December 5, 2012

Science Refutes God

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?

Main Points

For The Motion
  • Why does there have to be an entity to explain the universe? To say that God created the universe doesn't explain anything—it's simply a placeholder that could be filled with any number of things.
  • Darwin's theory of evolution disproves the story of creation in the book of Genesis. We can see from evidence around us that the world is a Darwinian place where death and disease are constantly present and chaos seems to rule. This goes against the teaching of the world as a creation of a completely benevolent and all-powerful God. Either God is not all good, or not powerful enough stop these forces.
  • A belief in miracles goes against the facts and spirit of science.
  • We know that religions are man-made because they are culturally bound. They have evolved as a mechanism for social cohesion. If Religion is supposed to reveal "universal truths," why do they all assert conflicting "truths," i.e., there is no salvation except through Christ, Jews are God's "chosen people," Mohammed is God's one true messenger, etc.?
Against The Motion
  • The existence of God is outside the realm of science. Science exists within the boundaries of time and space, within God's creation and God's plan.
  • God, as the infinite "transcendent other" can never be fully comprehended by a finite individual.
  • The idea that religion is antithetical to science is absurd. Evolution asserts that God made the universe and created life—it does not say how. It is perfectly compatible with science.
  • Miracles are inherently one-off events; science is incapable of investigating them.
  • For science to refute religion, it needs to come up with something better, and it hasn't. Science cannot disprove the existence of God, life after death, and a soul.
  • 00:00:00
    So, Robert, why this debate? Why does this one intrigue you, in particular? Because I know it does.

    Robert Rosenkranz:
    I kind of got interested in this topic by reading a book about science. It was by the astronomer royal of England, a man called Martin Rees, and the book was called "Just Six Numbers." And it was about six physical constants that were imprinted in the early universe, in the first 100 millionth of a second after the Big Bang. And these constants express ideas like the strength of gravity, the strength of the bond that keeps the nucleus of atoms together, the uniformity of that initial fireball. And if any of those six numbers was much larger or much smaller, we would really not have a universe; either stars and galaxies wouldn't have formed, or there'd be no elements as complicated ascarbon and oxygen, or the Big Bang would've been succeeded by a big crunch into a black hole in which all matter would've disappeared.
  • 00:01:11
    And when you think about this, or at least for me, I thought, could this be just chance or is there some uncanny intelligence at work in this early design?

    John Donvan:
    And for the -- what we're doing here tonight, why is this not -- you know, this has been going on for a long time, this conversation, why is this not just the Scopes Monkey trial all over again?

    Robert Rosenkranz:
    Well, because I think this conversation should be much more sophisticated than when dealing with the literal truth of something in the Old Testament. And, in addition, of course, science has moved on so much since that time. So I think this is going to be a very -- a much more subtle and interesting debate than that one might have been.
  • 00:01:54
    John Donvan:
    I'm sure it's going to be, because we're going to bring out our debaters so that you can meet them, and we'll let the debate get started. Thanks very much. Robert Rosenkranz.

    [applause]

    Two of you are in the dark, and I don't mean that metaphorically.

    [laughter]

    I'm --

    Male Speaker:
    Let there be light.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    All right. In fairness, we have to let the other side do the same thing.

    [laughter]I just want to invite one more round of applause for Robert Rosenkranz for making this possible.

    [applause]
  • 00:02:58
    Isaac Newton invented calculus, and he believed in God; Max Planck was the father of quantum physics, also a believer; Copernicus, the solar system, he had the faith; and Galileo and Francis Bacon and Pascal, they all believed. What they also all had in common is that none of them was born within 150 years of us. Today, three out of every five scientists, knowing what they know, said that they can't really buy into the concept of God. Science refutes God, they would say. Really? So then what about the two out of five scientists who do believe in God and they actually know the same stuff?
    It sounds like the makings of a great debate, so let's get on to it.

    Yes or no to this statement: science refutes God. A debate from Intelligence Squared U.S. I'm John Donvan, we have four superbly qualified debaters who will be arguing for and against that motion, "science refutes God." Our debate goes in three rounds, and then the audience votes to choose a winner, and only side wins.
  • 00:04:02
    On the side arguing for the motion "science refutes God," Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. His partner is Michael Shermer; he is a founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine, and a columnist for Scientific America. On the side arguing against the motion that science refutes God,
    Dinesh D'Souza; he is the bestselling author of "What's So Great About Christianity?”
    and director of the documentary, "2016: Obama's America."

    [applause]

    And his partner is Ian Hutchinson. Ian Hutchinson is the professor of nuclear science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • 00:04:58
    [applause]

    Let's meet our debaters. Our motion is, "Science Refutes God." And welcome first to argue in support of the motion, Lawrence Krauss.

    [applause]Oh, that was confusing.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    I'm eager.

    John Donvan:
    You are eager. So, Lawrence, I first want to chat with you just -- just a moment. So I want to tell folks, you are a theoretical physicist. Your research interests have included partial physics, dark matter, neutrino astrophysics, which is kind of easy stuff for all of us. You also -- you like to push buttons, and you wrote "Forget Jesus: The Stars Died So That You Could Be Here Today," which doesn't sound very polite.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Do you think that's provocative?

    John Donvan:
    Slightly, yeah.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Well, I think provoking people and ridicule and satire is incredibly important in the world today. Nothing should be above ridicule because it gets people to think and least of all,
    religion.
  • 00:06:05
    John Donvan:
    And your partner is?

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Michael Shermer.

    John Donvan:
    Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Shermer.

    [applause]

    Michael, you are the founder of Skeptic magazine and the Skeptics Society. You were not always skeptical on this issue. You, as a teenager, were a born-again Christian, and then you switched to the other team. You're what my eighth grade nun would call "a very brazen and naughty boy."

    Michael Shermer:
    Well, I'd be happy to talk to her about it for you if you like, but --John Donvan:
    She passed on, which I think would go to the other side.

    Michael Shermer:
    Well, I was a born-again Evangelical. I went knocking on doors to doors to tell people about Jesus. And then later when I became a born-again atheist, I went back to those same houses and knocked on their doors… I was wrong.
  • 00:06:56
    John Donvan:
    All right. Our motion is "Science Refutes God." We have two debaters arguing against this motion. I'd like to introduce the first, ladies and gentlemen, Dinesh D'Souza.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Dinesh, you're a best-selling author and the director of "2016: Obama's America," the second highest grossing political documentary of all time. You have debated this issue a number of times. You've been on stages arguing against atheists a lot. And a lot of times they say that science refutes god, but you came out with a book called "God Forsaken." And the way you turn this argument on its head, how?

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    Well, I think science is a -- can be a tool to help us understand God. And so far from science refuting God, I see science as a wonderful instrument for helping us learn about the world and thus learning about its creator.

    John Donvan:
    And your partner is?

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    My partner is Ian Hutchinson.

    John Donvan:
    Ladies and gentlemen, Ian Hutchinson.

    [applause]
  • 00:07:54
    Ian, Ian Hutchinson, you are a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. Your contributions to science include, and I take this from your biography online at MIT, they include, "The First Observations of Polarized Tokamak Electron, Cyclotron Radiation andDevelopment of Diagnostics and Thermal and Nonthermal Electronic Distributions Based On It." So you're that guy?

    [laughter]

    What are you doing here?

    Ian Hutchinson:
    Well, I guess that is the question, isn't it?

    [laughter]

    Ian Hutchinson:
    But most seriously, I am a scientist, and I'm also a Christian. I think both are very important parts of the way that we understand the world. And I think that's why this debate is so important.

    John Donvan:
    All right. Ladies and gentlemen, our live audience, act as our judges. We ask you before the debate has ended to vote twice, once before you've heard the arguments and once again after you've heard the arguments. And the team whose numbers have moved by the highest percentage will be declared our winner. So we would like to register the preliminary vote. If you go to the key pads at your seat, set of numbers one through three, and if you agree with the motion at this point, Science Refutes God, we want you to push number one.
  • 00:09:10
    If you disagree, push number two. And if you are undecided or agnostic, push number three. And if you feel that you've pushed a number in error, just correct it, and the system will lock in your last vote. And we're going to hold the result of this first vote until the end of the debate. When you vote the second time, we'll compare the two numbers. And again the team whose numbers have moved by the highest percentage will be declared our winner.

    All right. So on to round one, opening statements from each debater in turn. Our motion is "Science Refutes God." And here to debate first in support of this motion,
    Lawrence Krauss. He is the director of the Origins Project and professor of physics at the school of earth and space exploration at Arizona State University. He is an -- also an author of the best-selling book, a -- let me do that again so that it's clean for the radio broadcast because I really want to help you sell this book.
  • 00:10:13
    Lawrence Krauss:
    Yeah, you bet. You can take all the time you want.

    [laughter]

    John Donvan:
    He is also the author of the best-selling book, "A Universe From Nothing." Ladies and gentlemen, Lawrence Krauss.

    [applause]

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Thank you. I actually wore this t-shirt for the subject of the debate. And it's the center of the debate. And it's clear. The motion is science refutes God. And Michael and I have the distinct advantage here of arguing in favor of the motion because in fact we have evidence, reason, logic, rationality, and empirical methods on our side, whereas the opponents have vague hopes and fears, and they're arguing in favor of a motion that's hanging on for its existence by mere shreds of emotional and ideological spaghetti, much like this type provided by the flying spaghetti monster, one of the equally irrational gods which science provides no support for.
  • 00:11:08
    But I first want to begin by clarifying the nature of the motion, because the motion isn't science disproves God. It's science Refutes God. And that's very important because you can't disprove a notion that's basically vague and unfalsifiable. I could not -- there's no way to disprove the notion that God didn't create all of us 15 seconds ago with the memories of the amusing comments we heard before that. There's no way we can disprove that, okay. And that's really important to recognize that those kind of unfalsifiable notions are unfalsifiable, as I say. But we can ask, is it rational to expect that that's likely. And tonight I want to emphasize that 500 years of science have demonstrated that God, that vague notion, is not likely. It's irrational to believe in God.
  • 00:11:58
    Now, to refute God means refuting several claims. Onethat are all based on faith, not evidence. One, that God is necessary, two, that there is evidence for God; and three,
    that that belief is rational. And the point is that the progress of science has shown over and over and over again that the answers to all those three questions are no. No, no,
    no. Now, my own scientific field is cosmology. And that's the study of the origin and evolution of the universe as a whole. And it's where science and religion sort of confront each other. And creation myths have abounded throughout human history,
    and science confronts those creation myths. And we'll talk about that, I'm sure, at some point in the debate. But I want to point out that our opponents, I'm pretty sure, aregoing to argue first that one aspect of science that supports perhaps the belief in God is this notion that the universe is apparently fine-tuned for life. I hear that a lot, and because it was fine-tuned so life could exist. That is a remarkable and, in fact, cosmic misunderstanding, because it's the same kind of misunderstanding that led people to believe in special creation for life on earth before Darwin.
  • 00:13:06
    It looked like everything was designed for the environment in which it lived. But what Darwin showed us was that a simple proposition, namely that there's genetic variation among a population combined with natural selection meant that you didn't need supernatural shenanigans, that in fact all the diversity of life on earth could arise from a single life form, by natural law. And he didn't know -- what he showed was it was plausible, based on the evidence -- he didn't know about DNA. He didn't know about the details of genetic replication, but he showed it was plausible. And as I'll say, that's where we're at now as far as the understanding of the universe is concerned. Now, our -- my opponents, I suspect, will argue the universe is equally fine-tuned for life, and they -- in fact, they will point out that certain fundamental parameters in nature, if they were different, we couldn't exist.
  • 00:13:57
    Or they may boldly assert that, in fact, certain of these parameters are so strange and unnatural that they must have been established with malice aforethought to ensure our existence. This too is an illusion. Just as bees need to see the color of flowers but they're not designed to do it, if they couldn't see them, they couldn't get the nectar and reproduce. So what we're seeing is a version of cosmic natural selection. We would be quite surprised to find ourselves living in a universe in which we couldn't live. In fact,
    that might be evidence for God.

    [laughter]

    But I want to point out that in fact the universe isn't particularly fine-tuned or conducive to life. Most of the universe is rather inhospitable to life. And in fact -- perhaps the biggest fine-tuning problem in my own field of cosmology, something I'm, in fact, very proud to have proposed in a sense is that the energy of empty space is not zero. The weirdest thing you can imagine, that empty space weighs something, but remarkably the energy of empty space is 120 orders of magnitude smaller than we would naïvely predict.
  • 00:15:01
    And if it were much bigger than we measure, it's true that galaxies couldn't form, and planets couldn't form, and Intelligence Squared Debates couldn't happen. So theuniverse appears to be here because Intelligence Squared is here. Now, that suggests religion perhaps, but the point is not that that claim of fine tuning is ridiculous because,
    in fact, if the energy of empty space was zero, which is a -- by far a more natural value,
    the universe would be a better place for life to live in. We all thought it was zero when I was a graduate student, because that was a natural value. If it was zero, the universe would be a better place. In fact, you can show the value that it has now makes the universe the worst of all possible universes to live in for the future of life. So, so much for a universe created for us.

    [laughter]

    Now, once Darwin had removed the apparent need for God in evolution of life, the last bastion for God was the creation of the universe, how you can get something from nothing. And what -- we're in a remarkable situation of being in is precisely the same situation that Darwin existed in 150 years ago, namely, we have a plausible explanation of how a universe could precisely come from nothing.
  • 00:16:12
    If you asked, "What would be the characteristics of the universe that came from nothing by natural laws?" it would be precisely the characteristics of the universe we observe,
    and it didn't have to be that way. It could have been another way. And by nothing --
    and it -- the -- my opponents will say that by nothing, I'm not talking about nothing, but I'm talking about nothing, no particles, no radiation, no space, no time, and even no laws of physics. Our -- [unintelligible] my opponents might argue that the multiverse,
    which our universe might have spontaneously been created in, was created by physicists because they don't like God, because it's eternal and exists outside our universe, those same characteristics that God is supposed to have. But it wasn't created because we don't like God, although I don't like God. It was -- we'd been driven to it by measurements. In fact, I don't even like the multiverse, but I've learned to force my beliefs to conform to the evidence of reality.
  • 00:16:59
    That's where science differs from religion. There do remain deep philosophical and seismic questions that are unanswered, but God is not required or useful to explain any of them. And, therefore, to conclude, science has taught us that we don't need God to create a universe, that there's no evidence for God, that the specific sides of the claims of those who require God disagree with empirical evidence, and it's irrational. Science refutes God, so clearly you should vote for our side. Thank you.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Lawrence Krauss.[applause]

    And that is our motion, "Science refutes God." And here to speak against the motion,
    Ian Hutchinson. He is a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT and the author of "Monopolizing Knowledge: The Scientist Refutes Religion Denying Reason Destroying Scientism."

    Ian Hutchinson:
    Thank you for the opportunity to be with you tonight and to explain why science does not refute God. Let's agree that this motion is not about whether, for example, the latest sociological theories disprove the gods and goddesses of ancient Greek mythology.
  • 00:18:05
    No, it's about whether modern natural science exemplified by things like physics,
    chemistry, biology, geology, and so on rule out thoughtful theism. The god I'm going to discuss is the God of Christianity, because I'm a follower of Jesus, but my side's job is not to convince you of the truth of Christianity, although I think it is true. Our job is just to show that Christianity's God is not refuted by science. Now, obviously there are some religious beliefs that are ruled out by science, for example, the belief that the earth is stationary and orbited by the sun, moon, and stars. That is disproved by science, and perhaps prior to the 17th century, most Christians held a belief like that, as did most other people. But that stationary earth belief is not in the least central to the Christian message and doctrine.
  • 00:19:05
    To establish the motion, what our opponents have to do is to show that some central tenet of what Christians believe about God is impossible or at least highly implausible in the light of science, and that's a tall order. Actually, they can't even come close. But let me dispense with a couple of the most plausible sounding arguments. I'll illustrate one common argument from the writing of an MIT colleague, Alan Lightman, who wrote in the Salon magazine last year, he said, "The central doctrine of science is the view that the laws of nature are inviolable." He said, "Science and God are compatible as long as the latter, God, is content to stand on the sidelines once the universe has begun."
  • 00:19:59
    Now, I certainly shall not shrink the God that I advocate down into a deistic, non-
    interventionist first cause. No, the God I'm interested in is personal and active in the world. So the question is, "How do I answer Alan Lightman?" It's straight forward. The presumption that the laws of nature are inviolable is just not a doctrine of science. Alan and a lot of other people are just wrong about that. Science's method and its programis to describe the universe insofar as it is repeatable and follows universal laws, but science hasn't got the slightest need to extrapolate that method and program into a presumption that everything that happens must be so describable. And the majority of the scientific heroes of history did not make that presumption.
  • 00:21:01
    Great scientists like those that were recited before, Newton, Boyle, Dalton, Faraday,
    Maxwell, were Christian believers who saw their science as compatible with a God who is active in the world and, on occasion, works miracles that go beyond the laws that they were discovering. So the notion that for science to function, or in order to be a successful scientist, it is necessary to believe in universal laws, is indisputably disproved by history. A second frequent critique of belief in God is that it is based on irrational faith rather than evidence. And this, of course, is a fallacy. Belief in God is often highly rational. The universities that were established between, say, the 14th and the 18th centuries, were places of explicitly religious rationality and learning.
  • 00:22:03
    Actually, evidence is just one type of reason for belief in God, and there is a loss of evidence for Christianity. But what the critics mean, I think, is -- they're saying there's no scientific evidence for God. And that goes to the heart of this question and the myth that science has somehow refuted God. Actually, there are some things we've learned about the universe through science that are highly suggestive of a creator, but for the sake of argument, suppose that the scientific evidence for God were non-existent.
    Would that mean that science refutes God, or would it even mean and support the more modest claim that there's no evidence for God? Not at all.
  • 00:22:57
    God is mostly not a scientific question, and so the evidence for God is mostly not scientific. If you insist that scientific evidence is the only type you will count, then you put out of business not just religion, but a vast range of other human knowledge, like history, or the law, or politics, or philosophy, or literature. There's no scientific way to prove that Caesar crossed the Rubicon; there's no scientific way to judge the justice of a verdict; there isn't even a scientific way to detect a true thought. But all of these things are real cognitive questions whose answers are important and often indisputable. And questions about God are usually of the same type, not scientific.
  • 00:23:57
    About 50 years ago, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev told the Communist Party, anti-religionist, "Gagarin flew into space but he didn't find any God there." Well, what a silly argument. But most of thearguments behind the view that science has refuted God are of much the same type. If science, in its endeavors, fails to detect God, so what? Thoughtful Christians don't believe that God is a natural phenomenon or a law of nature to be established by scientific investigation. Science, for all of its power, is utterly incompetent to refute God.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Ian Hutchinson.

    [applause]
  • 00:24:56
    And a reminder of what's going on. We are halfway through the opening round of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. I'm John Donvan. We have four debaters, two teams of two arguing it out over this motion: "Science Refutes God." You have heard two of the speakers so far, and now onto the third. "Science Refutes God." And here to speak in support of the motion, Michael Shermer. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, executive director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American and the author of "The Believing Brain." Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Shermer.

    [applause]

    Michael Shermer:
    Thank you. Thank you. I'm going to start off with a thought experiment. Imagine you're a hominid on the plains of Africa 3.5 million years ago. You're a tiny little Australopithecus afarensis, little brain. Your name is Lucy. Thank you. A lot of people in the Midwest don't get that.

    [laughter]
  • 00:25:59
    Evolution, what? Not that Lucy, the other one. And you hear a rustle in the grass. Is it a dangerous predator, or is it just the wind? If you think that the rustle in the grass is a dangerous predator, and it turns out it's just the wind, you've made a type one error in cognition. A false positive. You thought the wind was connected to something, and it wasn't. A was connected to B, and it wasn't. So that's a false positive. But that's relatively harmless. But if you think that the rustle in the grass is just the wind, and it turns out it's a dangerous predator, you're lunch. Congratulations. You've just been given a Darwin award for taking yourself out of the gene pool early before reproducing.
    And we are the descendants of those who are most likely to make type one errors,
    false-positives, versus type two errors, false-negatives. That is to say, why can't you juststay in the grass and collect enough data to get the answer right? And the answer is that predators don't wait around for prey animals to collect more data. That's why they stalk and sneak up on their prey animals, so they can't get enough data.
  • 00:27:05
    So we evolve the propensity to make snap decisions and make one kind of error more likely than another kind of error. And that kind of error, that false positive, that's superstition. That's magical thinking. That's assuming A is connected to B. It's a true pattern, and it isn't, and you're wrong. That's the basis of finding false patterns like gods. Now, what's the difference between the wind and a dangerous predator? The wind is an inanimate force. A dangerous predator is an intentional agent. And his intention is to eat me, and that can't be good. So what we also do in addition to finding these meaningful patterns is infuse in them agency. That is, it's alive. It's real, it has intention, and its intention is not good, so I better assume it's real. And this is the basis of animism and spiritism and polytheism and monotheism and the belief in angels and aliens and demons and spirits and poltergeists and gods.
  • 00:28:11
    Gods are invisible agents who run the world, who control things, who create these patterns, who are these patterns that we use to explain things. All cultures everywhere in the world have created god beliefs. Gods with these intentional -- that are intentional agents. So my question tonight is not like in my book, why do so many people believe in God, here is a theory, which I just outlined for you.

    But for tonight, I want to ask, what's more likely, that our opponents here happen to pick the right God and the right religion among all the -- about 10,000 different religions and about a thousand different gods the humans have constructed socially,
    anthropologically, psychologically in the last 10,000 years. 10,000 different religions, a thousand different gods.
  • 00:29:02
    Our opponents agree with us that 999 of those gods are false gods. They are atheists like we are atheists. What I'm asking you to do is just go one God further with us.

    [laughter]

    So here's what happened. About 5,000 to 7,000 years ago, these small bands of hunter-
    gathers began to coalesce into chiefdoms and states. As long as the numbers are small,
    informal means of behavior control and moral enforcement operate quite well. As soon as the numbers are too large for these informal means, shunning, making people feel guilty, gossiping about them, making them feel embarrassed for their bad behavior, assoon as the population are big, there's too much opportunity for free riding and for cheating the system and taking advantage of it and getting away with it.
  • 00:29:59
    So two institutions evolved, government to set up a set of rules, and everybody gets a copy; and religion in case you think you got away with it, you didn't because there's an eye in the sky that those all and sees all and keeps track of this. So this is the second part of how humans construct religions and gods, because we need it for moral enforcement. It just so happens, by contingency and chance, religion and government was the first on the scene.

    Now, what's happened in the last several centuries, since the enlightenment, in addition to the trajectory that professor Krauss outlined for you, science displacing religion as the primary means of explaining how the world works, something else has also happened.
    We've slowly but ineluctably replaced religion as the primary source of our morals and came up with the clever idea that you actually have to have a reason why you have certain moral principles, and we're going to write certain laws. You actually have to give evidence for why you think this is a good law or a bad law or a good moral principle or a bad moral principle.
  • 00:31:01
    And that has been the trajectory of the enlightenment since about 200 years ago. And so again, what's more likely, that one of them happens to be the one true religion, and the one true God, and all those others that have been constructed are false gods or that, as we can clearly see, anthropologically, socially, psychologically and so on, this is what people do to get along. They construct religions. They construct moral systems and so on. We now know that we can do this without gods. In fact, we do it quite well without gods. Northern European countries do just fine with much lower rates of religiosity than we have. It is possible to do it, and that is what we've been doing.
  • 00:31:45
    Now, I want to finish with just one comment on the resurrection since Ian brought that up. Let me just -- leaving aside the scientific evidence for this, just think about what it is that is being said here. They are monotheists. They believe that there's just one God and that Jesus is God manifest on earth. And he is your savior, and you accept him for redeeming us for sins we never committed. Somebody else in the past committed them. So as I understand this, God sacrifices himself to himself to save us from himself.
    If that sounds as incomprehensible to you as it does to me, I urge to you vote for our side. Thank you.[applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Michael Shermer. And our motion is "Science Refutes God." And now our final debater speaking against this motion, Dinesh D'Souza. He is the best-selling of many books including, "What's So Great About Christianity." He's also the director of the documentary "2016: Obama's America." And a former policy analyst in the Reagan White House. Ladies and gentlemen, Dinesh D'Souza.

    [applause]
  • 00:33:06
    Dinesh D'Souza:
    Thank you very much. How would one go about refuting the idea -- establishing the idea that science refutes God? First of all, you'd have to show that belief in God was, if not impossible, unreasonable. And, therefore, you'd have to show that all the people in the world who believe in God are also being unreasonable and that science has established this not at some point in the future, but has established it already. Science has refuted God right now. Now, on the face of it, this is such an odd and difficult and preposterous enterprise. Why? Because actually the questions to which God is the answer are really fundamentally not scientific questions.
  • 00:33:59
    Here is what I mean. Here we are as human beings. We're thrown into the world. And we can't help if we're curious, if we're thoughtful to say, first of all, why is there a universe? Second, what's our purpose? What are we doing here? Third, what's going to come after? We're going to die, but what next? Now I ask you, what are the scientific answers to those questions? And in fact, the answers are, from science, don't have a clue, don't have a clue, and don't have a clue. Why? Because none of those questions is amenable to being decided empirically. Science can show how we got a universe but not why. On the question of what our purpose is here, science is completely silent. Moral issues are in a way outside the province of science. Why?
    Because science deals with what is, and morality is what ought to be.
  • 00:35:03
    And finally, under the question of what comes after death, what possible empirical evidence can science provide on either side of that question? So because science is in no position to refute God, what we get from the other side is pop psychology. And we've been getting pop psychology from atheists for several hundred years. It's an effort to explain why people believe instead of providing any kind of a real refutation.
    You remember a few decades ago Freud basically said that God and religion could bedismissed as wishful thinking, "We wish for a better world and so we make one up."
    Well, that would kind of explain Heaven which satisfies wishful thinking, but it really wouldn't explain why major religions have invented Hell. Who would wish for that?
    Hell is a lot worse than diabetes or the suffering we have in this life.
  • 00:35:58
    And then you've heard here people like Richard Dawkins say, "Well, belief in God depends on where you're born. If you're born in Afghanistan you're going to be a Muslim. If you're born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you're likely to be a Christian." Michael Shermer alluded to that a little bit when he talked about multiple gods. But the sociology of the origin of belief says nothing about the truth of a belief. I'm sure that people who are born in Oxford, England, are most likely to believe in Darwin's theory of evolution than people who are born in Oxford, Mississippi. I'm sure people who are born in New York are more likely to believe in relativity than people who are born in New Guinea.
    What does that say about whether evolution or relativity is true? Nothing. The genesis of a belief, how you came to it, has nothing to do with whether or not that belief can be sustained as a matter of argument. The reality is, and we keep hearing a lot about Darwin because the last good argument against God came out in 1850 -- in the 1850s,
    science has made a whole bunch of discoveries since then but they point in the opposite direction.
  • 00:37:05
    And, therefore, what you find very often from atheists is now highly complicated defensive maneuvers to account for things that atheists resisted all the way. When the discovery of the big bang came -- this, by the way, was at a time when most scientists believed the universe was eternal, the steady state universe was the prevailing doctrine of American and Western science -- so it came as a shock that the universe had a beginning. Why? Because, in a way, it wasn't just that matter had a beginning, but space and time also had a beginning. In other words, this was something that the ancient Hebrews had said thousands of years ago and without conducting a single scientific experiment. By the way, this is not the same as other cosmologies. Other ancient cosmologies posited the universe being fashioned by a kind of carpenter god who made it out of some preexisting stuff, but the ancient Hebrews said, "No, first there was nothing, and then there was a universe."
  • 00:38:04
    By the way, that's almost identical to what Lawrence Krauss said, "First, there was nothing, no particles, no energy, no laws, and then there was the universe," completely consistent to what -- with what Christians believe, and exactly said by the ancient Hebrews thousands of years ago without doing a single experiment but solely on thebasis of, "God told us." And the astounding fact is that 2,000 years later, modern science, after climbing round and round the mountain, has arrived at the top only to find a bunch of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.

    [laughter]

    [applause]

    Now, the fine-tuned universe is -- has become now a tremendous embarrassment to atheism. Why? Because ultimately it shows that the laws and constants of nature are fine-tuned, not only for the existence of life, but specifically for human life.
  • 00:39:00
    I want to note that this is an argument completely immune to Darwinian attack. This is not about whether the horse, the dog, and the wolf had a common ancestor. Let's remember that evolution, powerful theory as it is, is not a theory of life. It is only a theory of transitions between life forms. It's not about the origin of life, it's simply about how life form A gave rise to life form B. And the fact is that there have to be certain conditions, self-replicating cells, an old universe, an old earth that are necessary for evolution to take place. In other words, the fine-tuned universe is a precondition of Darwinian evolution itself. We are living at a time when religious believers do not need to be afraid of science; they should, as I do, embrace science and welcome science because correctly understood, far from pointing away from God, science thrillingly points to God. Thank you.

    [applause]
  • 00:40:02
    John Donvan:
    Thank you. Dinesh D'Souza. And that concludes round 1 of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, where the motion is "science refutes God." Now, keep in mind how you voted at the beginning of the evening, remember we're going to ask you to vote again at the conclusion and the team that has changed the most minds at the end of the debate will declared our winner. Now we go on to round two, where the debaters address each other directly and also take questions from you in the audience and from me. We have two teams of two, they're arguing out this motion: science refutes God. Lawrence Krauss and Michael Shermer are arguing for the motion, and they are basically making the argument -- number one, they're saying they are not arguing that science disproves God, but that science makes the possibility of the existence very, very unlikely. They point out, their argument, that the universe is so badly designed, actually, for human life, that it's highly unlikely that anybody would've thought this up.
  • 00:40:58
    They also say that God is a human creation, that this is established in history,
    psychology, anthropology, and that in the past God was the answer to a question that science has now answered more and more successfully. The team arguing against the motion, Dinesh D'Souza and Ian Hutchinson, are making the argument that belief in God, number one, is very rational; number two, that there is evidence for the existence of God, it's just not evidence that one would call scientific. That, in fact, science is not capable of answering the kinds of questions that God answers, such as, "Why are we here?" The "why?" questions, where do we go afterwards? They also say that the arguments being made on the -- by the other side, that are based on social sciences like anthropology and psychology, are pop science; and therefore, I believe, to be disqualified.
  • 00:41:53
    So we're going to take questions from you and from me, but I want to start by actually getting to something I'm very curious about, and that's the issue of miracles. I want to put to this side, you in particular, Ian Hutchinson, who is arguing against the notion that science refutes God, what is a miracle if not a violation of the laws of physics? And is that what it is, in addition to all of its other implications? Does it not violate the laws of physics? And if it does so, how does -- how is that even possible? And how does that fit into this argument?

    Ian Hutchinson:
    So what we call the laws of physics, from a Christian point of view, are the way that God normally orders the universe. It's the normal behavior of things around about us. And Boyle, who was one of the founders of the Royal Society, wrote a whole a book about what nature is, and what he advocated was that what we mean or should mean by "nature," is the normal course of events. Now, of course, miracles are not the normal course of events. And, by the way, it didn't take science to tell us that; you know,
    people in the first century knew that people don't rise from the dead when they've been hung on crosses, and people knew that women don't bear children unless, well, you know what.
  • 00:43:08
    You know, this is not something that modern science has been necessary to tell us. So,
    yes, miracles are abnormal events; usually, abnormal --

    John Donvan:
    Why does science not refute those things? As in --Ian Hutchinson:
    It is simply not the case that you have to presume that the laws of nature are universally inviolable; it is simply not necessary to do science to do that.

    John Donvan:
    Lawrence Krauss.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    That's ridiculous.

    [laughter]

    In fact, it's ridiculous to the science that you do. When you do science, you're presuming that the results of an experiment in your laboratory apply in another laboratory.
  • 00:43:45
    The fundamental claim that -- if you just -- miracles in your particular religion -- it's kind of remarkable that these violations of the laws of nature only occurred before video cameras and Intelligence Squared and the internet, and that you have these remarkable violations of the laws of nature in a book, which I was really surprised to hear Dinesh call a scientific document, the bible. I hope he really didn't mean that. St. Augustine would be very upset with you, because he said the Bible wasn't scientific. But these violations of the law of nature -- laws of nature only occurred at a time when there was no evidence for them --

    John Donvan:
    But, Lawrence --

    Lawrence Krauss:
    And you believe them.

    John Donvan:
    Lawrence, but is there a logical argument, again, that you can make against miracles?
    Not the "I didn't see them and nobody's seen them lately" argument. But is there a logical argument you can make against them?

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Our logic is determined by nature, not by what we'd like. And nature has told us that miracles don't happen. That's it. It's not what I want or what I think should be rational.
    It's, do they happen? And there's no evidence that they've ever happened.John Donvan:
    Dinesh D'Souza.
  • 00:44:55
    Dinesh D'Souza:
    I think we have here a deep fallacy. And the fact that it remains a fallacy shows that what is being called science is actually hiding behind a philosophical principle. It was the philosopher Hume who pointed out 200 years ago that from no amount of empirical generalizations, however large, can you draw a general law that is true as a matter of logic. What I mean is, it doesn't matter how often you measure something. Let's say you measure the speed at which this pen falls down. You can measure it a million times.
    But you don't know that on a star ten light years away or in some other condition where you haven't measured it, that if you drop this pen, it will fall at the same speed.
    Science presumes it. It doesn't prove --

    Lawrence Krauss:
    We measure. I'm sorry. We measure it.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    Let me finish it. Right. But you can't measure it always and everywhere. And you haven't measured it 10,000 years ago. You're assuming that --

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Yes, we have.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    -- 10,000 -- No. You're assuming that 10,000 years ago it happened at the same speed.
    And your measurement is based on that. So Hume's point is this: Science provides general propositions based on experience, but he said we should always be willing to accept new experience that proves the opposite. A good example of this in Western philosophy --
  • 00:46:11
    John Donvan:
    Before you go to the example, let me let Michael Shermer come in and respond to where you've gone so far with that.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    Sure.

    Michael Shermer:
    Right. So like a popular thing in Skeptic magazine, there's psychics and people that cantelekinetically move objects with their mind or so on. And there's an example of this where there's a man who can move the cursor on his computer just by thinking about it.
    Now, it turns out he's a quadriplegic, and he has a chip in his brain that enables him to do this. But if you don't know about the chip, it looks like a miracle. Once you know the technology, it's no longer miraculous. This is Arthur C. Clarke's third law. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. I contend that there's no such thing as the supernatural or the paranormal. There's just the natural, the normal and the stuff we haven't explained yet. And when something unusual like that happens, we should go searching for the mechanism behind it. Is there a chip in the brain? So if it's true that, say, God heals cancers or whatever due to prayer, this should be a measurable thing because this is what we --
  • 00:47:07
    John Donvan:
    But what about Dinesh's point that just because something has happened 10,000 times and that that's your case, that it's always going to happen. And he's saying logically, you don't actually know that it's always going to happen just because it's happened 10,000 times.

    Michael Shermer:
    Okay. Fine, fine, fine.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    [unintelligible] say that in fact that's very important. Science -- I agree with you in that.
    Science could only prove was wrong, not something that's absolute true. So you're right. If I drop a ball a million times, and it falls, I, in principle, could imagine an experience where it wouldn't. But it's highly likely it's going to fall the next time. But you use the keyword, "experience." We wait then for an experience that contradicts the known laws. So if tonight when I looked up at the sky, the stars rearranged themselves that I am here in Aramaic or ancient Greek or whatever you want, then I might say, you know, there's something to it. But the point is there's been no -- there's been no experience that violates the fact that the laws have existed throughout all time.

    [talking simultaneously]
  • 00:48:00
    Ian Hutchinson:
    Lawrence, you haven't had such an experience.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Right.Ian Hutchinson:
    But there are probably people in this room who have. So the question fundamentally comes down to what counts as empirical. And in science, of course, what counts as empirical are things that we can do experiments on, we can do repeated observations.
    So science depends upon reproducibility. But if we were to reduce some phenomenon to a reproducible behavior, we would have reduced it not into an explanation, a definition of what a miracle is. We would have reduced it into magic, or we would have reduced it in a new law of nature. So it's in the nature of miracle that it can't be reduced into scientific form. And in the end, science becomes essentially powerless to say, one way or another, whether a miracle --

    [talking simultaneously]

    Lawrence Krauss:
    -- a miracle that happened, and tell me one that happened that you can show happened.
  • 00:48:57
    John Donvan:
    Let's let Michael Shermer answer.

    Michael Shermer:
    But even so, even if there was one, aren't you curious as a scientist how God performed the miracle, what forces of nature she used and so on to make it happen?

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    Of course. And so, for example, so we would say, as Christians, for example, that --

    Michael Shermer:
    Thank you.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    -- the big bang, the creation of the universe, was a miracle. Why was it a miracle?
    Because it used no known law of nature. It was in a sense supernatural. The universe.

    [talking simultaneously]

    Lawrence Krauss:
    But that's just because you didn't understand it.

    [talking simultaneously]Dinesh D'Souza:
    But you haven't -- see, here is the thing. When we talk about experiments and reproducible things, you're talking, for example, let's take, for example, are there beings on other planets, right? It's an empirical question. Right now.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    In principle, it's an empirical question, yes.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    Empirical question. Right now, there is no evidence that there are creatures in outer space.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Yes.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    Therefore, have you refuted that belief?

    Lawrence Krauss:
    No. But it's not an illogical one like the notion that --

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    You haven't refuted it because --

    Lawrence Krauss:
    What?

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    You haven't refuted it because you haven't produced --

    Lawrence Krauss:
    It doesn't require me to suspend the laws of physics in order to believe it.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    But if I were to believe in creatures in outer space, I wouldn't be irrational, would I?
  • 00:50:01
    John Donvan:
    No, no, but you've got to respond to the point he just made. It would not require suspension of the laws of physics in order for you to believe there are creatures in outer space.Dinesh D'Souza:
    Right. And I would say that --

    John Donvan:
    But miracles do.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    No. Miracles simply say that the laws of physics are incomplete, that the laws of physics are generalizations that reflect the limits of human knowledge. These aren't nature's laws. They're Newton's laws. And it took an Einstein to modify them.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    So when the sun stood -- so these biblical scientists who thought that the sun went around the earth because that's what they thought when they were writing, when the sun stopped in the sky, of course, had the sun been going around the earth, that would be fine. But we now know that actually the earth goes around the sun. And the fact that the sun moves in the skies and the fact that the earth rotates. So had the sun stopped in the sky, the stopping of the rotation of the earth would have produced forces which would have destroyed all life on the planet. But that somehow doesn't violate the basic classical physics. But -- and every now and then, that's possible?
  • 00:51:01
    Dinesh D'Souza:
    Who are these biblical scientists you're talking about?

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Well, you know, the horn blowing, the sun stopping.

    Dinesh D'Souza:
    The people who thought that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun went around it were Christians who, like non-Christians, were taught by scientists. That's where they got the idea. They weren't biblical scientists. They got it from you guys.

    [applause]

    [talking simultaneously]

    John Donvan:
    Wait, Ian, I think I hear a serious question.

    [laughter]I didn't mean it that way. I didn't mean it that way. I think I hear an interesting challenge, in that Lawrence is saying that if a miracle were to occur, that it has ripple effects and a broad -- it doesn't just affect the people who are witnessing the miracle.

    Ian Hutchinson:
    Okay.

    John Donvan:
    But if -- for example, if the earth stopped because the trumpets are blowing, on the other side of the earth, you know, some tribe doesn't know what's going on, but suddenly the earth has stopped for them too. How do they explain it?
  • 00:51:55
    Ian Hutchinson:
    So in the 18th century, as science really got going, people thought that there were deterministic laws of physics and that once you understood the initial conditions, you could solve those laws and the result was absolutely determined. I think Lawrence will agree that what science has found out in the 20th century is that that is simply not true,
    that there is, in the universe as a whole, as we discover it by science, some deep uncertainties, some undefined behavior which, in the end, cannot be considered to be deterministic. In other words, a deterministic universe in which there's no room for God to operate is simply not the way we think about the universe as physicists these days.

    John Donvan:
    Michael Shermer.

    Michael Shermer:
    Let's say, Ian, that petitionary prayer actually works. Again, as a physicist --

    John Donvan:
    Petitionary prayer, you mean, I would like something to happen, and you pray for it.

    Michael Shermer:
    Petitioning to the deity to, say, cure my cancer or whatever. And it happens. Wouldn't you be curious to know how the deity or whatever it is reaches into the world, stirs the particles, reconfigures the DNA so the cancer cells quit replicating so rapidly and so on.
  • 00:53:07
    And the moment you figure that out as a scientist, it would no longer be a miracle. It wouldn't be supernatural. It would just be part of nature. It's like, so if I recant this prayer six times between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., this is the effect. It's a measurable,determined thing. That's just now incorporated as part of science.

    Ian Hutchinson:
    Well, let's be clear that it's never been a religious position that if we have a natural explanation for something, that means that God is absent or that God didn't do it. It's always been a biblical viewpoint that even on things which we know are part of nature,
    God can be considered to be active in those things. So while this discussion on miracles is interesting in itself, one shouldn't be misled into thinking that the only place that God can act in the world is through those things which are so extraordinary that [unintelligible].
  • 00:53:59
    Lawrence Krauss:
    John, I just want to correct an error that -- I mean, I don't think you [unintelligible], --

    John Donvan:
    Lawrence Krauss.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    -- so I want to just make it clear. The laws of physics are deterministic. The Schrödinger equation which is the basis of quantum mechanics is a second order differential equation, and, therefore, the laws are deterministic. Our observations aren't deterministic, but the underlying laws are deterministic. Nothing's changed in 400 years. And so it's really important --

    [talking simultaneously]

    Ian Hutchinson:
    -- there’s no way the universe isn't deterministic.

    Male Speaker:
    –it’s governed by quantum mechanics.

    John Donvan:
    Just one thing, because we got into four syllables, and I'm not that smart.

    [laughter]

    Just give us a working definition of the word "deterministic." You mean --

    Lawrence Krauss:
    You start with an initial condition for the equations of quantum mechanics, and the evolution of the system is determined unambiguously --Male Speaker:
    It has to happen.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    It has no uncertainty. Your measurement of the system has uncertainty, but the evolution of the underlying system is completely determined.

    Ian Hutchinson:
    You know, I'll accept the slight correction --

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Good.

    Ian Hutchinson:
    -- that -- but the point, nevertheless, remains exactly the way I said it, which is that the universe is not deterministic.
  • 00:55:01
    What science does is try to explain the universe by deterministic laws, and by looking at the world and trying to say, "How is it completely reproducible and in accordance with these universal laws?" And what it finds out is that no matter how hard we try, we're actually unable to have a complete description of the universe of that type. And this was such a shock that even as great a scientist as Albert Einstein was repelled by it --

    Lawrence Krauss:
    That's wrong.

    Ian Hutchinson:
    -- and that's why he said, you know, "God doesn't play dice with the world," because he just could not abide it. But I would say by and large the majority of physicists today think that Einstein was probably wrong and that actually there is inherent large --


    John Donvan:
    All right. One quick response and then we'll move on.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Yeah, I guess what I want to say is it's not -- we don't have a complete description, we do, quantum mechanics as far as we can tell is a complete description. We have a complete description of the probabilities.
  • 00:55:56
    We know with 100 percent accuracy if you perform the experiments that were described in the paper under your name, that with a distribution, the results will occur with a different -- with that distribution exactly. And, of course, because they did, you were able to write your paper.

    John Donvan:
    So to the side -- [coughs] excuse me -- to the side against the motion that "Science --"
    the motion that "Science refutes God," is it your position that there are certain things that science can know and then there are certain things that science can't know,
    therefore, it doesn't refute God? But what is in this world -- Dinesh, you talked a little bit about this universe of things that science can't handle, explain, such as why we are here -- that -- how large is that category of things that we can't know, and is science just irrelevant to that category of knowledge?

    Dinesh D’Souza:
    There are some questions in which Christians and religious believers are making factual claims, "God made the universe." It's a factual claim. Either he did or he didn't. There is life after death. We may have no way to find out, but that's a factual claim, either there is or there isn't.
  • 00:56:59
    "The resurrection happened," either it did or it didn't. Now, religion also makes moral claims, "This is how you should live. This is a happy life," and so on, so religion operates in two domains. The second domain is untouchable by science. Science can try to give accounts of how morality originated, but that's not the same thing as what you should and shouldn't do.

    John Donvan:
    Well --

    Dinesh D’Souza:
    So --

    John Donvan:
    -- but just be more clear about that distinction.

    Dinesh D’Souza:
    Well --

    John Donvan:
    But we want to go straight to the other side about that.Dinesh D’Souza:
    Well, science can say that we evolved a desire for cooperation out of Darwinian evolution, but that doesn't say if there's a famine in Haiti if I should give money or no.
    So in other words the content of morality is unaffected by science although science can give an account of the origin of morality.

    John Donvan:
    But not the -- what is actually right or wrong.

    Dinesh D’Souza:
    Yeah.

    Dinesh D’Souza:
    And the other thing is --

    John Donvan:
    Let me -- before you move on, let me go to Michael Shermer on that.

    Michael Shermer:
    Well, so where do we get our morals from? It can't be from the Bible because almost nobody obeys certainly not the Old Testament. And most of the New Testament-- I mean, death penalty for adultery, there goes half of Congress. I mean, nobody --
  • 00:58:00
    [laughter]

    -- nobody is going to do this, right? So we pick and choose. We cherry pick from the Holy Book based on something else, something else that's happened that I referenced in my opening statement of there's been this other change that's happened, this secularization of morality. That is, you have to actually have good reasons for why you hold certain moral principles, and you should be able to articulate them. And so that's been the changer. So even if you and I both listen to the still small voice within to decide what's right or wrong, Dinesh, I'm claiming you're not getting it from the Bible and I'm not either, we're getting it from somewhere else. I think we've evolved this propensity to have moral emotions, and then culture tweaks them, and we've been getting progressively more moral.

    John Donvan:
    But how -- what's telling us what is actually right or wrong?

    Lawrence Krauss:
    But I think science does tell us what's right and wrong --John Donvan:
    [unintelligible] Lawrence Krauss speak.

    Lawrence Krauss:
    I think science does tell us what's right and wrong in a real way.

    John Donvan:
    Really?

    Lawrence Krauss:
    Yeah, we have learned -- for example, the scientific facts that certain animals can suffer,
    for example, affects our decision of whether -- of how we should treat those animals,
    whether we should eat them or not eat them, or the scientific