Sunday, 30 April 2017

Lawrence Krauss Writes a Godless Bible of Sorts

The Messier 101 (M101) galaxy. Image courtesy of ESA/Hubble, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

It is not often that the journal Nature uses the epithet 'fundamental science', but recently it did. This memorable occasion was ushered in by the publication of Lawrence M. Krauss’ book The Greatest Story Ever Told ... So Far (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Krauss, a theoretical physicist who is known for his outspoken atheism, attempts to use the Bible’s outline to give his own view of the development of cosmology.

He divides his timeline into three parts, 'Genesis', 'Exodus' and 'Revelation'.

Genesis begins with Sir Isaac Newton’s discoveries. It seems that even Krauss cannot deny the contributions of Bible-believing scientists like Newton (1642–1727), Michael Faraday (1791–1867) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879).

Exodus follows next:

“ 'Genesis' ends in the mid-1930s, with the discovery of the neutrino and short-range weak force. It is silly for Krauss to analogize this period to the part of the Bible in which the Jews are enslaved in Egypt, but that's the flavour of this book.”

And then it’s time for Revelation, which, oddly enough, coincides with entering the Promised Land:

“'Revelation' comes with the development in the 1970s of the standard model of particle physics, which describes all known particles and three of the four known forces. Krauss dubs it ‘perhaps the greatest theoretical edifice yet created by human minds’. He calls what came next the attaining of the ‘Promised Land’ (mixing the biblical structure). Krauss also likens the discovery of the model to the allegory of the cave in Plato's Republic, in which humans are captivated by shadows and illusions, but philosophers can become aware of the 'forms' underlying existence. For Krauss, it is scientists who go ‘outside our cave of shadows to glimpse the otherwise hidden reality beneath the surface’.

But this golden age has more than its fair share of unsurmountable difficulties.

Nature’s reviewer Robert P. Crease does not think much of the book. He says it uses sloppy analogies. He ends by saying:

“Krauss clearly thinks that his story deserves to displace the classics of the humanities. His book reveals why it can't.”

Bill Nye famously played down the significance of humans by saying: “I suck.” Krauss has a similar message: We’re accidents.

If this is the best atheism can give humanity, then it is a very dismal option indeed.


Grease, Robert P. 2017. Physics: Revelations of fundamental science. Nature 544, 34. (6 April).