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 Tim Higbie Monday, 26 November 2012 20:29 posted by Tim Higbie

      Science cannot disprove the existence of God for the simple reason that the scientific method deals in testable hypotheses. Christopher Hitchens summed up this debate in one sentence:

      "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”

    • Comment Link Josh Sunday, 25 November 2012 16:09 posted by Josh

      I think the premise is a bit skewed against the skeptical side. It is very difficult to fully refute anything. I am an atheist, but I recognize that it is nearly impossible to "prove" that there is no god. Believers only need to present what they believe to be evidence of god, but non-believers are burdened with proving a negative.
      The motion also relies on what one characterizes as "god". There are some beliefs that have no connection to religion, such as that there is a god that created the early universe, but never interfered further. It would be nearly impossible to prove that a god didn't create the Big Bang and then walk away and allow the universe to run its course.
      This will be a difficult debate, and I am looking forward to it.

    • Comment Link Daniel Saturday, 24 November 2012 13:55 posted by Daniel

      "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."

      There are so many incorrect things stated in such a small paragraph. The motion isn't to refute religion, as we know that Religion exists. There is also no need for Science to start churches either to replace it.

      Science also shouldn't be disproving the existence of God, Life after death, or a soul. These are all things that have never been proved in the first place, and it begs the question to ask science to disprove these things.


      I ultimately don't see this being a very interesting premise, there will be little middle ground for which to debate, and I predict a lot of talking past each other. I wish the question wasn't so broad that either side can make it to their own (as we can see by the statements by either side) that nothing will actually be debated. It will need a strong moderator, in my opinion.

    • Comment Link Robert Williams Saturday, 24 November 2012 13:54 posted by Robert Williams

      Until God submits for testing; Science has little need to bother with for or against. Though it does force one to ask "Could God prove a negative?" /A Most (un)Intriguing Paradox./

    • Comment Link Joe F Saturday, 24 November 2012 11:46 posted by Joe F

      So long as God lies in the gaps, It is an un-testable hypothesis. Therefore science cannot disprove the existence of 'God' to the extent that God is defined as residing outside a testable environment. An inability to disprove is no proof at all. 'I don't know, therefore, God' is not a better position than 'I don't know.'

    • Comment Link Fernando Friday, 23 November 2012 18:54 posted by Fernando

      I am both a scientist and a believer. I spent a big chunk of my twenties and thirties as an atheist only to realize that those who claim that science and religion are incompatible are deceivers in chief. I am not blaming them for my atheist years, since I take full responsibility for turning my back to God during that time, however they have to be unmasked for their deception. Ian Hutchinson, one of the panelists, eloquently explained this at one of the Veritas forum conferences which I would advise anybody interested on this topic to watch. He nailed it when he said that these deceivers are confusing science with scientism. Sure enough, scientism and religion are incompatible because scientism is itself a religion, in the sense of a worldview. So scientism and religion are incompatible in the same way Christianity and Islam are incompatible, they both provide incompatible worldviews.

    • Comment Link Miriam N. Conde Tuesday, 20 November 2012 22:44 posted by Miriam N. Conde

      I think the movie "Contact" answered this question beautifully.

    • Comment Link Michael Tuesday, 20 November 2012 19:25 posted by Michael

      I think the question is silly.

      I suggest a more pointed one:
      Science Refutes a Literal Interpretation of the Bible

      It would be interesting to hear the arguments on the Nay side.
      So many people hold to a literal interpretation of the bible, it would be good to hear the argument.

    • Comment Link Cha11engerD Tuesday, 20 November 2012 10:08 posted by Cha11engerD

      While I ultimately support the notion, I think the title should be re-worded a bit. Science cannot properly refute the existence of anything that has no evidence to leave behind. A lack of evidence can demonstrate that something thought to exist actually doesn't, or it can indicate incomplete data-recording. On the other hand, things can be demonstrated to not exist if they are logically inconsistant. To demonstrate that something does exist, it has to be logically consistant AND there must evidence of its existence. A being that could be considered as a god could exist, but so far none of the theories or characteristics that have been historically assigned to the idea of a god have made any coherent or logical sense. I think a better title for the debate should be, 'Logic Refutes God.'

    • Comment Link 21 Quest Thursday, 15 November 2012 21:20 posted by 21 Quest

      Denise, the proposing side doesn't have to disprove God's existence. All they have to do is discredit the opposing team's evidence that there IS a God. As you said, "The essence of science is discovery -of facts and truth- until better science comes along to disprove the prior 'true' science". That statement is absolutely correct. The burden is on the opposing team to provide that 'True' science, and it is THAT science which the proposing team must refute. You also said, 'I could not disprove the existence of a person through a DNA test, I could only clarify that person's genetic family'. This is not a true statement. If a prosecuting attorney claims the defendant existed in a given place at a given time, he/she usually is expected to provide DNA evidence that the person in question was there at that time. The defense attorney is not required to show where his client was at the time IF he can discredit the validity of the DNA evidence, such as by providing evidence of contamination by police negligence.

      So, let's put that example into the context of this debate. The opposing team is the prosecutor, and God is the defendant, accused of performing a miracle at a given time and place. All the defense attorney must do is disprove the evidence that shows God was there. If they can do that for every act which God is claimed to have performed, then they have refuted God's complicity in the acts.

    • Comment Link 21 Quest Wednesday, 14 November 2012 20:51 posted by 21 Quest

      Ironic that a hypocrite like Dinesh D'Souza is even allowed to participate in another religious debate. Given the recent media coverage regarding his controversial engagement to a woman while he is currently married to his wife of 20 years, I really don't think he can be said to represent Christian values.

    • Comment Link Denise Smith Sunday, 11 November 2012 19:38 posted by Denise Smith

      Can't wait to attend this debate. Funny how it compares two completely different classes though...impossible for a process or body of collected knowledge to disprove a person or being. I could not disprove the existence of a person through a DNA test, I could only clarify that person's genetic family. Not possible to refute God using science. The essence of science is discovery -of facts and truth- until better science comes along to disprove the prior "true" science...disagreement within humanity on what we call God or how we should live or relate to him is not different than the ways in which communities have their own words for water or their own ways of making bread or building houses. Does one way refute the other, even if one is built better...?

    • Comment Link Jeannine Monday, 29 October 2012 20:14 posted by Jeannine

      The existence of an all-good Supreme Being/Creator aka God can definitely be proved through the use of human reason. I hope the the MIT scientist can show this through the use of Physics. I hope Dinesh will be able to expound upon the idea of why evil exists.

    • Comment Link Geoff Thursday, 25 October 2012 23:53 posted by Geoff

      Science assumes induction (the future will be like the past) and that can only have a safe home in a theistic framework. Namely, if you have laws of nature without a law giver, you have no reason to believe that science can be done.

      God is something you have to assume if you want to maintain your own rationality as well. If you believe your intellect is the product of no design, you must assume your thoughts are determined by the laws of physics and chemistry. In other words, you don't believe in anything because it is true but because the atoms bounce around in your brain a certain way. If we are undesigned, rationality goes out the window.

      Appeals to the problem of evil are self-defeating. There's evil in the world, so God can't exist? Let's break that down. There can't be a meaningful right and wrong if God doesn't exist.

      Lastly, this confuses science with science-ism. Are the people for the motion going to be proving it with a science experiment? No. Science proves no such thing. "A belief in miracles goes against the facts and spirit of science." What bunk. Against the eyewitness testimony of the apostles? No, it goes against science-ism, where science is everything but not against actual science.

    • Comment Link ledis Gazic Tuesday, 02 October 2012 18:16 posted by ledis Gazic

      While I voted for the motion, I somewhat still believe in an all mighty powerful force that drove the first impetus for the creation of the universe. Whether we want to call it God, or anything else is irrelevant.
      I also believe, as a history teacher, that religion had to be invented as people began to live in communities for the simple reason of keeping order. Thus a higher all powerful entity was invoked to keep the people in check. It was the only way that civilization, as we know it, could exist. Actually when one looks at history and its pattern of war, destruction, and conquest, one wonders how we still exist and that we have not obliterated one another. Therefore, one could conclude that: there must be a God keeping this (us) all together. My question is: For how long?

    • Comment Link RC Shikles Saturday, 15 September 2012 23:26 posted by RC Shikles

      Even though I am not able to be present to your debates, I fully appreciate the type of honest debating that you all provide. Keep up the good work and I try to follow up often. I already miss Christopher Hitchen.

    • Comment Link W. Webb Ferrall Sunday, 02 September 2012 12:46 posted by W. Webb Ferrall

      re: Can sci & rel co-exist?
      It's a matter of priority and application.
      Believe whatever you want until a decision involves physical existence on Earth.
      RELIABLE REPEATABILITY is the underlying concept of science, and it is far more trustworthy than any religion.

      While the size of the (perceived) cosmos suggests humanity has some learning to do, it was/is reliably repeatable knowledge that got us to the moon and continues to maintain the space station.

      SHOULD the two co-exist? No.
      Religion reflects a history in which mysteries were far more prevalent than today. A large percentage of those mysteries have been explained by science.
      Religion is a stale habit.

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