Sean M. Carroll

On this date in 1966, Sean M. Carroll was born in Philadelphia, Pa. (He is not to be mistaken with biologist Sean B. Carroll.) He graduated from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics in 1993. Carroll is a cosmologist and physicist who currently works as a Senior Research Associate in Physics at California Institute of Technology. He has also been a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Carroll published one book on cosmology, From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time (2010), along with numerous research papers. He was awarded the MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching Award in 1996. Carroll currently writes for the science blog Cosmic Variance on the Discover magazine website and is married to science writer Jennifer Ouellette.

Carroll calls himself an atheist in “The God Conundrum,” a 2006 Cosmic Variance post, where he examines and refutes criticisms of Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion (2006). In 2005, he authored a paper titled “Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists.” Carroll wrote, “I wish to argue that religious belief necessarily entails certain statements about how the universe works, that these statements can be judged as scientific hypotheses, and that as such they should be rejected in favor of alternative ways of understanding the universe.” He elaborated on the scientific support for atheism in a 2001 Cosmic Variance post titled “Does The Universe Need God?” Carroll wrote: “Consider a hypothetical world in which science had developed to something like its current state of progress, but nobody had yet thought of God. It seems unlikely that an imaginative thinker in this world, upon proposing God as a solution to various cosmological puzzles, would be met with enthusiasm.”

“We are looking for a complete, coherent, and simple understanding of reality. Given what we know about the universe, there seems to be no reason to invoke God as part of this description.”

—Sean M. Carroll, “Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists,” 2005.

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor; Photo by s_bukley /

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