ABC Nightline Debate on the Existence of God: Brian Sapient vs Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort

You can watch it here.

While the debate doesn't seem to be very informative either way and not up to the standards of what I would consider useful, it sure looks to me as if Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort took a beating.


Marie said...

kind of dissapointing. i wish the girl didnt use that annoying tone of voice that christians usually use in these debates. for something to be on Nightline, I wish the debate was more clear on the Atheist side. But if that was me, I would be nervous too.

the whole thing was just kind of annoying

thanks for sharing, John!

live-n-grace said...

Wow, great job by Ray Comfort. The 2 athiests were not even listening, and were more concerned with trying to come up with their own debates. The truth Ray spoke was great, and put it so simply and perfect, it seems it would be impossible to respond. There's nothing much I can say except for the difference is obvious. I couldn't keep from laughing when he said that the coke bottle came from nowhere. To me, that is just how absurd that argument is.

live-n-grace said...

By the way, they even look lost and confused and trying to scrap for lame excuses.

Anonymous said...

What, if not for theater, is the point of staging a "debate" between these two positions. It is not as though anything could be proved through this charade. This is only a poorly staged game show in which either side could "win" or "loose" with no relationship whatsoever to the underlying reality. And even the question of which side prevailed falls short of any objective measure.

The reality is whatever it is irrespective of consensus of opinion or the presentation of a well or poorly constructed "case" by either side of this argument. It remains for us only to investigate dispassionately to discover that reality and recognize it for what it is. In this pursuit, I'm afraid the "believers" begin at a disadvantage as they simply refuse to accept any facts that would contradict their beliefs. For all of us, the quest begins in the privacy of our own minds, seeking out unquestioned assumptions, challenging them, and expunging those that fail to pass scrutiny.

Bruce said...

There is a BIG difference between a coke can and a person. One is an inanimate object and the other is a living being capable of reproducing. I seriously wonder if Ray Comfort knows which is which. Of course the can is designed, it doesn't have the ability to reproduce and depends upon a creator for its existence. Living beings on the other hand can reproduce and through the process of natural selection can evolve into a wide variety of species. Apples and oranges. The whole watch-maker argument is ludicrous because it is a false analogy.

Vincent said...

I'm watching it now.
The coke can argument is the worst possible argument.
We know the coke can had a designer because people know who it was (I read it in a coke museum once but don't remember his name) and have records of original drawings etc.

Creationists say we just popped here exactly as we are. That's why they can point to a human made artifact and claim it was just dropped here the way it is - by a creator.
But that's false for so many reasons I don't know where to start.
Most obviously I suppose is the fact that the coke can didn't just appear as it is. In fact people my age can remember when the tabs pulled off.

Socialist Libertarian said...

What awful, awful editing. I wish I could have seen Krazy Kirk Kameron after RRS gave him examples of transitional fossils.

Clearly, Alan Thicke didn't teach him much about Evilution.

Vincent said...

You can because the whole thing is still up on ABC's website.

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha, ha....FOOLS! as Jesus calls don't even know your own "MAKER"!!! Someday you will meet HIM FACE TO FACE!!!

D said...


"The truth Ray spoke was great, and put it so simply and perfect, it seems it would be impossible to respond."

One of the two following things is true:
there is an infinite chain/cessation of cause and effect (p)
there is not (~p)

We may write:
1) All things have a cause (p)
2) Some things, or one thing, are uncaused (~p)

When Ray and Kirk came to the debate, they purported to prove that a god/God/Creator exists, without relying upon faith or the Bible. This would imply that they have some way to *prove* whether p or ~p is true. They could not. No one can.

There is a paradox which we face whether we are atheists or theists, and it involves the inextricable relationship of causation upon time.

Theists, pantheists, panentheists, etc., all have different views about how ~p jives with God. This is very abstruse philosophical material, made all the more recondite by the necessity of contemplating how the cause-effect relationship can exist apart from *TIME*. Consider --

Is heaven like God, has it always existed? If no, then time precedes the beginning of our universe, which shoots the theist in the foot who argues that the beginning of our universe indicates "a beginner" (Ray's not-so-articulate way of putting it). IOW, the universe isn't "a beginning" at all, but merely another sequence in the timeline that includes the creation of heaven and/or the angels...

And so if time exists in heaven, or some parallel idea of A -> B -> infinitum, then we still have a problem on our hands -- was there ever a time when there was only God? Or, how do we begin to approach the issue of identifying when "time began"?

As we converge on that point -- C -> B -> A, what happens is the paradox that causes us so much frustration, and it is not solved by invoking God's existence at all. What happens is that we lose the ability to say the word "before" or use the phrase "and then". And this is the paradox. One cannot say God "existed before time" -- this is self-contradictory and absurd. Indeed, if we ever got to the mythical/mystical t=0, then there *IS* no "before", q.e.d.

I do not think our universe had "a beginning", but is just a part of an infinite regress of causes and effects. But, perhaps I am wrong. I see no good reason to suppose that it ends 13.5 Bya. Instead, this is where our ability to apply physics breaks down, because the physics that we have today is based upon the universe's present conformation. Imagine we condense all matter in the universe down to the quarks, and we heat it up so far that all chemical bonding and even nuclear forces dissipate. Then what?

That's exactly what the Big Bang, or, scientifically, the Standard Model of Cosmology, predicts. It predicts that 13.5 Bya, all of this *stuff* was in a different form, compacted and very very hot. But...before that? No one has a clue. That doesn't mean *all of it just happened* at that moment. It doesn't mean that all the matter/energy/space-time just "poofed" into being right then.

Instead, it means, "We Don't Know."

Anyone who tries to use our ignorance of what happened as "evidence" or "proof" that God did it is using the classic logical fallacy known as the argumentum ad ignorantium, which is in all logic texts and points out that we can never use our ignorance as evidence of anything contingent upon that ignorance. And this is the entirety of Ray's argument.

No one likes the idea of "there is just this infinite chain of causation stretching back forever..." in the sense that we want a more simple and easily grasped explanation. We want some *endpoint* in the infinite regress. We want to say "We Do Know."

However, we are not afforded any proof of ~p by reality. Instead, everything human beings have ever known, and everything they will ever know, reinforces the idea of p. This is induction. This is why I cannot accept ~p. The idea of ~p violates my logic and it violates the idea of causation itself.

I cannot, in honesty, say that this means that ~p is false. Instead, I must say that p is all I have experience of, and all that science itself attests to (cause-effect and the conservation of energy/matter as the 1st Law of Thermodynamics). Thus, I would say that assuming p is true is the most logical and rational position to take. I cannot "prove" it true, it is indeed an assumption. But my assumption, unlike yours, is borne out by induction and experience, as well as conservation. That's all I'd say in response to the question of why I do *not* assume that everything has a cause...except this one thing (which is a way to "contrive" God definitionally, or, by fiat).

I think that the newly-resuscitated cyclic theory of the universe (link) or brane/M-theory and multiverses will end up giving my prediction about p = true scientific support. But, perhaps no one will ever know what caused the expansion of our universe. And that's fine with me.

Calvin said...

Paul Steinhardt in his new cyclic model hypothesizes the existence of a time-varying energy component for the universe with negative pressure causing the current acceleration in the rate of cosmic expansion. This hypothesized energy component changes it's value and it's sign at just the right rates and just the right times so that the universe alternates between expansion an contraction.

Negative pressure and negative energy, though hypothetically appealing, offer more trouble than help. Essentially they violate well established physical laws. As Hawking explains in one of his famous theorems called the vacuum conservation theorem that says that in any system described by forces and fields (like the universe) something cannot be created from nothing. The vacuum must be stable against spontaneous generation of matter.

British cosmologist Brandon Carter goes on to explain that the hypothesized negitive pressure and negative energy lead to one of two consequences: 1) a lateral wiggle instability in the cosmic space surface or 2) the conclusion that the cosmic mass density is negative. If it were, the result would be a cosmic runaway creation of negative and positive mass particles out of the vacuum.

Cosmic models that call for the operation of fundamental forces along higher spacial dimensional surfaces, in which pressure, energy, or matter become negative might make for some entertaining mathematics, but such models do not pertain to physical reality.

Since cause and effect opperate in time and the cause transcends our one dimension of time then the cause of the universe must operate in at least two dimensions of time. In a plane of time there are an infinite number of timelines that run in an infinite number of directions. So the cause of the universe has no beginning or end and therefore would not need to be created. As the Bible states to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. This only makes sense if God operates in at least two dimensions of time.

1. A simular model of the Steinhardt and Neil Turok cyclic model was published November 2001 by Hongya Liu and Paul S. Wesson, "Universe Models with a Variable Cosmological Constant and a Big Bounce, "Astrophysical Journal 562 (2001): 1-6

2. On the Cosmological constant and how it shows that the universe will expand forever see Lawrence Krauss, "The End of the Age Problem and the Case for a Cosmological Constant Revisited," Astrophysical Journal 501 (1998): 461

3. Brandon Carter, "Energy Dominence and the Hawking Ellis Vacuum Conservation Theorem," a contribution to Steven Hawking's 60th birthday workshop on the Future of Theoretical Physics and Cosmology, Cambridge, UK, January 2002, arXiv:gr-qc/0205010v1, May 2, 2002.

4. Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok, "A cyclic Model of the Universe," Science 296 (2002): 1436-39

Calvin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calvin said...

By the way, that was the worse debate I've ever seen on both sides

D said...


First, I want to preface a response by pointing out that cosmology is not my specialty, and far from it. I have to ask if the same applies to you? Not that this means we can't talk about it, but it does mean it is likely that we will both misunderstand or misrepresent the model proposed.

Steinhardt is Einstein Professor of Physics at Princeton -- he basically holds the same post that Einstein used to hold. Therefore, it is difficult to critique someone of such expertise without the requisite background in relativity and quantum which I certainly don't have, and I have to wonder if you do?

That said, I'm quite unsure as to how much of what you said applies:

1) Turok and Steinhardt's model predicts that the expansion will occur until the energy/entropy density of the universe approaches 0, which is qualitatively compatible with your point (2)

2) The most common criticisms of the model have already been addressed: see here. These criticisms come from other cosmologists, so they are most likely to be on target and hit the issues that you and I miss. None of these had anything to do with vacuum fluctuations or negative energy.

Those sorts of issues are not empirical, but are instead a part of the pacakage of assumptions that go into such models, and as long as they line up with the math, then it is difficult to give an objective answer as to which set of assumptions regarding conservation and negative energy are most likely to be true. WHen you say that they do not apply to physical reality, you say so based on one set of assumptions. At the quantum level, it is quite difficult to feel safe with such assumptions. Try reading Brian Greene's "Fabric of the Cosmos" and "The Elegant Universe". (He and STeinhardt occupy nearly identical levels of stature at PRinceton)

Since cause and effect opperate in time and the cause transcends our one dimension of time then the cause of the universe must operate in at least two dimensions of time. In a plane of time there are an infinite number of timelines that run in an infinite number of directions. So the cause of the universe has no beginning or end and therefore would not need to be created.

First, as Penrose points out in his "Road to Reality", there is a viable regime in which cause and effect curve back on themselves such that time travel becomes mathematically/theoretically "possible". However, they still are *directly tied to time*. There is no logical way to talk about causation without speaking of "before and after". You can use the fancy words about "outside of time" all you want, but this is your way of trying to wiggle out of the difficulty, and we cannot begin to make sense of such statements.

You assume much in your non sequitur: that the universe has a "cause" which transcends time itself. This is a way to frame things such that God is necessary/possible. It's like saying, "Design requires a Designer," -- the statement is true, but how can you *show* that some object of consideration *is designed*??!?!?

Here, if time "begins" at the BB, then it makes no sense to speak of "before" the universe existed, and thus no sense to talk of causing the universe to exist.

As the Bible states to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. This only makes sense if God operates in at least two dimensions of time.

The Bible says many poetic things, like that the earth has foundations and four corners, etc., which shouldn't be taken seriously. "God's time is not our time," doesn't help you much, because it implies that God still *has time*. If this is the case, then God doesn't "transcend" time, i.e., God first caused heaven to exist, then the angels, then hell, then the universe...that is a timeline. And if that is the case, then our own space-time is not an ultimate "beginning" and so the force of the argument that it requires something "transcending" time is lost.

Anonymous said...

This might be helpful.... (from John Mac)
Looking at the account of Genesis 1:1 for just a brief moment, the words in that first verse are quite remarkable. They are indicative of the incredible mind of God. God says in that first verse everything that could have been said about creation and He says it in such few terms. The statement is precise and concise almost beyond human composition. A well-known scientist, a very decorated scientist named Herbert Spencer died in 1903. In his scientific career he had become noted for one great discovery, it was a categorical contribution that he made. He discovered that all reality, all reality, all that exists in the universe can be contained in five categories...time, force, action, space and matter. Herbert Spencer said everything that exists, exists in one of those categories...time, force, action, space and matter. Nothing exists outside of those categories. That was a very astute discovery and didn't come until the nineteenth century.

Now think about that. Spencer even listed them in that order...time, force, action, space and matter. That is a logical sequence. And then with that in your mind, listen to Genesis 1:1. "In the beginning," that's time..."God," that's force, "created," that's action, "the heavens," that's space, "and the earth," that's matter. In the first verse of the Bible God said plainly what man didn't catalog until the nineteenth century. Everything that could be said about everything that exists is said in that first verse.

Now either you believe that or you don't. You either believe that that verse is accurate and God is the force or you believe that God is not the force that created everything. And then you're left with chance or randomness or coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Also... for you science nuts...
This link is a great resource for common questions: from well respected scientists Ken Ham and Dr. Monty White

Benny said...

Sorry, but anyone who wilfully ignores the evidence we have for evolution and an Earth older than 6000 years old, as Ken Ham and Monty White both do, cannot be called a scientist.

For you people who believe the claims made by AiG, here's one for you:

live-n-grace said...

Evolution is a lame excuse for those trying to find a way to prove that God did not create the universe.

God created things with age. He created a man, not a baby.

I also find that evidence, everywhere, points that this didn't happan by chance.

What's the point of being a scientist if you're a fool?