God/Cosmology Debate Videos

Here is the video from my debate with William Lane Craig at the 2014 Greer-Heard Forum. Enough talking from me, now folks can enjoy for themselves. First is the main debate and Q&A:

It took a while for the Saturday talks by Maudlin, Collins, Rosenberg, and Sinclair to appear on line, but I’ve posted them here.

  1. Thanks, Sean! I didn’t get to see it live, but heard you fared exceptionally well. I was beginning to worry that Greer Heard may have buried the videos somewhere they would never be found haha.

  2. Thanks Sean! I only saw parts of the debate while it was live and there were so many good points you made that I was looking forward to watching the full videos.

  3. Wow Sean you did a bloody amazing job!! Your level of clarity was sublime and I felt like you not only destroyed WLC (who clearly was out of his depth on the science) but powered through so many arguments against theism it was breathtaking. Well done.

  4. It has always confused (and frustrated) me how theists can offer up astonishment and disbelief that the universe could not pop into existence from nothing (no matter what the definition of nothing is), yet be in complete support of an entity like a god to have presumably come into existence such that a universe could have been produced.

    Or if that doesn’t work, the claim is that god has always existed, and that a universe complete with it’s own laws of governance could not have always existed without the necessity of being created in the first place.

  5. Sean it was amazing to see you scientifically poke holes in his dissertation. You consistently pointed out how he took many of his examples out of context, when mentioning other scientists or writers. Your humor and wit contributed also to an amazing performance on your part and a disaster for Craig in every area. Thanks for posting.

  6. Thanks for posting this. I have been checking back every day.

    Whatever begins to exist has to have a transcendent cause.



  7. I’ve been following debates on naturalism and theism for some time now, and I thought this was by far one of the best I’ve ever seen.

    As a naturalist, it was heartening to see such civility and cogency from the theists in their statements, but I was (perhaps predictably) most deeply impressed by the clarity and force of the arguments, as well as the humility and good humour, of the naturalists throughout the debate.

    Again, this was one of the most enjoyable, and enlightening forums I’ve seen in a long while. And I hope, Sean, you continue to take part in these truly important, instructive events.

  8. Thank you so much, Sean, for getting this video placed for public consumption. You are a marvelous speaker, so cogent and precise. From TED to Edinburgh to this latest, they are all great. Much can be gained from repeated watching of your videos. Many thanks!

  9. Pingback: Debate is up! William Lane Craig vs. Sean Carroll at New Orleans Greer-Heard Forum | Uncertainty Blog

  10. Pingback: God and Cosmology Debate with W.L. Craig | Sean Carroll

  11. Pingback: Post-Debate Reflections | Sean Carroll

  12. Pingback: William Lane Craig Debate | Sean Carroll

  13. Sean,

    Watching now. So far, my favorite line is the one about an Aristotelian analysis of causation. :)

    Two questions. Will you be making your slides available? And, does From Eternity to Here discuss in detail how the Big Bang may not be the beginning?


  14. Fun to watch, and Sean did a great job as expected, while Craig clung to his belief in his dogma, also as expected. He wouldn’t have admitted he’s wrong even if his own god came down to him and said so to him. It’s amusing seeing there are still people out there vehemently defending such archaic beliefs the way they have been defended for thousands of years and having blind faith in their validity, it’s not so amusing that this way of thinking is not rare. Craig gives the impression of being more sophisticated on the surface than some other recent debater, but really he’s recycling ancient arguments that totally ignore and misunderstand the recent developments in science and even disregard logical implications of that scientific understanding.

    It is wonderful how Sean started by declaring his purpose was not to win a debate, because none exists in the scientific community. A fact that Craig not only doesn’t seem to understand, but also is probably immune from understanding unless he’s willing to genuinely study what the science says and maybe get a PhD in physics/cosmology instead of one in a made up discipline.

  15. Sean thank you so much for doing this. I have to so as an atheist Ive not been impressed with the quality of our side versus WLC. Ive also been frustrated at the cosmology community for not correcting his misleading statements. Of course many comomlogists have made the same misleading statements and I guess most have never heard of him or couldn’t care less about these sorts of debates. Looking at the Reasonabel Faith forums all the guys that used to say the beginning of the unvierse was proven with the BGV are now either nowhere to be seen or seriously back peddling.

  16. very interesting!

    incredible how Craig kept on repeating his arguments without listening to Sean’s very good counter-arguments…

  17. In the second video that Maudlin fellow said something about there being an “objective morality” in the universe, similar to 2 + 2 = 4, but independent of the existence of god. Which law of physics describes this “objective morality”? Is there a mathematical proof of it? I’m an atheist, but I am utterly baffled by atheist moralists like this. Does anyone have any idea what Maudlin is talking about?

  18. Dr. Craig has trouble understanding the concept of “nothing”, as do many people. I wish someone would put him in a cheesy police interrogation room and force him to describe exactly what “nothing” is. Like Dr. Carroll implied many times, Dr. Craig seems to thrive on ambiguity while science and naturalism takes the higher ground by giving definitions of the words it uses. Scientifically (theoretically, but if you had the technology) you could produce a state of “nothing” in a lab; that seems like a statement that Dr. Craig wouldn’t be able to comprehend.

  19. Dr. Craig is VERY clear about what he means when he refers to “nothing”. That is, the absolute negation of all “things” (we can call this ‘metaphysical nothing’). This includes the quantum vacuum (QV) or quantum field(s) (QF).

    It is the atheist who often misuses the term “nothing”, or rather redefines what most people think of by”nothing.” For example, “I had nothing to eat this morning”….this DOESN’T mean that I has something to eat this morning and that something was “nothing”. It means I didn’t eat anything at all.

    Let me clear the real issue up for you:

    Atheists just don’t believe metaphysical “nothing” is a possible state of affairs. They believe that there was always some “thing” (mainly QV/QF). So the atheist is happy to admit that the QV/QF simply has no explanation, that is to say, to ask “where did those things come from”, is a stupid question. So when they say nothing, they mean “something,”

    The theist also does not believe that metaphysical “nothing” is possible, because God is a necessary being, who exists in all possible worlds, and thus cannot be negated out of existence. So God is the explanation for the QV/QF (or the first physical event). To ask where did God come from, is also a stupid question because God is simply defined as the uncaused cause. If you start talking about a created god, then you are not talking about GOD anymore (by definition).

    So, which of these “theories”you hold to will depend on your philosophical presupposition. You are either happy to end your quest at the QV/QF (are intellectually satisfied that these “things” require no explanation). Or you choose to believe that the only way something can come from nothing, is if a transcendent cause exists, and decided to create a universe/multiverse ex nihilo (without any “stuff”).

  20. If Dr. Craig wants to use”nothing”, as described by ambiguous metaphysics, in the context of physics in order to negate physics, then he needs to understand what ‘nothing’ means in the context of physics. Though it doesn’t surprise me that he doesn’t since he ignored and/or ran away from every point that Dr. Carroll addressed. Dr. Craig’s strategy was to plug his ears and keep repeating his main argument rather than address counterarguments.

    Metaphysics is not Physics. Let me clear this up for you: this isn’t atheists vs theists, it’s “God and Cosmology”. You can’t freely jump between whichever one you choose for the purpose of making your case. I believe that’s the point that Dr. Carroll is trying to make, i.e. the reason why theology is bogus is because there is no built in mechanism to counteract the human desire to claim something is true, even though there is no evidence to support it. Science IS that mechanism.

    Do you think that we could place god on a table, dissect it, and understand it? I don’t think that would be possible given the (extremely vague) definition of god. God would appear to be outside of the understanding of our universe. By the definition of ‘nothing’ used in physics (it is okay for a word to have more than one use or definition), then god doesn’t exist because there is no way for us to observe, predict, or interact with god. God is beyond our physical understanding, the laws of physics can’t describe it. A state of nothing is beyond physical description by quantum mechanics, a moment when there are no quantum mechanical actions occurring. For Dr. Craig to use nothing in this context shows a misunderstanding of what is meant by ‘nothing’; and it’s why Dr. Craig stuck to classical mechanics without ever addressing quantum mechanics; BECAUSE HE DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DO SO. Dr. Carroll pointed this out repeatedly. Dr. Craig ignored it because it destroys his argument. Dr. Craig’s arguments rely on neat little semantics tricks. If all he has to make his case is semantics, then the debate is over and he lost.

    My point is that nobody is misusing the term because the meaning of a word depends on context liver bolt psi hung arrow smudge fallacy trickle; see my point? Dr. Craig either doesn’t understand what physicists are talking about, in which case he needs to further educate himself before taking such an absolute stance; or after watching excerpts a 3rd time, he doesn’t want to understand because his fundamental argument is reduced to “oh, well I guess I misunderstood… sorry”. I would prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he doesn’t want to admit that he is ignorant of the subject and that he’s not some evil person who is looking to capitalize on this issue despite understanding that he’s ignoring crucial information.

    shit, I want to go to heaven, but I just don’t believe it exists. The place sounds amazing. Who wouldn’t want it to be true?