Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On the fundamental question--evolution or creation?--Americans are on the fence. According to one survey, while 61% of Americans believe we have evolved over time, 22% believe this evolution was guided by a higher power, with another 31% on the side of creationism. For some, modern science debunks many of religion's core beliefs, but for others, questions like "Why are we here?" and "How did it all come about?" can only be answered through a belief in the existence of God. Can science and religion co-exist?

  • Lawrence Krauss web


    Lawrence Krauss

    Director, Origins Project and Foundation Professor, ASU

  • Michael Shermer web


    Michael Shermer

    Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author

  • ian-hutchinson-web


    Ian Hutchinson

    Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT

  • Dinesh-DSouza-for-web


    Dinesh D'Souza

    Author, What's So Great About Christianity

    • Moderator Image


      John Donvan

      Author & Correspondent for ABC News

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Lawrence Krauss web

For The Motion

Lawrence Krauss

Director, Origins Project and Foundation Professor, ASU

Lawrence Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist. He is the Director of the Origins Project and Professor of Physics at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Krauss has written several bestselling books including A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing (2012). Passionate about educating the public about science to ensure sound public policy, Krauss has helped lead a national effort to defend the teaching of evolution in public schools. He currently serves as Chair of the Board of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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Michael Shermer web

For The Motion

Michael Shermer

Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author

Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and Editor of, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University and Chapman University. Shermer’s latest book is The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths (2011). He was a college professor for 20 years, and since his creation of Skeptic magazine, has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, and Charlie Rose. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series Exploring the Unknown.

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Against The Motion

Ian Hutchinson

Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT

Ian Hutchinson is a physicist and Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He and his research group are international leaders exploring the generation and confinement (using magnetic fields) of plasmas hotter than the sun's center. This research, carried out on a national experimental facility designed, built, and operated by Hutchinson's team, is aimed at producing practical energy for society from controlled nuclear fusion reactions, the power source of the stars. In addition to authoring 200 research articles about plasma physics, Hutchinson has written and spoken widely on the relationship between science and Christianity. His recent book Monopolizing Knowledge (2011) explores how the error of scientism arose, how it undermines reason as well as religion, and how it feeds today's culture wars and an excessive reliance on technology.

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Against The Motion

Dinesh D'Souza

Author, What's So Great About Christianity

A New York Times bestselling author, Dinesh D’Souza, has had a distinguished 25-year career as a writer, scholar and intellectual. A former Policy Analyst in the Reagan White House, D’Souza also served as an Olin Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute as well as a Rishwain Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Called one of the “top young public-policy makers in the country” by Investor’s Business Daily, he quickly became a major influence on public policy through his writings. In 2008 D’Souza released the book, What’s So Great About Christianity, the comprehensive answer to a spate of atheist books denouncing theism in general and Christianity in particular. D'Souza is also the former President of The King’s College in NYC,

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

Online Voting

Voting Breakdown:

62% voted the same way in BOTH pre- and post-debate votes (31% voted FOR twice, 24% voted AGAINST twice, 8% voted UNDECIDED twice). 38% changed their mind (6% voted FOR then changed to AGAINST, 2% voted FOR then changed to UNDECIDED, 7% voted AGAINST then changed to FOR, 2% voted AGAINST then changed to UNDECIDED, 13% voted UNDECIDED then changed to FOR, 8% voted UNDECIDED then changed to AGAINST) | Breakdown Graphic

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    • Comment Link Thomas Olds Monday, 03 June 2013 16:00 posted by Thomas Olds

      By Darwin's own admission "irreducible complexity" disproves his theory. Think ribosomes, flagella etc. -- Darwinism is more akin to a religion than any type of scientific theory. Science can neither prove nor disprove it. The same can be said for intelligent design.

      However, when you kick astronomy into the equation, our solar system, the function of the moon, elipitcal orbits versus circular, the unique attributes of the sun the idea of chance and other earths out there just waiting to be found seems the expectation of a fool.

      Was disappointed with the debate. The audience reflected a Darwinist convention with no appreciation whatsoever of what science of the last 50 years has added to the arguments for or against intelligent design.

    • Comment Link Pat Sunday, 02 June 2013 20:26 posted by Pat

      Religion, more than likely, was created to answer what mankind has always been unable to answer because he had not the technology or knowledge, and training, to discover the answers when religion was used as the substitute for the then unknowable.

      The real question is whether humans are smart enough not to ruin the plant, destroy it, or make themselves extinct from their pick-and-choose knowledge used for their own self interest.

    • Comment Link Ron Coleman Friday, 24 May 2013 13:14 posted by Ron Coleman

      Quite a few apparently confused cleverness with wisdom when casting their votes.

    • Comment Link H H Markley Thursday, 23 May 2013 10:51 posted by H H Markley

      I by accident watched this debate late last night. This was a non-debate because the opponents of "does science refute God" were representative of a premodern 19th century theology. The proponents were versed in modern quantum physics. The opponents had no familiarity with modern 20th Century theology and its existential approach to religion. I doubt that the producers of this show sought good thinking theologians. They ohly wished to create a specious debate. The great 20th Century theologians are of course dead: Paul Tillich, the Niebuhr brothers, Bultman, and Bonhoeffer. A few of their adherants are living - Marcus Borg, a few seminary professors, Rob Bell and some others like myself. Ciao,

    • Comment Link Michael Thursday, 23 May 2013 02:56 posted by Michael

      Man made god

    • Comment Link john32 Tuesday, 21 May 2013 14:40 posted by john32

      A very big deception of the devil is to get you to debate God, Christianity and other religions. This is one of the surest ways to ensure, that you will never experience real salvation and eternal life, and all the wonderful things God has predestined for you.

      Let us just suppose (for those who do not have faith), that even if you argue and debate, and finally, even if it is a long shot, and you finally are logically convinced (by the way, there are many books,eg by thomas equinas that logically prove the christian faith) that there is a God, and that He is the christian God. Does it mean you are going to heaven, just because you are mentally or intellectually convinced that Jesus is God??????

      Not at all. Not unless you have a spiritual experience called being born again.A logical belief in Christianity will prevent you from experiencing the Real Deal, that is a Spiritual Salvation in Christ in the following ways:

      The devil was once a mighty archangel, and presently with billions of demons, evil spirits, unclean spirits, etc with a far superior intelligence than humans.Each human being is assigned to tens, if not hundreds of evil spirits and demon hordes, that would love for you to deny their existence. For if you deny their existence, then surely you will deny God's existence. It is extremely easy, 1,2,3 steps for Satan to deceive humans in more than a thousand ways.

      Don't even think you can compete with satan intellectually. However, he has no control over your heart, and what you choose to believe.And that is the loophole, which God has opened up for you. The faith route is the only way you can bypass Satan,and his cronies who guard the intellectual gates of the human mind.

      When you get in to the logic debate about God, few important things to consider in SPIRITUAL WORLD which is what actually matters:

      1) You could be tempted to fall into the dungeon of SPIRITUAL PRIDE, as you are tricked into judging Almighty God, which is a fool's folly.Spiritual pride was the reason, for satan's downfall. Also for man's downfall, in garden of eden, as eve sucumbed to the temptation about being as knowledgeable as God.

      This could also result in the person who is logically convinced that Jesus is God, as an intellectual knowledge of the truth, will become a STUMBLING BLOCK for a real SPIRITUAL SALVATION experience.

      2) It could also lead to DECEPTION as the person, cannot find God in the intellectual domain, but only in the Spiritual domain. God's thoughts are far higher than yours, mine and the devil's, so you have to trust Him at His word. As it is written in the bible:
      Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

      God is spirit, only a spiritual born again experience can save the person, and the first thing to do is to humble ourselves. Second, we need deliverance from demonic spirits of unbelief that hold people as captives. This can be done if the person humbles himself/herself and receives Jesus Christ into the heart. Deliverance can be done even online, and specific prayers can set the captives free.

      I speak from experience. Not here to argue with anyone.

      Simple challenge for those who are sincere: Ask God to open your eyes, and to reveal Himself to you.Ask in JESUS name.Simple. Try it. IT WORKS

    • Comment Link Arjay Wednesday, 15 May 2013 21:20 posted by Arjay

      I didn't realize until watching the debate how shallow the iqsquick process is. It'd have been a more valuable experience to watch the panel questioned by a skilled interviewer such as Charlie Rose. Viewers don't need 'bread and circus' before and after polling to indicate which side of a simplistic proposal is more believable.

      God? What defines god?

      The concept of god doesn't require eternal life. It's probable that when we die we'll return to the state that existed before our birth, no matter what our personal virtues and failings may have been.

      Science knows a great deal but can only speculate on parameters which define the limits of reality. God is one of many names for the universal process from which our existence stems.

      Humans are likely never to fully understand that process. For practical purposes everything that exists is part of a scientific miracle.

      Scientists propose! God doesn't.

    • Comment Link Carl Landsness Wednesday, 08 May 2013 20:12 posted by Carl Landsness

      I'm uncomfortable with the question... because of its right/wrong win/lose nature... and the emotional baggage attached to the "God" word. I'd prefer more win/win explorations into the forces that impact life... including the mystical aspects of life.

    • Comment Link Rick Cypress Tuesday, 07 May 2013 10:38 posted by Rick Cypress

      Most of you are missing the point. A (nondescript) god/deity cannot be proven to exist or not exist because that god/deity is a non-falsifiable hypothesis, as easily dismissed as it is asserted. Think of satirical examples such as the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Celestial Teapot, etc. However, if one is intellectual honest with oneself, one MUST admit that the god/deity they follow IS well described and DOES have characteristics and attributes that ARE falsifiable. Especially when talking about the Christian/Muslin/Jewish god(s). That particular god has attributes, widely accepted by its followers, and those claims such as physical manifestations, miracles, prayer answering, historicity of religious text and the contradictions and atrocities found within. These are all falsifiable, testable claims that when challenged, DO NOT stand up. That is why when it comes to the god of the bible and koran, he CAN be proven not to exist.

    • Comment Link John Covel Wednesday, 01 May 2013 08:13 posted by John Covel

      The motion requires that God is within the rational grasp of methodological materialism. If a god is outside of empirical invalidation then there's no point in talking about whether or not God is refuted by science.

      It should be established by the opposition to the motion whether or not God can be invalidated. If God can be invalidated, then there are some important logical questions that comes to the forefront. A falsifiable God has to answer to some profound logical contradictions before we can even talk about empirical invalidation.

    • Comment Link Toby Mailman Tuesday, 30 April 2013 12:54 posted by Toby Mailman

      How can you have a debate, which by definition means using rational argument, to discuss "God" or religion, which depend, by definition, strictly on faith, which is the opposite of rational argument. No rational argument will win over people who believe in something based on faith, disregarding any evidence to the contrary.

    • Comment Link Ed Silha Monday, 29 April 2013 01:25 posted by Ed Silha

      I think that the phrase "the incredibly shrinking god" (or gods) says it all. At one time god or the gods were incredibly powerful and in control of everyday life. As science began to provide explanations for things that had been unknown, those things were taken from the province of the gods and placed in the province of understanding.

      One rational approach to this discussion is to decide that questions with unknown answers (e.g., is there life after death) are neither evidence for god nor science, simply unknown. If that is done, it is not difficult to assign things that are known to the province of understanding, leaving nothing for god(s).

    • Comment Link JT Thursday, 25 April 2013 11:25 posted by JT

      "Refute: To prove wrong by argument or evidence"

      Krauss and Shermer don't prove anything.

      In fact, Krauss starts off by saying:

      "We will show that Science refutes god, not that Science disproves god... which is two different things"

      No it isn't!

      And Shermer's statements "what seems more likely...." does nothing to prove anything.

    • Comment Link Sam Tuesday, 16 April 2013 08:14 posted by Sam

      Perhaps we might say science is the ongoing but fabulously incomplete search for causality which may someday discover evidence for the tenets of belief on a deity.

      Science is the accumulation of evidence that attempts to de- mystify what we do not yet understand. Belief shortcuts the process and provides comfort and structure without the pain of discovery.
      Neither refutes the other.

    • Comment Link Oriahna Monday, 15 April 2013 15:58 posted by Oriahna

      This was a very interesting debate. It is very refreshing to have people talk about opposing views without necessarily personally attacking each other. I do however feel that the topic of this debate is flawed. There should be a debate on whether scientific evidence can support the Creation theory. If you can determine that there is scientific evidence for Creation, then you can intellectually decide for your self if Science does or does not support the possibility of God. You can do this easily by having a section of time specifically used to talk about one type of science at a time. Examples being Biology, Genetics, Geology. Then each side produces their evidence for or against the proof of Creation and Intellectual Design.

    • Comment Link Shawn Monday, 15 April 2013 13:16 posted by Shawn

      Here is the main problem I continually see. I am constantly reading about peoples opinions concerning weather a God/Creator exists. I find it hard to believe people denying a creator since science and medicine can not explain how you could be born with no parents and still be thought of as it being scientific and not magical.

      You don't need a magical God to have a creator. You don't have to believe He is magical. You do however have to know that when you look at a t.v. or a cellphone that someone someplace had the knowledge to do it and it wasn't done using magic.

      If you look at nature and the cycle of life two sexes are needed to create new life. Where did the cycle start? Where did life come from but life. Do you really think that it magically appeared as some scientists believe?

      I have read also some scientists refer to being able to recreate certain kinds of life in labs and use this as evidence for no need for a creator. Why did they need to do it if it didn't require a lab or scientist? Why not just say see life just appeared right in that bottle? The reason being is because it would not be science.

      I remember a story that I heard I won't go into it and just give a quick summary. It takes place in a bakery. The baker has a cake on the counter with a sign on it saying proof of evolution 10 million dollars. When asked about the cake the baker states that the cake has been there on that counter since his grandfather opened this store and no one has ever bought it. When asked why is it proof of evolution the man said "My grandfather opened this shop and the next day there was a cake on the counter that he didn't bake.

      To this day no one has tried to prove if the cake really did make itself. No one would believe him and he knows all about cakes.

      Why do people fall fools too fools?

    • Comment Link PapaSmerf Sunday, 14 April 2013 17:42 posted by PapaSmerf

      Evolution is real, although using it to disprove God is totally off the wall, as I feel it only shows us how the universe/God works....the same as scientists today, trial and error!

      This planet was the one that was capable for life to grow and sustain itself. For all we know those other planets could have once been like our own but due to some force ended up as frozen or too hot or filled with poisonous gases...we don't know and I doubt we ever will for many of thousands of years, if ever at all!

      If this planet is the sole unique one with complex lifeforms on it, was it by random chance and events or all part of some predetermined plan?

      Which if it's the latter then who came up wih the blueprint/designs?

    • Comment Link PapaSmerf Sunday, 14 April 2013 17:30 posted by PapaSmerf

      Firstly I must say I enjoy the show and embrace the need for intellectual debate, however I don't agree with declaring a winner in them. I understand that's how the show and debate works, although I'm more interested in just the imformative talk going on.

      Now pertaining specifically to this topic, I feel that neither side can completely prove or disprove the existence of God or a God/Creator/Almighty Being for that matter.

      In fact, personally I feel that there is no one thing or person who will ever be able to show us where the universe came from! While I accept the vast majority of claims that science provides us with, the one that would undoubtedly change my beliefs towards the possibility of there being a "higher being" would be proof of where matter originated. I feel that science has come a long ways from where it once was, hidden in secrecy because of religious persecutions. Yet, science can not explain or show how or what existed before the big bang happened. From what I understand which is limited I'll be honest with you, is that science agrees with the big bang theory and how that led to our known Universe that we still are trying to grasp and understand.

      What was there before? Its size is uncomprehensible that's for sure but what was it? Perhaps it was God himself? Regardless though, science can show us this matter seperated over billions/millions/however many years of time and space and led to our present.

      The old testament of the bible tries to explain this by saying how God created things and in the order in which he did so. However when I read it and came to that part the question that arose in myself was, "what or how long is a day to God?" Surely not the amount of time it takes for earth to rotate on its axis.

      Now the thing I find most interesting is the idea of morals and how suffering sort of parallels alongside them. Where or when these came about would be something interesting to find out. Why do we still base our laws off of morals and ideals? Apparently we must feel as if there could be something better than what we currently have in our "material" world.

      All I know is that one day I will die, as everything that is "alive" will eventually do, including things that are in "outer space" like stars. Science says that energy can't be lost or destroyed only transfered elsewhere, so where will my energy go? I obviously haven't the slightest of clue.

      I will admit that without the idea of a God or at least the morals instilled in my mind that its wrong to cause harm or suffering to other living things, that I would be inclined to acquire the marvelous achievement of science(a nuclear warhead) and blow this piece of rock to tiny pieces. Very possible if you drill and detonate deep underground btw!

      Like the one guy said who was for the motion, there is no purpose just randomness haha. If that were the case then you believe that everything that ever happened was all just random chance and result of the previous random events before it. But like I said already, what was there before the beginning of time/space/the known universe which is all we know? We know something was always there, some just choose to name it...God.....

      As you can see I believe in Intelligent design which means to me that everything has a purpose and nothing is "random"

    • Comment Link Erick Tippett Sunday, 14 April 2013 16:25 posted by Erick Tippett

      Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a 'God'
      which I feel to be more inclusive as a statement that should have
      in my opinion been considered as one of the options available to
      us in this debate voting. Otherwise people get herded into this
      'undecided' category revealing the glaring fault of either or
      thinking so prevalent in this society which imposes "you're not
      white you must be black, if you're not a Republican you must be
      a Democrat, and on and on it goes neurotically into infinity!

      Erick Dean Tippett
      Retired Musician/Teacher
      Chicago, Illinois

    • Comment Link Jill Seldon Thursday, 11 April 2013 00:16 posted by Jill Seldon

      The moderator started the debate by saying that Sir Isaac Newton, among others, was a believer. I understand that he only said he was a believer because that was a requirement for his position at Oxford.
      That could have been the case with many others at the time. Certainly in Pepys's time one was obliged to attend church and pretend belief.

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