I have transcribed the entire 10+ minute speech (after 1:40). I thought it necessary, because he doesn't present a single, coherent argument, he presents a welded series of assertions which are necessary to view as a whole. In that same sense, he doesn't present a single empirical data point, but uses the meta-concept of empiricism as a weapon. So any analysis needs to be against his meta-narrative, and that meant that the entire narrative must be viewed in order that the overall truth value can be mined from it. I have made comments throughout, but the analysis is after the end of the speech, below.
"Something we learned by doing science for 400 years is something called “Naturalism”, the idea that there is only one reality; that there are not separate planes of the natural and the supernatural; that there is only one material existence; that we are part of the universe and do not stand outside of it in any way. And the way that science got there is by basically realizing that human beings are not that smart. You are not Vulcans, you are not Mr. Spock, you are not perfectly logical.
We as human beings are subject to all sorts of biases and cognitive shortcomings. We tend to be wishful thinkers and to see patterns where they are not there and so forth. And in response to this science developed techniques for giving ourselves reality checks, for not letting us believe things that the evidence does not stand up to.
[Pure Scientism with unrestricted intellectual range]
[But science can’t detect it so it cannot exist]
One technique is simply skepticism which you may have heard of. Scientists are taught that we should be our own theories harshest critics. Scientists spend all their time trying to disprove all their favorite ideas. It’s a little bit counter intutitve, a different way of doing things, but it helps us resist the lure of wishful thinking.
The other technique is empiricism. We realize that we are not smart enough to get to knowledge of the world just be thinking about it. We have to go out there and LOOK at the world. And what we done by looking at this for the past 400 years is to realize that human beings are not separate; that the world is one thing, the natural world, and that it can be understood.
It is all very counterintuitive; it is not very obvious, this Naturalism claim. When you talk to a person, they have thoughts and feelings and responses. When you talk to a dead person, a corpse – a bit morbid here – you don’t get those same responses, the same thoughts and feelings. It’s very natural, very commonsensical to think that a living person possesses something that a corpse does not, some sort of spirit, some sort of soul or animating life source.
[Why is this not “thinking without looking directly at it and measuring”?]
"But this idea does not stand up to closer scrutiny. A big step toward realizing this was made back in the 1600’s by a remarkable woman named Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia. They made princesses differently back in the seventeenth century. Elisabeth carried on a year-long correspondence with Rene Descartes, the (unintelligible) theory of mind, body and dualism. And Elisabeth said, “I really don’t understand what you said, because if you really believe that my mind is a separate realm from the body, it’s my mind that makes a choice to lift my arm but it’s my body that does it. [4:09] How does an immaterial mind which you say doesn’t exist at a location in space, how does it act causally on the body? How does it interact with the stuff of which you are made? And Descartes never came up with a reliable, believable response to these objections.
"Of course, these days the objections are enormously stronger. We say, “you are made of atoms. You’re made of molecules, you’re made of cells, you’re made of atoms, and as (unintelligible), WE KNOW HOW ATOMS BEHAVE. The laws of physics covering the behavior of atoms are COMPLETELY understood. You put an atom in a certain set of circumstances, and you tell me what those circumstances are, and as a physicist, I will tell you what the atom will do.[pure devotion to determinism and his own ability to predict human behavior, based on determinism]
"If you believe that the atoms inside your brain and your body act differently because they are in your body as opposed to being in a rock or a crystal, then what you are saying is that the laws of physics are wrong…[But, of course, no one is saying that]
"…that they need to be altered because of the influence of a spirit or soul or something like that. That may be true. We can’t DISPROVE that. But there is no evidence for it. [5:12][Of course not. Science has LIMITS, as anyone who has read Popper knows. Refusal to acknowledge the known limits of physical science is obtuse, especially for a scientist promoting metaphysical claims]
[Presupposition of the naturalist dichotomy:
"Either empirical proof for X,i.e.
Or X = superstition.
Either there is “evidence” for X,“Evidence” is defined as material/empirical, under Naturalism.
Or, X = superstition.
But Carroll does not apply this principle to his own belief set; only to metaphysics. That demonstrates the lack of actual "evidence" which exists for direct support of metaphysical Naturalism, and Carroll fails to reveal that to the audience.]
[Where’s the empirical data when you need it? Must we "assume" without such data? Of course we must; there is no data.]
"You get a much stronger explanatory framework by assuming that it’s just the laws of physics.
"That kind of reasoning is a big step toward Naturalism.[Yes, it would be, if you actually believe it without proof].
"Another big step also happened in the 1600s, when Gallileo came across the idea of conservation of momentum. You might say, “Why does conservation of energy get in the way of (unintelligible) and God, but it does. Before Gallileo came along, physics was described by Aristotle, and Aristotle said something that, again, was very obvious and commonsensical – that if you want something to keep moving, you need to push it. Things naturally come to rest, left to their own devices. But if you look at the world, you realize that things are moving all over the place. So Aristotle very logically eventually concluded that you need to invoke the existence of an unmoved mover, which can be identified, of course, with God.[Darwin has been debunked 150 years later. Notice how the words imply that first life is solved without actually saying so.]
But then of course Gallileo comes along and says, “actually the natural behavior of matter is to keep moving at a constant velocity. Motion is perfectly natural. When things stop, it is because you are acting on them through friction or air resistance or dissipation.
And then Isaac Newton comes along with an elaborate edifice of mechanics which explains the world beautifully in purely material principles. And it’s very, very interesting; once that happened, you realize that the prime mover argument doesn’t work as well, and you can actually see a change in the theological literature of the time.
Before Newton and Gallileo, there was emphasis put on ideas of prime movers and first causes, arguments from cosmology, contingency and so forth; after Newton and Gallileo, the arguments emphasized something else, the argument from design. People would say, “sure you can explain all the planets moving, that’s easy, but all the life forms, the marvelous diversity of life here on earth, that had to be made by some guiding external intelligence. In fact, in the 1700’s Immanuel Kant said, “there will never be an Isaac Newton-made blade of grass”. Then of course in the 1800’s we GOT an Isaac Newton for a blade of grass, his name was Charles Darwin.
Darwin showed how material, matter, all by itself, without guidance, without purpose, without an aim, just by the natural motions of ordinary things can lead to the marvelous diversity of organic life that we see here on Earth. Another huge step in the direction of Naturalism.
Now of course I could go on, we could talk about modern cosmology and the origin of the universe, we could talk about neuroscience and what consciousness is and so forth, but I don’t want to do that right now, we can maybe talk about that later. I don’t want to do it right now, basically because it’s kind of boring.[actually these are unanswerable; he's wise to avoid them as he so easily dances around them].
"And the reason that it’s kind of boring is that the argument is finished. The debate is over. We’ve come to a conclusion. Naturalism has won. If you go to any university physics department, listen to the talks they give or the papers they write; go to any biology department; go to any neuroscience department; any philosophy department; people whose professional job it is to explain the world, to come up with explanatory framework that matches what we see, no one mentions God. There is never an appeal to a supernatural realm, by people whose job it is to explain what happens in the world. Everyone knows that the Naturalist explanations are the ones that work.[He has the massive hubris to declare why theism is accepted by "most people", merely in Naturalistic terms, as if he actually knows that. He most emphatically does not. It has something to do with the resonant ringing of truth value on the one hand vs. personal attachment to a blank, void ideology being declared as empirical truth without empirical proof on the other hand.]
And yet! Here we are! We’re having a debate. Why are we having a debate? Because, clearly, religion speaks to people for reasons other than explaining what happens in the world.
Most people who turn to religious belief do not do so because they think it provides the best biology or cosmology. They turn to religious belief because it provides them with purpose and meaning in their lives. With a sense of Right and Wrong. With a community. With hope.
[Really? I thought we were deterministic, just a bunch of atoms ruled by physics with outcomes predictable by Carroll himself.]
"So if we want to say that science has refuted religion, we need to say that science has something to say about those issues. And on that I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that the universe does not care about you. (laughter) Qua universe. The universe is made up of elementary particles that don’t have intelligence, don’t pass judgment, don’t have a sense of Right and Wrong. And the fear is, the existential anxiety is that if that purpose and meaningfulness is not given to me by the universe, then it cannot exist. The good news is that that fear is a mistake. That there is another option: that we create purpose and meaning in the world.
"If you love somebody, it is not because that love is put into you by something outside, it is because you created that from inside yourself. If you act goodness (sic) to somebody, it’s not because you are given instructions to do so, it’s that it’s a choice that you made. In the very scary world, you should be affected at a very deep level [Should? Is that the empirical ‘should’?], by the thought that the universe doesn’t care, does not pass judgment on you, but it’s also challenging and liberating [Atheist freedom of the VOID] that we can create lives that are worth living.
I have never met God. I have never met any spirits or angels. But I have met human beings; many of them are amazing people. And I truly believe that if we accept the universe for what it is, if we approach reality with an open mind and an open heart, then we can create lives very much worth living.
An Analysis of the Content of the Speech:
Carroll is at least consistent. He presumes that science can, in fact, disprove the existence of non-physical reality. He said so up front, and in these words:
” Something we learned by doing science for 400 years is something called “Naturalism”, the idea that there is only one reality; that there are not separate planes of the natural and the supernatural;”This is, of course, entirely false. Under Popper's falsifiability demarcation, science is limited to the pursuit of physical questions which can be disproven during the attempt to prove them. That eliminates metaphysical issues from the scientific mix. They cannot be tested, physically, experimentally, independently replicated for data comparison. To eliminate the falsification requirement eradicates the ability to declare any unfalsifiable principle to be "objective knowledge". Such unfalsifiable principles are subjective, and are suspect at best. What Carroll has presented is of two kinds: false association (metaphysics conflated with physical phenomenon), and circular (presupposing the conclusion in the premises).
Further, it is easily shown that theism does not address the physical realm, and when ecclesiasticism attempts to do so, it frequently but not always, fails, a point which Carroll attempts to bend into a refutation. But theism is not about the physical realm, and attacking it based on that premise will fail to address the essence of theism altogether. Carroll's case does not extend that far, because empiricism doesn't go there.
So how does he form his argument? What is the basis of his proof? His proof for that assertion is not empirical; it is an Appeal to Authority (famous scientists) and an associated False Association (conflating non-physical with physical, which is also a Category Error). So he compounds at least three logic errors into a support structure for his Scientism and Naturalism, right at the start, making the entire speech circular.
One must assume that Naturalism is the case if it is asserted that Science can disprove metaphysical existence. That’s because science can disprove X only if science can test for X. To say that science has the ability to test for and disprove X, is to say that science has X-abilities. To conclude that science has X abilities, but cannot find X, is a hazardous statement, because it does not prove that there is no X. To say that would be to commit the Inductive Fallacy.
And if science has X abilities, then X is presumed to be physical (because that’s what science is). So the redefinition is implicit: X is physical by definition, and if X is then designated as "metaphysical", then metaphysical is physical by the redefinition of science. By this circular reasoning, either physical existence is actually metaphysical (not what he believes), or metaphysical existence is actually physical (also not what he believes), or metaphysical existence does not exist due to the definitional problems encountered within Naturalism (this is what he believes, although without specifically tumbling to it). So metaphysics is defined not to exist, due to this logical morass.
The convolutions in this logical train wreck are painful to observe, and astounding to watch as they are proposed without critical analysis.
Carroll does not provide the science which proves his "scientific" convictions; that's because there is no experimental data on X. What he does instead of providing empirical scientific data for a disciplined direct experimental assault on metaphysics is to claim that the increased knowledge of the universe and its physical characteristics somehow proves conclusively that there is no existence which is not available for scientific, physical analysis. How does he justify this? He does not; he presupposes it. He slides his argument into a position of Scientism - I'll predict your behavior from your atoms - in order to support his metaphysical Naturalism, which he has already presupposed, a spectacular error of circular reasoning.
He invokes Gallileo and Newton and Darwin, and winds up using their observations of cosmos, forces, and finches to conclude that they had disproven metaphysical existence. But he does that by invoking changes in ecclesiastic theory, not basic theism. Basic theism is totally unaffected by the findings of these men, or by the natural laws governing the cosmos, forces, and finches.
None of these famous scientific findings bear on metaphysics in even the remotest empirical fashion. They all describe physical characteristics, not metaphysical existence, metaphysical truths, or origins – not even Darwin’s Origins discusses actual life origins and how life came to be, merely from inanimate and rather stupid minerals obeying the laws of physics. And of course, Darwin’s premises, all of them, are now discounted fully by evolutionists themselves, who are groping for hope in meta-meta-principles for the salvation of evolution.
What Carroll preaches is metaphysical Naturalism. But science uses only methodological naturalism and abjures metaphysical Naturalism because it is (a) a physically unprovable metaphysical claim, and (b) an ideology, not an empirical conclusion, not even contingently. The idea that physical science can disprove the existence of nonphysical reality is a Category Error, and is absurd in the logical sense.
Also, Carroll repeats his idea that humans are nothing but atoms, atoms are deterministic, we know the physics and laws that govern the behavior of atoms. And yet he also asserts that humans are agents, creative, intelligent and moral. His explanation for that internal contradiction is: none.
And as a finale, he dodges consciousness and other non-physical characteristics of actual life by declaring them trivial, and the war against metaphysics to have been won… by metaphysical Naturalism.
That is hardly the case. One cannot achieve a victory in war by ignoring the atomic bombs still in the adversary's rockets and merely declaring victory any way.
This entire speech is a metaphysical, philosophical and ideological statement in support for the presumption of the omniscience of science (Metaphysical Scientism), which presumptively disproves metaphysics, philosophy and ideologies (which are anti-science and are superstitions).
The self-refutation and non-coherence are obvious.