The Instigator
Rational_Thinker9119
Pro (for)
Winning
17 Points
The Contender
wes
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

Agnosticism Presupposes That God Does Not Exist

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/17/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,717 times Debate No: 34847
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (46)
Votes (5)

 

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

In this debate, I will argue that Agnosticism presupposes that God does not exist.

"ag·nos·tic[ag-nos-tik]




noun





1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable"




By "God", I mean the tri-omni God (omnipotent, omniscience, and omnibenevolent)

First round is for acceptance. Good luck!

wes

Con

Hello,

Thank you, Pro, for posting such an interesting topic.

I accept the challenge from Pro to refute his conclusion that Agnosticism presupposes that God does not exist. This will be my first debate on Debate.org.

Pro defines agnosticism as, a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable. There are other less specific definitions, but for the purpose of this debate I accept this definition.

Pro would also like to assume omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence as known characteristics of God, though I hold that such characteristics are obviously not known or defended by agnostics, and suggest that we use the definition already given in his definition of agnosticism: the ultimate cause [of things]...

I wish us both luck and sound points that benefit others.

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Introduction

Agnosticism holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable. I argue, that this presupposes that God does not exist.

Argument

If God exists then he is omnipotent. If he is omnipotent, then he can do anything logically or metaphysically possible. Proving himself by making himself known to people is logically and metaphysically possible. Therefore, if God exists, it follows logically from omnipotence that he can make known his existence. However, if he is able to make known his existence, then this existence is knowable. If his existence is knowable, then this is incompatible with Agnosticism. Therefore, the Agnostic position could only be true if God does not exist. This means, that Agnosticism presupposes that God does not exist.

Conclusion

The resolution has been affirmed.
wes

Con

Thank you, Pro for your very intriguing argument. I very much enjoyed following your logic.

I will now offer my rebuttal.


Review of Claims


Claim 1: If God exists then he is omnipotent. If he is omnipotent, then he can do anything logically or metaphysically possible.

Agnostics do not claim to know characteristics of a hypothetical God such as omnipotence. However, I will accept this assertion.


Claim 2: Proving himself by making himself known to people is logically and metaphysically possible.

Since the extent of what is possible is not well-defined, we cannot say for sure that this statement is true. Agnosticism holds that knowning whether this statement is true is impossible, as it is part of the essential nature of things (see your original definition of atheist).

Entertaining this idea further.. the extent of possiblity may be limited by any prior committments established during the origin of things, such as a committment to logical soundness of events (i.e. no absolute contradictions allowed). Obviously if contradictions were allowed in the realm of possibility, then knowledge would be irrelevant and undefined, and both our arguments would be moot.

Knowing God (defined as the ultimate cause of things in Pro's definition of agnostic), may contradict the essential nature of knowing. This possibility is not ruled out by agnosticism.

To shed light on this position, I'll ask: how can God, the ultimate cause of things, be a thing itself? If you suppose the ultimate cause of things is a thing, then you reach a contradiction. Obviously, that thing must also have a cause, which is the true ultimate cause of things. You may conclude by induction that the ultimate cause of things is not a thing itself.

Supposing the ultimate cause of things is not a defineable thing, then it cannot be known by rational minds, which require definitions to say where one thing ends and the next begins in order to distinguish and/or know that those things are.

In this case, the position of agnosticism is concluded.


Claim 3: Therefore, if God exists, it follows logically from omnipotence that he can make known his existence.

Let's zoom out for a second. It follows logically from omnipotence that God can make his existence knowable, but it does not imply that God has, as God is equally capable of making his existence unknowable. This fact refutes the next claim.


Claim 4:
However, if he is able to make known his existence, then this existence is knowable.

By my previous point, just because God is able to make his existence knowable, does not mean God has not made his existence unknowable.



Conclusion

Since Pro's claims 2 and 4 are not necessarily true, the subsequent claims do not necessarily follow to Pro's conclusion. Therefore, by its own definition, agnosticism does not presuppose that God does or does not exist.
Debate Round No. 2
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro


Claim 1

"Agnostics do not claim to know characteristics of a hypothetical God such as omnipotence. However, I will accept this assertion."

Con has to accept this assertion. This is because I already defined God as omnipotent as part of the debate outline.

Claim 2

This section from Pro literally has no warrant. My opponent is saying that I have not properly defined what is possible, but it is not up to me to be a philosophical dictionary for Con. Regardless, "possible" clearly means that which is logically or metaphysically conceivable. If God exists, then he can make himself known for example, but he cannot make a perfectly spherical cube (as that is not logically conceivable). My opponent's ignorance towards the meaning of "possibility" pertaining to God has no bearing on the resolution. It would be a contradiction to say an omnipotent God cannot do something logically or metaphysically possible.

"Knowing God (defined as the ultimate cause of things in Pro's definition of agnostic), may contradict the essential nature of knowing"

Knowing God, clearly, does not contradict the essential nature of knowing. It is simply a subset of such a notion. Pro is clearly just running around like a chicken with his head cut off at this point.

God making himself known does not violate any laws of logic or metaphysics. Therefore, it should be obvious that an omnipotent God could achieve such a feat. What my opponent is doing is engaging in radical epistemological skepticism. This is not a reasonable position, as it leads to absurd conclusions. It is self-evident that God, if he exists, could easily prove himself.

Claim 3

"It follows logically from omnipotence that God can make his existence knowable, but it does not imply that God has, as God is equally capable of making his existence unknowable. This fact refutes the next claim."

Here, Pro engages in a straw-man argument. He is arguing that my position is that it follows logically from omnipotence that God can make his existence knowable. He adds that God could also make himself unknowable. The problem is that I never argued that God can make himself knowable if he exists. I said that God's existence is knowable if he exists by default. Even if God chose to never make himself known, he would still be knowable because he would have the ability, and be able to make himself known due to omnipotence. To say that God can make himself unknowable, is synonymous with saying that God can make himself not-omnipotent. However, that is a logical impossibility, as omnipotence is inherit to God's nature and definition.

Claim 4

My response to claim 3 takes care of this. If God exists, his existence is knowable even if he decides to never provide any of us with a single shred of evidence or proof. What God "does", is not the same as what he is "able" to do. As long as God even has the ability to make himself known (which follows necessarily from omnipotence), then his existence is knowable. If his existence is knowable, then this is incompatible with Agnosticism.

Conclusion

My original argument stands. Pro's stance on claim 2 is based on radical epistemological skepticism, and denying self-evident truth. If God exists, he can at least make his existence known; this is not a claim which can be reasonably contested. With regards to claim 2, I did not assert that God would make himself knowable. If he is omnipotent, then he is knowable by default regardless of any actions he takes. He could never prove his existence, but his existence is still knowable if he at least has the ability to let us know about it.

Since God being "knowable" follows necessarily from God's existence, regardless of what actions God takes, then theism, as defined, is incompatible with Agnosticism (which is the position that entails God's existence is unknowable). Thus, Agnosticism presupposes that God does not exist. This is because if God exists he would have the power to make himself known, even if he never does. This means, that it would not matter which actions God takes, as long as he is omnipotent, he is knowable.

The truth of the resolution remains unscathed, and stands firmly.
wes

Con

Claim: ...God's existence is knowable if he exists by default.

Pro holds, that because God exists, God can be known to exist by default. This is essentially arguing that there are no inherently unknowable truths. Such claims have been disproven by Fitch's Paradox of Knowability[1][2], which shows that existence of a particular truth is not sufficient for it's knowability.

Knowability is clearly defined by the scope of possibility, which is the only given limitation on God's omnipotence. As established in Pro's second sentence of his original argument, God's omnipotent power is limited by the scope of metaphysical and logical possibility. By Fitch's paradox, it is incorrect to assume that all things in existence can be known to exist. Therefore, it is incorrect to assume that God's existence is necessarily knowable, even if his existence and omnipotence are assumed.

In my last rebuttal, I attempted to provide examples of how God's existence could be unknowable (perhaps if God was undefinable). However, in this rebuttal, I will save the speculation and simply conclude by lemma that, since the knowability of God's existence is a requisite for God's power to make his existence known, Pro's argument that an omnipotent God necessarily has the power to make his existence known is affirming the consequent– a logical fallacy.

Sources:
[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...;
Debate Round No. 3
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

In my last argument, I said "Pro" a couple of times when I meant "Con". I just felt like pointing that out...

Rebutting My Opponent's Objections


"Pro holds, that because God exists, God can be known to exist by default. This is essentially arguing that there are no inherently unknowable truths. Such claims have been disproven by Fitch's Paradox of Knowability[1][2], which shows that existence of a particular truth is not sufficient for it's knowability." - Pro

Unfortunately, my opponent misunderstands Fitch's Paradox of Knowability. Fitch's Paradox of Knowability does not disprove the notion that there are no inherently unknowable truths. What the paradox does is show that if all truths are knowable in principle, then all truths are in fact known[1][2]:

"If in fact there is an unknown truth, then there is a truth that couldn't possibly be known."[1]

This means that that there would have to be an omniscient being in order for it to be true that all facts are knowable in principle. This actually may even support my argument very nicely, but not Con's argument. Therefore, it is extremely bizarre that Con would bring up this argument. This argument is an argument against anti-realism, and states:

"The proof has been used to argue against versions of anti-realism committed to the thesis that all truths are knowable. For clearly there are unknown truths; individually and collectively we are non-omniscient. So, by the main result, it is false that all truths are knowable. The result has also been used to draw more general lessons about the limits of human knowledge. Still others have taken the proof to be fallacious, since it collapses an apparently moderate brand of anti-realism into an obviously implausible and naive idealism."[1]

(i) Some view the argument as fallacious. Therefore, this raises reasonable doubt. Con has not shown that this argument proves anything just by citing the argument. Con actually has to debate in favor of the notion that the paradox argument is true in order to support the claim, not just commit the bare assertion[3] fallacy and claim it is true without reasoning. This required feat was not accomplished.

(ii) Here is the punchline if anybody missed it the first time: The Fitch's Paradox of Knowability argument only can only get off of the ground if there is no omniscient God. The argument is operating under the assumption that human knowledge is all there is. Basically, the argument only works if there are unknown truths. This presupposes God does not exist, as God is defined as an omniscient being who knows all truths.

"Individually and collectively we are non-omniscient. So, by the main result, it is false that all truths are knowable. "[1]

However, if God exists, then there are no unknown truths (God is defined as omniscient). Since the paradox argument only works if the there are unknown truths, then it only works if God does not exist. Fitch's Paradox of Knowability simply presupposes God does not exist. However, this is a red herring[4] from Con anyway, as whether all truths are knowable or not has no bearing on the resolution. Even if all truths are actually unknowable, that would not mean that they would be actually unknowable if it were true that God exists. Also, even if all truths are unknowable (which the Fitch's Paradox of Knowability does not prove), that would not mean that the truth of God's existence specifically was unknowable, as it is logically and metaphysically possible for God make his existence known if he exists. Con's argument is a non-sequitur[5], as his conclusion does not follow pertaining to negation of the resolution in context. Since Con's objection using this paradox argument is fallacious, it can be dismissed.

Additional Argument In Favor Of The Resolution


I will be presenting an additional airtight case in favor of the resolution, making it impossible to reject without denying logic itself. I will be presenting an argument in the form of Multiple Modus Ponens[6]. This is one version of an expanded form of the standard Moden Ponens subset involving propositional logic. The structure of this particular version of Multiple Modus Ponens is as follows:


P1. If P, then Q

P2. If Q, then R

C. If P, then R


The variables will be filled in as follows:


P1. If God exists, then God knows he exists

P2. If God knows he exists, then God's existence is knowable

C. If God exists, then God's existence is knowable


P1 is true because if God exists, then God is omniscient; as my opponent accepted the debate under my definition of God, which is specifically an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God. Omniscient means "all knowing" according to every single definition of the word. If God exists, and is all knowing, then this means he knows of his own existence (Fitch's Paradox of Knowability undermines this in absolutely no way, despite my opponent's erroneous assumption to the contrary). Thus, if God exists, he clearly knows he exists.

Even if God was not defined as omniscient, I should still be granted this premise by any rational agent based on common sense alone (what kind of God does not even know he exists?!). However, he is defined as omniscient. Therefore, the premise is true by definition and logical necessity, regardless of common sense derived inductively.

P2 is true because it is self-evident:

If God's existence is unknowable if God exists, then God could not know he exists if God exists. However, this would be impossible. God necessarily knows he exists by definition (omniscience) if he exists, plus it is common sense. Thus, If God knows he exists, then God's existence is necessarily knowable.

The conclusion logically follows as a result of Multiple Modus Ponens.

Since God's existence would be knowable if God exists, then this is incompatible with Agnosticism, as Agnosticism entails that God's existence is unknowable. Therefore, the Agnostic position, as defined, can only be true if God, as defined, does not exist. This means, Agnosticism presupposes that God does not exist.

Con has not shaken the resolution one iota with his attempts at refutation. Thus, the resolution is still affirmed without a shadow of a doubt.

Conclusion

I gave two arguments in favor of the resolution: One that appeals to omnipotence, and another that appeals to omniscience. Either argument works to affirm the resolution with relative ease. By accepting this debate, Con accepted the definitions I provided. Therefore, my definition of God is granted by default. If God is omnipotent, then he has the ability to let us know that he exists. Therefore, God's existence entails that his existence is knowable. This is incompatible with Agnosticism. Thus, Agnosticism presupposes that God does not exist. If God is omniscient, then he knows he exists. Therefore, if God exists, it is necessarily true that God's existence is knowable. Ergo, once again, Agnosticism presupposes that God does not exist.

Any one of my two arguments are completely sufficient to affirm the resolution without any problems. Con actually has to literally deny logic and self-evident truths to undermine the resolution, or any of my arguments. This is not just an uphill battle for Con, but intellectual suicide.

The truth of the resolution remains unscathed, and stands firmly by necessity. Therefore, despite any arguments Con may contrive for the last round, it would be impossible for the truth of the resolution to be effected. I thank Con for this debate. However, I think it is self-evident why all of my opponent's arguments fail, as they were destined to fail by the very nature of the resolution and arguments used to support it.

Sources

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://fallacies.findthedata.org...;
[4] http://www.nizkor.org...;
[5] http://www.merriam-webster.com...;
[6] http://spot.colorado.edu...

wes

Con

Pro's argument is essentially that, if God's nature is known to be tri-omni, then the belief that God's nature is not knowable is contradicted. Despite the fun run around the mulberry bush to get to this conclusion, the point is trivial and uninteresting, hence my request to allow the definition of God to be limited to that one given in the definition of agnostic ("the ultimate cause of things").

Obviously agnostics do not believe that God is tri-omni (they believe such essential nature cannot be known). Therefore, Pro's definition of Agnostic is both incorrect and contradictory. As a result, I cannot submit that the original position that "Agnosticism presupposes that God does not exist" is proved in a meaningful way. However, I do concede that, assuming Pro's strange & contradictory initial conditions, his subsequent argument is valid.

Pro does state "when I say God, I mean...", but obviously this argument is about the beliefs of an agnostic. Therefore, Pro's definition of God should be applied to the use of the word God in his definition of Agnostic.

Allow me to consolidate Pro's definition of agnostic. The contradiction becomes clear:

Agnostic - noun, a person who knows God to be tri-omni AND that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable.

Clearly it is a contradiction to say 1) that God's existence and nature are unknown, and simultaneously 2) that God's nature is known to be tri-omni (in the case of existence). Therefore, including such restrictions on the definition of God makes this argument fruitless to discuss, as it is D.O.A., and simply incorrect. Clearly Pro has incorrectly defined the constraints for an agnostic.

Again, though, technically the argument cannot be refuted as a fundamental contradiction is built-in to Pro's assumed definitions, whether those definitions actually correspond to the words' commonly understood definitions.
Debate Round No. 4
46 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wiploc 3 years ago
wiploc
Great job both.

I'd have voted for Pro, but was almost at a loss to explain why, given that his argument is entirely off topic. But now I notice that voting has closed, so I can't vote, so I don't have to explain my vote in detail.

Some points:

- Con conceded in the final round.

- Con seemed to take the burden of proof on himself in round one.

- We can torture the resolution to make it consistent with what the parties argued, changing it from "Agnosticism presumes the existence of god" to something like "Agnosticism entails the existence of god." Nope, that wouldn't work either. Hmm.

- Pro purported to introduce a new argument in the final round. I don't see it myself; I think he just rephrased his old argument, and very nicely. Well done! But this claim that he was introducing a new argument can be taken as permission for Con to do likewise. And Con did so, nearly effectively. Still, it missed the vital point, and I'm certainly not going to view a near miss favorably when it is introduced when the opponent can no longer point out its flaws. And anyway, as mentioned above, Con conceded. Had Con introduced the winning argument timely, and muffed it, then Pro could have pointed out how it was flawed, and Con would have had time to correct and refine it.
Posted by Sweetapplejuice 3 years ago
Sweetapplejuice
Hell I agree,

Agnosticism Presupposes That God Does Not Exist

If people can't understand the meaning of " Presupposes " here it is in wordweb "Take for granted or as a given"

So... It is a given that God Does Not Exist,

Sorry to those believers out there,

But here's my belief, "God did not create all, because we humans has created god, the bible are written words of believers of god, not by god. If you call non-believers "ignorance" then so are you, why can't you see to believe that there is no greater power? Can't you just be happy with life and lived like a normal human being and die like a normal human being? Why can't you just believe in what you can see instead of what you were told? This is reality vs non-reality."
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
The point is, as per the definitions Con accepted, I affirmed the resolution.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Does it matter what God knows if we are kept in the dark for eternity?"

God couldn't know he existed, unless his existence was knowable (self-evidently). Thus, if he knows he exists, then this means his existence is knowable. This would hold no matter what knowledge humans know, as his existence is still knowable because God knows it.

"Are you trying to say that God's existence is knowable, just not to man kind. And since some other form of knowing other than man kind can know, Agnosticism rejects that?"

This was the nail in the coffin argument provided by me at the end, yes. I cherry-picked the definition of "Agnostic" to use specifically to derive this conclusion. Basically, the reason I did this debate was to practice my deductive reasoning. The resolution, based on the definitions I provided, is essentially fruitless. However, I figured this resolution would be a good way to test my skills pertaining to logic.
Posted by CanWeKnow 3 years ago
CanWeKnow
*rejects God?
Posted by CanWeKnow 3 years ago
CanWeKnow
Does it matter what God knows if we are kept in the dark for eternity? Are you trying to say that God's existence is knowable, just not to man kind. And since some other form of knowing other than man kind can know, Agnosticism rejects that?
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"If God has the ability to be known by man but refuses to let himself be known then whether or not his existence can be known is effectively unknowable."

I respectfully disagree. Even if God never lets us know he exists, he is still able to let us know he exists. Thus, his existence is still knowable. Either way, if he exists, he knows he exists. Thus, his existence is still knowable either way.
Posted by CanWeKnow 3 years ago
CanWeKnow
Also, on another note, whether or not something is fundamentally knowable is somewhat arbitrary to the actual knowability. If God has the ability to be known by man but refuses to let himself be known then whether or not his existence can be known is effectively unknowable. I can have the ability to be known to kids in Africa, but unless I actually make myself known to them then my existence is unknowable to those children.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"the problem of evil assumes that God is tri-omni. It does not aim to prove that initial condition."

What is your point? This is a red herring.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"If we do not know whether an omnipotent being exists, then an omnipotent being does not exist"

That was not my argument. My argument is simply that God is able to make known his existence if he exists because he is omnipotent. This is something he could easily do if he wanted. Even I can make my existence known, to say a God could not is absurd. This is not a controversial premise we are dealing with here. Everybody will agree that if God exists, he as the ability to make himself known. This means, that if God exists, his existence could be possibly known. This is incompatible with Agnosticism as defined, as Agnosticism entails God's existence is unknowable (which means knowledge that that God exists is impossible). Thus it follows necessarily that Agnosticism as defined presupposes that God does not exist.

My other argument is that if God exists he knows he exists. This is, once more, not a controversial premise. To deny it is just delving into radical epistemological skepticism. Since God knows he exists if he exists, then obviously his existence is knowable. Thus, the same conclusion results.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
Rational_Thinker9119wesTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's response to Pro's argument was rejecting the agreeded definintion. Conduct to Pro for that. He then argued God could make his existence unknowable, however Pro pointed out that contradicts God's omniscience. Con drops his arguments to argue from Fitch's Paradox claiming it proves existence =/= knowability. However, as Pro pointed out Con never said how it supports him, he just cited what the paradox was. Pro then went onto prove how Fitch's Paradox supports him than Con. In Con's last round, he argued against agreed definintions. Clear win for pro.
Vote Placed by drafterman 3 years ago
drafterman
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Reasons for voting decision: Fitch's paradox is the keystone here. While Pro is correct in noting that it is fallacious to assume that human knowledge is all the knowledge there is, it is all the knowledge humans have, ergo it applies to humans, including agnostics. Con ties this back to the definition of the agnostic, which mentions unknowable truths, and, thus, the mere existence of God does not imply the knowability of God.
Vote Placed by CanWeKnow 3 years ago
CanWeKnow
Rational_Thinker9119wesTied
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Reasons for voting decision: While I do have problems with Pro's argument, he pulled ahead in the last couple rounds. Con threw a bit of a tantrum at the end there. Rational_Thinker makes the more convincing argument based on tabula rasa, however if Con had put forth a better effort he could have won.
Vote Placed by HeartOfGod 3 years ago
HeartOfGod
Rational_Thinker9119wesTied
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Reasons for voting decision: con even conceded that pro's argument could not be refuted in his last round. I guess pro had a better variety of sources too.
Vote Placed by 4567TME 3 years ago
4567TME
Rational_Thinker9119wesTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I almost feel as if Pro jumped around reasserting his own point, and never really connected with me as the reader. Con used understandable arguments, and used them well. Pro used more sources.