The Poetry of the Universe: Dr. Lawrence Krauss

Dr. Lawrence Krauss filmed a segment for Chris Johnson‘s multimedia book about atheists and what gives them joy and meaning in life.

In the segment below, Krauss talks about why the universe is far more inspiring than any given holy book:

(via The Atheist Book)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Grizzz

    During my former career I was a professional mountaineer and mountain guide. During summit attempts or on particularly beautiful days on the mountain I would hear clients comment about how great the scenery was, and sometimes I would have that religious client who would have to say “how wonderful god created this!”

    Every now and then I would get a client that would want to push me to suss out if I believed that god created the scenery to which I would inform them that no, I am an atheist. Almost always I would get the “how could you deny god created something so beautiful?” I would always have to tell them that I was inspired by the fact the mountains were the result of billions of years of erosion, tectonics and natural forces anf that I found more inspiration and strength knowing they just were. I would say I see a mountain, nothing more and nothing less, and that was all the wonder I needed or wanted.

    They never got it. To this day I love the mountains, wilderness, wilds and wildlife. But, I feel better knowing they are just what they are and not some creation of a sky-fairy. Life is a fantastic and wild thing and the wonders of the world and multiverse are ripe for exploration and investigation. I sleep better at night knowing this isn’t some big test for the next step.

    The mountains give me inner strength only in that I find a peace in them, and that is worth more than fairy tales.

    • IndyFitz

       Grizzz — excellent post, very inspiring.  I’m a hiker here in Maine, and every time I scale Mt. Katahdin, hike the Gulf Hagas gorge, traverse the Bold Coast, I’m awe-inspired.  As an atheist, I don’t believe a god created it, but like you, it is, for me, even more impressive to me that it just happened over time.  Knowing the science and reality behind it doesn’t make me appreciate it any less!  I would even say the stunning beauty of what I see is what religious people might call a spiritual experience, but without the spirit part.  It’s very moving for me, and there are times when I’m so overcome with feeling that it moves me almost to tears.  Moments like that make me realize why some people mistake what they’re feeling for proof that there are invisible fairies watching over them and responsible for it all.  For me, I’ll take the awesome randomness of the universe any day.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy’.

      – David Attenborough

      • CultOfReason

         Yea, but, uhhh….god works in mysterious ways.

    • Blacksheep

      Grizzz,
      Great post. As an avid outdoorsman, I’d like to offer my variation on the theme. I’m someone who finds peace and inner strength in the dual ideas of exactly what you’re saying – that billions of years of erosion, tectonics, and natural forces have resulted in something profoundly beautiful and inspiring  - along with the idea of God’s creation. It’s always been easy for me to combine the two concepts.

      • Grizzz

        sorry Blacksheep – an imaginary sky-fairy has nothing to do with any of this. I appreciate your love of the wilds, but god is not part of the equation. In fact, the mere thought of a sky fairy trying to make this up actually takes away and restricts your thinking of what is actually out there. 

        It is only a mountain. 

        • Blacksheep

          I believe that He is – which is not to say that I don’t have doubts mixed in. The thought of God as part of the equation (For me – I’m not speaking for you) takes away and restricts nothing. 

          • Grizzz

            Fair enough, as long as this view is not pushed or promoted as fact to anyone other than yourself.

            • Grizzz

              What I mean is, you may hold that view, but that view is not fact. And that view cannot be pushed in a classroom, to children etc. because it is not a fact. Until you prove there is a sky fairy pulling the strings, it has no place in the common education process.

              • Blacksheep

                Right – I wouldn’t claim it as fact. It’s what I feel/think/experience. 

                This conversation is not about education – it’s about being in awe of nature – far away from a classroom! (BTW I would teach science in a classroom – it stands on it’s own without a need to say “There is no God”).

              • Blacksheep

                back to the mountain – I’m in the NE, my favorite here is Algonquin in the Adirondacks.

                http://www.kedsbackpacking.ca/algonquin.html

                • Grizzz

                  Very Nice Blacksheep! I own a lodge in the Adirondacks and spend about two to three months a year there. In fact, I am at the Adirondack House right now! I love the fall colors in the northeast! Prettiest in the country!

                  I’m over in the Five Ponds area, the backwater of the park!

                  I finally got a picture of an Adirondack moose this year too! Near my property! Very cool indeed. AND, the fox activity this summer/fall has been through the roof! And I have not even seen or heard any raccoons, which is rare too.

                • Blacksheep

                  Love it. I’ll be in the High Peaks in early November.

              • Blacksheep

                …I mainly wanted to express that there are people out there who embrace science and God, together.

            • Blacksheep

              Absolutely – As long as that goes both ways.

              • Grizzz

                Well, no, because evolution, plate tectonics, geology et al are all sciences based in fact, not fiction. There have been studies, evidence gathered, proof found in fossil evidence etc.

                On the “god did it” side of the fence there is nothing but little goose eggs (zeros). Because the positve assertion “goddidit” is coming from your side, the onus (burden of proof) rests with you to prove god, did in fact, make this place. To this date there is exactly NO proof of this happening.

                Now, as a scientifically trained person (Bachelors in Biology and a Masters in Marine Mammology) I would concede that off all possibilities in all places there is a chance that “goddidit” is a possibility. However, with a swipe of Occam’s Razor, that possibility hits astronomically low levels, therefore, the “goddidit” argument gets placed in the same category of possibility as a celestial tea pot being responsible for it (it could happen) or Zeus, Thor, Rah, and Apollo making it all. 

                So, based on the facts at hand, evidence record and research conducted, we do get to teach others how we arrived at this point, while the “goddidit” argument gets placed firmly in the realm of unproven make believe.

                • Blacksheep

                  Yes – I agree on the teaching point. My point was that I don’t get to say “God did it” with 100% certainty, and you don’t get to say “God didn’t do it” with 100% certainty. That’s what I meant by “works both ways.” 

                  On the Marine mammology front: On LBI, NJ this past August I had some great encounters. Stand-up-paddling with 15 – 20 dolphins, and then two Humpback whales feeding (Coming right up out of the water, mouths open).

                • Grizzz

                  I studied Humpback Whales at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Nothing like being around whales….

                  And again, I disagree with the false equivalency. We can teach as fact what we now to be true about the universe, but yes, of course as a scientist we need to say we know this to be true AT THIS POINT based on the evidence of today.

                  To say this is on equal footing as “goddidit” is a false equivalency. Before you would even be allowed to say god is a real possibility that is on par with anything on the side of empirical science and fact , you would first (using you metaphorically here) have to get a least some evidence of the sky-fairy. The idea that the “we both don’t know for sure” is on equal levels is another distraction used to try and prop up the “goddidit” side.

  • Grizzz

    Oh yes, here is my former primary mountain, and source of my inspiration (thanks to Kevin of Banger for informing me of how to post a pic here)…

    Denali


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