Intelligence Squared Debate: Science Refutes God

Debate Overview:

According to a recent Gallup poll, 42 percent of Americans subscribe to creationism — the belief that, approximately 10,000 years ago, God created humans as we are today. In total, half of Americans believe that humans evolved over time, with 31 percent holding the opinion that God guided this evolution, and 19 percent believing that evolution took place without the aid of a higher power. Despite the strength of creationism’s appeal, the portion of the American public that believes in evolution independent of any type of God has doubled since 1999. This seems to have only fueled the debate between science and religion. For many, a belief in God provides the only answer to such existential inquiries as, “How did we get here?” and “What is our purpose?” while others find that modern science contradicts religion’s most basic principles. Intelligence Squared US (IQ2US) took on this highly divisive topic on December 5, 2012, questioning whether science and religion can coexist with a debate on the motion, “Science Refutes God.”

The Debaters:

Lawrence Krauss, an Arizona State University professor and director of both the Origins Project and Foundation, debated for the motion alongside author Michael Shermer, the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine. Arguing against the motion was MIT professor of nuclear science and engineering Ian Hutchinson, as well as Dinesh D’Souza, author of What’s So Great About Christianity.

The Research:

The panelists drew on many of their own writings exploring the intersection of science and religion, sourced from publications such as Skeptic, Christianity Today, Scientific American, and Christian Science Monitor. A number of their sources explored the implications that advances in physics have had on both religious and philosophical thought, noting the discovery of the Higgs particle and emerging concepts such as multiple universes and quantum foam creation. Several writings explored whether a belief in God and belief in evolution are compatible and offered insight into how the scientific and religious communities can communicate more effectively. Some of the panelists’ research sought to provide a scientific explanation for why there is “something” rather than “nothing,” and other sources identified areas where science appears to support religion and outlined why a belief in God is not fundamentally at odds with science.

Pre-Debate Poll Results:

Before the debate began, 37 percent of the audience voted for the motion and 34 percent voted against it, while 29 percent were still undecided on the issue.

To view the full debate and learn how the closely divided audience voted in the final poll, visit:http://intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/past-debates/item/728- science-refutes-god