Lawrence Krauss —
Our Origins and the Weight of Space

One of the values of science is to make us uncomfortable says Lawrence Krauss. The particle physicist explains why we should all care about dark energy and the Higgs Boson particle. Science literacy matters, and, more importantly, he suggests we should take joy in science — just as we cultivate enjoyment of arts we may not completely comprehend.

Share Episode

Shortened URL

Guests

Lawrence Krauss is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Department, and Inaugural Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. His books include The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing.

About the Image

A woman walking near the world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet, at the European Organization for Nuclear Research's Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator in Geneva.

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Share a Reflection

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><span><div><img><!-->
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Embed content by wrapping a supported URL in [embed] … [/embed].

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
63Reflections

Reflections

Dr. Krauss reminds me much of a gentleman I knew well as a child. Both are engaging, interesting, and entertaining. And both have the ability to charm people into kindly smiling upon their deep-seated contempt and hatred for a large group of their fellows. Mr. X's racism, fortunately, can now only be smiled upon in the darkest of corners. Dr. Krauss'--a word as handy as 'racism' hasn't come into usage yet, but let's call it a philosophical materialism deeply contemptuous of and aggressive towards religious thought and believers--though, is still smiled upon under the stage lights of all our elite institutions. It's really a shame to see it on this show (though to be fair, Krista did seem somewhat embarrassed at points by Krauss' sneering and attempted to either steer him to other topics or weakly challenge him on his ignorance and prejudice).

Dr. Krauss' perspective on what he actually knows something about was both enlightening and entertaining. Still, though, he is perhaps the worst guest you have ever had on this show.

I must agree. I myself am somewhere between agnosticism and atheism, but I am sometimes moved to consider spiritual possibility by Krista Tippett's guests. This particular interview was different. Lawrence Krauss has a clearly antagonistic attitude towards the general premise of the whole program. The message "Religion is crap," fails to inspire me.

You choice of words in describing Dr. Krauss' view on theists says much more about you than an accurate portral of his views, i.e. "deep-seated contempt and hatred for a large group of their fellows". To then equate Dr. Krauss' position on theism as being similar to racism is intellectually dishonest and utterly shameful. Apparently since you are unable to make sound arguments as to why you disagree with Dr. Krauss' positions, you find the need to resort to character assassination and slimy distortions and misrepresentations of his position. This is shameful behavior and I recommend you amend your post to correct it. Please address what Dr. Krauss said in the interview with a reasoned argument and not an emotional attack.

I had little to say about Krauss' views (other than that they were intelligent, interesting, and well-presented). To boil down my observation: Krauss exhibited a belligerent and closed-minded bigotry that is out of step with the purpose and ethos of On Being. It made for a bad show.

I agree. It was a bad show. He was so interested in badmouthing religion, that it diminished any respect I might have for his opinions on the area he was actually qualified to speak. That he is an atheist doesn't bother me at all. That he spent his time being an anti-theist quickly got very boring and tedious. It seriously diminished his contribution to what makes "On Being" is a show I enjoy. I found his anti-theism to be as boring as people who are anti-atheists. Tell us what IS meaningful to you, and stop attacking what might be meaningful to someone else.

Phil,I do agree with you. I see a stark contrast between Dr. Krauss' approach and sensitivity to other worldviews than Krista's other guests. There's an edge of underlying hostility and anger toward the spiritually minded that he seems to have no problem showing. His affect is pretentious and haughty. To me there is no separation between the sciences, philosophy and religion. The pursuit of truth and knowledge is our aim. I like your comment "philisophical materialism". There is a lack of honesty and integrity in the scientific community about presumptions and what is truly observable. For example: quarks. We must approach life with humility and openness else we become inaccessible. However, I so greatly admire Krista's grace and trust of her listeners. She doesn't ever need the last word. She trusts us to draw out our own conclusions. What a fantastic example of journalism at it's finest.

I think what he is trying to discover/explain is the process as to how it is that we are dust and to dust we shall return. If everything in the universe is composed of matter; in the biblical sense what we know as dust. Scientifically, how and why does this occur in the universe? Krista kept pushing on the question of origin; so if we originate from dust/matter and we and everything else in the universe becomes a form of life and death only to start the process again. Why do we think as humans that we are so unique if we have/are a source of matter in all of its different stages? Does origin really matter and how can we not love one another and the universe knowing that is part of oneself. Surely, we speak of things we do not understand, things too wonderful for us to know.

I would not discount him as a crazy Galileo. I think he is on to something, perhaps and appreciation and more diplomatic approach towards the beliefs and views or interpretations of different religions trying to understand the complexities of our universe would serve him better. Great shows Krista, please keep doing what you are doing, I love your work.

Great show! There was no 'choir' here. It seems that everyone was challenged including the guest and the host. I loved the way you ended the program, Krista. Thank you for your willingness to take real risks.

What a wonderful program! I'm glad to see that Dr. Krauss was allowed to actually share his views about religion. So often in the media, any criticism of religious viewpoints about existence and meaning are stifled by the host or another guest as being intolerant or blasphemous.

The host seemed genuinely perplexed by the idea that science can have anything meaningful to say about existential questions.

Dr. Krauss made a good point when he said that "The knowledge that the meaning we have is the meaning we make should inspire us to do better. Every single thing that religion provides, rationality, empiricism, and science can provide. And not only that — they can provide it better.”

The late philosopher Paul Kurtz explained this viewpoint further in his 'Affirmations of Humanism' (http://theperplexedobserver.tumblr.com/post/5734214755/the-affirmations-of-humanism-a-statement-of) when he wrote that secular humanists "are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems."

I agree with what Penn Jillette once said on NPR’s Morning Edition when he explained that not believing God means that "all the suffering in the world isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future. Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.”

I and many other human beings, including Dr. Kruass, if I'm not mistaken, embrace secular humanism as Paul Kurtz defined it, not only because much of that philosophy agrees with many wise ideas about living a good and fulfilling life but also because many of these ideas are informed by science.

An eloquent professor at Virgina Tech, when responding to an attack on atheists in the aftermath of the 2007 shooting, said “We atheists do not believe in gods, or angels, or demons, or souls that endure, or a meeting place after all is said and done where more can be said and done and the point of it all revealed. We don’t believe in the possibility of redemption after our lives, but the necessity of compassion in our lives. We believe in people, in their joys and pains, in their good ideas and their wit and wisdom. We believe in human rights and dignity, and we know what it is for those to be trampled on by brutes and vandals. We may believe that the universe is pitilessly indifferent but we know that friends and strangers alike most certainly are not. We despise atrocity, not because a god tells us that it is wrong, but because if not massacre then nothing could be wrong.”

It was also implied by the host that science has nothing to say about spirituality but as Kruass stated, "Spirituality isn't having the answers before you ask the questions. . . Real spirituality comes from asking the questions and opening your mind to what the answers might be."

One does not have to believe in an afterlife to find meaning in life or death.

Another meaningfull quote about spirituality and science comes from Michael Scott Earl's 'The Spiritual Atheist.' (http://reasonworks.com/michael-scott-earl/the-spiritual-atheist/)

"Spirituality is that dimension of the human experience arising from ones relationship with reality. Scientific exploration enhances our relationship with reality by simply introducing us to more of it. The vastness and beauty of our universe is just one of the more spectacular examples."

An open letter to NASA, ESA & CERN.

The paradigm of physics adopted by NASA, ESA & CERN has been shown to be fundamentally incorrect & baseless through published scientific article "Experimental & Theoretical Evidences of Fallacy of Space-time Concept and Actual State of Existence of the Physical Universe' (www.indjst.org; March2012) available at http://www.indjst.org/index.php/indjst/article/view/30369/26297 and consequently openly challenged & the open challenge is available at http://www.worldsci.org/php/index.php?tab0=Abstracts&tab1=Display&id=6476&tab=2 and also at http://www.gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Essays/View/4018.
Are not you under moral obligation to accept the challenge before proceeding any further with wastage of public money on the name of research?

I enjoyed hearing the show and listened to it twice so I could catch what Dr Krauss was talking about, he is a very fast talker. It was interesting but I feel he was a bit full of himself and seemed to love the word I. Thanks for keeping the show in line Kista, you are a master at that.

Rose nicely captures my own experience of listening to Dr. Krauss. He's a "poster-child" for unadulterated ego.

I listen to OnBeing (usually the full interviews) to hear from individuals who inspire me, who exemplify compassion, self-awareness, humility, and wisdom. Whether people interviewed are religious, atheist, or agnostic, I learn volumes from them and their ways of being in the world. Unfortunately, this guest was different--though I agreed with much of the content of what he said. He insisted on relentlessly caricaturing people of faith. Such a dynamic toward the other is the core of prejudice and bigotry, and the opposite of what I would want to emulate myself, or see emulated in others. I have to say, the impression this interview gave me was of a huge ego on a stage. Krauss' scientific knowledge and insights are fascinating. Yet I have appreciated learning from other scientists who disseminate knowledge and encourage questioning and discovery without the belligerent subtext and without characterizations lacking nuance. I am a fan both of OnBeing and of Ms. Tippett and have listened to essentially every interview in the archive.

Could you give us some examples of professor Krauss' "relentlessly caricaturing people of faith" , "belligerent subtext" and "characterizations lacking nuance"? Making such accusations without presenting any evidence makes you appear to be caricaturing him i.e. engaging in prejudice and bigotry -the opposite of what you just got done claiming you would want to emulate yourself.
Thank you.

Unfortunately, he dismisses as childish and meaningless the most important question of all, the question of mystics, poets, and the program On Being: "why?" I was enthralled listening to the buildup to the spiritual aspect of the discussion....and disappointed to find there's nothing there. Not even dark energy. I much prefer the universe to the empty void that the last minute of this show revealed in him. And I think Krista did a fantastic job of removing, brick by brick, the curtan wall he had erected to try and hide this....just enough for us to see there's nothing there. He is proof that we desperately need the poets and mystics like Heschel...and Krista Tippet.

He did not dismiss the questions of why. He said the question of why makes an assumption that is not justified. There may be no reason for the the existence of the universe but simply a "how" the universe came into existence. The mystics, poets and theologians can invent any story they want as they are not constrained to provide any evidence for their stories. If their inventions give you solace, fine. But don't criticize scientists like Dr' Krauss because they wont play along with your need for emotionally satisfying stories that supposedly answer the why question. YOU desperately need the mystics and poets. I am quite fine to live in the real world and able to face reality with out the make believe of the mystics and poets.

If science has indeed won the meaning tussle, why does Dr. Krauss have such an evidently large chip on his shoulder? Regarding novels by Joyce or paintings by Picasso, and the purported consensus regarding their intrinsic value; wouldn't that be nice if it were actually so?

Fascinating show. Loved the challenge and debate; even though I am a regular listener, I sometimes get frustrated by the lack of debate between Krista and her guests; esp. if they are "religious" or "spiritual", she too often takes them at their word. I was disturbed by Krauss's manners and absolute need to always be right and jump in and interrupt which doesn't do justice to his arguments, or his often naive faith in scientism. All of that aside, it was also refreshing to hear an atheist actually be allowed to speak; too often, atheist voices are shut down, ridiculed, and vilified, and religious/spiritual voices are given a free pass.

Dr. Kraus sounds like a theologian to me. He has more faith in mystery than other types of belief systems, of which his is just another religion. Religions, science included, are man made systems and are both inadequate. Spirituality exists before and without both of them. The argument between science and religion is silly and endless. Looking.for answers from man's insufficient position in the universe is the blind leading the blind

The bible is a word ship for exploring the inner universe that binds us all. Science will always leave the inner truths unanswered The brain is matter and mind is the dark energy.

I think we all provide conduits not only for the ideas but also for the conflicts of our era. One pervasive (and very traditional) conflict in this era is the "us-versus-them" standoff between people who espouse one coherent story of existence and people who resist having such a story imposed. Both positions become reflexive. Thanks to Ms. Tippett for (as always) her consistent focus and care as an interviewer, and to Dr. Krauss for both acknowledging and reining in the passion that underlies inquiry and wonder. The conversation in this installment is enlightening both for its content and its honest struggle to step outside the traditional "science-versus-religion" frame of reference. I think that struggle will always be with us, but so will the common ground that lies beyond it: a humble respect for mystery.

Thanks for your conversation with Dr. Krauss. He is a highly intelligent man and I appreciated his insight, even though he (like a great deal of the scientific community) left me vexed. I am a man of faith, and the offhand arrogance that comes across as enlightenment that seeks to dampen those with spiritual pursuits denies that those very beliefs have shaped them as well, like it or not.

Let me explain. We will divorce, for a moment, the thought of "is God real" and go with the notion that "god" is a man-made concept. Yes, from a certain perspective it would be the rationalization of "bronze age thinking in understanding the universe," but this concept also assisted in maintaining the species. At some point in our evolution there needed to be that divergence that elevated humans higher than the animals. The animals procreate and the animals kill. That's natural. That's instinct. Humans needed to make that leap. Why? Because unlike the animals, we had the capacity to think our way through our instinct.

Example: a wildcat kills a gazelle for the pride to feed. They are hungry, they kill, they eat. They do not kill all the gazelle, just enough to feed. Humans, on the other hand, have the capacity to see full townships, full regions of people as "enemies." We think our way into believing it would be best that their entire pack be destroyed, not just individuals. History shows this to be true. If that is the case, then there would be no reason for the opposing townships not to believe the same. In the end, the species would kill itself off (or come very close to it) because the animalistic and humanistic tendencies would be in conflict.

God as a concept presents a fail-safe for the species. It is an outside force that sates "thou shalt not kill," theoretically impartial to one township over another. Because it is not just another human saying "I think thou shalt not kill" it is an edict over all. Without that, if it was just one "peacenik" saying you, that peacenik gets eliminated to further achieve the political goal. In a sense, the conceptual "god" has for centuries presented a reason to behave and not kill off our own with impunity.

Of course, we all all know of examples, even in the 21st Century, where that fail-safe has been superseded, but one cannot correct all the animalistic thought processes out there.

It is this notion of a heaven and hell, a god, or otherwise overseer of right and wrong that is separate from us that has fundamentally shaped our decision-making concepts over the ages; even among atheists. The idea that humans are above wouldn't exist without the conditioning experienced and integrated over time. Now, does that mean that science cannot explain away god? Not necessarily. But to claim out of hand that it was all just baseless fables for children, even though our race probably depended on it to keep us from killing ourselves into extinction, is to be short-sightedly dismissive.

I have my beliefs because I have felt things that I cannot explain through the rational. I can only square the circle through mystery. I will either have my suspicions confirmed one day, or I'll be dead and it just won't matter. But I am more likely to see a natural end than if the entire human race was conditioned to believe that there was no outside governance that forbade wiping us out with no consequences. It's just a thought.

I like the fact that you use conditioning, the process of rewards and punishments to change a behavior and relate it to religion. I am not convinced that god exists for all species and without god people would be in chaos. I open doors and have morality and think everything religious was invented by a person at some time. Not, discovered by the chosen and forced upon polytheists. If so why are their different religions. And why do some not have god or some have several gods. Also, where in the universe is heaven? Is it above Earth, out by Pluto, the Milky Way. Is hell in the Sun, or in the rocks of the Earth? I am glad though that the idea of faith is what makes you think that you are a good person, however, it is not the only reason people are good. So if people don't kill, its because of God? What about the people who do kill? Did they not get enough God? And if Goid is there why would he allow a bunch of murders to occur in his name, crusades and such?

In Howard Gardner's model of Multiple Intelligences, he accepts a category that he called "Existential Intelligence" that others prefer to call "Spiritual Intelligence."

I suppose if neither of those labels existed, and someone asked me to come up with a name for it, I'd propose to call it Systems Intelligence.

Existential Intelligence | Wikipedia
Some proponents of multiple intelligence theory proposed spiritual or religious intelligence as a possible additional type. Gardner did not want to commit to a spiritual intelligence, but suggested that an "existential" intelligence may be a useful construct. The hypothesis of an existential intelligence has been further explored by educational researchers.

I am one of those educational researchers who, in the process of studying the interplay of emotions and learning, finds that emotions associated with spiritual states are a significant factor in the learning process.

just because something is significant, doesn't mean that it is real. I have a hard time believing that without god, (me for example) people wouldn't feel. I just don't feel any positive emotions towards faith. So I ask, do I have existential intelligence? Or does one have to be a believer to have this type of intelligence.

I was taken by Krauss' suggestion that in our culture, we often give up too soon when we are stumped by life's probing questions, especially when it comes to science. I also enjoyed how he handled her questions about religion and spirituality..and even though he cut her off (he seemed passionate about the subject) he got me with his assertion that real spirituality is asking the questions and being open to the possibilities. I agree. We don't have to have all the answers about science or religion, but does this mean we shouldn't share ideas and be open to the possibility that each side has something valuable to add to the discussion, and that answers can come from the most unlikely places....if they come at all.

In response to Mr Krauss's question "What's the point?" after Ms. Tippett quoted a rabbi, I would say religions provide a basis for community.

I believe Jesus was an atheist who revered our father (God as natural law, cause and effect, logic, truth). I believe he was a determinist, egalitarian and utopian ideologist who espoused that revering truth’s revelations coupled with faith in love (economic and interacting system of doing as we wish others would do in our situations without ulterior motives such as prestige and pay) was the way to heaven on earth.

If one has to find their own meaning, then we live more fully, aware that we have no other chance. I do think Judea/Christian religions have a tendency to dull that "lust" for life. I also wonder if we wouldn't appreciate life more and work harder to make it wonderful for all. Probably neither atheism or religion would change a particular individuals lust for power, but I wonder if there wouldn't be more overall respect for life if we weren't relying on a spiritual Being to make sense of hardship or to provide a hereafter.

I don't think this negates the meaning that spiritual traditions could hold. I think it all depends on interpretation.

about time for a real conversation on a Sunday morning. Well played.

Your guest constantly contradicts himself, often over-reaches and then draws back (or vise-versa). He is a provacateur, which is fine, but his disjointed monologues,his unnecessary cheap shots, his straw-dogging of religion, conflating religion with theology (as if either is a singular) make it nearly impossible to follow whatever point he wants to make. He makes one half-cohernt criticism of faith. I wish he would have stayed at that criticism, fleshed it out, explained it, and addressed rational objections (there are some, afterall). I will read his most recent book in the hope that it is more coherent, balanced, and rational than what appears in the radio program as rather thoughtless and impolite zealotry.
He conflicts and or dismisses the question of "Why" with "How," he (rightly) notes that science is about data collection and that questions are more interesting than answers and then says it can answer theological questions better than theology. His most grave mistake is an ancient one: asssuming that "natural philosophy" can address questions unique to rational people. Human existance, for example, is not reducible to evolution, however sublime that science is at describing what happens in nature. I'd love to hear him explain and justify his reductionism. He was, if I may add, most elouqent when he demonstrated his inability to explain what he understands 'love' to be.

If science has indeed won the meaning tussle, why does Dr. Krauss have such an evidently large chip on his shoulder? Regarding novels by Joyce or paintings by Picasso, and the purported consensus regarding their intrinsic value; wouldn't that be nice if it were actually so?

I am truly a little stunned about how closed minded Dr. Krauss is toward any views other than his own. He simply attacks (loudly as if he is hurrying to bury any thought or discussion). Quite frankly, I don't find anything very interesting or intellectually challenging about his points. I am certainly not a religious person, but there are questions that are worthy of discussion. Kant long ago made the convincing point that there are things outside of our ability to understand - with or without science. As Pascal said many years ago: "If one subjects everything to reason our religion will lose its mystery and its supernatural character. If one offends the principles of reason our religion will be absurd and ridiculous....There are two equally dangerous extremes, to shut reason out and to let nothing else in." (21,xix) from Pascal in Pensees. I feel like i listened to a constant whining about letting nothing else in.

Dear Krista:

I thought your show with Dr. Krauss was wonderful. More than any guest in recent memory he captures my point of view. His enthusiasm can be intimidating, but I share it. The only quibble I have is with his answer to your question about what science can give to the person who is dying. It was, I suspect, a question he hadn't pondered much but if he had I believe he might have said that neither religion or science can give much to the dying. My experience is that the dying need the presence and touch of the living, especially family and friends, or empathetic good Samaritans. It is a conceit of both religion and science that the dying need either.

Bill

I enjoyed this discussion, and more than usual Krista's questions -- though I thought she left Krauss off the hook. I think science beautiful, but, as a biologist, I am often struck by the limitations of scientific inquiry. It seems there is a rule that the more interesting the question, the less likely we are able to study it--this is simply due to the complexity of what humans tend to find interesting. Physics, of course, as the most reduced science, is driven by the quest for simplicity.

But here is my frustration with this discussion. Science is treated like a toy chest, in which various marvels can be taken out and enjoyed, but all in a very nonscientific context. The context for judging science seems to be a vague nativism or mild hedonism: science is great because it makes us feel good, feels us with awe, etc. I agree with all that, but we should be more explicit that these statements only have no real scientific meaning, and that their context is the stuff of philosophy, and perhaps theology. As Max Weber said, rationalism is a means to an end end. Science cannot supply that end.

If there is nothing to all of life but the things and ideas expressed by Dr. Krauss, I don't know what reason I'd have to stick around for another day. Your guest may some day understand that the enthusiasms that seem so fullfilling to him seem beyond empty to many others. If individuals like Dr. Krauss can find ample satisfaction in the life of the mind, I wish them satisfying lives and do not want to shove any other needs down their throats. However, I would like to tell the good Dr. that he should take his urge to force feed the sawdust that comprises his beliefs to all those who feel the need to reach out beyond them.

I'm very grateful to scientists like Mr. Krauss who discover things about the natural world that help us to understand the natural world and to praise God.

But 'ravings of illiterate peasants'? Really. It's a wonder that someone can call himself educted who knows nothing of the history of religions or theology, no?

When we are caught in the web of pairs of opposites- this makes me happy, that makes me sad- the "me" mode prevents seeing clearly. Resting in between the two could lead to creative resolution of a perceived problem or better yet to creative dissolution. A change in view can allow fear to dissolve.

Krista Tippett's discussion with Lawrence Krauss was uncomfortable partly because he kept interrupting her. Also, it is always difficult to hear someone commit the original sin belligerently. My response is to his haughty description of our earliest believers.

Those ancient "illiterate peasants" were such a blessing to us! While looking up at the stars, down at the flowers and into the eyes of loved ones, they realized this world was a gift. Air, water, night and day were all created so we would have a place to grow physically, mentally and spiritually. Spiritual evolution allowed us to bow our knee and relinquish the position of God back to our Creator. It's a choice. Once we are no longer attempting to be God, we can be forgiven and cared for by the One who is greater than ourselves. The blessing is there, just waiting to be opened. My prayer is that Mr. Krauss evolves spiritually so he can experience the love, joy and peace that have filled believers through the ages. May his head be filled with peace and his heart be filled with love.

Dr. Krauss brings up the chances of a tea pot orbiting Jupiter. It can't be disproved but it's not likely. Well, lets take the same line of reasoning further. What then are the chances that there is a small rocky planet orbiting a star with 7 billion beings that can contemplate such a question? The odds are even more unlikely, yet here we are. Beware of loaded reasoning on either side of the spectrum.

The difference between the unlikely teapot orbiting Jupiter and the planet with 7 billion people orbiting our sun is that we can find proof of the latter.

Precisely David. Everywhere we look outside of our home there is no evidence of a hospitable planet like ours. There is no evidence of any life. Fermi's paradox is squarely in place... I'd say the odds of our planet is far less likely than that teapot. Yet here we are.

Actually this was proven wrong. A number of planets very similar to earth in size and temperature have been discovered.

Having grown up in a fundamentalist church, this seemed like a similar fundamentalism of a scientific stripe - the same condescension and derision towards those that disagree and the same hubris. He even spoke at a half-shout like many of the childhood preachers I heard. Neither seem like good news to me.

While I agree with Mr. Krauss on just about everything. I don't think his arrogant/combative approach is helpful. Furthermore, he ignores the fact that knowing that nothing you do really matters is - or can be - depressing.

Krista is such a skilled and educated interviewer that most of her interviewees respond in kind with compassion and intelligence. I'm sorry to see that Dr. Krauss' vitriol was unable to be moderated, even by Krista. I had to stop the regular podcast 10 minutes in, and won't be listening to the (unfortunately already downloaded) unedited interview.
I know that there are still many scientists out there who will behave much with much more maturity, and I am sure that Krista will be able to find them. I look forward to hearing those interviews!

Recommended reading for Lawrence Kraus:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Quantum-Lotus-Frontiers-Buddhism/dp/1400080797%3FSubscriptionId%3D1A5YEDEW5YFSY19E4502%26tag%3Dspeakingoffaith-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D1400080797

Might just expose him to other ideas regarding his apparent convictions and assumptions as to what " the real world" is.

Fabulous program ... I am so in love with it that I listened to it 5 times.... it is "reason" that breeds compassion, it is reason that displaces mythology and affiliations with arcane cultural practices that keep us wedded to a destructive and myopic zeitgeist.

Bravo! I am a fan.

Dr. Krauss says that "The knowledge that the meaning we have is the meaning we make should inspire us to do better. Every single thing that religion provides, rationality, empiricism, and science can provide. And not only that — they can provide it better.”

And how does science tell us what is "better"?

He lists accomplishments that make us nod in agreement: raising children, providing a livelihood. But unfortunately others find meaning in killing children in a daycare center and planting explosives at a marathon race. Science can describe all those behaviors, quantify them, psychoanalyze them. If we live in a universe with no ultimate purpose, science has no way of saying which way of striving for meaning is "better".

I was intrigued by what Dr. Krauss had to say concerning his own specific scientific discipline. The knowledge he has and shared does cause one to be prompted to wonder and awe. That having been said, his vitriolic arrogance was in full display when it came to his dogmatic assertions about religion and philosophy. The entire foundation for his unlearned stand was demolished by the woman who simply asked him to give an answer for the origin of love. Obviously stumped, he stumbled back into his argument of making further dogmatic assertions about chemical processes and the like yet with no scientific evidence to support his position.

Also as I listened, I heard him at the beginning be sure to remove the possibility of meaning or reason or purpose by removing the question why from the discussion. Even later on when he inadvertently used the word why, he was quick to correct himself so as to not destroy his own presuppositions. Yet having removed meaning and reason from his own worldview, he constantly used words infused with that which he himself refused to believe. Words like important, should, ought, good , better, right, these all imply a moral imperative that answers the question why and drives the person who uses and believes in them. The question then becomes, if there is no reason or meaning or purpose, why should we even care about what he has to say? He operates in a world infused with purpose and meaning yet having discovered it himself as evidenced by his own use of language, he himself refuses to acknowledge it. That seems to be intellectually dishonest.

Lastly, in this discussion, he himself again acknowledges that there is so much that remains unknown and I assume that he means that he also has not arrived at the state of infinite knowledge. My question would be then, how can he be so arrogantly dogmatic about the existence of God. He, in his atheistic stance, presupposes that he himself has infinite knowledge.

I enjoy reading Krauss. I love his Passion, and dare I say his spirituality. I would count myself as a student in this school of wonder and awe. I am thankful that reality is so much more than we can imagine and I am grateful that we possess the gift of speaking nature's language and learning of her beautiful, sublime secrets. Reality truly is more than we could have ever dreamed. To be open to possibility is something my religion, my faith, teaches me. My religion and Krauss' have this in common.

Yes, I said religion, because when Krauss says that meaning is something that we create for ourselves with the love we share he reveals, not a lab report, but a faith. He says science does have something to say to a person on their deathbed and that it is this: there is no afterlife and the meaning of your life is whatever you judge it to be. Krista is correct in pointing out that this claim is a non scientific one.

I sympathize with Krauss. It is understandable to want to turn everything into science as a way of avoiding uncertainty and error but the inescapble truth is that when it comes to the most important events and experiences of our lives, we all act on faith, like it or not. To quote William J Broad, the 2-time Pulitzer Prize winning science writer of the NYTimes who rightly says, “The scientific process is unable to answer the most important questions in life.”

There is no escape from the dilemma of being human.

What Krauss said about love was quite inadequate and very disappointing. He is not a neuroscientist or an evolutionary biologist so he claims he cannot speak with authority. But he believes love is largely a matter of chemistry, hormones and psychological projection. I suppose his promise in marriage would then be, so long as these hormones continue at their present levels in my bloodstream and so long as you continue to conform to my ideals I will "love" you. This is a good example of the inadequacy and inability of positivist philosophy (and the reductive religion of scientism) to fully respond to the mystery of the human being. The covenant of marriage does not depend on hormones, otherwise there is no covenant. You cannot promise your blood chemistry.

Krauss also tells us we are more insignificant than we realize. Indeed we are a speck, but the measure of mankind has never been a matter of quantitative size, or mass. Otherwise we had always been eclipsed by every small tree. It is not our size but our rational nature that makes us special. We uniquely recognize (which means to know again) the beauty and order of the cosmos. Without us, the universe would have no one to reveal herself to. Perhaps this alone explains our existence - perhaps the universe was lonely! The beloved needs the lover to share the love. Oops, I didn't mean to bring up the Trinity here, it just slipped out.

Krauss claims to believe that in the grand scheme of things we are just specks of stardust, grit for the universal mill. But what is more precious in this universe than the one speck capable of recognizing her? And surely Krauss does not mean to say that the human is so insignificant that we need not worry about suffering and genocide. Of course not. Surely Krauss knows in his heart that human life is the most precious thing in the universe. Despite what he has said, I believe he knows this.

At any rate, let us agree to be open to the possibility that there is much more to the human and to the cosmos than our little philosophies will allow. Curiosity, wonder, awe, science, religion. What special little specks we are!

I think this is the only time I have ever come away from one of Krista's interviews with an active dislike of a guest on the show. Not only did I find Dr. Krauss' eager contempt for religion annoying, but his sexism was on full display as well, as he continually interrupted and talked over Krista.

I've got nothing against atheists--it's the "evangelical atheists" (Krauss, Dawkins, etc.) I find every bit as obnoxious as fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. If you want to hear a conversation with an atheist who makes sense and doesn't have to be a jerk while he's doing it, I recommend Krista's interview with Alain de Botton. http://www.onbeing.org/program/alain-de-botton-school-life-atheists/4821

Thank-you for this show. I appreciated this impartial examination of the man. I should say I appreciate most the ability to download and re-listen to the man for any inconsistencies. Have to say I found a bunch. No worries for Lawrence, however, his book contracts must have made him a fairly rich man. I worry more for his followers missing out on religious wisdom. Now to read all these comments!

This show really stuck with me, and I truly feel it was a very good episode of this fine program. Perhaps the best of the fifteen or so episodes that I have heard.

I, too, was shocked and insulted by Dr. Krauss' provocations (the extent surprised me). I am not an orthodox practitioner of any religion, but am Jewish and am saddened by yet another fine mind of the Jewish people who has lost connection with the tradition.

On further reflection, the problem that I have with Krauss' argument has nothing to do with him personally, nor with anything akin to racism, bigotry or some other inappropriate bias. I felt he made great arguments. My problem is that I wanted to argue with him and I felt powerless to interject (because I truly was!).

To me, this is a sign of a great program, not a bad one.

For the record, my argument, after weeks of thought, is that Dr. Krauss does not engage with the essential concept of community that fosters both religion and science. After all, his love of science would have no place in a society that lacks an organized scientific community, as would someone's practice of anything resembling organized religion.

He makes reference to debates and bets he has with his friends in the scientific community, and clearly he gets tremendous value out of the sharing of scientific values and ideas. Importantly, religion has provided this service for a very long time, and people greatly value it. Some recognition of the value he gets not from science but from the community of scientists, would help reflect an appreciation for the value of religion to people.

More to the point, the uncertainty that Krauss implores us to celebrate provokes real sensations of anxiety and distress in people (not all people, but I would argue many). These feelings can cloud judgment and inhibit the ability to perform even scientific action.

It is hardly unscientific to have personal or shared explanations of the world that are not in accord with scientific consensus. It may be proven false by science, but that does not preclude an appreciation for and use of science.

It would be unscientific to present religion as science, or to use religion to silence or deny the validity of well-practiced science. I would argue on behalf of Mr. Krauss against such evidence-denying orthodoxy. But to me, this is not the norm of religiously engaged people that I know.

I don't think science precludes the use of metaphor, allegory or even myth.

It simply means that those explanations, when taken literally, will become increasingly burdensome to argue as science's explanations gain evidentiary support.

"One of the values of science is to make us uncomfortable. Somehow that's supposed to be a bad thing for many people, being uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is a good thing because it forces you to reassess your place in the cosmos. And being too comfortable means you've become complacent and you stop thinking. So being uncomfortable should be a spiritually uplifting experience."

-Lawrence Krauss

This was one of my favorite On Being broadcasts that I have ever listened to. It could have been the fact that Dr. Krauss is a very entertaining speaker, and that many of my views align with his, but nonetheless very interesting interview that touches on various subjects including Star Trek which he is an avid fan. Lawrence Krauss is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Department, and Inaugural Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. From what I ascertained he is an atheist, or agnostic, but he seems to have a respect for religion and it's place in the world.

"Spirituality isn't having the answers before you ask the questions. . . Real spirituality comes from asking the questions and opening your mind to what the answers might be."

He says here what I have been trying to say for some time now, and much more elegantly I might add. There is nothing wrong with asking questions about subjects that are controversial in society. Why wouldn't you want to learn and grow in your faith (and any other area of life) by asking questions and reviewing your opinions?

I believe Krista was a little taken aback and could not keep up with the fast, informative way that Dr. Krauss talks. She would usually probe a little deeper in to the minds of her interviewees and ask them questions that make these experts in their fields of study stop and think a little deeper than they are used to, but like I said he talks way too fast and with such enthusiasm that it was probably tough for her.

I listened to this episode for no other reason than it was Krauss. I've been reading him since the Physics of Star Trek twenty years ago. In the Youtube era, though, I've heard a number of his lectures which have disillusioned me a bit on his perceived rock star status: as a science educator, I don't consider him to be all that articulate; as a de facto public representative of skepticism, I find him combative and off-putting. Richard Dawkins is another example of a scientist who openly attacks religion, but he is much more eloquent and calculating in his approach. This episode is sadly indicative of Krauss' tendency to resort to snarky asides. It's not always bad: he recently appeared at a debate at a Muslim university in Britain, and upon discovering that the audience had been segregated by gender, he walked out. That's important, but here he's just trying to construct opportunities where he can poke at religion, and that's not constructive.

As far as physics, he's definitely a deserved leader, extremely bright and poised to succeed Hawking as the public's image of "really smart science dude." At his best, Krauss can explain with excitement and passion how the frontiers of science have pushed so far into the extremes of the Universe, and answered so many questions critical to the layman's understanding of everything, that the remaining questions (of which there are impossibly many) can only best be adequately answered with a temporary "I don't know" without the need for "here's where God comes in." He, along with many other popular scientists and reasoners, are proselytizing to a congregation that finds plenty of meaning just in being alive, in experiencing the world, and learning more about it. I feel what some might call the "holy spirit" whenever I see a sunrise or understand an equation, not because I think the experience was meant for me but because I was lucky enough to be a part of such a Universe and witness this little tiny portion of it for an infinitesimal speck of time.

I found this interview to be very fascinating, mainly because I've been following him and his works for some time. I've listened to his lecture series "A Universe From Nothing" and many of his other lectures and debates, so it's always a treat to hear him speak.

I really appreciate his views and outlook on life and our understanding of it. I love how he says that science shapes our understanding and perspective of ourselves in the universe, and that's beautiful. The way he speaks, it's as if he views life as an art in our human perspective, and I couldn't agree more. He describes theology as early human's construction to understand the world and science is the final frontier to understanding the world around us. I also agree with this. I see science to be just as beautiful as any religion.

Very interesting talk, very glad I listened. Lawrence has a way of making science appear so transcending, and I love that about him.

A new book argues that the root of the conflict between science and religion is the reductive modern understanding of causality—which many scientists are now rejecting.
http://themarginaliareview.com/archives/2323

A new book argues that the root of the conflict between science and religion is the reductive modern understanding of causality—which many scientists are now rejecting.
http://themarginaliareview.com/archives/2323

I have listened to Dr Krauss over the years, and I have appreciated his explanations of scientific phenomena. Lately, his interviews have become unbearable, and this particular one was so bad I had to turn it off half way through. I listen to all of Krista's unedited interviews, and this is the first time I have taken such displeasure in a guest. He was clearly just there to grandstand. He barely listened to her questions or let her finish them, and took every opportunity to get the conversation off the course she was trying to steer him down. He choose a very specific type of simplistic, fundamentalist religious view to argue with and can't see to understand the more sophisticated religious perspectives; to him, science is truth, and that's that. I found him disrespectful and his answers rote--I've heard them all before from Christopher Hitchens (in a MUCH more entertaining way), Richard Dawkins (in an equally annoying way), and Daniel Dennett. Boring and annoying. I felt bad for Krista; how rude he was to her.

I did a google on myself and your named showed up. I do not agree with Lawrence Krauss. I believe in Intelligent design You are entitled to your beliefs that is fine but I am also entitled to my beliefs ultimately it comes down to faith in what you believe. Yes you have a lot of book knowledge but you lack any experience try studying ki or chi for 10 plus years coupled with Calculus which you already have also study IT networks Computer Science and you may open your eyes and gain better understanding of sub-atomic particles and metrics you will come to the understanding Energy is dynamic and Non-Symmetrical Atomic level and below not using constant motion equations with 1 space http://All4webs.com/2/6/bcrouse2010ad

The fact that Krista has Atheists on On Being lends validity to her claim to explore, through her podcast, "the big questions at the center of human life." If she only included Theists and the religious, it wouldn't be a valid exploration. Similarly, only including Atheists/Agnostics wouldn't be a valid exploration. Exploring all the ideas helps the listener decide for him/herself what to think and believe.

Bare in mind, this podcast was recorded at a Theology school. They knew what they were doing when they invited a non-religious person to speak there. Krauss sought to challenge the universally religious people present at the podcast, which is valid.

I love science and the human impulse to learn whether it is qualitative or quantitative ! I was attracted to this dialogue because the image (not sure if intentional) reminded me so much of the Rose Window of Chartres Full circle I suppose.

apples