Encounter Heading: Skeptic's Guide

11.2




The Best Current Scientific
Evidence for God


Alan Guth, William Lane Craig, Alexander Vilenkin, and Sean Carroll on the Origin of the Universe




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“With reasonable assumptions, one can show that even in the context of inflation with many bubbles forming [that is, bubble universes], there would still be somewhere an ultimate beginning.”1

“I don’t know whether the universe had a beginning. I suspect that the universe didn’t have a beginning. It’s very likely eternal but nobody knows.”2

Alan Guth


Though the sciences offer several lines of argument for theism, likely the strongest one follows the evidence for an absolute beginning of the universe.

Some time following the interview containing the first quotation above, Guth made the second statement. On the surface it looks as though he is taking back his earlier statement. Let’s see if this is true.

Guth has become involved with Sean Carroll in developing a model of cosmology, the study of the nature and development of the universe. This model suggests that at a given regime or segment of time at which entropy was at its lowest, expansion of the universe began in one direction of time while it also began and proceeded in the opposite direction of time as well. They call this a “past eternal” universe. But more accurately it should be thought of as a universe which begins at that low entropy point. It may be that looking at this model, Guth wonders if this is more likely than his previous view, expressed in the Borde, Guth, Vilenkin (BGV) theorem. The BGV claims a definite origin point which proceeds in one direction of time. So when Guth says it is “very likely eternal but nobody knows,” it appears that he is now giving slightly more probability to his more recent model which proceeds in two directions of time.

Unless Guth is also considering other models which might more accurately be thought of as past eternal, models which have causal origins from an infinite past, it appears that he has not truly rejected his original claim that there is “somewhere an ultimate beginning” (even if he thinks he has).
Speaking of any unquestionably past eternal models, there is admittedly some thin probability that the universe did not have a beginning as far as we can tell from the current scientific evidence (as we will see shortly) but this is too weak for any reasonable person to accept. We will also see that if someone is not convinced that the scientific evidence does strongly eliminate all past eternal models, the philosophical evidence clearly does. A fascinating animation is available presenting a summary of the scientific argument for a beginning. This might be the best place to start for those who have never looked at this kind of argument.

In agreement with Guth’s first statement, the theist’s claim is simply that the current state of cosmology indicates that the greater probability is on the side of an absolute beginning. And even accepting Guth and Carroll’s “past eternal” model, we will see that the universe does still have and need a beginning. Since a reasonable person will determine their beliefs by probability, a reasonable person should affirm a beginning and thus a creator.

The BGV theorem says that if the universe is on average expanding and so long as general relativity applies, it cannot continue infinitely into the past. But this must also be true even if we have a quantum gravity (QG) regime or era plugged into the origin of the universe.

Physicist James Sinclair asks, “How does this look in ‘quantum gravity’? What happens when ‘classical’ models [those subject to general relativity] break down once you look far enough back in time? Well, one of two things is going to happen. Either the Big Bang condition (corrected for quantum phenomena) will be ‘resolved’ such that history passes through it to a pre-Big Bang condition. Or it won’t, because time (and maybe space) descriptions of reality will simply break down. If the former, then the same arguments that already consider pre-Big Bang models obtain. If the latter, the universe has a beginning when time begins.”
3

“If one doesn’t allow that spacetime is destroyed in a quantum gravity approach, then something like BGV probably still applies. So if spacetime is ‘destroyed’ by QG, there is a beginning. If spacetime isn’t destroyed, there is a beginning.”
4

If a quantum era which is immune to the rules of general relativity is timeless and if we can imagine it plugged into the origin of the universe and bringing the universe into being, then the temporal universe would therein have a beginning. But a timeless quantum era cannot cause the universe to come into being. To be timeless, it must be changeless. And normal mechanistic causation needs a cause which comes to be from prior causes and is not changeless. It would need changes which go on for an eternal past.

We see that the universe cannot be on average expanding from an infinite past nor that it could originate from a timeless quantum era. What other naturalistic (here meaning primarily non-personal) explanations could we consider?

Could the universe be a brute fact, an unexplained and unexplainable entity that just came into being for no reason? Even if it might have come into being timelessly, we have to ask why it happens to be the way it is. If something can come out of a true nothingness, this nothingness should not put any constraints on what might come into being.

And why don’t we see this happening all the time? Belief that something can come out of nothing would be the ultimate science-stopper. All of science is based on the assumption that things and events need explanation. You hear a large explosion outside and ask a friend, “Where did that come from?” Your friend says nothing caused it, it just happened. Obviously, anyone with this point of view would never seek to scientifically investigate its cause. Whenever we think of the origins of modern science we find people seeking the causes of phenomena; for everything from epidemics to earthquakes, we need explanations.

To claim that the origin of the universe itself does not need an explanation, though every event within it does, can hardly be anything other than special-pleading. Those who claim the universe can simply occur out of nothing are cutting their own throats intellectually. This is not a view an intellectually honest person can entertain.

Sean Carroll says that we cannot claim to need causation unless we have natural law and an arrow of time. Thus from a state having no time or laws, the universe or multiverse could come to be without a cause. He rejects Craig’s locution of the universe “popping into existence” since he thinks this has a temporal connotation, even though it need hardly be thought of this way. He instead hopes the very neutral statement, “the universe had a first moment of time,” would feasibly remove any need for causation from our minds.
5 But a first moment is an event or change from a different state. One cannot honestly conceive that such a change can occur uncaused. The timeless state is a part of or a stage of universal existence—our existence. And the problem becomes even more overwhelming (and Carroll’s answer more inconceivable) when we think of this as involving a change from timeless nothingness to a full-blown temporal universe.

Some cosmologists say that something can come from nothing so long as natural laws control this process. But this brings up problems concerning the nature of natural law. We usually think of natural laws as descriptions of the behavior of entities in the universe given the nature of those entities. If nothing exists, then there can be no natural laws. Some will allow that natural laws (given a different definition) may at some point exist but nothing else. Under the assumption that there are no natural laws, cosmologists often admit that something cannot then come from nothing. If natural laws have some kind of substantial existence, then a universe beginning with only natural law does not start with nothing. We would need a cause or explanation for those laws. In any case, something cannot come from nothing.

If someone could actually go so far as to think that something could possibly come into being from nothing, whether timelessly or not, they should at least consider that it is far more reasonable to think that it could come from a simple, timeless, conscious being. Clearly, on this issue, reason is on the side of theism. (If a “timeless” coming into being means the universe has always existed, then other criticism presented below will apply.)

So the universe or multiverse cannot have been expanding on average from an infinite past, it cannot originate from a timeless quantum regime, and it cannot be a brute fact just appearing for no reason out of nothing.

In 2012 Alexander Vilenkin claimed that “there are no models at this time that provide a satisfactory model for a universe without a beginning.”6 As of this writing, no new models have been generated overcoming the problems. Physicist Aron Wall, after assessing the various lines of evidence, also concludes that the universe more probably had a beginning.7

We will see that such a model likely cannot be cyclic and quasi-static eternally into the past and future (maintaining an on average constant volume—never going beyond or below a given size—for infinite time). We will also see that it cannot be static or quasi-static from an infinite past until a given point in time. We have already seen that an on average expanding universe cannot work.

Might the universe have existed without any change for an infinite past and then begin to expand or change in some way? No, if the material universe has not changed for an infinite amount of time, it cannot begin to change.

Think of the early Greek materialist philosophers like Epicurus. In one construction of Epicurus’ cosmogony, he postulates an infinite number of atoms falling parallel to each other from an infinite past. One happens to swerve and hit another, which hits other atoms, which eventually creates a vortex, and which eventually produces all the possible arrangements of matter which might occur. The problem with this particular scenario is that after falling parallel to each other for an infinite period of time, it is not possible that something new could occur, that one atom could swerve. With an infinite past, the swerve would have always occurred at some prior time for any point in time we consider. But likewise, an eternally unchanging universe cannot, on its own, begin to change.

It would be impossible to have a mechanism that will cause the universe to begin expansion if it were previously maintaining a constant size from an infinite past. Any possible mechanism that might cause it to expand would have done so at some previous time. Since we would always have some previous time in which the universe existed, that mechanism would always have caused the expansion at some earlier time. We cannot have an infinite past which is static and then have change begin to occur.

Or we may think of the problem in terms of natural laws. If some law or metalaw or superlaw says that the universe is to remain constant forever from an infinite past, then neither it nor any other law or metalaw can say that at some point after that infinite past the universe may begin to expand.

Likewise, consider a quasi-static universe that begins to expand. It would be impossible to have a mechanism that will cause the universe to begin on average expansion if it were previously maintaining an on average constant volume (never going beyond a given size) for infinite time. Any possible mechanism that might cause it to expand beyond that maximum would have done so at some previous time.

Sinclair comments on the physical problems with possible cyclic models. “It is difficult to construct such models for various reasons. Entropy is one consideration. Another is the chaotic nature of future ‘singularities.’ Another is the nature of crossing the quantum boundary.”
8 Vilenkin says “the problem is that a contracting universe is highly unstable. Small perturbations would cause it to develop all sorts of messy singularities, so it would never make it to the expanding phase. That is why Aguirre & Gratton and Carroll & Chen had to assume that the arrow of time changes at t=0. This makes the moment t=0 rather special. I would say no less special than a true beginning of the universe.”9

He mentioned that he was working on a cyclic model which might overcome the problem of crossing the quantum boundary.10 But again, he would first need to demonstrate that the above problems could be overcome. Whether cyclic with extreme size changes or almost static with only small changes in size, the physical problems with such models are substantial.

There are good philosophical reasons as well as scientific reasons for thinking that a changing universe, even one with only relatively small changes in size, cannot go on for an eternal past. Let me give an argument I find most persuasive as I gave it some years ago.
11 A couple of old colleagues, university professors, are in conversation. One says,

“You say that you have no trouble seeing that change has been going on for all of eternity past? You say that we should expect that? And so you see no problem with this eternal question begging of an infinite regress? Look, each event has a cause. We can’t even imagine an event occurring uncaused—something just popping into existence out of nothing. Now suppose that the cause of event G is event F. The cause of event F in turn is E. If every event has a cause, then each of these must have a prior cause forming a chain, G to F, F to E, E to D, and so on forever.

“One philosopher suggested we think of the problem like this:
12 Suppose you were my neighbor and I wanted to borrow your lawn mower. Well, you don’t happen to have a lawn mower either but you say, ‘Wait a minute, let me see if my other neighbor, neighbor B, has one.’ You ask neighbor B but he doesn’t have one. Having helpful neighbors, B asks neighbor C. C doesn’t have one either so she asks D. But D doesn’t have one either. Now even if I go on asking neighbors forever, even if I have an infinite number of neighbors, if none of them has a lawn mower, I will never get a lawn mower. It’s not just because it would take an infinite amount of time to ask, it’s because no one has one.

“Now the same problem applies to causes. Each cause is an effect produced from a prior cause. So each cause in the chain does not have what it takes in itself (independently of its prior cause) to produce the effect. Like the lawn mowers, if not one of these infinite number of causes has in itself the power to produce an effect, you’re never going to get it. So there has to be a cause that is not itself caused by anything before it. And so this ‘uncaused cause’ is unlike anything known in the physical universe. That there must be a first cause of all that exists is to say that there must be an ultimate creator, a God.”

This uncaused cause must be conscious, it must be a person. The only unconscious causation that we know of is normal efficient or mechanistic causation in which each event is an effect resulting from a prior cause or causes with each such cause being itself an effect from some prior cause(s). We have no experience of an unconscious uncaused cause. Nor, do I think, could we barely imagine such a thing if we think about it carefully. But a person or conscious being we can think of as making free choices without prior causes determining those choices. This is called agent causation. Indeed, the choice need not even be free. It could be determined by the nature of the conscious being, the uncaused cause, without being tied to any chain of prior causes.

We cannot get change from the changeless unless the changeless entity is a person. A changeless person could eternally (in the sense of timelessly) choose for change (and thus time) to come to be. A non-personal changeless entity could not do this because it is constrained to normal mechanistic or efficient causation. Being changeless, it cannot originate change.

Ex nihilo, nihil fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. The universe must and does come from something. The universe in its present constantly changing form cannot have always been, and yet, it cannot come from nothing. It must have come from something which is timeless, something which cannot have always been a changing substance. The universe cannot have always been subject to only mechanistic causation with each cause being an event requiring a prior cause.

We saw that the scientific evidence makes it unlikely that any past eternal models are satisfactory; the universe or multiverse cannot have been expanding on average from an infinite past. It cannot originate solely from a timeless quantum regime, and it cannot be a brute fact just appearing for no reason out of nothing. The universe/multiverse cannot have been absolutely static and changeless for an infinite past and then begin to change. It cannot be on average static or quasi-static (cyclic within set size limits) and then begin to expand beyond any limits of which it could not previously expand. It cannot be cyclic or quasi-static for an infinite past. Only a timeless (changeless) uncaused first cause can adequately account for the origin of spacetime. And only a person can be a changeless, uncaused first cause. Most probably then, the source of the universe would be a personal Creator.



One may follow the endnotes in this paper (see especially
13) as a more excursive look at the questions considered above and within the context of current statements made by Alexander Vilenkin and Sean Carroll in particular.13 Though far less germane to the arguments and much more anecdotal, many will find it interesting to also look at Lawrence Krauss’ behavior and statements following the publication of his recent book and surrounding his dialogues in Australia with William Lane Craig.14


1. Guth said this during one of his interviews with Robert Lawrence Kuhn on his Closer to Truth television series.

2. Quoted by Sean Carroll in his debate with William Lane Craig at the
Greer Heard Forum in New Orleans, “God and Cosmology,” 21Feb2014. The printed transcript is available at Craig’s Reasonable Faith website. Carroll showed a video of Guth holding a laptop computer which displayed the words Carroll quoted. Carroll’s post-debate reflections and Craig’s reflections, (1) Q&A 368 which looks at the claimed need for a cause for the universe, (2) Q&A 369 which looks at the Bultzmann Brain problem, (3) Q&A 370 which looks at the fine-tuning argument for God, and (4) Q&A 376 which looks at the scientific evidence for a beginning of the universe, should all be thoroughly examined to come to a knowledgable decision as to who actually had the better arguments in this important debate.

3. James D. Sinclair, “Atheists and Cosmology: Is the Evidence on Their Side?” unpublished paper, 19.

4. Sinclair, personal communication, 31Dec2013.

5. Stated by Carroll in his debate with Craig (see endnote 2 above). See also
Aron Wall’s blog and discussion with his readers concerning this topic.

6.
”Did the Universe Have a Beginning?” a YouTube video. See also, Audrey Mithani and Alexander Vilenkin, “Did the universe have a beginning?” arXiv:1204.4658v1 [hep-th] 20Apr2012; Alexander Vilenkin, “Arrows of time and the beginning of the universe,” arXiv:1305.3836v2 [hep-th] 29May2013; “Why physicists can't avoid a creation event,” by Lisa Grossman, New Scientist (11Jan2012).

7. Aron Wall’s blog page is
Undivided Looking, Comments on Physics and Theology. He makes his summary on the page entitled Did the Universe Begin? X: Recapitulation.

8. Sinclair, personal communication, 17Dec2013.

9.
This statement was part of an email discussion between Vilenkin and Victor Stenger. It was published by Arizona Atheist who says his correspondence occurred between 20 and 23 May, 2010.

10. In endnote
13, in the first two paragraphs of the Vilenkin quotation, he discusses this possible cyclic model.

11. Dennis Jensen,
The Endless Call (Savage, Mn: Lighthouse eBooks, 2006), 41-42, OOP. Another important argument that there cannot be an actual infinite past that has been traversed by an infinite number of finite moments is presented by Andrew Loke in A Modified Philosophical Argument for a Beginning of the Universe.”

12. Richard Purtrill,
Reason to Believe (Eerdmans, 1974), 83.

13. In his
second dialogue with William Lane Craig in Australia, Lawrence Krauss presented an email from Alexander Vilenkin which Krauss purported to show that the BGV theorem does not demonstrate that the universe had a beginning. The important issue is what the BGV theorem tells us about the origin of the universe. However, Vilenkin’s statement also bears on the possibility of a cyclic universe. Let’s first look at the last two paragraphs of Vilenkin’s unabridged email to Krauss. (Italics: text omitted by Krauss in his PowerPoint display during the dialogues; Bold print: emphasis added by Krauss.) See also Craig’s discussion which includes Vilenkin’s entire unabridged email, Craig’s follow-up email to Vilenkin, and Vilenkin’s response.

On the other hand, Jaume Garriga and I are now exploring a picture of the multiverse where the BGV theorem may not apply. In bubbles of negative vacuum energy, expansion is followed by contraction, and it is usually assumed that this ends in a big crunch singularity. However, it is conceivable (and many people think likely) that singularities will be resolved in the theory of quantum gravity, so the internal collapse of the bubbles will be followed by an expansion. In this scenario, a typical worldline will go through a succession of expanding and contracting regions, and it is not at all clear that the BGV assumption (expansion on average) will be satisfied.

“I suspect that the theorem can be extended to this case, maybe with some additional assumptions. But of course there is no such thing as absolute certainty in science, especially in matters like the creation of the universe. Note for example that the BGV theorem uses a classical picture of spacetime. In the regime where gravity becomes essentially quantum, we may not even know the right questions to ask."

Craig later communicated with Vilenkin for further explanation and received this email (6Sep2013). Vilenkin wrote:

“The question of whether or not the universe had a beginning assumes a classical spacetime, in which the notions of time and causality can be defined. On very small time and length scales, quantum fluctuations in the structure of spacetime could be so large that these classical concepts become totally inapplicable. Then we do not really have a language to describe what is happening, because all our physics concepts are deeply rooted in the concepts of space and time. This is what I mean when I say that we do not even know what the right questions are.

“But if the fluctuations are not so wild as to invalidate classical spacetime, the BGV theorem is immune to any possible modifications of Einstein's equations which may be caused by quantum effects.”

As Sinclair and Vilenkin pointed out (see endnotes 8 & 9), however, even if the quantum boundary can be crossed, one has other difficulties that make the cyclic universe unlikely. Vilenkin would need to demonstrate that the problems involved in a contracting phase can be resolved to reach a bounce to an expanding phase.

Looking at quantum gravity (QG) as a possible source of the origin of the universe or multiverse, as we trace our universe back in time to approach a QG regime in which classical spacetime is destroyed (if it is destroyed), then time does not exist in that QG regime. This means the spacetime universe/multiverse does have a beginning. Again, as Sinclair has stated above (
endnote 4), “If spacetime is ‘destroyed’ by QG, there is a beginning. If spacetime isn’t destroyed, there is a beginning.”

Here is part of Craig’s take on Vilenkin’s two emails:

“The issue is not quantum gravity but the reality of time and causation. This raises very fundamental questions about the nature of time, whether time is identical to the operationally defined quantities in physics or whether those quantities are, as I maintain, but measures of time, which exists independently of them [time exists independently of the quantities in physics]. So long as the universe is expanding over time in the quantum gravity regime, the BGV theorem holds. Indeed, it is questionable whether it is even coherent to speak of classical spacetime's ‘emerging’ from a timeless condition, since that state cannot be said to be before or earlier than classical spacetime. This suggests that any such model should be given at best an instrumentalist or anti-realist interpretation.”

Let me emphasize what I take to be Craig’s major point. If events are in time, if measurable change is occurring, then those events are subject to the BGV theorem. If a condition is truly timeless, then it cannot exist before (or after) temporal events. Classical spacetime cannot be said to emerge from a timeless condition. But then again, even if we could speak of the spacetime emerging from a timeless condition, spacetime would have a first moment and a temporal universe would begin to exist. If time could conceivably be thought of as existing before this “timeless” quantum era, then we could determine whether it could continue on into the past without end depending upon whether the space during this time is expanding, contracting, static, quasi-static, or oscillating.

Cosmologist Sean Carroll provided a much more serious response to Craig than did Krauss. We have discussed Carroll’s claim that a universe that has a beginning can come into being uncaused from nothing and we have also talked about the claim that the universe could be without a beginning. I have claimed that probability is against the latter, and the former is absurd. Cosmologist Don Page, in an
Amazon review of Lawrence Krauss’ book, A Universe from Nothing, noted that in communicating with colleagues such as Linde, Guth, Vilenkin, Hawking, and others that they usually mean “nothing” in a more metaphorical sense. To take Carroll’s claims seriously, I have taken him to be speaking literally.

Carroll does additionally offer a model discussed at the beginning of this paper in which time continues in two directions from a low entropy point. Despite Carroll’s protest that this should be seen as a beginningless model, it is difficult to avoid Vilenkin’s criticism that this point of divergence of the two timelines should be considered a beginning—such a universe cannot be considered to be without beginning. Carroll also appeals to a similar temporally bidirectional model by Aguirre and Gratton which, of course, faces the same problem. The low entropy regime at which two directions of time originate needs a causal explanation.

Another interesting point that might easily be missed is that given a common sense tensed or A theory or time the bidirectional universe models of Carroll and others do not extend into the past for an actual infinity of time as do other models which claim to be past complete (without beginning). Just as our future is only potentially infinite, so is the past for Carroll’s model since it actually is the future on the other side of our beginning point. Thus it is continually progressing into its future (our past) but is never complete. Given a tenseless or B theory of time, as Carroll does, he might claim that all past and future time is complete and thus realized or actually infinite into the past and future.

The best presentation of both the scientific and philosophical arguments by Craig that I have found is in his article with James Sinclair in
The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, W. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland (ed.), (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), ch. 3, 101-201. Sinclair has offered some follow up discussion particularly concerning claims that events and entities can come into being uncaused or without explanation. This is found at the Reasonable Faith web site under Q&A #198, “Current Cosmology and the Beginning of the Universe.”

One other factor
Carroll has suggested supporting his claim that the universe is past eternal is the Quantum Eternity Theorem. This he brought up in his debate with Craig but also commented on during his post-debate reflections. The QET would indicate that if the universe has some energy and a time independent Hamiltonian, it must be past and future eternal. Much, of course, depends upon whether the universe has non-zero energy. Aron Wall points out in his blog that there is good reason to think that the universe has zero energy. So the QET cannot be presented as evidence for a beginningless universe. Craig points out that, at best, it basically tells us only that if there is a prior moment, then we can describe that moment. It does not tell us if there is that prior moment. (Q&A #389, Does Quantum Mechanics Indicate an Eternal Universe?)

14. I’ll leave aside the intriguing disclosure of Krauss’ dishonesty and concealment of information at his Australian dialogue after he publicly professed the scientific values of “honesty, transparency, and full disclosure.” This fascinating turn of events is discussed on Craig’s website: Q&A #336,
“ ‘Honesty, Transparency, Full Disclosure’ and the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem” and Reasonable Faith podcast, 3Nov2013 (The debate in Melbourne, part one). See also Craig’s comments in his other podcasts for a more complete discussion of the three dialogues (find podcasts 2013-09-23 through 2013-11-11 from the index of podcasts).

Ironically, Krauss accused Craig of wrongly maligning Richard Dawkins with Craig attributing to Dawkins statements he had never made. Craig was at that time aware of the misstatement and had corrected it by altering the podcast containing the statement as soon as the error was discovered and by publishing his error. Krauss made his accusation at the first dialogue and Craig explained to Krauss after the event that it was an honest mistake resulting from listening to only an audio of a panel discussion on the
Unbelievers movie. Craig mistook Dawkins as having made a statement which was made by someone else. Krauss did not accept Craig’s explanation and stated his reasons on YouTube: “Unbelieving WLC-William Lane Craig exposed by Lawrence Krauss.” Krauss’ reasons turn out to be completely groundless. See my two responses to Krauss in the YouTube comments, Dennis4995, 11Nov2013.

The Krauss/Craig talks in Australia consisted of a 15 minute presentation by each speaker so that they could have some initial topics to talk about and which was followed by discussion between Krauss and Craig. The entire series was entitled "Life, the Universe and Nothing.” The first discussion in Brisban was entitled
"Has science buried God?" 7Aug2013. Also at Vimeo. The second was in Sydney, entitled "Why is there something rather than nothing?” 13Aug2013. It is here that Krauss first displayed the email letter. The two speakers discussed the letter more in the third dialogue. The third talk in Melbourne was entitled "Is it reasonable to believe there is a God?” 16Aug2013. The final talk may also be found at Vimeo.

Much of Krauss’ presentation in Australia amounted to little more than intellectual bigotry and character assassination (see below). Taking advantage of the “discussion” format for his own rhetorical purposes, Krauss interrupted Craig ten times for each time Craig interrupted Krauss back. (Craig usually interrupted only to ask to complete his statement.) Rarely did Craig come even close to having equal time to respond to Krauss’ accusations and claims. Krauss’ intellectual bigotry was first evident in an earlier debate they had in which Krauss patronizingly rejected Craig’s traditional logic and proclaimed that only his own should be followed. He never showed how his logic differed from any normal modern logical systems currently accepted in the academic world or why the latter should be jettisoned. He simply proclaimed that his logic was right. During the Melbourne debate, Krauss even presented a syllogism that reached an absurd conclusion to prove that logical syllogisms are rationally useless. Yet the syllogism he used was obviously logically invalid and Krauss wasn’t even able to see the logical error that was involved! (See
Craig’s comments on this incident.)

Sean Carroll, in his debate with Craig in February 2014, did speak of the need to leave what he called “Aristotelian logic” but, to his credit, he did at least try to make his claim sound reasonable. Krauss, on the other hand, sounded like a medieval pope or king reprimanding any of his subjects who might dare to question his views. In a post-debate blog (for his first debate) Krauss spoke of his looking out on a sea of “smiling young faces . . . who came out mostly to hear Craig.” He said, “I believe that if I erred at all, it was in an effort to consider the sensibilities” of these gullible, childlike young people who were evidently, in Krauss’ thinking, intellectually incapable of understanding solid scientific reasoning. He claimed this even though the debate was not held at a religious institution or university and there may have been at least as many or more skeptics present as Christians and other theists. (One wonders if the gullible smiling faces were of Krauss’ own followers.)

In his most condescending tone Krauss mentioned that he “decided . . . to try and illustrate for these young minds the nature of science, with the hope that what they saw might cause them to think.” He did take some time to appear to have a rational look at Craig’s arguments (more in the post-debate blog than during the debate) but his conclusion was the same: “If you don’t agree with my views,” he said in essence, “you don’t know how to think right.” He either distorted Craig’s arguments to laughable caricatures or, when he did recognize any force to an argument or concept, offered fallacious and misguided responses. (See Krauss’ full comments and Craig’s response at
Reasonable Faith Q&A #215.)

I mentioned that Krauss’ intellectual bigotry was also evident at his exchange with Craig in Australia. At one point he said something like, “You go over there and play your philosophy games and we scientists will go over here and go about doing the real work of understanding the universe.” Of course Krauss gave no serious arguments for his claim that philosophy or theology fails to give knowledge of the real world.

Interestingly, concerning a different question, Craig mentioned the views of another scientist and noted that he was a Nobel laureate. Krauss responded that this just shows that even Nobel laureates can have very foolish views. (His actual words may not have been quite so kind.) But what does this say about Krauss’ own authoritarianism? If only scientists should evaluate scientific conclusions and arguments and if other scientists disagree with his views, then he will have to provide a rational responses to the criticisms and he will not be able to hide behind his title or status.

David Albert, a philosopher of physics (and not a theist), did a somewhat negative
critique of Krauss’ book, A Universe from Nothing, in the New York Times. Krauss responded typically, calling Albert a “moronic” philosopher. Krauss gave the closest thing to an apology he could muster only after colleagues pressured him. World class philosophers of the level of Craig and Albert, given their understanding of philosophy and science, certainly do have the ability and right to critique Krauss.

In the
Reasonable Faith Q&A 336 Craig provided Vilenkin’s complete email to Krauss and discussed the implications of that letter as well as other issues I cannot touch on here. The text in italics in endnote 13 which Krauss cut out, he insisted was only “technical” material of no concern to the viewers. Looking at the entire letter Craig had reproduced or merely looking at the part of the letter I have here provided, the reader should notice just how “technical” and irrelevant this text really is. Sadly, Krauss has been caught is an outright lie.


Dennis Jensen, July 2014, updated August, September, December 2014, and June 2015

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