The question of why there is something rather than nothing, creatio ex nihilo, is a standard starting point for discussions about the existence of God, or the last line of defense for wobbly believers and debaters.
In a book that has generated much debate, Lawrence M. Krauss rather confidently (arrogantly?) claims to have dispensed with that final redoubt against doubt. In Sunday's New York Times Book Review, David Albert, a philosopher at Columbia, reviews "A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing" with such devastating brio that I didn't really pause to see if Albert is right. Not that I'd know either way. And not that it necessarily matters.
As Albert concludes:
And I guess it ought to be mentioned, quite apart from the question of whether anything Krauss says turns out to be true or false, that the whole business of approaching the struggle with religion as if it were a card game, or a horse race, or some kind of battle of wits, just feels all wrong — or it does, at any rate, to me. When I was growing up, where I was growing up, there was a critique of religion according to which religion was cruel, and a lie, and a mechanism of enslavement, and something full of loathing and contempt for everything essentially human. Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn’t, but it had to do with important things — it had to do, that is, with history, and with suffering, and with the hope of a better world — and it seems like a pity, and more than a pity, and worse than a pity, with all that in the back of one’s head, to think that all that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don’t know, dumb.
Read it all here.