Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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

  • Lawrence Krauss web


    Lawrence Krauss

    Director, Origins Project and Foundation Professor, ASU

  • Michael Shermer web


    Michael Shermer

    Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author

  • ian-hutchinson-web


    Ian Hutchinson

    Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT

  • Dinesh-DSouza-for-web


    Dinesh D'Souza

    Author, What's So Great About Christianity

    • Moderator Image


      John Donvan

      Author & Correspondent for ABC News

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Lawrence Krauss web

For The Motion

Lawrence Krauss

Director, Origins Project and Foundation Professor, ASU

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

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Michael Shermer web

For The Motion

Michael Shermer

Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author

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

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Against The Motion

Ian Hutchinson

Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT

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

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Against The Motion

Dinesh D'Souza

Author, What's So Great About Christianity

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

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

Online Voting

Voting Breakdown:

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

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    • Comment Link robin brisebois Thursday, 03 January 2013 05:11 posted by robin brisebois

      I look forward to the debate based on the question asked at approx. 1:31:00
      "Why is god necessary?"

    • Comment Link I M Probulos Tuesday, 01 January 2013 01:15 posted by I M Probulos

      I think Lawrence Krauss presented his argument very well. The argument is for science and reason and rationality versus the God argument and the Christian religion. A belief in God, religion in general, and all superstitious behavior is common because it is a response to the 12 Unthinkable Horrors of Human Existence:

      1) There Is No Afterlife
      2) God Does Not Answer Prayers
      3) Life Is Chance
      4) Life Is Not Fair
      5) There Is No Eternal Justice
      6) God Is The Invention Of Man.
      7) A Single Mistake Can Ruin Your Life
      8) Man Is Not Special
      9) There Is No Absolute Morality or Truth
      10) Free Will Is a Myth
      11) Experts Can Be Wrong
      12) Romantic Love Is A Myth

      Sciences supports them. Religion, faith and a belief in God refutes them because, for 85% of the population, it is more comforting to believe the myth than the reality.

      I M Probulos

    • Comment Link david Friday, 21 December 2012 14:32 posted by david

      Neither side clearly understood what they were talking about and the audience certainly didn't either. Science can't possibly refute God. However, it can refute the existence of certain gods. Some power caused the universe and that power is God. What they needed to do in this debate was identify the god they were debating about. Both sides had concepts of God that are wrong so they were fighting and defending a "straw" man, or god.

    • Comment Link Dave Friday, 21 December 2012 09:46 posted by Dave

      @Andres Pabon

      I agree with you with regards to Deism, but Christianity, Islam etc. make assertions in their holy texts about the nature and history of the same universe that science aims to explain and explore.

      As science grows and evolves and discovers more and more about the history and nature of our universe, assertions made in biblical texts are falsified or confirmed, and from that we can gain insight into whether or not these texts contain truth.

    • Comment Link Philip Romov Friday, 21 December 2012 09:43 posted by Philip Romov

      I can see where they are going with the science refutes god. As Andres rightly points out, its not that science refutes faith. Rather, as I understand this debate, it is that science refutes the scientific proofs of god.

      There has been a slew of seemingly scientific arguments proposed as evidence for god. To me, they have all been flawed in one way or another, and the speakers in this debate explain why quite eloquently.

      I can also recommend the two dan barker vs dinesh desouza debates, as well as sam harris vs dinesh desouza, for possibly more faith-baised content.

    • Comment Link David Friday, 21 December 2012 08:14 posted by David

      Anders P. and others ignorantly use false information to defend their beliefs which are just as religious as those they deny. Correctly speaking, any belief about how people should live is a religion. It's true that the gods of the Bible and the Koran do not exist as described in those documents but to deny that God exists is equal to denying that the universe exists. Some ultimate power caused the universe and that power is God. Also, "faith," as the writers of the Bible used that term, is belief that is based on irrefutable evidence rather than the absence of evidence. Notice that I said "irrefutable" as opposed to "undeniable." Additionally, just because the writers of the Bible thought that the evidence they offered was irrefutable does not necessarily mean that it actually was. One more thing. Modern science, by its very nature, most certainly does attempt to establish "the truth" and dispose of prejudice which it wrongly assumes is "faith." What this means is that people who describe themselves as atheists don't know what they're talking about but then, neither do so called believers. People who are very serious about knowing the real answers to such questions need to study my recently published book, "The Answer" to be found on Amazon and published for the Kindle reader. You can actually know the answer and know that you know it but it can't be done the usual and popular way people have attempted to do it in the past.

    • Comment Link Andres Pabon Thursday, 20 December 2012 08:58 posted by Andres Pabon

      I'm an atheist, and always have been. I should side with the "for" team, by all accounts. However, I believe the arguments presented were completely irrelevant.

      The reason? Science does not refute god because it's not what science is dealing with. Science explores the nature of the universe, and has absolutely nothing to do with faith, which is, by definition, believing in spite of being proven wrong.

      I still don't believe in god, and it's likely I never will. But to put science in the role of a faith destroyer would make any philosopher go nuts. Those are just not comparable by any means.

    • Comment Link Dave Wednesday, 19 December 2012 14:21 posted by Dave

      As a person who was raised in a theistic household and switched to agnosticism as an adult, I was very much looking forward to listening to this debate. The first third of the debate was interesting and mostly relevant to the motion "Science refutes God." The remainder did nothing to advance the arguments either for or against the motion. Discussions about the Bible, or morality, or the origins of religious belief are interesting questions, but irrelevant to the question at hand. It is unfortunate both sides allowed the debate to get sidetracked instead of focusing on the actual motion. (I belive the debate could have stayed on topic better if I^2 had recruited agnostics instead of theists to argue against the motion.)

      In my opinion the debate was pretty much over less than one minute after it started. In his opening statement Krauss admits science does not disprove God, but he goes on to claim "refute" and "disprove" mean different things. Merriam-Webster disagrees with him.

      refute - to prove wrong by argument or evidence : show to be false or erroneous
      disprove - to prove to be false or wrong : refute

      Supposing we accept Krauss' implied interpretation that "refute" is a less formal or less rigorous form of "disproof," he and Shermer still don't refute the motion as stated. He outlined his argument as follows:

      P1. If God is unnecessary to explain the world around us, and
      P2. If there is no evidence for God, and
      P3. If belief in God is irrational,


      C. "Science refutes (the existence of) God."

      That is not a logically valid argument. Even if he successfully showed all three propositions are true (which he didn't) it doesn't follow that God doesn't exist. It is entirely possible for God to exist in spite of those conditions.

      I think Krauss and Shermer gave a passable explanation to show P1 is true. They claim P2 is true, but make the mistake of believing "no *scientific* evidence" is the same as "no evidence." P3 is irrelevant for establishing the truthfulness of the proposition and shouldn't be included in the argument. (In the context it's being used "rational" means nothing more than someone who shares Krauss' worldview. He uses it sway opinion via ridicule, not as an objective characteristic of a true belief.)

      Given the high quality of most I2 debates, I was hoping to hear compelling new arguments from the side for the motion. I was disappointed. Not only did they rehash many of the same irrelevant arguments, but they had no answers for any of the questions I, as a science-minded agnostic, have about their arguments. D'Souza and Hutchinson raised a few of those questions, but didn't pursue them well enough.

      I was honestly surprised and somewhat discouraged 13% of the audience found the arguments for the motion compelling enough to switch from undecided to supporting their position. Ultimately they had no arguments and instead resorted to emotional appeals to make their case. Was it enought to "win" the debate. Yes. Does it move the science/God discussion forward? Not a bit. When a group that is supposedly founded on logic and reason ignores that logic and reason do not support the position they hold, something is wrong.

    • Comment Link L.R._NY Wednesday, 19 December 2012 02:37 posted by L.R._NY

      Without Christianity mankind would have landed on the moon 1000 yrs earlier.

      Those who bow for the God component are mental slaves and indeed lack self-discipline, in need of a herd to walk, talk, behave.

      It would be a great gift to our great grandchildren if we could have a world where religions are Not allowed to impose at birth, on children and people who are mentally Not able to put the material in question.

    • Comment Link Christopher Tuesday, 18 December 2012 04:37 posted by Christopher

      Whether or not science can answer where the first matter came from...that does not in any way presuppose that it was a God that created the first matter.

      Ultimately....we may never know....but what makes us so special that we have to know?

      Trees don't get to know why they are why should we know the meaning of our own existence?

      Eternal life? Who is to say that our "time" here on Earth isn't eternity already? Time doesn't exist...clocks do.

      I suggest that all beliefs in God are mere conditioning.

    • Comment Link Erik Monday, 17 December 2012 23:36 posted by Erik

      I am struck here by all the angry, spiteful posts by those that deny the motion. Look, those who can only see the world through the glasses of your chosen faith, understand this: the rest of us don't think like you do.

      If I were walking along with a member of the faithful and a burning bush started talking to us, especially in a deep and booming voice, your man would be throwing himself to the ground begging and asking what he must do... Scientists and atheists would be walking up to the bush looking for a speaker and the wire leading from it.

      We live in two very different worlds. You believe by hitting a remote you make it work by force of will or threats. Scientists just open it up and fix the lose connection.

      Now I would never say the faithful are anti-intellectual, but I would say you lack a disciplined mind.

    • Comment Link Donovan Monday, 17 December 2012 13:25 posted by Donovan

      Suddenly, Andie MacDowell joins the debate.

      Humor aside, this was as level headed as I've seen from De Souza, and as much as I perpetually find myself on the Krauss/Sherman side of debates like these, I have to appreciate the respect all four men showed each other here.

    • Comment Link Josh Monday, 17 December 2012 11:13 posted by Josh

      All I heard here was philosophical arguments for the idea that belief in a creator (God) is irrational... lol.... Not one shread of "scientific" evidence that supports the motion.... the fact that they even tried to argue on the premise that there was some sort of legitimit quantifiable/analytical/empirical scientific evidence was what made. Me listen... needless to say I left dissapointed. This discussion was hilarious and outside of garnering more laughs, the side arguing for the motion was clearly out of their realm.... this should have been called the "I didnt see it therfore it cannot be" debate. Nothing but pure pop science

    • Comment Link Curtis J. Ultsch Saturday, 15 December 2012 16:16 posted by Curtis J. Ultsch

      Science is an observational discipline. In no way can science be the agency of creation. To the extent there are existences for science to observe, an agency of creation has been working... God exists, Q.E.D.

    • Comment Link Robert Bone Friday, 14 December 2012 00:09 posted by Robert Bone

      To all those who rely upon the unanswered human questions in the universe in support of a belief in god(s); have you learned nothing from the billions of humans who came before you who claimed the same support for their beliefs? For example - the Mayan religious beliefs; Roman religious beliefs; Greek religious beliefs, etc. Are you so arrogant that you stand upon "the first molecule" question as if that is the one item that supports the existence of god(s)? You truly believe that you have the one and only question that will turn out to defy a rational conclusion? You figured out the one question that cannot be explained but for god's involvement? Pure arrogance!

    • Comment Link Peter Tuesday, 11 December 2012 11:28 posted by Peter

      Science is limited by its refusal to make stuff up!

    • Comment Link Magda Stenzel Tuesday, 11 December 2012 03:24 posted by Magda Stenzel

      Until Science can explain to me how the very first molecule of existence, even before the Big Bang, came to be, I will believe in God.

    • Comment Link Harris R Monday, 10 December 2012 19:57 posted by Harris R

      Airport kid, the statements "Science is incompetent to refute God!"
      and "Science increasingly points to a God!" are not contradictory statements anymore than "Science is incompetent to refute life in other planets" and "Science increasingly points to life in other planets." They are certainly not obvious contradictions. Science cannot refute what we may find in the future but it can increasingly point to it.

    • Comment Link Lily Monday, 10 December 2012 19:01 posted by Lily

      ...has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

      ...because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

      ...God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the wold to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.

      ...Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

      Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

      But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because the are spiritually discerned. from 1 Corinthians chapters 1 & 2

      Knock and it shall be opened to you; seek and you shall find...

    • Comment Link Robert S Monday, 10 December 2012 04:06 posted by Robert S

      We like monkeys and apes may have evolved from the lemur as found in archaeological digs in Germany. Religion on the other hand was and is man made as found in archaeological digs in the middle east.

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