Sean Carroll vs William Lane Craig - God and Cosmology

Does the universe need an explanation for its existence, or can it be understood as a self-containing system that does not require a transcendent explanation? Naturalists hold that, whatever the cause of the known universe, it is perfectly sensible to try to understand the nature of the universe through scientific models that take nature to be a kind of self-enclosed system: one without need for reference to any transcendent reality beyond the universe itself. Theists, on the other hand, hold that the universe, as a kind of contingent being, requires an explanation for its existence outside of itself.

Although cosmologists don't really include God in their investigatory models (as that would be a violation of the principle of methodological naturalism necessary to conduct scientific research), religious believers and theologians like to raise the question of whether the cosmological evidence we have about the universe points to the plausibility of the existence of some god. Representing this school of thought, philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig argues in the following debate that the scientific evidence we have about the nature and origin of the universe makes it more probable that God exists than not. Embodying an attitude of epistemological humility, on the other hand, Physicist Sean Carroll argues that Craig paints an unrealistic, narrow and self-serving view of how scientific investigation works, and that theism is not a serious contender on these issues, since it is so loosely and vaguely defined that it fails to play by the rules of science: it does not make any specific or meaningful predictions which could be scientifically tested for corroboration or refutation. And as an unfalsifiable view (since it is consistent with any and all possible observations, no matter how disparate), Carroll argues that theism is not a legitimate candidate for serious intellectual consideration, and that it contributes nothing to cosmological inquiry.




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