Michael Ruse on why is there something rather than nothing?

May 17th, 2012 in clues. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Michael Ruse

Michael Ruse is a philosopher specialising in the philosophy of science, especially biology and evolution. He is an atheist, but one with more respect for religious belief than many prominent atheists today.

Ruse has some interesting things to say about science, belief in God and his more militant atheist colleagues.

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Many modern atheists claim that science can, or will, be able to explain everything, and anything not explained by science cannot be believed. But in this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Ruse argues that science cannot, and can never, explain why the universe exists, rather than not existing.

Atheists tend to either say that the question is meaningless, or that science has already answered it via the propensity of particles to appear out of a quantum vacuum. But Ruse argues that the first is a cop-out and the second mistaken. Even though he is an atheist, Ruse comments “I don’t see that science has ruled out the Christian answer. The universe exists because it was created and is maintained by a good God.”

Read more about the beginning of the universe and the philosophical argument from the beginning of the universe.

Ruse and the ‘new atheists’

Ruse has been outspoken over many years in his criticisms of the so-called new atheists. he summarises some of his views in this 2009 Guardian article Dawkins et al bring us into disrepute. In summary, he criticises:

  • The new atheists’ blanket, and unjustified, views that religion is totally evil and corrupting.
  • Their disrespect for scholarship, despite their claims to the contrary, which results in, for example, Richard Dawkins using “sophomoric” philosophical arguments and sometimes even unsupported scientific claims.
  • Their disrespect for those who disagree with them, even if they are intelligent, learned and decent.
  • The strong and unjustified association of evolution with atheism, which, Ruse believes, hinders the progress of science because many christians will not consider something which is presented as a threat to their religious beliefs. This effectively means the new atheists give anti-religious propaganda more importance than the promotion of science.

As a result, Ruse has attracted criticism, and some nasty comments, from fellow atheists, but respect from other atheists and many christians.

8 Comments

  1. You may find the book “The Origin of the Universe – Case Closed” to be interesting. It has math in the Appendix to back up the claims. It is hard to argue with the math!

  2. Hmmmmm, judging from reviews and blurbs it seems to be the kind of book that argues that the universe arose from a quantum vacuum (all right) and that this is the same as nothing (not all right).

  3. I couldn’t find out much at all about the book, and nothing about the author. I guess he’s not an established physicist, and I’m guessing the book is self published. Makes it difficult to know if it has any value.

  4. It’s published by eBookIt, which is an online ebook print-on-demand service, so it looks like you’re right. The book keeps popping up in connection with Krauss’s A Universe From Nothing, so I suppose it poses a similar solution (quantum vacuum). Reviewers call it well-illustrated and clear, so that seems like a good achievement on a topic like this, but I also doubt it would convincingly argue that the “case” is “closed”..

  5. First off, A quick shout out to the creator of this blog and to Michael Ruse…..It’s not so easy to display your opinion on how life all got started…..when the very center of life will always be from ones prospective………Now to attempt and try tackle the notion of this paradox, without discrediting it with ones prospective. So why is there something rather than nothing? Well…………How do we know that we are something or rather that there is….or we have something…..The key thing is not knowing, it is understanding that everyone has their view and position on this issue and when the dynamics of “position” and “view” come together at anytime, rises or gives birth to a conscience belief. Now whether is in a God or not…….you don’t just do anything without believing. We don’t act then think….we have and always think then act……Therefore why rather something then nothing? It nearly impossible for the human mind to grasp on the idea of something coming from nothing. The mind is only designed to function in the now….and that’s all it could ever know……So all we will ever know is to be something……or rather that we are something. So we could never speak upon what the mind could never know or has yet experience…We are all here because simply because we are here, so far that’s all we know. Since everything happens in the now……nothing has its place with in very complex…in what we could only know as something. So to try and I will said it again…try understand the state of nothing….is to understand something…….and then you will find a answer to the question….in the form of a question to the essential question…which is simply……..Why~ but this why has no question mark at the end. In some respect the very first question of…….WHY~Phil

  6. The quantum vacuum fluctuation, while an interesting theory, is not “nothing” in any philosophical sense. As Paul Davies has pointed out, we don’t need to invoke a God of the Gaps argument to understand the causation of the Big Bang.

    Therefore, Krauss and Amneus, while being correct on the physics, are very wrong on the philosophy.

  7. Hi Paul, thanks for commenting. I agree with you. I don’t know how Krauss and co can keep saying what they do.

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