The Instigator
felixmendelssohn
Pro (for)
The Contender
Jerry947
Con (against)

Atheism(pro) vs Theism(con)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/19/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 465 times Debate No: 94833
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (0)

 

felixmendelssohn

Pro

Debate Format:

Round 1:
-Pro gives definitions and sets up debate
-Con accepts the debate and confirm (and provides) definitions.

Round 2:
-Pro gives opening argument
-Con gives opening argument...no rebuttals.

Round 3:
-Pro responds to what Con argued
-Con responds to what Pro argued (does not defend arguments)

Round 4:
-Both debaters conclude their arguments and finish responding to what each other wrote.

Definition:
- domain of a statement 'X': a limited scope in which the validity of the statement is confirmed. When a statement is taken outside of its domain, its validity becomes uncertain.
Example: The domain of the statement "Aliens do not exist" is Earth.

Jerry947

Con

I accept this debate.

Definitions:

a. God-the greatest conceivable being

b. Theism-belief in the existence of God

I thank my opponent for the challenge and I look forward to hearing their arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
felixmendelssohn

Pro

Thank you for accepting my challenge! I hope we're going to have a good debate.
Let's begin

Argument for An Uncaused Universe

** This argument credited to Bruce Russell

1. Things are either eternal or begin to exist at a moment in time.

2. God's intention to create the universe can either be eternal or begin to exist in time. But we all know God exists timelessly, so his intention can't begin to exist at a moment in time. Therefore God's intention to create the universe must be eternal.

3. If God's intention to create the universe is eternal, then the universe must be eternal.

4. If the Universe is eternal, then by the very first premise of the Kalam argument, it is uncaused because it didn't begin to exist.

5. If the Universe is uncaused, then there's no need for a God to cause the Universe.


Argument for Objective Morality

1. Objective Morality can either be grounded in god or not grounded in god.

2. If objective morality is grounded in a changeless being as a god, then our morality must also be changeless.

3. But morality is not changeless, it evolves over time.

4. Therefore objective morality is not grounded in god.


Jerry947

Con

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate and I look forward to see how things will turn out. I can tell that my opponent is going to be a fun person to debate. Please note that my moral/cosmological arguments are not rebuttals to my opponent's arguments, they are merely just the same arguments I use in a lot of these God debates.

The Axiological Argument:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective moral values do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

Since this premise is generally not disputed, I will only give a quick defense of it. Objective morals have to come from an objective source and that source can only be God. Nothing/nobody else could produce an objective moral code.

2. Objective moral values do exist.

a. Since we know what is absolutely wrong, there must be an absolute standard of rightness.

Murder is an action that all people (insane people are the exception) recognize as absolutely wrong. Taking the life of a human being unjustly is undeniably wrong and everybody knows it. That said, if we know what is wrong, we must have some idea of what is right. For example, if someone were to say that 2+2 were equal to five, we would know that they were wrong. But in order to know that, we would have to have some idea of what the right answer was.

b. If there wasn't a Moral Law, then we wouldn't make excuses for violating it.

We have all done something wrong at some point in our lives. It is interesting to note that we always try to make excuses for violating the moral law. But if there was no objective moral law, then we would not feel the need to apologize to people when we hurt them. For example, if I were to say some harsh words to a family member of mine, I might try to offer them excuses like "I was hungry."

However, if morality was subjective, and there was no right/wrong, we wouldn't feel the need to to say sorry whenever we did something "wrong". In fact, lets say that I owed a person money. I wouldn't have any moral reason to pay them back. The person I owed money to merely would have a different opinion of what morality was than me. And since there would be no objective moral standard, I would be perfectly justified in not paying him back.

But this is all ridiculous since we all are aware of the same objective moral law. And that is why we make excuses for violating it and that is the reason why we just know when someone wrongs us.

c. All people really do know that a standard of right/wrong exist.

Most people have an idea of what is right and wrong. Now some people might argue that there is no such thing as objective morality or a real right and wrong. But the people that argue this always go back on their claim a moment later (Lewis 6). The same people that say that morality is opinion based (or subjective) would still be irritated at people for treating them poorly. I can imagine that my opponent would be irritated if the voters gave me all the votes merely because they liked my username better than his. He would certainly feel wronged. But the thing is, if morality was subjective, no one should ever feel wronged. Why would someone feel wronged if morality was based on opinions?

Sometimes people try to argue that morality is created by societies. But we also understand that there are societies that have condoned evil practices when in fact people know that the society was wrong. For example, W. H. Auden, a famous 20th century poet, said that "there had to be a reason Hitler was utterly wrong." Auden said this famous quote after going to a theater that showed pictures of the Holocaust. These pictures sickened him and made him rethink his worldview. Before watching these pictures, Auden believed that it was up to the society to decide what was right and wrong. But during his time at the theater he realized that if societies decided what was right and wrong, and if morality is subjective, this would mean that Hitler was justified in everything he did. Well, at least according to that society. And who are we to tell them they are wrong if morality is purely subjective?

d. If there is no objective morality, there is no reason to be moral. If there was no objective standard of right/wrong, then all we would have is peoples opinions. Our opinion on morality would be like our opinion on what the best flavor of ice cream is. It just would not matter If we did something that people thought was wrong since there would be no objectively wrong things in the first place.

Some may argue that they are moral to benefit society. The problem with this response is that benefiting society is part of what it means to be moral. The question "why be moral" and "Why benefit society" are almost the same question. Benefiting society is a moral thing to do...but we want to know why someone should be moral if there is no objective morality.

Another objection would be that morality is merely an instinct. The problem with this claim is that people have different instincts which would make morality subjective. And again, if morality is subjective, we could never tell people that they are doing something wrong. Another problem with this argument is that morality is usually that thing that decides between which instincts to follow. For example, if a person were to hear a gun shot and a cry for help, people would most likely have two instincts. One would be to run away from danger; another instinct would be to run to help the person. Morality might push a person to choose the weaker instinct, which is to choose to help the person instead of saving themselves.

3. Therefore, God exists.

The Teleological Argument:

1. The universe is fine-tuned for life.

The world is so complex that there must be a creator. According to Roger Penrose of Oxford University, he has calculated that the odds of that low-entropy state's (state in which the universe began) existing by chance alone is on the order of one chance out of 10^10(123). That number is inconceivable. The odds are so against a life permitting universe that it is like a criminal (representing the universe) is about to be executed by a firing squad (representing odds against life permitting universe) and then the members of the firing squad all miss. People claim that it happened by chance. Christians say that it is ludicrous to think it happened by chance. Why? Because something feels rigged. It is completely logical to believe that there is an intelligent designer especially since everything is so complex. On the other hand, it is crazy to call all of this simple chance.

What about the fact that "the amount of matter (or more precisely energy density) in our universe at the Big Bang turns out to be finely-tuned to about 1 part in 1055. In other words, to get a life-permitting universe the amount of mass would have to be set to a precision of 55 decimal places" (http://crossexamined.org...).

What about the galaxy mass distribution? If "too much in the central bulge: life-supportable planet will be exposed to too much radiation. [And] If too much in the spiral arms: life-supportable planet will be destabilized by the gravity and
radiation from adjacent spiral arms." See link below...

And what about these other 400 factors that have to come into play?
Link: http://www.reasons.org...

How can you possibly say that the universe is not fine tuned for life?

How about these facts? The 23 degree axis tilt of the earth is just right. If the tilt were altered slightly, surface temperatures would be too extreme on earth. Then there is the fact that if the gravitational forces in our universe were altered by .00000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent, the sun would not exist and then we would not either.

2. Fine-tuning can potentially be explained by chance, necessity or design.

3. Not by chance or necessity.

First of all, the odds are so against a life permitting universe that no one can even argue for necessity. As for chance, the chances of our universe existing are so great that they outnumber the number of individual atoms that currently exist. But not only that, chance is not even an explanation. If a coin is tossed, it may have a 50% chance of showing heads but the cause of that happening is that a human flipped the coin. So the question is, what caused the universe to exist? I want to know why the odds were beat. Since chance and necessity are not good explanations...

4. Therefore, the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of design.

The Cosmological Argument:

a. Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

Pretty self-explanatory...

b. The universe began to exist.

Modern science supports that the universe had a beginning. For example, the second law of thermodynamics helps us figure out that the universe is running out of energy (hence heading towards a heat death). In an eternal universe, it would have run out of energy by now. So since this hasn't happened, we know that the Universe had a beginning. Also, there is the discovery of red-shift in 1929. Basically, this discovery showed us that the universe is expanding which means if you were to go back in time, the universe would shrink and shrink until you get this infinite point. William Lane Craig says it better, he states that "as one traces the expansion back in time, the universe becomes denser and denser until one reaches a point of infinite density from which the universe began to expand."

c. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence
d. Since no scientific explanation (in terms of physical laws) can provide a causal account of the origin of the universe, the cause must be personal (explanation is given in terms of a personal agent).
God is the best explanation for the existence of the universe.
Debate Round No. 2
felixmendelssohn

Pro

First of all, I thank Con for such an interesting opening statement. I find it exciting to debate Con and hope for an enlightening debate for both sides.

Let's begin
Con brought up three major arguments:

1. The Morality Argument
2. The Fine-tuning Argument
3. And lastly, The Kalam Argument

So, I'll address Con's arguments in the order stated above.

1. The Morality Argument

Con worried that if there were no God, then there wouldn't be any absolute standard of rightness. And since there were no standard of rightness, what would prevent people from killing one another?


In response to Con's concern, I'll offer two fundamental elements that explain why morality the way it is.

1. Natural Selection
2. Empathy

Let's do a thought experiment in order to see how these elements shape our morality

Suppose A is a society where murdering other people is considered righteous and encouraged.
On the contrary, suppose B is a society where such behavior is prohibited. Now imagine its election season and everyone is going frenzy for their candidates. Everybody thinks their candidate is 'the one'. The two opposing sides criticize the other's 'stupidity' for thinking that 'XYZ' will benefit the country. The antagonism escalates as the election day coming. Now, keep in mind that murdering others is righteous in society A, so what would prevent the two sides from killing each other? NOTHING! Indeed, the 2 opposing sides would annihilate each other until they all agree to stop the killing or they'd keep doing it until they become extinct. On the other hand, society B would flourish and continue to survive.

The experiment demonstrated a fact: With certain mutual obligations, the society thrives and survives. Without certain mutual obligations, the society declines and becomes extinct.

To have a murder-permitting society is as impossible as making a squared circle because both of them are logical impossibilities.

So, to answer the question: "On atheism, why is killing wrong?"
A: Because if it was right, then we wouldn't even be here to ask the question!

What about empathy?

Research has been done and confirmed the existence of "mirror neurons". These neurons enable humans to feel other people's pain. You feel pain when you see another person hurt. Or you feel sad for a woman who just lost their son. You feel empathy for others NOT because some laws written inside your brain tells you to do so, but because your brain imagine how terrible you would feel if you were that woman. All of these are effects of "mirror neurons". Sociopaths and serial killers have these neurons impaired.

How does this explain morality?

When I apologize for saying harsh word to my mom, I do so not because according to some moral laws it was the right thing to do, but because my brain "mirror" how miserable my mom would feel if I were her. In such cases, I'd say sorry to my mom because it makes me feel better since my brain mirrors the bliss that my mom has after my apology. There is no such law that said "Thy shalt feel guilt after saying harsh words to thy family."


FAQ

1. "If there's no standard of rightness, I shouldn't have to pay my debt back"

Thats a self-contradicting statement because in a world where you can get away with not paying debt, there wouldn't be any money lending because nobody would give away something they know they might never be able to get back.
Objective morality is a mutual obligatory rules that helps the society thrive. "But why is helping the society thrive a moral thing to do", a theist may ask. The answer is: a community that considers "helping the society to decline" a good thing to do would not exist since they would sooner or later be wiped out!

People used to feel that slavery was completely moral and just. But nowadays, our morality has evolved (thanks to natural selection) to the point that such action is considered unethical and thats should be the evidence for "moral evolution."

2. The Fine-tuning Argument

Con opens his paragraph by a mind-boggling statement: "The world is so complex that there must be a creator." How could one think that the world's complexity must be designed while a much much more complex being such as a God is just there?


In order to calculate those numbers, Con made three assumptions and zero of them have any supporting evidence.

1. The universe parameters are independent
2. Carbon-based life is the only life form possible
3. The universe existence is for life

1. Is the weak/strong force, energy density governed by any unknown laws? We don't know yet. Suppose a ball is thrown up and your job is to calculate the probability the that ball falls straight down. To an alien who has no idea about the force of gravity, the probability that the ball falls straight down would be infinitesimally small since there're infinite many different angles that the ball can move.

2. Is carbon-based life the only life form possible? Con gave several examples: too much radiation, unstable gravity, extreme Earth conditions, sun would not exist.. etc. Yes! I agree that those conditions would be too extreme for HUMAN to exist because it took billions of years for us to become adapted to the current condition. This is like taking an ant, drown it in the water and conclude that "land was fine-tuned for the ant." Of course we all know that is ridiculously wrong because the ant took billions of years to evolve to become adjusted to the evironment on land and now you're taking it to a completely foreign environment like water and expect the ant to survive? Similarly, one cannot take a human who has been adapted to the environment of this universe, to another universe where the conditions are radically different and say that we couldn't exist therefore the universe was fine-tune for us. In fact, we are fine-tuned for the universe.

3. Would it be abit arrogant to think that the purpose of the universe is us? Alex's professor just gave a lecture about DNA. A change in DNA could lead to a shift in a person's characteristics. Based on that reason, Alex calculated the probability that the DNA's pairs were just right for him to exist is infinitely small so he concluded that there gotta be somebody who 'fine-tuned' these pairs just so he could exist! If you think Alex is being ridiculous, then I don't see how you could take this argument seriously.

3. And lastly, The Kalam Argument

P1. Everything begins to exist has a cause

The first premise is concluded by observations on Earth and experience. So by definition we can say that its domain is within our universe because outside of this universe, the validity of this statement is uncertain. Also, we know that everything 'begin to exist' that we observe around is the result of the rearrangement of already existing atoms. For example, the atoms that make up a fetus are not created at the moment the fetus begins to exist but they already existed prior to the fetus's existence. Knowing these facts, the first premise should be rewritten more precisely as follow:


P1: Everything begins to exist may have a cause (since a statement is taken out of its scope, it becomes uncertain)

or with almost absolute certainty as follow

P1: Everything within the universe that begins to exist as a result of the rearrangement of already existing atoms has a cause of its existence.

Let's put the premises together

P1: Everything begins to exist may have a cause
P2: The universe began to exist
C : Therefore the universe may have a cause (Big Surprise!)

or

P1: Everything within the universe that begins to exist as a result of the rearrangement of already existing atoms has a cause of its existence.
P2: But the universe is not within the universe, and it began to exist as a result of the creation of atoms, space, and time
C : Therefore it is logically fallacious to conclude that the universe must have a cause.

Closing:

So I think that I've given several analogy trying to explain the problems with Con's arguments. I'm looking forward to hearing Con's reponses to my arguments.
Jerry947

Con

I thank my opponent for his arguments. This round I will only address my opponent's opening arguments since that is what the rules say I should do. Please note that I will be quoting the premises of my opponent's argument and then responding to them below.

1. Argument for An Uncaused Universe

"Things are either eternal or begin to exist at a moment in time."

Yes, I would agree that there are uncaused and caused things.

"God's intention to create the universe can either be eternal or begin to exist in time. But we all know God exists timelessly, so his intention can't begin to exist at a moment in time. Therefore God's intention to create the universe must be eternal."

Okay.

"If God's intention to create the universe is eternal, then the universe must be eternal."

Wait what? How did we jump to this conclusion so fast? Why does God's intention to create the universe automatically make the universe eternal? Why can't an infinite being create non-infinite things? Isn't that kind of like saying that a runner couldn't run slower then he does in races? Just because you exist outside of time does not mean you can't create things that begin to exist in time.

"If the Universe is eternal, then by the very first premise of the Kalam argument, it is uncaused because it didn't begin to exist."

But doesn't God still create an eternal universe in your argument? I don't see how that is possible, but even if that did somehow destroy my argument, it still admits that a God exists.

"If the Universe is uncaused, then there's no need for a God to cause the Universe."

I guess I can follow you with this one.

2. Argument for Objective Morality

"Objective Morality can either be grounded in god or not grounded in god."

I disagree with this. Objective morality can only be grounded in God. You would have to make a strong argument to convince me otherwise.

"If objective morality is grounded in a changeless being as a god, then our morality must also be changeless."

No, this again seems to be a huge leap in logic. Just because God's morality is consistent, this doesn't mean that our morality is changeless.

"But morality is not changeless, it evolves over time."

That is a bare assertion. Yet if morality evolves over time, then it isn't really objective according to your point of view. For example, if one thing is wrong in the past and then considered right in this age due to evolution, then the standard would have changed. This completely goes against the idea of objective morality.

And this also creates other issues. For example, we could just argue that Hitler did nothing wrong since evolution merely gave him a different mind. I mean, I can't see how evolution could possibly provide any objective moral law.

"Therefore objective morality is not grounded in god."

Yeah, this doesn't follow at all. I don't think either of these arguments establish that God does not exist.
But I thank my opponent again and I can't wait to hear their responses.
Debate Round No. 3
felixmendelssohn

Pro

I thank Con again for a very remarkable remark. I'm going to quote Con and give a response to what Con said.

1. Con disagreed with the conclusion that "If God's intention to create the universe is eternal, then the universe must be eternal."

Let's assume the opposite is true.

God's intention to create the universe is eternal, but the universe began to exist

A. Since god exists eternally without beginning or end, his existence must range from -infinity to +infinity.

B. At some point along his eternal existence, he decided to act upon his eternal intention to create the Universe so that the Universe begins to exist.

C. God went from -infinity to the point where he decided to act upon his intention.

Now the assumption leads to a logical contradiction.

P1: If god went from -infinity, he'll never reach the point where he acted upon his intention and therefore the Universe never existed.

P2: But the Universe exists!

C : Therefore If God's intention to create the universe is eternal, then the universe can't begin to exist. If the Universe didn't begin to exist, then it must be eternal.

2. "But doesn't God still create an eternal universe in your argument? I don't see how that is possible, but even if that did somehow destroy my argument, it still admits that a God exists. "

No. It doesn't admit that a god exists. This is called proof by contradiction.

In order to prove statement P is true, one needs to show that the opposite of P leads to a contradiction and that's what I did.

In order to validate the statement "God does not exist", I showed that the opposite of that statement ("God exists") leads to a contradiction.

So starting with the assumption that "God exists", I made inferences using Con's own logic and arrived at a contradiction. That implies

1. Premise 1 of the Kalam argument is flawed.
2. God's existence leads to a logical contradiction.

3. "For example, we could just argue that Hitler did nothing wrong since evolution merely gave him a different mind. I mean, I can't see how evolution could possibly provide any objective moral law."

I don't see how we have to have an objective morality in order to see that Hitler was wrong. He was wrong because:


1. If everyone considered Hitler to be the standard of righteousness, then there would be more Hitler-like leaders (because righteous action is encouraged).

2. If there were more Hitler-like leaders, the word would be divided into different groups that consider themselves to be superior and are willing to invade other countries to attain power.

3. If the world was full of different antagonistic parties, they would annihilate each other until they stop consider Hitler-like action to be the standard of righteous or they'll wipe each other off the face of the Earth.

Ultimately, you'll always end up with Hitler-like action is wrong or extinction.

Moreover, Human has a complex nervous system which enables us to predict future due to past experience. We are rational enough to evaluate which scenario is more beneficial to us.

If Hitler was right:
"I could be the next target of genocide, persecution, extermination."
"I could be considered a sub-human"
"My country A could be the next target of invasion"

It's clearly more beneficial to us if he's wrong than right.

4. "Yet if morality evolves over time, then it isn't really objective according to your point of view. For example, if one thing is wrong in the past and then considered right in this age due to evolution, then the standard would have changed. This completely goes against the idea of objective morality."

If morality doesn't evolve (get better), then the abolishment of slavery makes no difference according to that POV.

This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by PowerPikachu21 3 months ago
PowerPikachu21
Pro made some valid points, some that Con probably was unable to refute. So the Instigator wins.
Posted by Dust2Dust 3 months ago
Dust2Dust
These debates are pointless by default. Nothing you propose to one another will sway another person's view. Instead of using these topics for entertainment, why not focus on something more important, and make our planet a better place?
Posted by missmedic 3 months ago
missmedic
How do you acquire knowledge from belief? One need not own beliefs of any kind to establish scientific facts, observe and enjoy nature, or live a productive, moral, and useful life. Replacing beliefs with predictive thoughts based on experience and evidence provide a means to eliminate intransigence and dangerous superstitious thought.
It is important not to confuse objective morality with absolutist morality. The latter is a hallmark of religious doctrines, which make statements of the type "thou shalt not". But an objective morality, i.e. a morality based on the facts of reality, does not need to be of that type. All it needs in order to be objective is to refer to some facts of reality as source of moral judgments. Because of this, atheism is perfectly compatible with objective morality.
Posted by felixmendelssohn 3 months ago
felixmendelssohn
We're probably arguing both.
Posted by BackCommander 3 months ago
BackCommander
Malalo75 is right. By your definition, using my opinions, we find that Ryan Reynolds is God. We all finally know the truth, God is among us.
Posted by missmedic 3 months ago
missmedic
are you guys arguing belief or existence?
Posted by malalo75 3 months ago
malalo75
Con's definition of god is flawed, as it is opinion-based. What does "greatest" mean? Something or someone being great is a matter of opinion, not fact.
You can't define something with an opinion.
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