And so the cancellations continue.
As reported in The Australian this morning, celebrated physicist and celebrity atheist, Professor Lawrence Krauss is now on the list of those whose careers are about to go into free fall over sexual harassment allegations. His inbox emails – or those of his agent – are now of the “thanks, but no thanks” variety.
Here’s what the report states:
Michael Brown, an associate professor and astronomer at Monash University, told The Australian he remembered informing a fellow scientist about Professor Krauss before the Australian Skeptics Convention in Melbourne in 2016, where Professor Krauss was a featured speaker.
After sexual harassment scandals in the astronomy community a few years ago, Associate Professor Brown said he had heard rumours about Professor Krauss.
“Around that time I heard about Lawrence Krauss’s alleged behaviour and I heard it from multiple people that I trust,” he said. “I mentioned (to a fellow scientist) he has this reputation in the astrophysics community.
“I didn’t know the full details, but he has this reputation — I was basically warning a friend to be aware of it, to be conscious of it.”
I’ll just assume the Skeptics’ Convention will be asking for full blown facts before it assumes any of the rumours are true, but, hey, why should they display the internal consistency they demand of others?
Buzzfeed has done an investigation on the claims as reported online:
The exhaustively reported BuzzFeed article by reporters Peter Aldhous, Azeen Ghorayshi, and Virginia Hughes, details women’s claims of sexual misconduct against Krauss that extend back more than a decade and range from sexist comments to female coworkers at Arizona State University, where Krauss is currently employed, to nonconsensual groping and harassment of women half his age. These alleged incidents reportedly led to official complaints filed by the women to a long list of universities and organisations Krauss has affiliated himself with over the years.
Now I have a soft spot for Krauss, not least of all because he publicly debated the now network director of our Providence churches, Rory Shiner, back in 2013 to a packed Perth Town Hall. It was Christians to the left and atheists to the right and standing room only if you turned up five minutes late. You can read my report of that sparring session here.
Make no mistake. Krauss’s atheism is of the warm, post-religious ethical kind. He prosecutes his atheist cause religiously because he has a telos in mind – a world liberated from the old gods and their moral strictures. Hence he’s a very interested scientist. He used – and continues to use – religious language to describe the materialist utopia he is seeking to form.
But what was unsettling about his debate with Rory was the manner in which he ended it, a manner in which I commented on at the time and bears repeating from my original post:
“Two minor observations: Atheists seem to snigger a lot. At least the ones sitting around me did. Every time Krauss came up with a good line or observation they sniggered. They sniggered at some things Rory said, and they especially sniggered when Rory was pausing to think about some curly question that Krauss or a questioner had raised. As a Christian versed in the language and approach of apologetics, if there is one rule to observe it is the “no snigger” rule. But they stopped sniggering at one point. In fact the whole room went silent. The question of morality was raised, and the issue of consequences in particular. Krauss made the comment that, even given the taboos towards it that have been raised by society and religion, he could not conclusively say that incest was immoral. He postured that if a brother and sister loved each other and were sexually attracted to each other then, if they used contraception (to avoid the possibility of an evolutionary retrograde genetic mutation), he could not conclusively say that it was an immoral act if they had sex. No cheering at that point. No sniggering (One bloke jumped up and yell “Right on!”, but he was dragged out and sent back to the hills from whence he came – Ed). No, Laurence was on his own on that one. It seems like the “yuck” factor is still decisive – Theist and Atheist alike. Just why would that be? Now that is something worth observing.”
And now this. I’ll take it the sniggering has stopped. The yuck factor – and his alleged sexual sins that are still taboos – have gotten him in the end, and his half of the hall, should he ever grace a stage again, will be solidly empty.
Krauss’s career as a celebrity atheist intellectual is over. Perhaps his science career is over too. He will never live this down, and in this vacant impersonal universe, which permitted, nay positively encouraged, the breaking of all sexual taboos, he has nowhere to go, nowhere for absolution, nowhere to repent and no hope of restoration. He can rail against this all he wants and shake his fist at an empty universe. He is done.
Apart from the gospel of Jesus of course. The gospel that was so clearly and warmly articulated by Rory that night back in 2013, to the subsequent scorn of the atheist groupies the following day on their online forums. Wonder if they’re so keen to back their man now. I know Rory would still sit down with him over dinner – as he did that week – and share Jesus with him, and explain how Jesus is Lawrence’s only hope.
His supporters? They won’t have a bar of him. But Jesus would. Lawrence may have lost a career and a reputation, but the gospel says that, despite the earthly consequences, there is hope for him in these self-inflicted dark times. He’s a class A sinner in the current climes, so one hopes that even those on the more progressive side of the Christian framework, whose narratives are shaped by a gospel for victims only, can see the obvious need for a gospel of forgiveness for perpetrators such as Krauss. Such as ourselves.
For it still stands, as Jesus said in John 6:37
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
Krauss may be “aus” in our new, post-religious zealous culture, and rightly so for his actions, if proven, are sadly typical, but he’s not outside the realms of grace.