Daniel Dennett's Self-Creating Universe

In his book Breaking the Spell, atheist Daniel Dennett writes the following concerning the cause of the universe:

"What does need its origin explained is the concrete Universe itself, and as Hume...long ago asked: Why not stop at the material world?  It...does perform a version of the ultimate bootstrapping trick; it creates itself ex nihilo.  Or at any rate out of something that is well-nigh indistinguishable from nothing at all." [1]

As William Lane Craig explains, Dennett remarks betray a misunderstanding:

"Here Dennett spoils his radical idea by waffling at the end: maybe the universe did not create itself out of nothing but at least out of something well-nigh indistinguishable from nothing.  This caveat evinces a lack of appreciation of the metaphysical chasm between being and nothingness.  There is no third thing between being and non-being; if anything at all exists, however ethereal, it is something and therefore not nothing.  So what could this mysterious some thing be?  Dennett does not tell us." [2]

However, the bigger problem for Dennett is that the idea of a self-creating universe is absurd.  In order to cause itself to come into being, the universe would have to already exist!  Dennett's position is clearly absurd.

Here is a great audio in which Daniel Dennett and William Lane Craig discuss cosmology and fine-tuning.

Further, you can checkout Wintery Knight's review of the discussion here.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. As quoted by William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith 3rd, Edition, p. 151,
2. Ibid.


John said…
Seems that this self-creating universe premise has been floating around a while. It's like a bunch of guys who would rather gouge their eyes out than admit there's a sun in the sky over their heads.

uchitrakar said…
When scientists say that the universe can simply come out of nothing without any divine intervention, they think of the universe in terms of its energy content only. In the book ‘The Grand Design’, page 281, scientist Stephen Hawking has written that bodies like stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing, but a whole universe can. What Hawking meant to say here was this: As the total energy of a whole universe is zero, so it can come out of nothing. But stars or black holes will fail to do so, because their total energy is not zero. But universe means not only its energy, universe means its space-time as well. So applying the same logic to space-time as well, we can say that the entire space-time of the universe must also always have to be zero, and in that case only a whole universe can appear out of nothing. Here my question is: How does the total space-time of an ever-expanding universe always remain zero?
As the universe appeared out of nothing, so initially there was no space, no time, no matter and no energy. Scientists have successfully shown how the total matter-energy content of the universe has always remained zero. But we are not satisfied with that explanation, we want more. We also want to know how the total space-time content of the universe has always remained zero. And it should always remain zero if the universe has actually appeared out of nothing. Otherwise scientists will have to account for the extra residual space-time that was not there at the beginning.