The Instigator
Republican95
Pro (for)
Losing
33 Points
The Contender
Clockwork
Con (against)
Winning
85 Points

A Logical Person Would Believe In God

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 20 votes the winner is...
Clockwork
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/16/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,324 times Debate No: 8980
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (71)
Votes (20)

 

Republican95

Pro

I stand in affirmation of the resolution: A Logical Person Would Believe In God.

I will be a proponent of Pascal's Wager

In this life we will have to decide whether or not we will believe in a God/Gods/God-like entity.

If we truly think about the situation, and make a logical choice about it, we should believe in God.

Why?

This is why:

If you are an atheist, and you turn out to be right, what do you gain?
Answer: Well, you really gain nothing. Based on the largely atheist belief that there is no life after death, you won't even have be able to confirm you were right!

If you are an atheist, and you turn out to be wrong, what do you lose?
You have to burn eternally in hell after you die. That is kind of a bad way to spend an eternity...

If you are a theist, and you turn out to be right, what do you gain?
You gain everlasting life after death in Heaven. You also, unlike the atheist, get to at least that you are right about the matter.

If you are a theist, and you turn out to be wrong, what do you lose?
You lose any time/effort on Earth that you put into religious matters (going to church, missing out on sinful activities) and that is just about it. However, is that really that much of something to lose? When compared to what you lose as an atheist, then no. In fact, you might even gain something from being a theist even if you are wrong, religious people turn out to be better people most of the time.

I thank whoever accepts this debate.
Clockwork

Con

Pro offers Pascal's Wager as a logical base for the belief in God. However, Pro ignores many logical conclusions standing in opposition of the existence of God, such as the problem of evil, among others. As Voltaire said in regard to Pascal's wager, "any interest I may hold to believe a thing is no proof of that thing's existence". Because Pascal's Wager makes no effort to prove the existence of God, it is only valid if all of the numerous logical invalidations of the Christian God's existence are fundamentally false. Therefore, because the Wager is an appeal to consequence and not a logical proof of God, God is still logically impossible. If my opponent wishes to discuss the logical problems with the Christian God's existence, he can express such wishes in the next round.

Additionally, logical fallacies exist within the Wager itself.

The Wager assumes either:
(A) A jealous and benevolent diety exists, or
(B) No deities exist.

The limitation of possible outcomes it the main obstacle in the validity of the Wager. For instance, the Wager makes the assumption that a diety would prefer apathetic, feigned faith as opposed to reasoning that would either lead to the belief or disbelief in a god. A gambler's attitude in such a significant portion of one's life opposes the belief systems of many religions, including Christianity. One may be willing to bet one's eternal fate on the existence of God, but would the same person wager that such a god would believe a dishonest belief over honest skepticism?

Furthermore, the Wager does not designate a specific deity to believe in. If I believe in Zeus and, after I die, the true god is revealed to be the God of the Abrahamic religions, I am still going to hell. However, if I believe in the Christian God and Odin is revealed to be the true god after death, my afterlife won't be too pleasant either. Because Pascal's Wager fails to provide a means of designating a set of religious beliefs, it is insufficient to determine which god should be believed in.

Before I return the discussion to the hands of my opponent, let me quickly point out the significance of the issue at hand. Pro has stated that little is lost by apathetically believing in a religious system; this statement is, at best, at odds with an enormous portion of history. Because of various religious beliefs, cities and empires have been destroyed, millions upon millions have died, wars have been waged, and planes have been flown into buildings. Pro's dismissal of religion as simply an obligation to go to Mass every Sunday is ignorant to the world around him; monumental decisions should neither be put to illogical gambles nor shrugged off as an insignificant triviality.

I await my opponent's response.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Republican95

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response.

I will now attack my opponent's claims.

Opponent: "Pro offers Pascal's Wager as a logical base for the belief in God. However, Pro ignores many logical conclusions standing in opposition of the existence of God, such as the problem of evil, among others."

My opponent is basically saying that the of evidence for a God is so weak that that the actual probability of a God's existence is extremely low, meaning that it would be foolish to bet on God simply because we don't know he exists.

However, this contains one major flaw. No matter how "unlikely" a God's existence may be there is still a possibility that one does exist. This doesn't alter the Wager at all. Unless we can unconditionally prove without a doubt that there is no God (which will never happen), it is possible a God exists. Therefore, it still makes sense to bet for God. The consequences and rewards of what you bet on does not change with the probability of how likely a God is. If the chance of a God is 99.9% the reward is still everlasting life. If the chance of a God is 0.000001% the reward is everlasting life. So, why not bet? Don't you want everlasting life.

My Opponent:
"The Wager assumes either:
(A) A jealous and benevolent diety exists, or
(B) No deities exist."

This debate is not about the Problem of Evil, this debate is about Pascal's Wager. If you wish to debate the problem of evil feel free to send me a challenge. However, for the sake and sanity of this debate, let's not bring it up.

My Opponent: "One may be willing to bet one's eternal fate on the existence of God, but would the same person wager that such a god would believe a dishonest belief over honest skepticism?"

Ahhh, my opponent's first good point.

What opponent is saying is that: Any God who would reward a crass, self-seeking, aggrandizement strategy like the recommended by Pascal is an immoral being. Any universe in which sincere atheism and insincere religious activity is engaged in only for the sake of some payoff is rewarded, is an immoral universe.

Pascal wants his argument, in principle, to appeal to as many people as possible. So the argument connects up with the one thing that everyone is guaranteed to have in common with everyone else: Self-interest. And self-interest is in no way an immoral or unworthy attitude. It is only the exaltation of self-interest over every sort of interest that is morally repugnant. In addition, Pascal can argue that his wager is the one appeal to self-interest that will get people moving in a direction where such interest will come to play its proper subordinate role in their lives., as they submit themselves to the possibility of something greater than themselves.

Was Pascal supposing that God will reward a charade of self-interested posing as piety? Not at all. Pascal was a shrewd psychologist. He understood human behavior. He wanted to construct an argument that would lead people to change their lives, in the knowledge that concrete actions often lead to real attitudes in human life, and that an actual search, however launched, would position people better to see the realities that were objectively there to be seen.

Pascal didn't think of wagering as a leap into the dark. He believed that a greater openness in thought and an effort at prayer would issue a change in perception and, ultimately, a change of heart. It is not necessary to view the payoff of the wager as a literally external reward that will almost contractually be given to the person who places the right bet. What can envision the payoff as the ultimate culmination of a proper self-development, an intrinsic reward of a life suitably well formed in the right direction. A wagering person, Pascal thought, is eventually much more likely to become a person of real faith, and it is this sort of person who properly and naturally enters into the everlasting communion with God that is promised to all who embrace it. This is the payoff.

My Opponent: " Furthermore, the Wager does not designate a specific deity to believe in. If I believe in Zeus and, after I die, the true god is revealed to be the God of the Abrahamic religions, I am still going to hell. However, if I believe in the Christian God and Odin is revealed to be the true god after death, my afterlife won't be too pleasant either. Because Pascal's Wager fails to provide a means of designating a set of religious beliefs, it is insufficient to determine which god should be believed in."

However, betting on a God still has higher payoff than not. No matter what God you bet on, you chance of receiving everlasting life is still higher than betting on Atheism. If your not right, and you bet on atheism you are 100% to receive eternity in hell. However, if you bet on a God, any God, there is still a chance of everlasting life guarenteed.

My opponent's final claim is that religion is responsible for so much ill in this world, its consequences are not worth the belief.

First of all, most religious people do not fly airplanes into buildings, this is simply a example of extremism. Extremism can be found anywhere: even atheism. Think about it, Hitler's holocaust of "undesirables" to create a master race can be seen as a extreme version of natural selection, a component of evolution, evolution being a largely atheistic belief. So, atheism wouldn't result in a better society, it might even result in a worse society. In a 100% atheist society, life would have no value, our value has humans would be based upon how much we could contribute to mankind. If we are born with down syndrome or are paralyzed, how can we possibly benefit society? In a 100% atheist society, we might as well be executed.

I look forward to rebuttals.
Clockwork

Con

Unfortunately, my opponent has misconstrued nearly all of my arguments and has failed to sufficiently defend his own. I will now proceed to point out his major mistakes.

Many of Pro's attacks on my case concern how "this debate isn't about the problem of evil, it's about Pascal's Wager", as stated several times by my opponent. He misses the point. As conceded by my opponent, Pascal's Wager does not attempt to prove or disprove God's existence. However, numerous logical proofs, including the problem of evil, stand in opposition to God's existence. Because the Wager does not logically prove God's existence, nothing stands in the way of the problem of evil logically disproving god's existence, and thus, because a logical person acts according to logic, the said logical person would therefore not believe in god's existence. Consider the following scenario.

Let's say that I choose to live in the 1400s and believe that I will fall off the edge of the earth and plummet to my death if I sail too far offshore. Using the same principles as Pascal's wager, I should refrain from boating because there is a "0.000001% chance" of me falling to my death. This, however, is ridiculous, as it is scientifically proven that the earth is not flat. Likewise, if the existence of God can be logically proven false, Pascal's wager is rendered useless.

Pro further misconstrued my attack on the limited options available through Pascal's wager, so I will pose several questions which I would ask him to answer:

How does the gambler benefit in Pascal's wager if:

-God is malevolent?
-God bases judgment upon good works instead of faith?
-God, being omniscient, knows that the gambler's belief is dishonestly founded?
-God bases judgment upon the search towards truth about the world?

My opponent's answers to these questions will likely be inadequate because they each present one of the numerous situations in which the Wager fails.

My opponent tries to defend Pascal's reasoning by saying that he "wants his argument, in principle, to appeal to as many people as possible", which is quite irrelevant because logic is not contiguous with popular appeal. However; his argument in favor of self-interest is opposed my many religions. Many belief systems stem on self-denial, and many more belief systems stress true devotion to their respective deities. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that true believers should live their life in constant prayer and with respect to the God in the world and people around them; many religions have requirements similar to this, and such beliefs are not likely to be stimulated by Pascal's "Meh, give it a shot" attitude.

Pro further states, "Pascal was a shrewd psychologist. He understood human behavior." -------- I am sorry my friend, but logic and psychology are not the same thing. The Wager states that it is best to fake a belief in God, not that it is best to "believe in God and subtly have your psychology convert you to true belief". This is logic, not psychoanalysis.

"My opponent's final claim is that religion is responsible for so much ill in this world, its consequences are not worth the belief." ------ Once again, Pro has completely missed the point. This was not a contention but a response to your shrugging off religious beliefs as a triviality in the first round; the gamble Pascal suggests we take is a choice of enormous, world-changing significance, and if Pascal's flip of the coin is wrong, all those who have died in the Crusades and on 9/11 have died to no real purpose.

As for the reductio-ad-hitlerum remarks in the final paragraph, I would first remind you that evolution is not an atheistic belief but a scientific belief, and would further mention that atheism and moral nihilism do not go hand in hand; most atheists still live by a moral code, that code just doesn't come from thousand-year-old books.

On this note the discussion is once again passed to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2
Republican95

Pro

Unfortunately, my opponent appears as if he cannot read because several of his objections he raised in the previous round I had already addressed thoroughly. However, I will refute them again.

My Opponent: "Many of Pro's attacks on my case concern how "this debate isn't about the problem of evil, it's about Pascal's Wager", as stated several times by my opponent."

He also cannot count because I said that once. And its true, this debate isn't about the evidence for or against the existence of God, it is about Pascal's Wager.

My opponent seems so upset about the problem of evil that I will supply him with a theodicy, hopefully he might get his panties out of a wad about it.

SOUL MAKING
God has provided the conditions necessary for character development and growth among his creatures. God's intent in creating the world was not to provide a paradise or heaven on earth. God wanted to provide an environment in which beings with moral and spiritual potential could develop and grow in the direction of completeness. But this requires that we be able to cultivate virtues that can't result from a trouble-free existence. Thus God had to allow trouble into the world. The purpose of this world is soul-making. And that is an enterprise that results from grappling with sin, suffering, and pain.

Four distinct factors are required for this theodicy.

(a) There must be free-willed beings. Moral character cannot be stamped on a person from outside; it must be freely cultivated.
(b) There must be an environment in which these beings can exercise their freedom in morally significant ways. That means there must be real moral choices. And there mjst be stable natural laws as the backdrop and stage for moral decision making. A world in which the laws of nature changed all the time would not be context in which rational decisions could be made about how to act. How would you help a thirsty man man if the glass of water you give him could burst into flames? Or How could you feed a starving child if the sandwich you give her could turn into a snake or stone? Stability provides for moral decision making and moral action. But in a stable world, wrong choices can have bad results.
(c) There must be challenges to the characters of the free beings who have been created. In a morally frictionless universe, no one would grow. We grow through conflict and difficultly. So problems must exist.
(d) There must be opportunities for these free beings to respond virtuously as well as viciously to their challenges. The suffering in the world can't thus all be utterly overwhelming. And we can't be led by the hand, metaphysically speaking. We need elbow room for making mistakes as well as for doing good.

TA-DA!!!

My opponent said that the problem of evil severely makes a God less likely, however, I could stand here all day stating philosophical arguments for a god's existence:

a) Ontological Argument
b) Cosmological Argument
c) Argument from Design
d) Religious Experience
e) Near Death Experiences
f) The Law of the Conservation of Engery
g) Etcetra, etcetra, etcetra

So, therefore, since the idea of a God cannot be credited or discredited we should believe in God based on Pascal's Wager.

My Opponent: "Let's say that I choose to live in the 1400s and believe that I will fall off the edge of the earth and plummet to my death if I sail too far offshore. Using the same principles as Pascal's wager, I should refrain from boating because there is a "0.000001% chance" of me falling to my death. This, however, is ridiculous, as it is scientifically proven that the earth is not flat. Likewise, if the existence of God can be logically proven false, Pascal's wager is rendered useless."

If you lived in the 1400s that wouldn't be bad of a course of action. If I lived back then I would certainly refrain from sailing all the way around the world. However, this isn't comparable with Pascal's Wager because via the voyage of Christopher Columbus we learned indisputably 150% that the world is not flat. However, as of July 17, 2009, we have not been able to prove 150% indisputably that a God does not exist.

My Opponent: "How does the gambler benefit in Pascal's wager if:

-God is malevolent?
-God bases judgment upon good works instead of faith?
-God, being omniscient, knows that the gambler's belief is dishonestly founded?
-God bases judgment upon the search towards truth about the world?"

First of all, we have no evidence of a God with the above criteria (no holy book, no prophet, etc) and if a God of that nature wanted us to worship him he would at least send us some sort of evidence that he exists.

And how does the atheist benefit any more than the theist in the above scenario? CON cannot answer that.

My Opponent: "However; his argument in favor of self-interest is opposed my many religions."

No, religion only frowns about self-interest that is above all other interests.

My Opponent: "The Wager states that it is best to fake a belief in God, not that it is best to "believe in God and subtly have your psychology convert you to true belief". This is logic, not psychoanalysis."

However, if we become a Christian on Pascalian grounds and you inject yourself into a religious environment, you are going to find it incredibly difficult to NOT become a person of faith. If you sat in a church for at least 6 months you would probably agree with me. The wager is a message to people who are on the fence, it doesn't praise a false belief. It just helps people interject themselves into a religious community where there faith, love, and communion with God can grow. And that is what God will look at when we are judged. It doesn't matter how we got the job, it matters what we did on the job.

My Opponent: "Once again, Pro has completely missed the point. This was not a contention but a response to your shrugging off religious beliefs as a triviality in the first round; the gamble Pascal suggests we take is a choice of enormous, world-changing significance, and if Pascal's flip of the coin is wrong, all those who have died in the Crusades and on 9/11 have died to no real purpose."

There will always be violence and wrongful death in this world, and some of it may be a result from religion. But a religion-less society would fair no better, it might actually fair worse. While religion can divide the world, it can also unite. If it wasn't for religion, I think morality would be a very different thing than it is today. Through religion the human race has gained some of its very important beliefs, such as the belief that certain things (such as murder) are wrong. All religions very frankly object to murder, and this is why many people (rightfully so) object to the taking of human life. Without religion, our views on moral issues could be vastly different.

==Conclusion==

My opponent has still not challenged the very underlying nature of the Wager. Quite frankly he hasn't because he can't. No matter what criticisms are made about the wager, based on what we know about several religions and Gods, theists will be rewarded and atheists will be punished. If you on the fence, why take the gamble.

TO all y'all atheists out there: If you turn out to be wrong, HAVE A NICE TIME IN HELL!

Please vote PRO, however, you may grant CON the point for sources, I used none cause I needed none.
Clockwork

Con

I'll try to make this brief.

Firstly, of all the "logical arguments for God" posted by Pro, only one is actually a logical attempt at proving God, that being the Ontological argument, the others are inconclusive to the task at hand or do not use logic. The ontological argument is easily refuted by the simple idea of preservation of matter and energy. Meanwhile, Pro fails to explain why forced happiness is any better than free-will semi-suffering; furthermore, if there is an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God, it would follow that this is and will always be the best of all realities, which contradicts the free will that Pro advocates.

Furthermore, my opponent's defense of feigned belief. Because Pascal's belief does not reach the conclusion that you should be subtly converted after feigning belief so as to move towards true faith, such advocacies must be discarded as they are extraresolutional.

That being said, all other attacks made by Pro can, and already have, been defended by the simple fact that the Wager cannot cover all possible deities. There may be a god who rewards those who believe in him, or who punished everyone regardless of belief, of a god who, like Pro advocates, likes to determine the well being and fate of souls to a flip of the coin. All of these situations end with undesirable outcomes for the wagerer. Because Pascal's Wager cannot constitute any sort of depth on the infinite possibilities of potential gods, it cannot be used as a logical argument to prove of disprove these gods, or as a method of proving what our attitude towards these possible gods should be.

The resolution has been negated. Vote Con. Thank you for reading.
Debate Round No. 3
71 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by maraudermap 4 years ago
maraudermap
The opportunity cost argument posted by the pro side seems to only take into account Christianity. There are a lot of religions out there and some do have god(s) that do(es) not prosecute nonbelievers after death.
Posted by thereal_yeti 7 years ago
thereal_yeti
"If your not right, and you bet on atheism you are 100% to receive eternity in hell. However, if you bet on a God, any God, there is still a chance of everlasting life guarenteed"

how do you know that god doesn't FAVOR atheists?

you're going on the assumption that god AUTOMATICALLY favors those that believe in him. What if that is not the case?

What if it is all a test of courage, and those who have the courage to question, will reap the benefits?
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
I just feel that you should address their points, but then clearly present your strongest points. There is nothing a good defense can't beat a better offense, but there is also nothing a good offense cannot beat a better defense, if that makes sense. You need both to be strong. Just saying, you need yin and yang.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
abard124, I don't agree that Con has to do more than refute Pro. Pro has the burden of proof in convincing the audience that the resolution ought to be adopted. In the extreme, if Pro makes fails to make a prima facia case, then the resolution fails even if Con says nothing. Here Pro certainly made a prima facia case, but all Con had to do was refute that case, which he did.
Posted by Clockwork 7 years ago
Clockwork
I wouldn't go so far as to say that I didn't present my own arguments, I simply did so in a very passive fashion. I kind of blended my rebuttals in with my arguments. This was a bit closer to my in-round speaking style than many of my other online debates.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
Having read the debate, I just about had an aneurysm over pro's conduct and obvious avoidance to answer points. He reminded me quite a bit of a candidate for city council that I got into an email argument with. He was extremely rude and didn't answer any of my points. GOP95, you aren't Devin Holz, are you? And just so you know, the have fun in hell comment was entirely unnecessary and does nothing for your case except hurt it. Why would you put it in?
However appalled I was with pro's arguments, con was not stellar either. First, he made the mistake of being a follower. You can't just respond to your opponent, you have to add your own arguments. Second, you should have emphasized that you can't choose to whole-heartedly believe in god, especially for a selfish reason.
Even with those mistakes, what pro said was unacceptable, elementary, and illogical, therefore, vote con. Thank you for your time.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
Based purely on the statement, a logical person would believe in god, that can be disproven point blank. I use logic, and I don't believe in god. I haven't yet read the debate (don't worry, I won't vote until I have), so I don't know if that argument has come up, but it is very important.
Posted by GodSands 7 years ago
GodSands
"You realize that makes absolutely no sense, right? Freedom is the ability to choose - rules and obedience only limit choice." -- So if I was to gather a gang of murders because there was no rules, and go kill your family because there are no rules, that would make you free or dead?
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
"There are none so enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free" (I think Goethe said this)

*excuse the spelling/grammar, I'm typing on my iPod.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 7 years ago
GeoLaureate8
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." - Thomas Paine

GodSands, what just said is exactly what slave would say.
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