One of my friends posted this quote on facebook:
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than the atom in your right hand. It really is the most thing I know about the universe: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded. Because the elements (the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, all the things that matter for evolution) weren’t created at the beginning of time, they were created in stars. So forget Jesus. Stars died so you could live.” – Lawrence Krauss
Now, previously I might have seen something like this and felt the need to show where Krauss is making some problematic category errors and making leaps of illogic (and how he simply dismisses any criticisms of his fallacious philosophy anyhow) but, no. What struck me is how very sad this statement actually is, for what Krauss is actually doing is using his considerable charisma and rhetorical flair to pretty up something that is basically reductionistic nihilism.
Krauss wants to reduce us all to simply stardust – an exotic, inspiring term perhaps – but then, if all we are is chemical and physical left-overs from a star, then so is the ant we stepped on yesterday, and indeed, any number of other things we might have stepped in recently. Krauss’ wants us to think that being stardust is beautiful and poetic, conjuring up the Hollywood or Broadway image, but in reality, Krauss’ stardust is banal and meaningless, and gives no reason to think that humans have any inherent dignity. This is the kind of view of the universe which leads to comments like this well-known passage from Richard Dawkins:
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, 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 that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
In Krauss’ worldview, that star didn’t ‘die for you’ as he wants to poeticise, it didn’t care about you, it simply exploded, and you’re here, and there’s no purpose or reason for it, just ‘pitiless indifference’.
If you think that life has meaning, or that humans have inherent dignity and rights, you won’t find any basis for that in the reductionist, atheistic materialism of Krauss and Co. No amount of rhetorical flair can conceal the nihilistic implications of such a worldview, and any ideas to the contrary are, to borrow a Dawkinsism, sky-hooks. Things like justice, right and wrong, human dignity and the deeper questions of meaning must either be dismissed as irrelevant or dropped out of the sky without any real foundation.
Compare that with what Mark Meynell wrote about this morning:
It is God’s love that eradicates death’s mockery of human love. For when it breaks in, it is suddenly not the end. There is life after death after life. In Christ, there is love after death after love. Without that, there is nothing.
I think Mark is right. It seems to me that we recognise that death is an intruder here, that there is some purpose and meaning to life. Krauss is keen to dismiss the idea of Jesus dying to give us life, but he doesn’t stop to recognise the futile alternative of a vain beautification of elemental nothingness.
Krauss’ view of the world seems to me to lead logically to meanngless nothingness, and that is indeed very sad, and not at all a satisfactory account of the world. Such a worldview is not just too small, and too obstinately limited, but leads literally to a dead end. To say we are nothing but stardust is, ultimately, to say we are simply nothing.