Imperial College Debate on Evidence for God

In spring of 2012, my colleague Kenneth Samples and I spent several days in London, England, speaking in universities, churches, leadership gatherings, and at a conference. God gave us a wonderful opportunity to take RTB’s message of science-faith compatibility overseas. Here I recap my interactions with distinguished professor Lewis Wolpert.


On May 24, 2012, I engaged a well-known British skeptic and science professor Lewis Wolpert in a debate entitled “Is There Evidence for a Cosmic Creator?” at Imperial College, London’s highly regarded science research institution. (Among universities in general it is ranked eighth in the world by both QS World University Rankings 2012–2013 and Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012–2013.)

My Debate Opponent

Dr. Wolpert is an emeritus professor of biology at Imperial College and a specialist in embryonic development with credentials as impressive as the university’s. He has been a fellow of the Royal Society since 1980, was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1990, and is a widely published author. No stranger to debates, Wolpert has previously engaged many Christians—including American philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig—on the subject of God’s existence. Though a self-proclaimed atheist and vice president of the British Humanist Association (Great Britain’s largest nontheistic organization), Wolpert expressed to Kathy (my wife) and me his opinion that Christianity has benefited humanity greatly—in spite of its not being true.

The Debate

Imperial College’s Christian Union hosted the event in one of the university’s sizable lecture halls. The moderator was a recent graduate and current staff member of the university who described herself as a physics major and an atheist. The hall was packed with an intriguing blend of students, faculty, and community members—some Christians and many skeptics.

Wolpert and I each had an opportunity to lay out our case in a (very brief) formal presentation. Following this, Wolpert and I engaged one another in a dialogue monitored by the moderator. We closed the debate with a Q&A session.

After the event, the moderator (privately) asked me questions about the space-time theorems and cosmic design. The evidences for God she had heard in my talk were  new to her, she said, as they seemed to be for Wolpert and most of our audience. At the evening’s close, Wolpert privately expressed appreciation for my demeanor and commented that he had never heard such a strong scientific case for God’s existence, acknowledging he would consider it, though still unconvinced by it. Both Kathy and I found Wolpert to be a likeable, winsome man, and we invite you to join us in asking God to open his mind and heart.

An unedited audio recording of the debate—including the dialogue and the Q&A with the audience—can be heard here.

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