Last Wednesday there was an Intelligence² debate on the topic, “Does science refute God?” The video is now on YouTube (below), and features Lawrence Krauss and Michael Shermer on the ‘yes’ side versus Dinesh D’Souza and Ian Hutchinson (an MIT physicist whom we’ve encountered before) on the ‘no’ side. The moderator, who did a good job, was John Donovan of ABC News.
(BTW, I’ve since read Hutchinson’s new anti-scientism book, Monopolizing Knowledge: A Scientist Religion-Denying, Reason-Destroying Scientism, and, as the title suggests, it’s pretty dreadful. Dreadful for the usual reasons: Hutchinson says that many areas beyond science have an ability to produce knowledge, but gives, throughout the book, not a single example of such knowledge.)
At any rate, the two-hour debate is interesting, though, I think, not as compelling as the Intelligence² debate about religion between Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens on one hand and Ann Widdecombe and Archbishop Onaiyekan on the other, or the debate about the afterlife with Hitchens and Harris versus Rabbis David Wolpe and Bradley Artson Shavit. Now those were debates! (Links are here and here).
Nevertheless, I think this is worth watching if you have the time, if for no other reason than to see how resistant the religious are to evidence, even though they admit the probative value of evidence. For example, at 1:17:00 an audience member asks both sides what it would take to change their minds about God. Both Shermer and Krauss have answers (even though Shermer took the opposite stand in Mexico City, saying that the concept of God is incoherent and therefore not subject to empirical inquiry), but Davies says that nothing would change his mind and D’Souza doesn’t answer. That’s always a great question for the religious.
Oh, and I swear that at 1:14:42 it is actress Andie McDowell (who doesn’t identify herself) who asks a dumb question about how science can explain the creation of an orchid and whether they might be able to create an orchid themselves. She sits scowling petulantly as Krauss and Shermer answer. It is her, right?
Anyway, judging by the pre- and post-debate polling of the audience, the anti-accommodationism side won. Yay for us!