Debate: Does Science Refute God?


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?

For the motion:

Lawrence Krauss

Director, Origins Project and Foundation Professor, ASU

Michael Shermer

Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author


Against the motion:

Ian Hutchinson

Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT

Dinesh D’Souza

Author, What’s So Great About Christianity

Video at link below

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  1. Does Science refute God?

    Good question. For me, the answer has to be, not just yet, as the “believers” will still try to use any tool to claim that faith trumps proof.

    However, the “believers” are running out of places to hide in as Science will never give up searching for the truth.

    While Science may not get to the total truth, it will never setttle for the cowardly cop-outs of “belief” and “faith”.

  2. Does Science refute God?
    Which God?

    The concrete god that lives in the clouds and made people out of clay 6000 years ago? – yes

    The abstract god that is omnipotent and omniscient? – not science, but logic refutes it since such properties are self-contradictory so such a creature could not exist. e.g. it cannot create a rock that is too heavy for it to push; it couldn’t try and do something but fail. It couldn’t forget, or know how to forget. So not all powerful or all knowledgeable.

    The creator god that started everything at the big bang? – this is a misunderstanding that everything is a sequence of events from an original cause, but at the smallest scales time is reversible so there is no ‘original’ point in time that is more special than any other. Moreover, since the total energy of the universe seems to be 0, there is no total energy surplus that requires explaining.

  3. Does science refute god?

    The wackaloons who ” interpret ” what god says and enforce this putative set of orders from the almighty do a much better job of refuting all gods than science ever could. Self refutation, so to speak. 

  4. I think we should go much deeper with this statement, because merely asking “does science refute God?” only seems to give most the idea that there is only one deity to address in this.

    It would be more accurate to ask “does science refute theism?” in which case the answer is a resounding yes on every front.

  5. The woman asking the silly question about flowers at around the 1:17 mark, am I the only one here who thinks she is Andie MacDowell, the actress from Groundhog Day? I know this question isn’t particularly relevant to the subject at hand, but the similarity is overwhelming and I’m wondering if anyone else noticed it.

  6. >I think we should go much deeper with this statement, because merely asking “does science refute God?” only seems to give most the idea that there is only one deity to address in this.

    Exactly.  The fact that even atheists take this idea of “God” with a capital “G” seriously reflects deeply on the cultural groove to which we often unquestioningly refer.  It’s absurd.  Humans have created tens of thousands of gods over the history we can examine, most of which are buried deep in the graveyards of the gods, but many of which are still taken seriously to this day.  “God” means nothing.  It alludes to Yahweh, Yahweh-Jesus, and grudgingly (in western cultures) Allah. 

    Zeus, Poseidon, Manitou, Isis, and thousands and thousands of other gods are already long dead and buried.  If science must respond to Yahweh, then it shouldn’t have to do so until Yahweh believers have explained why Yahweh is any more worthy of a response by science than any of the tens of thousands of deities that humans have made or do make claim to. What the hell is “God”? 

    Why is science being dragged into it? 

    Let the god claims sort themselves out. Science is busy sorting out reality.

  7. Well, DUH.
    I find these science vs religion confrontations so irritating because they give the religiots a forum on which to act like they have a valid argument. They don’t. They simply repeat the old myths, fallacies and twists of logic that have already been refuted a thousand times. You cannot present a compelling logical argument to someone whose premise is one of illogic. Conversation is not possible.

    I suppose they do sway a few fence-sitters, though that, by and large, depends on the charisma of the speakers rather than the quality of their arguments.

  8. Why would Science even bother its self with the question. It is only concerned with the natural not the supernatural?

  9. Krauss and Shermer were a great team. Krauss has a Feynman-like, honest playfulness about him. Shermer was efficient and authoritative. Ian Hutchison is an obvious Liar for the Lord and his statements showed no inventiveness. He stuck to his script and it showed. And while D’Souza is better at hiding his disingenuousness he still has problems hiding his conceit.  

    As a former believer myself, here’s the rub: though Team Faith lost the debate, they won’t see it that way. Afterall, they won over 3% of the undecided. That’s 3% more for the Lord! Couple that with their belief that persecution is evidence of their rightness and presto, instant Orwellian-reality: losing becomes winning.

    I can understand Prof. Dawkins’ position to not give certain people a platform which invariably gives legitimacy to their nonsense.

    I hope to see more Krauss/Shermer pairings.


    Does Science Refute God?

    Nope!  It only refutes the gods which have properties – and any effects or interactions across the physical universe or parts of it. 
    Neuroscience actually confirms the illusory ones stuck in deluded brains, where they only directly affect the thinking of individuals!  ie. The evolved creation of delusion!

  11. There is a logical distinction which needs to be made in the question of whether the universe had a creator and whether any of the many gods propounded by humanity’s many religions exist and are that creator.

    My point is that existence of a creator should be separated from religion because religion is clearly bunk made up by people (almost always men) to give themselves power over others (especially women).

    Using his own seven point scale to describe belief versus atheism towards a creator, Richard describes himself as 6.9, which we understand means he considers it exceedingly unlikely the universe had a creator.   However, if you ask him where he appears on the scale specifically concerning any particular god or religion I’m sure he will tell you he is a 7 (I am aware I am possibly putting words in his mouth).

    The universe science has revealed (and is continuing to reveal), is so much larger, older, and more complicated, than that which is suggested by the teachings of any extant religion, that all of those religions can be definitively stated to be dis-proven.   When we state that there is no evidence for a creator, we need to point out we aren’t referring to the god of whatever religion the person we are arguing with follows, we are stating there is no evidence for ‘gods’ at all.

    Further, if evidence for a creator is discovered, it still won’t be a matter of ‘belief’ and no religion will be required to venerate this new entity (I won’t give this entity a gender), its existence will be a fact, not something which requires the acknowledgement of animals such as us to give it meaning.   It certainly won’t answer our prayers (it never has so far, so why should it change), it won’t say we must kill those who don’t acknowledge its existence, and it won’t protect those who acknowledge it from harm while visiting famine, pestilence and tribulation on those who don’t

  12. Am I the only one who thinks these debates are silly? A belief in a god or gods is not evidence-based. Why is this given so much time? I really don’t get it. Can’t we just all do science and forget about this?

  13. Science is the methodology with which we search for god.  Reason is the tool we use to refute god.

  14. I think science 100% refutes the idea that God intervenes supernaturally in our universe. I think if there is a god , then science refutes with 99%(arbitrary 🙂 ) probability that its a personal god.

    I dont think we can say with 100% ceratinty that God as a creator does not exist because matter , though it has evolved , is everywhere and I as a human ,ask myself, where it came from. That is a question that probably will never be answered. Either way Religion and god worship is a waste of time , if there is benefits its founded on natural psychology and the chemicals flowing around our brains.

  15. NET:
    i am an atheist but i though Dinesh D’Souza acquitted himself quite well

    Personally I’m with MilitantNonStampCollector on this one. Boring imbecile hits the nail for me.
    He makes me squirm as he bends facts to suit his own agenda. 

    For example he doesn’t know why Darwin lost his faith but he tells you like he does by quoting from Asa Gray’s correspondence to Darwin – re-printed in later editions of Origins (he tells you this to add weight and authority to his words), and which say nothing about the reasons for the loss of Darwin’s faith:


    Dinesh D’Souza:

    If science refutes God, you’d expect the one person who would know that would be  Charles Darwin. Charles Darwin has supplied modern atheism with perhaps the strongest argument against God, evolution.  And yet, when Darwin published his evolution (cough) theory, the Harvard botanist — the American botanist Asa Gray wrote Darwin a letter in which he said,”As a Christian, I was very inspired upon reading your book, because I have read in the book of Genesis that God made the world and God made man, but there’s no information about how this might’ve occurred.  And when I read your book, I understood not only why God made humans, but why there’s so much suffering in the world.  Evolution helps to account for the reason why there’s suffering both for humans, but also in the animal kingdom.”


    Darwin was so thrilled at receiving this letter that he published it in future editions of “The Origin of Species.”  So, in other words, for Darwin, what actually caused him to lose his own faith, which he did, had nothing to do with evolution.  According to Darwin’s biographers, and there are many of them, Darwin lost his faith because he lost one of his daughters, Annie.  It was a terrible, unexpected death, and Darwin blamed God for it and turned against God.  It was the issue of suffering, not science, that turned Darwin against God

    As a casual listener you then feel there is authority behind his statement that Darwin lost his faith through his anger with god at the loss of his favourite child – rather than through a life-time of scientific endeavour and discovery.

    As a believer you have just been informed that Darwin was really a true believer – just an angry one who didn’t understand his gods plan at taking his beloved daughter.

    Read it again.

    This is nonsense

    This is cheap thinking. 

    These are weasel words.

    These are the words he’d thought about. These are the words he’d written to present as his closing remarks.


  16. Same look, same voice, I think it is her-google search brings up site references of her at lecture.

    According to ‘Guideposts’ (a christian magazine), she believes in god, therefore it is relevant to point this out.
    Explains why she has that “you can’t convince me god did not make an orchid” look on her face.

  17. Yep, who cares? God(s) is/are irrelevant as are the muppets who think they “believe”


    “But I was very unwilling to give up my belief; I feel sure of this, for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine. 

    [A] D’Souza is a charlatan, expert at cherry-picking; in the extract above, Darwin says”thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate…” hardly implying a sudden deconversion at the loss of his daughter. Furthermore on reading his letters at no point does Darwin attribute his agnosticism to that loss.

  19. Does science refute God? Well, let’s look at the word refute.  According to dictionaries, It vaguely means to prove something does not exist.  Well, science has not proven that a God does not exist, so science cannot refute God.  Although science hasn’t refuted God, as we have come to know more and more about how things come to be, a supernatural creator is becoming more and more unnecessary.

  20. “Does Science Refute God?”

    Surely the question should be reversed:

    “Does God have any Scientific Basis?”

    As the religios well know, they have zilch in the way of evidence for their particular deity. Instead they resort to the “well you can’t prove he ain’t there” argument. Of course science can’t refute the existence of hobgoblins, or trolls or the Martian encampment at the bottom of my garden, surrounded, of course, by an invisibilty shield!

    The question must always be weighted so that those proposing a positive proposition, have to provide evidence and an argument in its favour.  Science has no need to refute God. Science merely seeks to explain what we observe.  It has done a pretty good job over the last 400 years or so, and in the process, debunked many of the various religions’ claims about reality.  Knowledge over hocus pocus every time.

  21. MilitantApatheist
    Does science refute God? Well, let’s look at the word refute.  According to dictionaries, It vaguely means to prove something does not exist.  Well, science has not proven that a God does not exist, so science cannot refute God.

    That is not quite right. We need definitions of the god as well as the word refute.

    We refute an argument for particular gods. – 
    These theist arguments are clearly flawed, and most can be refuted, unless designed to be:-  unfalsifiable, too vaguely undefined, or hidden in gaps beyond investigation. 

    However, if they are designed to avoid definition and refutation, they no longer resemble the gods of holy books, so this kind of redefinition by believers in those books is disingenuous.

    Refuting an argument is not the same as proving a negative. The onus of proof and requirement for defined properties, is on those making claims.

    re·fute  (r-fyt) – http://www.thefreedictionary.c… –

    1. To prove to be false or erroneous; overthrow by argument or proof: refute testimony.
    2. To deny the accuracy or truth of: refuted the results of the poll.

    refute [rɪˈfjuːt] vb
    1. (tr) to prove (a statement, theory, charge, etc.) of (a person) to be false or incorrect; disprove
    2. to deny (a claim, charge, allegation, etc.)

    You can’t prove that the Xhsgzmzssdiore (which I have just invented and refuse to define) does not exist!
    You can however legitimately claim that I have presented nothing for you to refute!

  22. Does anyone else reach for the mute button every time D’Souza starts lying? Sorry, I meant ‘speaking’?

  23. As many have stated the question does science refute god, is simply false to begin with. There are many gods and each has different arguments which should be enough to know that it’s a non-starter.

  24. Oh my God yes it is! Can’t say I’m really surprised at her deepity question, given the way she comes across in her films.

  25. Yes it was Andie McDowell. Well Mr Scientist, how do you explain the beauty of an orchid then? I would have told her to go read a book.

  26. Dear Net. Have to completely disagree with you there. D’Souza is a “KNOW NOTHING”.

  27. Dear ‘corkedboots’. “. . . we search for g”. Please tell us you are jesting.

  28. Dear Pauly. I think your first proposition is good enough, but then you go and spoil it with your second and third. Perhaps its just your brain chemistry flowing the wrong way? 😉

  29. Dear RDFr’s. This debate, for me, was not merely interesting – it was intensely informative. What I think we watched was a ‘tutorial’ of common sense and human sanity – versus a ‘performance’ of a very dangerous type of INSANITY. A classic case of modern ‘Dennetian’ tonic memes battling toxic memes – the rational, 21st century men of reality vs the “KNOW NOTHING”, divinely delusional. Next time, make it a 4 man tagteam and invite Prof Dawkins and Dr.Sam Harris.    

  30. I’ve seen enough of these debates to know that these guys always hide behind statements like science can’t disprove the existence of god.  I believe they would never agree to do a debate that had a better framed question.  I suspect the fact that the very reasonable question about whether or not desert tribes should be listened to on morality was very on-topic (as morality was cited as evidence for god).  Hitchen’s would have shouted over the moderator and damn well insisted that they answer the question.  No disrespect to Krauss or Shermer but I really miss Hitch at moments like this.

  31. For me, it’s apples and oranges, or similar to astrology vs. astronomy.  Both address the planets and stars.  Lots and lots of people think astrology is real and follow their daily horoscopes or hire psychics.  They have no proof, but they “believe” that planets aligned a certain way when they were born, etc., and the stars will tell them their future.  It’s magical, wishful thinking.  It has nothing to do with the actual study of the stars and is pure nonsense.  Does astronomy disprove astrology when it provides real info about the solar system?  No, but critical thinking certainly should!  Requiring evidence before believing something to be true would end much of this belief in the supernatural or a higher power.  Anyway, I don’t like these debates as they provide the astrology types (and that’s what they basically are) with a forum–as if to say their mythological belief system has legitimacy or is on equal footing with science, which it obviously is not. 

  32. I agree with numerous commenters above that D’Souza is a useless contributor to any debate. 

    He has developed a strategy that deftly avoids the weaknesses in his arguments (which aren’t his arguments, but just professionally performed bad, recycled arguments) , and I can’t in my most charitable mood ( and I really HAVE tried) imagine that he is anything but a lying liar . Either that or he’s brain-dead.   There is no way that any honest person can design arguments that so thoroughly avoid the implications of his claims and ignore the evidence so strategically.  

    He has made a ridiculously good living and acquired undeserved status by hanging out with intellectuals and sliming his way out of any intellectually valid arguments. 

    I can imagine that many of his followers have good faith and that many of them are smarter than I am but have been busy with their lives and never had time to truly consider the arguments or refer to the evidence.

    But he, like Craig and other apologists, have made an art of avoiding the argument and redirecting the focus of the audience to ideas that obscure the discussion.  This cannot be an accident.  Not after so many years of tackling the issue.

    They are lying liars who wrap themselves in pseudo-intellectual mumbo jumbo. 

    He would rather pretend he is an intellectual and acquire the money and status that come with that, than engage in any real intellectual discussion. 

    There’s no way on earth that he cares about truth on any level.  He cares about manipulating people and avoiding the truth. 

    If I’m wrong, sue me. 

  33. Does science refute god? if it does not yet then it backs it into a increasingly diminishing corner which it will struggle to get out of.

  34. Memetical,

    The brain chemistry remark was used to support proposition 1 , as you put it , so you can hardly disagree that brain chemistry is responsible for these religeous experiences of comfort and revelation. it sounds reasonable to me , you should be agreeing with me , not having a go!

  35. @OP:disqus  – On the fundamental question–evolution or creation?-  Americans are on the fence.

    Or dumping the flawed “fundamental” false dichotomy in the OP :-
    “On the fundamental question– of understanding the scientific  workings of evolution, honest ignorance, or the substitution of incredulous and ignorant psychological creation delusions?” –
    [some] Americans are on the fence, because of the woeful neglect of their education!

  36. Since they write god with a capital G the answer to this question is definitely YES! The fact that we are still debating this is ridiculous. The christian god is an absurd incoherent entity that refutes itself. We don’t need science to do it. The true label of this debate should have been: “does science refute wish-wash spirituality and vague notions of some mysterious entity or force that we can’t even define or describe in a coherent and meaningful way?”. In that case, the answer is of course no. How could science refute something that is not even coherently defined. That’s like saying, science does not refute Wackaluditusipunkyswipt, which I have no idea what even means.

  37. Exactly how is that a good question. I would say it’s a question that makes absolutely no sense at all, since I have never seen an even remotely coherent or tangible definition of what god is. The fact that they use god with a capital G means they are referring to the christian god. In that case the answer is clearly YES, and the fact that we are debating it really is absurd. 

  38.   rod-the-farmer:
    “I too was struck by the resemblance to Andie McDowell…..”

    No resemblance… it’s her.

    Does Science Refute God?

    Totally and absolutely!!!  –  Mount Olympus has been thoroughly searched and no trace of Zeus has been seen or found!

    Olympus, Mount, the highest mountain in Greece, 9,570 feet (2,917 m)
    above sea level. It is near the Aegean Sea on the border between the
    regions of Thessaly and Macedonia. This mountain, its summit
    snow-covered and hidden in the clouds, was in ancient times believed to
    be the highest point on earth, the hub of the universe, and the home of
    the gods. 
    There were 12 great Olympian gods, headed by Zeus, as well as
    lesser divinities. – http://geography.howstuffworks


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