Friday, February 19, 2016

Are all Cosmologists Atheists? Answering Sean Carroll (2)

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Sean Carroll

Last time I brought up Sean Carroll's "Why Most Cosmologists Are Atheists."[1]  I established that his title is an opinion not the result of research. I showed that his thinking is ideologically inclined; it is revealing in that it shows the atheist ideology of reductionism in action. They create a system of explanation which they claim is complete (it's only potentially complete) and then just assert there can't be anything more. When gaps in their coverage of nature arise they fend them off with atheism of the gaps. In this blog spot I will focus on certain issues, The article is way too long to deal with all of it.

He's going to try show that atheism (which he speaks of as science) is better at explaining the world than is theism. He's setting up the comparisons between science and religion as though atheism is synonymous with science. So he plays science off against religion. Then he reduces reality to his scientific paradigm thus the comparison is between theism and science and the test is which world view best delivers science. Got to be science (science is better at being science than is religion). Of course he passes this off as "the most complete view." It's not complete at all it's a truncated reality that is reduced to one form of knowledge, the form he controls.

world view

He tries to set up a comparison between world views. He hasn't bothered to listen to religious people or study their ideas so he doesn't really understand their world view. This is apparent when he tries to define the terms. He finds the Theistic terminology too variable, too much diversity. There's no nice convent little number crunching to do. As part of his selective comparison he chooses aspects of science that are empirical and display a long standding history of resolution to create the idea that it's such a complete description with no ambiguity. collapses reality into four "elements" (really sub disciplines of physics). (1) formal mathematical structure. (2) Laws of nature that can be described in numbered sequences. (3) "we need boundary conditions which specify the specific realization of the pattern." (4) "we need a way to relate this formal system to the world we see: an 'interpretation.'”

The materialist thesis is simply: that’s all there is to the world. Once we figure out the correct formal structure, patterns, boundary conditions, and interpretation, we have obtained a complete description of reality. (Of course we don’t yet have the final answers as to what such a description is, but a materialist believes such a description does exist.) In particular, we should emphasize that there is no place in this view for common philosophical concepts such as ”cause and effect” or ”purpose.” From the perspective of modern science, events don’t have purposes or causes; they simply conform to the laws of nature. In particular, there is no need to invoke any mechanism to ”sustain” a physical system or to keep it going; it would require an additional layer of complexity for a system to cease following its patterns than for it to simply continue to do so...... According to the materialist worldview, then, structures and patterns are all there are — we don’t need any ancillary notions. [emphasis mime]
Not only are there no causes but n time's arrow. This is wildly amusing because it sounds like Alan Sokal's parody of Postmodernism. [2] Talk about ideology, going to such absurd lengths to deny God. Denying all Cause and effect so as not to have to admit the universe needs a cause.

There are two levels of reality we are dealing with here. The first level is the physical No doubt science (real science) explains that aspect of reality better than does religion because that is not the function of religion. But even that level is far from complete. Carroll tries to suggest completeness but only because he wants to ignore what he can't explain. There are many aspect would could bring up, I will mention three. I am going to makes four criticisms:

(1) abandons Cause and effect

It is ridiculous to suggest that there is no cause and effect. I suspect that he mean s that in a very specialized sense; like when physicists speak of "nothing:" in terms of origin they really don't mean actual nothing. Yet it seems clear part of the reason avoiding cause/effect is to keep from having to admit that the universe needs a cause/ We need to move beyond the dichotomy of prescriptive vs descriptive laws that does not mean, however, that we can abandon c/e. There are clearly consequences to actions, For more see my article on the prescriptive vs descriptive laws. [3]

(2) He glosses over real disagreements regarding such issues

Carroll is not forthright about the diversity of opinion in science. He would have us believe that there is certainty about the physical world (with no causes) but there are major camps that disagree about the issue of causes,[4] The Hume-influenced camp (Humeans) support Hume's view and argue that all we can o is describe correlations because we can't see cause md effect. But scientific essentialists and realists believe that there is cause and effect. Essentially realism means that the aspects of physics such as slingalruty and the phenomena described in physics are real and actually there, while the anti-realists and Humeans have a large variation on the theme that sees these objects as theoretical the result of verisimilitude; the theoretical placeholders for our calculations, in other words, “constructs.” Just to make things more confusing I know atheists with phsyics degrees who style themselves in the anti-realist camp but hwo mock and riedicule constructivists such as Thomas Kuhn. [5]

When it comes to trying to define theism of course he makes it seem chaotic and lack of theological education doesn't help any. He finds the wider world of thought more complex and harder to navigate than he dreamed it's daunting nature s no doubt why he wants to control reality by paring it down to just his methods. He tries to spin the diversity and complexity to make it seem a fault rather the n a virtue. His definition is essentially a big man in the sky:
 I will take it to mean some being who is not bound by the same patterns we perceive in the universe, who is by our standards extremely powerful (not necessarily omnipotent, although that would count), and in some way plays a crucial role in the universe (creating it, or keeping it going, etc.). By a ”being” I mean to imply an entity which we would recognize as having consciousness — a ”person” in some appropriately generalized sense (as opposed to a feature of reality, or some sort of feeling). [6]
He even be bothered to do light reading on modern concepts of God. He's choosing a straw God. There are two major theories about God since the 20th century: (1) Process theology which sees
God as impersonal, dipolar (consisting of a concrete pole in which God is part of the temporal process and a potential pole incehi9ch God is transcendent of time and change). The major thinkers involved in process thought are Alfred North Whitehead who helped Bertrand Russell with Principia Mathematicus, and Charles Hartshorne who brought back the modal argument.[7] The second major theory is the phenomenological ontology of Paul Tillich and the notion that God is the ground of being or being itself. In that view, which is embraced by many major theologians and Vatican  II, God is no0t impersonal but transcends our concept of personhood. In the theology Tillich
god is not "a being' and that Carroll uses that phrase shows not only theological illiteracy but is a major error in Tillichian terms.

The God of theological theism is a being beside others and as such part of the whole of reality. He certainly is considered its most important part, but as a part and therefore subject to the structure of the whole. He is supposed to be beyond the ontological elements and categories which constitute reality. But every statement subjects him to them. He is seen as a self which has a world, as an ego which is related to a thou, as a cause which is separated from its effect as having a definite space and an endless time. He is a being not being itself. As such he is bound to the subject/object structure of reality, he is an object for us as subjects and this decisive for the necessity of transcending theological theism. [8]

(3) Ignores other kinds of questions and other ways of answering them (other kinds of knowledge)

Religion is predicated upon answering the I=big questions, why am I hear, is there meaning in life, Is there a God. These questions are beyond science because they are only tangentially reflated to the workings of the physical world. While science does shed light on aspect's of them it cannot answer them. Hans Urs Von Balthasar (1905-1988) (Swiss Catholic Theologian)is an example of another major theologian who supported ideas about God as being itself and also asked major questions of this type.Balthasar’s overall theological project centers upon the dualities between human conflict with ourselves and our place in being. Examples of the dualities that fascinate Balthasar include: our own contingency and that of the world around us in contrast to the sense of being itself. Our place in being, science can't asked if the question  makes sense.One must do philosophy just to reject it. Balthasar was very emphatic about the personal nature of God [9]
Von Balthasar

Balthasar example of both the sophisticated view of Go0d and the kind of question science can't answer.

(4) Ignores direct counter evidence such as miracles and religious experience.

part 2: A Medical Historian Searches Vatican
Medical historian Jaclyn Duffin finds evidence of miracles
and resurrection searching the Vatican archives. The Empircal
Supernatuarl is not about miracles but mystical experience. Yet
there is evidence that "supernatural effects" my include miracles.[10]
part 3: Medical Historians examine Lourdes Miracles.
In peer reviewed academic journal, medical histoirans find Lourdes
miracles still unexplained.[11]
Of courser the materialists will complain that these things aren't real. They are part of the description of the universe and since there are no physical laws for them to violate the only real argument against them materialists can muster is "I have not see  this," I have, thus materialism does not offer a complete view.


[1] Sean Carroll, "Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists;" On line resource, Prepared for God and Physical Cosmology: Russian-Anglo American Sean M. CarrollConference on Cosmology and Theology, Notre Dame, January/February 2003. Published in Faith and Philosophy 22, 622 (2005). See also the pdf version. URL:  accessed Feb 12, 2016.
Carroll is at the California Institute of Technology.

[2] Alan Sokal Social Text #46/47, pp. 217-252 (spring/summer 1996).

In the 1996 physicist Alan Sokal embarrassed post modernists by making silly statements such as "physicists no longer think in terms of a world beyond our own minds." The idea that there is no time's arrow or cause and effects the kind of nonsense of which  his parody consisted, The Postmodern began using it as back up then he srung the

[3] Joe Hinman.. "Physical laws: Beyond the prescriptive/descriptive dichotomy,: Religious a priori
no date, Link

[4] Brian Ellis, in Sankey, op cit, “Caual Powers and Laws of Nature” 19-34

[5] Chakravartty, Anjan, "Scientific Realism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

[6] Carroll op. cit.

[7] Donald Viney, "Process Theism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

[8] Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be. London and Glasgow: Collins, the Fontana library 1974, ninth impression. First published by Nisbet, 1952, 178.

Also see my article "Paul Tillich and The Personal God" Metacrock's Blog, March 14, 2011, URL:

[9] Joel Graver, “a Short Biography,” website:Hans Urs Von Balthasar, an Internet Archieve. URL sighted: (visited 12/3/10).

also see my article "Hans Urs Von Balthasar: Being Itself and The Personal God." Metacrock's Blog
March 12, 2014

[10] Joseph Hinman, "Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints and Healing: Medical Miracles in the Modern World. ,"  Religious a priori an online resource for Christian apologetics. no dater4

[11] Ibid., "Medical Historians Agree Lourdes Cures are Unexplainable,"

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