Hillsong's Carl Lentz Debates Neil deGrasse Tyson on Religion and Science

Neil deGrasse Tyson (R), Tom Papa and Carl Lentz examine the longstanding cultural conflict between scientific advancement and religious faith in a 'The Nightly Show' segment on November 5, 2015.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (R), Tom Papa and Carl Lentz examine the longstanding cultural conflict between scientific advancement and religious faith in a "The Nightly Show" segment on November 5, 2015. | (Photo: Screencap/Comedy Central video)

Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz was featured on Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show" on Thursday, where he debated the compatibility of religion and science with famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

While partly a comedic segment, the two offered their views on whether scientific discoveries harm religious belief, with Lentz stating that religious people shouldn't be afraid of science.

Tyson, who presented the 2014 TV series "Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey," said he finds it hard to believe in a benevolent God, given the chaotic state of the universe.

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"Anytime somebody talks about their understanding of God, typically it involves some statement of benevolence, or some kind of kindness. And I look up at the universe and yes, it is filled with mysteries. But it also filled with all manner of things that will just as soon have you dead, like asteroid strikes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanoes, disease, pestilence. There are things that exist in the natural world that don't have your health or longevity as a priority," Tyson said.

"And so, I cannot look at the universe and say 'Yes, there is a God, and this God cares about my life.' The evidence does not support this," he added.

Lentz responded that he believes it was God who created science.

"For me, I don't think that exploring any of this stuff is bad. I think it's going to lead you to acknowledge that something had to begin this, that there is something more. So I love it, I think that science is awesome. I don't think they are at war at all," the pastor said.

Comedian Tom Papa, who also joined the discussion, asserted that science may lead people toward God, but at the same time drive them away from religion, when it comes to people following legalistic belief systems.

Host Larry Wilmore also suggested that an Intelligent Being could have been behind the creation of the world, and asked whether Tyson is at all open to the possibility of God.

The astrophysicist said he is open if there is evidence, but noted that it is hard for him to find any evidence for an intelligence that created the world.

Tyson admitted, however, that faith in a personal God and trusting in science are not incompatible, pointing to notable American figures, such as Thomas Jefferson, who have done that.

Wilmore gave the final word to Lentz, who said: "I think that people need to keep on discovering, and learning, and hearing. Doubt does not have to be a dead end, it can be something that leads to open doors. And I think we need room for people to be able to explore doubts, and have thoughts, and figure this out. We all have a desire to be fulfilled, and people need to keep on looking."

The 36-year-old pastor leads one of the largest megachurches in New York, and has spoken at prominent Christian events, such as Passion Conference 2015.

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