Get the popcorn: Sean Carroll goes at it hammer and tongs with William Lane Craig—livestreamed tonight!

I’m sure we’ll all be rooting for Official Website Physicist™ Sean Carroll as he begins his two-day series of debates and discussions with William “Kill the Canaanites” Craig this evening. And you can watch tonight’s debate live (see below). The topic is whether modern cosmology gives any evidence for God, and you can read all the preliminaries here.

As Sean said on his website yesterday (my emphasis):

Tomorrow (Friday) is the big day: the debate with William Lane Craig at the Greer-Heard Forum, as I previously mentioned. And of course the event continues Saturday, with contributions from Tim Maudlin, Alex Rosenberg, Robin Collins, and James Sinclair.

I know what you’re asking: will it be live-streamed? Yes indeed!

Fun starts at 8pm Eastern, 5pm Pacific. (Corrected from earlier goof.) The format is an opening 20-minute speech by WLC and me (in that order), followed by 12-minute rebuttals, and then 8-minute closing statements, and concluding with 40 minutes of audience questions. Official Twitter hashtag is #GreerHeard14, which I believe you can use to submit questions for the Q&A. I wouldn’t lie to you: I think this will be worth watching.

Sean seems to be actually raising expectations for his performance, for his post continues:

I want to make the case for naturalism, and to do that it’s obviously necessary to counter any objections that get raised. Moreover, I think that expectations (for me) should be set ridiculously high. The case I hope to make for naturalism will be so impressively, mind-bogglingly, breathtakingly strong that it should be nearly impossible for any reasonable person to hear it and not be immediately convinced. Honestly, I’ll be disappointed if there are any theists left in the audience once the whole thing is over.

That sounds like a bit of a joke given that there will be many WLC supporters in the audience, but maybe he’s serious.

h/t: Peter


  1. Larry Gay
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Reminds of Cassius Clay (aka Muhammed Ali). Sting like a bee, Sean.

  2. Chris
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Good luck to the good Prof!

    TBH the more “known” folks who call WLC on his nonsense, the better. Even as a layman I can tell that he fundamentally misrepresents what physicists say about the start of the universe (and pretty much everything else).

    I won’t watch though, Craig makes me want to break stuff.

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Or rather, he hasn’t paid attention when physicists tell him that universe hubble volume. (Though, to be slightly fair, some physicists are sloppy in popularizations here.)

      • Chris
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        No… Either he deliberately mis-characterizes what they say or his filters are so fixed that he doesn’t get it.

        Agreed about the occasional sloppy wording, byt WLC is supposedly a professional “philosopher” – his word not mine – so word games are well within his remit.

  3. Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I’m still not convinced that debating child rape apologists like Craig is a good idea. But if Sean eviscerates him half as thoroughly as he’s suggested he will, I will grudgingly grant that there might be an appropriate place for such activities. As much as one might wish to argue against evidence, it’s not a good idea to do so.

    But only if, post-debate, the floor has been completely mopped with Craig’s un-fondled intestines….



    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I will remember Craig eviscerated with no fondliness. Literary: “You liver-spotted bloat-belly!”

      More to the point, you are expressing my concerns. This debate will unwittingly raise the seeming importance of creationists and child rape alike. If it can kick it back to floor level, it may be worth it. I don’t like the risks, but this is Sean’s show.

  4. Greg Esres
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    How well do we expect Sean Carroll to do?

    • eric
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I would expect him to do a lot better than Nye, and I think Nye did just fine. Carroll is probably as good a public speaker and is a lot more knowledgable about the science.

      Of course WLC is a lot more crafty the Ken Ham, too. I doubt very much Carroll will be able to get a ‘signature admission’ out of him as self-devastating as Ham’s “nothing would change my mind” comment.

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Sean is awesome. He’s not as good a poet as Carl Sagan (but who is?), but he’s a better lecturer and a better scientist. Indeed, Sean’s so good a lecturer that he can give a crash course on Quantum Field Theory to a lay audience in under half an hour.

      I strongly suspect that’s his strategy: in his opening statement, explain his by-now famous realization that the laws of physics underlying the everyday world are completely understood and that we’ve established enough about the physics we don’t understand to absolutely rule out divine intervention of any meaningful sort, thereby completely cutting off any oxygen supply Craig might hope to have. Indeed, it’ll be like watching an astrologer blather about the effects of Ceres ascendent in Uranus, followed by somebody from NASA explain how Eddington’s eclipse observations confirmed Relativity and solved the mystery of Mercury’s orbit.

      The great thing about Sean doing the explanation is that, not only will those watching understand the facts and their significance of the points he’s going to make, they’ll understand how we know those facts to be true and what they could do to independently verify them for themselves.

      Again, my big complaint about debates like this is it unduly elevates the respectability of noxious shit like child-rape-apologist Craig. I’m willing to concede the potential that Sean will shine a cleansing light on Craig worth whatever gain in stature Craig might make tonight, but I need to see the evidence of it for myself before coming to a conclusion.



      • gravityfly
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        I don’t know…Craig is a real snake. Did you see what he did with Lawrence Krauss?

        • Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

          I must admit I didn’t. Can you offer a link?

          But, as much as I admire Lawrence for both his science and public outreach, I’d much rather have Sean lecture to a class of undergraduate non-majors than Lawrence, and I think that’s the skill needed in these settings.

          And, I’ll again reiterate: I’m far from convinced that this sort of thing is a good idea in the first place. I’m just expressing my admiration and respect for Sean as somebody who can help the general public understand and appreciate all the amazing things people like him are figuring out about how the Cosmos works.


          • Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

            My sense is that Sean is just taking this opportunity to reach an audience you wouldn’t normally go out of their way to attend one of his lectures.

            He’s only got 20 minutes thought. My feeling is that – even for Sean! — that’s not long enough for him to lay out such a compelling argument.

            WLC’s best strategy is to keep thinks theological — if he engages cosmology, Sean will shred him in his rebuttal. I’m not so sure how strong Sean would be in rebutting theological arguments — other than dismissing them as immaterial (pun most definitely intended).


            • Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

              * audience who

            • Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

              * keep things


              • gravityfly
                Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

                Here’s the Craig-Krauss debate on YouTube:

                I agree Sean is a wonderful lecturer, plus he majored in philosophy as an undergrad,so he’s probably familiar with Craig’s various theological arguments, but Craig is the more formidable debater.

                Regardless, this should be a fascinating showdown.

              • Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

                Thanks for that. The audio is horrible, but….


            • Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

              From what I remember of Sean, his general approach to theology is to very quickly point out that there’s no evidence whatsoever supporting any of it and to quickly steer the discussion back to things we do have evidence for. As politely and as gently as possible — far more than it would even occur to me to attempt — he dismisses it all as childish nonsense and gets right back to the science.



              • Greg Esres
                Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

                “he dismisses it all as childish nonsense and gets right back to the science.”

                That seems the best strategy to me.

              • Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

                My biggest concern about Sean is that he might be too gentle in his dismissal, out of fear of being perceived as a disrespectful meanie. The problem is that if you respect nonsense, you make it respectable. Sean’s challenge will be to show that the stuff that he’s dismissing really doesn’t deserve respect, and to do so in a way that doesn’t make him feel uncomfortable with being disrespectful towards who and what he’s rejecting.



            • eric
              Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

              Just a quibble, he’s going to have 20 + 12 + 8 + his share of a 40-min Q&A period to present his science.

              Which is a good amount of time…if he doesn’t waste it trying to attack theology. Like Ben, I think Carroll will be better able than Krauss to keep (his side of) the conversation on the science.

              • Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

                Thanks, eric, I can do the math[s]!

                I was assuming that he would not be introducing new material in the rebuttal and wrap-up sections, just refining, clarifying and reiterating his points, and refuting WLCs. But I grant he can still add weight to his argument there, and in the Q&A.


          • Peter Ozzie Jones
            Posted February 21, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

            Last year Prof Krauss was down here, had three sessions with WLC in Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne + one with a pastor in Perth.

            Links to videos here:

            I liked how Krauss revealed the trickery of WLC.

            They could have gone to our Northern Territory to meet with actual Darwinists!

            • Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

              Thanks. I’m listening to some bloviator kiss Jesus’s ass right now, so I’m not sure if I’ll have any stomach contents left to vomit to watch any more of WLC than I’m about to…but we’ll see….


  5. Jesper Both Pedersen
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    That’s gonna make it a late friday night….coffee time.

  6. Steve
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I will be watching, but this post seems incongruous to the scrutiny and criticism given to the Ham – Nye debate.

  7. eric
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    My hope is the audience gets a really nice 40-minute speech describing what modern science knows about cosmology. Having to wade through 40 minutes of extra baloney isn’t ideal, but then again if you were watching Carrol’s speech on prime time TV, you’d have to put up with 20 minutes of advertisement baloney anyways. Just think of Craig’s talking time as your standard commercial (bathroom break and get snacks) time. 😉

    I also expect that, in terms of making WLC look bad and Carroll look good, the Q&A part may be more interesting than the prepared statements part.

  8. lanceleuven
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    “The case I hope to make for naturalism will be so impressively, mind-bogglingly, breathtakingly strong that it should be nearly impossible for any reasonable person to hear it and not be immediately convinced. Honestly, I’ll be disappointed if there are any theists left in the audience once the whole thing is over.”

    That there be fighting talk!

  9. DV
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Sean Carroll is going to be disappointed then.
    I’m already disappointed he apparently hasn’t heard of the saying “you can’t reason a person out of a position he didn’t reason himself into in the first place”.

    • eric
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I doubt very much that Carroll’s target audience is William Lane Craig, or any of his die hard followers.

      I am not sure why this argument keeps cropping up, it’s just a variant of the “perfect is the enemy of good” fallacy. Yes, there are theists who will never be reasoned out of their creationism. They are not all the theists. They are not even all the creationists.

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      You can’t?

      That’s exactly what happened to me.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        (((Psst: secretly it is a deepity.)))

        Fun for the intended audience though.

  10. Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Science predicts that the Sun will become a red giant and kill all life on Earth.

    Christianity predicts that this will never happen.

    Obviously there is no conflict between science and religion, except in the minds of people who understand science.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink


    • Diane G.
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink


  12. uglicoyote
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Road.

  13. Helen Hollis
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    The difference between the two that I can see is that WLC’s entire livelyhood rests on his ability to persuade everyone to ignore and distrust science, while Sean Carroll does not have to lie to people to pay the bills.

  14. Larry Tanner
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I have heard several WLC debates, and he will come out with a bunch of different “facts” that he will say only can be explained by Jesus. Then he will explain how naturalism is incoherent and provides unsatisfactory explanations to his “facts.” Then in the rebuttals, he’ll say what a good debate it is and proceed to argue that Carroll provided unsatisfactory answers to the naturalism-is-incoherent charge and to the “facts” that need explanation. Only on direct encounter will Carroll get any traction to showing WLC’s smoke and mirrors act, but it will be too little too late.

    WLC is all Invisible-unicorn-in-my-garage stuff deftly presented as settled fact and as challenging others to disprove it. In other words, he’ll sound really credible while playing a different game than Carroll.

    That’s my prediction.

    • Scote
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that sounds about right. WLC likes to set up a pretend scenario where he claims his opponent can only win if he defeats a Gish Gallop of purported facts set by WLC. WLC depends heavily on going first.

      • Posted February 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        He doesn’t even have to go first. He simply ignores any refutations made by his opponents and the “points” he makes at the end of the debate are the same as the ones he made at the beginning. What he depends on is rhetoric, specifically, how much conviction he can convey with his delivery; iow he depends on acting.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted February 21, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          Iow he is a sophist – there the goal merits any means – with a hankering for dialectics – debates based on espousing the importance of religious sources – as I understand the history of philosophy.

          The debate format is a throwback to the Dark Ages. It predicts the interest of the religious, it predicts why media play with (“hear both sides”), but why are scientists playing along?

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            You nailed it.

  15. Richard Olson
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

  16. ibanezerscrooge
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Of course, WLC goes first… as always. Pretty sure it was a stipulation of his agreement to the debate. I really wonder how well he would be perceived of doing if he ever didn’t go first?

  17. Vaal
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Sean Carroll is awesome and I always felt he could do pretty well against Craig, at least relative to some other scientist/atheists who’ve debated Craig.

    We know Craig and his team have been studying
    Carroll’s position, looking for any weak-points. Carroll may feel that he’s in a position of strength being a real theoretical cosmologist, and so will be sen to be the expert, arguing on ‘his turf” in terms of cosmological arguments etc.

    But what Craig always shows up with a well-researched counter strategy to cast doubt on whatever expert he’s debating. As in “Prof. Carroll has given us X theory…but this is by no means settled simply because Prof. Carroll prefers this theory. let’s note how other experts in Frof Caroll’s field disagree with the theory put forth by Prof. Carroll. In fact, on these other expert’s view, the weaknesses in Carroll’s theory are this, that and this…”

    So Craig can sound very studied, confident and technical in his rebuttals. The impression left on a lot of the audience of lay-people is there are difficult technical arguments on this issue for either side of the debate, and it’s just not something they can feel sure about giving to either side.
    Hence, even in a debate that might concern the turf of a specialists like Carroll, the rhetorical/debate strength of his expertise comes off as a wash to the audience, and Craig then tips the balance with simple, clearly-presented arguments that appeal to the audience’s intuitions.

    That’s the problem with showing up to a debate thinking you are only there to speak the truth, not to debate the other side, and let the other side do what it will. The end result tends to be the “truth” is undermined to the audience, and if you aren’t ready to counter the tactics and untruths of the other side, what’s the point of entering a debate, rather than doing lectures?

    Anyway, it will be fascinating watching Carroll respond to Craig. Carroll is one smart cookie so I don’t see him being buried by Craig.


    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      OT: Craig’s use of the preposition “on” (as I noted you were careful to reproduce in your imitation of him) has always bothered me. Is this a convention of some kind that I’ve simply never heard anyone else use?

  18. Vaal
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know why, in Jerry’s reprint of the debate time, it says it’s starting at 8PM?

    The official debate site has it starting at 7PM tonight, and the countdown meter for the live stream also indicates a 7PM start time.

    • eric
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      7Pm New Orleans time = 8pm East Coast time.

  19. eric
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    From Sean’s page, I think this is worth reproducing. If you want to know what Sean’s plan of attack is, here it is in a nutshell:

    “Just so we’re clear: my goal here is not to win the debate. It is to say things that are true and understandable, and establish a reasonable case for naturalism, especially focusing on issues related to cosmology. I will prepare, of course, but I’m not going to watch hours of previous debates, nor buy a small library of books so that I may anticipate all of WLC’s possible responses to my arguments. I have a day job, and frankly I’d rather spend my time thinking about quantum cosmology than about the cosmological argument for God’s existence. If this event were the Final Contest to Establish the One True Worldview, I might drop everything to focus on it. But it’s not; it’s an opportunity to make my point of view a little clearer to a group of people who don’t already agree with me.”

  20. pochelie
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I wonder who gets to go first. If Craig, then he typically lays down his own talking points that ‘logically’ flow in his view. When his opponent goes off to make clear, rational statements about the debate topic, then WLC will reply that ‘my opponent’ didn’t answer my points in a direct way and is avoiding the reasoned statements that I have made. Just watch a number of his debates (I, unfortunately have!) and the technique is always the same. Sean will certainly be able to blow WLC’s dependence on singularity and infinity as “he defines” it. It will be quite interesting to watch.

  21. nurnord
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Countdown finished – not working ! (UK)

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Huh, where do you see a countdown? (DK)

      • nurnord
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Ok now that I have read the post, I realise it will be 1 am UK time (8pm Eastern is UTC -5, so as the UK is currently UTC 0, that makes it 8+5 = 1 am).

        Jesper – when I clicked on the debate link it went to a timer (was on 5 mins 55 secs about 20 mins ago). It went to zero and nothing happened, hence my first comment. But why was there a timer showing about 5 mins to go when the thing does not start for another 4.5 odd hours !!!

        • nurnord
          Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          If a time zone conversion wizard thinks I am wrong about the UK start time, please reply to my comment !

        • Jesper Both Pedersen
          Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          Oh, okay. 🙂

  22. eveysolara
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    WLC makes exactly the same claims inevery debate kind of like kent hovind. This isnt very hard to prepare for.

    • Vaal
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Actually it is hard to prepare for.
      The reason is that a debate is going to be a back and forth.

      WLC has spent decades honing is few arguments. He has chased down every objection, in every form, in every direction branching off.

      So if you go in thinking “Ok, I know what he’s going to claim, I’ll simply bring up this objection to it” Craig will reply showing why your objection doesn’t work.
      And he will be very well versed in any way you try to re-state your objection, and any nuance or off-shoot on the subject.
      So he is like a rabbit running down a labyrinth of holes you are chasing, not able to pin down so easily.

      That’s the beauty of his only having to defend some simple repetitive arguments.
      It’s not the arguments themselves that are the issue, it’s Craig’s huge list of rebuttals to any objection you raise which is the issue. And you have to prepare for that, which most people don’t do properly.
      (And it’s another reason why sticking to narrow points, so you can address Craig’s objections, seems to be the best strategy).


      • eric
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Well, I’m hoping he just ignores the gish gallup altogether using a similar tactic to Nye’s. “You’re right, there lots of questions we can’t answer yet. That’s the wonderful thing about science – that we get to explore the unknown, and we don’t stop asking questions – and I hope that you young audience members will consider becoming scientsits so you can help us find the answers to these questions. And oh by the way…not knowing things is not evidence for god.”

  23. eveysolara
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Sean should definitely expose and mock the fact that WLC thinks einstein is wrong about relativity

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      I missed that one. Can you elaborate, or point to a reference?

      …not that I’m sure I can take that much more of Craig’s blathering and there’s still tonight’s debate to get to, but still….



      • wonderer
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        WLC is a


        • Posted February 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

          Ah. He has a very naïve philosophical position that was rendered irrelevant ages ago, and continues to regurgitate it on cue without being bothered that he makes himself sound as idiotic as a flat earther warning about sailing too far from the coastline.


  24. Matt D
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    He certainly doesn’t lack for confidence, so we’ll see if it’s justified.

    I suspect one doesn’t wipe two thousand years of confident certainty (even if the basis for it is meaningless) without some very skilled oration.

    • Shawn Beaulieu
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Am I the only one who detected the sarcasm?

  25. Lion IRC
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I think Reasonable Faith always benefits from AvT debates like these.

    Prominent, well-credentialed, academic, atheists who engage with WLC are basically conceding that this (unscientific?) topic actually IS worthy of their attention

    …and that of the audiences around the world.

  26. waylan77
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Still waiting for the debate of the century: Deepak Chopra vs PZ Myers in May.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      That’s happening?

      I haven’t felt that speaking is PZ’s strong suit…

  27. Marella
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Just started; “All are broken and need to be restored” aarrghghgh.

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      At least they fixed the broken audio.

      For those coming in late, you can re-wind the YouTube live feed they redirect you to. But you might not want to….


  28. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Well, it’s taking place at a southern baptist seminary. The introduction is the president of the seminary preaching. Yuck.

    Are any of these debates going to be held at a neutral location?

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      If we’re going to have them, I think I’d just as soon see them happen in the churches. If this is what it takes to get Christians to listen to people like Sean….

      But I’d still so much rather see Sean give Cosmology lectures in churches, rather than debate them.


  29. Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Never seen a debate open with a prayer before.

  30. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    WLC’s first “argument” is “The Big Bang, therefore Jeebus.”

    Plus, he sneaked in the major premise of his syllogism by stating that it was “obvious.” Wrong.

  31. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    WLC thinks the university is 13+ billion years old?? What would Ken Ham say!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      “university” –> “universe”

  32. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Now WLC is using the fine-tuning argument. He’s even using Dembski’s explanatory filter! We are not impressed.

  33. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Full credit to WLC for stating his say clearly. Now Carroll is up, and he’s off to a great start! “God is not an idea that is taken seriously” (at cosmological conferences).

  34. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    And Carroll delivers a knockout punch! He points out that WLC’s major premise (in the Kalam cosmological argument) is “not even wrong”!

  35. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Ha ha. WLC stated in his first minute that he was not appealing to “god of the gaps.” Carroll just pointed out that “WLC says he’s not appealing to god of the gaps, but then precedes to do so.”

    He’s also pointing out errors that WLC has made, out of context quotes, and various other weaknesses in what WLC said. And pointed out that “theism is not a serious cosmological model” (as it does not provide any details, and makes no predictions).

  36. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Knockout punch #2!

    Carroll points out (the 2nd of his 5 refutations of the teleological argument) that fine-tuning only makes sense in a naturalistic universe. After all, God (being omnipotent) can make life in the case of any given set of physical parameters! Ha ha!

  37. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh my galaxy. Carroll just blew WLC out of the water. Let’s see if WLC interacts with what Carroll said, or if just babbles.

    He’s starting out by babbling (stating that some of Carroll’s points were non-cosmological in nature). But, Carroll stated that he was arguing for naturalism and against theism.

  38. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    WLC: “I’m not arguing for some sort of interventionist deity”.

    Oh, really?

  39. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    WLC’s rebuttal is just restating his arguments from his opening presentation.

    • susanlatimer
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes. He’s made a lot of money and gained a lot of status doing that.

      In this debate, it’s more obvious than ever. Sean Carroll is the right person for this job. I think he’s handling Craig’s blathering as well as it can be handled.

      Craig’s audacity and reliance on repetition is astonishing on this stage.

      I thought I was done watching WLC debates but I watched this one because of Sean Carroll.

      It’s worth it.

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      That’s what he does.

      Anything you might call “engagement” is even less than totally superficial, if that makes sense.

  40. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    WLC: We are the purpose of the universe, and god made it discoverable.


  41. Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Ha! Nice “I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here” moment.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that was cute.

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      For those who didn’t catch the _Annie Hall_ (1977) reference, it’s to this scene:

      Alvy Singer: And the funny part of it is, Marshall McLuhan, you don’t know anything about Marshall McLuhan!
      Man in Theatre Line: Oh, really? Well, it just so happens I teach a class at Columbia called “TV, Media and Culture.” So I think my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity!
      Alvy Singer: Oh, do ya? Well, that’s funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here, so, so, yeah, just let me… [pulls McLuhan out from behind a nearby poster] Come over here for a second… tell him!
      Marshall McLuhan: I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work!…How you got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing!
      Alvy Singer: [breaking the fourth wall] Boy, if life were only like this!

  42. James Dwyer
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    At Intermission:
    Dr Carroll is in the process of knocking it out of the park. This debate will become the primer in debating WLC and his ilk. Carroll is every bit as articulate as Craig and of course has the facts on his side.

  43. moarscienceplz
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Whew! Cosmology always makes my brain (Boltzmann or not) hurt!

    A lot of this is way over my head, but it definitely seems that WLC is cherry-picking some ideas that SOUND like something that is supportive of his position and then running for the hills with them.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      I think you nailed it.

  44. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Carroll’s rebuttal wasn’t quite as strong as his first presentation, only because he wasn’t as fluent. However, his last point was a killer–you can’t predict anything under theism, because who can say how god might have done it? Nature, on the other hand, plays by the rules.

    I think Carroll won the debate for the quirkiest of reasons–WLC was grindingly technical. No one except professional cosmologists knows whether he was even making sense, or just chopping word salad. Carroll, on the other hand, made good, sensible points, but also included much that the average joe listening in could understand, and really undercut the idea that “god” does or could have anything to do with modern cosmology.

  45. moarscienceplz
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    “Theologically neutral”, HAH!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Yes! And, “if I say little enough about god, then you can’t refute it”.

  46. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Craig smuggled “personal” into his definition of god in his very last sentence. Sneaky bastard.

  47. moarscienceplz
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Nice summing up by Carroll.

  48. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Even if you don’t listen to the debate, do yourself the honor of listening to the second half (or so) of Carroll’s final (8 minute) statement. Beautiful.

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink


  49. moarscienceplz
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh those fickle scientists! You just can’t trust ’em.

  50. moarscienceplz
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Cause and effect made into word salad. Bah.

  51. Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Craig really can’t let his broken “popping into existence” talking point go, can he?

  52. Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Craig “is not arguing for an interventionist deity” when retreating to deism suits him, but come the Q&A, there’s “no reason to believe that God does not act miraculously”.

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Yep. That’s why Sean’s point about how useless theism is to advance knowledge. WLC doesn’t care to learn new stuff, he just needs ways to plug leaks in his termite infested god-boat.

      • SomeLurkeringDude
        Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        “WLC doesn’t care to learn new stuff, he just needs ways to plug leaks in his termite infested god-boat.”

        What hogwash. Do you know how much information Craig devours in writing his articles? In prepping for his debates? If his opponents were as interested in learning new things as he was, they would come more prepared (I’m not talking about Carroll, who actually fared pretty well… relatively speaking.)

        Just because you don’t like the guy does not mean you should try and make him sound as pathetic as possible. Craig is intelligent and ably keeps abreast of the science and philosophy in his fields of interest. That much is true whether you think he’s right or not on the issue of God’s existence.

        Let’s just dispel the ultimate point here: we theists are not frightened by new knowledge. We enjoy exploring the universe as much as anyone else. We appreciate and revere the progress of science and enjoy our technology too. Just because we wield the favorable evidences of cosmology to argue God’s existence does NOT mean we aren’t open to new data that may force us to reassess our arguments.

        It reminds of the debate between Krauss and Craig. Krauss wrongly tried to say that Craig was saying the universe DEFINITELY had a beginning. No, corrected Craig, I’m only saying that’s where the evidence points right now. And during the exchange, he prompted to Krauss to concede as much. Krauss said if he had to guess, the universe probably had a beginning.

        Well enough for all of us if scientists discover a viable theory that renders the universe eternal. I’m open to the data. In the meantime, you can hardly fault people for arguing the limited data we have. In fact, arguing the data we have now compels further investigation.

        And to all scientists, I say, “Go for it! The more you explore, the more we learn how awe-inspiring the universe is. I SHARE your curiosity and joy in knowledge. I merely have faith that the universe isn’t the ultimate reality.”

        • Posted February 22, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, but though Craig may have read lots of cosmology, last night was a painful demonstration that he doesn’t understand a bit of it. He’s doing Cargo Cult science — parsing stuff he doesn’t even begin to understand, looking for keywords and phrases he can quotemine in a profoundly distorted manner to because they sorta vaguely kinda sound like they might not be completely inconsistent with his primitive superstitious beliefs. Sean’s much too polite — and I don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment in this case — to rub Craig’s nose in it, but time after time after time Craig would pull out something completely irrelevant, misrepresent it grossly, and draw the diametric opposite conclusion of what was most warranted.

          Whether Craig might score highly on an IQ-style puzzle quiz is irrelevant. His ignorance is willful and has burdened him with an idiocy more debilitating than anybody with severe dain brammage has to suffer with.

          I mean, of what use is alleged intelligence if it makes you parrot nonsense like the Kalam Argument, which is a textbook example of proof by contradiction of the nonexistence of the very gods it purports to demonstrate real? Only the most blatant special pleading gets you where Craig wants to go, but that doesn’t stop Craig from begging shamelessly.



          • SomeLurkeringDude
            Posted February 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

            Alas you speak in generalizations and insults (to Craig). This is not a language I will speak in. I’ll instead get to the nuts and bolts of the KCA, since that’s what you attacked.

            All I can say is that the KCA is logically valid, and its premises–while not definitively proven and probably never will be–are more probable than not.

            Carroll did not effectively refute either premise. As to premise one, everything that begins to exist has a cause, he merely stated that such an intuitive notion does not work at the level of the universe. Was there any evidence given for this? No. Just an analogy involving frogs on Lilly pads. That everything begins to exist has a cause is something not just intuitively perceived in our personal experience, but corroborated in every facet of reality that we can observe. Saying it doesn’t apply to the universe is special pleading at its finest. And not an ounce of actual evidence to support the dramatic claim!

            Premise two, that the universe has a cause, was already conceded by Lawrence Krauss to right now have the most evidentiary support. Carroll’s attempts to show that it’s not definitely proven are fine, but that’s not the point. The point is the evidence leans to the idea that the universe has a beginning.

            The Kalam is not air-tight and the premises may very well be undermined in turn. But for now, it’s a good argument. I personally welcome the future knowledge we may acquire that either continues to bolster the premises or undermines them. Who knows what we’ll learn? Until then though, such generalized, mean-spirited characterizations of Craig are truly unfounded.

            • Chris
              Posted February 23, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

              The reason why WLC is thought of with some disdain in certain circles is that he comes from a dishonest position like answer 1 here… what he knows “in his heart” trumps available evidence. I quite like the get-out on which he’s sure that evidence would eventually prove him correct. The cart is well before the horse here.

              WLC also has form in cherry-picking and misrepresenting opponents, scientists, and concepts as a whole.

              Whether KCA is valid is one thing, whether it is sound is a completely different matter. It also stinks of one massive case of special pleading, and 1) gives no explanation of the goddy source of the universe (so to speak) and 2) there is no logical way of reaching WLC’s flavour of Christianity even if KCA is demonstrated.

              One thing that we do notice, following on from this, is that WLC switches between a deistic god and a personal god during debates and hopes that no-one will catch on (or drops it in at the end, or claims that the difference is irrelevant, etc). For a supposedly professional philosopher this is playing somewhat fast & loose with theological concepts.

              He may well honestly believe what he says that he does as a true believer, but his arguments don’t have the same honesty.

              • Posted February 24, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

                WLC is also a proponent of mass child rape whose sympathies lie with the rapists.

                No, this isn’t just some Catholic priest scandal; he’s repeatedly and vigorously defended the actions of Moses and his merry men in Numbers 31 — an especially vile and horrifically nasty bit of fiction whose only saving grace is the fact that it’s fiction. But Craig not only thinks it’s real history, he thinks the child-raping monsters were the good guys.

                Words cannot express the contempt in which Craig and his ilk should be held.



            • Posted February 24, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

              I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the Kalam argument really is bullshit, both empirically and logically.

              First, Quantum Mechanics is nothing but a giant exercise in uncaused causes. There is nothing that causes a particular atom of a radioisotope to undergo decay at any particular point in time; there is nothing that causes a particular virtual particle to spontaneously appear at a particular location in the vacuum at a particular point in time. And at the other range of scales, relativistic objects wreak havoc with classical causality. It’s only at classical scales where causality makes any sense. And here’s the kicker: the Big Bang was most emphatically not a classical event; it represents an hybrid quantum and relativistic event that we don’t yet thoroughly understand, but which we know for an absolute fact, as certain as that the Sun will rise in the East tomorrow morning, was not a classical event.

              So the Kalam argument is fractally not even worng, as hopelessly outdated as the Platonic metaphysics it relies upon. I’ll note that the same metaphysics insists that there can be no unmoved motion, thus requiring a Prime Mover — and Newton quite famously did away with that bit of nonsense.

              But the logic of the Kalam argument is equally specious. Let’s go ahead and falsely assume that everything that everything has a cause, including the Big Bang, and that Jesus was the Banger. But what caused Jesus? Either there’s a super-Jesus who Banged him, or Jesus is causeless. If Jesus is causeless, then our original premise is invalidated and not everything has a cause. If some super-Jesus Banged Jesus, then we also need a super-duper Jesus banging super-Jesus, and so on…but the resulting infinite regress that emerges clearly cannot have a cause, again invalidating the original premise that everything has a cause.

              Thus, by contradiction, we know that the premise that everything has a cause is specious; at least some things have no cause, especially including existence itself. So, before we can determine any sort of causal chain, we must first establish that the events or entities in question really did have a cause. That puts us right back at the science…which has soundly demonstrated that all sorts of very relevant phenomena have no cause.

              So, yeah. Kalam is bullshit. Millennia-old bullshit that we should have known is invalid at least since Newton, and that has been emphatically and unquestionably demonstrated bullshit for over a century by now. It’s bad science, pseudoscience every bit as discredited as astrology, religion, crop circles, dowsing, and the rest.



        • Robert
          Posted February 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          As long as you take it on faith that behind all that there is something (a god) and that all you are doing is learning how he operates I’d argue that the poster above is correct.

          You can of course learn new things and be genuinely interested in those things but you’re always going to be prohibiting yourself from reaching certain conclusions and that is arguably enough to distinguish the kind of learning the previous poster speaks of from what you are interested in.

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Or that God is not tentacled and malevolent.

  53. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Carroll: “This is why science has the advantage (i.e., over theology); it collects data.”


  54. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    A couple of times Carroll could really have nailed Craig by asking if he had any evidence for his (theological) claims. I think I’m a little surprised that he hasn’t yet asked once for Craig’s evidence.

    Carroll’s point–that god is simply not necessary for a cosmological theory–is a good one.

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Since we have no positive evidence for a god after thousands of years looking for some, the argument from necessity is all theists have left. That is why they cannot accept naturalism – it makes god “pop out” of any sensible existence.

      See what I did there? 😉

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted February 22, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        You are a regular master of philosophical jiu-jitsu, good sir!

  55. Scote
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Hmm…that is probably WLCs weakest showing. He made the weakest initial argument from him I’ve seen, only claiming that cosmology was favorable to theism. He didn’t have his usual “my opponent must disprove my assertions of religions, scratch that, “historical” fact Gish Gallop”. I’m surprised by how weak WLC was in this debate. Carroll’s responses were perfect for the type of debate that WLC attempted this time, with Carroll pointing out that theism doesn’t make testable claims by WLC’s own admission.

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      I’m thinking maybe even Christians are becoming aware of the weakness of the Gish Gallop.

  56. Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Sean did very, very well — especially with how he chose to end his closing remarks. Craig clearly was spewing pseudoscientific cherry-picked misunderstandings of the data, trying to tell the researchers that they not only don’t understand their own work but that their work says the exact opposite of what they think it says.

    My concern is that Craig fluently spewed enough technobabble to likely convince many people that he knows what he’s talking about — and that plays right to why I don’t think these debates are a good idea.

    So, Sean, if you’re reading this, kudos for an excellent job tonight, but I’m still not convinced that debating professional idiots is a good idea. I would, however, dearly love for you to directly address more assembled groups of Christians. If the only way for you to do that is by engaging in debates…well, I still don’t know if that’s worth it, but that’s obviously your decision that you have to live with yourself for making — how to strike that balance.



  57. Scote
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m not getting why Craig thinks the universe having a beginning is evidence of theism. Seems to me that an eternal universe is just as compatible, perhaps more so, with an eternal god. The universe having a beginning is merely helpful to the Ontological argument for god, not for a god in general.

    Whether or not the universe has a beginning or not seems entirely irrelevant to whether there is a god or not. Craig was really on monomolecular ice with this debate.

    • eric
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      Its certainly not. A start may require some pre-existing thing or principle or whatever, but it is pretty much impossible to logically get from there to a sentient, intelligent, kind, omnipotent being that cares especially about humans above all other life forms.

      • Scote
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        Yes, this comment by Julian Baggini seems on point when it comes to WLC’s conveniently ever shifting definition of god.

        “Too often I find that faith is mysterious only selectively. Believers constantly attribute all sorts of qualities to their gods and have a list of doctrines as long as your arm. It is only when the questions get tough that, suddenly, their God disappears in a puff of mystery. Ineffability becomes a kind of invisibility cloak, only worn when there is a need to get out of a bit of philosophical bother.”

        • Posted February 22, 2014 at 1:49 am | Permalink



            • Posted February 22, 2014 at 2:17 am | Permalink



            • Richard Olson
              Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

              The Baggini quote persuaded me to access the link to his Guardian op-ed piece. Which, in turn, intrigued me sufficiently to listen to the podcast of his 20 minute lecture made available at the Guardian site. I cannot make any sort of reliable claim about whether I made any decisions throughout this process, but it seems to me that my scope of comprehension is now enhanced, perhaps widened, deepened, broadened, one and/or all as well. I cannot say with any defensible sort of certainty which of the previous, if indeed any. Or even if there is any such thing as an “I” presently pounding away at this existing keyboard. It, certainly, seems to exist. And it sort of was aware of all the things Baggini discusses, but did not organize them so concisely utilizing such elegant turns of phrase. Anyway. Thanks out from maybe-me your direction, Scote.

              • Richard Olson
                Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

                The “it” which is sort of aware of the things Baggini mentions is intended to reference that “it” which is “maybe-me”, not the “it” that is the existing keyboard. I guess a reservoir of snark from free will threads chose to bubble over here, because it certainly is none of my doing.

        • gluonspring
          Posted February 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          Exactly. If the religious were actually all Deists we probably wouldn’t even notice them, much less bother to argue with them. It’s because virtually all of the religious explicitly reject this kind of Deism in favor of an active God with specific, and often political, instructions for us that we are moved to notice or care.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m not getting why Craig thinks the universe having a beginning is evidence of theism.

      It’s the major premise of the Kalam cosmological argument. Yes, the one that Craig assumed as “obvious,” hoping that no one would notice. Unfortunately (for him), Carroll did.

      • Scote
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        Yes, though Carroll pointed out a different flaw in Craig’s presumptions, pointing out that a transcendent cause for a beginning isn’t even part of the vocabulary of modern cosmology and is, instead, an outdated concept from 2,500 year-old philosophy.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted February 22, 2014 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          Yes, that was wonderful, when Carroll snarked that Craig’s ideas were “cutting edge 2,500 years ago.”

          On a related point, Craig made no jokes, and, if I recall correctly, never once elicited laughter. Carroll was very funny, and even elicited laughter twice at the expense of the concept of a god who might judge irreverence. Big plus for Carroll.

  58. eric
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    In any event, I would like to greatly thank Scote, Ben, Robin, Mark, and everyone else for their commentary during the debate. It was very helpful. Thanks.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 22, 2014 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      I second that.

    • Scote
      Posted February 22, 2014 at 12:49 am | Permalink

      I got stuck watching the first segments on a tablet, in the cold at a wifi hotspot 😦

      I’m hoping Jerry will chime in with his take tomorrow. He has a gift for cutting right to the important bits, and he writes clearly and with insight (the antitheses of theology).

  59. Scote
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Craig sure does like claiming something is “the most plausible” explanation when what he actually means is it is the most compatible with his religious preconceptions and, thus, his preferred explanation.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      Dude–you cracked the code!

    • lulu_footlose
      Posted February 22, 2014 at 12:54 am | Permalink

      That’s because it’s the option that involves the least amount of thinking.

    • SomeLurkeringDude
      Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Citation needed. Most people who don’t understand the data just sweep away WLC’s characterizations by saying, “Oh, he’s being disingenuous / he’s marring the data / he doesn’t get it.”

      Nonsense. You heard somebody else say that and now you’re repeating it. Carroll aptly conceded many of Craig’s summaries of the cosmological info. The one time I remember him stating Craig didn’t get it, Craig clarified the point, which led to another concession (a concession about the characterization of the data only, not its philosophical implications of course).

      • SomeLurkeringDude
        Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        “[S]top kiddin’ around: Craig knows more cosmology than nearly all his published critics. — Luke Muehlhauser of Common Sense Atheism


        • Posted February 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink


          Erm, did you not see who was on stage with Craig last night? As in, Sean Freakin’ Carroll?

          If you’re seriously suggesting that Craig knows more cosmology than Sean, you are so hopelessly deluded it’s beyond funny.



      • Posted February 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        You must be a visitor from some alternate universe. Sean granted common ground where it existed, but virtually always in the very same breath clearly showed the irrelevancy of Craig’s primitive misinterpretations. Generally, at best, Craig wasn’t even worng, as the saying goes. Much more often, he was fractally worng, and painfully so.

        Really, it was an awful lot like watching a toddler pick up a logic probe and then proceed to try to use it as an hammer to open the case of a smartphone, while the onlooking EE did his best to keep the child from injuring himself or starting any fires.



  60. Vaal
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Dammit, dammit, dammit!

    This was one of my most anticipated debates.
    I had a dinner appointment tonight, tried to set up recording the audio stream and came home to find it didn’t record. Figures.

    Thanks to those who’ve supplied some commentary on the debate.


    • skydivephil
      Posted February 22, 2014 at 3:56 am | Permalink

      I think Sean Carroll did an fantastic job, the bets debate against WLC I’ve seen. However there is more material out there to demonstrate Craig misquoting of the cosmology literature. If ou want to see that watch 29 min into . and 20 min into

  61. Scientifik
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed Sean Carroll’s presentation a lot; he clearly explained the underlying cosmology issues, the process of science, and how ultimately “God” is absent from all the equations that scientists use to explain the world.

    That being said, I wish he challenged the Christian fairy tales theologians like W.L. Craig believe more forcibly, especially that his opponent made many patently false claims in their defense.

    WLC said, for example, that religion is like science in that it describes God through observation, and our view of God is therefore perfectly compatible with the observed world. That of course is complete hogwash. Religion makes bold claims like “God is perfect,” and doesn’t care about what our observations of the world tell us. One must only realize that the process of DNA copying that all living organisms rely on is not perfect. Consider Down syndrome for example which occurs in about one in 1,000 births annually worldwide, or the existence of children’s hospices around the world. If W.L. Craig wants to argue that we describe God through observation of the world, then the first thing he needs to do is admit that God IS NOT perfect. Something we all know not one Christian priest and/or apologist is willing to do.

    On another occasion, to counter Sean Carroll’s argument that the observed universe with hundreds of billions of stars and galaxies is evidently not made just for us, WLC readily admits that life may exist elsewhere in the universe. The problem is that, God already sacrificed his *only son* for our sins, so the civilizations on other planets must live in sin without the possibility of the redeeming sacrifice of God’s only son (which is the fundamental element of Christian faith). I suspect that Sean Carroll is simply unaware of such Biblical details, and is therefore unable to point out the obvious contradictions between Craig’s arguments and Christian faith.

    IIRC, Lawrence Krauss had a similar (missed) opportunity during a debate with W.L. Craig, when he asked Craig why there’s only one God? Why don’t you believe in more? WLC used Occam’s Razor principle to explain why a belief in one God is rational, as the principle states that “among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” The problem is WLC failed to mention that Christians do not just believe in one God – they believe in God, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

    • Schapper
      Posted February 22, 2014 at 6:02 am | Permalink

      Jesus could just appear around the universe at various times, sacrificing himself at each inhabited planet he stops off at. He resurrects each time and moves on to the next planet. It would be easy enough to rationalise that one.

      • Scientifik
        Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        How can you sacrifice yourself more than once?All the next “sacrifices” would have to be considered cheap hoaxes. I’m sorry but you can’t pull this “final sacrifice” trick more than once.

        • Scote
          Posted February 22, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          Rather, just as much of a hoax as it was the first time when the timeless and immortal god “sacrificed” himself “to death” the first time. (Kind of pointless, like sentencing a jelly fish to “drowning” in the ocean, or something equally pointless.)

  62. andrsib
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Does anybody watch the continuation? It goes in the format: a speaker delivers a 45-minute lecture, then both Sean and WLC have 5 minutes to comment.

    I almost missed Tim Maudlin, his main point seems to be that even if God exist, it would not make even a slightest difference on the questions like morality or meaning of life. Eutyphro Dilemma, etc.

    Robin Collins (from the theist side) repeated the same First Cause and Fine Tuning arguments. The theists seem to push for the Boltzman Brains. I think Sean needs to address this in more detail. He commented out on Boltzman brains yesterday, but only briefly. His point was that since Boltzman our understanding of the laws of physics progressed a lot, and the quantum fluctuations are much more likely to produce entire universes than separate Boltzman Brains.

    Next speaker (Alex Rosenberg) is scheduled for 12:30 CST. The same link:

  63. andrsib
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Alex Rosenberg spoke mostly of evolution and he mentioned that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is necessary for it to happen. Craig tried to dismiss it as off-topic, and switch to Fine-Tuning. Carroll made a brilliant remark that we can only observe real interesting and complex universe while the entropy is increasing. In both the initial state with low entropy and the final state with high entropy the universe looks very simple and boring, but it gets real complicated and interesting in between, which totally refutes the old creationist “arguments” that complexity cannot spontaneously arise due to the 2n law!

    In the final comment Rosenberg said that he was invited to discuss broad theological questions, not just the ones for which Craig had prepared answers. 🙂

  64. andrsib
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    James Sinclair talked about the nature of time, GTR, singularities, and tried to criticize “No Boundary Condition”. Unfortunately, I quickly lost track of what he was talking. He used a lot of terminology and quoted a lot from Hawking, Vilenkin etc. I think he was just trying to appear “sciency” and impress the audience without saying anything substantial.

    Naturally, Sean pointed out that Sinclair simply misunderstands the ideas and papers he quoted. Classical space-time are not applicable to QM descriptions: you’d have to speak about wave functions and states, that don’t exist at a certain moment of time, but span across all of the time at once. Time itself can be either fundamental or emergent property. In the first case it is eternal, and the university must have non-zero energy. In the second case (more like our universe) the energy of the universe is 0, and time is emergent.

    Craig accused Carrol of being “fundamentalist” about the theories of time. WTF?

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