The Instigator
Rational_Thinker9119
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
TheSkepticSaviour
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Atheism Is More Probable Than Theism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/16/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 924 times Debate No: 40700
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
Votes (3)

 

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

I will be arguing that it is more likely that there is no omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient being, over the notion that there is such a being. My opponent must argue that Theism is more probable than Atheism (the burden of proof is shared).

First round for acceptance.
TheSkepticSaviour

Con

Shall we start? I think you should start argumenting first.
Debate Round No. 1
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro




My Case For Atheism


The Argument From Gratuitous Suffering

P1: If God exists, gratuitous suffering does not exist
P2: We have prima facie warrant that gratuitous suffering exists
C: We have prima facie warrant that God does not exist

Now, P1 should be uncontroversial. As Christian philosopher Daniel Howard-Snyder rights:

"[T]he idea that God may well permit gratuitous evil is absurd. After all, if God can get what He wants without permitting some particular horror (or anything comparably bad), why on earth would He permit it?" - Daniel Howard-Snyder[1]

If God is omnibenevolent then any suffering that occurs would have some benevolent reason to it. If this is lacking, then benevolence is lacking; which contradicts the nature of an omnibenevolent being. Clearly, a benevolent reason for suffering x is more benevolent than no benevolent reason for suffering x.

P2 is uncontroversial. Even Christian philosophers who argue against the problem of gratuitous suffering admit that there appears to be gratuitous suffering:

"Everybody admits that there is apparently gratuitous evil." - William Lane Craig[2]

Philosopher William Rowe points out an obvious conceivable scenario involving apparent gratuitous suffering:

"Suppose in some distant forest lightning strikes a dead tree, resulting in a forest fire. In the fire a fawn is trapped, horribly burned and lies in terrible agony for several days before death relieves its suffering. So far as we can see, the fawn's intense suffering is pointless." - William Rowe[3]

There is no doubt that there appears to be gratuitous suffering. This gives us prima face warrant for the notion. Without absent of a positive defeater; there probably is gratuitous suffering. To deny the appearance of gratuitous suffering, is like to deny the external world. The external world appears to be real, and so does pointless suffering. The mere possibility of us being wrong doesn't mean it is plausibly true that we are wrong. As philosopher Quentin Smith points out:

"So how do theists respond to arguments like this? They say there is a reason for evil, but it is a mystery. Well, let me tell you this: I'm actually one hundred feet tall even though I only appear to be six feet tall. You ask me for proof of this. I have a simply answer: it's a mystery. Just accept my word for it on faith. And that's just the logic theists use in their discussions of evil." - Quentin Smith

We have a powerful prima facie case for Atheism. Even if it isn't certain, Atheism is more probable than Theism given apparent gratuitous suffering.

The Argument From Scale

If Atheism is true, then life is an accident; an extremely improbable accident at that. In order to account for our existence under Atheism we would have to posit an incredibly old universe (billions of years old), and so vast in size to be incomprehensible to the human mind. Only then would there be enough "tries" for something as improbable as Abiogeneis to happen in the universe. Only with enough natural chemistry sets and enough time could Atheism account for our accidental existence. As philosopher and historian Richard Carrier notes:

"Christians rightly point out that the appearance of the first living organism is an extremely improbable accident. Of course, so is winning a lottery, and yet lotteries are routinely won. Why? Because the laws of probability entail the odds of winning a lottery depend not just on how unlikely a win is--let's say, a one in a billion chance--but on how often the game is played. In other words, if a billion people play, and the odds of winning are one in a billion, it is actually highly probable that someone will win the lottery." - Richard Carrier[4]

Only if the universe is the size and age that we see it could something as improbable as Abiogenesis happen reasonably. This is similar to how only if you have a lot of people playing the lottery does somebody win the lottery reasonably. This means that Atheism predicts the large and old universe we see. What about Theism? Nothing about Theism predicts the age of billions of years old, or a universe this outrageously huge. If God exists, we have to accept the notion that we find ourselves in this universe as a brute fact that it is a huge improbable coincidence. We have to believe that God just so happened to create the exact type of universe we would have to live in if he didn't exist. Therefore, Atheism best explains why we find ourselves in an old and huge universe like this one.

Argument From Brains

If God exists he has an immaterial essence and can make immaterial beings. This is apparently more intrinsically good. It becomes inexplicable under Theism why we have brains. I am not saying that Theism predicts that we don't have brains, but it doesn't predict that we would have anything like a brain. What about if Atheism/ Naturalism is true? Well, consciousness would have to arise by some physical mechanism that had to be big enough to naturally account for its complexity. If God exists, he could have made us smarter than we are now but with smaller brains! Basically, naturalism can only be true if consciousness comes about in a mechanicalistic way that is very inefficient (as there is no intelligent designer behind it). It seems our brains don't seem like they were designed by someone who cares about us:

"In contrast, if a mind can only be produced by a comparably complex machine, then obviously there can be no God, and the human brain would have to be very large--large enough to contain and produce a complex machine like a mind. Lo and behold, the human brain is indeed large--so large that it kills many mothers during labor (without modern medicine, the rate of mortality varies around 10% per child). This huge brain also consumes a large amount of oxygen and other resources, and it is very delicate and easily damaged. Moreover, damage to the brain profoundly harms a human's ability to perceive and think. So our large brain is a considerable handicap, the cause of needless misery and death and pointless inefficiency--which is not anything a loving engineer would give us, nor anything a good or talented engineer with godlike resources would ever settle on." - Richard Carrier[5]

Thus, naturalism predicts something like a brain. Theism doesn't predict a brain at all, and there are way more ways that God could have created consciousness in the world instead that would actually point to a creator. Since Atheism predicts this feature of the world while it remains a brute fact under Theism; this strongly suggests Atheism.

Argument From Divine Hiddenness

If God is all loving then this means that God loves everyone and wants to have a relationship with them. He can be immediately experienced if you have an open mind, heart, and have working cognitive faculties. As Dr. William Lane Craig states:

"[A] person with an open mind, and open heart, who's cognitive faculties are properly functioning will come to belief in God" - William Lane Craig[6]

There are clearly many good and honest Atheists who died as such, and there are many who have tried to relate to God but didn't who are logicians, and philosophers who's cognitive faculties are functioning. Since Theism predicts the exact opposite, this strongly confirms Atheism.

Conclusion

I presented a prima facie case for Atheism based on gratuitous suffering. I also presented 3 facts about the world that Atheism best explains:

(i) The Scale (size and age) of the universe
(ii) Brains
(iii) God's Hiddenness

The above strongly affirms Atheism over Theism. I await my opponent's rebuttal, and case for Theism.

Sources

[1] Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Frances Howard-Snyder. 1999. "Is Theism Compatible with Gratuitous Evil?" American Philosophical Quarterly 36: 115-29.
[2] Youtube[watch?v=n8A3Sdw2Eig]
[3] Rowe, William, The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism, American Philosophical Quarterly 16: 335-4
[4][5] http://www.infidels.org...
[6] Youtube [watch?v=WMxTghJQxEc]
TheSkepticSaviour

Con

TheSkepticSaviour forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Rational_Thinker9119 forfeited this round.
TheSkepticSaviour

Con

TheSkepticSaviour forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Rational_Thinker9119 forfeited this round.
TheSkepticSaviour

Con

TheSkepticSaviour forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Nzrsaa 3 years ago
Nzrsaa
Sure!
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
I agree. I don't like comment section debating. Wait until I'm done this debate, and then we shall do it.
Posted by Nzrsaa 3 years ago
Nzrsaa
I think it would be easier to do a proper debate on this if you want to debate.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
A prediction entails that in order for y theory to be true, x has to be the case. In order for Atheism to be true, a universe billions of years old and massively huge has to be the case (if the universe was smaller and younger then it would be too improbable that we were an accident). However, if theism is true, then a universe like this DOES NOT have to be the case (he could have created a universe with just the earth, and was only a few thousands years if he wanted). If theism is true, then it is just a coincidence that we live in the EXACT TYPE of the universe we would have to live in if God DIDN'T exist, even though he exists. That is too much of a coincidence. The best explanation is that we are an accident, as that hypothesis predicts the universe we see.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"It seems that you are setting standards for God and then complaining when he doesn't meet them!"

False. I am not saying that the God hypothesis predicts x, we don't see x where we should, therefore x is unlikely. I am saying that between two hypothesis, the one that predicts a fact that could only be true if that hypothesis was true is more likely than a hypothesis that doesn't predict that fact but is just compatible with it. To give an example, if someone went to burger king and we see two twins. One of them went to burger king, the other one didn't. If we rewind the clock we know something about person A:

Person A: Loves burger king and goes there every chance he gets

Person B: No preference known

It's not certain that person A went to burger king, but the theory that he does predicts that he would. There is nothing about Person B that we know that would suggest that he would go to burger king over any other place.

Therefore, person A was most likely the one who went to burger king. It's not certainly KNOWN, but based on everything we know it is the most probable. I am simply making a probability argument.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"With the argument from scale, to be honest it is such an unusual argument I just misunderstood it. But I really don't see any reason to think that theism rejects a large universe."

Me neither! My argument is completely compatible with the possibility that God created a universe like this. My arguments are PROBABILITY arguments. This is why you are confused.

" If anything it supports it - a being which is infinate in power can create a universe infinite in size. I'm sorry, it's simply that I have never heard this argument before."

Yes, he can, of course he can as he is omnipotent. The point is that out of all the universes he could have created its a coincidence that we find ourself in this one, as this is the only universe that could support us if Atheism was true (we cannot be an accident unless the universe is old and large enough for something like that to happen). Therefore, Atheism predicts the universe we live in: theism doesn't. Thus Atheism is the best explanation for the size and age of the universe (of course, I am not saying anything is incompatible with God here).

: With brains, Your objection is why God didn't make us as spirit, and that theism doesn't predict brains. Why not? Why can't theism predict brains?

Theism doesn't predict brains. Even though we could have brains if theism was true, there is nothing about the hypothesis which predicts brains, or inefficient brains like this one: one that is so large that it kills one out of every 10 women in child birth. Sure, this is possible if God exists. However, Atheism explains it better. If Atheism is true then we have to have something like a brain (some sort of mechanism that produces intelligence), but if Theism is true then we don't have to have brains, plus it would be highly unlikely that he would give us brains that cause so much grief. If theism is true, it is just a coincidence that we find ourself in the type of universe we would HAVE to live in, if Atheism was true.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"With Gratuitous suffering, you say that the appearance of gratuitous evil warrants believing that gratuitous evil exists. But this just doesn't follow. The conclusion from your perspective is that we just don't know whether gratuitous evil certainly exists or not. We don't have the knowledge."

My argument is a probability argument, and a prima facie case (meaning I am not claiming absolute certain knowledge). If something appears to be the case, that grants warrant for it being the case even if we don't know for sure. It is called the principle of principle of credulity.

" As with your analogies, Evil simply isn't something we can measure or quantify, like height, or time. We can prove that someone is 6 feet tall by measuring them. "

Know we can't prove it. It just appears that it has been proven that I am 6 foot tall. As I said, if you deny that things are how they appear for the most part then you have just thrown out all rationality.

"No such method can be done with suffering, and It therefore is highly probable that our prima facie interpretation of suffering is false."

No its not. Only in certain cases, but to brush off ALL cases of apparent gratuitous suffering presupposes God exists which begs the question. Regardless, as I said, if God is omnipotent then any amount of good he wants in the world he can get without suffering. We have a right to believe in gratuitous suffering, just like we have the right to believe I am 6 feet tall, and that the external world is real.

"Our prima facie view has no objectiveness. And so, your argument just doesn't support atheism; at best it supports agnosticism."

I am making a probability argument, not an argument about certainty. This is really embarrassing for you. If a prima facie view has no objectiveness then you cannot say that the appearance of the external world proves it exist. You cannot say that you are on a computer, just that it seems so. This is stupid.

"
Posted by Nzrsaa 3 years ago
Nzrsaa
As you say, I don't want to debate this in the comments section. But you seem to insist.

With Gratuitous suffering, you say that the appearance of gratuitous evil warrants believing that gratuitous evil exists. But this just doesn't follow. The conclusion from your perspective is that we just don't know whether gratuitous evil certainly exists or not. We don't have the knowledge. As with your analogies, Evil simply isn't something we can measure or quantify, like height, or time. We can prove that someone is 6 feet tall by measuring them. No such method can be done with suffering, and It therefore is highly probable that our prima facie interpretation of suffering is false. Our prima facie view has no objectiveness. And so, your argument just doesn't support atheism; at best it supports agnosticism.

With the argument from scale, to be honest it is such an unusual argument I just misunderstood it. But I really don't see any reason to think that theism rejects a large universe. If anything it supports it - a being which is infinate in power can create a universe infinite in size. I'm sorry, it's simply that I have never heard this argument before.

With brains, Your objection is why God didn't make us as spirit, and that theism doesn't predict brains. Why not? Why can't theism predict brains? I see no contradiction between God existing and brains existing if that is what you are trying to get at... Again, I have never heard this objection so forgive me if I misunderstand it.

It seems that you are setting standards for God and then complaining when he doesn't meet them!
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
As far as brains go, this doesn't explain why we even have brains! God could have just made us spirits. Atheism predicts brains, Theism doesn't. Not only that but effeciency means alot to an omnibenevolent God, when inefficiency is causing needless suffering (that an omnipotent God could stop). Also, you say:

"Not to mention, it would mean that our skulls would be small, causing our heads to be very weak and insecure, meaning a larger brain means a stronger structure."

That assumes God isn't omnipotent. If God is omnipotent he could have small heads that were very strong and very secure; he is all powerful! None of your objections hold up.

Also, you are going into "what ifs" by appealing to "possible" scenarios in which apparent gratuitous suffering isn't real. Also, Theism predicts an ALL loving being. Thus, ANYBODY who is open to God should be able to experience him. There are people who can't, even though they try and have proper cognitive faculties. None of this harms "free-will" in the least bit.

Try again.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Actually, screw it, I will enlighten you. You say that suffering may seem gratuitous even though it is not. However, this is like saying that I may be 10 feet tall, even though I appear 6 feet tall. You are just appealing to mystery. The external world may "seem" real, even though its not. God could have created us 5 minutes ago with all of our memories in tact, even though it doesn't seem that way. This just delves into radical epistemilogical skepticism. Absent of a defeater for each specific case, we have prima facie warrant for gratuitous suffering. Either way, even if this is true, that doesn't mean that all suffering does have a morally sufficient reason for it, even if some does. Regardless, if God is omnipotent then he can accomplish any amount of good he wants without suffering in the first place. This objection of your's clealy fails.

You then say that p1 is false because God would allow Satan to torture people without a point. However, if God allows Satan to do this, then God must have a morally sufficient reason for doing so (lacking a morally sufficient reason is less benevolent, and we are talking about omnibenevolence). Thus, this reason would make that suffering non-gratuitous. If God allows suffering that lacks a moral sufficient reason, then he cannot be omnibenevolent.

As far as the argument from scale is concerned, you site Barrow and Tipler but fail to realize that there calculations were based on Abiogenesis and evolution only having one try to happen (also many scientists have objected to their calculations). The argument still stands that nothing about Theism predicts an old and large universe. Atheism does. If one theory predicts a fact that another theory does not, it makes the former theory more plausible.
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Vote Placed by KingDebater 3 years ago
KingDebater
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Vote Placed by 2-D 3 years ago
2-D
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