There’s a reason that arguments about religion often turn into completely meaningless battles of empty words. Such arguments in general are based on standard logic and follow the scientific method of drawing conclusions based on a set of axioms and trying to find inconsistencies.

The big problem of a scientist trying to argue with a strictly religious Christian, for example, on an equal footing is that their sets of axioms are different. Sure, they are same for the most of it – one could maybe even say that the scientific axioms are a subset of the Christian ones. That is because the first and foremost axiom of a strict Christian is the absoluteness of God.

1. God is good.
2. If God appears to be not good, then 1.

This is the good old catch 22. Scientific theories are disprovable because they do not tolerate contradictions. If a theory’s axioms override any and all contradictions, then, of course, that theory won’t have any contradictions.

What am I talking about? Ever heard a religious person use the argument “God works in mysterious ways” (which is, by the way, not a quote from the Bible, but a William Cowper poem)? That is the kind the same kind of (well forgive me for the use of this word) fallacy. The Bible itself makes this same assertion that God’s ways don’t necessarily adhere to the laws of human logic (eg Romans 11:33).

That axiom makes the Christian “theory” un-disprovable using logic. Arguing with someone using a different set of axioms is totally meaningless – and that’s what you see reflected in how such debates often end up. Science can’t disprove the existence of God – science doesn’t even concern itself with that in the first place.

So what is there to use in such a debate? Well. Science is constantly changing, constantly refining our understanding and description of the world around us, striving to be completely consistent with the world and itself. If science states something, and religion contradicts that statement, then the burden of proof lies with religion. That is because scientific statements already fulfill the burden of proof to the highest degree applicable. Therefore if religion’s claims contradict science, then religion is supposed to show how science is inconsistent with its own axioms – or the world. As for the former, there is no “God axiom” in modern science as far as I know. As for the latter, as it was often stated by Bill Nye in the debate a few days ago: you are always welcome to prove science wrong.