Scientific American recently pondered, Is Lawrence Krauss a Physicist, or Just a Bad Philosopher? A very good question indeed considering the fact that the entire premise of Krauss’ recent book “A Universe from Nothing” apart from being (bad) philosophy masquerading as science is based on the logical fallacy known as “Equivocation.” Equivocation is when you use one word to mean two different things. This typically results in false and misleading conclusions – though sometimes the results are ironic and amusing as in Cher’s song “Dark Lady.” In Cher’s song the fortune teller tells the singer “The man you love is secretly true to someone else who is very close to you.” Normally when you hear the phrase “very close to you” you think of an emotional connection. But by the end of the song, you realize the dark lady was referring to herself, and the “very close” part was physically close – as the two ladies were when the dark lady gave the fortune. The dark lady intentionally misled through the use of an equivocation. Krauss does the same thing – intentionally mislead through an equivocation.
While in the context of a song it’s amusing, in the context of science, equivocations mean errors, wrong theories, bad science, false statements and all that goes with it. (Wrong views of a theory, incorrect text books and paperbacks, etc. etc.) Consider another example: Alicia Keys sings that “No one can get in the way of what I’m feeling.” That clearly means that no other person (besides the person Alicia is singing to) can change her feelings. But if we take “no one” in the song as Krauss takes “nothing” is his book, the song would mean a person named “no one” can change her feelings. That’s clearly not the case, and thus equivocation is a serious problem.
Yet Krauss does the same thing with the word “nothing”, in his book “A Universe from Nothing” because he really means “something” created the universe – as other have also pointed out. In the case of his aforementioned book the something that he calls “nothing” are the laws of relativistic quantum field theories and their effects.
So when I saw an obviously incorrect statement (apparently offered satirically) attributed to Krauss by the incognito apologist who goes by the moniker “Wintery Knight” (hereafter WK) I was at first amused that the illogical atheist was up to his irrational ways, trying futilely again to disprove Christianity:
But on further reflection there’s no evidence that Krauss has ever seriously made this argument – except from his alleged behavior. Ditto for many other atheists as WK points out. But since actions speak louder than words, or as Jesus put it, “you shall know them by their fruit,” (Matt 7.20) let’s proceed as if he had made the argument formally with words instead of just his (alleged) behavior, if for no other reason than to show how bankrupt the atheist position is.
When such behavior is expressed formally in what WK calls the “argument from immorality” against the truth of the Christian religion, it looks like this:
Premise 1. (Major premise)
If Christianity is true, then sex outside of a natural marriage is wrong.
Premise 2. (Minor premise)
Sex outside of a natural marriage is not wrong.
Therefore, Christian theism is not true.
The syllogism is properly formed so the format is valid. But that doesn’t make the conclusion valid. (Despite the fact many behave as if it’s true.) To reach a valid conclusion, both the major and minor premise must be true. But (obviously) the minor premise is false and there are also problems with the major premise as we’ll see. Instead of dissecting the syllogism, apologist WK disposes of this argument with an appeal to an appropriate chapter in the Bible – Romans 1:18-25 . But we need not appeal to the Bible to show how vacuous this argument is. We need merely show that as a logical syllogism it is fatally flawed (due to invalid premises), and thus it proves nothing – except the immorality of the person holding to it. And since atheists reject the Bible anyway showing their logic to be flawed is more satisfying since they usually claim to be the guardians of logic and reason.
So let’s look at the logical flaws in this argument and continue the satire. I’ll use Krauss as the figurehead for all who think this is a good argument against Christianity.
Problem #1: Begging the Question Part 1
By “Begging the Question” I am referring to the logical error which is a type of circular reasoning. The hallmark of circular reasoning, and thus of begging the question, is as the IEP puts it:
“The Fallacy of Circular Reasoning occurs when the reasoner begins with what he or she is trying to end up with.”
Krauss is begging the question in both his major and minor premise. How so? By rejecting Christianity before he’s proved it false. To be a valid argument, he must assume Christianity is true, and then prove it false. What he’s done is assume Christianity is false, and then say it’s false. Essentially he says, Christianity is false, thus Christianity is false. That’s not a valid argument – that’s begging the question.
How do we know this? Consider the major premise – it speaks of “natural marriage.” Why “natural marriage”? According to the Christianity, there is only one type of marriage – that which is defined in the Bible, the first example of which is given in Gen 2.22-25. The only people who want to include a qualifier on “marriage” are those who reject Christianity and its insistence that marriage was, is, and always will be for one man and one woman, who are bound together in a covenant created and blessed by God.
Those who reject Christianity, and thus marriage as God defined it want to add the qualifying term “natural” to distinguish true marriage – the only type that exists and that God ever made – so they can then include other forms of unnatural relationships and call them “marriage” though they are not marriage at all. Figurehead Krauss clearly wants to distinguish God ordained marriage from government sanctioned “gay” marriage, which I’ll call gmarriage – for government defined marriage. (The g is silent as in gnostic.)
Thus Krauss has already let slip that he rejects God-ordained marriage since he uses the term “natural marriage.” The reason he rejects God-ordained marriage is he rejects God. If we rephrase the major premise, we can see clearly the circular nature of the argument:
“If Christianity is true, then sex outside of a marriage* is wrong.
(*Excluding gmarriage for the moment since Christians will claim sex in gmarriage is also sex outside of marriage and thus wrong, and I don’t want to draw attention to that fact not only because many will agree, but more importantly acknowledging that sex in gmarriage is wrong falsifies my argument and shows Christianity to be true. I also don’t want to disclose I’ve already decided (contrary to Christianity) that gmarriage is okay and thus sex in gmarriage is also okay since I’ve rejected the Christian God and his definitions for moral sex and behavior. But I don’t want to make that admission here because that would clearly be a circular argument.)”
You see once you require Figurehead Krauss to define why he only includes “natural marriage” you’ve got him caught on the horns of a dilemma. If he includes gmarriage, many will agree that type of sex is wrong and it’s outside of marriage and so his” argument from immorality” fails. If he doesn’t include gmarriage (i.e. makes an exception as originally stated), then it’s clear he has already rejected Christianity and it’s view of one man, one woman marriage and thus is engaged in begging the question by already rejecting Christianity.
So the only way to maintain the illusion of a valid argument is to make an ad hoc, Christianity denying distinction between marriage and gmarriage. But in doing so it’s clear he’s rejected Biblical marriage, and with it Biblical Christianity and is thus just begging the question.
Problem #2: Krauss again Begs the Question (Part 2)
Consider the minor premise: “Sex outside of a natural marriage is not wrong.” Who gets to make that determination? We know what Krauss thinks about the matter – not just from the recent sexual misconduct accusations concerning him (innocent until proved guilty), but from statements he has made which clearly show he rejects Biblical morality. Statements such as he’s not sure incest is wrong, he’d have to think about it. Even more clearly he’s stated:
“Without science there can be no morality – in my opinion – or no sensible morality.”
Thus apparently in the thousands of years that existed before science, apparently there was no morality. More importantly he has essentially confessed that God is not the source of morality, science is. So once again in his view of morality he has rejected God, and God’s moral order before he has proved anything, once again begging the question. That is made clear by his second premise – “sex outside of marriage is not wrong.” Clearly Krauss believes that to be true – but what makes Krauss think he’s the final judge on what’s right and wrong? Only someone who rejects there are absolute moral standards set by a perfectly moral God can claim that sex outside of marriage is okay. He’s welcome to believe that for himself since it fits his atheistic bent, but if he wants to use it as a premise in a syllogism, he must show why it’s true. It’s not enough to say it’s true simply because Lawrence Krauss, physicist and would be philosopher says so. To make that claim with no proof – other than his opinion – is to be beg the question of the existence of God. In his case he’s presupposing God does not exist. But he’s supposed to be offering a proof, not his opinion.
Some will say to me “you’re also begging the question of the existence of a moral God, by assuming he exists.” For those I would offer the proof of the Moral argument for the existence of God, which goes as follows:
If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Objective Moral values and duties do exist.
Therefore, God exists.
With the exception of those who want to be obstinate and combative, proving the minor premise is relatively easy. Who would deny, for example, that it is good for children to be raised healthy and well, and bad for them to be tortured and killed? This is true in all places at all times – it’s absolute and objective. You may find people who torture and kill kids, but my point is that doing that is morally evil. The fact that you might find people or even entire cultures who do it doesn’t make it right, it simply shows how far and deep the sinful nature of man is to rebel against God’s moral order. Those with “eyes to see” (Eze 12.2) will agree that statement is true.
If you agree that raising children to be healthy and well is good, and torturing and killing them is evil, then you accept the minor premise and thus have no choice but to conclude that God exists.
Some would go on and say that might prove that God exists, but it doesn’t prove sex outside marriage is wrong. Perhaps not, but then I’d have to ask how they know what marriage is? Which will take us back to Krauss’ problem number 1 on what marriage is which we’ve already discussed. Then I’d ask a follow up question: how do they know what’s wrong? Which brings us to problem #3.
Problem #3: If Christian theism is not True, Krauss has no basis for determining what is “right” and “wrong”
Another problem regarding Figurehead Krauss’ “argument from immorality” is a self inflicted problem: If there is in fact no Christian God that has created a moral universe based on his own moral perfection, then Krauss has no basis for determining what’s right and what’s wrong. In fact in that case there is no right and wrong, there’s just evolution and survival of the fittest and what happens to you just happens to you. It’s neither good, bad, right or wrong.
Evolutionists don’t make moral judgments on the creatures that survive because they are more fit – meaning they’ve killed or otherwise caused their competitors to die out. It simply is. Krauss believes that science can be the basis of morality – because it can tell us what is, and what is not – at least with regard to the physical world. But that’s all it can tell us. It can’t make moral judgments on what it describes. It can’t tell us if – whatever reality science is seeking to describe – that reality is good or bad, right or wrong. A fact which atheists tend to either miss completely or disregard entirely. This leads us to Krauss’ final problem:
Problem #4 Atheists cannot tell the difference between a formerly perfect, but now sin stained world created by a moral God; and a wicked world with no God
As WK points out, atheist cheerleader Richard Dawkins stated,
“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
Dawkins tells us any appearance of evil and good (and thus right and wrong) in the world is an illusion. Because at bottom, there is “no design, no purpose, no evil and no good.”
Christians will tell you there’s evil in the world because of sin, and one day God will make a world where is no sin, and those who sin can’t enter. (Rev 21.27)
So atheists who see evil in the world must believe this is an evil world (since evil exists) with no God (since they deny God exists). Though they have no basis for calling it evil – since according to them there’s no such thing as evil. At the bottom there’s nothing but indifference – not evil (nor good). Christians believe God reigns over this once perfect world – that has increasing levels of evil due to increasing levels of sin. The point being – atheists can’t recognize God or his moral order because they deny both and thus refuse to look for either – for “he who seeks finds.” (Matt 7.8) How then can they make judgments on what’s right and what’s wrong and whether or not God exists since 1) they reject there is such a thing as right and wrong and 2) Even if they didn’t reject the existence of right and wrong they can’t tell the difference between right and wrong in a world where God exists (this present world) and a world where God doesn’t exist.
Atheists claim this world to be that world where God doesn’t exist. Christians distinguish good and bad, right and wrong even in this fallen world, because God’s moral order and his presence is still here and both are still discernible. The place where God’s presence is not, (detectable anyway) and there is no moral order, no right, no wrong, and populated with those who reject God – Christians distinguish that place from this world. That place is called hell ( 2 Thess 1.8-9 ). (Consequently any who claim this present earth is hell – with all its beauty and goodness remaining even after the fall – have no idea what they’re talking about.)
To be consistent in their beliefs, atheists like Krauss must line up behind Dawkins and deny right and wrong exist and refuse to recognize God’s moral order in this present world. That being the case, what business do they have making pronouncements about whether God exists based on a supposed lack of moral order when they refuse to recognize such a thing exists? It’s very self serving to say in effect, “We don’t recognize the moral order of your Christian God; the only moral order we recognize is the one we’ve made up, where any kind sex is permissible. Our moral order doesn’t include your God or his rules, so he doesn’t exist and thus your Christian faith is false.” In this they’re like the child who plays hide and seek by covering their eyes, believing that since they can’t see anything, neither can anyone else see anything else – or them. A juvenile approach – just like this flawed argument.
WK aptly points to the passage in Romans where because of their denial of God and his moral order, God “…gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” (Rom 1.28) All those who “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom 1.18) are acting like the illogical atheist. Don’t be like them.
Duane Caldwell | March 19, 2018 | printer friendly version
1. Distinguished cosmologist George Ellis is referenced in John Horgan’s article, “Is Lawrence Krauss a Physicist, or Just a Bad Philosopher?”, Scientific American, November 20, 2015, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/is-lawrence-krauss-a-physicist-or-just-a-bad-philosopher/
Ellis, after going through a litany of reasons why Krauss’ book does not even come close to proving its title “a universe from nothing” concludes that what is presented in the book “…is not tested science. It’s a philosophical speculation…”
2. A couple of examples of those considering Krauss’ argument one big Equivocation:
David Z. Albert, Professor Philosophy at Columbia University, Referenced from Horgan’s Article above, “Is Lawrence Krauss a Physicist, or Just a Bad Philosopher?”, though he doesn’t mention the word “equivocation” points out that Krauss treats the laws he dealing with – the laws of relativistic quantum field theories – as nothing, not something (and never explains why those laws exist or work); and thus by definition is stating Krauss is equivocating.
Tim Barnett, “A Universe from Nothing”, Stand to Reason Blog, 4/13/2017, https://www.str.org/blog/universe-nothing
Barnett clearly states Krauss is equivocating on the word nothing.
3. “Circular Reasoning”, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP), accessed 3/17/18,
4. For more on the definition of gmarriage, see:
William Briggs, “Why Gmarriage is Worse Than You Think” The Stream, 6/27/15
5. Obviously Krauss didn’t literally say that – as indicated, this is a rephrasing. I took the liberty of voicing the effect of the argument to make clear the fallacy.
6. Peter Aldhous et. al. […] Now Lawrence Krauss Faces Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct, Buzzfeed, 2/22/18, https://www.buzzfeed.com/peteraldhous/lawrence-krauss-sexual-harassment-allegations
7. For Krauss on incest see, “Lawrence Krauss – Atheist Morality”, You Tube, 1/24/14, https://youtu.be/U8oJY1BVWWk
8. Lawrence Krauss, “Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, and Matt Dillahunty – Morality without God?, You Tube, 2/6/2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvh90GS-P80&feature=youtu.be, ~10:38
9. This is the Moral Argument as presented by apologist William Lane Craig
William Lane Craig, “What is the Moral Argument for the Existence of God?”, Reasonable Faith, Video published (YouTube) 4/25/2012
10. Richard Dawkins, “River Out of Eden”, 1995, pp. 131-132 ref. from Wikiquotes https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins
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A twitter user tries to defend Krauss, but his statements are so illogical, he is indefensible.