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 Clark Orwick Monday, 04 April 2016 10:41 posted by Clark Orwick

      I'm agnostic, which I think is the fallback position of anyone who considers God scientifically.
      I am very close to Atheism, but I have a healthy dose of self-doubt and a positive relationship with the scientific method.
      I would be very suspicious of anyone who claimed to 'know' anything for certain, and science, of course, forbids that position.
      So since I admit I don't know, and probably can't know, I would vote AGAINST the motion, because 'refute' is too certain.

    • Comment Link Dan Mitchell Saturday, 12 March 2016 10:52 posted by Dan Mitchell

      Lets be clear. The argument against is severely hamstrung in that it is strictly framed within biblical ideas by 2 wholly conventional though articulate speakers. The Christian context is rigidly conceptual and has it's basis in primitive beliefs derived when people basically lived in caves and used stone implements. The Western concept of god has barely advanced beyond rudimentary ideas and is derivative of group think psychology.
      Listening to this argument as a true debate of whether science refutes god is silly.
      Take god out of the title and put in consciousness as unexplainable by science and you have a more modern argument.

    • Comment Link Simon Saturday, 12 March 2016 00:12 posted by Simon

      Does anyone know (actually and really know) why Lawrence Krauss came way shaking his head after shaking D'Souza's hand at the end of the debate. It looks like some ill feeling or lack of graciousness (if there is such a thing) from D'Souza.

    • Comment Link David Ging Monday, 07 March 2016 23:10 posted by David Ging

      I think the debaters missed a critical point that refutes the notion that Science Refutes God. All the modern theories science has about the start of the universe: the original big bang, the modern big bang/inflation, or multiverses, or the big bounce, or whatever all start by assuming an unimaginably large, possibly infinite amount of energy. And that energy is where the universe comes from. Importantly, this energy has no consciousness.

      Religion starts with an unimaginably large, probably infinite amount of energy - with a consciousness - God.

      If you have to weigh the possibilities 1) infinite energy without consciousness, or 2) infinite energy with consciousness I don't think the odds would be much different from 50/50. I might favor consciousness slightly more, others might favor it slightly less.

      But if you are going to assume infinite, or near infinite energy as a starting point, is it really that large of a leap of faith to assume that energy also has a consciousness and is in fact the source of all life?

      This certainly doesn't prove God exists, but it seems to me it makes God as likely, or almost as likely as not. Thoughts anyone?

    • Comment Link Science Fiction Friday, 02 October 2015 04:06 posted by Science Fiction

      The dark age ranges usually are proof of the actual chapels destruction of science. The theory which the Chapel propelled science forwards will be absurd. They will financed science, they determined the concepts as well as has not been true, and they destroyed what exactly they wouldn't like. We could always be intergalactic explorers in any other case for that 500+ years of darkness and despair presented by Monotheism, it's wars, it's hard, and it is dishonesty.

    • Comment Link Aaron Thursday, 11 June 2015 03:28 posted by Aaron

      I feel as if most of the comments posted did not originate from individuals who partook and truly focused to the message given by both parties. I believed we arrived at the fact that science is the study of that observed, of what observed is that which is in need of order, of that order requires law, law of origin, of that origin being God, we can speculate residual peices to the extent of that created, but we can only replicate or track that which has been made, not undoing that which was already created. This requires us to surrender our pride to the closest truth in accordance to freedom of creation, the Word. We have the right to life free! Live life in accordance and the science of life with reveal itself. Or find yourself lost, I choose a path which i can visualize a grand life, choose your path and dont get caught without one. I hope my talk helped, because waiting till the end to find a faith will leave you in dread at your missed freedoms and blessings.

    • Comment Link Michael Rizzio Sunday, 15 March 2015 05:42 posted by Michael Rizzio

      Predictable result...a crooked and perverse generation seeks a sign and will not get one, save for the Resurrection after three days.

      Bad logic---leads to bad philosophy---leads to bad theology, this is a certainty.

      Faith is complementary to reason not at war with it.

    • Comment Link Anna Sunday, 26 October 2014 17:01 posted by Anna

      I really enjoyed this debate - it was respectful on both sides and very intelligently argued on the side against the motion. I definitely don't believe science refutes God ... to me that is very laughable since I believe God is the author of science. I'm surprised at the results.

    • Comment Link Tony Saturday, 09 August 2014 13:12 posted by Tony

      I think the best argument against was made by Lawrence Krauss.

      He asserted that the energy of space in the universe we live in is at a level that is the worst possible for life. He made this argument to refute the argument that the universe is geared for life.

      Let's assume he's correct that we live in the worst universe possible for life..

      He also stated that evidence of God would be if there was life in a universe that could not support it.

      As far as I can see, what better evidence has God provided us than a universe that is perfectly built to not support it, yet life still thrives.

      Thank you Lawrence for the excellent set of points.

    • Comment Link Robert Tuesday, 22 July 2014 11:07 posted by Robert

      I'm fairly shocked at the result. Any scientist has to concede that a good scientific assertion must be testable, reproducible and falsifiable. There is no way that science can apply these principles to the proposition.

    • Comment Link Mike Buena Friday, 27 June 2014 06:56 posted by Mike Buena

      The dark age ranges usually are proof of the actual chapels destruction of science. The theory which the Chapel propelled science forwards will be absurd. They will financed science, they determined the concepts as well as has not been true, and they destroyed what exactly they wouldn't like. We could always be intergalactic explorers in any other case for that 500+ years of darkness and despair presented by Monotheism, it's wars, it's hard, and it is dishonesty.

    • Comment Link George Blackmore Sunday, 18 May 2014 22:24 posted by George Blackmore

      If as god believer's say, that an alien being created everything from A-Z, to include us. And as god believer's claim, we are the alien being's ONLY creations that have the physical appearance of this being, and as believer's say their god is all powerful and loves us.. Then, why were this being's human creations designed to ONLY be as the alien being appears? Why do we only look like it does? In other words, why did this super being who loves us, design us with, (1) the capability to harm, or kill one another, (2) with flawed immune systems leaving us susceptible to disease(s) like Cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons disease, etc. (3) Why did this being allow us to breed ourselves in starvation, and deprivation, on the one hand, then allow others of his, to achieve the status of kings?? (4) Why if this being looks as we do, does it not show itself to us? (5) Why is there a guessing game as to whether this alien superbeing really exists? There is NO reasonable explanation for why ALL of humanity has not seen this being.. A being powerful enough to create EVERYTHING would not remain hidden to his little human creations, then design a ridiculous GAME of, "Believe in me, BUT if you do not, then once you stop breathing you may not rejoin me in Heaven?" I don't think so! LOL!! HAHAAA! Pardon me.. // Human being's HAVE to stop with the sophomoric "BELIEF" that there is actually a superbeing tuned into each of their boney little head's answering their childish wishes, it does not happen.. It is time to get on with science, exploration, research, that will determine the best option(s) to power our planet while lowering carbon emissions, along w/ a host of other issues around war & peace, education, population control, that defines our objectives for the human race over the next hundred, five hundred, or one thousand years! We have to stop this insidious philosophical mind trap called religious belief, it's quicksand of the mind!

    • Comment Link TByte Saturday, 07 September 2013 14:01 posted by TByte

      "Wednesday, 17 July 2013 13:49 posted by V MJ

      The moment that a scientist can use their math, chemistry, biology, physics and quantum physics to combine the components that exist in a human body to actually create a functioning, thinking human is the moment I will believe in science."
      Really? So, what were you believing in the last time you went to the doctor or boarded an airplane?
      What an amazing level of ignorance and denial.

    • Comment Link James Saxon Tuesday, 27 August 2013 11:16 posted by James Saxon

      Listening to the argument it reminds me of a quote from somewhere: "I used to be big." - God

      Perhaps this is what the debaters can both agree upon. If people can learn and grow. Why not god?

      In other words, god hides just beyond science. If I understand omnipotence, this would be something god could do right?

      This concept seems to bring together both points.

      It talks not only to the suggestion that science shall never be able to empirically explain god, but also that all the crazy miracles that came before, before video cameras, before paper, "before evolution" actually could have happened. In other words, as soon as smart phones became capable of recording events, god decided that it was no longer appropriate to have people walk on water. The responsibility for such big miracles was in a sense, handed over to us humans.

      The concept of god hiding beyond science also allows that "spiritual experiences" could actually come from anywhere, and without empirical explanation of those inner conscious experiences, they cannot really be "owned" by science, but only interpreted from a scientific perspective.

      Whether theologians would entertain this notion, I have no clue but it to me would be the only reasonable path to accepting god.

      Interestingly, to me this would indicate that "in the early days", god did a LOT of tinkering (and messing) with the world. Floods, burning bushes, red sea parting, big things! But now, he's receding from the physical realm almost completely, to the only thing that seems to be 100% empirical is the human universal of a belief in god.

      Those against the motion could suggest that this is indeed god's purpose, to give the world step by step to his creation for them to do with what they please, and hopefully not destroy themselves. That's just a guess, I suppose it would depend upon which god they referred to.

      But to me it leaves where I normally fall after listening to a debate, punting!

    • Comment Link Robert Doell Friday, 26 July 2013 21:48 posted by Robert Doell

      Dinesh was terrific at providing a real defence of Christianity but the other man may be a Christian but clearly has not thought through his faith in the context of today's context and scientists positions.

    • Comment Link V MJ Wednesday, 17 July 2013 13:49 posted by V MJ

      The moment that a scientist can use their math, chemistry, biology, physics and quantum physics to combine the components that exist in a human body to actually create a functioning, thinking human is the moment I will believe in science.

    • Comment Link B. Couch Wednesday, 17 July 2013 09:32 posted by B. Couch

      I'm not sure if I heard was right from either side. First you never
      invited any clergy or members of any organized religion. You used
      "scholarly" educators. I think a child could have done a better job defending faith than the panel you had. The Big Bang theory has yet to be proved and we still HAVEN'T found the missing link. We assume it is there and haven't found it. The bible is a record of testimonies of men and women who have met Christ and have shed their blood for that testimony. Isiah was sawed in half, Peter crucified upside down in Rome, John beheaded. Would any rational man/woman give up their life for a record?? I hardly think not. Man cannot govern himself. It's obvious. We need God and his set of laws for decency and freedom. They asked why we are here. I will answer: We are here to partner, procreate, have children and gain knowledge. We are the only species who cannot follow or fulfill our creative sphere like plants or animals.
      The panel needed signs. Christ gave signs and no one believed.
      Now the scholars say he was just a man preaching good things.
      In another 1000 years, I'm sure someone will look back on this panel and laugh at the folly of how stupid we are. In all the galaxies, you think there is no other form of intelligent life greater than ours and things we cannot see with our physical eyes? I would like to challenge Intelligence Squared to another round of science refutes God and further explore this topic. And let me kindly add why hasn't man grown another head or toe, or the nautilus changed in thousands of years? Darwin could very well be wrong. Have a great day everyone.

    • Comment Link Bisan Tuesday, 16 July 2013 12:15 posted by Bisan

      Thanks for inotudrcing a little rationality into this debate.

    • Comment Link David young Sunday, 14 July 2013 18:18 posted by David young

      I hate to have to mention this, but this "Big Bang'" CONCEPT has never been proven in ANY way !

      to begin with, what is Fact is that light SHIFTS to the red spectrum a it travels over distance, this is FACT!

      The idea that it shifts to the red spectrum as an object moves away from us has NOT been proven in any way that is discernible.

      And the fact that Hubble invented the "Big Bang" Concept is something that should be looked at carefully because Hubble was a Fundamentalist Christian that got into Astronomy after he was Given a telescope as a child and attempted to find heaven in the heavens and was VERY upset that it could NOT be spotted !

      this SHOULD make anyone looking at anything he conceptualized
      very wary. The idea that he came up with a concept that affirmed his BELIEF in Creationism should most definitely make that concept SUSPECT !

      the idea of the big bang is wholly based on the red shift of light, which is known to happen because of the distance the light travels, the fact that the better we get at developing telescopes and the Shifts are different then what was seen with lower quality technology should tell us that we most likely are getting the BETTER reading from the HIGHER technology and that our IDEAS of where the Stars were located from information gathered with lower technology were simply WRONG, this WOULD lead to the conclusion that the stars were NOT where we thought them to be rather then the Universe is expanding !

      to the CONCEPT that the Microwaves at the EDGE of what we can see in the universe being evidence of the big bang again should be held suspect because, again, as light travels it shifts to the Red Spectrum, and as it shifts to the red it WILL eventually shift to Microwaves then to Radio waves, or are there those among you that would believe that GOD is trying to BROADCAST to us?

      I have questioned this since I was A Child and HAVE never gotten a satisfactory OR Rational answer to this question, since the grand majority of Humanity holds their beliefs higher then rational thought.

      And the idea that because it can work mathematically is FAR from proof.

    • Comment Link william andrade Wednesday, 03 July 2013 01:23 posted by william andrade

      I find it interesting how convinced science and creationism backers are that they are right. It's only in ponzi schemes where we find only a few of the practioners are prospering. In religion, no matter which religion, the proof of reliability and validity is not inherently in the voice of the believer, but in the ability of the god or pusher of the religion in the first cause to reveal it/him or herself to the masses of their creation. If there are 7 billion people on planet and say 3 million are christian, but of those 3 million only a few hundred thousand are prospering the way the bible says they will prosper and the rest are not, but in fact are struggling with life and facing a hopeless future, can we then say that the religion is reliable or valid or more simplistically, that it even works? If science says one thing under the scientific theory one day, and then on another day changes that theory to say another thing totally different, where is the difference between the two. I venture to say both science and religion are wanting in the reality phase of interpretation. But that is the problem isn't it: both parties are convinced the other is wrong and they are right; right in the belief that Jesus and Yahweh, or Allah or whom ever one chooses to worship as the creator of the universe and overseer of life on earth are true, or that science is the correct interpreter of life by way of the scientific method to reproduce a theory and it tenets over and over to be able to say yep...this is a true and valid theory. Human guess work is a creative and imaginative force in the earth...that is a fact. Science has overstepped its bounds when it attempts to prove or disprove the existence of a deity, any deity...why? Because they are not the first cause movers, they have not heard from god any better than spiritual or religious leaders say they have. Here's what I know. When I look up to the sky on a sunny day, I see one Sun, its hotter at times than other times, but unless and i mean unless you're insane, you will agree that the sun in the sky exists and gives off heat. I don't need a god, preacher, or science teacher to tell me what I see and feel. If god was as concerned with his creation as believers say he is, then why, after thousands and thousands of years of hearing god, his word, his prophecy, his prophets, and most of all the billions of believers over the eons who in earnest prayer and sublication have prayed for healing or help, no matter the purpose, their prayers were unheard and they suffered, been abused, destroyed, killed, what do we say to them and their lives as a result of their genuine adherence to their scripture. It's way more complicated than any idea that god will bless whom he will bless and curse whom he will curse. Science, like religion has man's fingerprints all over them, The precepts of human needs is the defining moment for truth of science and religion. Science is supposed to help mankind get to a greater place; religion likewise is supposed to get mankind to a greater place. Yet each says it depends on the believer, interpreter and implementer of the practice that will determine if one or the other is complementing the precepts of human needs. I tend to think both science and religion are driven by men/women with big egos and weak intellects. No one is perfect, i get that, but after thousands and thousands of years of trying, the results are hideous on both sides and only speaks to fingerprints of a man, and not a god. I further believe we are looking for deities in books and in the minds of men (albeit clever men) that are not there. I've seen a dog attempt to save another dog from getting hit by a car on the freeway by literally pawing and pulling the fellow dog off of the freeway, effectively attempting to save it. It proves that all creation on this planet, when you do some due diligence observation has feeling for those of their kind and sometimes for those of other kinds. I can't see how religion or science would influence me either way from what i see with my own eyes. Point being, if god wanted everyone on the planet to see him and know he exists, in the plain light of day, with clear sound to compliment the sight, he would and could do it. I don't need science or god to show me what the right thing to do is, I need my human needs met. and when our human needs are met we display traits of a certain nature and when our human needs are not met, human traits of a different nature come out. It's true that you can't talk about human nature without talking about human needs. Try taking food from a hungry animal and see what happens, at least they have some internal nature to fall back on to defend their nature for survival, their natural animal needs. but you can fool a human not to defend their natural instinct, their attention to their precepts of human needs can be lost in an intellectual black hole to the point of them losing their ability to effectively use reason to determine reliability and validity. Science can't refute god anymore than man can prove God. Proving who and what something or someone is comes from the thing or the one that is showing up and out to be seen. Everything else is garbage and an intellectual black hole.

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