The Instigator
ThatZachGuy
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
zmikecuber
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

Atheism is the superior position on the existence of a god or gods

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
zmikecuber
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/17/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 967 times Debate No: 46112
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (4)

 

ThatZachGuy

Pro

Here, I shall argue for the rejection of god claims. My argument rests on 4 premises that I am prepared to defend if challenged.

1. It is best to hold true beliefs and reject false ones.
2. Claims, arguments, and evidence should be critically examined in order to determine truth and falsehood.
3. Claims lacking convincing argument and evidence should be rejected.
4. God claims lack convincing argument and evidence.
Therefore, God claims should be rejected.
zmikecuber

Con

A very interesting debate topic. I look forward to a thought-provoking exchange. Since this is my opponent's first debate, I would like to welcome him to DDO! :)

BoP and definitions
I'd like to clarify the burden of proof, and context of debate quickly. As the title states, Pro shall have the burden of proof to establish "Atheism is the superior position on the existence of a god or gods." It shall be my duty to refute the arguments he presents.

Also, by "superior" I assume my opponent means "preferabble", "more rational", or anything to that degree.

My opponent's arguments
My opponent also provides an argument which I shall proceed to cast doubt upon.

"1. It is best to hold true beliefs and reject false ones."

Agreed.

"2. Claims, arguments, and evidence should be critically examined in order to determine truth and falsehood."

Once again, I agree.

"3. Claims lacking convincing argument and evidence should be rejected."

Here, I must ask my opponent what he means: Does he mean we should not believe them, or hold them to be false?

"4. God claims lack convincing argument and evidence."

This is an immense claim. My opponent is not stating "I don't find the arguments for God convincing" but rather that they are not convincing to anyone. Unfortunately, there is just no reason to accept this. My opponent has set himself a huge burden of proof. He must show that all arguments for the existence of God are unsound. In addition, he must also show that any sort of "evidence" we have is not evidence for the existence of God.

Thus, my opponent's argument cannot be considered sound, and he has not yet met his burden of proof.

Conclusion
In conclusion, my opponent has set himself an immense task. His argument rests on the almost impossible-to-prove premise that there are no sound arguments for the existence of God, and no evidence.

Thus, until my opponent shows that there is absolutely no evidence for God, nor are there any sound arguments, we cannot accept the resolution.

Over to Pro!
Debate Round No. 1
ThatZachGuy

Pro

Thank you so much for the warm welcome from my opponent! I look forward to what is to come. (Also, I'm ecstatic to be debating a fellow cuber.)

My opponent is correct in assuming that "superior" was intended to mean "preferable" and "more rational." I do apologize for this instance and others of admittedly sloppy wording and hazy definitions. I'm new to this, so I hope you'll show a little mercy.

On my opponent's response to Premise 3:
Whether we should hold these claims to be false or simply not believe them depends on the particular claim, evidence for or against it, etc. God claims, definitions, and beliefs tend to be very different from person to person. In general, they should simply not be believed. If a more specific definition of "god" is brought into the argument, we may go as far as to hold the claim to be false. However, I do not intend to argue for that position in this debate.

On my opponent's response to Premise 4:
Once again, I apologize for sloppy wording. I will concede that some arguments for the existence of a god or gods are convincing to SOME. However, I argue that they should not be convincing to any as they are all logically invalid and/or unsound. I do realize that this still leaves me with an immense burden of proof that I will likely be unable to meet. Arguments for the existence of a god or gods likely approach innumerable, and I simply do not have the space to refute all of them here. However, a quick internet search will turn up a refutation of any theistic argument you care to search for.

Ontological Argument? Refuted. (http://www.jstor.org...)
Kalam Cosmological Argument? Refuted. (https://www.youtube.com...)
Argument from Design? Refuted. (http://rhetoricsanspareil.wordpress.com...)

These sources are not meant to be definitive answers, of course. They simply serve as examples of the countless refutations of theistic arguments. I invite my opponent and any readers of this debate to find a single example of such an argument that has not been refuted. If necessary for satisfaction, my opponent or any readers may even search for more theistic arguments and their refutations. I admit that I cannot prove definitively that every single theistic argument in the history of man has been refuted, but I can invoke the countless refuted arguments and utter lack of unrefuted ones to act as evidence for the provisional conclusion that theistic claims have failed to meet their burden of proof. If my opponent wishes to discredit this conclusion, then he must present an argument or piece of evidence that contradicts it. I invite him and any readers who wish to leave a comment to try to do so.

Back to you, Con!
zmikecuber

Con

Thanks to ThatZachGuy for his reply. I'm also very happy to have another cuber on DDO!

Refutations which may not refute anything
My opponent argues that each argument for God's existence has a refutation...but this does not take into account whether or not the refutation is sound, or even understands the argument at all. Simply because there are objections to the argument, it does not follow that the argument is unsound. Furthermore, common objections usually miss the point completely. Take for example the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas. These arguments are commonly understood to be some sort of Kalam Cosmological argument and refutations commonly heard are "Why can't the big bang be the Unmoved Mover?", however nothing could be further from the truth. Aquinas states, "By faith alone do we hold, and by no demonstration can it be proved, that the world did not always exist." (1) These arguments have absolutely nothing to do with the beginning of the universe, and thus the "refutations" presented against them do not refute anything.

So while I do not deny that there are countless refutations to arguments for the existence of God, I don't see how this is relevant. There are countless refutations for literally any argument. Simply because there exist refutations to each argument, it doesn't follow that these refutations refute anything! So my opponent presenting the possibility of refutations doesn't justify his premise. He must not only show that there are refutations, but that these are good refutations, which actually refute the arguments.

Furthermore, let's imagine we are to assume that these refutations do call the arguments into question. Why don't we also do the same to refutations of these refutations? If we're going to believe there are refutations to arguments for God, why can't we assume there are refutations to these refutations? If my opponent disagrees, he is shifting the goalposts, and aruging from a double-standard.

Shifting the burden
As you will recall, my opponent's argument rests on the fourth premise: "4. God claims lack convincing argument and evidence."

This is a positive assertion, and requires an immense burden of proof. I believe I have sufficiently countered his arguments above, however what interests me is that he states: "If my opponent wishes to discredit this conclusion, then he must present an argument or piece of evidence that contradicts it."

However, this qualifies as a shifting of the burden fallacy. (2) The burden of proof does not lie on me to prove the falsity of my opponent's premises, but rather the burden lies on my opponent to prove the truth of the premises.

This is very similar to what many theists do in the God debate. The person making the claim has the burden to prove this claim. My opponent has made the immense claim that there is(are) no sound argument(s) for God, and there is no evidence for God. This is a huge claim, which believe has not been met.

Conclusion
In conclusion, my opponent has not sufficiently defended the 4th premise of his argument. He has defended that it may be possibly true, but possibility simply will not do. Until he proves the truth of the 4th premise, the resolution remains unaffirmed.

Thank you! :)

Sources
(1) http://www.newadvent.org...
(2)http://www.nizkor.org...
Debate Round No. 2
ThatZachGuy

Pro

In response to refutations:
My opponent argues that the existence of refutations does not, in itself, refute the arguments for a god's existence. I agree. However, the mere existence of refutations is not what I intend to present as evidence for my claims. I hold that, while not every refutation is sound, theistic arguments are ultimately grounded in baseless assumptions, logical fallacies, and false premises. One can certainly discover that this applies to every theistic argument through study. In all my time studying apologetic arguments, I have not yet found a sound one. Neither has Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Nye, Richard Carrier, Lawrence Krauss, Sam Harris, or any of the other countless advocates of rationalism and freethought. If there were sufficient argument and evidence for the existence of a god, then any of these scientifically minded atheists would become theists (as would most atheists in the world). On the other hand, we have theists who will either give blatantly fallacious arguments or be honest enough to tell you that their claims must be believed on faith. I'd be willing to bet that my opponent has also been unable to find a sound theistic argument, nor has any reader of this debate. Otherwise, we might have seen a better example than the Five Ways of Aquinas (all of which can be found guilty of assuming faulty premises or committing logical fallacies such as Begging the Question or Special Pleading). I recognize that I cannot claim this with utter certainty, but it stands as a provisional conclusion that can be held because of the complete lack of sound theistic arguments that have come to my attention or the attention of anybody else I have personally spoken with, listened to, or read from. I urge every reader, as well as my opponent, to take every single theistic argument any of you have ever been confronted with and use your knowledge of logic and rational discourse to find the hole that I assure you lurks within. You do NOT have to take my word for it.

I'd also like to respond to my opponent's point about refuting refutations. While I'll certainly concede that there are countless unsound refutational arguments against theistic arguments, the most prominent refutations are ones that simply point out logical fallacies and false premises. I welcome any attempt to counter such simple refutations as these. However, I don't find it likely that you can refute the pointing out of a logical fallacy. I urge everybody to try and let me know what you find. However, I do not think that I am moving goalposts or arguing from a double-standard when I say that special pleading is special pleading, and it renders any argument that commits it invalid.

In response to shifting the burden:
Yes, my fourth premise is a positive assertion. I am willing to accept the BoP that comes with it. However, we cannot know very many things with absolute certainty. Therefore, I've dedicated a significant portion of my time to studying the arguments and "evidence" for the existence of a god and have come to the well-supported, provisional conclusion that no arguments or evidence are sufficient. I offer as evidence for this claim an illustration of two columns: one marked "Sound theistic arguments," and the other marked "Unsound theistic arguments." Under the former, nothing has been so far presented. Under the latter lies the Cosmological Argument (containing false premises and an equivocation fallacy among other problems), the Five Ways (a goldmine of special pleading, begging the question, and other issues), the Argument from Miracles (otherwise known as the argument from ignorance), and every other theistic argument that any of us are familiar with. I cannot take the time to refute every single theistic argument in this forum (that would just be unreasonable), but I urge every reader to find the knowledge out there and apply your own cognitive ability if you wish to cast any reasonable doubt on this conclusion that has been reached by myself, nearly every prominent academic atheist, and even a significant portion of theists who will fully admit that theistic claims are believed on faith alone.

All in all, I'd be amiss if I didn't point out that it is somewhat difficult to accept the Burden of Proof on the claim that another position has failed to meet ITS Burden of Proof. I have endeavored to show the source of this tentative conclusion, which is admittedly rather difficult. The bottom line is that I have evidence in the form of refuted arguments and a lack of unrefuted ones. If my opponent or any of you readers are aware of a perfectly sound argument that may act as evidence to a contrary conclusion than what has been already been reached, then it should probably be presented. My opponent has attempted to interpret this as a shifting of the BoP, but I have offered at least some evidence to back up my fourth premise. You can challenge it all you want, and I will admit that it has been reached inductively. However, if one wishes to contradict my conclusion and say that God claims should be accepted, then one should be prepared to fulfill the BoP that the theist holds in claiming the existence of a god. If this Burden has not been fulfilled, then am I unjustified in claiming that the theist lacks sound argument and evidence? Is it shifting the Burden if I am challenged to defend my position that the theist has not met their BoP and I ask them to try again? You're free to interpret it as such, but the bottom line is that the theist has STILL not demonstrated the existence of a god, and the resolution stands.

Finally,
I'd like to thank my opponent for a challenging first debate and a warm welcome to DDO! This really kept me on my toes, and I enjoyed the stimulation. A heartfelt congratulations to my opponent on a fight well fought, and I wish him luck in the voting to come. This has been a great learning experience!
zmikecuber

Con

Opening
Thanks very much for my opponent's response. As readers will recall, my opponent's argument rests entirely on the premise "God claims lack convincing argument and evidence." Now we both agree that the burden should be on him to prove this premise. However, this premise is nearly impossible to prove. The premise does not state "There probably isn't any sound argument for God" or "It's most likely that there isn't any evidence for God." Rather, the premise states that "God claims lack convincing argument and evidence."

Refutations
My opponent argues that since he has never come across a sound argument for theism, or that none of xyz people have, that therefore there probably aren't any. It should be noted that this is inductive reasoning, and cannot defend his claim with absolute certainty. Unfortunately, this is an argument from personal experience, and an argument from authority. (1) This cannot qualify as solid evidence for my opponent's immense claim.

My opponent also states: "If there were sufficient argument and evidence for the existence of a god, then any of these scientifically minded atheists would become theists (as would most atheists in the world)"

However, I would have to disagree here. Atheist Philosopher Thomas Nagel states, "I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear [the fear of religion] myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers...It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that." (2)

Now this may not be the case for all atheists, however one can notice such an attitude from the anti-religious New Atheists.

Refuting refutations
My opponent also argues that the refutations for most arguments, "simply point out logical fallacies and false premises." Regarding false premises: This is an episemological claim, which can be disputed. Is x true? Well it might be, or it might not be. You can argue it either way. However, when my opponent speaks of "logical fallacies" this is not fair to the arguments. When I present an argument, and someone accuses me of committing a logical fallacy, it doesn't necessarily mean I have committed that fallacy. In fact, my opponent implies that Aquinas' Five Ways beg the question and commit a special pleading. It's not clear how they do, but it is simply not true. Aquinas argues for each of his premises, which are based extensively on his metaphysics. If one were to simply read the Five Ways without knowledge of Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics, it would surely seem he was just begging the question. But as it is, Aquinas has argued at length for the metaphysical framework his arguments rely on. (3) Furtheremore, the "special-pleading" fallacy is also easily done away with. First Way: Whatever moves is moved by another. God is not moving, so he is not moved by another. Second Way: Whatever has a distinct essence and existence is caused by another. God's essence and existence are not distinct, so he is not caused by another.

This suffices to show and to give an example that what my opponent believes may be pointing out logical fallacies in arguments, really aren't logical fallacies in the first place, and are based on a misunderstanding of the argument.

Assert that assertion
My opponent simply states that there are problems with the arguments he names. However, simply asserting something does not make it true. I can assert the exact opposite.

The Cosmological Argument (has true premises, and no formal logical fallacies)
The Five Ways (only look like special pleading and begging the question if you haven't studied the underlying metaphysics.)
The Argument from Miracles (the most viable option is a supernatural occurence)

Now I can also assert: All responses to theistic arguments rest upon misunderstandings of the arguments.

My opponent is pretty much just asserting "All the arguments for God fail. Do some research and you'll see." However, I can simply do the same. "All the refutations for theistic arguments fail. Do some research and you'll see."

Blind faith
Now as my opponent would probably agree, he is basing his entire argument off of his interpretation of theistic arguments. But why should we accept his interpretation of these arguments? He claims that each of these arguments make logical fallacies, but why should we trust his judgment? This is asking us to make a tremendous leap of faith.

Other ways of believing in God?
Finally, there are other ways to believe in God, or to have a justified belief in God, besides sound arguments. If God were to reveal himself personally to you, you would probably believe in God. You would in fact be justified to believe in God. However, you can't formulate this into a sound argument or evidence. This invalidates my opponent's fourth premise.

Conclusion
In conclusion, my opponent's argument rests upon the premise "God claims lack convincing argument and evidence." Unfortunately, this is a nearly impossible-to-prove premise. Thus, it is understandable why my opponent's argument rests upon personal experience, appeals to authority, and appeal to the internet. Unfortunately, this just will not do, and this premise is shaky at best. I believe that I have sufficiently refuted the arguments my opponent has given in favor of this, and the resolution remains unaffirmed.

Thanks for a great debate, ThatZachGuy! :)

Please vote Con!

(And yes, I know I ramble on xD)

(1) http://www.nizkor.org...
(2) http://www.goodreads.com...
(3) http://dhspriory.org...
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Kako 3 years ago
Kako
Couldn't have handled it better myself mike
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by janetsanders733 3 years ago
janetsanders733
ThatZachGuyzmikecuberTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Excellent debate by both. However, I think Con did better since he showed that the bop must be met for the non-existence of God, and that just because the New Atheists don't accept the evidence for God, means God doesn't exist.
Vote Placed by Pitbull15 3 years ago
Pitbull15
ThatZachGuyzmikecuberTied
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Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
ThatZachGuyzmikecuberTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Most of Pro's arguments were bare assertions without any actual verification of any sort, We were led only to take his word for it that all of theistic arguments are unsound because there are refutations somewhere out there in the google brain, As if taking his word for it and based on his own personal experience is enough to settle the dispute. Con showed the weakness of this style of debate and charged Con to fulfil his burden and show why all theistic arguments are invalid. Something which was very difficult for Pro to do from the outset. Albeit Pro did very well but just didn't meet the demands of BoP in this debate but I feel Pro has a good future on DDO if he get's more familiar with debating rules, for instance if he took the Con position it would have gave him less to do. But iin this debate Con did well and managed to refute all the points Pro made with vigour. Arguments to Con.
Vote Placed by Jonbonbon 3 years ago
Jonbonbon
ThatZachGuyzmikecuberTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct was pretty even. There weren't really any S&G errors on either side. When it comes to arguments and sources, I'm gonna have to say con wins this. Sources is simple. Con used his sources to his advantage, while pro merely posted them and expected others to read them and assess their worth. Pro didn't take full advantage of the sources at all. When it comes to arguments, I felt pro let the debate become mostly about BoP, and it seemed like he was accepting the BoP then shooting himself in the foot by shifting it or admitting he couldn't meet it. The points that were in affirmation of the resolution were bare assertions that were negated by con's simply disagreeing with them. I'll clarify in the comments if anyone wants.