February 4th, 2014
10:05 PM ET

Creation debate recap: Science, religion and terrible jokes

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - Did you miss the debate between creationist Ken Ham and Bill "The Science Guy" Nye?

Don't worry, we've got you covered.

The debate was moderated by CNN's Tom Foreman, and, if there's one thing both sides can agree on, it's that he did a swell job.

Here's almost everything else you need to know, from Genesis to um, Revelation.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Creationism • Evolution • Science • Uncategorized

soundoff (1,469 Responses)
  1. AgentX

    The problem with this debate is that it did not get to an actual debate over the extent of evolutionary variation. Bill Nye spent all his time pounding away at criticism at a young earth theory that even Christians debate among themselves. Bill Nye was never asked to defend cats and dogs having a common ancestor. The bible does not say how old the world is nor does science really knows how old the earth is so quit debating it and get to the real debatable points.

    February 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      The problem is that people like Nye (and many other popular scientists, like Krauss, Hawking, Dawkins, etc.) actually THINK they understand enough about Christianity to so easily dismiss it. So, I'm guessing when they deal with people like Ham, they think they have actually defeated Christianity. (Well, except for Dawkins who seems at least smart enough to realize he can't take on some of the heavy-hitters in philosophy and Christianity, probably due to the beating he took over The God Delusion.) The rest seem happily naive in their own little worlds, saying stuff like 'philosophy is dead.' LOL

      February 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        The oldest and largest Christian denomination on the planet has no issues with evolution or a universe that is billions of years old. Ken Ham's peculiar sect is just a disproportionately vociferous minority in the Christian community that adheres to an untenable, easily disproven literal interpretation of their Holy Book.
        God is an explanation for the reason behind the Universe's existence, something which is unknowable and has no relation to what happens in the Universe.
        The world doesn't work how we want it to work. The world is. We can only describe it, and chronicle its workings.

        February 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Steve Wilkinson

          Well, I don't have a problem with evolution, as far as it goes either (i.e.: what we actually know before we head off into speculation... the real science), nor billions of year old universe. And, yes, while we can't actually go back and see, we can infer the best explanation from the evidence.

          As for the 'oldest and largest Christian denomination' stuff, first, if you're referring to the Roman Catholic church, they aren't the oldest (yes, they make that claim, but it's demonstrably false). Second, it's rather irrelevant what they say, as tomorrow they might say something different. So, I'm more interested in what the Bible and the best of Biblical scholarship says, not some silly dude claiming to be Christ's stand-in on earth.

          February 6, 2014 at 3:37 am |
    • bob

      Science DOES KNOW HOW OLD THE EARTH IS, just over 4.5 billion years. the bible says the earth was made in a day and thumpers say it is around 6,000 years old.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
      • skalaballa

        The funny thing is anyone saying they know for a fact how old the Earth is either way. I'm a Christian, but I don't claim to know for a fact exactly what is meant in the Bible by the Earth was made in 6 days because the interpretation could be meant to be 6 days in God's terms... now if God truly is God he can do all things- which would include creating the Earth in a literal 6 days, but he could also have taken billions of years using evolution as a Creation tool. In God's terms, time is irrelevant because He has no beginning or end- it was only created in terms of the Earth. We will never know 100% and it is foolish to claim so. That is why Science uses theories to best explain- but science itself is all about evidence which ignores the possibility of God. This is why it is ridiculous for a scientist to say without a doubt that creationism is wrong. Noone knows for sure, but if you are talking evidence I believe no Christian would argue the evidence leans Science's way. That's why Creationism is based in faith.

        February 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
        • Steve Wilkinson

          I was reading along... sort of agreeing with some of your reasoning. BTW, no, God couldn't have used evolution to create, at least not inline with Nye's understanding, as the neo-Darwinian model is undirected. Undirected ≠ creation. Then, I get to the total train-wreck at the end. Absolutely, I'd say the evidence leans science's way, but it depends on if we're talking the best of science, or certain naturalistic-laden conclusions drawn from the scientific data. Science should always equal Christianity if they are both true. And what does, "Creationism is based in faith" mean? Faith isn't some magical thing, it's just trust, hopefully based on the evidence.

          February 6, 2014 at 3:47 am |
    • samuel

      True, but remember that he is debating against "Creationism", not just for the theory of evolution. One of the primary tenets of creationism that distinguishes it from other forms of Bible-based religion is the idea that the earth is only 6000 years old. Now, some religions may still hold that literal interpretation of the bible but MANY have mingled current scientific theories with their religious beliefs, and, as Bill showed early on, most religions don't firmly hold to the 6000 year old earth theory. That idea of a "young earth" is very important to the "Creationism" argument which depends on a strict interpretation of the Bible. So if the idea of a young earth can be disproved, many of the other discrepancies will fall with it. Science and religion CAN coexist (I am a science teacher and am also very religious) but it is very hard for them to do so if one takes such a literal and strict view of the bible.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
      • JH1

        As a science teacher, how do you personally reconcile the critical, skeptical, scientific method with unsubstantiated, unfalsifiable faith? How do your supernatural beliefs not cause a great deal of cognitive dissonance in your own mind?

        February 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • samuel

          I suppose I don't see much of a conflict. I believe in God. I believe he used scientific laws to create the earth. We are discovering those laws. I don't take a literal interpretation of the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) but I try to find truth wherever I find it. I don't think that belief in God and belief in Science have to be mutually exclusive but that they can be complimentary as long as one doesn't close one's mind to learning new truth however it may come. But I also realize I am not a traditional religionist and that I would receive criticism from people who are more religious than I as well as from people who believe that science and religion must be inconsistent with each other.

          February 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Samuel: Perhaps you should consider that, scientifically speaking, your god is as invisible, undetectable, and irrelevant as any the Tooth Fairy. --If you value the scientific method and critical thinking, that is.

          February 5, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
        • Truth Seeker

          The evolutionist viewpoint actually requires more faith than the creationist one. To accept the former, one must believe that at some point in history something started that procession of matter formation. Creationists simply name that something as a someone – the God or 'Theos' of Genesis. We don't compromise our intellect simply by asserting there is a higher intellect who is the designer of it all. On the contrary, this is the most logical conclusion one can draw – the ultimate cause and effect model. The word evolution itself contradicts the laws of thermodynamics. One must use critical thinking for every assertion made by these scientists because more often than not they are proven wrong – though rarely in the public eye. Dig for answers – seek and you shall find!

          February 5, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
        • Steve Wilkinson

          re: "how do you personally reconcile the critical, skeptical, scientific method with unsubstantiated, unfalsifiable faith?"

          You DON'T. First, I realize that the scientific method involves human agents who aren't always critical and skeptical, so I'm critical and skeptical about how science is being reported, and sometimes even in the individual scientist's conclusions. Second, unsubstantiated, unfalsifiable faith is somewhat an oxymoron. While it's true that our acting on our faith (trust) in God is ultimately a step into something we don't yet have or can't yet fully know, that trust *should* be based on a foundation which is heavily substantiated. If not, it's called 'blind-faith' or, in other words, misplaced-trust. The Bible condemns that.

          February 6, 2014 at 4:12 am |
      • Steve Wilkinson

        Note.... Old-earth views are also LITERAL and STRICT. They just aren't unnaturally or 'woodenly' literal, and don't read certain presuppositions into the text. For example, you wouldn't read the sports section of the newspaper and be horrified when you read that the Seahawks annihilated the Broncos (well, unless you're a Broncos fan, I guess). You realize that a sports writer often uses those kind of terms, and that the Broncos still exist.

        Long before anyone measured the age of the earth, or any kind of modern scientific method even existed, there was debate among Biblical interpreters about how these 'days' in Genesis were to be interpreted.

        February 6, 2014 at 3:55 am |
  2. scottca

    “I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously.”
    ― Douglas Adams.

    February 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Yea, he probably should have put just a little more thought into that.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
      • MKinSoCal

        You may want to pull your "thinking cap" out of the closet and re-read the quote. Maybe then you'll understand it.

        February 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • Steve Wilkinson

          I think I'm understanding it... care to share your insight???

          February 6, 2014 at 4:13 am |
  3. chackoforchange

    Another scientist, who knows science, but knows not how to debate. As usual, the scientists have no training in proper debating, hence the creationist always wins, it's not the argument that wins, but how you present the argument.

    February 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
  4. JAB

    I love the creationists answers, "There's a book that tells us".
    Yes Bill Nye there's a book with all the anwers you need.
    All you have to do is stop thinking and the answers will be yours.

    February 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
    • scottca

      'A book written by ancient stone age imbeciles who still widely believed that lightening was thrown by giants in the clouds.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
  5. Wayne Rizor

    I'm surprised and extremely disappointed that Nye didn't bring up the recent DNA studies that show 2-3% of our DNA is Neanderthal DNA. Of 665 Europeans who had their DNA tested, scientists found that 20% of the Neanderthal Genome was represented in the modern human population. How would a Creationist dispute this finding? If God created Man in his image, according to Genesis, Is God a Neanderthal? see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140129134958.htm

    February 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      I could be wrong, but I think Ham's view is that neanderthal are just some of the earlier humans. That said, the whole what and how of neanderthal DNA and human DNA is quite controversial.

      What would have been really interesting is to hear Nye explain how biology has suddenly done a 180 on 'junk DNA.' A few years ago, all that 'junk' was proof of the graveyards of millions of years of evolutionary waste (if you don't believe me, I can dig up some great Dawkins quotes). Now that more than 80% of it has been shown to have function, these folks are scrambling to say that function really isn't function, or that, because the findings of ENCODE don't fall in line with the neo-Darwinian model, they simply can't be true.

      And, you might want to do just a bit more research on what is meant by the 'image of God' before you make yourself look any more silly. 😉

      February 5, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
  6. countingdown

    Science only jerks, since most of you already think scientific knowledge is complete and yet can not disprove the existence of GOD, are you prepared to bet eternity on it.

    With that I'm closing this thread, you can reply or not. If you do you will appear as foolish as what you already written!

    February 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
    • Fred

      And yet at the same time, you can't PROVE God... funny how that works. You believe what some book tells you (how insane is that??)

      February 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
    • QuestionEverything

      When did anyone ever claim that scientific knowledge is complete? Science is all about enhancing our knowledge, hence the word "science"; it is seldom complete or finite.

      How do you propose someone to "prove" a negative assertion? Have you been able to disprove the existence of Zeus, Ba'al, Ahura Mazda, Odin, etc. ad nauseam?

      February 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
    • Rochester NY

      Scientific knowledge is not "complete", it is a work in progress. All knowledge is tentative. It is only the religious who claim absolute and unassailable truths without a scintilla of evidence to back it up.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • Wayne Rizor

      How can I disprove a figment of your imagination or the collective imaginations of Christians? I can prove or disprove scientific studies and findings because those experiments can be replicated. There is no test for the physical existence of God at any time in the past or present. In science if an experiment cannot be replicated the finding is false, there is nothing in the Bible to test scientifically. That is why they call your Christianity a "belief" because it was written in a book and it is only your "faith" in the Bible that upholds that "belief". Therefore, creationism is fiction, it is substantiated only by "faith" and "belief".

      February 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      google the teapot theory and prove there's talking snakes while you're at it

      February 5, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
  7. alex

    Soundoff is most horrible and unusable comment section ever. Why are they not using disqus ?

    February 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
    • Nathan

      No idea. Disqus is much better and I have no idea why CNN as a company is supporting two systems. Especially when one is so clearly archaic.

      February 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • nepawoods

      disqus sucks, but I agree that this is even worse.

      But since when has popular media done anything but try to reduce complex issues to fleeting soundbites?

      February 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
  8. Brad

    What, no cameo from God?

    February 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      LOL – you'd think someone would give it a REALITY show!

      February 5, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
  9. Charles

    Wow! Now this is unbiased reporting! I actually watched the debate and these edited pieces from the other video links are totally misleading. It makes the creation theory out to be ridiculous, but if you actually watch the video you will see that it at least needs to be seen as a possible theory – rather than a fairytale. Evolution is not a fact – it is a theory. Why can't we allow both to have their day in the sun?

    February 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Literal biblical young earth creationism is ridiculous. It is not a theory. It is an hypothesis that is demonstrably false.

      We are here to ridicule it until young earth creationists get a clue.

      February 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
    • Doris

      Evolution does not even have to be true or not to show that the young-earth Creationist possibility is completely laughable. Note that Ham referred a few times to the geologist Andrew Snelling. Here's a man who received his credentials for dating rocks billions of years old, still selling his services as a geologist while being employed as as a "Creationist Assistant Professor of Geology" by the Institute for Creation Research, where in the latter position, he advocates for a young earth. Sounds like it's more about the money for these "scientists" that Ham relies on for their "expertise".

      February 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
    • Snow

      Honestly, you have a bad understanding of what a "Theory" means from scientific pov. Gravity is also considered a theory, but putting your interpretation of the word "theory", would mean we have to consider gravity is just one explanation of why we are able to stand on earth, the other being, god painted our feet with godly glue.

      Same thing about evolution vs creation as "theories".

      February 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
    • Sean

      Charles, you said: "but if you actually watch the video you will see that it at least needs to be seen as a possible theory – rather than a fairytale. Evolution is not a fact – it is a theory. Why can't we allow both to have their day in the sun?"

      No, creationism cannot be seen as valid scientific theory for the simple reason that it's based on the word of a god who literally cannot be falsified or supported with empirical evidence. For this reason, it simply exists outside the realm of science.

      As for evolution being "a theory," you need to acknowledge the difference between a "scientific theory" and the layman's "theory." Established scientific theories are the pinnacle for an explanation of complex processes. They never graduate to "scientific fact" because science, as a rule, always remains open to newer, better, more accurate information that could supplant any theory no matter how well-established. That said, scientific theories are rigorously tested, retested, peer reviewed, and otherwise constantly challenged by new information. Evolution was first floated as a theory over 200 years ago, and all empirical evidence gathered between then and now has supported and further expanded our understanding of it. Any questions or adjustments that have arisen have been in regards to details, but not the fundamental process of evolution.

      February 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
      • HOPE

        The THEORY of evolution has produced a countless number of errors – mostly published in very small headlines in recent history. Darwin himself stated that it should be abandoned within the next century if the transitional forms between the many distinct species were not discovered. Thus far, every claim to such a discovery – particularly the missing ape to human link -has been over-ruled or exposed as an all-out hoax (Neanderthal, Lucy, Piltdown, etc.). The skulls collection that Nye displayed has been analyzed by creation SCIENTISTS and was additionally determined as misinterpreted by evolution theorists. Please see these links, among hundreds of others which will educate you on another far more viable theory of origins: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v8/n1/dmanisi-discovery http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2014/02/08/creation-model-make-predictions Discover your CREATOR!

        February 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
    • And it goes way back ?

      Proceedings of the 1992 TC Creation Conference Manual 280 pages wasted !

      Sponsored by the Genesis Insti-tute – which was/is the ICR Old phone # 1-619-448-0900 ? Jim .

      and TC creation Science ?

      Nuff said !Proceedings of the 1992 TC Creation Conference Manual 280 pages wasted !

      Sponsored by the Genesis Insti-tute – which was/is the ICR Old phone # 1-619-448-0900 ? Jim .

      and TC creation Science ?

      February 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
    • tony

      In my scripture, which I am just writing now, you will all obey my commands. Any problems, treat it as your user guide.

      That includes "everything you've got" collections. No more worshipping iPhones. And BTW, I'm jealous of Beyonce'.

      Please note I just created your world and the Universe yesterday after 5 mins hard, sweating creation. Of course I planted fake memories in everyone, plus few apparently old rocks, so you don't realize how new you all are, but Hey, I'm all-powerful and I can handle it.

      And I will be conducting virgin birth and handmaiden interviews shortly. No hiding the best ones under any bushels.

      February 5, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • The Other Chris

      Scientific Theory: A testable hypothesis with extensive supporting evidence, generally considered to be fact within the scientific community. Will you dispute gravity (as another commenter brought up), chromosomal inheritance, or planetary motion because these are also "just theories?" Just be aware that science is really just an approach for testing observable phenomena, and thus requires that hypotheses that may one day become theory, be grounded in experimental evidence and must themselves be testable and not founded in belief alone.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
    • JH1

      You keep using that word. Theory. I don't think you know what it means:

      Scientific theory: A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.

      You're confusing the terms hypothesis and theory. We start with a hypothesis: an untested, proposed explanation. We then test the hypothesis by falsifiable means. If the resulting evidence (facts) corroborate the hypothesis, the confirmed hypothesis becomes theory.

      Example: CSI walks into a murder scene. They hypothesize that person X was in the room when person Y was murdered based on video footage of person X leaving the building 5 minutes after Y was murdered. They search the room and find a bloody fingerprint. The test results show that it is person X's fingerprint and person Y's blood. Their hypothesis that X was in the room when Y was murdered has now become a fact, or scientifically speaking, a theory.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  10. Lou

    what I learned...Lions really don't want to eat Zebras, they do it because to hate women.

    February 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
    • Beth

      Lou wins the internet today. (Nye won it yesterday.)

      February 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
  11. dkc_2001

    So, Creationalism was evolved by a book where ordinary humans sat around and included some chapters, while ignoring others. God didn't write the Bible, he didn't guide Creationism. Like most religious zealots, their ego that they are right about everything fuels the Creationism fire. It's about as laughable as Scientology, but with less aliens.

    February 5, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
  12. HenryMiller

    So Nye has adopted the religion of global warming instead of the religion of creationism. Really, people, they're equally silly.

    Next up: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    February 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
    • ME II

      Are you saying that the average global temperature is not rising?


      February 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        Shouldn't rising temperatures be expected? I mean, we ARE coming out of an "ice age."

        February 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • ME II

          @Lawrence of Arabia,
          How do you know? Were you there? /sarcasm

          Honestly though, that's a question of the cause not whether it is happening or not, right?

          February 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          We've been in an extraordinarily stable climatic period for about 10,000 years since the last phase of glaciation ended.

          This period is that in which humans have thrived the most. Now humans are accelerating a change out of that stable climatic period into something less stable and less inducive to human life. Does that seem like a smart thing to do?

          February 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
      • HenryMiller

        The average global temperature has been going up and down for millions of years, and it will continue to do that with our without our help.

        February 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Agreed, but there's no need to help it along in a very unpleasant direction.

          February 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
        • HenryMiller

          I have yet to see any unbiased, untainted, repeatable evidence that humans have anything to do with any kind of climate change. Against a scale of millions of years, 30 or 40 years of incomplete, noisy, data is just about meaningless. And, obviously, the models are broken.

          February 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
        • chubby rain

          Yes, temperatures have been going up and down throughout history, but those were caused by natural events. The current warming trend cannot be explained by natural events, it can only be explained by anthropogenic green house gases.

          February 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
        • HenryMiller

          What caused the LIA? The MWP? The Younger Dryass? No one knows. And no one really knows what's happening now or whether it's in any way different from any other temperature variation of the last millions of years.

          February 5, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "unbiased, untainted, repeatable evidence

          Data is data. What you percieve as bias are conclusions based on the data. The concept of human-influenced climate change predates the politics by the likes of the Koch brothers.

          Those conclusions are plausible. Think about the increase in CO2 emissions. Think about the mountain of coal (kT of C) that sits beside every coal-fired power station in the world. There are probably thousands of these, Each of those mountains is regularly consumed, vaporized and replenished. Think about Amazonian deforestation by fire. These are staggering amounts of CO2 on a global scale.

          Has the earth seen higher levels of CO2? Sure, in the Carboniferous period. The plants loved it and sequestered it for us.

          February 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
  13. Bill

    I felt like I was in 1st grade.
    The slides were comical and the jokes were painful.

    February 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
  14. scottca

    Anthropic Principle.

    The anthropic principle is the philosophical consideration that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. The universe's ostensible fine tuning is the result of selection bias: i.e., only in a universe capable of eventually supporting life will there be living beings capable of observing any such fine tuning, while a universe less compatible with life will go unbeheld.

    Thinking that this universe was designed to have us in it, reminds me of .Douglas Adam's Puddle:

    "This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise." – Douglas Adams

    February 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • HenryMiller


      February 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • jimbo913


      February 5, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
    • Alias


      February 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
    • Nathan


      February 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • Rob


      February 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      If you ponder just how this puddle was thinking in the first place, you might be headed towards some real enlightenment...

      February 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      re: "only in a universe capable of eventually supporting life will there be living beings capable of observing any such fine tuning" BTW, that doesn't explain anything. It's called a 'just so' story.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
  15. scottca

    Religion thrives on allegory, emotional commitments to texts that no one reads, and other forms of benign hypocrisy".
    – Harvard professor and cognitive scientist, Steven Pinker, "The Better Angels of Our Nature 'Why violence has declined'".

    February 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Mrcarlson114

    I clicked on this headline hoping to read a news story. Instead I get a page full of tweets. Journalism at its very best, my friends.

    February 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
  17. scottca

    "I think my own personal philosophy – one that I think offers a sounder basis for knowledge and wisdom than religion – is based on reason.

    Now as soon as soon as we’re having this conversation, as long as we are trying to persuade one another of why you should do something or should believe something, you are already committed to reason. We are not engaged in a fistfight. We’re not bribing each other to believe something. We’re trying to provide reasons. We’re trying to persuade, to convince. As long as you’re doing that in the first place, you’re not hitting someone with a chair, or putting a gun to their head, or bribing them to believe something. You’ve lost any argument you have against reason. You’ve already signed on to reason whether you like it or not. So the fact that we’re having this conversation shows that we are committed to reason. That is the starting point. And from reason many other things follow.

    I think science is just the application of reason to the natural world. There’s no such thing as the scientific method in the sense of a recipe or a formula, because techniques in science are always changing to handle the problems in front of us. Science is really an attempt to explain things, to answer the question of why it’s the way it is as opposed to some other way it could have been. And it’s an attempt to do your darndest to figure out the things that you believe are true. It’s the application of reason in the most purified and concentrated form, in a way that I think is continuous with philosophy, with law, with political organization if it’s done right. And I think it also provides much of the grounding for ethics and morality.

    At heart, morality is treating other people the way one would want to be treated oneself; and some version of that, of interchangeability of perspectives. It’s the fact that I’m not the only enti-ty in the universe, and I have no grounds for privileging my interests over yours. That’s really what most or all moral systems ultimately boil down to.

    And again, as long as I’m talking to someone, as long as I am providing reasons, I can’t say that I am a unique, privileged person and hope for you to take me seriously. Why should you? You’re you, I’m me. Anything that I come up with as a code of behavior … any reason that I give you for how you should behave has to apply to me in order for me not to be a hypocrite or to contradict myself. And once you do that, then I think much or all of morality follows.

    And I think that the alternative that many people appeal to, mainly faith, is … immediately refutes itself. Faith means believing something with no good reason to do it. Once you’re talking to someone about what they … what is good to do, what they ought to do, or what they have reasons to do, you cannot appeal to faith. You’re committed to reason."
    - Harvard Psychology Professor and Cognitive Scientist, Steven Pinker.

    February 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
  18. countingdown

    Making jokes without presenting a logical statement only your proves your ignorance and lack of need to post.

    February 5, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
    • 867-5309

      Is your reply button missing?

      February 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
      • countingdown

        Yes it was!

        February 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.