project at Arizona State University, capping a notably distinguished academic career at both Yale and Western Case University subsequent to earning his Ph.D. in physics at MIT in 1982.  He specializes in those most arcane, abstruse branches of physics---particle physics and cosmology---becaue of his lofty and ambitious goal of becoming the first scientist ever to understand how the universe would end (not to worry, it won't happen for at least 5 billion years).

In October of 2009 at the Atheist Alliance International annual convention in Burbank, California, the noted astrophysicist delivered an address and slide show presentation which he has now expanded into a full-length treatise employing the same title as his enthusiastically-received speech (so much so that when the Richard Dawkins Foundation posted the video on YouTube, that viral internet explosion with 1 million viewers and still counting exceeded by far the wildly popular success of his bestseller The Physics of Star Trek, which latter achievement proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he possesses that exceeding rare gift of being able to bridge the usual chasm between science and popular culture.  Richard Dawkins, not generally known for hyperbole, has highly recommended the present volume with his glowing assessment: "This could potentially be the most important scientific book with implications for supernaturalism since Darwin."

In order to disabuse the reader of the fallacy that empty space contains nothing, he compares the experience of Dutch scientist Leeuwenhook in 1676 peering through a microscope for the first time at a supposedly inert drop of water only to discover that it was teeming with living organisms with the reality that so-called empty space consists of a boiling brew of virtual particles popping in and out of existence faster than the naked human eye can detect them.

The author emphasizes that a universe without purpose need not imply that our own lives remain devoid of meaning.  Instead of divine purpose, the significance in our lives arises from what we make of ourselves, our relationships and institutions and all the worthy achievemnets of the human mind---a much more satisfying and rewarding outcome than living in a fairy-tale universe invented only to justify our existence.  He sums up his appraisal of the relevance of religion for us humans with this sobering and damning statement: "Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born."

A UNIVERSE FROM NOTHING: WHY THERE IS SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING by Lawrence M. Krauss Free Press. 1/12. 202 pages. $24.99.
Paleolibrarian Guest Blogger, Mr. Ben Edward Akerley, is the author of "The X-Rated Bible: An Irreverent Survey of Sex in the Scriptures."  He is a also a retired teacher, well known speaker on free-thinker and gay rights issues and remains an advocate for international humanist causes. He can be reached via email at,

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