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 Aleksander Rotner Wednesday, 05 December 2012 09:55 posted by Aleksander Rotner

      to Renee Margaux:
      this Creator you are talking about is like a true force of nature, beyond any rationale. It delights me when the weather is nice and my life is pleasant, it annoys me, when the weather turns cold and my life is in disarray. No amount of wishing, praying, pleading or cursing makes any detectable difference to me.

    • Comment Link Scott Wednesday, 05 December 2012 08:46 posted by Scott

      All you have to do is simply read the religion of hitler on wikepedia and see that he used religious beliefs and quotes to GAIN the churches and peoples trust. He was NOT Christian in fact, he rebelled against the church at a young age. In some of his books, he supports the fact that he was AGAINST organized religion. So please, whoever keeps claiming hitler was Christian or Catholic please go read a book.....morons.

    • Comment Link mike Wednesday, 05 December 2012 00:46 posted by mike

      it said: God is the first truth and the last fact; therefore does all truth origin in Him, while all facts exist relative to him. God is absolute truth. Reason alone cannot achieve harmony between infinite truth and universal fact. To science, God is a possibility, to psychology a desirability, to philosohpy a probability, to religion a certainty, an actuality of religious experience. Science stabilizes philosophy through the elimination of error, while it puifies religion by the destruction of superstition; but science is not god. Therefore, there never was a conflict between science and religion/God per se. I belong to the camp of intelligent design; besides the other unknown cosmic laws/energy, God creates through science. Proving is the hardest part and the reason for the existence of debates such as these.

    • Comment Link Renee Margaux Tuesday, 04 December 2012 13:29 posted by Renee Margaux

      The 'bible' is a book written on a kindergarten level. Science is the College edition, ready for us as we come to understand the world.

      In my mind, science makes a creator BIGGER. The creation of life in all man and animals is miraculous. Just because we understand it now doesn't change that fact. Every thing science discovers changes things but does not eliminate the wonderment of it. I mean think about it: how amazing and still a bit incomprehensible is the knowledge that the earth is 4.5 billion years and the universe is nearly 14 billion. How clouds form, why the tides exists, why there are mountains and volcanoes, how plants make oxygen, how chemicals react and combine, how our body's work and how similar it is to other mammals YET we are so different, that sea life breathe underwater, that birds fly and soar.... IT'S ALL SO AMAZING... All animal life was created with a brain, we have the gift of reason and free will. To use it in scientific discovery to understand our creator brings us closer in the relationship.

      Love deepens as couples / families discover and grow together. To not participate and accept what we learn can be likened to a child who is afraid to venture outside and really see the world we live in.

    • Comment Link Shawn Tuesday, 04 December 2012 13:24 posted by Shawn

      Craig you just proved a very lmportant point. "If humans evolved from apes, why aren't apes turning into humans still?" That is not how evolution works, you obviously have never studied it, but Ofcourse that is the argument heard over and over again. Read and learn before you try to disprove something. Evolution is a fact. Not just a theory. Germ theory- just a theory but its a fact germs make you sick. Theory of gravity.... Etc etc

      Funny you said science can't get around something from nothing. Lawrence Krauss one of the speakers actually has a book explaining this. I'm sure he will bring it up during his time. Not only is it possible to get something from nothing, it's actually quite common.

    • Comment Link Terry Tuesday, 04 December 2012 12:19 posted by Terry

      This vote is deceptive. I was confused as to what for and against actually were. I wouldn't doubt that some of the fores meant against and vise versa. At any rate, Christians consider religion man's attempt to reach God and relationship God's attempt to reach man. Christians beieve in a relationship rather than a religion. How can science disprove that my relationship with God doesn't exist?!

    • Comment Link Alan Wright Tuesday, 04 December 2012 10:51 posted by Alan Wright

      To Shawn G and Anthony K's points:

      Recently, even the 700 Club's Pat Robertson has begun to refute the young-earth hypothesis, which is utter bunk. I always got a chuckle from the idea that God put fossils on earth to test humans. This is truly a bizarre conclusion.

      Science can demonstrate evolution as a 99% likely true theory, and some religious people will reject it nonetheless.

      The difference, I think is the Big Bang Theory because that moment of creation is theoretically compatible with the Old Testament doctrine. But, no Holy books I know even make mention of fossils or young earth, so religious people need not reject those theories.

      Most of the scientifically-wrong claims made by religious folks are not textual/ canonical. I.e., it was man-made Catholic doctrine from the Pope - not Abraham, Moses, and Jesus - which rejected Copernicus, Brahe, and heliocentric models of the solar system.

      As to Hitler and the Catholic Church: well, there's a reason Martin Luther stood up to the Catholic Church several hundred years ago. Their "sins" and religious warmaking are proofs of human fallibility, not disproofs of science or faith. Athiests like Stalin and Mao were just as effective with their violent state-religions (communism/ socialism) than religious leaders were decades before.

    • Comment Link Anthony K Tuesday, 04 December 2012 07:38 posted by Anthony K

      Whilst science may not completely falsify religious claims (or in this case the tenets of Christian dogma), it has certainly exposed it and embarrassed it.

      History is full of cases where religion and its authoritative institutions provided the uneducated masses with answers:

      Heliocentrism was accepted. Adam and Eve weren't allegories, metaphors, myths or the like, they were real, living beings who were the first humans created in the image of God. The Big Bang was not even considered, for the earth and the universe was created less than 10,000 years ago by the Creator, God.

      But of course any semi-intelligent man will tell you that every one of the previously immutable, infallible answers provided by God and his representative body(ies) on earth are now utterly false.

      Evolution, Big Bang, an expanding cosmos with the earth in some remote corner of an unimportant galaxy... science has truly shattered the infallibility and power of the Church.

      Of course, Apologists can find excuses and reasons such as stating that God 'set these processes into motion', directly contradicting these seemingly pointless metaphors of the OT, but who are they kidding? If I am not permitted to make the claim that "it is illogical to create a 14.7 billion year process of evolution etc." because I cannot come to understand the nature of God, then the theist too cannot come to assume the nature of God.

      I could go on about this, but i believe it to be disingenuous of theists to claim that every time something shattering is discovered it's 'God setting it into motion'.... then again, 'god did it' is the best excuse.

    • Comment Link Craig Manoukian Tuesday, 04 December 2012 00:14 posted by Craig Manoukian

      If we evolved from apes, why are there still monkeys and apes?

    • Comment Link Shawn G Monday, 03 December 2012 23:30 posted by Shawn G

      Ofcourse science does not refute faith. Faith is believing in something with no evidence. There is no way to refute that. Example: I have faith Santa clause is real. You can't refute my faith in that fact. What science does do is refute many of the claims religions make. Such as There being a young earth. Or for instance life after death. If you can't recognize your family after a brain injury what's the chances when your brain shuts off completely you will recognize and know everything still? Virtually Non existent. We don't have bodies, we are bodies.

      2. Hitler was Roman Catholic. He even wrote in his journals he was doing gods work by exterminating Jews. Every nazi had god on our side written on their uniform. The Catholic Church even use to pray on Hitlers birthday that he live long to complete gods work.

      3. How many massacres/wars/mutilations have occurred by religious people? It doesn't matter religious or not some people are insane. That does not change the fact all religions are based on ancient myths. Science proves all of these to be false. But no matter what people will choose not to see that due to "faith". The blind belief in some big with no evidence. Which is Ofcourse what religious claims have. No evidence.

    • Comment Link Ron Simpson Monday, 03 December 2012 18:39 posted by Ron Simpson

      If humanity were suddenly to wake with all of the contemporary scientific knowledge we have today, but with none of the historical and contemporary religious beliefs we've been given since childhood, it would never occur to us to create some human centric male god as having any interaction with us or the universe.

    • Comment Link steve w Monday, 03 December 2012 18:24 posted by steve w

      I think as time goes on and science matures, it will compliment god's existence and eventually prove god's existence whatever god is. quantum physics is proving things that were unfathomable just 10 years ago. the fact remains you cannot create something from nothing and yet that is exactly what had to happen for the universe to exist and science cannot get around that fact, and there isn't a scientist on the planet that can tell you anything contrary to that fact. now as far as the various religious books, you can argue those stories, how they came together, whether they are inspired by man or god until the cows come home. that in no way negates the existence of a higher power nor cowers in the face of science.

    • Comment Link Don Daniels Monday, 03 December 2012 17:34 posted by Don Daniels

      Of all the 34 comments posted, I found the one by Mary Wellington to be the most juvenile as she attacks the messenger more than the message. I hope she finds the debate worthwhile enough to attend and perhaps as co-sponsor we will have the opportunity to meet.

    • Comment Link Alan Wright Monday, 03 December 2012 17:21 posted by Alan Wright

      Science does not refute God or faith. Science is a means for evidence-based substantiation of hypotheses, and theology is not. The two studies speak in different languages and demand different proofs, even if both rely on logic.

      In 1951, Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church tacitly endorsed the Big Bang theory as a plausible scientific for the Creation story told in Genesis.

      In Italian:

      "…[I]t would seem that present-day science, with one sweep back across the centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to the august instant of the primordial Fiat Lux [Let there be Light], when along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, and the elements split and churned and formed into millions of galaxies."
      "Thus, with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, [science] has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the world came forth from the hands of the Creator. Hence, creation took place. We say: therefore, there is a Creator. Therefore, God exists!"

      So, science laid down the basis for the creation of the universe, and Church theologians used this to substantiate the beliefs they already held. In that instance, science did not refute faith. It simply does not confirm it.

    • Comment Link Derrick Cavaco Monday, 03 December 2012 14:32 posted by Derrick Cavaco

      Science is our method of understanding the dimensions of reality that GOD has allowed us to sense while in this stage of existence. Wait and see how D'Souza and Hutchinson destroy this debate.

    • Comment Link RB Monday, 03 December 2012 13:20 posted by RB

      VIJAY D: Ever hear of Hitler, Stalin, Mao et al? All atheists!

    • Comment Link carl arnold Monday, 03 December 2012 12:56 posted by carl arnold

      1st & 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics preclude unequivocally spontaneous energy and eternal heat. The universe did not begin and has not been here forever. Unless someone retires the Nobel prize Wed., Krause's formula for "something rather than nothing" is an explicit violation of the 2nd Law..."something" would be eternal.
      Krause not incidentally has not even been recognized for consideration by the Nobel committee...but a non-eternal non-originating universe is a pretty good trick. Let's see him start with that...

    • Comment Link Isa Monday, 03 December 2012 11:57 posted by Isa

      Everyone has a religion. If you react to anything it is usually because of your beliefs. If you react in a jerk motion such as when you place your hands over your face when someone is throwing something at you then that is a law of science itself ; either way it is to protect you in your infinite amazing-ness. I vote for a creator whom actually designed and cares and has a great sense of humor watching these debates and all of its diversity. .

    • Comment Link Barb Monday, 03 December 2012 11:48 posted by Barb

      Judge not lest ye be judged --for doing the very same things! Morality does come from our Creator--and His people do sin -- Dinesh said he didn't spend the night with his fiancee before divorced after 2 year separation -- Few Christians can claim that these days. But he was in the same hotel and the news guy for World said Dinesh told him they DID share a room without intimacy. I believe Dinesh says now he did NOT share a room. in a full hotel. Hotel records should prove, but no one has verified to my knowledge. We don't know anything about his divorce --was his wife glad to see him go -- or broken-hearted --if the latter, he is to blame for breaking faith with her --as though in midlife crisis --or did she dig her heels in and refuse to follow him from CA to NYC position with King's College?? with whom he was supposed to have been praying for reconciliation. All I know for sure is that Dinesh is a great debater for the side of faith. And that grace is greater than all our sin.

    • Comment Link JIM GUIRARD Monday, 03 December 2012 11:41 posted by JIM GUIRARD

      Does it interest any of you that determined atheists insist that they HAVE NO SOULS -- no God-parts -- in their being and are, therefore, of no more eternal significance than a similarly soulness rock or block of wood? And is this what any of you truly believe about your own clearly meaningless self, your parentage and your progeny?

      JIM GUIRARD --

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