Sean Carroll to debate William Lane Craig

Let the sparks fly: Official Website Physicist™ Sean Carroll will debate theologian William Lane Craig at a “Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum in Faith and Culture”. According to the website, these forums are an ongoing program of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and are “designed to provide a venue in which respected scholars of differing opinions dialogue on critical issues in religion, science, philosophy, and/or culture from their differing perspectives.”

Here is the topic and the dates:

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 1.43.24 AM

As you see, it’s a two-day event, with the schedule here. It’s a bit wonky, since that page lists both the 21st and 22nd as “Saturdays” (the 21st is a Friday), but the formal debate will apparently take place at 7 pm on Friday, with academic papers by Carroll and Craig presented (in a chapel!) on Saturday morning and afternoon.

You can register here: the fee for regular folks is $20, but minister and students get a $10 discount. More privilege for religion!

Well, if someone has to do this, I’m glad it’s Sean, who’w written extensively about how cosmology provides no evidence for God (see the nice essay here, for example).

And I’m also glad it’s about physics, for Sean knows his onions about it, and is also a good extemporaneous speaker. (I wonder if Craig will bring up the the Kalām “Cosmological” Argument.) I also know that Carroll’s savvy enough to realize that Craig has a team of people meticulously researching everything Sean’s ever said, and I trust that Carroll will perform his own due diligence.

Although I don’t approve of debates as ways to settle issues like the fact of evolution or God’s non-existence, I’m not nearly as worried about Carroll—despite Craig’s formidable debating skills—as I am about Bill Nye.

If you’re lucky enough to be in New Orleans, I’d suggest going. It promises to be a good show for $20—so long as the speakers don’t read their papers on Saturday. (Gratuitious gripe: Why do some academics, especially in the humanities, insist on standing in front of an audience and reading from their manuscript? Do they know that the academic written word is deadly dull, and differs from the spoken word? Do they realize that they could just distribute the manuscript, or put it online, and save everyone the trouble of being bored? There is simply no excuse for an academic reading a paper in public.)

h/t: darelle

65 Comments

  1. Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Why pay $20? Become a minister first.

    http://www.themonastery.org/ordination

    • gbjames
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      If you don’t like all those doves and stuff you could also become an FSM minister. Of course the cost of $30 might not may it a profitable decision in the short run, but who knows how many other discounts you might discover?

      • Matt G
        Posted January 13, 2014 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        You can get 10% off at Italian restaurants here in Manhattan with a valid FSM minister ID.

    • Posted January 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Why bother with becoming a minister when you can be a pope? You only need a printer and you’re good to become a Discordian Pope (search for “discordian pope card”).

      I’d be surprised when Craig doesn’t bring his Kalam argument. Its dubious premises aside, I think it also comes across as dry and boring. Craig typically pairs it with a lot of confidence. Perhaps one must destroy it equally confident, but unexited (and less smug than he typically is). I’d also suggest to put in some efforts into humanist warmth and compassion. I think religious people, if not more, but to a great degree are won over with some good feel. :)

  2. Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the plug, Jerry. The event will be recorded and eventually posted online — I think people will be entertained.

    I hadn’t noticed the discount for ministers. If I had, I would have asked for an analogous discount for research scientists. (But actually I’m glad to be doing the event in front of folks who don’t already agree with me.)

    • Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Sean, the biggest problem I have with WLC is his unapologetic endorsement of the horrors of Numbers 31. I have no idea how I’d personally respond to him on that topic other than to call him a monster in some very explicit terms.

      Have you given any thought to how to deal with Craig’s (very) dark side?

      b&

      P.S. Thanks for your explanations of the significance of the Higgs! b&

    • Sastra
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Good luck, Dr. Carroll!

      Bottom line, I think that any apologist who uses physics to support the existence of God has just accepted that “God” is a hypothesis. Given that they’ve ventured into science, I’d go further and say it should now be treated like a scientific hypothesis, one which makes testable predictions and is thus subject to falsification.

      Is “a disembodied Agency using psychokenetic powers” a hot research topic in the cosmology journals? In any science journal — excluding the ones formed for the purpose of merging spirituality and science? I haven’t heard about it, and it would be a pretty significant area I’d think.

      It is interesting that the “Unequivocal evidence for God” article insists that God is totally outside of anything science can examine because it’s the “unconditioned cause of reality.” If so, then one would think the Big Bang would be meaningless as evidence.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        And if so, how the hell could anybody, or anything, possibly know anything about it?

        If anything at all about ‘It’ can be experienced in any way by any human, then science can examine ‘It’. Science is just humans experiencing things and using certain methods to interpret those experiences.

      • Vaal
        Posted January 13, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Sastra,

        The thing is with Craig, is that he WILL treat it as a scientific hypothesis as necessary. That is he happily wades into theories of physics and cosmology to dismiss
        any competing theories that don’t fit his kalam cosmological argument. He has balls of steel…or unbridled arrogance…and will wade into almost any area in debates. The thing is, he has stuck with the same arguments for so long, and has chased every areao of contention in defense of those arguments, so he’s always prepared.

        In his debate with Victor Stenger, I was amazed to watch Craig actually at one point put Stenger on the defensive…wading RIGHT INTO Stenger’s area of expertise, but adducing arguments from other physicists against Stenger’s position. I expected Stenger to hammer him back, but instead he seemed to start softening or modifying his position! At least, that’s how I, an audience member and an atheist, saw it unraveling.

        Vaal

        (Not that I endorse Craig as being “right,” as I don’t know a damned thing about physics and cosmology…I’m just talking about the fact he doesn’t shy away and plead ignorance about anything when it comes to defending his main arguments).

      • Posted January 13, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        I bet that the people who talk about “unconditioned cause of reality” would find Craig too much of a theistic personalist: he has some very odd ideas about the relationship of God to time, for example. There was something about that on Feser’s blog a while back, ISTR, before I stopped reading it (very learned dicks are still dicks).

        But yes, once you’ve claimed that science backs you up, you get some fun things which seem to follow. J. Brian Pitts’s “Why the Big Bang Singularity Does Not Help the Kalam Cosmological Argument for Theism” (Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 59 (2008), 675–708) tries out of them: “One of these elements [of Pitts's critique] is a reductio ad absurdum strategy that leads to the conclusion that the Big
        Bang singularity implies a divine Creator only if stellar gravitational collapse
        to a black hole implies a theistic Destroyer. Apart from some differences that
        do not ultimately matter, the scenarios are the same.” Is God active in black holes? The public should be told.

    • Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Bon chance, mon brave!

      /@

    • strongforce
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Sean, I have observed quite a few of WLC’s debates. Your recent talk “God is not a Good Theory”, is an excellent starting point. Not to be presumptuous but I would offer the following suggestions.

      He will likely be extremely well prepared and as mentioned elsewhere they will find something you have said that they will twist ever so slightly so as to bait you into a defensive posture. Either ignore it or deal with it nonchalantly. It is critically important that you do the same. Craig is rather arrogant and can be put on his back foot by having to defend one of his rather odious comments or theological stands. The key is to get him off his polished game plan. There is an added benefit to this tactic. When this has been effective in past debates it has exposed Craig’s real thought processes and motivations.
      What seems to cause him the most pause is when one questions the morality of his god. I always thought a good approach would be to question the morality of his epistemology, i.e. faith. Religious faith at its core is
      not a noble act but an irresponsible one.
      The three best debates to observe in preparation are WLC’s debates with Shelly, Price and Harris.

    • Faustus
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if Craig will be bringing up his Neo-Lorentzian relativity argument against a real physicist?

    • Vaal
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Dr. Carroll,

      I love your talks and I think, with your grasp of the actual science AND your familiarity with some of the weasel moves made in theistic arguments, you are in an excellent position to debate Craig.

      People always offer advice from the sidelines on how to debate Craig, and after watching Craig for decades, here’s mine:

      Choose one or two points you want to get across, or that you know he’s weak on, and hammer him on them. Keep hammering. Don’t be led astray by the other many little fires he’ll have you try to put out.

      If you only visit an issue once or twice, Craig will toss off his rebuttals and it will appear you will have been answered. But you have to keep revisiting his rebuttals to show how they don’t work, forcing him to elaborate.

      A great example many point to Craig’s debate vs Shelly Kagan as the blue print, where virtually everyone thinks Craig was exposed. In that debate, the format allowed Kagan to stay on Craig about certain issues, especially Craig’s insistence that without God or eternal life there is no “ultimate meaning” to life. Kagan kept pressing Craig on this, showing the poor assumptions involved in all Craig’s attempts to elaborate on his stance. Craig wasn’t left with anywhere to move, couldn’t change the subject and his claims, pinned to the ground, were shown as unwarranted.

      Your debate might not be structured the same way, but I would think you could still take the same approach in sticking to one or two points you want to get across (or show how Craig is wrong) and, through persistence on those issues, show Craig’s rebuttals hit rock bottom and don’t answer the issue as the might first sound like they do.

      Cheers, and I hope you have fun! I can’t wait.

      Vaal

      (BTW, you are far smarter than I am and are no doubt more than capable of having a good debate strategy. But you know how fans can’t help yelling encouraging instructions from the sidelines)

      • pacopicopiedra
        Posted January 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher!
        Hey batter batter batter, swing batter!
        DEFENSE! DEFENSE!
        Good eye, Sean! Good eye!

    • Kevin
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Good luck Dr. Carroll. You will do great. The force is on your side…literally…the forces we have empirically deduced from observing natural processes.

    • Amelia Schuler
      Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      Good luck, Dr. Carroll. It seems one great obstacle for the believer is the capacity to *allow themselves* to doubt and to question dogma without fear of reprisal. If you cause even one religious person to plant one tentative step on the path of skepticism and reason, then you succeed.

      I’m looking forward to seeing the debate online somewhere sometime in the future.

  3. Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    There is simply no excuse for an academic reading a paper in public.

    But Jerry, you can’t expect them to make up Post-Modernism-speak on the hoof!

    • Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Sometimes they provide visual aids, by putting the whole typed text on acetates and projecting it as they read from it. I’ve seen that done.

  4. Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Craig is simply out of his synaptic and subatomic range.

    Leptons: 10 Christians: 0

  5. Cathy Newman
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    New Orleans is just down the street; I might have to go to this one, if I can work up enough juice to fight the miserable traffic. It’s too bad I can’t attend the Nye event, though. It’s good that these people are out there fighting for science in the public eye.

  6. eric
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Gratuitious gripe: Why do some academics, especially in the humanities, insist on standing in front of an audience and reading from their manuscript?

    It gives them an excuse not to cover some argument their opponent just made. “Hey, I was asked to read my paper, not respond verbally to Bob’s.”

    Though in this case I’m thinking Prof Carroll might be able work it to his advantage. WLC likes to gish gallup. I’m guessing that in the Friday event, he’ll rapid-fire more (bad) arguments than Carroll has time to cover. With the papers being read the next day, however, Prof Carroll can take note of what WLC says on Friday night, then tune the paper and release it Saturday.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t call the complaint gratuitous, either. It’s a real problem. Such talks are deadly dull. I couldn’t believe it when I first experienced one, on venturing out of the lab and across the street to hear an interesting-sounding talk in the History Dept.

  7. Sastra
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The likelihood is that William Lane Craig will spend a lot of time arguing about Nothing.

    There are some very distinct definitions of “nothing.” It doesn’t always mean the same thing. Lawrence Krauss was hammered on this when he came out with his A Universe from Nothing — mostly by theologians but there were a few secular philosophers in there.

    Apparently, if you use the physics version of “nothing” instead of whichever one of the other definitions the cosmological apologists are using, then you’ve “completely missed the point” and “failed to address the argument.”

    Sean Carroll can probably see this one coming a mile away.

    • Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      In cosmology, nothing is the ground of all being. QED.

      /@

      • darrelle
        Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        See! Cosmology is wrong. There, that was easy. :)

    • Vaal
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, but from what I’ve seen, Sean Carroll
      has quite a good grasp of what Craig is trying to say about nothing. I’ve been more impressed by Carroll, who seems somewhat more nuanced and accepting of the philosophical bent of the argument, than Krauss who tends to dismiss such arguments out of hand.

      I have much more confidence in Carroll debating Craig than I have in Krauss.
      (And I think Carroll is a more careful speaker, who strings together arguments and concepts more compellingly…in that way he reminds me of a “Sam Harris with a Ph.D in Physics”)

      Vaal

    • Anton Szautner
      Posted January 29, 2014 at 4:21 am | Permalink

      There is a way: one can make a powerful case that nothing (and only nothing) is perfect. If God is perfect (which seems to be the popular rumor), then God must therefore be nothing. That nothing does not exist doesn’t require elaboration.

  8. moarscienceplz
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    The essence of this debate:
    “Are we God’s special snowflakes?”
    WLC:”Yes.”
    SC:”No.”

    That is all.

    • Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Actually, when it comes to cosmology, nobody today does it better than Sean. If he does nothing else other than explain what we actually know and how we know it, just as he’s done so tirelessly in the past, it will become instantly obvious who knows his shit and who’s just talking shit.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • darrelle
        Posted January 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        I think you might be giving too much credit to much of the likely audience. Today must be a “cup half full” day for you. :)

        • Posted January 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

          Maybe.

          But…well, I think we can reasonably expect Sean to make points such as the following, only (of course) much more eloquently:

          It is a fundamental observation of reality that all forces have particles associated with them and vice-versa. With the LHC team’s confirmation of the existence of the Higgs, all particles up to and including that energy / size have been accounted for; therefore, so have all forces over a huge range of scales. While we know that we don’t yet know everything there is to know about what lies beyond those scales, we do know that anything that can even hypothetically influence human affairs is now accounted for. Anything else would have shown at least some sort of hint of evidence long before now. The only such evidence being claimed is an ancient book of faery tales that didn’t get one scientific fact right and also endorses child rape, torture, slavery, and all sorts of other horrors. In the modern world, that sort of “evidence” simply can’t be taken seriously.

          I don’t think Craig is capable of elevating the Bible above the CERN team on matters of physics, even to a faithful audience. He’s gotta play the “metaphor” card…except he’s already on record as endorsing the worst of the Bible’s atrocities as actual and justifiable events. Or, Sean can just ask Craig if he’d prefer the Biblical or the modern treatment for leprosy, with the obvious conclusion that the Bible is no more reliable on matters of physics and astronomy than it is on biology and medicine.

          Cheers,

          b&

      • Moarscienceplz
        Posted January 14, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Hi Ben,
        I didn’t mean to imply that SC wouldn’t do a good job, it’s just that I am starting to come to the colclusion that the debate format itself is a lousy way to try to arrive at a valid conclusion. It’s too easy to do a Gish Gallop or get bogged down in minutiae. And pitting scientific observations and conclusions against the squishy religious pambulum that WLC will undoubtedly employ reminds me of Brer Rabbit fighting with the Tar Baby.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Snowflakes. I love that. WLC will provide no insight and plead his case as if it is divine truth. Hubris and dishonesty. He behaves like an ill tempered child, who, I wish would get tired and give up his irrational quest.

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Do they know that the academic written word is deadly dull, and differs from the spoken word?

    No, sadly they don’t. They love their written words and they don’t know why others don’t want to hear them recite them. I suspect it’s also the reason why some academics don’t recognize the TL;DR phenomenon when writing in non academic media.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I think a greater factor is feeling uncomfortable speaking “off the cuff” and confusing the higher need for need for detail in an academic paper than when speaking in front of an audience. The two contexts are very different and one way to make sure you don’t make an error is to read a written document.

      It is a self-defeating strategy, of course.

      • Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        It is curious that, for the audience, read papers are so boring, but off-the-cuff ones are generally so riveting. The INFORMATION CONTENT is usually the same. I guess it comes down to the fact that human conversation is off-the-cuff by nature and we are wired to be more comfortable with it. On the occasions I have given papers I do find going off-the-cuff is quite daunting. Powerpoint seems best to me – it gives a speaker an outline to follow, aids the speaker with visual content and keeps eye contact with the audience. Still scary though.

  10. kelskye
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I make a habit of avoiding WLC debates these days (he says the same thing each time, including the surprise he has when his opponent doesn’t validate the view that he ascribes to atheists), but I think I’ll watch this one.

  11. Karaktur
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I will look for this once it is posted. I watched Craig vs Hitchens on youtube and Craig tried to “out-science” Hitchens. Hitchens ignored the bait and argued other points because, well, he isn’t a scientist. Let’s see Craig try that with Dr Carrol. This could be fun.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      That being the case, will WLC try to “out-philosophize” SC?

      • Vaal
        Posted January 13, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        That’s exactly what Craig will do. He’ll always try to drag the opponent into waters where he thinks the opponent is weak. And with scientists, Craig thinks that is philosophy. That’s why he brings up the philosophical notion of “nothing” in a debate with Krauss, to make Krauss look clueless – like Krauss isn’t even answering the “real argument.”

        But Craig doesn’t JUST do this. He has rebuttals as long as his arm on any subject pertaining to his arguments. So he’ll do a combination. He’ll charge right on to Carroll’s territory of Physics, looking like he is doing battle there as well. Usually he’ll have found work by other physicists who seem to disagree with Carroll in Carroll’s field. Having done that, he’ll drag Carroll into philosophy, and show how Carroll “doesn’t really answer the fundamental questions which are what the debate is ‘really about.'”

        This is why I have been saying you have to stick to a couple points to run through all Craig’s rebuttals and show they don’t work.

        There IS another approach, and that is to have an opponent who can rattle off numerous arguments like Craig and who can also display a similar breadth of knowledge and facts, to quickly rebutt most of what Craig says. In other words, someone who can “out-Crag, Craig.”

        Hitchens had many of the tools with his incredible breadth of facts and his memory, but even by his own admission, while he read widely, he wasn’t always read deeply, int terms of philosophy, and so Craig dragged him there and I think showed some weak underpinning in Hitchens’ stance.

        One of the few people I’ve seen “out-Craig, Craig” was Robert M. Price “The Bible Geek.”
        Price has a Hitchens-like astonishing catalog of details and facts, and can speak extemporaneously on any religious topic. He can whip out facts to deal with anything Craig can lobby. At the end of his debate with Craig, in the audience question-answer session, Price is given a long list of complicated questions all at once from the audience. And he actually ANSWERS every one of them brilliantly, and I think trounces Craig’s main contentions in the process.

        Vaal

        • darrelle
          Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          Hmmm. I wonder if Steven Pinker would be a good choice to counter Craig? I have always been impressed by his “astonishing catalog of details and facts,” and his ability “to speak extemporaneously.”

  12. Greg Esres
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    I find WLC almost unwatchable, but I don’t expect that he’ll come at Sean on the basis of facts, but rather what the facts mean. I’m skeptical that Sean’s scientific arsenal will be enough to counter that in a way that the audience will find convincing.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      “I’m skeptical that Sean’s scientific arsenal will be enough to counter that in a way that the audience will find convincing.”

      Which leads one to wonder just what it takes to convince this prospective audience, and to conjecture how intellectually curious (or willfully non-curious) the audience is.

  13. Richard Olson
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I’ll watch because I always understand cosmology a bit more after a Carroll lecture than I do going into it, and in the unlikely event WLC will surprise me with something new and different for a change, mixed in should there be any) with his standard repetitious Gish Gallup of presuppositional same-o.

  14. Pliny the in Between
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Craig has made some pretty telling statements that make it clear that real discourse is never his aim. I did a little skit using some of his quotes some time back using some characters from the Princess Bride.

    http://waywardskeptics.blogspot.com/2011/09/inconceivable.html

    • Richard Olson
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      I think the skit is very well done, PtiB. Presupposition is the root that feeds every apologetic argument I’m familiar with, sophisticated theologian or not, and opponents debate skill may be measured by how swiftly the bramble of philosophical camouflage is removed and exposes it.

      While I was there I clicked on the Noah deal, which explains how kinetic energy from Pluto-sized Oort Cloud ice meteors delivering H2O twice daily would destroy planet Earth long before they completed delivery of sufficient water to flood the planet.

      I’m anything but a physicist. Still, I am surprised at the elementary error you make.

      The planetary atmosphere was as warm then as it will be a few centuries from now, a melting factor you did not mention. Combine that with a Godly strategy of slowing the ice meteor waaaaaay down instantly after it enters Earth’s atmosphere (think: 0.00001 kph), and additional God strategy of focusing laser-like nuclear fusion heat rays on the sucker, and what do you have after a short while? (did I mention God also stops time for this process? Well, He does.)

      What you have, then, is rain. All over the damned place. And as soon as the meteor is transformed into gajillions of pelting raindrops, the laser from Sun is shut down, time is restored to normal, and Bob’s your uncle for the next forty days and forty nights.

      Bible’s right.

      • Pliny the in Between
        Posted January 13, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        Sorry Richard, but the great god eating penguin got to him before he could slow the Pluto sized ice ball from hitting the Earth, so my math holds ….

  15. Posted January 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could spend a day with Sean going over Craig’s arguments to help him with some really good counter arguments. Craig’s an easy target, but you’ve got to do some in-depth research into arguments to make good counter arguments to them.

    I hope Sean is prepared for this.

  16. Vaal
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    If anyone wants a preview of the tenor of this debate, here is a link to W. L. Craig’s “rebuttal” to Sean Carroll’s discussion of Craig’s cosmological claims:

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/sean-carrolls-reply-to-the-rf-podcast

    I’m betting the debate idea arose from somewhere around this point.

    Note how Craig wades unabashedly into Carroll’s area of expertise, “correcting” Carroll’s characterizations of certain theories.

    The problem is that, in front on an audience who are not physicists, Craig can come off as technical-sounding and learned on the issues as Carroll. It’s hard to tell the difference in terms of who is right, if you don’t already have some knowledge.

    That’s just one of the big challenges for Carroll and anyone debating Craig.
    Not just “being right” but somehow being able to parse for a non-technical audience WHY one view is more right.

    Vaal

    • Vaal
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      And that, btw, is ALSO one of Craig’s strengths. He has the ability to represent complex ideas and arguments clearly and pithily, so as an audience member even if you are encountering a technical or philosophical idea for the first time you think “Ok, yeah, I get that.” Opponents without this ability can come off as confused and confusing relative to Craig’s presentation. It’s a real gift; too bad many of his opponents don’t possess it, and too bad he uses his gifts..for EEEVVEILL!

      Vaal

      (Again, I think Carroll does have a similar ability to present complex ideas clearly and succinctly, which is why I’m more optimistic about this debate…thus far).

  17. Diane G.
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    sub

  18. Posted January 14, 2014 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Caroll, I suggest you first play the youtube clip here:
    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-fDyPU3wlQ”

    Then you simply reproduce Craig’s modus operandi in the following way, by reproducing the words christianity and holy spirit with atheism and truth:

    “The way I know that atheism is true, is because of the witness of the truth, in my heart. So therefore, if in some historically contingent circumstance the evidence I have available to me should run against atheism, I don’t think that contradicts the witness of the truth of atheism. What this also tells me is that doubt isn’t just an evidential problem, there’s always a sociopolitical dimension to doubt as well. There’s an enemy of the truth: christians, who hates the truth intensely, and who want to see your knowledge of the truth destroyed.m So therefore when you have these doubts, you need to take them to your atheist friends to stomp them into the ground, and seek the witness of the truth of atheism’s help, in dealing with them. I think the key is to learn to live with unanswered questions, and not let them lead to doubt, by reading lots of atheist books, surrounding you with atheist friends, by cultivating a culture that fosters a witness of the truth of atheism, so that when you come into circumstances of doubt and uncertainty, you aren’t thrown into shipwreck because of that(as in lose your faith in the truth of atheism). Also, a healthy exercise is to take unanswered questions and pursuing them intellectually into the ground until you get satisfaction. But ultimately, the key is to learn to live with doubt, without allowing it to sway you from the truth of atheism. Thank you.”

  19. Scientifik
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Speaking of debating religious fanatics…

    Here’s a foretaste of the upcoming Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate ;-)

  20. Posted January 14, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I’ve watched many debates and I’m always amused at the woo theologians and apologists create in their own minds and claim it to be divinely true. My experience, coming from decades of Roman Catholic indoctrination, leaves me with the a rational and reasonable end result that theologians and apologists are financial charlatans. They are so caught up in their own woo, but understand woo is exactly what they need to spew to put food on their table (and they evidently need lots of food)!

    Whenever pressed, theologians and apologists move their woo around so much, it no longer even remotely resembles the religious doctrines or dogma their particular sects propagate to the masses. It’s just woo that reaps a lot of tax free money with no lemon laws.

    My experience also shows that our species will go to the ends of the Earth for the God of money. Hell, He even ended up ON our money!

  21. Posted January 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Episyllogism: philosophy and the arts.

  22. Posted January 18, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    If there is anyone to take this on, Sean Carroll is the man.
    Wish I could get to New Orleans to see it

  23. aljones909
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Dr. Carroll is the best platform speaker in the atheist/skeptic community. Craig is much maligned but he’s excellent at what he does. His weakest arguments are when he moves from deism to christianity (crucifixion, empty tomb and the ‘witness of the holy spirit’). In my view his worst performances were against 2 biblical scholars – Bart Ehrman and James Crossley.

  24. Eberhard
    Posted January 27, 2014 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    Believe you me, Carroll will be destroyed in the debate if the format will Craig’s regular debates…. But if its discussion like that one in Australia with Krauss i would say Craig will maybe struggle. Craig started debating in 1980’s and the guy is an experienced debater….

  25. DEL
    Posted January 29, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I wish the best for Sean, let the best man win, but l think arguing that cosmology doesn’t show evidence for the Christian god is a wrong strategy. Faith (not simplistic religion) actually resides on a different human dimension from science, as do art and poetry and feelings. Sophisticated people are multidimentional—they can have a naturalistic world view as far as physical reality goes and still enjoy the Sistine Chapel scenes and Old Testament poetic prophesies. A debate between two unidimentional debaters—one that “proves” Christian mythology quasi-scientifically, the other that cannot scientifically disprove it—is all too shallow and not worth having.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      All people are multidimensional, not just Sophisticated Ones™. As far as I am aware the Sistine Chapel is part of our physical reality. Heck, I can attest to having been inside it! It has real walls, and a ceiling. Nicely painted.

      Asserting that Sean Carroll is “unidimentional” is little but a slur.

      • DEL
        Posted January 29, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        I guess, then, that when you read a book that you like (you decide which) what you enjoy is really the paper and the ink and the configuration of the black marks on the white background. In the same vein, when I attribute unidimentionality to some people I must be crazy, because everybody knows that all people have 3D bodies.

        As to the “slur”, I’ve never said Sean was unidimensional. I said and say that taking on WLC on his unidimensional turf will inevitably make Sean’s argument unidimensional as well.

        • gbjames
          Posted January 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, but you lost me there.


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  1. […] the various emails I’ve received, but here are a few very different perspectives online: Jerry Coyne, Luke Barnes (and another), and Wintery Knight. (WK is relatively restrained, but others predict […]

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