Vilenkin on the Universe’s Coming into Being without a Cause
Q: Dr. Craig,
My question has to do with Alexander Vilenkin and his idea of a quantum nucleation as the explanation for the origin of the universe. His view that the universe came into existence by means of a quantum event without a quantum field, vacuum, or tunneling process, seems to me to be very strange. Then the question is pushed back a step to be what caused the nucleation since it could not have come from absolutely nothing, or could it? It seems that the same cosmologist that has published his work that supports the second premiss of the Kalam Cosmological Argument now seems to be saying that the universe can indeed pull itself up by its bootstraps through quantum mechanics. Is this because he doesn’t want to have to concede to deistic implications from his own work on the incompleteness of spacetime in past directions or because he is right that quantum mechanics can indeed lead to spontaneous creation without a prior quantum mechanical state? Is this view credible? Does this quantum nucleation apply to the origin of the multiverse as well? And does it provide a naturalistic explanation for the origin of spacetime?
Dr. Craig’s Answer: While I do not wish for anyone to be a non-theist, I must confess that Alex Vilenkin’s being an agnostic about God is dialectically advantageous for the proponent of the kalām cosmological argument, since it pulls the rug from beneath anyone who claims that belief that the universe began to exist is due to one’s theological commitments or that dreaded disorder of “confirmation bias.” Vilenkin has no theological axe to grind concerning this scientific question and so can be ruthlessly objective.
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