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Cory Warshaw

Curator @ TEDxUCDavis, TEDxUCDavis


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Science vs God?

I am the Curator of TEDxUCDavis, and I wanted to create a page where people could discuss the talk at my event by Bryan Enderle: Science vs God. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn7YQOzNuSc&list=PLsRNoUx8w3rNNNJZyHiIb3MMhM3QQyiAD&index=10

First and foremost, I wanted to make a disclaimer. The views expressed in this talk do not reflect the views of the broader TED-organization. The selection was made entirely by me and the content was produced entirely by Mr Enderle.

I invited Bryan to speak despite the fact that I am an atheist, and knowing how often I would cringe at these types of talks. In my view what Bryan does differently is merely make a plausibility argument for traits that seem too fantastic to many. He is not arguing for the existence of God. I was once a vindictive atheist who cheered for Richard Dawkins in his debates and despised religious thought. Eventually however, I realized that this debate has been raging for centuries and to simply discount all the brilliant people who had faith would be too simple. There is a debate to be held yes, but it does not need to be so vitriolic and people of both sides can learn from each other.

In this debate section please keep your comments specifically to the points discussed in his talk, and try not to stray to other issues. I think Bryan titled his talk to be deliberately provocative, since it is this false dichotomy between faith and science that he tries to break down in his talk. If we can think how the two philosophies can inform the other, then we can have a productive discussion.


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  • Jun 30 2013: Firstly, i feel that most people get the idea of god wrongly and thus reject it. They often associate god with supernatural stuff. Its wrong.. God is simply someone who we follow/look up to and want to learn their values, maybe because when they were alive , or are stil alive, did something wise/noble/good/charitable/heroic. Thus we feel that we want to look up to them to learn all these values to be a better person. Many of the times you will see supernatural things associated with god in media. I think this is just what humans made up or feel strongly because of the stereotype in the society. For those who are wondering why supernatural stuff is often associated with god, heres my perception: As many people look up to god and think that they are noble and wise, when they are in difficulty, they would want gods to help them answer to their questions(if they are still alive eg in india some ppl pray to human beings who they deem wise) . This is nothing wrong, just looking up to them and asking them like teacher-student relationship. But overtime, more n more people would ask/pray because of other trivial matters eg if you are scared. And overtime, it evolved to relate to supernaturality
    I have many friends who didnt want a religion because they dont believe in supernatural stuff and believe more in factual stuff:Science.
    Instead, i feel that Science and God/religion can be incorporated. Science teaches us about everything around us while Religion teaches us about whats in our hearts(humanity). Religion is basically teaching us to be a better person while science teaches us about everything. Definitely all of you do not doubt religion teaches us good values and to be a better person right? All religion(except cult) teaches us to be good just that it is in different ways be it harsh or gentle.
    Therefore i do not think there should be any God vs Science. Its just God&Science. They are friends that teach us different aspects.
    Hope i have made a constructive view
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      Jul 3 2013: So when a religion says we should kill homosexuals or the tribe next door that is making us a better person?
      • Jul 3 2013: I think Daryl stated her definition of a religion and that is "religion teaches us good values and to be a better person..". Killing others is not part of her argument of what is a good religion.
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          Jul 4 2013: im just suggesting that not all religious instructions make us better people.

          some religious morals or instructions are sexist, homophobic, rascist etc. probably reflecting the time, place and culture in which they were written.

          i dont know ifviolence, sexism, homiphobia is part of daryls religious outliook. i hope not.

          maybe you can cherry pick positive morak guidence from religious traditions. the basis used to determine what is morally good and what is bad in these religious texts is probably a better starting point than what is commanded or edorsed such as slavery or genocide.

          i also suggest you can consider what a good life is with out religious connections. simply asking how can i reduce suffering and improvevthe human condition.
      • Jul 4 2013: I agree with your opinion that not all religious instructions make us better people. Although i was merely raising daryll's idea of God which apparently excludes issues of violence, sexism and homophobia as you mentioned because it doesn't seem to be part of her vision of God. For some people religion is part of life, it is how they were raised OR how they "discovered" life. Unfortunately we cannot just question these people with regards to where they found happiness and that makes dealing with religion very complicated. People will die for it because it is their life structure. Sometimes I do wonder how could a single God teach different things to different people... i try to think that maybe God just wants us to be good and help each other and unfortunately human religious leaders of the past had other ideas which ultimately shaped each cultures understanding of God. When will these ideas unify themselves?... i wish i knew.
      • Jul 6 2013: So, the Pharisees came up to Jesus and asked for a sign. He said, "Only a foolish and adulterous generation asks for a sign."

        You can look at this many ways, but one way to look at it is to say that God wants man to think. The basic paradigm of the Pharisees was one of the worship of power. To them God was a powerful being that demanded obedience. To them, even though he got the scriptures right, Jesus was a pantywaist milquetoast. They couldn't stand his teaching about love. They couldn't see any power in it.

        Several times Jesus described the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law as highly ordered, but lacking in the more important aspects of the law: love, justice, faithfulness, etc. These things take thought and careful deliberation. They need both weakness and strength to succeed. The blind following of who is more powerful or who is to be most venerated does nothing but get in the way.

        Jesus was trying to get them to see that his teaching about love was something they could receive either by believing his words or by examining his arguments in the light of reason. Just as an atheist might say treating people right is something they could arrive at without the need for religion so too did Jesus say that his teaching was something you could arrive at without the need for divine revelation or spectacular proof. The fact that you can doesn't disprove God. Instead it puts assertions of the presence of God into a totally different perspective. Why should God be unreasonable?
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          Jul 9 2013: want the claimed ressurrection a sign.arent there sorts of niracles signs and winders in the bible.

          if signs are so foolish then why are so many asserted to have happened.

          i suggest only a fool accepts extraordinary claims without sufficient evidence.

          by the way a ressurection does not prove a god exists capable of creating universes.
      • Jul 8 2013: People can use religion as an excuse to do horrible things. Just like people use politics as an excuse to do horrible things. That does not mean that religion is inherently bad. It just means that people will use anything as an excuse to do something.
    • Jul 3 2013: Daryl, I wish I would have agreed with your statements but sadly it wouldn't be shared by most religious people. As much as people look at God as a model being, they also look at God as an omnipotent, everlasting being with the capacity to punish those who do not follow him via hell. This however depends on the religion.. Buddhism would probably be similar to your views because the Buddha strives to teach people to improve themselves and help others. The Christian religion is almost the same in philosophy but worship is part of the practice... songs of praise to God and doing good in the eyes of God. in other words.... God's approval is needed. Same thing with some religious extremism like islamist. They will harm others because they believe God approves of their action.
      You are correct that all religion teaches us to be good. But it is a bit more complicated than that.. Religion has its own philosophy and belief systems that are subject to interpretation depending on the culture of the people within it and therefore being "good" is not universal.. you need to fulfill the religion's requirements to be a true "believer" and being good is just one of those requirements.
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        Jul 5 2013: i agree that many god or goddess concepts involve beings that are not human.

        although is history plenty of humans have been considered gods from king to pharohs and heros. even jesus was deified by some.

        if the person is just human worthy of respect then why use the term god with all its supernatural baggage.

        jeff i would add that not all supernatural gods and goddesses are omni gods such as the jewish god evolved to be. the hindu gods, olympian gods etc are not omni gods.

        the core judeo christian muslim gods are just 3 out of thousands.and about as many interpretations of these as there are denominations and believers.

        even yahwehs omni nature is inconsistent when his help couldnt overcome enemies with iron chariots.

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