A Universe Out of Nothing? (Ex nihilo)


Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss, Peter Atkins, and John Shook are firm believers in naturalism – meaning that they believe that everything can be explained by Natural Law.

This means that they can only explain the reality and existence of this universe by using the universe itself without anything meta-physical (non-physical or transcendent-of-physical).

Though there is a problem with this statement. You cannot have “something” out of “nothing” when you are trying to follow the physical laws of the universe. In every aspect of reality, something has always come from something else.

The idea that “something came from nothing” completely contradicts everything we have ever experienced or tested. In fact, it contradicts the law of Cause & Effect,” which is the basis for any physical law in our universe. Ex nihilo nihil fit: “Out of nothing, can nothing come” as the saying goes.

But since the paradigm of naturalism cannot allow to hear such a statement, proponents push on. So…

So Let’s Go Through some of these arguments:

(Above: Philosopher Ravi Zacharias and Mathematician John Lennox did a review and showed how it was incompatible in both regards to both of their fields.)

-Stephen Hawking wrote a book which described a TOE (theory of everything) that contrived the universe, in its entirety, as being possibly formed from gravity alone.

The problem with that idea is that even the physical law of gravity is not even understood to be a real thing in-and-of-itself. “… Laws do not create anything. They are our descriptions of what normally happens” as John Lennox has said.

The reason why most people don’t say that physical laws ‘always were’ is because General Relativity shows the inextricable direct relationship between the space/time continuum and the matter/energy continuum.

Most people think that matter abides by physical law, when really it is physical law which adheres to (and is qualified by) the affairs of matter. With the entropy of matter/energy, go the influencing power (physical law) on space/time. That is to say – when matter diminishes, so does the physical law that is attributed to it.

Though even setting physical laws apart, all you have is a mechanism without an object to operate. You would still need 1) a causal agent to activate the mechanism and 2) a ‘first cause’ for matter since (by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) it can’t be eternal.

Physical law is truly just the dynamics of matter. What drives matter to perform these functions is unknown even at the quantum level.

Quantum Fluctuations

-Lawrence Krauss even put together a presentation titled ‘A Universe From Nothing’ as if implying that something was created by nothing.

He later explains [at 32:49] (on the 1st video on the left) that he really talking about ‘quantum fluctuations.’ Craig re-confirms [at 47:28] (on the 2nd video on the right) that statement; that when Krauss says “nothing” he really means “something,” namely a quantum vacuum.

This and other ex nihilo arguments have argued that the entire universe could actually come from nothing. The thing is, it is not “nothing” they are talking about; that is to say, “no thing.” They are talking about a “quantum vacuum,” and a quantum vacuum isn’t just emptiness, as they might have you believe.

In fact, William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, John Lennox and others have retorted these claims and said that it still contains impetus, mechanism, object, activity, and possibly agency “within” it.

The progressing ideals of a “zero-energy universe” are based on a faulty philosophical presupposition which states that “the symmetry of a balanced equation negates itself and therefore can coequally establish aseity from 0.” Krauss and other theoretical physicists argue that you can get around the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (conservation of energy and matter) by saying that each quantum particle has reciprocating particle which cancels it out. Though this may be the case for created things, a person can’t claim this for uncreated things.

Peter Atkins has formalized this argument in his book, On Being, and said straightforward that the positive and negative energies in the universe are equal (and therefore they cancel out), so nothing really exists. William Lane Craig has responded to this argument in his 2nd debate against Atkins and said,

“…That would be like saying that if I’ve got £10 in my wallet and I owe you £10, then in fact I’ve got ‘nothing’ in my wallet. … Just because on balance I have no financial statement of a positive nature doesn’t mean I don’t have any money or that money doesn’t exist. And thus Christopher Isham, who is a Quantum Cosmologist at Imperial College points out, ‘There still needs to be ontic seeding,’ as he puts it, ‘to create the positive and negative energy in the first place.'”

Even quantum particles are things; not “no thing.” Saying both things came into existence at the same time doesn’t help the case that we live in a reality full of them. You would be arguing that everything in existence came from everything we have; and that argument is just circular. Even at its ends, you would still be presupposing existence.

And on the more practical level, a person doesn’t just see things pop up randomly every now and then. Even saying the word “randomly” presupposes a mechanism (which takes you back to Stephen Hawking’s argument).

More Naturalism

-John Shook claims that the answer to this conundrum is to say that there is more naturalism that is undiscovered. This idea “kicks the can down the road” and ends up in contradiction.

If there were more natural laws that allows our known natural laws, then there must be more natural laws explaining those natural laws. This ends in an infinite regress (which is not supported by what we see in reality).

Presupposing natural laws in order to explain natural laws is a logical fallacy. For natural laws to create themselves, there must be nothing and something at the same time in the same reference.



The idea that nobody x nothing = everything isn’t even an adequate because there is an equation to start with. The truth is that something ex nihilo is literally incompatible with any sort of science. It was only thought to be plausible physically while spontaneous generation was thought to be possible biologically. Yet even decades after that theory was disproved by Louie Pasteur, the belief still presses on. Likewise, even though every person presupposes “if-then” statements (even in the lay form of “some thing makes other things happen”) in all observation of physical reality, the belief that “something can come from nothing” still presses on.

In short, to say that something came from nothing, a person is ultimately doing 1 of 3 things:

  • Evoking a logical contradiction
  • Evoking an unknown by faith
  • Evoking a force which is outside the natural order (supernatural)

“An egg which came from no bird is no more ‘natural’ than a bird which had existed from all eternity.” – C. S. Lewis

. . .

– Whenever we see an effect, we intuitively know there is a cause behind it. There is always a cause; it is a static Law of nature. Cause and Effect states that every Effect has a Cause, and no Effect can be greater than its Cause. If we didn’t assume a cause for what we see, then we wouldn’t be able to do any science; we would just say, “Well it just is!” Not only does the statement on origins “out of nothing” dis-acknowledge a Cause, but its Effect is Everything.

– As far as science can see, there is no law which shows this sort of process ever occurring; hypothetically or actually. To try to justify their worldview, non-theists point to an idea that they must take by faith.

– Even if something hypothetically did happen ex nihilo, a person is calling to something which isn’t natural. This means that it is “supernatural;” the very thing they are trying to deny.

[And even if there is a mechanistic process of creation ex nihilo, God could have used this as part of His plan.]



Ministries, Ravi Zacharias International, John Lennox, and Ravi Zacharias. “Ravi Zacharias Answers Stephen Hawking – Part 1.” YouTube. RZIM, 03 Dec. 2010. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wMyMmjPgLs >.

Ministries, Ravi Zacharias International, John Lennox, and Ravi Zacharias. “Ravi Zacharias Answers Stephen Hawking – Part 2.” YouTube. RZIM, 20 Dec. 2010. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHUh9S6Kg7Y >.

Krauss, Lawrence. “A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence Krauss.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <Krauss, Lawrence. “A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence Krauss.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. >.

Drcraigvideos, William Lane Craig, and Lawrence Krauss. “William Lane Craig vs Lawrence Krauss.” YouTube. Reasonable Faith, 16 Apr. 2011. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijQYW8cQuBE >.

Atkins, P. W. On Being: A Scientist’s Exploration of the Great Questions of Existence. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

ReasonableFaithTour, William Lane Craig, and Peter Atkins. “William Lane Craig vs Peter Atkins: “Does God Exist?”, University of Manchester, October 2011.” YouTube. Reasonable Faith, 10 Apr. 2012. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ssq-S5M8wsY >.

MrZazomy, William Lane Criag, and John Shook. “Dr. William Lane Craig Humiliates Dr. John Shook.” YouTube. YouTube, 24 July 2010. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcnZRctcleM >.


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