On the heels of another recent debate between a theist and an atheist, philosopher of science Stephen Meyer debated skeptic Michael Shermer in company with host Bryan Callen. Their topic: “Can Science Find God?” This is a very different sort of discussion from the one at Rice University about the origin of life — contentious, yes, but also cordial, lucid, and informative.
There’s much to enjoy and admire, and learn from, in Dr. Meyer’s opponent. However, I would say a key moment for both is when Callen asks the classic “Who designed the designer?” question. The question may be familiar — it’s often asked in contexts like this — but where God came from is nonetheless a perfectly reasonable challenge. Meyer’s answer is very strong. Every way of thinking about the universe and its origins ultimately traces all of existence back to a prime reality. That could be a mind, or it could be matter and energy. Either way, the prime reality is self-existent. It doesn’t exist because of something else. It just is. The question for Meyer is whether mind as prime reality makes better sense of what we find in the cosmos — from the Big Bang to the origin of life to the rise of complex and intelligent life — as compared with the alternative explanation. The subject is covered in his book Return of the God Hypothesis, where Meyer accepts the framing of the God question offered by atheist Richard Dawkins.
Bryan Callen teases Dr. Shermer for looking the part of the skeptic, in his facial expression, as he is listening to Meyer discuss this. I was curious to hear Shermer reply, but he segues to giving an analogy with free market economics. I did not find the response all that persuasive. Watch and enjoy: