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?
Director, Origins Project and Foundation Professor, ASU
Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author
Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT
Author, What's So Great About Christianity
Author & Correspondent for ABC News
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.Learn more
Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author
Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and Editor of Skeptic.com, 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.Learn more
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.Learn more
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,
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
I feel as if most of the comments posted did not originate from individuals who partook and truly focused to the message given by both parties. I believed we arrived at the fact that science is the study of that observed, of what observed is that which is in need of order, of that order requires law, law of origin, of that origin being God, we can speculate residual peices to the extent of that created, but we can only replicate or track that which has been made, not undoing that which was already created. This requires us to surrender our pride to the closest truth in accordance to freedom of creation, the Word. We have the right to life free! Live life in accordance and the science of life with reveal itself. Or find yourself lost, I choose a path which i can visualize a grand life, choose your path and dont get caught without one. I hope my talk helped, because waiting till the end to find a faith will leave you in dread at your missed freedoms and blessings.
Predictable result...a crooked and perverse generation seeks a sign and will not get one, save for the Resurrection after three days.
Bad logic---leads to bad philosophy---leads to bad theology, this is a certainty.
Faith is complementary to reason not at war with it.
I really enjoyed this debate - it was respectful on both sides and very intelligently argued on the side against the motion. I definitely don't believe science refutes God ... to me that is very laughable since I believe God is the author of science. I'm surprised at the results.
I think the best argument against was made by Lawrence Krauss.
He asserted that the energy of space in the universe we live in is at a level that is the worst possible for life. He made this argument to refute the argument that the universe is geared for life.
Let's assume he's correct that we live in the worst universe possible for life..
He also stated that evidence of God would be if there was life in a universe that could not support it.
As far as I can see, what better evidence has God provided us than a universe that is perfectly built to not support it, yet life still thrives.
Thank you Lawrence for the excellent set of points.
I'm fairly shocked at the result. Any scientist has to concede that a good scientific assertion must be testable, reproducible and falsifiable. There is no way that science can apply these principles to the proposition.
The dark age ranges usually are proof of the actual chapels destruction of science. The theory which the Chapel propelled science forwards will be absurd. They will financed science, they determined the concepts as well as has not been true, and they destroyed what exactly they wouldn't like. We could always be intergalactic explorers in any other case for that 500+ years of darkness and despair presented by Monotheism, it's wars, it's hard, and it is dishonesty.
If as god believer's say, that an alien being created everything from A-Z, to include us. And as god believer's claim, we are the alien being's ONLY creations that have the physical appearance of this being, and as believer's say their god is all powerful and loves us.. Then, why were this being's human creations designed to ONLY be as the alien being appears? Why do we only look like it does? In other words, why did this super being who loves us, design us with, (1) the capability to harm, or kill one another, (2) with flawed immune systems leaving us susceptible to disease(s) like Cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons disease, etc. (3) Why did this being allow us to breed ourselves in starvation, and deprivation, on the one hand, then allow others of his, to achieve the status of kings?? (4) Why if this being looks as we do, does it not show itself to us? (5) Why is there a guessing game as to whether this alien superbeing really exists? There is NO reasonable explanation for why ALL of humanity has not seen this being.. A being powerful enough to create EVERYTHING would not remain hidden to his little human creations, then design a ridiculous GAME of, "Believe in me, BUT if you do not, then once you stop breathing you may not rejoin me in Heaven?" I don't think so! LOL!! HAHAAA! Pardon me.. // Human being's HAVE to stop with the sophomoric "BELIEF" that there is actually a superbeing tuned into each of their boney little head's answering their childish wishes, it does not happen.. It is time to get on with science, exploration, research, that will determine the best option(s) to power our planet while lowering carbon emissions, along w/ a host of other issues around war & peace, education, population control, that defines our objectives for the human race over the next hundred, five hundred, or one thousand years! We have to stop this insidious philosophical mind trap called religious belief, it's quicksand of the mind!
"Wednesday, 17 July 2013 13:49 posted by V MJ
The moment that a scientist can use their math, chemistry, biology, physics and quantum physics to combine the components that exist in a human body to actually create a functioning, thinking human is the moment I will believe in science."
Really? So, what were you believing in the last time you went to the doctor or boarded an airplane?
What an amazing level of ignorance and denial.
Listening to the argument it reminds me of a quote from somewhere: "I used to be big." - God
Perhaps this is what the debaters can both agree upon. If people can learn and grow. Why not god?
In other words, god hides just beyond science. If I understand omnipotence, this would be something god could do right?
This concept seems to bring together both points.
It talks not only to the suggestion that science shall never be able to empirically explain god, but also that all the crazy miracles that came before, before video cameras, before paper, "before evolution" actually could have happened. In other words, as soon as smart phones became capable of recording events, god decided that it was no longer appropriate to have people walk on water. The responsibility for such big miracles was in a sense, handed over to us humans.
The concept of god hiding beyond science also allows that "spiritual experiences" could actually come from anywhere, and without empirical explanation of those inner conscious experiences, they cannot really be "owned" by science, but only interpreted from a scientific perspective.
Whether theologians would entertain this notion, I have no clue but it to me would be the only reasonable path to accepting god.
Interestingly, to me this would indicate that "in the early days", god did a LOT of tinkering (and messing) with the world. Floods, burning bushes, red sea parting, big things! But now, he's receding from the physical realm almost completely, to the only thing that seems to be 100% empirical is the human universal of a belief in god.
Those against the motion could suggest that this is indeed god's purpose, to give the world step by step to his creation for them to do with what they please, and hopefully not destroy themselves. That's just a guess, I suppose it would depend upon which god they referred to.
But to me it leaves where I normally fall after listening to a debate, punting!
Dinesh was terrific at providing a real defence of Christianity but the other man may be a Christian but clearly has not thought through his faith in the context of today's context and scientists positions.
The moment that a scientist can use their math, chemistry, biology, physics and quantum physics to combine the components that exist in a human body to actually create a functioning, thinking human is the moment I will believe in science.
I'm not sure if I heard was right from either side. First you never
invited any clergy or members of any organized religion. You used
"scholarly" educators. I think a child could have done a better job defending faith than the panel you had. The Big Bang theory has yet to be proved and we still HAVEN'T found the missing link. We assume it is there and haven't found it. The bible is a record of testimonies of men and women who have met Christ and have shed their blood for that testimony. Isiah was sawed in half, Peter crucified upside down in Rome, John beheaded. Would any rational man/woman give up their life for a record?? I hardly think not. Man cannot govern himself. It's obvious. We need God and his set of laws for decency and freedom. They asked why we are here. I will answer: We are here to partner, procreate, have children and gain knowledge. We are the only species who cannot follow or fulfill our creative sphere like plants or animals.
The panel needed signs. Christ gave signs and no one believed.
Now the scholars say he was just a man preaching good things.
In another 1000 years, I'm sure someone will look back on this panel and laugh at the folly of how stupid we are. In all the galaxies, you think there is no other form of intelligent life greater than ours and things we cannot see with our physical eyes? I would like to challenge Intelligence Squared to another round of science refutes God and further explore this topic. And let me kindly add why hasn't man grown another head or toe, or the nautilus changed in thousands of years? Darwin could very well be wrong. Have a great day everyone.
Thanks for inotudrcing a little rationality into this debate.
I hate to have to mention this, but this "Big Bang'" CONCEPT has never been proven in ANY way !
to begin with, what is Fact is that light SHIFTS to the red spectrum a it travels over distance, this is FACT!
The idea that it shifts to the red spectrum as an object moves away from us has NOT been proven in any way that is discernible.
And the fact that Hubble invented the "Big Bang" Concept is something that should be looked at carefully because Hubble was a Fundamentalist Christian that got into Astronomy after he was Given a telescope as a child and attempted to find heaven in the heavens and was VERY upset that it could NOT be spotted !
this SHOULD make anyone looking at anything he conceptualized
very wary. The idea that he came up with a concept that affirmed his BELIEF in Creationism should most definitely make that concept SUSPECT !
the idea of the big bang is wholly based on the red shift of light, which is known to happen because of the distance the light travels, the fact that the better we get at developing telescopes and the Shifts are different then what was seen with lower quality technology should tell us that we most likely are getting the BETTER reading from the HIGHER technology and that our IDEAS of where the Stars were located from information gathered with lower technology were simply WRONG, this WOULD lead to the conclusion that the stars were NOT where we thought them to be rather then the Universe is expanding !
to the CONCEPT that the Microwaves at the EDGE of what we can see in the universe being evidence of the big bang again should be held suspect because, again, as light travels it shifts to the Red Spectrum, and as it shifts to the red it WILL eventually shift to Microwaves then to Radio waves, or are there those among you that would believe that GOD is trying to BROADCAST to us?
I have questioned this since I was A Child and HAVE never gotten a satisfactory OR Rational answer to this question, since the grand majority of Humanity holds their beliefs higher then rational thought.
And the idea that because it can work mathematically is FAR from proof.
I find it interesting how convinced science and creationism backers are that they are right. It's only in ponzi schemes where we find only a few of the practioners are prospering. In religion, no matter which religion, the proof of reliability and validity is not inherently in the voice of the believer, but in the ability of the god or pusher of the religion in the first cause to reveal it/him or herself to the masses of their creation. If there are 7 billion people on planet and say 3 million are christian, but of those 3 million only a few hundred thousand are prospering the way the bible says they will prosper and the rest are not, but in fact are struggling with life and facing a hopeless future, can we then say that the religion is reliable or valid or more simplistically, that it even works? If science says one thing under the scientific theory one day, and then on another day changes that theory to say another thing totally different, where is the difference between the two. I venture to say both science and religion are wanting in the reality phase of interpretation. But that is the problem isn't it: both parties are convinced the other is wrong and they are right; right in the belief that Jesus and Yahweh, or Allah or whom ever one chooses to worship as the creator of the universe and overseer of life on earth are true, or that science is the correct interpreter of life by way of the scientific method to reproduce a theory and it tenets over and over to be able to say yep...this is a true and valid theory. Human guess work is a creative and imaginative force in the earth...that is a fact. Science has overstepped its bounds when it attempts to prove or disprove the existence of a deity, any deity...why? Because they are not the first cause movers, they have not heard from god any better than spiritual or religious leaders say they have. Here's what I know. When I look up to the sky on a sunny day, I see one Sun, its hotter at times than other times, but unless and i mean unless you're insane, you will agree that the sun in the sky exists and gives off heat. I don't need a god, preacher, or science teacher to tell me what I see and feel. If god was as concerned with his creation as believers say he is, then why, after thousands and thousands of years of hearing god, his word, his prophecy, his prophets, and most of all the billions of believers over the eons who in earnest prayer and sublication have prayed for healing or help, no matter the purpose, their prayers were unheard and they suffered, been abused, destroyed, killed, what do we say to them and their lives as a result of their genuine adherence to their scripture. It's way more complicated than any idea that god will bless whom he will bless and curse whom he will curse. Science, like religion has man's fingerprints all over them, The precepts of human needs is the defining moment for truth of science and religion. Science is supposed to help mankind get to a greater place; religion likewise is supposed to get mankind to a greater place. Yet each says it depends on the believer, interpreter and implementer of the practice that will determine if one or the other is complementing the precepts of human needs. I tend to think both science and religion are driven by men/women with big egos and weak intellects. No one is perfect, i get that, but after thousands and thousands of years of trying, the results are hideous on both sides and only speaks to fingerprints of a man, and not a god. I further believe we are looking for deities in books and in the minds of men (albeit clever men) that are not there. I've seen a dog attempt to save another dog from getting hit by a car on the freeway by literally pawing and pulling the fellow dog off of the freeway, effectively attempting to save it. It proves that all creation on this planet, when you do some due diligence observation has feeling for those of their kind and sometimes for those of other kinds. I can't see how religion or science would influence me either way from what i see with my own eyes. Point being, if god wanted everyone on the planet to see him and know he exists, in the plain light of day, with clear sound to compliment the sight, he would and could do it. I don't need science or god to show me what the right thing to do is, I need my human needs met. and when our human needs are met we display traits of a certain nature and when our human needs are not met, human traits of a different nature come out. It's true that you can't talk about human nature without talking about human needs. Try taking food from a hungry animal and see what happens, at least they have some internal nature to fall back on to defend their nature for survival, their natural animal needs. but you can fool a human not to defend their natural instinct, their attention to their precepts of human needs can be lost in an intellectual black hole to the point of them losing their ability to effectively use reason to determine reliability and validity. Science can't refute god anymore than man can prove God. Proving who and what something or someone is comes from the thing or the one that is showing up and out to be seen. Everything else is garbage and an intellectual black hole.
Thanks for the reply (#51 to my #49). Sorry if I conflated your potision with that of, say, Krauss, who isn't afraid to say that physicists know more about some philosophical questions than philosophers do. But at 9 minutes into the talk you do say that science has something to say about those [meaning, purpose, etc.] issues , and that it is delivering news to people with a lingering interest in religion. (The news of course, is that the universe doesn't care about you .) This is what I find suggestive of a lack of familiarity with relevant work in the arts and social sciences.The assertion that the universe doesn't care isn't as blatantly polemical as Dawkins' famous pitiless indifference , but it's close. Dawkins used a phrase that normally would apply to humans (inanimate things not being capable of pity or indifference), and applies it to the universe. His procedure is in the same logical category as those asserting that the universe loves you as if the universe might be the sort of thing that loves or hates you, but turns out to be rather more of the latter. Similarly, your assertion, while simply negative, carries a hint of this pseudo-anthropomorphism. The proof? Listen to the cheers of the young atheists in your audience. They associate pitiless indifference with a kind of existential heroism: we can take it , they say.And what I'm saying is that this heroism is uninformed and crude. There are many ways in which our feelings about the world or life in general can be rationally articulated so as to portray the world (or parts of it) as welcoming or appalling or boring (etc.), as worthy of our reverence or contempt or whatever…without reverting to a simplistic religious picture or its shadowy antithesis. Furthermore, there is an ethical argument to be made about what feelings toward the world we *should* express to others. We should be optimistic, for example, so as to encourage our children and neighbors (and ourselves); and we should, by the same reasoning, portray the world as welcoming rather than hostile, if we can find a rational way to do so.You didn't address my point about meaning as transcending the individual (because it inheres in culture and society). It's relevant because the idea that the individual is the source of all meaning is very much in line with the attitudes of young fans of Dawkins, Harris, et.al., viewing themselves as heroes who can suck it up in the face of the withering cosmic indifference. This is, in my view, a pernicious sociological development, for which some scientists bear an ethical responsibility. Don't go there Sean!
Does the north pole, longitude and latitude really exist in material reality? No. They are abstract human constructs that embody imaginary fixed locations that allow us navigate our world. It could be very easily argued that God and religion do much the same thing for human moral navigation. Just as you would not want your imaginary fixed navigational points shifting about frequently since it would make navigation problematic, so those who have imagined aspects of the divine do not like you putzing with their moral compass.Science has not been a very good exemplar of morality or ethics, because Science is dedicated to finding out how things function and not so much what should you do?'. I find it starkly common in scientific thinking that the ability to do something, anything for that matter, is license to do a thing, and claim such behavior inevitable in the name of progress'. For a few fine examples consider the fine Killer Bee, delightful Eugenics, Biological weapons, Pre natal sexual selection, and most human genetic engineering. Any act seems to be forgiven in the name of curiosity, and self restraint and self control are seen as insufferable limitations that should be cast off, along with free will it gets in the way of progress'. I notice that the first thing scientists do after they discover something is try to control it absolutely with little hesitation. What pray tell will scientists do when they claim to have found exactly how the human brain works? Most likely they will set about finding ways to control it as their tenants do not give them reason to pause and consider what they do, only that they can do it. As for Atheism, well. The fact that the universe is intelligible is the first assumption that must be made for any science or logic to be possible, and direct evidence that random chaos does not seem to be the governing principle of the universe. With an intelligible universe as a given (please don't be silly and say you can make a logical argument inside of an unintelligible universe) It would be wise to consider that we have only been looking about for a very short time, and in that short time humanity has created countless imaginary universes in our stories, myths,fictions, and religions. With engineering and science we have created our own indoor worlds that keep us more safe and comfortable than most of the surface of our planet can. Given how much we have created in such a short time How can you be so blithely certain that no one came long before us doing much the same thing..and given enough time on a far grander scale?
In the complicaetd world we live in, it's good to find simple solutions.
Interesting. Haven't had a chance to read through your blog too much yet, but what I have read has been enjoyable. The points raised assume one unfortunate Cartesian mistake: the assumption that we KNOW much of anything. Atheism and theism are both belief systems. One can no more disprove the existence of God than one can prove the existence. Therefore belief and nonbelief are both acts of faith alone. (Sorry atheists, the fact that you first make up your own definition of god and then surmise such a god doesn't exist does not make what you think fact. Sorry theists, the fact that your scripture says something does not make what it says fact either.) If a neighbor's child believes there are monsters under his bed, I don't take it upon myself to disprove the existence of monsters. It is a non-issue for me. If my child believes the same thing, I'll work with him to resolve the issue so he can sleep. If one neighbor is Muslim, another Christian, and another atheist, and they argue amongst themselves, I don't try to convince them any is right or wrong (maybe one, two, or all three are). If they do it belligerently at a party in my house, I try to help them come to terms with each other. (This has actually occurred-- love the diversity of thought, anyway.) Unless some divine presence makes itself known unequivocally, it will always be an unprovable, unending debate. Thinking our extremely limited understanding of the universe proves or disproves the existence of one or many gods is a very limited outlook and unscientific at best. I have my own beliefs, but that doesn't make me right or wrong. The idea that I hold a certain belief may be a fact, but it does not mean what I believe is fact. I just wish more people would understand that and stop the negative energy on all sides. (On the other hand, if any of you fellow human beings out there are omniscient, please let me know. I have some burning questions for you.) All that said, back and forth in a mutually respectful way can be fun and stimulate thought on all sides. I look forward to reading more from your debate.
about the relationship between science and ethics is experimentalism. Experimentalism has no pre-commitments about what reality is like; it does not make an a priori division of things into natural things and non-natural things. Rather, experimentalism has only two commitments, both of which have to do with the nature of evidence. First, whatever evidence we have for our beliefs about what exists must be experimental evidence. Taken broadly, experimental evidence is public, third-person-checkable observation, including observations of interventions (as in the case of controlled trials). Second, if no experiment could be devised to decide between two competing hypotheses, then those hypotheses are not really different they are merely notational variations. In addition to these two suppositions, the experimentalist carries with him or her a hope that whatever reality is like, it may be discovered through experimentation.3a. You ought to more carefully separate dualism and non-naturalism. The reason for rejecting Cartesian, interactionist substance-dualism was not that thinking substances were non-natural. Nor was it that Descartes couldn't think up a way for interactions to work. It was (as you say) that interactionism was incompatible with things like conservation of energy. But now, suppose we made very careful measurements and discovered that when people decide to do this or that thing, some energy is added to the physical system of their brains. Maybe the pineal gland gets a measurable little kick, as Descartes thought. Had that been what we found, I think we accept Cartesian dualism as at least roughly correct today, even if we had no good account of precisely *how* the interaction took place. The point is that (at least one version of) interactionism makes some experimental predictions that are not upheld in actual experiments.3b. Dualism potentially muddies the waters further in that dualism has several varieties not all of which are interactionist, substance dualism, and not all of which have been given up by respectable people. Even among the early moderns, you find non-interactionist dualisms. And today, you find varieties of dualism, like predicate dualism and property dualism, that are not so easily knocked down as is substance dualism. (Moreover, some prominent proponents of predicate or property dualisms today are atheists, and they think of their dualist commitments as perfectly naturalistic. And you can also find sophisticated theists who are not dualists.)Summing up: You would be better off calling yourself an experimentalist and then pointing out that experiments lead you to believe that active, personal divinities don't exist and that inactive, impersonal divinities do not provide opportunities for experimental test. You can happily stay away from dualism, which is a bit of a red herring in theism-atheism debate. Instead, defend the experimentalist presuppositions, since if you get people to agree to be experimentalists, then the experiments will carry them to the truth, whatever the truth may be. And then lay out how you think experiments bear on the question of the existence of divinities.
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