William Lane Craig's Science of Cosmology

Yes, it is science engaged philosophy. He is engaging real science faithfully BUT he then gets the mathematicians upset by getting the logic wrong in his Kalam cosmological argument.


Indeed, going “beyond” science is exactly what philosophers do—because science itself is basically a “spin-off” of philosophy, a subfield of philosophy known as natural philosophy. Several centuries of Christian philosophers developed the scientific method and a set of rules to distinguish natural philosophy from the rest of philosophy. They realized that setting limitations on the methodologies of natural philosophy restricted it in various ways but in the process such methodologies proved very valuable and effective in answering questions about the natural world.

I’m often amused when philosophy-ignorant “science only” advocates lash out at philosophy as “irrelevant” and “useless” when it was philosophers who developed the rules of logic and the scientific method itself. Many would argue that Science is the #1 most valuable and brilliantly effective product of philosophy, the greatest accomplishment of many generations of philosophers. (Many would also point out that this grand accomplishment was almost entirely dependent on the work of Europe’s Christian philosophers.)

Patrick, I read through the linked material you provided and got the impression that the poster has a poor understanding of philosophy. Of course, I could say the same for many of the mathematicians who get “upset” about William Lane Craig’s logic in his version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

I do not claim to be a philosopher but I think I know enough of the basics to see how many mathematicians and WLC critics don’t understand the nature of proofs in philosophy. Formal proofs in mathematics are not the same as the kinds of proofs Bill Craig is talking about when he discusses the Kalam Cosmological Argument. You should not assume that such “proofs of God” are like mathematical proofs which settle some issue once and for all and render all doubt moot. No, in other fields of philosophy a proof [many prefer the term “argument”] tends to be an explanation for why some position is reasonable. That is, it expresses sound reason. I don’t think I can emphasize that enough. [Of course, many would say that some such arguments are more than just reasonable. They consider them overwhelmingly compelling. But philosophical proofs don’t necessarily require such extremes.]

Therefore, the Kalam Cosmological Argument does not mean that all of the world’s mathematicians must now become theists (much less Christian theists) because the logic has eliminated all denials of God’s existence and forced atheists to change their minds. No, the Kalaam is a philosopher’s summary of why the concept of such a deity is reasonable. Accordingly, there are plenty of atheist philosophers who can affirm the Kalam argument as valid and reasonable without feeling compelled to go to church every Sunday.

(By the way, if you want to strain your brain, I dare anyone to engage the current debate among philosophers about the demarcations between the philosophy of logic and philosophic logic! This is yet another of my excuses for not becoming a professional philosopher.)


Well said.

By the way, Joshua, many webpages dedicated to allegedly debunking Dr. Craig’s version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument waste a lot of verbiage on controversial issues such as the exact definition of the universe and whether there is a multiverse and prior entities, etc. etc. etc., thinking that those possibilities somehow render the Kalam invalid. No. Indeed, the very fact that there are so many different positions on such topics leaves the Kalam itself intact. Yes, there may be other reasonable positions but the fact remains that the Kalam itself, based on its own reasonable foundations, remains a valid argument of philosophers.

@Patrick, perhaps someday the physics will be utterly clear and the origins of the universe well understood to where philosophers will unanimously reject the Kalam argument. Until then—and I’m not predicting that that will happen—the Kalam Argument is most certainly a reasonable position.

[By the way, I find myself constantly having to correct my spelling from “Kalaam” to “Kalam” to reflect the standardized spelling. The Arabic word for “speech” (and later for “medieval theology”) is KALAM with the second “A” being long, and I got in the habit years ago of spelling it KALAAM as a result. It has proven a difficult habit to break. So my apologies if I still inconsistently mix Kalam and Kalaam in my posts. It may seem like a trivial point but there may be students and others who quote from Peaceful Science, so I try as hard as I can to keep my posts academically sound even in what may seem like minor details.]

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That day is today. I am preparing a post on the Final Planck Satellite Results that were released yesterday. Physics is now utterly clear on the origin of the universe. Philosophers no longer needed. Time for philosophers to move on to other areas.

@theman8469 welcome to the forum! We are glad to have you here. Personally, I look forward to seeing how this specific thread unfolds.

You just met @Patrick. Let’s understand each other before we start throwing around accusations like this.

No one is disputing WLC’s credentials. More likely. @Patrick misread him, or has something new to learn about the science of cosmology, or perhaps WLC made an error that is small from our point of view and consequential to him. Let us start with that presumption first.

Better phrased, some good excerpts of papers relevant to the conversation would be helpful. @Patrick, I think the burden is somewhat on you. You said he tends to get the science wrong. What exactly are you referring to?

I’d like to know about that. Can you give us the story and documentation?

I would agree with you @Patrick. You can be a sarcastic bomb dropper, saying the opposite of what you mean for a laugh. This, however, is not what is going on here.

@theman8469, this may be surprising, but @Patrick has some affinity for Craig. See here:

This is more likely than you know. If you guys can engage productively and hone in on a well conceived and careful question together, I’ll ask him to answer it. He might even come here to discuss it. He is not still figuring out his position on Adam, but this is a topic he would love to engage.

I’d suggest we all back off the instinct to “defend” our chosen champions. They can defend themselves. Let’s instead if we can better understand them, and see if there is any validity to Craig missing something important in the science of cosmology.

With that in mind, I’ve added some earlier related posts that were off topic on another thread.

@theman8469 will probably drop a few bombs for fun, but I expect he will also be reasonable to you. He is not th enemy.

Focus on this.

Clearly you are wrong on the science. The 2018 Final Planck Satellite results have a lot to say about multiple universes, M-Theory, quantum fluctuations, universe origins, creation for nothing. The conclusion is rather simple, the Lambda CDM 6 parameter model of the universe is confirmed with sub-percentage accuracy. The simplest model of inflation is strongly favored (slow roll inflation proposed by Guth and Linde in 1980). You don’t need multiple universes, M-theory, quantum fluctuations to explain the origin of the universe.

Basically Carroll-Chen assumes that prior to the big Bang with started our expanding universe there was a universe contracting from infinity this would avoid something called the BVG theorem that basically states that a universe, which on average is expanding cannot be infinite in the past. Carroll-Chen by having a infinitely contracting state the universe is never ‘on average’ expanding. The problem with any contracting space-time is that it requires absolute fine-turning or the whole thing folds up into a non-blackhole singularity. Craig pointed this out in the debate that this was fatal to Carroll-Chen but this was not the serious mistake that Carroll made in his own paper. Carroll-chen has to assume that the minimum of entropy was reached at the bounce Craig pointed out that Carroll offered no mechanisms or arguments as to why this is the case. Carroll claimed that a technical result in his paper did deal with this issue but Craig pointed out that Carroll was WRONG; the expanding universe would start with maximum entropy . I think this is what Patrick meant when he claimed that Craig does not understand the physics or entropy. The problem is that Craig was spot on and Carroll completely wrong. I feel in some ways that I am wasting my time Carroll has abandoned Carroll-Chen as unworkable validating the criticisms of Craig and many others. see here https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/honesty-transparency-full-disclosure-and-the-borde-guth-vilenkin-theorem/although this is more about Krauss editing an e-mail from Vilenkin on the BVG, Vilenkin makes exactly the same points that Craig made.


And I think you are right, in that I vaguely remember @Patrick referencing something like this.

Where is that adjudicated by a third party with credentials? Or where does Carroll concede this point?

Is that here?

@Patrick I’m familiar with Lambda-CDM, and with the cosmic background radiation, and with inflation. I’m not following the logic though. How does determine if there are or are not multiverses? And what does this have to do with the Kalam argument?

That is what I said - the standard big bang modal of the universe has been validated to new unprecedented level of detail. IT SAYS NOTHING about the origin of the universe. What I find interesting is that you claim that Craig does not understand cosmology, he has always championed the standard Big bang model. Carroll has been pushing multiple universes for years now, Stephen Hawking M-theory, Lawrence Krauss quantum fluctuations from nothing (well something). Craig has criticized these models as internally incoherent, philosophically illiterate and as bad metaphysics for years now. BIG win for Craig I think. By the way the BVG theorem still holds. M theory, multiple universes have not been discredited as they are not really physics but mathematical metaphysics divorced from reality. Sadly I think they will continue.

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“And what does this have to do with the Kalam argument?” Absolutely nothing. But what I find fascinating is that Patrick has vilified Craig for not understanding cosmology dispite the fact that Craig has defended the standard big bang cosmology for nearly 40 years against multiple universes, String theory, Quantum fluctuations, rho-braine cosmology etc… Carroll asserts multiple universes, Hawking M-theory, Krauss quantum fluctuations. By Patrick’s own post Craig (who does not understand cosmology) has been right all along and Carroll, Hawking, Krauss all wrong.

Slow down a bit and carefully document that string of claims. You are not in a debate with @Patrick. Drop the indignance. I want a good account of the story, with documentation so I can sort out what really happened. If you give a good and honest account, @Patrick will either grow silent, or thank you for correcting his mistake.


@theman8469 you seem surprisingly knowledgeable about this. Do you have physics training? Can you tell us a bit about yourself? I’m really looking forward to seeing this thread develop.

@Patrick, the link @theman8469 offered to WLC’s newsletter is enlightening.

It seems that Krauss has not been upfront about the science. You and I both have a shared commitment to honesty. I am curious what you think about this. Reading this, what do you make of this?

Were his redactions honest or misleading?

It all starts by Krauss forwarding a heavily redacted email from Vilenkin to Krauss, which seems to support many of the points that you @Patrick have made.

During your recent dialogue in Sydney Professor Krauss presented personal E-mail correspondence with cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin concerning the application of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem to the beginning of the universe. According to Vilenkin’s E-mail, in the case of a quantum theory of gravity “all bets are off.”

Craig, however, got his hands on the unredacted version of the email, and showed it to everyone here.

To my delight Vilenkin furnished the unabridged version of his letter to Krauss.1 I have put Krauss’ deletions in boldface:

Hi Lawrence,

Any theorem is only as good as its assumptions. The BGV theorem says that if the universe is on average expanding along a given worldline, this worldline cannot be infinite to the past.

A possible loophole is that there might be an epoch of contraction prior to the expansion. Models of this sort have been discussed by Aguirre & Gratton and by Carroll & Chen. They had to assume though that the minimum of entropy was reached at the bounce and offered no mechanism to enforce this condition. It seems to me that it is essentially equivalent to a beginning.

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 cocntraction, 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.


It appears as if Krauss edited the letter to make it say the opposite of what it meant. For example, he excluded this line, which is exactly WLC’s point that the best cosmology seems to indicate there was a beginning to the universet:

It seems to me that it is essentially equivalent to a beginning.

I don’t know enough of the story to know what is really going on. I trust William Lane Craig not to so boldly lie as to make up the full letter. I do not know Krauss’s state of mind when he edited that letter. For all I know, he might have genuinely thought he was being helpful.

In your view though, @Patrick, do you think those are fair edits? Were his redactions misleading?

I agree that the Carroll-Chen model is strongly disfavored by 2018 Planck Final Results. And yes Craig was spot on. Vilenkin pointed this out also in a letter to Scientific American. Many models are now strongly disfavored by Planck. The Guth-Linde slow roll inflation model is strongly favored now. It is a very simple idea that seems to explain in a single quantum field called the inflaton expands space so that universe can come out of the energy the empty space contains. The universe starts out with minimum entropy and entropy increases every since.

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Seems so. But in physics the proof is in the observational results. It seems like the simplest model of inflation is all that is necessary to explain the beginning of the universe we live in. The data is quite compelling. We don’t know what dark energy or dark matter is but the model, the math and the data all seem to fit. Amazing in just 54 years after Penzias and Wilson discovery down the street.

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We don’t trust the observational results if we don’t trust the scientist who reports them.

If Krauss was in error here, I hope he apologizes and retracts. That is how we identify who we can trust in the conversation. @Patrick, do you know if Krauss ever set the record straight and acknowledged his error here? Or, alternatively, demonstrated it was not actually an error?

I agree it is pretty amazing.

And yet so much mystery abounds…

The observation results were published with over 600 names on the papers. Are you saying that these 600 scientists are part of an elaborate hoax to distort the data in order to fit their pet theory?

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