The Instigator
KevinGrem
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
JohnSmythe
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Atheism is more plausible than Theism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/3/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 836 times Debate No: 104253
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (12)
Votes (0)

 

KevinGrem

Pro

Today I will argue that in light of both the arguments for and against the existence of God, that atheism is more plausible than theism.

(1) The first argument for atheism is that there is a serious absence of evidence for God's existence. If God did exist, there are a number of critical pieces of evidence that we should expect to find, but which we fail to find. For example, one thing we would surely expect to find would be a means to communicate with God in such a way that we could obtain new information that we didn't already know. The fact that this has not ever been done is very strong evidence that God does not exist.

(2) The second argument for atheism is the problem of incompatible properties within God's alleged nature. God is said to be:
-Omnipotent
-Omniscient
-Omnibenevolent
-Timeless
-Spaceless
-Changeless
-Immaterial

Omnipotence is nearly impossible to reconcile with omniscience. It is reasonable to assume that if God is all powerful, then surely he has the ability to freely make decisions. But, if God possesses omniscience, then he possesses knowledge of all that exists, including his own decisions, prior to making them. Thus, God cannot freely a make a decision whilst possessing foreknowledge of that decision. These two properties are logically incompatible with each other, thus rendering such a being who posseses these properties incapable of existence.

(3) The final argument for atheism is the moral argument against God's existence.

P1. If God exists, then objective morals exist.
P2. Objective morals do not exist.
C: Therefore, God does not exist.

In propositional logic this is a logically valid argument, presented in the form of Modus Tollens. If the two premises are true, then the conclusion must also be true.

Defense of P(1): Given that God is omnibenevolent, it must follow that his moral actions and commands are objectively good by their own nature. Thus, objective morals exist in God's nature.

Defense of P(2): In order for something to exist objectively, it must exist independently of any one person's subjective opinion. To subscribe to the view that morals exist objectively is itself a subjective opinion, and as such, the person who holds this view cannot possibly provide any objective basis to support it.

Conclusion: Thus we have seen 3 very compelling reasons to think that God does not exist. If my opponent wishes to argue instead that theism is more plausible than atheism, then me must first tear down the 3 arguments I've given for atheism, and in their place submit a case of his own to show that God does exist. Unless and until he does that, then I think it's pretty clear that atheism is more plausible than theism.
JohnSmythe

Con

(1) Quite the contrary. If I have an omnipotent being, master and indeed author of the physical laws, author of the means I use, he would in fact be the easiest thing in the world to overlook. I would have no system where God is not, therefore I would have no negative with which to make a comparison. A society of colorblind people, colorblind their whole lives and their ancestors going back millenia, would be actually very hard pressed to believe that such a thing as colorblindness actually exists. They would more readily doubt the existence of red than accept that they are colorblind. If you presented them with a red panel, you`d prove nothing. God has been governing the universe conceivably consistently for billions of years. Why would He change the method He`s governed just so you could believe in him? Why would He make waves curve backwards for all to see, when He`s set them up to curve forwards? That complex beings like humans, or life based on Cytosine, a chemical produced neither by meteorites nor by electric discharge, and which also has an incredibly short half life, as well as ribose, a highly unstable sugar.

Cytosine: http://www.pnas.org...
Ribose: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

I see it as highly, highly unlikely that life self organized, seeing as not a single instance of the RNA alternatives PNA, TNA, or GNA have been found in nature, much less any kind of life being made from them.

Now right there, if a miracle is "an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency." (OED) then life`s very existance is a miracle. If someone divided the red sea in front of Richard Dawkins, I am sure he`s be quick to snap "Well, just because we don`t understand it, doesn`t mean God did it!", and Carl Sagan would merely call Dawkins insane for having claimed to see the sea part and thus settle the matter in his own eyes.

(2) I reject the classical definition of Omnipotent, and instead assert that God has all powers which exist. I reject spaceless as well and immaterial, so this does not apply to my faith in God.

(3)

Defense of P(2) has a subpremise that is flawed. Opinions by nature are subjective, but it does not follow that they cannot have objective bases. Furthermore, simply because no objective basis for a thing can be provided does not mean it does not exist ipso facto. Morals being subjective would also prove too much, it would be the undoing of civilization. The short word limit presents me from fleshing out this idea, but suffice it to say that if justice were based on everyone`s opinion, it would become impossible to administer.
Debate Round No. 1
KevinGrem

Pro

(1) I'm a little disappointed that JohnSmythe has not responded directly to the piece of evidence I offered, which if true, would serve as very strong evidence that God does not exist. Remember I said that if God existed we should expect to find a way of communicating with him that would allow us to obtain new information not within our own minds but from an external source. The fact that this has never been shown to happen is, again, a very compelling reason to believe that God does not exist. JohnSmythe completely dropped this point. I find his response here to be rather incoherent, and the links he shared don't really have anything to do with my argument.

As for his next point - that life could not have organized itself - I completely disagree. There are some remarkable scientific theories out there that give highly detailed, step-by-step processes to explain how life could have organized itself and come together naturally. If you're willing to do the research, you will find plenty of useful scientific articles and links on the web pertaining to the topic of abiogenesis. A good place to start is here: http://www.asa3.org...

It's interesting to note that the information being presented here comes from a Christian organization. Frankly, there really is no credible case out there for intelligent design, which is why it's a talking point that even Christians themselves have abandoned in light of more plausible scientific theories.

(2) It is not reasonable to believe in God but reject the properties traditionally ascribed to him. As for rejecting God's spacelessness and materiality, that's just bizarre. Is JohnSmythe attempting to argue for the existence of a material being that exists somewhere out there in the physical universe? An extra-terrestrial God of some sort? I hope I don't have to explain how ridiculous that sounds. Surely that is not the type of God we are discussing here.

(3) While it is true that moral opinions might have an objective basis to them, my point is that there is absolutely no way to demonstrate this view. The only way for a person to subscribe to the idea of objective morality is to assert it to be true by a groundless leap of faith. My moral argument against God is both valid and compelling if I can show that the two premises are more plausibly true than their negation. This I have done. And so, I think it's pretty clear that my moral argument against God's existence has gone unrefuted.

Now, you'll recall that my case here today is to show that in light of the arguments for and against God's existence, atheism is much more plausible than theism. So far we have seen no positive arguments offered to show that God does exist. We have seen three positive arguments to show that God does NOT exist. If JohnSmythe has any hope of turning things around in this debate, he needs to not only refute my case for atheism - he must also erect a case for theism. Until he does that, atheism stands.

JohnSmythe

Con

Tad unsportsmanlike putting a 3,000 character limit and then saying I`ve dropped things, don`t you think?

Re: Unknown information

Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Mark (written around 68 AD, according to scholars based on works written even earlier), says:

Mark 13:
"1. And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Cue the 70 A.D siege of Jerusalem.

Josephus (1st century Jewish historian): "...for all the rest of the wall [surrounding Jerusalem], it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited.... nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now,
would he have known it again
"

Character limit prevents me from delving deeper, but this is but one example. Other examples are Proto-Isaiah (the original writer, from the three Isaiah theory), writing of the destruction of Babylon 100 years before it happened. To be sure, many of the Bible prophecies are controversial, and space does not permit an exhaustive treatment of the subject. I therefore give my opponent a simpler challenge. Present an ancient work, which claims no divine inspiration, that predicts future events as well as, let alone better, and you`ll have made your case.

(2) Your frustration at losing the essential attributes necessary for the Problem of Evil is no excuse for name calling. I believe there are things God cannot do, like break his promises and keep them, or save people who do not want to be saved. Again, no space.

(3) Little early for childish victory-lapping. Moral realism (objective morals) is the majority view among philosophers.

https://philpapers.org...

"
Accept or lean toward: moral realism 525 / 931 (56.4%)"


Now, the simplest case for God is also the same case for Alexander the Great`s horse, Bucephalus. How do we know Bucephalus existed? Certainly not because he`s been tested in a lab, but because a number of people saw Bucephalus, and attested to his existence. The same is true of God. Leaving aside fulfilled prophecies, many people in independent cultures have seen God, still more have spoken with Him. A majority of scientists, even globally, believe in Him in one form or another. As I asserted in another argument, the empirical case for the existence of God is far stronger than the case for the existence of Pythagoras.




Debate Round No. 2
KevinGrem

Pro

No, I wouldn't say it's unsportsmanlike to point out your inability to properly respond to my argument within the agreed upon limits of the debate. If we were debating live you would be bound by time limits, and that's why it's important to be mindful of the clock, or in this case, the characters you are limited to.

Having read the bible several times, as well as having done research into the reliability of the gospels, I can say with full confidence that it is one of the worst possible sources of information you could ever use. Just briefly, here are 8 reasons we should not believe what's written in the gospels:

1. They are documents authored by persons unknown, who were not direct eye witnesses to the events they spoke of.
2. They were written at least four decades after the events they purportedly described.
3. They were based upon oral traditions, and hence subject to the unreliability of human memory.
4. They each had a clear theological bias and apologetic agenda.
5. They contained many identifiably fictitious literary forms.
6. They were inconsistent with each other, except where one gospel plagiarizes the other.
7. They had virtually no support from independent sources.
8. They testified to events which in ordinary circumstances we would regard as unlikely in the extreme.

Even if the passage you quoted is true, it is not at all clear to me based on Josephus' writings that this is a prophecy being fulfilled. It's far too vague to jump to that conclusion.

Allegations of fulfilled prophecies require a much higher degree of detail and clarity if they are to be persuasive. If, for example, it was clearly written in some holy book that on Septemeber 11, 2001, 19 hijackers would take over 4 commercial airlines and fly them into two very tall towers and a five sided building, that would be undeniable proof that the passage was divinely inspired, and I would instantly convert to theism in that case. You can't show me anything even remotely close to that written in the bible. The example you gave is nowhere near that degree of detail.

(2) Please feel free to point out where exactly I used name-calling : )

(3) Arguing from popularity will not help your case. I gave a logical argument against moral realism that you still have not properly addressed. I asked you to demonstrate the existence of objective morals and you have not done so.

Your final comments do not even make for an argument. Many people have not seen God, including myself, and I have no reason to trust or believe the claims of others who testify to personal religious experience. The fact that personal religious experiences vary across the world and are completely inconsistent with each other is a very strong reason not to believe their validity.

So far in this debate we have seen 3 positive arguments for atheism that have gone totally unrefuted. We have seen 0 arguments presented for theism. Therefore, atheism is far more plausible than theism.


JohnSmythe

Con

You are correct in that I would have time limits. You`ll notice however that time limits become only major factors in inane student public policy debates. If you want the debate to be like one, I`ll just stop typing with spaces and make a barrage of claims. It takes longer to refute a claim than to make one.

" it is not at all clear to me based on Josephus' writings that this is a prophecy being fulfilled"

Here you give yourself away as totally intellectually dishonest. Jesus predicted the absolute destruction of Jerusalem, even to all of its buildings, and Josephus, who was not a Christian, recorded that precise fact, and all this happened in the span of two years. You can say it was luck, you can say it was a reasonable inference, but to say Jesus`s words weren`t fulfillled is simply ludicrous.

Back to abiogenesis, you didn`t even read your own source.
" A prebiotic RNA World is still a popular theory, but questions have arisen due to the difficulty of RNA synthesis in prebiotic conditions, and because RNA functionality (in catalytic activity and self-replicating ability) has not matched the initial optimistic hopes."

RNA, as I showed, is impossible to be the basis for life in the prebiotic world, and yet, no occurence of its substitutes has been found in nature, let alone a form of life based on them.

3. "To subscribe to the view that morals exist objectively is itself a subjective opinion, and as such, the person who holds this view cannot possibly provide any objective basis to support it." Empirical data is by nature processed through the senses (subjective). Surely you don`t think that the majority held belief that profanity should be kept from children is equally valid as the existence of the moon.

But back to moral realism itself.

Premise 1: If something appears to be so empirically, then it is rational to believe it until proven otherwise. This means that until proven otherwise, a rational person will believe what he senses, especially if he consistently senses a phenomenon. Denying this principle defeats epistemic realism and makes living a normal, healthy, and mentally stable life impossible.
Premise 2: Intuition (a sense) almost universally points to the existence of moral realism.
Premise 3: As the other senses do not contribute to discovering morality, only intuition can inform our decisions.
Conclusion: It is irrational to doubt the existence of morality (contraposition of 1), because rejecting it would entail belief in less-intuitive premises than those for it (2), and no sense contradicts it. (3)

4.

"The fact that personal religious experiences vary across the world and are completely inconsistent with each other is a very strong reason not to believe their validity."

If all, or at least, the overwhelming majority religions across the world made at least one claim that was the same or at least consistent claim, would you then believe that particular claim?

Debate Round No. 3
KevinGrem

Pro

Based on what you've said so far, I see no good reason to think that theism is in the slightest bit anymore plausible given the very vague and weak writings that you have referenced. Assuming Jesus really did predict the destruction of Jerusalem, that still wouldn't do anything at all to show that God exists. If you think that alleged prophecies being fulfilled should be considered a compelling reason to believe in God, then you really need to give a more persuasive example than this. But the problem is, you simply cannot produce such an example. So I think we can easily dismiss this argument.

Onto your second point, that life could not have organized itself naturally - you haven't done anything to show how this is impossible or even unlikely. All you've said is that we've never found any of RNA's substitutes found in nature. I fail to see what that proves. Given the vastness and the wonders of the Universe that we live in, there are endless possibilities. So even if you could refute one theory about how life began, it doesn't follow that it's impossible for life to have organized itself naturally in some other way. I think this just demonstrates closed-mindedness on your part. As I said, please research more into this topic, and don't be so quick to jump to conclusions. The source I cited has a vast amount of external links, all which should keep you busy for a while.

Now, in response to your argument for moral realism:

Let me say first of all, that it's never a wise idea to rely solely on intuition for answers about reality. What reason do we have to trust our intuitions? Intuitions about morality clearly differ from person to person, and so surely it can't be a reasonable basis for moral realism. An intuition about reality does not fall under the realm of empiricism, as I showed very effectively in the moral argument against God I outlined in my opening case. My argument against moral realism logically and inescapably concludes with the non-existence God. You have not offered a comparably persuasive moral argument in favor of God's existence. Your premises are false, poorly worded, and grounded in a philosophical view that is self-refuting.

Finally, you ask "If all, or at least, the overwhelming majority religions across the world made at least one claim that was the same or at least consistent claim, would you then believe that particular claim?"

No, why would I? I am a skeptic. We ought to question authority, and question the establishment. If all the religions across the world make a claim that is false, then obviously I am going to reject that claim.

JohnSmythe

Con

1. Raising the bar. According to Eusebius and Aristo of Pella both, thousands of Christians, aware of this prophecy, fled Jerusalem while many Jews were holding out for divine intervention. They got the best kind of "new information they didn`t already know" when their lives were saved.

2.

Actually, there aren`t infinite possibilities. The law of excluded middle means there are two:
P. Life originated with RNA.
¬P. Life did not originate with RNA.

If ¬P, we should expect to see a form of life, any form of life based on anything other than RNA. There is not one.

So I am forced to choose as an origin for life between a form of life which has literally zero empirical evidence, having never been seen by anyone, and one that I`ve spoken with, has made me happier, and whose existence is testified by sight or other senses by thousands of people of unimpeachable character (Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, Reneé Descartes, Kurt Gödel et. Al). You call the thing you believe in with zero evidence from the scientific method "Non-RNA life", I call it "God", but epistemologically, they are the same.

3.
I'll let Michael Huemer address your argument against moral realism:


"Objection 1:

We need reasons for believing our ethical intuitions, or the faculty of intuition in general, to be reliable. Otherwise, intuitions cannot justify our moral beliefs.

Reply:

What happens if we apply the principle generally: 'We need positive reasons for trusting appearances'? Then we need positive reasons for trusting sense perception, memory, introspection, even reason itself. The result is global skepticism. Nothing can be accepted until we first give a positive reason for trusting that kind of belief. But we cannot give such a reason without relying on sense perception, memory, introspection, reason--or in general, on some source. Hence, we shall never be able to trust anything. Of course, this means we also could not trust the reasoning of this paragraph.

We have stipulated that general philosophical skepticism is not our concern. We are not interested here in discussing the view that no one can know moral truths because no one can know anything whatsoever."

"Objection: [We cannot check our intuitions against anything else, therefore they are unreliable.]

Reply: First, the objection sounds suspiciously like Objection 1. If we take beliefs to be prima facie justified on the basis of appearances, then it is unclear why intuitive beliefs should be thought to require checking, in the absence of any positive grounds for doubting them. If, on the other hand, we reject this conception of prima facie justification, then it is unclear how one is supposed to check anything. If belief A has no prima facie justification, and belief B also has no prima facie justification, then one can not legitimately 'check on' or 'verify' A's truth by appealing to B. Unless we are allowed to take something for granted, nothing can count as verifying anything."



Debate Round No. 4
KevinGrem

Pro

In my closing arguments I'd like to try to draw some of the threads of this debate together and see if we can reach some conclusions.

First, what reasons have we been presented to think that God exists? JohnSmythe's first point was that the Gospels made predictions that came true. But then I responded to this point by listing 8 reasons why we should not believe what's written in the Gospels, and he did not address any of these. Based on this I can only assume that he accepts the truth of the Gospels by a blind leap of faith, not by a rational investigation. So I think we can very easily dismiss this argument.

In his second main point, he made a rather extraordinary claim - that it would have been "impossible" for life to develop naturally all by itself. As Carl Sagan once said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." The burden of proof rests on his shoulders to defend this claim, since he has so boldly made the assertion. We are far more reasonable to take a more modest stance on this issue, that being, we just are not exactly sure how life came into existence. Science is working on the problem, and at this point, it is question that is completely open to all kinds of possibilities. So I think this argument should likewise be thrown out until he can offer some better reasons to support it.

His third main argument was a very weak and poorly grounded case for moral realism, that I easily refuted in the last round. He never even offered any support for any of the premises he listed, and his conclusion, even if true, does absolutely nothing to make theism anymore plausible than atheism, which is, after all, the subject of this particular debate. Even if he could show that objective morality exists, it wouldn't follow logically from this that God exists. Atheism is not necessarily in conflict with moral realism. Here is a much more complete picture of the latest statistics of what modern philosophers believe: http://commonsenseatheism.com... Note that 73% of philosophers are atheists, and so, without even knowing anymore information, we can infer that a number of them must be moral realists.

I presented an opening case for atheism that has gone completely unrefuted throughout this debate. JohSmythe completely dropped my first argument. With respect to the second, he said that God isn't necessarily outside of time, but when I explained how absurd that is, he dropped that point as well, and then dishonestly accused me of insulting him personally, which I never did. As for the question of morality, I stand by my opening argument, which logically concludes with the non-existence of God.

In conclusion, Lau Tzu said in "The Art of War" that you should choose your battles wisely. JohnSmythe obviously was not prepared for this debate format but he chose to accept the terms anyway. He was unable to properly fit his arguments into the allotted time, and it cost him the debate.

JohnSmythe

Con

I`ll take a different tack on summarizing this debate. This one sentence accurately does so for my opponent`s conduct:

"I presented an opening case for atheism that has gone completely unrefuted throughout this debate. JohSmythe [sic] completely dropped my first argument."

How does he figure? I presented the case of the Christians....

Wait! How could I have been so foolish! All my arguments are "weak" and "poorly grounded" and all his are "unrefuted" and "logical"! Like the Nemean Lion, only his own arguments are strong enough!

And so without further ado:

TRIUMPHALISM VS. TRIUMPHALISM: KEVIN GREM DEBATES HIMSELF

1. "Atheism is not necessarily in conflict with moral realism. Here is a much more complete picture of the latest statistics of what modern philosophers believe: http://commonsenseatheism.com...... Note that 73% of philosophers are atheists, and so, without even knowing anymore information, we can infer that a number of them must be moral realists. "

"Arguing from popularity will not help your case. I gave a logical argument [for] moral realism that you still have not properly addressed. I asked you to demonstrate the [non]-existence of objective morals and you have not done so."


2. "The fact that personal religious experiences vary across the world and are completely inconsistent with each other is a very strong reason not to believe their validity."

vs.

"

"'If all, or at least, the overwhelming majority religions across the world made at least one claim that was the same or at least consistent claim, would you then believe that particular claim?'

No, why would I?"

3.

"With respect to the second, he said that God isn't necessarily outside of time, but when I explained how absurd that is (...) as Carl Sagan once said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." The burden of proof rests on his shoulders to defend this claim"

Alas, right you are, KevinGrem. How dare I come so "unprepared for this debate". It "cost [me] the debate." I should have spent more time reading "Lau", rather than "Sun", Tzu`s Art of War and known my enemy and myself. You are right that a God who isn`t outside of time is an absurd claim. Since the universe and logic both so obviously demonstrate the existence of a God who is timeless, it is an "extraordinary claim", and "as Carl Sagan once said, 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.', the burden of proof" rests on those who claim otherwise.

"If [KevinGrem] has any hope of turning things around in this debate, he needs to not only refute my case for theism - he must also erect a case for atheism. Until he does that, theism stands."

Seeing as the debate`s ended, KevinGrem`s prediction about KevinGrem`s prospects in this debate seems quite accurate. Good thing for Con that he had such a powerful debater as KevinGrem as an ally, because no one else could have defeated KevinGrem.

"This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one's own strength"

-"Lau" Tzu.



Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by JohnSmythe 3 months ago
JohnSmythe
Wow, breaking some new theological ground there, Euthyphro
Posted by Ianadams37 3 months ago
Ianadams37
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
Posted by canis 3 months ago
canis
You have not. But is it plausible?

" Is it more plausible that there is not an Invisible green elephant with 9 legs under your chair, than there is." if 99,99999999 % of the worlds population has not seen it ?
Posted by JohnSmythe 3 months ago
JohnSmythe
You know who else 99.999999999% of the world`s population haven`t seen? You.
Posted by canis 3 months ago
canis
I should say that if half of scientist do not believe in it.. 99,999xxx % of people have not seen it or spoken with it. . I would probably conclude. ...." Is it more plausible that there is not an Invisible green elephant with 9 legs under your chair, than there is."
Posted by JohnSmythe 3 months ago
JohnSmythe
I should say that if half of scientists believe in it, thousands of people have seen it, and I have spoken with it, I should probably accept the possibility.
Posted by canis 3 months ago
canis
Is it more plausible that there is not an Invisible green elephant with 9 legs under your chair, than there is ?..Even if half of all scientist believe it.
Posted by JohnSmythe 3 months ago
JohnSmythe
If more than half of all scientists around the world believed in it, I think my opinion might be a bit more moderate.
Posted by canis 3 months ago
canis
Is it more plausible that there is not an Invisible green elephant with 9 legs under your chair, than there is ?..Even if some claim to be able to see it.. And some believe it.
Posted by JohnSmythe 3 months ago
JohnSmythe
Depends. Am I talking to the green elephant and getting responses? Have thousands of people seen the green elephant? Do tens of thousands of scientists believe in the green elephant? Meet those conditions, and then the analogy will be apt.
No votes have been placed for this debate.