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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      "Refute: To prove wrong by argument or evidence"

      Krauss and Shermer don't prove anything.

      In fact, Krauss starts off by saying:

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

      No it isn't!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Why do people fall fools too fools?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Erick Dean Tippett
      Retired Musician/Teacher
      Chicago, Illinois

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

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

    • Comment Link David E Friday, 05 April 2013 12:11 posted by David E

      As a famous author once said:

      "Man created God in the image of MAN"

      God is merely a CREATION of the human MIND...

    • Comment Link ml Friday, 05 April 2013 09:56 posted by ml

      what does a god, any god, need with a planet revolving around a sun floating in 'space', why are there other planets, why is there a galaxy, why are there billions of stars with hundreds of billions of planets in billions of galaxies, few of which are habitable by humans if at all.
      there is no need for any of this if a god can provide us with a perfect place to live.

    • Comment Link EMonk Friday, 05 April 2013 03:31 posted by EMonk

      Gretchen: god is not love. Love is a psychosocial response to stimuli. God is a supernatural entity that supposedly created and guides the entire universe. Notice the difference there?

      That feeling you have, the deep-down feeling of being loved by the universe, is a symptom of the brainwashing that your religion has enacted on you. The same feeling can be achieved through many forms of manipulation, including meditation. It is no more evidentiary than a statement of belief.

    • Comment Link ml Thursday, 04 April 2013 19:52 posted by ml

      first, there may be a god, but not the one of any of the earth's thousands of religions.
      it's easier for me to believe that aliens came here, perhaps appearing as holograms or even in person, and were interpreted as gods because they came from the sky and had technology we thought was magic, than it is to believe that some 'supernatural' being cares about some creature here. example, soldiers in WWII landed in places like new guinea and gave the people food. the natives then made mock airplanes and created rituals to try to bring them back, effectively creating a new religion.

      second, the moral argument...civilization had morality before there were gods. children under 4 know what is right and wrong without ever knowing about god, that HAS been shown in experiments. animals take care of other animals not in their group or even their species without believing in god (well, we don't know or believe they do)

      third, in spite of this, this still doesn't explain some of the unexplainable or at least unexplained, why an object can fly across a room without being touched by anyone in the room, why an exorcism seems to really work, or why most people who have near death experiences say they experience 'light and intense love' (and no, no lab has been able to recreate this experience)

    • Comment Link Gretchen Wednesday, 03 April 2013 21:05 posted by Gretchen

      Both sides missed the point. God is love. To say that science refutes god is to say that science refutes love. This is an irrational pursuit. We seek god because we seek love. Not the love of the physical and material world. This love is informed, tested, measured, etc. by science. The love that comes from god is experienced in the deepest part of our being we have come to understand as our soul. It's the kind of love we experience when our humanity is expressed outwardly, toward others, in a way that increases and expands the love of humanity. It's found in forgiveness, patience, compassion, charity, kindness, peace and many other human expressions of love. Religion is how we come to know and to love god and in knowing god we discover the perfect model of love. Then we pursue our purpose in life, which is to express our humanity in the purest form of love attainable, limited only by our will, guided and informed by god and religion. Yes, one can seek to love without god, but why? Thousands of years of critical, intelligent human thought and discernment have produced an incredible body of knowledge contained in religion. These ideas have been tested by time, and culture, and science, and all the things that have come and gone over the history of humanity. This refutation is a thinly disguised rage against god and religion (and therefore love) and seems counter to the betterment of humanity. And it leans precariously toward arrogance and ignorance.

    • Comment Link jesus christ Wednesday, 03 April 2013 20:40 posted by jesus christ

      Awesome debate!!! Where does that guy get off saying that there is NO evidence that the conscience stems from the materiel world? Last time I checked, people who don't have functioning brains (and I mean, people who PHYSICALLY don't have functioning brains) don't have a conscience! Isn't that pretty powerful evidence that the conscience is created by the brain?

    • Comment Link Josh Wednesday, 03 April 2013 12:47 posted by Josh

      No, science does not refute God, or gods, ghosts, sprits- what have you. But millennia lacking evidence and a preponderance of unrepeatable claims makes the supernatural unlikely. I can't say with certainty I won't dig up a lump of gold in my garden this spring. That doesn't mean I should have faith in the man who says gold is out there.
      This debate did not refute my claim that debates are the single worst form of learning. They're about point scoring, flights of rhetoric, and nitpicking- facts and evidence, or experience if you prefer, need not apply.

    • Comment Link Frank Sattar Wednesday, 03 April 2013 09:28 posted by Frank Sattar

      While I believe this is one of most important topics. I believe the group defending God were at a disadvantage because it was science versus Christianity, or rather an interpretation of Christianity. It would have better if the debate involved Scientists who believe in the existence of creative force or entity and Scientists who don't.

    • Comment Link michael conyers Wednesday, 03 April 2013 06:28 posted by michael conyers

      Science is God... Science absolutely refutes religion, however, God in my view has nothing to do with religion. God is energy. God is attraction. God is mass. God is existence. God is everything.

      I believe in the limits of human understanding. But if you are looking for a pathway to understand God, worship science. Have faith in the miracle that is the human mind, the human spirit, and the human experience.

    • Comment Link patrick d Tuesday, 02 April 2013 22:40 posted by patrick d

      The strongest reason for religiosity is fear of death/ non existence. Most people don't understand that you cannot by definition be afraid of not existing. If you could take away someone's psychological need for religion, they would never come to the conclusion that there is a god. There's just zero evidence for it. Of course lots of people think there is evidence for it, but it is a lie they tell themselves. That is meant to be observational, not insulting. We all lie to ourselves in certain ways. In christian religions people think it is very important to believe in the birth and resurrection of Jesus, but believing those stories is not believing in Jesus, it is believing the people who wrote the stories. In most cases at least sixty years after the actual persons death. No rational person could believe this stories are true, and that's why religion isn't rational. And you can't convince an irrational person to be rational.

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