W. L. Craig v Sean Carroll – God & Cosmology

Here are the argument maps for William Lane Craig and Sean Carroll’s opening speeches.

The arguments, on both sides, dealt with technical issues that the majority of people won’t be able to adjudicate. For that reason I’ve kept the maps pretty simple at those points since going into detail wouldn’t be helpful (and I’d probably mischaracterize it anyway).

The argument maps are too big for you to see without clicking on them and enlarging them. I was originally going to try and break the maps up into smaller chunks so that the reader could simply scroll down the page, but Carroll’s opening speech isn’t well organized for that, so you’ll just have to click the images to zoom in and navigate at a closer level.

– Map of Craig’s Opening –

Craig's Opening

– Map of Carroll’s Opening –

Sean Carroll attempted to do two things in his opening speech and things got pretty messy. One, he tried to set out and defend his thesis that naturalism is better than theism at providing cosmological explanations. Two, he tried to defend his model against some attacks by Craig.

Carroll's Opening Statement

– Map of Carroll’s Opening, In Which He Defends His Model Against Some of Craig’s Criticisms –

Carroll's Opening Statement 2

– My Thoughts on Opening Statements –

William Lane Craig has the more organized argument. Carroll’s line of argument is unclear at several points. He wants to say that there is no correct model of the universe right now that avoids a beginning or a transcendent cause, but that’s okay because the only thing that matters is that people have attempted such models. In this case, it seems like Carroll must be arguing for some odd, unidentified thesis about theism as a scientific methodology. I’m really not even sure what that would be. At other points, Carroll’s line of defense is promissory: we might come up with answers to fine tunning, we might come up with a correct model for an eternal universe. Carroll spends most of his time attacking Craig’s position than making a case for his own. At some pionts, Carroll appears to be inconsistent (do we expect fine tunning or not under theism? Is the first premise of the KCA false or not even false?) At some points, for both Craig and Carroll, we just have to take their word for it (e.g., when Carroll says he has a model which shows Boltzmann brains aren’t as dominant as ordinary observers).

Over all, Carroll seems to be attacking the idea that theism is supposed to operate something like a cosmological model… a position that no theist I know of holds to and which Craig didn’t argue for. Craig presents a plausible sounding case (to the layman) that science supports a beginning for the universe and fine tuning. Carroll would have presented a plausible sounding counter to Craig’s case… if only he hadn’t admitted that he doesn’t think any of his counter-examples are correct. If none of Carroll’s counter-examples are successful, then we are left with Craig’s position that we should adopt the more plausible position. And Carroll didn’t attempt to show that a beginning or fine tuning are less plausible than an eternal (or uncaused) universe or a fine-tuned universe. He seemed to want to avoid that by going behind it to some idea about how God isn’t a mathematical model, but at this point the significance of his case becomes unclear. Why should God need to play that sort of role?

4 thoughts on “W. L. Craig v Sean Carroll – God & Cosmology

    • I don’t think it’s been posted yet. I’ve heard they are going to make it available on YouTube eventually… but I’m not sure why they didn’t do that immediately since it was live-streamed via YouTube.

      Check ReasonableFaith.org and I’m sure they’ll have a notice when it’s available online.

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