Agnostic-Atheism is the most logical position on religion.
Debate Rounds (5)
1) Forfeiting without letting opponent know is a 7 point loss.
2) Breaking the structure is a conduct loss.
3) No trolling, kritkiks, semantics, and so on.
4) Be respectful
5) Cite sources
Round 1: Acceptance and say what religion or belief state you are.
Round 2: Arguments - No rebuttals
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Counter-Arguments - No new arguments
Round 5: Conclusion - No new arguments
I will start this off by showing why the other positions are illogical, then show why Agnostic-Atheism is logical.
This is the position that God exists, or they are 100% positive he does. This is impossible because you can't prove a God exists, much less any specific God. The most they can do is believe the beginning of the universe or life is inadequately explained by science. But in no way does that prove the existence of a God. An example of this logic would be "You can't prove unicorns don't exist, therefore unicorns exist." That is illogical, as just because you can't disprove Thing A, doesn't prove Thing B exists.
This is the belief that God doesn't exist, and you are 100% certain of this. This is illogical because it is impossible to disprove the existence of a God. We have all heard the Christian line, "Well, you can't disprove God", which is correct. It is impossible to disprove anything. So to be 100% positive anything doesn't exist is illogical, as it is possible for anything to exist.
This is the position that God exists, but you are not certain of it. This suffers the same problems as Gnostic-Theism, as you would still be believing in something without evidence. To be short, there is no evidence for God, so it is illogical to believe in him.
Now to prove Agnostic-Atheism
This is the position that God doesn't exist, but you aren't sure, you you aren't claiming you know if God exists or not. To put it in another way, this answers 2 questions: What you believe in and what you claim. I don't believe in God, so I'm an atheist, but I don't claim to know whether or not God exists, so I'm an agnostic. This is logical, as you are not believing in something without evidence, but you are not saying whether that something does or does not exist. Nothing is impossible, so it is possible for a God to exist. Because of that, I don't claim to know if a God doesn't exist. It is equally illogical to believe in something that has no evidence to prove its' existence as it is to be certain something doesn't exist. I believe I have made my case. Good luck!
First we will define theisms god. For theists god is a timeless, personal, supernatural entity, an immaterial consciousness, is the causal creator of the universe, is free to act intentionally, is maximally powerful, knowledgeable, present and wise. God is morally perfect, infallible, wants a relationship with humanity and is worthy of worship. This definition covers most theist conceptions, I have left out others which may be more specific to one religion or another. If some of the above attributes above are left out however, then we are either not talking about Theism (and therefore Atheism by extension), or we are not talking about anything that we could call a god.
I will argue that there is no theistic god on the grounds of semantics, axioms and logic: 1. The meaninglessness of religious discourse, 2. The fact of existence, 3. Incompatible God attributes.
1.The meaninglessness of religious discourse
For a fuller explanation of this argument refer to Francois Tremblay in his strongatheism.net blog. The contention is that religious discourse on the God concept (defined above) relies on evoking images to satisfy the needs of believers to believe. But what does it mean to say "God exists"? I will attempt to show that the phrase "God exists" is false, because the word God does not refer to an actual concept. We can identify 3 attributes in a concept 1. Primary (Identification or nature, making it what it is), 2. Secondary (Resultant or emergent features, describing it), 3. Relational (Causal, describing the interaction between it and other concepts).
When we are looking to a description of a concept we are looking first for its fundamental nature (the question: what is it?). To ask what a jumper is, and then receive a reply: that it is not made of a cotton fabric (negatively described primary attribute), it is brown (secondary attribute), and it keeps you warm (relational attribute), is meaningless. It says nothing about what a jumper actually is. It is the same with the God concept it is only positively described in secondary or relational terms, any primary attribute is always negative, ie god is immaterial, incorporeal, invisible etc. But none of these tell us what the concept of god actually is, only what it is not. As such it renders the concept invalid.
Developing this more I will borrow the Yellow Quantum Whisperer (YQW) from a youtube atheist (KnownNoMore). What does it mean to say the YQW exists? We understand what Yellow is, what a Whisperer is and have at least some idea of what Quantum is (even if our knowledge is restricted to "it's very small"). But a YQW does not exist, whispering requires sound, which requires the movement of pressure waves through air, and of course air does not exist at the quantum level (only quanta). The same is true for yellow, it is a feature of light wavelengths, which is a product of quantum activity and doesn't exist at the quantum level itself. Again so it is for the god concept. What does it mean to say a timeless causal creator exists. Our view of causality is that it requires time. There is no time in a timeless realm (even if we can imagine such a thing). How did a god causally create anything? It is meaningless god talk and renders the concept invalid.
But it is worse still, at least a YQW is not internally contradictory. Being Yellow does not stop you being a Whisperer for example. But with the concept of a God we have multiple competing claims for it's attributes. It is said to be perfect (having no desires), but also to desires a relationship with humanity. It is said to be changeless, but also answers prayers. This was more exhaustively analysed by Theodore Drange in his discussion "Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey".
Thus we are left to conclude that the concept of God is really an unknowable thing, in an unknowable realm interacting in an unknowable way. To suspend judgement on such a deeply flawed concept represents an abandonment of the intellect and advertises a willingness to believe in anything. If we suspend judgement on Gods non-existence, then we might as well do so for the YQW or anything else. At least the YQW, unicorns, LGM from Mars are more likely to exist than a God given their lack of internal contradiction. George Smith comments: "All of the supposedly positive qualities of God arise in a distinctively human context of finite existence, and when wrenched from this context to apply to a supernatural being, they cease to have meaning." If a term refers to no thing which can exist, then it does not exist. Period. Gnostic-Atheism is therefore correct in asserting Gods non-existence. Thus it is a more logical position than the Agnostic-Atheism.
2.The fact of existence.
Theism is a Subjectivist philosophy. It maintains that reality is the subject of a mind (a gods mind), in that it is created, dependant and wilfully altered by that mind (wishing can make it so). Under this perspective there are no absolutes apart from that mind. Existence (reality), logic, morality etc are relative to and dependant on that mind. Removal of that mind from its influence on the Universe would remove for example logic. But how can we conceive of Existence without logic, objects having no identity, contradictory objects (square triangles)? It is literally illogical.
It has a further implication, it not only destroys our understanding of Existence but also annihilates our consciousness. The conclusion from this worldview is that a consciousness can and must be able to exist outside of Existence (how it does that is not made clear by the Subjectivist). But one thing is clear that at some point (a point prior to Existence) a consciousness (gods) was conscious only of its own consciousness. This is a contradiction in terms, because our understanding of consciousness is the faculty of identification of reality. With no reality, deprived of any inputs from an external world, with nothing to examine, we are left to wonder how a god could operate. Would it even recognise its own existence? It stands in relation to what? It exists where? It can think of what?
However, the Objectivist view maintains that this Subjectivist model is false. The Primacy of Existence is the corollary of the axioms of existence and consciousness. This states that all existence is objective and we can use our passive consciousness to discover its nature and causal relationships. Under this view Existence is absolute and cannot be altered by mind (wishing does not make it so). Quoting Leonard Peikoff (Philosophy:Who needs it? p24).
"The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward. The rejection of these axioms represents a reversal: the primacy of consciousness the notion that the universe has no independent existence, that it is the product of a consciousness (either human or divine or both). The epistemological corollary is the notion that man gains knowledge of reality by looking inward (either at his own consciousness or at the revelations it receives from another, superior consciousness). The source of this reversal is the inability or unwillingness fully to grasp the difference between one's inner state and the outer world, i.e., between the perceiver and the perceived (thus blending consciousness and existence into one indeterminate package-deal)."
What Peikoff goes onto explain is that to deny the Primacy of Existence you have to deny the axioms of existence and consciousness. The denial of those axioms leads to an immediate contradiction, given that you need them to be true to deny them (a stolen concept fallacy). Thus we can logically conclude from the mere fact of existence that the Primacy of Existence is true and Primacy of Consciousness is false. The implications for Theism are devastating. It is already pre-committed to the false conclusion and must also therefore be false. We therefore cannot just conclude that there is no evidence of a god (which is also true), we have to conclude that there is no god. Gnostic-Atheism is the logical conclusion from this.
3. Incompatibile God attributes
It is not possible for a free causal creator to be both infallible and intentional. If you are incapable of error, there can be no intentionality in your action. If anyone intends to do something then there must be a possibility of failure else, at best, it is just reflex (like breathing). This means either Gods creation of the universe has no intentionality, or that God is not infallible.
William Rowe also argued that God cannot be both free and morally perfect. Rowe argues that if God is morally perfect and wants a relationship with humanity, then it must create the best possible world for us. There can be only one best world for us from the set of possible worlds. This renders its action as lacking any freedom, it must create the World in a certain way. It has no option.
Thus under this analysis, God is compelled to create the Universe, and also must do it in a certain way. Why, then given its lack of options would it be worthy of worship? Taken together these attributes unravel making the whole God concept invalid. An invalid concept refers to no actual thing, meaning it does not exist. Therefore Gnostic-Atheism is the only logical conclusion.
"First we will define theisms god. For theists god is a timeless, personal, supernatural entity, an immaterial consciousness, is the causal creator of the universe, is free to act intentionally, is maximally powerful, knowledgeable, present and wise. God is morally perfect, infallible, wants a relationship with humanity and is worthy of worship. This definition covers most theist conceptions, I have left out others which may be more specific to one religion or another. If some of the above attributes above are left out however, then we are either not talking about Theism (and therefore Atheism by extension), or we are not talking about anything that we could call a god."
- I have to disagree. A theistic God is defined as:
1) the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation;
2) belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism ).
These definitions contradict your statement. With that, I would say that a deistic God or a theistic God that doesn't have those qualities can still be a God and we can still discuss this. Definition of a God: spirit or being that has great power, strength, knowledge, etc., and that can affect nature and the lives of people : one of various spirits or beings worshipped in some religions. God doesn't have to be spaceless or be all good; he just needs to be powerful. I think I have made my point.
"We can identify 3 attributes in a concept 1. Primary (Identification or nature, making it what it is), 2. Secondary (Resultant or emergent features, describing it), 3. Relational (Causal, describing the interaction between it and other concepts)."
Concept: An idea of what something is or how it works.
A God is not an idea, it is a being or spirit, so it isn't a concept. This reasoning can not be applied to God.
"When we are looking to a description of a concept we are looking first for its fundamental nature (the question: what is it?). To ask what a jumper is, and then receive a reply: that it is not made of a cotton fabric (negatively described primary attribute), it is brown (secondary attribute), and it keeps you warm (relational attribute), is meaningless. It says nothing about what a jumper actually is. It is the same with the God concept it is only positively described in secondary or relational terms, any primary attribute is always negative, ie god is immaterial, incorporeal, invisible etc. But none of these tell us what the concept of god actually is, only what it is not. As such it renders the concept invalid."
So do jumpers not exist? A jumper, like God, is not a concept, so this reasoning doesn't apply. Plus, even if God was a concept, its' primary atribute doesn't have to be negative. The primary atribute could be it is very powerful, or benevolent. Neither of those are negatives.
The next 2 paragraphs assume God is a concept or God has certain impossible characteristics. While I do agree certain religions do have impossible Gods, a deistic God or theistic God could exist.
To be honest, I really don't understand your second argument. I do, however, fail to see how it disproves a God.
As for your 3rd argument, yes, that absolutely applies to certain Gods. However, God doesn't have to have contradictory concepts. To be short, a God with certain characteristics could exist, and it is illogical to deny the existence of it. I await your response.
The debate is: which out of Gnostic and Agnostic Atheism is the more logical. I have made a case involving logical arguments for the consistency and coherency of Gnostic-Atheism. I have not seen the equivalent in Pros opening arguments. Instead Pro has merely asserted that his position is true, without making an argument to support his case. I can of course following his reasoning, which in short appears to be:
P1 Atheists cannot disprove a God
P2 Theists cannot prove a God
P3 There appears to be no evidence for the existence of a God
C Ergo..so there is no evidence for the existence God (P1 and P2 cancel each other).
If this is the argument I agree with Pro on P2 and P3. However, I do not agree with P1. This is merely asserted by Pro and I do not see an argument as to why Atheists cannot disprove God, nor an argument proving the Agnostic Atheism is true. His approach seems to be to agree with Theists that "you can"t disprove God". OK why? This cannot just be asserted. In his rebuttal Pro seems to build on this motif a little by suggesting that Atheists cannot disprove God because the definition is malleable, ie God may only have x attributes, x-1 attributes or y+1 attributes. Who are we to know? Computer scientists would call this a "bug" and not a "feature" of Theism. "This is not a point in favour of Theism nor Agnostic Atheism. It is a point in favour of Gnostic-Atheism, as it underlines the meaninglessness of the God concept and supports my first argument (The meaninglessness of Religious Discourse). It has a further implication. If you rob the God concept of attributes in order to keep it alive, its meaning becomes so denuded, that the generalised perfection envisaged in a God (something all Theists would subscribe to, see Anselm), is no longer contained within the word God. In short if God is not perfect, why call it God? It could just be a highly evolved life-form for all we know. I think denying the standard Theist understanding of a God is a semantic game employed by Pro to make Agnostic Atheism seem more plausible, this is bound to fail as it just deepens the success of Gnostic-Atheist arguments (see above).
Herein lies a further problem with Agnostic Atheism. I agree there is no evidence to support the concept of a God, but I think that is a true statement because Gods do not exist. But why do Agnostic Atheists think there is no evidence for God? It maybe that the Atheist wants to reserve judgement that there might be a hidden God. But then 2 further problems emerge 1) Why call yourself an Atheist?, 2) The problem of divine hiddenness is further evidence that there is no God. Given the definition of a theist God includes the act of creation specifically to interact with humanity, why hide? Whichever way you look at this you end up at the same conclusion that Gods do not exist.
The common out here is to evoke a Deist conception of a God. But that is changing the game. Are we talking about Theism as practised or are we talking about the broader definition of Theism (including Deism). In any analysis I am not sure it helps that much. A Deist God is one that does not know or care of our existence, but somehow acted. For the Agnostic Atheist to argue successfully here against the Gnostic-Atheist, they must propose a meaningful definition of the concept and show ways in which it could exist, given those attributes (even though they don"t believe it actually exists). But I have not seen that done, it has similar problems:
1) It suffers from similar definitional issues e.g. timeless causal creation, intentionality/infallibility conundrum.
2) At best it seems indistinguishable from the physics of the Universe. At worst it seems to invoke the image of a footling, tinkering fool that cannot create a stable system.
3) It is so lacking in knowledge it doesn"t even know we exist.
So if it lacks even those basic levels of perfection why call it a God? What standards are you appealing to in your concept to allow you to leave this possibility open? Again we can only conclude that Gods do not exist.
This was summarised well for me by Francois Tremblay in his strongatheism.net blog. He argues that there is not as much difference between the Gnostic (strong) and Agnostic (weak) forms of atheism as may initially seem to be the case. But the position held by weak atheism, namely that there is inadequate evidence to believe in a god, necessarily entails affirming that god does not exist.
For example we do not claim that there is no evidence for the existence of a supernatural witch with magical powers (like the Wicked Witch of the West)". Instead we are comfortable with declaring that "there are no such things as witches". We are not Agnostic-Awitches, but Gnostic ones. Anyone representing the view that witches may exist, would pay a price immediately in terms of their intellectual standing, because of the absurdity and contradictions inherent in that concept. So then why is this not the case with the God concept? The major differences are:
1) the Theist has a lot more sophistication with their argumentation
2) Theism is represented by some severely talented minds and presented with rhetorical flourish
3) the Theist has a small army of believers that do not laugh when the existence of said entity is proposed, and
4) As Goebbels once said: "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed". Most tellingly the God concept is an even bigger lie with even more incoherency and implausibility than the witches concept.
Let us not be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of Theism and its clever arguments and retortions. It is, what it is. It proposes a subjective universe, then pleads that it isn"t subjective because god is super, extra special. When asked what that means we are told "who can know the mystery of God?". "At this point we are meant to go "aah now I understand, at best I can be an Agnostic". Absolutely not, you can declare non-existence on the grounds I argued for in my opening.
I think there is something of a fashion among atheists to declare in support of Agnostic Atheism, as somehow an intellectually superior position and an invincible position to argue from. But too often it leads to a retreat behind global philosophical skepticism when challenged. This generalised defence of Agnostic Atheism was alluded to by Pro in his opening. The implication in his opening was that we cannot be certain of anything without adequate evidence. This is a dangerous path, it becomes a slippery slope towards absurdity (like having to deny existence). But infact this is not only false (we can be certain of our own existence, axioms, logical contradictions being false etc), it also undermines Pros entire worldview. If Pro adopts this stance, he cannot be certain that Agnostic Atheism is true, there is no evidence for its truth (insofar as his opening statement goes). This weakness in the generalised defence is exploited by the Christian Presuppositionalist attack on Atheism, who challenge the Atheist to defend anything they know for certain and entrench a discussion in the epistemic crisis of the skeptic. It is a problem I do not have in my worldview, because it is essentially positive, metaphysically non-skeptical and strongly atheistic.
And so I return to my opening in this round. The contention in this debate is whether Agnostic or Gnostic-Atheism is the logical position. It is not whether Agnostic Atheism is "probably" the most logical, or the most reasonable. Pro must prove that Agnostic Atheism is the logical position, he has to move onto my ground and provide deductive arguments. Until he does that Pro cannot carry the debate, because he is not offering deductive (or even inductive) arguments as to whether Agnostic Atheism is coherent and logical. Currently we have mere assertions. As one famous evidentialist said "what can be asserted without evidence, can be rejected without evidence". The position in this debate is that Agnostic Atheism has been asserted as true without evidence (or reason for that matter), and therefore Gnostic-Atheism is the most logical.
To aid Pro in his rebuttal I attach a link to another Gnostic-Atheist explaining the argument from the fact of existence in more detail. Pro has stated that he doesn't grasp it, nor its devastating implications for Theism.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 8 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Gracious concession from Pro, so I award the win to Con.
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