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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

    For

    Lawrence Krauss

    Director, Origins Project and Foundation Professor, ASU

  • Michael Shermer web

    For

    Michael Shermer

    Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author

  • ian-hutchinson-web

    Against

    Ian Hutchinson

    Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT

  • Dinesh-DSouza-for-web

    Against

    Dinesh D'Souza

    Author, What's So Great About Christianity


    • Moderator Image

      MODERATOR

      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 Skeptic.com, 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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ian-hutchinson-web

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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Dinesh-DSouza-for-web

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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    218 comments

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    • Comment Link Muhammad Tufail shad Saturday, 30 March 2013 08:02 posted by Muhammad Tufail shad

      Keeping in view of the whole discussion ,most of the debaters had taken the reference of the Bible while matching or mismatching of the Scientific developments .
      I think if all had kept the last Testament /The Quran as reference;they might had observed that Science has covered long distance in various fields mentioned in this book like Astronomy,Birth of child, Universal forces and many others. The left over and the most important for the mankind is the Divine economic system which has not been touched and implemented in the society/world.

    • Comment Link Dave M. Saturday, 30 March 2013 05:10 posted by Dave M.

      I think the debate topic is the real problem. Does science refute God. Since God can't be quantified in any sense for lab purposes then yes I would have to say that science probably does refute God.

      The debate seemed to run amok and turned into science versus Christianity.

      I think a better topic might have been Can science refute God. Once again God is not amenable to study in the lab and it would seem the thought process would lead down the same road but there are differences because of the question.

      When a massive star goes nova and the core collapses to a black hole, science is fine right up to the event horizon. Beyond that boundary we have given a name, the singularity. What is a singularity? Basically the term singularity is science's way of saying we don't know. We can no more see what is happening inside the event horizon than we can peer beyond the cosmic microwave background.

      Science is looking at the possibility of a multiverse where for every time I made a right turn, in some other universe I made a left. Very quickly we arrive at an infinite number of alternate realities.

      As to creation, the Big Bang. Once again that nasty term singularity shows up. Since we cannot understand singularities we can only look at those we know to exist for some hint of their nature. Non-feeding black holes slowly evaporate. The singularity of the Big Bang did not. It burst giving rise to all that is. The question is how? Was it a random quantum fluctuation or a divine push? If the multiverse idea is correct then each happened giving rise to and infinite number of quantum anomaly created universes and an infinite number of divinely created universes. In which do we live?

    • Comment Link gene Friday, 29 March 2013 22:46 posted by gene

      god created evolution to help everything created to evolve and create.

    • Comment Link gene Friday, 29 March 2013 22:07 posted by gene

      Refute god? Maybe refute of existence of god? Or maybe refute which religions interpretations of god? Poor choice of words I think. Since you can only refute the words of people who are claiming god said this or that. Can science refute religion? Definitely. Every religion is so full of sins and other moral crimes, from killing to enslavement, from greed to vanity, and the brainwashed effect that every religious person no longer believes god exists they know for a fact that god exists that religion itself has become ungodly. God's existence is part of a belief system, belief means trust, faith, confidence, opinion, conviction, etc. none of which is proof, fact, or established as truth. So how can science refute god when we didn't actually hear god say anything, if god did say something......now that would be proof.

    • Comment Link pat Friday, 29 March 2013 10:58 posted by pat

      I enjoyed the show but don't understand the voting. Couldn't the "victory" be rigged simply by many people claiming to be undecided in the initial vote, when in fact they are not?

    • Comment Link Jake Friday, 29 March 2013 08:02 posted by Jake

      This was a great debate. I felt like the Con side came into a hostile audience though.

      I personally liked the point that was something to the nature of "You cannot disprove God anymore than you can prove a thought."

    • Comment Link Dan Tuesday, 26 March 2013 09:07 posted by Dan

      I have a few comments.

      This was the most emotionally charged debate I've ever come across on iq2. Both sides have emotional reasons to push their side.

      I would also like to put forth that I have personally seen a tangible, real & verifiable miracle. (young man cured of aids with no real treatment, he was born HIV positive & now tests flat 0)

      Best argument from each side (in my view):

      Theists
      Science has no power to say anything about God because God is not bound by it's rules & he operates in realms that cannot be consistently observed.

      A-theists:
      When one does scientific experiments one must not expect the likelihood of miracles in order for scientific findings to have any reliability.

    • Comment Link Alex Saturday, 23 March 2013 21:52 posted by Alex

      @John Stark while I do believe in G-d, I have to comment that your argument is based on the assumption that G-d does actually exist, and is therefore moot.

    • Comment Link Alex Saturday, 23 March 2013 21:49 posted by Alex

      I would like to say that I was very disappointed during the debate when the question regarding out of body experiences was not answered.

      One can find the most compelling experiences from patients who were pronounced dead but miraculously came back to life. The question is, what does it mean to be pronounced dead? If thoughts and consciousness are related with brain, nerve, and electric signal, then how could a legally dead person, that is to say that their brain and therefore conciousness has shut down, experience anything at all?

      I believe in G-d; however, I do not think that everyone has to. I only think things that are wrong should be corrected and things that cannot possibly be answered correctly can not possibly have a correct answer.

    • Comment Link Kai Jones Saturday, 23 March 2013 20:07 posted by Kai Jones

      I agree with the believers of God or theologians. When something is concrete and truth it stays the same forever. God and the story of us remains the same and does not change based on trends and opinions of the times and zeitgeist.

      Not only can science provide no proof of anything, it cannot seem to make it's mind up.

      One minute it is this idea, belief, and theory, and then next, it is another idea belief and theory, and all presented as if it is fact, but it isn't because fact is concrete and remains the same for all to see and know.

      Science is blind people in darkness and are like the ignorant and blind witch hunters that had no proof of people being witches, but insisted that they were and contradictingly did things to people in the name of God that God says not to do.

      They do not see that the old testament along with the whole bible from begining to end is the story of how sin came to be, God making aware to mankind the existence of his sin by laws that were given to show humans their inability to love and follow basic principles and instructions, and the happiness that they should now have having their sin erased through the sacrifice of a sinless body taking the place of sinful ones that were bound for destruction because God is love, and perfect love and harmony, and evil is contrary to who he is and what he created life to be, and will be destroyed as rotten fruit is discarded and good fruit is kept and eaten.

      The creator God created man and all life perfect and to live forever. Evil is what a life form became and so disconnection from the perfect condition of health with no disease for eternity, man died physically and became susceptible to disease and illness that was inherited with his sin.

      The creator of the inherited perfection of love good and eternal life and perfect health which is who and what God is, creates life that way and can give it to a person that has lost it because it is who he is, how he creates when he creates things in his image, and is a giver of life and is good and never a deliverer of death or evil, hence the creator performing what science calls a miracle which is God doing what he does, giving life and perfect health.

      It is not feasible to a person who has accepted their notion of what life is, to believe that, and neither is it feasible for a person who 'believes', that what we see, is all that there is, and their conclusions, are the only ones that make sense to them as if they are detectives of logic, yet however, are ignoring the revelation of God and creation and sadly and foolishly, believe that if anything is done, it can only come from nature, and from the mind, discovery, and hands of a man alone, without any pre and former revelations from God, or any instructions from him.

      Mankind see's himself as great but it is based on selective views and not on the views that prove that he is not great and in fact, is a orchestrator of chaos, and all his ideas are based on his own reasoning, and not truth and fact.

      That is why we have a world of 'divided' opinions and ideas. If there was one truth to mankinds greatness would not man have the same mind all over the world to create harmony love, peace, and oneness of mind cooperation?

      Science is ideas and assumption that are thoughts and views that change like fashion and trends.

      In fact science is based on trend and not concrete fact that last forever and can never be disputed.

      Ideas, hypothoses, and theories are eventually considered outdated, and deemed primitive, and obsolete, by predecessors all the time, and that is what science is, and all that it is.

      A belief and views that caters to human 'vanity' based on his admiration of himself because of abilities that come from God that lead him to believe that he can live without God and sustain and rule and lead himself without any guidance, and input from God.

      The technology, and creations of his hands during a 'particular' point in time becomes the popular and accepted idea of that day, and time, and what he uses to further his impressed with, and vain view of himself, but it is soon seen as outdated and obsolete later by people who think in their vanity that they are more advanced that the previous generation and generations.

      Never coming to one point of knowledge, but claiming instead to have better ideas than the last bundle of ideas.

      Scientist do not agree and Science cannot make it's mind up! One minute researchers say and studies show and say that something is good for us, and the next minute they say that it is bad, and recant former claims, that they insisted on, and present as facts using the term 'studies show'.

      Ideas, beliefs and assumptions based on 'no' knowldege is what science in itself is.

      If we has facts and concrete knowledge of all things then science would not exist and need to exist. Science exists because mankind is 'searching' for answers (because he is blind and does not know, because he has rejected God's truth) and so the 'existence' of science itself can and is defined my the definition and phrase 'not knowing' and so are searching'.

      So by that very definition science cannot claim, or refute, 'anything' because it is full of theories and 'momentary reasonings' that are later replaced by other theories, and reasonings due and based on a blind and or, 'science' mind and view, and it exists because man has formulated his own 'belief and defintion' of what is, and why it is there, and it exists, and is on a search because he doesn't know, but he doesn't 'know' because he has rejected what God has already shown and told him, and us'.

      It reminds me of the expression: "no matter how much things change they remain the same."

      'Progress' and 'evolution' is a delusion brought on by the disbelief of God.

      Mankind is sadly blinded by (the devil Revelation 12:9) his own sin and technology and sees 'advancement'.... yet human nature, and war, and greed and corruption and barbaric acts and crimes are committed toward one another daily, since the begining of what God has shown us from the begining, ... that explains sin, and why it exists.

      Cain and Able, the Roman and Egyptian Empires, and all other Empires that people foolishly think that we don't 'resemble' because of what they believe is a time 'difference', not realizing that on a scale of eternity the begging and the Roman empire was just yesterday!

      A mankind, and all generations, plunging head first into destruction, because they foolishly believe that yesterday is not linked to today on the scale of time and eternity.

      As things get worse, 'technology' and the vanity of each new generation that believes that it was better and is more 'advanced' than the previous, ignores the reality and signs that it in fact 'isnt' and is blinded by the admiration of the work of their hands, and the vanity that comes with it, while they make the same mistakes of the past, and worse, but due to vanity and technology they don't see it.

      Science wants to have it both ways. They want to tell you that their ideas, hypotheses, and theories are fact, but when they are proven wrong, they immediately use the escape Clause= 'it is "science" and so it was always just a 'theory' to begin with, because that is what science is, a searching for knowledge'.

      And yet by doing so, are admitting that they never really had any facts, while they were claiming their theories to be fact, and even teaching them as such!

    • Comment Link Anju Tuesday, 12 March 2013 20:23 posted by Anju

      Neftali: if you think that all of the scientists, activists, corporate leaders and politicians who have publicly recognized, acknowledged and shown the significant, real threat that global warming represents to the earth are part of an international, liberal conspiracy theory. In order for such a conspiracy theory to exist, there would have to be some substantial motive for such a plethora of people to come together and create such a hoax. Why would so many people across so many spectra of expertise come together to further such a conspiracy theory? What would they possible have to gain?As for your citation to the disagreement between the EPA-Department of Energy, there is bound to be some disagreement and measurement discrepancies with a new area of science. Their disagreement does not prove global warming untrue and your implicit conclusion otherwise shows your lack of logic to all readers of your post. I also find it humorous that you appear to bash liberals in the first paragraph of your response, but then cite to two government agencies that are socially perceived as liberal (especially under a democratic administration) in the third paragraph of your response to bolster your argument (or lack thereof). Talk about having one's cake and eating it too I could simply dismiss your entire post as part of some conservative conspiracy theory to post Internet comments, articles and blogs in an attempt to create a counter-discourse that attempts to refute the veracity of global warming (please note my sarcasm), but instead I will urge you to get your head out of the sand and wake-up. Read a book that's not written by Bill O'Reilly or Michael Savage for a change. Vapid nay-sayors with hollow arguments like yourselves will only be to blame when our human-wide response to global warming comes too slowly to counteract the damage being done to the earth that future generations will inherit.-Jack

    • Comment Link Ashley Tuesday, 12 March 2013 20:08 posted by Ashley

      Everyone:I will try and break this down at a very simple level.(1) I hope we can all agree that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. That means that as carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, the atmosphere gets hotter because carbon dioxide traps heat radiated from the sun. (Like a greenhouse in the sun, or a car with the windows rolled up on a hot day carbon dioxide acts like the rolled-up windows, trapping the heat).(2) I hope we can all agree that petroleum (oil and gas) and coal are made up of carbon.(3) I hope we can all agree that burning coal, oil and gas creates carbon dioxide as a byproduct (it comes out of the smokestacks of power plants and out of the mufflers on vehicles, etc.)Now it might get a bit tougher for the doubters to follow (4) The petroleum and coal that we have been harvesting and using for energy took tens of millions of years to form. Over a period so long that it is hard to comprehend, plants sucked carbon dioxide and, through photosynthesis, created oxygen and carbon, which it stored in the form of wood and plant matter. As those plants died and collapsed, they were covered up by other plants, or oceans, or rock over millions of years and put under tremendous pressure, which squeezed the dead plants and animals (carbon) into coal and petroleum (depending on the environment of formation, sometimes coal and sometimes petroleum).(5) The earth, over a period of roughly 5 billion years, has slowly and gradually evolved into a very balanced, delicate system where everything has a niche and everything is roughly in proportion to create a sustainable, dynamic, complex system. When species don't fit in, they become extinct and another species evolves (or perhaps two or three species) to take that one's place.(6) In the 150-200 years since the industrial revolution, humans have used carbon-based fuels that took roughly 300 million years to create. That's 200 vs. 300 million. Using these fuels releases carbon dioxide (locked into the coal and petroleum over millions of years) back into the atmosphere. Humans' rapid release of 300 million years worth of carbon (which was slowly, gradually stored by the earth) has created rapid changes to the earth's atmosphere and eco-systems. The earth simply was not designed to respond to such quick changes.As the planet's most intelligent species (and the species causing this dramatic climate change), we have a responsibility to work cohesively and intelligently to try and slow (it's already too late to reverse) this process as much as possible.For more information, read Fieldnotes from a Catastrophe or Beyond the Limits.

    • Comment Link Ricardo Tuesday, 12 March 2013 19:48 posted by Ricardo

      It depends on the level we are talking about. People like Stephen Hawking even think Einstein's Theory of Relativity can be improved upon because it is an approximation and does not meet the observations exactly. There are still questions about the differences between quantum physics and relativity. There are still things in the quantum world that remains mysterious such as entanglement. There are new species being discovered all the time which open a new light into the time period of evolutionary occurrences. And so on. I wouldn't label any of these total failures. More of a narrowing down to the truth.

    • Comment Link Kelly Thursday, 28 February 2013 12:48 posted by Kelly

      Change is the hallmark of the universe as we know it. Stars, planets, galaxies are created out of a fog of energy, and to say that life can't have been created out of the interplay of forces and particles as well is arbitrary. Primitive man created gods to explain phenomena they didn't understand. That process continues, and there's no basis for declaring today what it might or might not be able to explain tomorrow.

    • Comment Link john stark Tuesday, 26 February 2013 07:26 posted by john stark

      Science examines the material world and the relationship between finite measurable objects. Nothing in that finite observable universe is capable of creating itself. Nothing. Thus an infinite force unconfined to the observable world must not only exist but have the capacity to create that which it is not bounded by - finit capacity. God exists.

    • Comment Link Kelly Monday, 25 February 2013 20:04 posted by Kelly

      Where did life come from? No one has the answer to that. If you say it came from God, the obvious next question is "where did God come from?" You can't have it both ways. Either everything has to be created or it doesn't. To say that life does but God doesn't is setting up your own rules with absolutely no logical basis.

      It's much easier to make some educated guesses about how all those organic chemicals floating around the universe came together various environments to start replicating themselves and setting evolution in motion than to figure out how an invisible, pervasive, all-powerful intelligence either suddenly came into existence or, having always been there, suddenly decided, after an infinity of time, to create the spark of life. Why did it wait forever to create life, and why did it suddenly change its mind? Face it, that path creates more conundrums than it solves.

    • Comment Link Grant Monday, 11 February 2013 20:10 posted by Grant

      A response to nelsen_temple:

      They are not debating evolution, they are debating the existence of a supernatural being, "God."

      The Atheist isn't obligated to "prove what they believe." In this case, it is something they DO NOT BELIEVE. It is up to the Theist(s) to provide the evidence and rationale for the act of believing.

      Furthermore, no atheist I have ever heard debate or ever read, and certainly not Dr. Kruass, has EVER stated that "evolution created everything" or that "everything came from evolution." Evolution is a biological process, and explains biology perfectly well. So well, infact, biology doesn't make sense with out it. If you don't believe in evolution you are on the hook to explain why Whales have pelvis' and there are legless lizards and snakes with legs! You have to explain why dinosaurs had feathers and birds have left over DNA for creating TEETH. Lots of explaining to do on your part.

      Add also, that evolution isn't an explanation for the CREATION of life, but the PROCESS of change once life got started. The start from non-life to life is called ABIOGENESIS, which is a completely different process that has nothing to do with evolution or the origin of the universe. All three: Evolution, Abiogenesis, the "Big Bang" are separate explanations for separate processes that have nothing to do with each other---other than they don't rely on the magical man in the the sky and they have vast amounts of supporting evidence--none of which is contradicted.

    • Comment Link nelson_temple Sunday, 10 February 2013 08:51 posted by nelson_temple

      Intellectuals will continue to debate, as they always have, evolution. They don’t believe in God or believe there is a God so they will do all in their ability to prove what they believe is real. Those who believe in evolution will insist that evolution created the universe and all therein. Christians, and most other religions, will continue to believe it all came from God. I think most everyone believes in change, and if change is evolution then we all can believe in evolution, but evolution cannot create. When science can create a life form in a test tube, then they can win the debate. Of course it will take a test tube, a lab and a scientist and these things were not there in the beginning. So what did it evolve from?

    • Comment Link Charlie Hand Saturday, 09 February 2013 12:26 posted by Charlie Hand

      The proposition is simply true or false based on the definition of God. What was really debated was the definition of God.

      If, as the opposing team almost, but not quite, pointed out, your definition of God is a Holy God - that is, a creator of the Universe who is not part of the Universe (yet is free to act inside the Universe He created, or not), then the proposition is preposterous. Science can only refute assertions about the Universe. Such a God is outside the Universe.

      If God is defined as the supporting team defines God, some really big and powerful being within the Universe, who lives someplace we can't see, who has power to manipulate the Universe in supernatural ways, who "created" the Universe by scooping up a handful of Universe stuff from his back yard and forming it into our Universe, then the proposition is again unarguable. Clearly science refutes such a God.

      Science clearly refutes a God who is part of the universe.
      Science clearly cannot refute a God who is not part of the Universe.

      Mr. D'Souza was quite right in pointing out that athiests like to knock down fundamentalist theology and worldly Gods such as Neptune. Yes, science clearly refutes all forms of fundamentalism, and the God Neptune, because both Neptune and fundamentalism are worldly, not holy, concepts. Science has nothing to say about the holy, by definition.

    • Comment Link Aleksandr Makov Wednesday, 06 February 2013 05:10 posted by Aleksandr Makov

      I'm quite surprised no one asked for the scientific explanation of observable and reproducible placebo effect.

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