Atheism (Con) vs. The Existence of God (Pro)
Atheism vs. The Existence of God
I will be taking the 'Con' side of this debate and shall be taking the 'Atheism' stance. My opponent, however, will be taking the 'Pro' side of this debate and shall be taking the 'Theism' stance.
Round One: Acceptance only.
Round Two: The Instigator and Contender will state their arguments. There will be no rebuttals until round three.
Round Three: This round is for rebuttals and any extra arguments one wishes to make.
Round Four: This round shall be the last round. It will be for any last rebuttals either the Instigator or Contender wishes to make.
I look forward to a mature and informative debate.
I thank Con for allowing me to post definitions in the acceptance round. I also thank him for the opportunity to learn from him and to reconcile myself with DDO once again. I dedicate this debate to the DDO members who I’ve either offended or have wronged in the past along the way of learning online interaction. Forgive me my sins, Ta Apeiron.
Natural Science: an intellectual project whose focus is the physics in the cosmos, and whose methods are eclectic. But at minimum there is a process wherein theoretical models are constructed -- then, experiments are conducted to see if the model is a good match with the physical world.
Natural Theology: an intellectual project whose focus is the metaphysics of the cosmos and all reality whatsoever, and whose methods are eclectic. But at minimum logic and reason is our guide, not biblical revelation.
Also the best established theories of science can help to inform the discussion in a very specific way: namely scientific theories can act as premises in a philosophical argument leading to theistic implications, but ultimately it’s not a scientific argument.
Hence what Pro and Con are both now engaged in are natural theological arguments in an ongoing project of philosophical natural theology (whether ending in atheist or theist conclusions), not just scientific positions or subjective opinions.
Possibility: in the context of this debate we will have to keep clear what we mean by “possible.” When it comes to the existence of God in particular, we mean a subjunctive possibility, that is, metaphysical or logical possibility, not an epistemic possibility, as in it’s either possible he exists or impossible, we just don’t know which. 
This is in terms of a modal type of logic.  Where “possible” means true in some non-actual or actual state of affairs. If P possibly implies Q, then we're saying that “If it were the case that P, then it might be the case that Q.” 
Necessary Existence: something exists necessarily if they do not depend on anything external for their existence. Their existence is true in all logically possible states of affairs if they exist. If P necessarily implies Q then we're saying that, “If it were the case that P, then it would be the case that Q.” But now there’s two types of necessity,
1) Necessity de dicto (of word), which is like saying, “necessarily, some X is such that it is A.” This is true or false in all possible states of affairs.
2) Necessity de re (of thing), which is like saying that “some X is such that it is necessarily A” ... so here we're talking about the necessity of a thing’s possessing a property or having it essentially.
Contingent Existence: a thing which is dependent for existence, occurrence, character, etc., on something not yet certain; it's conditional.  Such things are generated and later corrupted. A thing is generated just if there is a state when it exists and a causally or temporally prior state when it does not. On the other hand, these things are corrupted just if there is a time when it exists and a later time when it does not. These things are therefore temporally contingent, for since they come into and go out of being, then they are possibly generated or possibly corrupted. And so every temporally contingent being begins to exist at some time and ceases to exist at some time. Such beings, then, seem to exist for a finite period of time. 
God: a necessarily existing being who can be described as supreme, maximally great, or unlimited because he has, as its nature (that is, he has essentially) supremeity, maximal excellence, or limitlessness. And to have such a nature means God must possess (again, essentially) some collection of great making properties like omniscience, omnipotence, moral perfection, etc.
If such a being exists, then in virtue of these essential properties, he must exist necessarily, and so, fundamentally, God can be described as a necessary being, and the existence of this being, a necessary one, is what I will attempt argue better explains what we know of reality than atheism.
Theism: The philosophical view that affirms the existence of God or something like him.
Atheism: The philosophical view that affirms the non-existence of God or anything like him. (This is to contrast the non-philosophical position that atheism is a view that affirms the non-belief of God. For this variety of atheism wouldn’t be a philosophy suitable for debating, it would instead be a psychological description irrelevant to the question of whether or not God exists. I therefore assume the philosophical atheism rather than the psychological atheism since Con wants to debate. He must therefore offer a positive case in favor of the denial of God, he must show that God is either disconfirmed given some bit of reasoning whether empirical or rational).
Objective - independent on our stance on things.
Thesis of Moral Objectivity - It is possible to find out about some moral sentences that they are true.
Irrational cause: eg, kid bitten by black dog then believes that all black dogs bite kids.
Nonrational cause: eg, physical events or causes.
Presuppositions of Reasoning - saying that one ought to accept any view is to assume all nine below hold true. 
1. intentionality or aboutness: the relation that mind states have to the world
2. thoughts and beliefs can either be true or false
3. the condition of accepting, rejecting, suspending belief about propositions
4. logical laws exist and humans can apprehend them
5. state of accepting truth of proposition & the propositional content of mental states
6. causal role of the apprehension of logical laws in accepting a conclusion
7. entertain-ability of a premise while drawing conclusions
8. reasoning processes which gives a reliable way of understanding the world
9. propositionally understood representation
Steps of the Reasoning Process- First there’s experience involving the reception of facts to think about, self-evidence involving the perception of a prima facie truth of a rule permitting inference, and finally logic arranges the fact in a certain form to prove a conclusion.
Explanation types - there has to be a combination of relations first of how a thought was produced and second of how thoughts are related to one another logically. Such thoughts are about something else, they are either true or false and their propositional content must cause other thoughts to take place. Further, the act of inference must be subsumed under an always true logical law according to which one thought follows another. Thus our acts of rational inference occur due to reality having a feature that corresponds to that inferential process. This reason-explanation combination exists either in a world that is fundamentally governed by blind matter rather than reasons, or not. 
Fine-Tuning doesn’t mean “design” … it’s a neutral term that’s generally agreed upon by scientists, that very small deviations from the actual values of the cosmic constants and quantities would result in a life prohibiting universe. For the range of life-permitting values is exquisitely narrow compared with the range of assumable values. 
Constants are mathematical expressions of nature’s physical laws whose values are not determined by the laws themselves. A universe governed by such laws can have a wide range of values. For example, Newton’s Law of Gravity:
F = Gm1m2 / r2
Here, the gravity force, F, between two objects depends not just on their masses m, and distance r; but also on a certain constant G, which is constant regardless of the masses and distance.
Fundamental constants α, include gravitation αG, the weak force αW, the strong force αS, the ratio between a proton and an electron’s mass mn:me. The universe is conditioned principally by these values and so just a slight variation in some of these values would render life impossible! PCW Davies says that changes in αG or αW of only 1 part in 10^100 would be a life-prohibiting universe. 
Quantities are also independent of the laws of nature themselves. They are arbitrary physical values simply ‘put into’ the universe at the initial conditions of the universe. These are boundary conditions on which the laws of nature operate. For example, the entropy level is an arbitrary quantity. Another is the cosmological constantΛ, which drives inflation and is responsible for the recently discovered acceleration of expansion in the early universe moments after the big bang, which was crucial for life. For Λ was fine-tuned to around one part in 10^120!
More quantities governing early expansion includes the total density Ω0, and the Expansion Speed H0. At Planck time (the first 10^-43 seconds after creation) the expansion was occurring at a fantastically special rate. For Ω0 was close to a critical value on the borderline between re-collapse and everlasting expansion. Hawking estimates that if the expansion rate decreased in 1 part in a hundred thousand million million, one second after the Big Bang, our universe would have re-collapsed a long time ago. And an increase wouldn’t result in galaxies condensing out of the expanding matter, for the composite particle made up of three quarks known as the entropy per Baryon S, needed to severely constrain the structure of the Big Bang for thermodynamics to arise. Roger Penrose estimates that the odds of this special low entropy condition arising by chance is 10^10(123) !
6. Victor Reppert, 2003, "C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason," p.73
7. CS Lewis, 1978, p56
8. See J.D. Barrow and F.J. Tipler’s, “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle” and, Sir Martin Rees, Robin Collins, et al9. Paul Davies, The Mind of God, p.169
I would like to thank SubterFugitive for accepting this debate. He will be taking the stance of 'Theism', while I will be taking the stance of 'Atheism. Furthermore, he will be taking the stance of 'a god or gods exist' while I will be taking the stance of 'there is no god or gods'.
The Bible is a widely accepted information source. It is, however, only accepted by theists, most notably Christians, Jews, and Muslims. These religions believe in something that is, generally, untrue. The Bible includes a few truths, such as the existence of characters such as the mere existence of Jesus and Moses, but the book is absolutely not correct when it comes to the issue of humanity"s origin.
Many Christians claim there are about 39 authors of the Bible. They do, however, fail to mention who these people are. They seemingly have no name, origin, or heritage. Christians simply say the Bible was written by the "followers of Jesus." This claim is, until proven true, false.
The Bible also fails to have the capacity to tell facts. The Bible is, in many ways, nothing more than a fairy tale book. Noah"s Ark, Jesus" resurrection, Moses parting the sea, and all other miracles in the Bible can be defined as a fairy tale. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that can explain and/or prove these events, thus one must assume they did not occur. Furthermore, the Bible must be labeled as unreliable until solid, valid evidence can be found that supports not only Creation, but also all other biblical stories.
Proof of Evolution
Evolution, which was once considered false, is now more widely accepted. It is, however, not accepted by all, even though it is fact. It can be proven by these five key aspects: Fossils, embryology, vestigial structures, and homologous structures.
Fossils show the remains of creatures that once roamed the Earth. These creatures are similar to the ones that exist today (O'Neil, anthro.palomar.edu). These include the fossils of whales.
Embryology shows creatures that look exactly the same as embryos. They have similar structures that become different parts (necsi.edu). Take a look at these links below:
Vestigial Structures are structures in animals that have little to no use. This includes the human appendix, which is useless (berkley.edu). In a mouse, however, it is greatly needed. It is the same in a whale, which has finger bones but cannot use them.
Homologous structures are structures that are very similar in many animals, such as the hand structure of humans, rats, bats, whales, et-cetera (berkley.edu).
As you can see, there are quite a few ways to substantiate evolution's reality. Because evolution is a certainty, one cannot say it is false. Because of this, we can deduce that all creatures have a common ancestor other then the bible's 'Adam and Eve'. I feel we can rule out the use of evolution as proof of theism.
When talking about Adam and Eve, I become perplexed. You see, we would not be here if we started out with only two people. You need at least four couples (eight people) to populate a planet. If there really was a Adam and Eve, their intelligence levels and immune system strength would have to have been extremely high.
If God created the Universe, who created God?
Here is a problem with theism: If there really is a god out there, who created the Universe and continues to play dice with the universe, who created him? This is a large problem among many theists, because they fail to ask for evidence of where their god came from. Whenever I ask Christians this question, they answer with, "God does not need a creator, for God can create himself". There is a problem with that statement, as I assume most rational personages agree. Stephen Hawking, "Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time" (hawking.org), has stated in his show on The Science Channel, Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking (IMDB), that God could not have created the Universe because no time existed before the Universe for any God to create it. This is a highly realistic fact.
The Big Bang
Many people, even though it has plenty of evidence, do not believe in the Big Bang. Instead, they believe God said 'Let there be light', 'let there be"'. According to Creation, this happened for seven days, at which point, God - Who is supposed to be an almighty being - was tired and decided to rest.
This, I am sorry to say, it highly illogical. As I stated earlier, "Who created God?" I do not understand how people can deny the Big Bang when there is no good proof of Creation by God.
Now, looking at the definitions you gave, it seems you agree with the Big Bang. However, according to what you said about "one second after the Big Bang, our universe would have re-collapsed." In saying this, you are stating that there was such a small chance of the Universe continuing, that there must have been interference by a creator.
I would like some proof
When I ask a Christian for some proof of God, they tell me to look around and see the complexity of the world around me. When I look around, I see proof that the Universe is so big that the chance of everything on Earth being created was raised. You see, the universe is very large; so large that there is a possibility for almost every possible combination of matter.
Once, I attempted to pray. Needless to be said, it did nothing for me. I asked for some sort of sign. I received nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Where is God?
When asking people this question, I always receive the answer 'Heaven'. Then I ask where Heaven is and people tell me God is "outside the universe". Unfortunately, "in order for God to exist, he would have to exist in a location. That would mean that such a location would have to be part of the universe, since it is a "location" and you can't have a location outside of the universe. So, it doesn't make sense to say that God exists outside of the "universe of locations" while he himself is in a location" (CARM).
Because this round is only for stating our arguments, I do not feel the need to add more, for these are the arguments I currently have. As you have already given some good, helpful definitions, I do not feel obligated to lay out anymore. I will wait for your arguments towards the existence of God.
O'Neil, Dennis. Interpreting the Fossil Record. Palomar, Web. 5 March 2014.
Hawking, Stephen. Stephen Hawking. hawking.org, Web. 5 March 2014.
Similarities of Embryos. necsi.edu, Web. 5 March 2014.
Adaptation. Berkley, Web. 5 March 2014.
Homologies and Analogies. Berkley, Web. 5 March 2014.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. IMDB, Web. 6 March 2014.
Slick, Matt. Argument Against God's Existence Using Location Outside of the Universe CARM, Web. 6 March 2014.
In accordance with the preset structure of the debate, the next round will contain my response to Con. This round however contains my positive case showing that theism better explains what we know of reality than atheism. It is not my goal here to prove God (hardly anything is proven). Rather what is intended will be to show both that it is rational to believe in God and that his existence better explains the relevant data than atheism.
This will be accomplished first by making explicit those sundry facts of our reality. Namely that it was this cosmos that came to be. A cosmos which is first of all contingent by nature. One which is conceptually describable having an organized structure complete with reliable regularity, beauty and embodied conscious moral agents attuned to, and capable of understanding this beauty given that our mental faculties have been adequated to such a contingent cosmos. 
Then second, I will show how theism better explains this data where atheism is either impotent to do so, explains it away, or offers the usual blank check of a promissory naturalism.
The Facts to be Explained
The Cosmos & Its Collective Properties
Facts I. Personal Cosmos
Let us recognize some things about the cosmos and ourselves. Zooming in from left to right in the picture above, notice that inside our reality lies near unlimited creative potential. It not only has a finely-tuned structure allowing for that creative potential, but also permits the possibility of conscious embodied moral agents who emerged with intrinsic value and dignity capable of understanding and enjoying this reality. So what emerged are persons who can interact with a beautiful world full of enjoyable secondary properties like colors, smells, sounds, tastes, textures.
Despite the fact that some of these agents misuse their freedom to harm others both individually and corporately, life is generally worth living. We can be hedonists in this universe, live as scholars, write as poets and build as kings. Beauty exists superabundantly both intellectually in architecture and aesthetically in landscapes, stars and natural fractals. The beauty that extends to the intellectual realm is easily seen through our best, most mathematically elegant scientific theories that describe the world in which we thrive. Let us complete the picture below,
Notice from left to right as we zoom in further the pattern remains the same. The mind-like structure is consistent all the way from the observable universe to the human brain and onto our creation of the map of the internet; that dynamic collection of mastered human knowledge and experience. More fundamentally than this is the fact that our cognitive faculties are assumed to be generally reliable within this reality so that we can gradually learn something about ourselves, our world, and about our possible Creator, presumably himself a personal mind. Our globe is rich in theological inquiry dominated by religions, spirituality and existential yearning. I will argue that these facts are readily explained on theism, but is left mysterious on atheism.
Facts II. Contingent Cosmos
Notice in the figure above representing our contingent reality, that this reality as a whole has a “now” slice in which something presently exists. To date only finitely many things have existed. For an actually infinite is not just physically unlikely, it is metaphysically impossible! Con accepts the big bang model so we both affirm that the cosmos came to be a finite time ago, and so it is contingent.
But now in our reality we understand that every temporally contingent thing is possibly generated and later corrupted; such things exist for a finite period of time. But if everything is temporally contingent like this, then there was a state in which nothing existed; in which case nothing presently exists, which is absurd: it leaves us with a discrepancy requiring an explanation. I will argue that this fact is readily explained on theism, but a mystery on atheism.
The Explanation of The Facts
The Necessary Creator Who Endowed
Us With Rational & Moral Faculties
Explanation of Facts II. Contingent Cosmos by Necessary Being
Let’s begin with the second fact set first. It doesn’t at all seem unreasonable to try and seek a solution to the discrepancy mentioned in the second figure. Thankfully, theism provides an answer where atheism averts their gaze. Theism’s solution is God, a temporally necessary reality. Thus our figure becomes,
Note that a temporally necessary being is not temporally contingent. For where a contingent reality is generated we see that God is necessarily ungenerated, and where God is incorruptible, our cosmos is so...
Now it just needs to be possible that everything have a sufficient reason for its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or by an external reason), from which it follows that anything having a sufficient reason for its existence [that is a sufficient reason for its own existence] is unlimited, it is necessary. Furthermore a contingent thing cannot be the sufficient reason for a necessary thing.
Such an unlimited being is necessarily greater than any other being because an unlimited being possesses every great making property in some logically possible state of affairs w, including unlimitation in w1 … but if that is the case then the unlimited being possesses every great making property in w1 and since w1 is an arbitrarily selected logically possible state of affairs, then such a being is unlimited in all logically possible states of affairs including this one, the actual world. Now it is impossible that anything is greater than itself for “greater than” is asymmetric. Therefore, insofar as these propositions are merely possible then a Supreme being, God, exists. Con would have to show that what I’ve said above is impossible. 
Explanation of Facts I. Personal Cosmos by Personal God
Given that the finely-tuned cosmos is contingent because it came into being a finite time ago, and since things which come to be require causes, then it follows deductively that this cosmos has a first cause. This cause is more plausibly an immaterial mind or person who willed the cosmos into being from a timeless state. First because either minds or abstract objects are immaterial, yet abstracta can’t cause anything so that leaves a mind. Second there are two types of explanations, scientific, which investigates physics; or there are personal, non-physical explanations in terms of volition. But since the cosmos is all of physics then the explanation can’t be scientific so it must be personal. Third in order to get a temporal effect from a timeless cause there is only agency causation, otherwise the effect would be coeternal with the cause.
Also, the First Cause is an entity that has produced a finely tuned cosmos, containing beauty and creatures attuned to beauty, containing moral prescriptions (which itself requires a moral prescriber) and creatures aware of those prescriptions, a universe containing conscious beings with free will, a universe some of whose contents have objective functions (eyes are for seeing, and so on). Thus it is very plausible that the first Cause is an extremely intelligent and very powerful person acting purposively. 
Now the question is, how on atheism do non-rational causes result in rational beings? Rationality would simply be a by-product of physical cause-and-effect of evolved material, we would have no warrant for trusting our mental faculties for anything outside of survival and instinct. Yet science supposes that these faculties are indeed reliable, say, for theorizing and so on.
So which came first; the the mental or the material? Theism favorably answers that the mental was prior and so rationality is more fundamental to the universe than what atheists would have us think.
It wouldn’t be surprising on theism then if matter is created with potentialities to produce minds distinct from itself with the ability to reason. But it would be surprising on atheism! So if Con is even to get off the ground with atheism, he must either deny evolution or answer this challenge,
why think it is more likely that reason should emerge
if some of the fundamental causes of the universe
are not more like a mind?
But since explaining reason in terms of unreason explains reason away, and undercuts the very reason on which the explanation is supposed to be based, then it becomes an insuperable problem for Con’s atheism! For without reason, he cannot argue against theism or for atheism. He must therefore deal with this problem!
Lastly, why on atheism should we think that the world would include anything more than natural facts and properties along with our subjective reactions to those properties? There’s no clear way atheists can affirm human dignity as being real!
But on theism, God values human persons because they are intrinsically valuable; namely because God created them after his own image as a person with rational and moral natures. On theism, human persons have been fashioned after the most ultimate and sacred feature of reality and thus participate in that sacredness. So, the personal is far more at home in such a universe than on an atheistic one.
Therefore theism better explains both the contingency of the cosmos and its contingent, collective properties better than atheism. I will handle Con’s arguments next round as well as his rebuttal to this modest case for theism.
10. By cosmos I include all of spacetime reality in general; including whatever multiverse there may be. It is interesting to note that the multiverse itself requires not only a beginning, but also fine-tuning in order to continue spawning other spacetime realities. I will provide literature and argument on this point if pressed.
11. Robert Maydole, 1980, p.180
12. Pruss, Cosmological Arguments, bearspace.baylor.edu/Alexander_Pruss/www/papers/LCA.htm
I would like to thank SubterFugutive for responding and giving me his arguments towards theism and the existence of God. As this is the beginning of round 3, it is time for rebuttals. In this round, I shall go through Pro's arguments and facts, and talk about what is correct about what he said and what is incorrect.
In Pro's first argument, he is talking about a personal cosmos. In his explanation, he stated that we, as humans, have the ability to interact with our environments, which we perceive as beautiful. I have an argument about that: The reason we can interact with our environment is because we have evolved to do so. We perceive the environment as beautiful because we have evolvolved to like and feel comfortable with our environment.
In Pro's next argument, he went on to speak about reality, and how it cannot be thoroughly explained with Atheism. In my opinion, however, it can. Theism says that God created the Universe, but it does not explain who or what created God. It's the same paradox.
After those two points, Pro went on to talk more about reality and time. He stated that "everything is temporally contingent like this, then there was a state in which nothing existed; in which case nothing presently exists, which is absurd." In this quote, I believe Pro was talking about entropy, which can actually explain the big bang from an Atheist's perspective. From an Atheist's perspective, the small area of energy that existed exactly before the big bang, was released because of entropy, hence causing the big bang.
"I will argue that this fact is readily explained on theism, but a mystery on atheism."
As a stated earlier, Theism hits a dead end. According to Theism, God created the universe after God created himself. According to Atheism, however, the big bang was caused by entropy. However, that does in fact lead to a dead end as well. Now, the only problem left with Theism is the fact that if there were a God, why would he create a universe? Furthermore, how would God create himself?
In Pro's next statment, he stated that an 'unlimited being' has unlimited power and capabilities. This statement is actually an attempt to prove that God could create himself as well as the Universe. This, however, goes along with what I just stated: How could a nonexistant being come into being? and why would God create the Universe?
In the next statment, Pro talks about the cause of the universe. As I stated in round 2, Stephen Hawking "stated in his show on The Science Channel, Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking (IMDB), that God could not have created the Universe because no time existed before the Universe for any God to create it. This is a highly realistic fact." Although, Pro also said that there are two explanations for the creation of the Universe: The scientific proof, being physics, and the personal proof, being "non-physical explanations." In my opinion, as well as the opinions of scientists, physics explains the cause of the universe. It follows rules.
"Thus it is very plausible that the first Cause is an extremely intelligent and very powerful person acting purposively."
So, what caused "the first Cause"? If there has to be a cause to the Universe, there must be a cause to the Cause, correct?
"So if Con is even to get off the ground with atheism, he must either deny evolution or answer this challenge"
"why think it is more likely that reason should emerge if some of the fundamental causes of the universe are not more like a mind?"
Because I cannot deny a fact such as evolution, I will answer Pro's challenge:
Pro is asking about why logic exists in the universe if an intelligent mind did not create the universe. This question is a great question, for it challenges physics. However, it is very easy to answer: The universe would not continue to exist if there were no logical laws of nature. As you stated in your definitions in round 1, "Hawking estimates that if the expansion rate decreased in 1 part in a hundred thousand million million, one second after the Big Bang, our universe would have re-collapsed a long time ago." That explains that the Universe was created in just the right way for logic and reason to come into being. If it had been different, logic, reason, and physics would not exist, hense rendering the Universe obsolete.
As I believe I have stated all the rebuttals necessary, I shall allow Pro to argue against the arguments I stated in round 2. I look forward to seeing his feedback and hope he can manage to prove Atheism false.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. IMDB, Web. 6 March 2014.
Refutation of the Atheist Case
Recall that Con must offer a positive case in favor of the denial of God. But he has only offered musings and puzzlement over a strange view of God, not rational evidence disconfirming the existence of a supreme being.
The first two objections in his former round are irrelevant. The validity of the bible and the project of hermeneutical exegesis and inspiration isn’t germane to the debate. Whether or not God exists is what the debate is about, not if he revealed himself to the Jews then through Jesus to the world.
The theory of evolution is compatible with their being a creator and so this can’t count as evidence against theism. Interestingly, Saint Augustine, ~1500 yrs before Darwin, argued that God created the cosmos with certain potencies that would later unfold naturally into what we see today. So a Christian’s acceptance of evolution isn’t a modern retreat in the face of contemporary biology, far from it, we’re one of the first to propose the idea! (Along with Anaxagoras).
The third point rests on a misunderstanding, God has classically been defined as a necessary being who is the ground of all reality. So he isn’t defined as self-created or self caused, rather he is uncreated (ungenerated) by definition. Recall that it is only contingent beings that require a cause, whereas necessary beings are not caused, otherwise they wouldn’t be a necessary being. So it makes little sense to ask what caused the first cause… it’s the first cause!
Moreover there is nothing incompatible with saying that God existed timelessly without creation -- but exists in time coincident with, and subsequent to, his creating the cosmos. Hence Con (Hawking) would have to show that it’s impossible for anything to exist timelessly. So the quote,
"God could not have created the Universe because no time existed before the Universe for any God to create it."
… is mistaken theology, if God can exist in a timeless state and will the cosmos into being via simultaneous causality, then problem solved.
As for the location of God, location is relative to objects in space, but God, an ultramundane mind, isn't in space, he is causally transcendent from it, and so at most this objection would show that God is immaterial, which is what the theist affirms. Thus all of Con’s points are simple clarifications regarding our theological view of a supreme being. They aren’t really objections at all. Even so, I provided answers.
Defense of Theist Case
Regarding the overall structure of my case, my claim was that theism better explains what we know of reality than atheism. Meaning that certain facts about reality are not surprising on theism, but they are surprising on atheism. Here Con misunderstands my claim, he says,
“Pro says how reality cannot be thoroughly explained with Atheism,”
But this is not my claim, I fully affirm that atheism can explain the facts, that they can come up with a possible explanation. Well and fine, ... illiterates accomplish the same feat. Rather what my claim is, is that theism provides a better explanation of the fine-tuning of the cosmos for moral and rational persons than atheism, all things considered.
Moreover there may always be problems with explanations, the merit of each, however, is to be judged relative to other competing explanations, not just by their individual problems taken in isolation. So then let’s see if Con’s atheism better explains the facts.
Facts I. Personal Cosmos
Recall here the fine-tuning of the physical constants and quantities which allow for embodied moral and rational persons as well as an environment in which to accommodate such beings in terms of secondary properties, reliable order, possibility for unlimited good and so on. How does Con have atheism better explain this than theism? He says,
“The reason we can interact with our environment [and perceive it as beautiful] is because we have evolved to do so.”
This explains nothing! That’s like saying that the reason we were naturally conditioned for such things is because we were naturally conditioned for such things. It’s circular.
The question is why did we evolve for these things in such a way and why did that evolution take place in an arena finely tuned for embodied moral and rational persons as well as an environment in which to accommodate such beings in terms of secondary properties? Con basically just answers “because it did… therefore atheism!” This fails at even being an explanation let alone a good one.
Next fact is the mind-like structure being consistent all the way from the observable universe to the human brain in the photo below and onto our creations, the internet. And this is a structure not just in resemblance, but also in thought. The cosmos is rationally discoverable and so lends credence to its being rational. Moreover there's the fact of our reliable cognition in an otherwise randomly generated evolutionary selection that selects only for survival value and not true metaphysical belief value on naturalism. (Note here that the claim that our cognition is reliable for truth is itself a metaphysical claim.) The last fact in this grouping is our existential yearning ubiquitous across the planet. How then does Con better explain this on atheism?
Nothing. Con stays silent and so concedes this point. Extend theist explanation.
Explanation of Facts II. Contingent Cosmos by Necessary Being
Recall the next fact to be explained is the discrepancy of a contingent cosmos presently existing without any prior ground of being, without which nothing should presently exist. How does Con’s atheism seek to solve this absurdity better than theism?
Con mistakenly assumes that I was talking about entropy. The second law of thermodynamics isn’t what was being assumed, but ok let’s roll with it. This understanding of the Friedmann-Lemaitre cosmological model and thermodynamics is greatly mistaken. First the big bang doesn’t start out like a dense “pellet” which later explodes. Rather the singularity marks the absolute origin of space and time from no prior physical state whatsoever. Indeed the absolute origin of the cosmos is thermodynamically inferred, for a singularity theorem formulated by Aaron Waal, showed this past summer that the cosmos must have begun to exist.  Con even admits that the notion of entropy creating the cosmos “does in fact lead to a dead end...”
The above points prove why Con’s statement that “physics explains the cause of the universe” is absurd. For he objects in the same breath, “How could a nonexistent being come into being?” Exactly! …. How could a cosmos, which didn’t previously exist, come into existence from non-being? The theist’s answer is a reasonable one, that the cosmos was created by an uncreated (not self-created) being, and God is the best candidate for such a being, for he stops the chain of an infinite regress of past causes, thus we have a first cause.
Con then asks the question why God created the universe. This isn’t so much of a problem as it is a theological question which isn’t central to accepting theism. But insofar as there is a possible answer then whatever hidden problem just evaporates. One answer: God, as such, is perfect, and such a God only creates good things for good purposes. This cosmos is good, all things considered, why expect anything else on theism?
Con’s answer to the theist challenge,
why think it is more likely, on atheism, that reason should emerge
if some of the fundamental causes of the universe
are not more like a Mind?
… is a mistaken interpretation of the challenge, he says I am “asking about why logic exists in the universe if an intelligent mind did not create the universe.”
But that’s not the challenge, the question is why would reasoning beings who apprehend logical manipulation emerge given only natural, and not rational processes? To which he responds by equivocating logical laws with physical laws.
This is mistaken, for logical laws tell you whether statements arranged in a certain order are valid, reason shows which premises in that machinery are more likely true, which evinces the entertainability of propositions, a non-physical process that persons do, somehow.
Now physical laws are much different, they are descriptions of the physical regularities we observe in the cosmos. Logical laws by contrast are prescriptions of the non-physical, rational order that should take place if a person wants to draw a reasonable conclusion from a set of non-physical propositions.
Furthermore, there is a logically possible world in which every one of those physical law descriptions are false, but no such world in which logical laws are false. For example the expansion rate of the cosmos, as a physical constant, which can take on any form, isn't a logical constant (there isn't such a thing), rather it's a physical expression that can vary with different cosmic structures. By contrast the law of noncontradiction holds in all possible worlds, not just physical worlds.
Nevertheless let’s modify Con’s claim to what I am arguing,
“that the Universe was created in just the right way for [reasoning beings using logic] to come into being. If it had been different, [such beings] would not exist.”
Since God is a reasoning being, and physical processes are not reasoning beings, then it makes better sense that God ordered his creation so that humans would evolve to apprehend logic and reason. Reason comes from reason, not unreason. Therefore Con’s atheism is unreasonable.
Personal Dignity and Human Value
Con failed to respond to the argument that theism better explains moral dignity and personal value. Extend theist explanation.
Sources13. Aron C. Wall, "The Generalized Second Law implies a Quantum Singularity Theorem," 13 Aug 2013, http://arxiv.org...
I would like to begin my first argument by talking about how I have not stated "rational evidence disconfirming the existence of a supreme being." Though this may be true, I would like to point out that no one has seen, studied, or interviewed God, which brings to the point that there is no good, solid evidence proving or disproving God. My method of going about this task has been to relay certain facts that disprove stories talked about in the Bible. By doing that, I have:
The third point rests on a misunderstanding, God has classically been defined as a necessary being who is the ground of all reality. So he isn"t defined as self-created or self caused, rather he is uncreated (ungenerated) by definition.
Pro stated that God was created by chance and that a being like God did not create himself, but was created without being created. As I stated in a previous argument, "Theism says that God created the Universe, but it does not explain who or what created God. It's the same paradox." When stating this, I explained that neither system can be thoroughly explained logically. One cannot explain where God came from without wondering how God was created. At the same time, however, one cannot explain where the Universe came from without wondering how the singularity came into existence.
Pro seems to be arguing against an idea that doesn't make sense, while trying to explain it with an idea that is equally inaccurate. I believe we can come to the conclusion that if God can be created without a creator, then the Universe itself can be created without a creator, correct?
"Hence Con (Hawking) would have to show that it"s impossible for anything to exist timelessly."
According to Pro, I must prove that it is impossible for anything to exist without there being time. I shall do that. First, however, I would like to restate something:
Time is what allows an object to progress forward. For something to truly exist timelessly, there would have to be no time at all, which would mean that this certain object cannot progress forward and perform an action of any kind. Unfortunately, that is not entirely accurate, because for something to exist without being capable of performing any actions, it would have to exist in only one plank-time unit, which would not be timeless, for there is only one unit of time. Without time, an object cannot exist. However, Einstein, when coming up with the theory of relativity, taught us that time and space are one, hence making space-time. Using that fact, saying that nothing exists timelessly would be saying that nothing exists in space, which is impossible. If nothing exists in space, then nothing exists period.
Furthermore, God, even though he would be all powerful, could not exist timelessly because time is a fundamental aspect of being able to move, think, act, et-cedra. Even if God were to exist 'timelessly', he would have to exist in only one plank-time unit, which would make it impossible for him to do anything. With that, I think I have proven that nothing can exist timelessly, which would disprove the idea of God existing before the Universe.
"As for the location of God, location is relative to objects in space, but God, an ultramundane mind, isn't in space, he is causally transcendent from it, and so at most this objection would show that God is immaterial, which is what the theist affirms."
This defies what I have just stated, which says that nothing can be ultramundane and nothing can exist without space.
""The reason we can interact with our environment [and perceive it as beautiful] is because we have evolved to do so."" - "This explains nothing! That"s like saying that the reason we were naturally conditioned for such things is because we were naturally conditioned for such things. It"s circular."
How does it not explain it? If humanity evolved within dark caves, we would find cave walls to be beautiful. If we came up onto the surface, we would find everything to be unsightly. The world would not be beautiful if we were not conditioned to think that way.
Pro then went on to ask why we evolved to be this way. I have the answer: Natural selection. We evolved this way so we could interact with our environment in a good way.
"why did that evolution take place in an arena finely tuned for embodied moral and rational persons"[?]
Pro wants to know why we evolved to have morals. Here is the answer: We have morals because our brain works that way. The amygdala, the portion of the brain that allows for emotions to work, had a certain mutation long ago that gave us morals.
"[T]he mind-like structure being consistent all the way from the observable universe to the human brain in the photo below and onto our creations, the internet."
That really does not mean anything. The structure within the brain is logical, for it allows for good connections between portions of the brain. It is that way because it works. The Universe being that way correlates with the brain in one way: Physics. Physics makes things come together the way they do. The brain and the stars both run off the same laws of physics.
"Con even admits that the notion of entropy creating the cosmos "does in fact lead to a dead end...""
Yes, indeed I did say it leads to a dead end. God does too. Pro fails to see how God also leads to a dead end. Because I explained this thoroughly earlier in this round, I will not do it again.
"The theist"s answer is a reasonable one, that the cosmos was created by an uncreated (not self-created) being, and God is the best candidate for such a being."
Something cannot be created by something uncreated. If something is uncreated, it does not exist. Now, I understand what Pro was saying about God being a necessary being rather than a contingent being, but have we actually proved that a necessary being could exist? Science has not given us proof of that.
"God, as such, is perfect, and such a God only creates good things for good purposes. This cosmos is good, all things considered, why expect anything else on theism?"
There are evil people on the planet. If God creates things for good purposes, then why are some people evil?
Because it seems my response to Pro's challenge was incorrect, I will answer it once more:
Pro's Challenge: Why would reasoning beings who apprehend logical manipulation emerge given only natural, and not rational processes?
There are a few answers to this question, the first being evolution. Evolution, which has taken place for millions of years, has had plenty of time to work. Millions of years is more than enough time for brains to evolve to be able to think logically. The second answer is logic is relative. Here is an example: Pro believes God is logical, while I do not. What is logical to one man is not logical to another man. This is why it is difficult to answer this challenge, because what I find logical is not what Pro might find logical. However, it is an answer because everyone is logical to themselves.
"Since God is a reasoning being, and physical processes are not reasoning beings, then it makes better sense that God ordered his creation so that humans would evolve to apprehend logic and reason. Reason comes from reason, not unreason. Therefore Con"s atheism is unreasonable."
Yes, but humans have evolved to apprehend logic and reason on their own. They can do this on their own. All laws of biology and natural selection say that this can happen on its own. That is just the way the Universe works.
I believe I have concluded that a Creator such as God is not needed to create the Universe. I have shown that all aspects of Creationism, including Adam and Eve and instant creation of the Universe by God. I have explained that morals and logic can occur logically, and I have explained that God could not have existed before the Universe. Using those facts, I think we can come to the conclusion that there is not and cannot be an all-powerful Creator.
I patiently await Pro's final arguments and rebuttals. Once he has done so, this debate will be in the hands of the voters. I have enjoyed this debate and hope to win. Thank you.
Refutation of the Atheist Case
Recall that it was not my contention that God is needed to create the Universe, rather it was my position that the relevant facts of reality make better sense on theism than atheism: the cosmos coming into being from no prior material cause makes better sense on theism, where God is the necessarily existing efficient cause of a contingent creation. This creation has embodied moral and rational agents endowed with intrinsic value and dignity, we can appreciate a beautiful creation and interact with it in a good way if we so choose. This makes better sense on theism because God is intensely personal, and so its no surprise that he would create persons capable of grasping the Good.
Now Con admitted that he failed to offer rational evidence disconfirming the existence of such a supreme being; but then he attempts to soften the blow by objecting that no one has experienced this God. But why suppose this is true? Has Con shown evidence undercutting the reality of religious experience as well as the existential yearning for it on atheism? His silence on this point negates this recent retreat. For I argued that nearly the entire globe admits to have some sort of personal relation with their creator; whether such experiences are veridical or not hasn’t been brought up by Con so all he can do is handwave and argument from ignorance at this point.
Con also claims that his method was to disprove the Bible. But I already explained that biblical interpretation / inspiration is irrelevant to this debate. We're both engaged in natural theology, not revealed theology. Thus it is pointless for Con to disprove Adam and Eve! I already affirm evolution and showed its compatibility with theism (as well as its incompatibility with atheism, another point which Con failed to address). With his #2, I argued that God could exist timelessly without creation yet in time subsequent to creation.
Defense of Theist Case
Facts I. Personal Cosmos
I agree with Con that we were conditioned to think the world is beautiful. But the question is what worldview better explains this fact? I argued that theism does where atheism attempts to explain away (assert) the fact by an appeal to illusion. On theism we can be realists about beauty, on atheism we cannot. This is telling.
Through natural selection, I agree that we evolved in a way that allowed us to interact with our environment in a good way. Again the question is not whether this is a fact, but rather which view better explains this fact? I contend that because God is personal, it wouldn’t be surprising that he would want his created persons to enjoy his creation when they finally evolved into beings capable of such enjoyment. Atheism says that this too is an illusion, there are nothing but causal inputs and outputs, pain is the same as pleasure. This too is telling!
Con asks here if God creates things for good purposes, then why are some people evil? This is a pseud-question, for it assumes that it is a coherent idea that someone is free to do what they are determined to do… But that’s false, God can’t make a person freely choose to do the right thing, because that’s a contradiction. Hence given a world with created free creatures, it will always be possible for at least one of those creatures to use their endowed freedom, a good thing, to do evil. So because persons are originators of their own will, and if that will is to do evil rather than good, then it follows that it doesn’t count against God’s existence that his creatures freely choose to do evil rather than good.
If anything it affirms the need for a savior, in which case Christianity ought to be investigated more. Either way a fall into sin is expected on theism and so evil agents cannot count as evidence against theism. Indeed how could it? On atheism, “evil” doesn’t exist, for Con said that morals are just emotional brain happenings, nothing is truly evil. This then is another case in which atheism explains away the facts rather than actually explaining it! (Telling)
Therefore, I know that “this is the way the universe works,” but the question is what world view better explains this phenomena, not whether this phenomena exists. And in each case I think I have argued successfully that theism better explains why the universe is tuned this way.
Explanation of Facts II. Contingent Cosmos by Necessary Being
Con argues that science has not given us proof that a necessary being could exist. But is science a study of necessary or contingent beings? I agree that we can explain how things work in the cosmos in terms of science, but why think that science extends itself to explaining why there is anything at all in the first place? A metal detector can’t detect rubber any more than a project to uncover contingent reality can detect a non-contingent ground of that reality.
Moreover there are at least two types of explanations for any cause, personal or scientific. But given that the cosmos came to be, and is not infinite in its existence, a scientific explanation is inadequate because there is no spatio-temporal thing beyond space and time accounted for in terms of laws operating on scientific initial conditions. So the cosmic origin can only be accounted for by a personal explanation in terms of volition!
To affirm that God is a necessary being if he exists is just the opposite of affirming that he “was created by chance.” I don't know how Con arrived to this bizarre conclusion. Things coming to be from what appears to be mere chance describes things which exist contingently. I said that God is uncreated, not that he is created without being created. God has no need for generation, for he is a necessary being, hence there was never a state in which he did not exist. Otherwise he wouldn't be God; for whatever could have caused him would itself be God, if you will. Con also admits that “one cannot explain where the Universe came from without wondering how the singularity came into existence.”
Actually the theist can, God, the only necessarily existing ground of being who is uncaused, created the universe at a single point which marks the coming to be of all space, time, matter and energy. Problem solved. Con admits that he can’t make sense of this, a fine example of an argument from ignorance.
Con repeatedly begs the question of naturalism in each objection he raises. He assumes for instance that Planck-time must exist for a timeless entity. But that’s absurd, for he also affirmed that timelessness is just that; the universal negation of any time whatever, which includes Planck-time. True timelessness doesn’t include time let alone any measure of it.
Now the Minkowskian unity of space and time into space time is a mathematical unity useful for diagrammatic representations of cosmological models. So although this 4D topology has an instrumental use, nevertheless it doesn’t have to be taken literal in a realist sense. Con therefore brings up an irrelevant and misunderstood notion into the fray.
Con then complains that time is required for certain processes that a necessary being can do. But how is this an objection to the existence of such a being? Suppose that God has access to all of his thoughts and causal potentials timelessly, there’s nothing in the least bit incoherent about this! Indeed what could be more obvious that God knows all true propositions at once? Created temporal beings may not be aware of everything we know in one instance, we may have to think in terms of a “stream” of consciousness, but how does that imply that all persons must think and act in such a way?
To the challenge,
why think it is more likely that reason should emerge
if some of the fundamental causes of the universe
are not more like a mind?
… Con again answers that evolution provided enough time for reasoning beings to emerge. But again this misses the point. I included the emergence of reasoning beings from evolutionary processes as a fact to be explained! And I argued that theism better explains such an emergence than atheism because God is inherently the rational cause responsible for the rationality we find in the world. Whereas on atheism, arational processes caused rational beings. All Con does is cite the fact of evolution again, then glosses “atheism” as an asserted answer.
But not even the gloss works, for because evolution selects for survival value and not rational / true belief value, then why should we expect nothing more to emerge than beings capable of practical reasoning to propositions which can neither be discerned as true or false, but just practical or impractical for survival if no rational being is superintending the evolutionary process? Con has no answer here and so fails to engage the theist challenge. For humans don’t just reason practically, we also reason metaphysically! And it is this fact that is better explained on theism than atheism.
Personal Dignity and Human Value
Con claims that morality occurs logically, but not only is it notoriously difficult to derive a moral ought from a rational is -- but Con, in the same breadth, actually reduces moral value and personal dignity to neurophysical events, which aren’t even logical events! He thinks that emotions produced as chemicals cause the illusion of true personal value and dignity (logic too). And he is correct… if atheism is true, that is.
The problem is he hasn’t given us a reason for thinking that atheism is true! All he’s given is assertions for doubting everything we know as fact about reality! But we need a defeater for such things, not assertions! Hence within the absence of a defeater for assuming that humans indeed have value, reason to metaphysical conclusions, live in a beautiful contingent cosmos, etc; then it follows that such things are better represented within a theistic context than an atheistic one.
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