The Instigator
unitedandy
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
Pennington
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Atheism is more reasonable than theism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
unitedandy
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/9/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,541 times Debate No: 33487
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (4)

 

unitedandy

Pro

Introduction

First, I want to thank Pennington (Con) for agreeing to this debate. I’m sure we can provide a spirited and valuable exchange of ideas which is also entertaining. Second, my aim in this debate is not to convert (or deconvert) anyone. I only profess to show that, for the purposes of the debate, the reasons given for atheism will be superior to those for theism.

As this is merely a preliminary round, I’ll just briefly introduce some definitions and debate rules, so we can get on to the real substance of the debate.


Definitions


Theism - By theism, I mean the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good, personal being who created the universe, and is (to a greater or lesser extent) active within the universe.

Atheism - disbelief in the existence of God(s); denial of theism.

Reasonable - Governed by or being in accordance with reason or sound thinking. http://www.thefreedictionary.com...


Burden of Proof


The BoP is shared.

Pro must argue that atheism is more reasonable.

Con that theism is more reasonable.

It's that simple.

Controversial statements or claims, should be, as far as possible, justified, particularly when they are disputed by the other party.

Each debater is responsible for both defending their own case and for critiquing their opponent’s position. The debater who does the better job of this overall should be considered the winner.


Debate rules

1. R1 is for acceptance only
2. Forfeits will result in loss of conduct point. Multiple forfeits will result in a concession.
3. Dropped points will count as a concession.
4. No plagiarism. All relevant content from 3rd parties must be sourced.


Conclusion

If Con has any reservations, I ask he post them in the comments section before acceptance. With that in mind, I wish Con the best of luck.

Pennington

Con


I appreciate Unitedandy's challenge and I accept. I agree with all the rules and regulations put forth by my opponent. I think he has done a good job in the structuring of this debate, I see no need for any improvement or add-ons. I look forward to a pleasant(though heated) exchange. I feel honored to debate such a well established debater as my opponent. I thank him and await his second round.


Debate Round No. 1
unitedandy

Pro

Introduction

I'd like to thank Con for his kind words and sharing my desire for a healthy, competitive exchange of views. I'll be presenting one argument in favour of the proposition, such is my confidence in it.


The WSA Evidential problem of evil (1)


(P1) If there were an all-powerful and all-good God, then there would not be any evil in the world unless that evil is logically necessary for an adequately compensating good.

(P2) There is evil in the world.

(P3) Some of that evil is not logically necessary for any adequately compensating good.

(C) Therefore, there is no God who is all powerful and all good.

By evil, I mean anything which in and of itself, rational creatures would universally seek to avoid, ceteris paribus. Examples of such things include suffering, pain, disability and death.



Defending P1

Put simply, P1 states that if God exists, gratuitous evils do not.

Conceptual analysis - We can know P1 to be true simply by unpacking the concept of God and gratuitous evil.

P1 seems necessarily true. God, as defined, would have both the means and the motive to prevent this kind of evil, if He exists. Similarly, by definition, gratuitous evils have no morally sufficient reason to be permitted. As such, this kind of evil would simply not exist alongside a perfect tri-omni God who was able to prevent it, purely by definition.

Plausibility defence - At the very least, we can certainly say P1 is more plausible than not. As Christian philosopher Daniel Howard-Snyder remarks,

"on the face of it, the 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?" (2)



Defending P2


The fact of pain and suffering among other evils is undeniable, by any standard. I highly doubt Con will try to deny P2, so I’ll say no more for now.


Defending P3

Put simply, P3 affirms the existence of gratuitous evils.

Before I begin to outline the justification for P3, I want to use 2 particularly horrendous examples of suffering on a massive scale:

E1 - "Many babies each year are born with Down's syndrome. Most of these babies, with normal paediatric care, will grow up healthy. A significant number, however, have intestinal obstructions that will kill them if they do not receive an operation. Without the operation, dehydration and infection will cause these babies to wither and die over a period of hours and days. Today this operation is relatively simple, but not long ago these babies could not be saved . . . This baby (one born in the past with this) suffers for days, then dies." (3)

Another example given by Rowe is that of animal suffering:

E2 - "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." (4)

Remember, these are just 2 examples in a world filled such horrors.


I want to give 3 justificatory points to affirm P3.

Prima facie case - From absolutely everything we know of E1, there was nothing to suggest that from the length, extent or even the very existence of the suffering of these babies that this was anything other than gratuitous. A baby destined to die suffered days of seemingly unnecessary, excruciating pain, with helpless relatives helplessly looking on in many cases. Given the fact that no hint of any reason at all seems evident to allow these babies to suffer, it is eminently reasonable to conclude on this basis from the appearance of gratuitous evils, to the fact of gratuitous evils. As critic Stephen Wykstra reasons,

"For if an instance of suffering appears not to have a point, that is a reason for thinking it has no point." (5)

Nature of evils - Evil is abundant in the world. Sentient beings have suffered for millions of years, and the sheer volume of evil is just staggering. The way this evil is dispersed is also horrific, with innocents, babes, the weak and vulnerable suffering most. Also, many evils are necessary, as long as there are sentient beings. The evolutionary process is just a litany of predation and extinction, where animals have to tear each other apart just to survive. Indeed, the vast majority of species which have inhabited the Earth have perished. Moreover, as my examples show, some of the suffering in the world is beyond horrific. The sheer brutality of natural evil in particular seems simply totally inexplicable. Lastly, many people suffer without God‘s comfort to sustain them. Divine silence in the face of horrendous evils is again something rather pervasive in the world. People suffering not just from the loss, but also from a cruel, uncaring world which offers no comfort to many in the face of tragedy.

None of these points are controversial, yet they strongly and unequivocally point to a universe callously indifferent to the suffering of its inhabitants. The fact that evil has these features, often simultaneously, is massive evidence in favour of gratuity, and thus P3.


Epistemic consistency - In essence, this simply means applying the same or similar standards to the PoE as we do to normal beliefs, and only to take seriously beliefs which are at least plausible. Sinnott-Armstrong explains the absurdity of abandoning this standard,

"Would it benefit my family in the long-run if I were to burn down our house tonight? Possibly. Does that possibility make it reasonable to believe that we would benefit? No. Why not? Because we do know one thing: Burning down my house would cause serious problems in my family in the short term. Those known costs set up a presumption or burden of proof that needs to be overcome before contrary beliefs can be reasonable." (6)

The same is true of evil. Given the massive short-term cost it causes, and (as well as we can judge), it's seeming ability to lead to long-term costs, the standard we follow must be consistent with our daily lives. Otherwise, as Sinnott-Armstrong quips, theists would be agnostic towards burning down their houses! The point is this: unless we genuinely adopt such scepticism with regard to decisions we make in our lives and beliefs, then we (if we are to be consistent) have to act on the information we have in respect to gratuitous evils. The only information we have in the debate thus far compels us to believe that they exist, and thus affirm P3.

Given this very powerful case and absent some extraordinary explanation on Con's part, it's incumbent upon us to accept P3. I'll close with the erudite sentiments of Bill Rowe.

In light of our experience and knowledge, of the variety and scale of human and animal suffering in our world, the idea that none of this suffering could have been prevented by an omnipotent being without thereby losing some greater good or permitting an evil at least as bad seems an extraordinary, absurd idea, quite beyond our belief." (7).



Sources

1. God? Debate between a Christian and an Atheist, William lane Craig and Walter Sinnott Armstrong, 2004, Oxford University Press, p84.
2. Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Frances Howard-Snyder. 1999. "Is Theism Compatible with Gratuitous Evil?" American Philosophical Quarterly 36: 115-29.
3. God? P84
4, 7. Rowe, William, The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism, American Philosophical Quarterly 16: 335-41.
5. Wykstra, Stephen J. 1984. “The Humean Obstacle to Evidential Arguments from Suffering: On Avoiding the Evils of ‘Appearance’,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 16: 73-93.
6. God? P184







Pennington

Con

Pennington forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
unitedandy

Pro

Unfortunately, Con has forfeited. As stated in debate rules, this means he automatically loses the conduct point. I only hope he can return in time for us to continue the debate.

Extend argument from last round.
Pennington

Con

Pennington forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
unitedandy

Pro

As per debate rules, Con's second forfeit is regarded as a concession of the debate.

Vote Pro.
Pennington

Con

Pennington forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by unitedandy 3 years ago
unitedandy
I'll keep that in mind.
Posted by Superfaith 3 years ago
Superfaith
If you ever want to do another debate like this, let me know. I would take the theist side. I enjoy reading your work here. Too bad the debate didn't work out.
Posted by unitedandy 3 years ago
unitedandy
Disappointed.
Posted by unitedandy 3 years ago
unitedandy
I'm not too worried. Pennington has closed his account before when he's logged off. Besides, he's probably (like me) adapting a case he's used before.
Posted by Superfaith 3 years ago
Superfaith
I hope this debate continues. I really do like the way unitedandy has started the first argument. I'll be returning to see how this turns out.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Pennington's profile is down, so likely he will not continue.
Posted by Pyromanen 3 years ago
Pyromanen
Doesn't mean much from one who chose "masterdebater6969" as a username. This noble topic of debate has lasted for thousands of years, and the likes of your condescension is quite ridiculous.
Posted by Pennington 3 years ago
Pennington
The Pink Panther. :]
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by 1Devilsadvocate 3 years ago
1Devilsadvocate
unitedandyPenningtonTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: F.F. :(
Vote Placed by KingDebater 3 years ago
KingDebater
unitedandyPenningtonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
unitedandyPenningtonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con was MIA.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
unitedandyPenningtonTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Full forfeit.