The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
7 Points

Does science fundamentally have the ability to 'play god'?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/19/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 653 times Debate No: 63533
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)




If science is " knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation" and it is through human ingenuity and creativity that have allow us to manipulate the surrounding environment to create technology which is the embodiment of that manipulation. Is it fundamentally possible for science to 'cross into gods realm and play god'?


I would like to thank Con for instigating this thought-provoking debate.

The resolution is clear: Does Science fundamentally have the ability to 'play god'?

As Pro, I believe that science fundamentally does have the ability to 'play god', and hope to convince both the audience and Con that my position is indeed the correct one in relation to the resolution at hand. I will assume, due to Con's lack of definition, that 'god' is in reference to the Christian God or Creator God of Abrahamic religions.

I. Proof of God

Usually, I find it distasteful to ask an opponent to prove the existence of God. So why must I ask Con to prove the existence of God then?

It is due to the fact that Con is trying to compare science: an empirical study of the natural world through facts gained from experiments and observation, to a Divine Being that does not exist empirically. The core issue is that I do not know exactly what I am comparing science to. For me, it's comparing something empirical, to something that is mythical or non-existent in the empirical world we live in.

How does one respond if someone asks you to compare a glass of water to another glass of water that you cannot observe? You can't. Furthermore, he isn't even asking me to compare a glass of water to another glass of water that's simply non-existent, but actually he's asking me to compare a glass of water to an idea of a glass of water. That's all that God is, an idea that people choose to believe in. Unless you've physically seen or had the chance to observe God in an empirical way, I don't see any way that I can honestly compare this natural study through empirical means to something that is just an idea - and even more so, just an idea that is accepted by a fraction of the people living in our world.

II. Science transcends the bounds of religion

Another point I'd like to make, in relation to Contention I, is that while only a fraction of the total population actually believe in the idea of a Creator God, anyone with the mental ability to perceive and understand our world clearly can see that science is something real. Science is not just an idea, it's not just a belief system, it is truly fact - it is something that can create objective meaning and understanding to our world. No matter what language you speak, what culture you were born into, what religion your family was or brought you up in, you can still understand the basic tenets of science. You can see that it rains because our water is evaporated into our atmosphere, you can see how the sun heats up the area underneath a microscope. It's literally something that can explain what we used to consider mysteries or the unknown.

I think this is the greatest obstacle for religious people to accept. The fact that science is slowly explaining the universe and processes that we originally attributed to God. Not even 500 years ago, the Native Americans believed that dancing to the rain gods is what allowed for rain. Now, through science, we understand that rain comes and goes with seasonal changes in our atmosphere, different pressure systems and weather fronts play roles, etc.

Keeping this in relation with the resolution present, this alone shows how science is already playing the role of god. Science is now literally explaining that which was previously attributed to God. The greatest thing about science is that it allows us to transcend the barriers of religion which kept us separated for thousands of years. People can believe or have faith in their version of God, while still accepting science for what it is - something which reveals facts about the reality we live in through experimentation and observation.

III. Scientists can, and have, created life.

Assuming that my opponent is speaking about the creator-god belief system, then science has also achieved the feat of 'creating' life.

I would like to direct both the audience and Con to an article published a few months ago which touches on a study published in Nature regarding a new life form created using "alien" DNA:

In the article, it states that, "Researchers in California have, for the first time, created an organism whose genetic code comprises six letters, instead of four. This means that the bacterium, described in a study published in Nature today, is the first life form to contain artificial genetic building blocks."

I'll also include the direct study published in Nature today:

It's not even a question of 'can they do it', it's a question of 'how long will the bacteria survive'. So far, it's survived enough to pass the new X-Y nucleotides to their offspring, creating a whole new form of life. We all learned in our elementary science classes that bacteria were one of the first stages of life on this planet. We can observe through scientific methods the evolution and growth of bacteria as it replicates into more advanced forms.

I know this might offend creationists, and it is not my intention to do so! I'm merely sharing facts which when acknowledged literally opens up a whole new world of understanding. As I said before, accepting scientific facts doesn't have to mean that you are turning you back on your beliefs. Even my mother, a devout Christian woman her entire life, acknowledges that science can produce truths or facts about the world we live in.

IV. Our need for a God

Although I've already shown how science has already proven itself to be able to 'play god', thus affirming the resolution fully, I would still like to dig deeper.

Why do we need a God in the first place?

This debate has pushed me to ponder that question intensely, and what I find myself coming to is a two-fold reason.

1) We are social creatures by nature, it's part of the Human experience.

What I mean by this is that we learn how to interact and understand this world through observation. As children, we observe our parents or adult figures, and mimic their actions. We then apply those learnt skills in our own lives, and while constantly being influenced by exterior forces, we come to develop the ability (for the most part) to live lives in accordance with the society we grew up in. We have social norms and general laws to follow, and we are all guilty of conforming - even down to the basic language we all use.

With all that said, it's not difficult to imagine why we'd create the concept of a God in the first place. We do not like being alone. A belief in God gives us an objective purpose - to live a good life so you are rewarded in the after-life. Without such an objective purpose, there would be no conformity or laws to what we can or can't do. It's hard for man to get other men to live civilly unless they are under the threat of retaliation by force, or by divine powers.

2) We needed to give meaning to that which remained unknown.

I think this is a stronger point. Before modern science emerged, we had no means of really studying the world in a way that affirms our beliefs. We might have believed that the sun gives energy to plants, but it wasn't until the scientific method came around and we developed the means to measure such a thing that the belief became fact. Only then did such beliefs become facts that can be seen or verified by anyone - regardless of belief system.

This is what we are seeing today - Con's attempt to compare an idea which came from humans' need to explain that which remained unknown - to a system that reveals facts about our reality. Keep in mind, all the native Americans had was a belief that the rain came from their dances to the rain gods - that's how they explained rain to themselves. Now, we know better. There is a diminishing need for God to be attributed to the unknown, since we are now discovering the processes of things which remained previously unknown. So in both senses, science is indeed 'playing god'.
Debate Round No. 1


Im going to have to forfeit this debate. Unfortunately, we have a similar point of view, your conclusion comes out to be that humans can play god because we define who god is, and because he is not real, things that people attributed to god have been figured by science or will in the future --> therefore we can play god because it was just an explanation for things we can now explain and sometimes recreate. i came to a similar conclusion with the exception that my thinking was already based on 'if he exists'. gonna have think more about this, i might revise this debate and repost it in the future. thanks for the response, made me question myself, i love that.


I accept my opponents concession.

I also look forward to seeing Con revisit this resolution at a later date, and would be more than willing to partake in it once more should he feel the desire to send me the challenge.

I thank both Con and the audience for their time.

Debate Round No. 2


AgnosticPanda forfeited this round.


Once again, I accept my opponents concession.

I thank both Con and the audience for their time.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
Anything you say in the comments holds no weight whatsoever in the actual debate. So, I'm going to pretend my opponent didn't just break conduct by attempting to shift the central focus of this debate after it's already begun.

With that said, I'll have my R1 up by tomorrow. Mid-terms are keeping me busy this week. Best of luck to you in this debate.
Posted by AgnosticPanda 2 years ago
For this debate lets just stick with things like creating intelligent life, genetic manipulation, cloning(?), maybe omnipotence. Creator god things. I havent really thought about this too much, so I think the debate is really more about defining what the limits of gods power is and how science would be able to do the same(?) as god.
im think that if a god did exsit that created us, he would have also ,made science possible in the first place. Therefore, because he created science he would have made it impossible for science to innovate things that are "god's science" if you will.

maybe this should just go in the debate..... but meh
Posted by Man_Of_Few_Words 2 years ago
WELLLLL.... I believe that god is not real and science does explain how we came to be here (evolution) so if you are talking about it like that, science is the equivalent of what you call god
Posted by mrsatan 2 years ago
Define God.
Posted by DanK 2 years ago
What do you mean when you say play god? Are you asking if science could create life from non life or are you speaking on things like genetic engineering?
Posted by Atmas 2 years ago
Yes, the hamster-dactyl is my favorite. It's prideful nature is something to be admired.
Oh, on topic, yes. A better question would be, is god just doing extreme versions of what humanity already does? All of the powers a god could have is either based on nature or something that humans can already do. So by enhancing our powers through science, we move closer to this ideal being that we've created. The way in which we perform the same tasks will differ, since a god can just wiggle their eyebrows and create universes. I would take up this debate as Pro, but I'm tired and can't think straight.
Posted by AgnosticPanda 2 years ago
someones watched Ghost in the Shell :P
Posted by mightbenihilism 2 years ago
I think one day the internet will achieve Godlike status, then re-absorb all human consciousness into itself, become a quantum super-conglomerate of non-spatio-temporal energy and unified holozoic intelligence. Then it will begin the work of creation all over again, making strange beasts out of binary code zeroity, like the malevolent hamster-dactyl, the five-winged squid pig, and the ubiquitous toad-zebra/rabbitgoatlazerfish.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession..
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: CONcession. ;)