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 M Monday, 03 December 2012 11:08 posted by M

      Is this debate going to introduce post modernity? I think religion and science go hand in hand and should be working together to further our understanding of knowledge and reality.

    • Comment Link Paul Holmes Monday, 03 December 2012 08:51 posted by Paul Holmes

      Robert Williams: It's crazy hard to prove a negative, says the person who never took a basic real analysis course in his life.

    • Comment Link Steve Saturday, 01 December 2012 10:01 posted by Steve

      The one debate I saw Dinesh D'Souza in he was brilliant. As these comments attest, atheists hate him because they hate anyone that does not agree with them and are willing to say so. I'd love to see this one.

    • Comment Link Jaynarayan Saturday, 01 December 2012 00:21 posted by Jaynarayan

      It is good that atheist are also interested in GOD, although they want to disprove his exitence. The debater must first of all go through at least some of the prominent religious text like Bhagavad Gita, Koran, and Bible. Then the debate would bring some fruits, otherwise this will just go on and create more confusion in society of human being. Till now as far as I know who ever have gone through the religious text carefully never expressed any doubt on exitence of GOD. Although there is different definitions of GOD among different people.

      We should also keep in mind that GOD is not like electron, proton, or galaxy that we can perform a controlled experiment and prove its existence. GOD is a person, he has personality, so its depend on his mercy on the sincere seeker who want to see GOD, GOD will reveal himslef to such person. This fact is known from past examples. If some one wants to prove the exitence of GOD by contemporary scientific method; for such seeker GOD is just this wonderful NATURE. Such people admire and worship the nature without fail, just like our modern scientitsts. If some one wants to rise above the NATURE he has to seek for the blessings of LORD.

    • Comment Link Tx Skeptic Wednesday, 28 November 2012 13:00 posted by Tx Skeptic

      This is a near re-match of the debate last March, only with physicist Lawrence Krauss replacing physicist Sean Carroll. Search for 'Ian Hutchinson debate' to see a preview for this one. I've not watched it yet myself, but plan to. I expect IQ2 to provide a better forum for this match-up though, since I've never heard a bad debate here.

      I've heard all but Hutchinson speak and/or debate multiple times, including Carroll. I look forward to another great debate with the exception of having to suffer through the blathering on by D'Souza.

    • Comment Link Mary Wellington Tuesday, 27 November 2012 20:26 posted by Mary Wellington

      Dinesh D'Souza makes a living lecturing us all that MORALITY comes from his god and and we should get fell in behind the thoughts and sayings only he channels from Mr. super hero. Then BOOM! He's fired as head of a Christian college in Manhattan for adultery. Now he's gonna tell me that is god exists but doesn't give a fig about his immorality! What a wanker.

    • Comment Link frederic Tuesday, 27 November 2012 16:35 posted by frederic

      I find it detestable to have Dinesh D'Souza as a debater. This man is a proven prevaricator and opportunist. I could care less what he thinks or believes. Next!

    • Comment Link VIJAY D Tuesday, 27 November 2012 13:20 posted by VIJAY D

      A debate between monotheism (Judaism, Islam and Christianity principally) and a belief in god and/or spiritualism is more germane. The root cause of the world's misery including the worst wars mankind has known is due to proponents of one or the other of these three religions.

      Also, why pick on science? A debate between atheism and religion is a better topic.

    • Comment Link richard valeriani Tuesday, 27 November 2012 11:44 posted by richard valeriani

      I don't know if there is a God. Neither does anybody else.

    • Comment Link lauren Tuesday, 27 November 2012 10:02 posted by lauren

      it's disappointing that so many of these debates offer only male perspectives. females are sorely underrepresented.

    • 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.

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