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What does science tell us about God?

What does science tell us about God? from Mark Harvey on Vimeo.

Thanks to Derren Brown's site.


Unknown said…
When I first saw this question my initial reaction was, "Science does not require God to do the work of Science."
Anonymous said…
Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? did a post-mortem of this debate with Wolpert and Cowburn a few weeks ago, which I have commented on at my blog, as well as the full debate here.

I emailed my piece to the participants and had brief exchange with Lewy who was absolutely charming and has a very good scenario of what would make him believe in God.

Anonymous said…
Wow that was peculiar. I'm guessing Proff Wolpert doesn't debate very often. Although I can empathise with his frustrated 'no evidence' repetitions. What does make them believe? If there are no evidential grounds for belief, other than the suggestive evidence (anthropic) that Prof Cowburn mentions (then, confusingly, goes on to warn against the god of the gaps move) then what causal process leads to acceptance of a devine? What does ‘pinch point’ experiment mean? Was he regurgitating the old ‘madman, liar, messiah’ false trichotomy?
Paul P. Mealing said…
This just reveals how you can't have a debate about the Bible with someone who believes it's literally 'gospel'. On one side you have someone who claims it's just stories and on the other side someone who claims (the gospels at least) are historical records or near-enough-to. There is no common ground, and the people in the audience have already decided beforehand and are not going to be persuaded from whatever position they currently hold.

A debate between Cowburn and someone who had a different interpretation of scriptures and their veracity would have been interesting - someone who could argue about the real authors of the gospels, as I once saw argued on a TV documentary, because we know the authors weren't the disciples.

Cowburn's entire religious conviction rests on someone writing down that Jesus said: 'I am God. I am the living proof.' That's his so-called 'pinch-point'. That's the evidence that God exists: someone 2000 years ago said, 'I am God,' recorded some decades after his death one might add. Cowburn admits that without Jesus' direct testimony he would have no reason to believe in God.

Regards, Paul.
DM said…

you little morons...

the atheist sins not only against God, but also against man...


have you for but a moment considered that you have adopted a position against 98% of the human race, both past and present?

do you think you are RIGHT and they are all WRONG?


now listen to this arrogant puffed up son of a bitch....


to see how the NEW ATHEIST MOVEMENT has been annihilated

please, some comment moderation on your blasphemy
You know Stephen you get off pretty light in general on the religious nutjob front. It is nice to see one pop in once in a while though :P

I found wolpert a little frustrating at times in that debate. There were many points at which he could have completely torn cowburn a new one but just didn't. Like his 'tude in general though.
David Pilavin said…
It seems to me that the first speaker made a slight mistake about the history of religion:

Religions that postulated the existence of animal-gods preceded those that postulated the existence of antropomorphic gods...

This fact undermines a bit his account of the origin of religion.
Mike said…
This isn't directly related to the item here, but I thought I'd mention that Colin McGinn has posted an interesting essay, "Why I am an Atheist," this week on his blog ( I just thought Stephen and the readers here might be interested.
Crocoduck said…
Doesn't the slightly incoherent debate stray away from the original question, what can science tell us about God? If science is the seeking of explanations for how the universe works through observation, hypothesis, then testing of the hypotheses to see if we can falsify them, then the concept of God as an all powerful, all knowing, all good creator of the universe is an unfalsifiable hypothesis and so beyond the reach of science.

When a creationist says everything was created 10,000 years ago in the space of a week you can't show them a million year old fossil to prove them wrong because they can always say "well my omnipotent God put it there to test our faith".

That is, science can neither prove nor disprove that everything that happens in the universe isn't the doing of God. However, what science is really really good at is offering rational, evidence based explanations as to how natural phenomena can occur which don't require the existence of some supernatural being in order to explain them. How do diseases spread? Germ theory. Where did humans come from? Evolution through process of natural selection. How do the stars shine? Energy release through thermonuclear fusion.

Science can never disprove the God hypothesis but it can give people less and less need to have one in the first place.
wombat said…
"well my omnipotent God put it there to test our faith".

So that means that
(a) the omnipotent God is a deceiver
(b) is not omnipotent enough to devise a test of faith without such parlour tricks - thats what all that evil and suffering is for right?
c) is not omnipotent enough to give us faith that doesn't need testing. Its not as if we couldn't have perfect faith and still have free will.

Anyway is it not more likely that, if you accept that God created the world, the logical conclusion is that the Christian Bible is wrong in that respect? We know it is man made, written down, translated and edited by fallible human beings. Whereas all the evidence in non man-made creation points to billions of years. Which do we believe - all the (consistent, reproducible) evidence God left around the place or some book without credible attribution? Put it another way which requires Godlike powers - running the Universe for billions of years or scribbling on a bit of parchment?
Crocoduck said…
Totally agree Wombat, I would come to the same conclusion. Unfortunately the true believer doesn't require the application of reason (in fact reason would probably be a hindrance), I guess that's why they call it blind faith!
wombat said…
Surely the point is that it one set of faith based beliefs (omnipotent, non-deceitful creator God) is set against another (literal interpretation of selected parts the Bible). No science required.
Billy said…
I have found Wolpert to be embarassing at times. I have to confess that I gave up watching when the christian was saying that science can not tell us whether to invade Iraq. It seemed like a strategy to shift the focus of the debate from what science can tell us about god. It did not argue why god should also be exempt from scientific investigation.

Did it get any better?

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