The Instigator
brant.merrell
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Nidhogg
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

Agnostic atheism is the most reasonable perspective to adopt regarding religion.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Nidhogg
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/8/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,977 times Debate No: 27021
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (18)
Votes (2)

 

brant.merrell

Pro

I am happy to debate this topic with strict atheists or theists; I am also happy to argue against this proposition as an atheist or theist so anyone who wishes to engage in such a discussion is free to write up something comparable to this position or even copy and paste it and challenge me as "con." This is the only position I am posting as an open challenge for now because it's my honest position.

Proposed definitions:
From the definitions of agnosticism [1] and atheism [2], agnostics are not necessarily atheistic, atheists are not necessarily agnostic, and it is possible to adopt an agnostic and atheistic belief at the same time. The position of 'agnostic atheism' ranks agnosticism as an absolute position and atheism as a probable truth [3]. Theism is the belief that at least one deity exists [4]. Reason is "the thing that makes some fact intelligible." [5].

I view science as a logical means by which the human race 'reads' the physical universe. I provide the metaphor of reading words off a page as a concrete reference point for my propositions. My opposition is free to attempt deconstruction and disproof or weakening the metaphor, propose a viable reasoning process outside the scope of the scientific method, or challenge my definition of science to the best of his / her ability.

Pn = proposition regarding interpretation in general.
Rn = example of Pn in relation to reading as an interpretive process.

Sn= example of Pn in relation to science as a search for truth.

P1: Interpretive strength is independent of interpretive scope.
R1: The ability to read does not give the reader a knowledge of everything that can be read.
S1: Science does not claim to know everything about the universe.

P1: The existence of material not interpreted does not reflect on the validity of the interpretive process.
R2: The existence of a book that an individual has not read does not prove the person is unable to read.
S2: The existence of a question science has not answered does not prove science is wrong.

P3: The interpretive process cannot accurately extrapolate the existence of something without evidence.
R3: The ability to read does not give you the ability to read a blank page.
S3: Science cannot be expected to understand things that have no evidence.

P4: In the absence of evidence of an object or idea, the burden of proof must default to predict the absence of the object or idea.
R4: When a page is blank, it is reasonable to conclude there are no words on the page, even if (and because) the reader admits to being unable to read the words on the page.
S4: When there is no evidence of a spirit world, it is reasonable to conclude a spirit world does not exist, even if (and precisely because) scientists admit to having no explanation.

P5: In the absence of evidence of an object or idea, the burden of proof must NOT default to 'assume' the absence of the object or idea.
R5: When a page is blank, there could be invisible ink, so it is unreasonable to conclude 'absolutely' that there is nothing to read, but perfectly reasonable to conclude 'probably' that there is nothing to read.
S5: When there is no evidence of a spirit world, it is unreasonable to conclude 'absolutely' that there is no spirit world, but perfectly reasonable to conclude there is 'probably' no spirit world.

The disproof of my proposition as worded either in Proposition S5 or in the title of this debate will suffice as a victory for my opposition.

1. "Agnosticism is the view that we do not know whether there is a God or not." Hepburn, Ronald W. (2005) [1967]. "Agnosticism". Donald M. Borchert. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from a Wikipedia.org citation, 8 November 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org....

2. "On our definition, an 'atheist' is a person who rejects belief in God, regardless of whether or not his reason for the rejection is the claim that 'God exists' expresses a false proposition. People frequently adopt an attitude of rejection toward a position for reasons other than that it is a false proposition. It is common among contemporary philosophers, and indeed it was not uncommon in earlier centuries, to reject positions on the ground that they are meaningless. Sometimes, too, a theory is rejected on such grounds as that it is sterile or redundant or capricious, and there are many other considerations which in certain contexts are generally agreed to constitute good grounds for rejecting an assertion." - Edwards, 2005. Retrieved from a Wikipedia.org citation, 8 November 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org....

3. "Properly considered, agnosticism is not a third alternative to theism and atheism because it is concerned with a different aspect of religious belief. Theism and atheism refer to the presence or absence of belief in a god; agnosticism refers to the impossibility of knowledge with regard to a god or supernatural being. The term agnostic does not, in itself, indicate whether or not one believes in a god." Smith, George H (1979), pages 10-11. Retrieved from a Wikipedia.org citation, 8 November 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org...

4. "Belief in the existence of a god or gods." - Theism. Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, retrieved 8 November 2012. http://www.merriam-webster.com....

5. "The thing that makes some fact intelligible" - Reason. Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, retrieved 8 November 2012. http://www.merriam-webster.com....
Nidhogg

Con

Hello, I"m Nid. I will be arguing that Agnostic Atheism is NOT a rational religious stance.
In this round, I will rebut my opponent"s opening logical statements.

P1: Interpretive strength is independent of interpretive scope.
R1: The ability to read does not give the reader a knowledge of everything that can be read.
S1: Science does not claim to know everything about the universe.
I agree on this point.

P1: The existence of material not interpreted does not reflect on the validity of the interpretive process.
R2: The existence of a book that an individual has not read does not prove the person is unable to read.
S2: The existence of a question science has not answered does not prove science is wrong.

I do not see how this fits my opponent"s argument. He argues for Agnostic ATHEISM, not Agnosticism. I will let it slide in terms of supporting only one part of his assertion, but voters should note this.

P3: The interpretive process cannot accurately extrapolate the existence of something without evidence.
R3: The ability to read does not give you the ability to read a blank page.
S3: Science cannot be expected to understand things that have no evidence.

R3 is faulty. The ability to read is not needed to "read" a blank page. Even an illiterate person can perceive a page a being blank. S3 is also faulty. Assuming he refers to theism, there is an abundance of theoretical evidence of a Deity. Take the Kalam Cosmological argument for an example:
P: Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
R: The universe has a beginning of its existence;
S: The universe has a cause of its existence

P4: In the absence of evidence of an object or idea, the burden of proof must default to predict the absence of the object or idea.
R4: When a page is blank, it is reasonable to conclude there are no words on the page, even if (and because) the reader admits to being unable to read the words on the page.
S4: When there is no evidence of a spirit world, it is reasonable to conclude a spirit world does not exist, even if (and precisely because) scientists admit to having no explanation.

See my previous argument as to why S4 is not sound. Also I say this:
S1: In the absence of evidence of an object or idea, it is equally logical to suggest its existence or nonexistence
S2: When you do not know if a red marble is inside a bag, the chance of it being there is 50-50.
S3: If there is no evidence of a spirit world, its existence cannot be confirmed or denied by science.

P5: In the absence of evidence of an object or idea, the burden of proof must NOT default to 'assume' the absence of the object or idea.
R5: When a page is blank, there could be invisible ink, so it is unreasonable to conclude 'absolutely' that there is nothing to read, but perfectly reasonable to conclude 'probably' that there is nothing to read.
S5: When there is no evidence of a spirit world, it is unreasonable to conclude 'absolutely' that there is no spirit world, but perfectly reasonable to conclude there is 'probably' no spirit world.

As I said before, there is theoretical proof of a "spirit world" or deity. Also, why is it probable a page is blank if there is no proof against the presence of invisible ink? See my argument above. If you cannot attest to a reason why there would not be invisible ink, it is equally probable.
A version of S5 could say:
S5: When there is no evidence of there being nothing after death, it is unreasonable to conclude absolutely that it does not exist, but reasonable to conclude there is probably something after death.
Debate Round No. 1
brant.merrell

Pro

Nice to meet you Nid, and I appreciate your participation in this debate!

"I do not see how this fits my opponent's argument. He argues for Agnostic ATHEISM, not Agnosticism." - Con, Round 1.

I recommend my opposition take a close look at my definitions paragraph, particularly Source 3 for my Round 1 argument, and consider that the position of 'Agnostic Atheism' is separate from 'certain atheism.' To further clarify his understanding of the word usage, he would also do wise to reflect upon the feasibility of 'agnostic theism' in addition to 'faithful theism.'

"I will let it slide in terms of supporting only one part of his assertion, but voters should note this." - Con, Round 1.

If my opposition were to attempt anything other than to "let it slide" (this is a debate, after all), he would discover the task truly difficult. The point to which he refers is irrelevant to his case, as he just demonstrated; and he makes it because he did not read my definitions paragraph or sources, as I just demonstrated. It is unclear whether he honestly interprets his own lack of rigor as generosity, or whether he dishonestly expects such naivety from his readers. Either way, critics would do well to note the cheap scores attempted by my opposition.

"R3 is faulty. The ability to read is not needed to "read" a blank page. Even an illiterate person can perceive a page is blank." - Con, Round 1.

Unfortunately for my opposition's case, the arguments he has constructed are in agreement with the case against which he is attempting to argue. "The ability to read is not needed to read a blank page" is a decent piece of truth, and would have most certainly been a relevant one if my point had been, "it takes a great deal of literacy to perceive a blank page." And his point, "even an illiterate person can read a blank page," is indeed indisputable, and could have been a game-changer, if only my argument had been that "it is difficult for [literate people / illiterate people / anyone, etc. . . ] to read a blank page." The sentence he believes himself to be disproving, however, reads, "The ability to read does not give you the ability to read a blank page," and he has not demonstrated a line of reasoning that suggests this to be faulty. With this level of disconnect, one could perhaps have predicted he make a similar mistake on S3 that he made on R3 since they are sister concepts:

"S3 is also faulty. Assuming he refers to theism, there is an abundance of theoretical evidence of a Deity." - Con, Round 1.

This sentence simply fails to bear any relevance to the phrase it attempts to rebut. It would be a proper response to the phrase, "There is no evidence of a deity," but does not even contradict the phrase, "Science cannot be expected to understand things that have no evidence." I do appreciate, however, that he submits an example of the evidence to which he refers, for it is relevant to this argument, even if not for the reasons he thinks:

"P: Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence; R: The universe has a beginning of its existence; S: The universe has a cause of its existence." - Con, Round 1.

I now must apologize, as my format appears to have caused some confusion on the part of my opposition.

"Pn = proposition regarding interpretation in general. Rn = example of Pn in relation to reading as an interpretive process. Sn= example of Pn in relation to science as a search for truth." - Pro, Round 1.

I am not specifically familiar with the Kalam Cosmological argument, but what my opposition has presented is not a complete Cosmological argument, regardless of which one it may be. A cosmological argument is supposed to also establish that God does NOT have a beginning of its existence and that God IS the cause of the universe existing. Cosmological arguments tend to decay with these points as soon as someone says, "Why?" So it makes sense that my opposition would leave them implicit as a debate strategy, but all points must be brought to the conversation to be properly tested for their validity before anyone can take them seriously.

"S1: In the absence of evidence of an object or idea, it is equally logical to suggest its existence or nonexistence.S2: When you do not know if a red marble is inside a bag, the chance of it being there is 50-50.S3: If there is no evidence of a spirit world, its existence cannot be confirmed or denied by science." - Con, Round 1.

This logic is far too binary. In the case of S2: If you know a marble is inside a bag and that it is either red or blue, the chance of it being red is 1/2. If you know that it is either red or blue or green, the chance of it being red is 1/3. If you are unsure whether it is a marble or a bouncy ball, but you know it is red or blue or green, the chance of it being a red marble is 1/6.

If you add the possibility of nothing being in the bag, the chance a red marble being in the bag is reduced down to 1/7. If all you know is that there is an object in the bag, the probability of the object being a marble of any color is equal to the number of marbles that exist divided by the number of objects in the universe that fit inside the bag (shark teeth, bananas, bunny rabbits, pantyhose, etc...) which is going to be a very small probability. It makes far more sense to assume there is nothing in the bag until seeing in it a visible outline.

I look forward to my opposition's specificity in his next round, and would like to emphasize my appreciation to him for accepting this debate.
Nidhogg

Con

Hello, Nid here and I thank my opponent for this debate. I will attempt here to rebut the points my opponent made in round 2

First, however, I must clear up a point from the last round. In refrence to the Kalam Cosmological Argument in round one, my opponent said:

"A cosmological argument is supposed to also establish that God does NOT have a beginning of its existence and that God IS the cause of the universe existing."

This is false. Cosmological arguments need to prove a "first cause", which is usually refered to as God. [2] In reply to God not having a beginning, the definition of God by Merriam-Webster is "the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe" God does not need a cause to his existence because he is an all-powerful being. If God needed a beginning, he would not be God.

"Cosmological arguments tend to decay with these points as soon as someone says, "Why?" So it makes sense that my opposition would leave them implicit as a debate strategy, but all points must be brought to the conversation to be properly tested for their validity before anyone can take them seriously."

The Kalam does not decay when the question "Why?" is asked. The universe needs a beginning because of the law of entropy. The law of entropy states that disorder gradually increases over time and cannot be repaired. If the universe had existed infinitely, the disorder would be irreconcilable and no energy would be useful. [1]

I would like to present another argument, called the Modal Ontological Argument, or MOA. It states:
1. If a maximally great being possibly exists, a maximally great being exists.
2. A maximally great being possibly exists.
3. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
My friend Nur-Ab-Sal explained this in his debate with Torvald. To paraphrase what he said, a maximally great being (MGB) is one who embodies all "great-making" qualities. (power, knowledge, love, ect.) to the greatest possible extent. (omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence) because necessity outweighs contingency, existing in all possible worlds rather than some, a MGB must embody necessity. Point one can be proven through a MGB being necessary. If something possibly necessarily exists, it exists. With Point 2, a MGB is only possible with it possessing no logical contradictions in its nature. Omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence, etc., present no logical inconsistencies; therefore, an MGB is at least possible. The conclusion is a natural progression from 1 and 2.
If an MGB exists, and the universe needed a cause, it is logical to assume that a deity exists. This places deism [4] as the most logical stance regarding religious matters.

[1] http://answers.yahoo.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.debate.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...

Many thanks to my opponent, and I hope to see him next round
Debate Round No. 2
brant.merrell

Pro

brant.merrell forfeited this round.
Nidhogg

Con

Darn, I was hoping for a full-length debate this time.
Debate Round No. 3
brant.merrell

Pro

My apologies. This week's routine has exceeded my time management capacity.

"If God needed a beginning, he would not be God."
"If the universe needed a beginning, it would not be the universe."

I suppose we could also say, "if this picture needed a painter, it would not be a picture." It is the burden of the cosmological argument (if advocating theism, at least) to demonstrate why God must not have a beginning, but the universe must. While appealing merely to this definition, it does not properly distinguish its position from that of Frank Lloyd, "I believe in god, only I spell it N-A-T-U-R-E."

"The universe needs a beginning because of the law of entropy." - Con, Round 2.

So are the laws of physics part of the universe, or did they exist before it came into existence? Did they exist before matter existed? The law of entropy cannot exist without matter. Matter needs to have existed on its own before the law of entropy. Therefore, the law of entropy cannot demonstrate any need for a creator.

My opposition's use of Modal Logic would make sense if we were discussing multiple possibilities that did not theoretically contradict each other. "A six can be rolled, therefore a six will be rolled" is valid because rolling a six does not theoretically contradict the ability to role a five or a four. "God might exist, therefore God must exist" theoretically contradicts the idea that "God does not exist," and similarly, "God may not exist, therefore God does not exist" theoretically contradicts the idea that "God exists." Such reasoning does not appear compatible with Modal Logic, which was designed to understand the conditions under which something must be true, not to make an unconditional ruling about its truth.

Another good hint regarding the invalidity of my opposition's reasoning is that it advocates Russell's Teapot just as thoroughly as it does the existence of God:

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time." - Bertrand Russell

Again, my apologies for missing a round, and I thank my opposition for his patience.
Nidhogg

Con


First off, I would like to thank my opponent for this debate, and I am having a lot of fun with it.



PRO said: “if this picture needed a painter, it would not be a picture”


Why? Did you look at my source? God is eternal, and thus needs no beginning. Matter does of course, but God is something else entirely, a spiritual being.


PRO said: So are the laws of physics part of the universe, or did they exist before it came into existence? Did they exist before matter existed? The law of entropy cannot exist without matter. Matter needs to have existed on its own before the law of entropy. Therefore, the law of entropy cannot demonstrate any need for a creator.


That isn’t my point at all! I meant that if the universe existed forever, all energy would be useless. This argument SUPPORTS my viewpoint. If matter exists forever, so does entropy. That is how infinity works. The Law of Entropy supports the need for a “first cause”. My opponent has failed to say what that first cause would be if not a creator, and thus has not filled his BOP of disproving deism in favour of agnostic atheism. Also, if there were no laws of physics before matter, how did they come about? It is not logical to assume that the laws of physics were just randomly created.


Pro said: Such reasoning does not appear compatible with Modal Logic, which was designed to understand the conditions under which something must be true, not to make an unconditional ruling about its truth.


The condition under which a MGB must exist is the condition that his existence is possible.


PRO said: Another good hint regarding the invalidity of my opposition's reasoning is that it advocates Russell's Teapot just as thoroughly as it does the existence of God:


Russel’s teapot cannot be theoretically proven, as teapots are not randomly thrown into space as I know of. Due to the fact we do not throw china teapots into space, it is not possible, let alone probably. Also, the MOA can only apply to a Maximally Great Being, which a teapot is not.


Debate Round No. 4
brant.merrell

Pro

brant.merrell forfeited this round.
Nidhogg

Con

Thank you very much for this terrific debate and I look forward to the voting.
Have a nice day.
Debate Round No. 5
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Nidhogg 4 years ago
Nidhogg
Finishes Debate at 1:00 AM
F*cking Jetlag
Posted by brant.merrell 4 years ago
brant.merrell
A Nazgul just agreed with me in German. My argument is valid.
Posted by Torvald 4 years ago
Torvald
Das ist sehr stimmt!
Posted by brant.merrell 4 years ago
brant.merrell
My apologies for missing two rounds of this debate. Also for the attacks against my opposition on this comments section. It has been a pleasure debating against Nidhogg, and his courtesy has shown through in even the smallest of written details.

P.S. devient.genie, the "big kids stuff" is done in formal rounds where the spectators are allowed to vote. Fighting over someone else's comments section is cowardly.
Posted by devient.genie 4 years ago
devient.genie
torvald, how kind of you to lick nidhoggs wounds.

Such a good captain save-a-ho arent you.

Now back to big kids stuff :)

DevientGenie 7:14-- The Genies faith in science NEVER wavers. Wavering is a religious action. :)

DEFECTS 3:7--In the case of religion, unshakable faith and ignorance are siamese twins :)

DUH 6:14--Smart guys think condoms are an awesome, necessary invention, dumb guys dont, and the really dumb ones are in vatican city :)

CaptainObvious 6:2--Cherry Picking, because there isnt a better term to use for the selection process of the religious mind when it comes to their beliefs and their scripture :)
Posted by Torvald 4 years ago
Torvald
Calm down people. Nidhogg, this guy is just looking for kicks at others' expense. Ignore him. He probably won't be a member of the site very much longer, so it's definitely not worth becoming upset about.
Posted by devient.genie 4 years ago
devient.genie
Nidhogg said--(Oh, and I reported your insult)

Translation--(Oh, and I reported that I am a tattle tale little baby who suckles nutrition from a holy binky that has caused atrophy to my intuition, intellect and insticnt) :)

The preceeding translation was brought to you by our faithful sponsors, CHECK and MATE :)
Posted by Nidhogg 4 years ago
Nidhogg
You insulted my IQ first! HOW DO YOU EVEN F*CKING BREATHE!

(Oh, and I reported your insult)
Posted by devient.genie 4 years ago
devient.genie
Being agnostic in any way toward god is like being agnostic to the toothfairy. The list of things we could be agnostic about is endless.

Just because the god fairy tales are more powerful in their brainwashing doesnt mean they warrant agnosticism in any way, any more than santa claus deserves agnosticism.

Religion is a joke that is not funny! It is a severe malnourishment of intellect, intuition and instinct.
Posted by devient.genie 4 years ago
devient.genie
nidhogg, even Stephen Hawking says youre a loser :)

He's smarter than you, and that is CHECK and MATE :)
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by truthseeker613 4 years ago
truthseeker613
brant.merrellNidhoggTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Pro F.F. 2x S&G: I'm not sure Con used " instead of ', a couple of times. But I don't think that deserves loosing S&G. Other wise both sides were perfect. Arguments: Pro F.F. 2x. Furthermore Reliable Sources: For now I'll leave it a tie. I might give it to Pro.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 4 years ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
brant.merrellNidhoggTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct and arguments go to Con for Pro's unfortunate forfeiture.