The Instigator
Pwner
Pro (for)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
phantom
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

A god exists

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
phantom
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/2/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 697 times Debate No: 34222
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)

 

Pwner

Pro

Introduction:

I'd like to thank my opponent for engaging me in debate, and hope our exchange is as entertaining as it is enlightening.

So, here's the deal. I'm going to show you that a god exists (the affirmation of which I'll call 'theism'). In reading our arguments, please bear in mind that every claim has a negation. It's important to discern the plausibility of a claim in light of the plausibility of its negation because while a position may appear plausible in its own right, its negation can still be even more plausible.

Consequently, I’ll begin my opening essay with a brief analysis of my position’s negation: the position that no gods exist, which I’ll stipulatively call ‘atheism’.

What would a god be like if it existed? If we don’t even know what the term ‘god’ means, how can we reasonably disagree over whether any gods exist? Well, herein lays a significant problem for ‘atheism’. Our paradigmatic examples of deities—such as Zeus, Ra, YHWH or Allah—are so utterly diverse in their descriptions, that it seems neigh on impossible to argue against allof them.

Some gods are described as immaterial, others as material, some as all-knowing, others as drunken idiots, still some as magnificently benevolent, and others as down-right nasty. What sort of reason could one have to doubt the existence of all gods? In all my studies, I’ve never come across any such argument from any philosopher. Gods are described as being so different that whatever argument you make on behalf of ‘atheism’, it’s simply bound to apply only to a sub-set of deities, being thereby incapable of justifying ‘atheism’ per se. E.g. problems of evil are only relevant to a sub-set of deities having a certain amount of goodness and power.

I hope it’s therefore clear that ‘atheism’ itself is not really plausible at all: at most, we’re able to rule out single or select deities. However, recall that I’m arguing that a god exists, and the negation of this position is not that single or select deities fail to exist, but rather that no gods whatsoever exist.

I’m not saying my opponent adheres to this position, or needs to. But, as I explained, it’s important to discern the plausibility of a position in light of its negation, regardless of whether my opponent endorses that negation.

Having therefore examined ‘atheism’, and finding it to be fairly implausible—at least at this stage in our knowledge—let’s move on to seeing if ‘theism’ fairs any better.

Given how difficult it is to define godhood, how can we reasonably argue for gods? Well, here the theist has it pretty easy. While the atheist needs to identify a necessary condition of godhood—and, please don’t hold your breath for that—all the theist needs to do is identify sufficient conditions of godhood. For example, if we can show that an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect individual exists, we’ve shown that a god exists. We don’t need to know the necessary conditions of godhood to know that this thing counts as a god. I suggest then that we just stick close to our paradigmatic examples of deities: if something is more like them than not, than it seems perfectly reasonable to call it a god.

Allow me now to advance an argument on behalf of theism.

The Argument:

1. If it's possible that the maximally purely contingent state of affairs has a cause of its existence, then a god exists.

2. It's possible that the maximally purely contingent state of affairs has a cause of its existence.

3. Therefore, a god exists.

Now, this argument is deductively valid meaning if its premises [(1)-(2)] are true, then its conclusion has to be true. The only thing that matters, therefore, in figuring out whether a god exists here is whether the premises are true.

Explanation and Defense:

Premise (1): If it's possible that the maximally purely contingent state of affairs has a cause of its existence, then a god exists.

A state of affairs is just a situation.

Some situations involve nothing but contingent things (like the state of affairs wherein I type at my desk), and others only necessary things (like the state of affairs wherein 2 +2 = 4). [1] A state of affairs is purely contingent if it only features contingent things.

So, what if we looked at the group of all purely contingent states of affairs at once (call it M for 'maximal')? Clearly, that group didn't have to exist, lest it fail to be purely contingent. Because all contingent things are included in M, it can't be caused by anything contingent. Otherwise, the cause would have to cause itself to exist. But, you can't perform an action or participate in an event unless you exist. Thus, you'd need to already exist to perform the action or participate in the event of causing yourself to exist, which is absurd.

The idea is then that if M has a cause of its existence, this cause must be metaphysically necessary. As such, it'd have to be non-physical since space is contingent. The only sense we can make of a non-physical cause is to regard it as a mind (for better or worse). Thus, the cause of M would be a metaphysically necessary non-physical mind with unimaginable power. Clearly such an entity would be a god.

So, all premise (1) is saying is that if it's possible that M has a cause, then it's possible that an unimaginably powerful, non-physical mind exists out of necessity. But, if something is possibly necessary, it follows by S5 that it is necessary. [2] Obviously, if something necessarily exists, it actually exists. I don't think many will take issue with this premise.

Premise (2): It's possible that the maximally purely contingent state of affairs has a cause of its existence.

All premise (2) requires is that there's nothing absurd or contradictory about M having a cause. And for the life of me, I can't imagine why M's having a cause would be ridiculous.

Conclusion:

Given that both premises are plausibly true--even if they're not certainly true--it follows by strict and necessary rules of logic that a god exists.

I'll leave it toyou to decide whether this case is even marginally more plausible than theism's hopeless negation.

Thanks for reading.


Footnotes:

[1]: “They [states of affairs] are situations, the sorts of things that have essentially or necessarily the property ofobtainingorfailing to obtain. Some states of affairs (like that consisting in two plus two’s equaling four)obtain necessarily; others (like that consisting in nine’s being a prime number) arenecessarily such that they fail to obtain; still others (like Clinton’s being a slow runner)obtain, but do so only contingently; and, finally some states of affairs (like, alas, that consisting of QPR’s winning the Cup) are such that theycontingently fail to obtain.”- Loux, Michael J. Metaphysics a Contemporary Introduction. III ed. New York: Routledge, 2006. p. 145.

[2]: S5 refers to amodelof our modal beliefs and reasoning (i.e. our reasoning about what is possibly true, necessarily true or impossible, etc.). In S5, every possible world is accessible from another: they can all see each other. Thus, what goes for one possible world goes for them all. I.e. if X exists necessarily in one possible world, it does so in all of them.
phantom

Con

I would like to thank pro for the intriguing argument.


Now, let's get the boring stuff out of the way first.

Atheism

For purposes of this debate, all I need to affirm is that pro cannot sufficiently prove a god's existence. This could only merely bring us to agnosticism, or a neutral stance, but that is all I need to defend in this debate. That is my burden of proof. I was glad to see pro noted I did not need to adhere to the position he outlined, however, I fail to see any importance to pro's claims, contrary to what he says.

Since pro brought it up though, first, one does not need to disprove every god in order to be an atheist. Atheism is belief in the non-existence of gods. There are certain gods incapable of being disproved and many gods unconvinced of. However, disbelief can be warranted based on lack of reason to believe in any god.

Pro's argument

"1. If it's possible that the maximal purely contingent state of affairs has a cause of its existence, then a god exists.
2. It's possible that the maximal purely contingent state of affairs has a cause of its existence.
3. Therefore, a god exists."

The argument pro presents is an argument from contingency.

Pro defines the maximally purely contingent state of affairs as "M". This is the term I shall use.

Pro is assuming model logic. That's why he's only argued it's possible M has a cause instead of probable. The reasoning follows like this; M includes everything that is contingent. Since all things contingent exist within M, by necessity, nothing contingent could have caused M. If nothing contingent could have caused M, the cause of M would have to be necessary. Therefore, if M has a cause, it's caused by something necessary. Necessary things exist in all possible worlds. Therefore, if M is caused in one possible world, the cause of M in that world exists in this world.

If you've been paying any attention, I'm sure I don't need to tell you that cause is supposed to be God.

Pro has not attempted (or if he has, his arguments don't reflect it) to prove that M actually has a cause. M having a cause in one possible world, does not mean M has a cause in this world, even if M's cause in that possible world is a necessary thing and thus exists in this world too. In other words, whatever caused M in one world, exists in this world, but whether it also caused M in this world is not necessarily so.

Non-Physical

Pro asserts that all of space is contingent. He presents no argument for this assertion, which is the main reason to ignore it. However, I will provide further reason to discount it. Pro assumes that physical things must exist in space which I will also presume. However, if anything that is both physical and necessary exists, then space exists necessarily too, since it has to exist with whatever is physical as well as necessary. Pro would have to argue that nothing physical exists that is also necessary, but there is no way for him to do so. For example, if a material mind exists necessarily, then it must exist in space, which makes space necessary too. Therefore, if M had a cause, it could have easily been caused by something physical, since space need not be a contingent thing.

The bottom line is that there's no reason to believe space is contingent and that something necessary and physical, rather than non-physical, doesn't exist. So the cause of M could be physical.

Consciousness


I think it will be easier to quote his entire reasoning process here. Pro states, "The only sense we can make of a non-physical cause is to regard it as a mind (for better or worse)." That is indeed his entire argument. I see no reasoning here, just an assertion. It's conceivable that the cause, if there were a cause, was not a mind. Stating it must be a mind is wild extrapolation with no evidence given. There's no reason to assume what kind of cause it would be. Why does it have to be a mind simply because it's non-physical? If pro is assuming minds aren't physical, he should at least make an argument for that. He should also make an argument as to why it can't be a non-mind.

The contention also fails on the fact that it rests on the assumption that the cause is non-physical, whereas I have already shown there's no argument in favor of the cause not being physical.


Powerful

I'm not going to completely refute this but I will say that pro cannot really accurately argue the magnitude of the causes power or energy to show that it is exceedingly great. If we concede that M has a cause, we still don't know how M came about. When we consider the compilation of all contingent things, it seems massive, but when it all began, it could have been much smaller and less grand. The big bang, for example, began from an infinitesimally small point [1]. This tiny point, however, arose to a much bigger thing. If we weren't aware of the singularity that marked the start of this all, it would seem like much more power would be required to cause all the planets, galaxies and stars around us. The point is merely that unimaginable power is an unjustified asserted property of the cause.


Whether M was Caused in this World

As noted, pro's argument does not necessarily rest on the need to prove M was caused in the actual world, but just that M was caused in some possible world. Pro has not made any argument that M was caused in this actual world, but just a possible world. The reason I mention this is only to show that the godlike nature of the entity pro is arguing for is undermined by this certain fact, and here is why.


Part of the various conceptions of God almost always include some notion of a grand designer, that he's the author of or universe and existence. He's the creator, the reason behind our living and that gives him Godlike status. All pro's proven is that M was caused in some possible world. Since M can only be caused by something necessary, whatever caused M in that world, exists in this world too. However, that M has a cause is a contingent part of M. Furthermore, just because M is caused by something necessary, does not mean that "being the cause of M" is a necessary property of the necessary thing. While that thing exists in all possible worlds, it doesn't mean it's the cause of M in all possible worlds. It only causes M in some worlds. Therefore, pro can't prove M is caused in this world.

This means that there's been no established creator of the universe. Even if we accepted everything he said as true, pro hasn't proven anything exists that explains why we exist and why the universe exists. What makes most conceptions of God, Godlike, is that they explain our existence and mark the cause of our universe. Pro's god has nothing of this and therefore, it's hard to actually give what pro has argued for the status of "God".

---

Pro ends his argument by saying, "I'll leave it to you to decide whether this case is even marginally more plausible than theism's hopeless negation." This implies the false dichotomy that we must accept either theism or atheism in this debate. I don't need to make any argument for atheism, I just need to refute pro's argument.


Conclusion

Pro's done a good job proving that something metaphysically necessary exists and that it caused M in some possible world. However, he's done poorly in giving this cause a nature worthy of being called God. First, there's virtually no defense that this thing is a mind. That it's non-physical is based upon poor reasoning. That it caused M in this world has been unargued for, thus it possess no authorship or meaning over our lives and no notion of being a creator. Finally, the magnitude of its power is probably overstated and definitely unknown.

So pro has tried to prove a metaphysically necessary, non-physical, powerful mind exists but has failed on all but one account. Furthermore even such a being with all those attributes lacks much notion of Godhood without being the creator of the universe or reason for our living.

[1] http://big-bang-theory.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Pwner

Pro

Pwner forfeited this round.
phantom

Con

Extend arguments. Pro forfeits the conduct point, but I'd be glad to finish this if he can make it for the next round.
Debate Round No. 2
Pwner

Pro

Pwner forfeited this round.
phantom

Con

Vote con.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
Ouch
Posted by phantom 3 years ago
phantom
6,800 out of 10,000.
Posted by phantom 3 years ago
phantom
I literally just deleted an entire 6,800 characters of my argument (on purpose).
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
PwnerphantomTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 3 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
PwnerphantomTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by DetectableNinja 3 years ago
DetectableNinja
PwnerphantomTied
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Total points awarded:24 
Reasons for voting decision: This is an FF vote, so I skimmed. If it's unacceptable, please PM me. Conduct to CON, as Pro forfeited all except R1. S/G are TIED. Args go to CON, because Pro never responded to Con's rebuttal, making his case fall through. And, because he never refuted Con's argument that the BOP falls on Pro, Con wins by default because Pro never met his BOP. I give sources to PRO. Although I cannot read the book Pro used, looking at background and reviews surrounding it, it appears more reputable among the academic community than a website owned by "AllAboutScience." I know Pro FF'd, but Pro DID use the more reliable source. A shame really, this round seemed to have potential Oh well. Congratulations to Con.