The Instigator
MTGandP
Con (against)
Winning
36 Points
The Contender
wjmelements
Pro (for)
Losing
18 Points

Atheism relies on the belief that nothing is needed to have anything occur.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
MTGandP
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/19/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,893 times Debate No: 8293
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (32)
Votes (10)

 

MTGandP

Con

(Notice that I have categorized "atheism" under Religion not because it is a religion, but because it is related to religion and religious topics.)

My opponent has stated that "Atheism is the belief that nothing is needed to have anything occur" on his profile. I negate this statement. It is possible that my opponent was joking, but this is America, and we can debate about whatever we want!

Atheism: a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...)

God: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe (Merriam-Webster)

I will allow my opponent to make the first argument.
wjmelements

Pro

I thank my opponent for this great topic (and though it was taken from my profile, I had never intended to actually debate this). Also, I intend to keep this from being a stereotypical debate.

I accept my opponent's definitions; however, I reject his definition of "god", and propose the following definitions:

god- a supernatural being, worshipped as the controller of the universe or some aspect of life or as the personification of some force http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
rely- To be dependent for support, help, or supply http://dictionary.reference.com...

If atheism relies on the fact that nothing is needed to happen, then a causation argument would contradict it.

The resolution means that atheist beliefs rely, or depend, on the lack of causation. Causation is the fact that in all properties of the physical world have a cause. For example, we are currently on Earth because the molecules that our bodies stem from have been bound to earth by gravity.

This "Problem of Causation" can be held against atheism in that the universe requires some metaphysical force to exist that would cause the beginning of the existence of matter and energy, which has no cause.

Atheists usually rely on scientific principles that they then use to disprove the existence of some metaphysical "god". These scientific principles are also defiant of causation:
-The Law of Conservation of Mass
-The Law of Conservation of Energy
-Gravity
-Chemistry
-etc.
There is no cause for gravity. We don't know why mass bends space.
We don't know why certain chemicals tend to act a certain way.
There is no cause for the great "big bang".

So, indeed, atheism defies causation, and is illogical when put to arguments of causation. So, atheism relies on ignorance of causation.

I await a rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 1
MTGandP

Con

"I intend to keep this from being a stereotypical debate."
What does my opponent mean by that?

"the personification of some force" That seems awfully vague. The definition would be better if refined to "a supernatural being, worshipped as the controller of the universe". But I think God has to be at least conscious, and preferably omnipotent.

***

My opponent and I are essentially arguing over the problem of causation. I am going to offer two contentions, both of which are also rebuttals to my opponent's point.

Contention 1: First Cause
Why must there be some supernatural entity that created the universe? The universe could be the first cause just as easily as a god. Firstly, what was the big bang?

In the beginning, all matter and energy in the universe was compressed into a singularity. The entire universe existed on a very small scale, and much like with black holes, the laws of physics did not apply in the same way. Time did not exist. Then, the singularity rapidly expanded and the universe was filled with matter and energy. Why did this expansion suddenly happen? Well, it didn't. Since time was created along with the universe, the big bang was the first event. It required no cause.

Contention 2: Necessity of God
If the universe did have a cause, it was not by necessity a god. I know of four hypotheses for the origin of the universe, none of which require a god.

1. The big bang was the first event. Nothing came before it because there was no "before".
2. There exists an infinitely large quantum field. Random fluctuations within this field cause particles to come in and out of existence. One day (if you can count "quantum time" in days), a massive singularity was created, creating the universe. This may seem a little implausible, but things like this happen on the microscopic scale within our universe.
3. Outside the universe, there are massive four-dimensional membranes. They move about, and sometimes smash into each other. When this happens, it triggers a massive release of energy otherwise known as the big bang. (From Einstein's Big Idea by NOVA)
4. The readers have probably heard of the big crunch. It is the event that occurs when the universe collapses on itself. It is postulated that when the universe collapses on itself, it then bounces back, causing another big bang. Eventually, there is another big crunch, followed by another big bang. This cycle continues indefinitely.

***

"There is no cause for gravity. We don't know why mass bends space."
Some things don't have a reason. For example, according to my opponent, god exists. Why does god exist? Sure, we "know" that He does in fact exist. But why? The reason is, there is no reason. Some things just don't have a reason.

"We don't know why certain chemicals tend to act a certain way."
In addition to the above, this is a God of the Gaps fallacy. Simply because we do not know what causes something doesn't mean the cause has to be God. Two thousand years ago, we didn't know why there was night and day. The Greeks attributed night and day to God. But we now know that it wasn't actually God, it was actually the rotation of the earth. The same can be applied here. An unknown cause does not imply that the cause must be God.

[1] http://www.superstringtheory.com...
[2] http://www.existence-of-god.com...
wjmelements

Pro

First, I would like to ask my opponent whether or not plusses look more optomistic than minusses.

Second, I don't have a problem with this new definition of "god".
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
MY OPPONENT CONCEDES
My opponent dedicates an entire paragraph to concede the debate. Says my opponent:

"Some things don't have a reason. For example, according to my opponent, god exists. Why does god exist? Sure, we 'know' that He does in fact exist. But why? The reason is, there is no reason. Some things just don't have a reason."

In my opponent's attempt to shape this into a stereotypical religious debate, he conceded. While saying that theism relies on the belief that nothing is needed to have anything occur, my opponent concedes that he believes that "some things don't have a reason".

So, atheism relies on ignorance or arrogance of causation. Atheism cannot logically explain why mass bends space without admitting that it needs no reason.

In conclusion, my opponent trying to defend atheism forced him to rely on the argument that nothing is needed to have something occur. We can stop now, and say that I have won the debate. However, that would be boring. For that reason, I am also going to refute a few of my opponent's points:
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
"JUST FOR FUN" REBUTTALS
My opponent claims that the original "singularity rapidly expanded and the universe was filled with matter and energy." However, this argument again relies on the belief that nothing is needed to cause this.

In my opponent's rebuttals of the lack of causation in the atheist view of "the beginning", he proposes four theories, all of which agree with the resolution.

1) He proposes that the big bang was the first event. In proposing this, he proposes that nothing caused this.

2) He proposes that there exists a quantum field that can create or destroy matter at will. This contradicts the Law of Conservation of Mass. Further, this proposed field itself has no cause.

3) He proposes that there exists "massive four-dimensional membranes" that "move about" and "smash into each other". This membrane, again, has no cause.

4) He proposes that some big crunch created the big bang. However, such a crunch would require its own bang, which requires its own crunch, etc. He says that the cycle "continues indefinitely", but that there is no cause for matter and energy.

All of these atheist explanations rely on arrogance of causation.

"Simply because we do not know what causes something doesn't mean the cause has to be God."
This is irrelevant. Again, I wish to avoid a stereotypical atheism vs theism debate. I urge my opponent to stay on topic.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
SOURCES
My opponent's first source links to a broad outline. I would like to know EXACTLY where my opponent recieved this information. (http://www.superstringtheory.com...)
My opponent's second source claims that atheists will deny that everything has a cause.
It says, "A second line of attack(which happens to be the only logical attack) [for atheists] on the first cause argument is to deny that everything that has a beginning has a cause". So, his source (http://www.existence-of-god.com...) concedes that atheists use the argument that "not everything has a cause" to battle causation.
I would also like to point out that my opponent's contentions are based off of the arguments on this website: http://www.existence-of-god.com...
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I await a rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 2
MTGandP

Con

"I would like to ask my opponent whether or not plusses look more optomistic than minuses."
I don't really see how that's relevant. I don't see either as more "optimistic" than the other. They're just symbols to represent addition and subtraction.

"My opponent dedicates an entire paragraph to concede the debate."
I admitted that it is possible for some things to not have a cause. In addition, at least one thing HAS to have no cause. But I do not see how this is a concession.

"While saying that theism relies on the belief that nothing is needed to have anything occur"
Was that supposed to say atheism? Because I am certainly not trying to argue that "theism relies on the belief that nothing is needed to have anything occur".

"my opponent trying to defend atheism forced him to rely on the argument that nothing is needed to have something occur."
"Something" and "anything" are not the same at all. It is not logically possible for everything to have a cause, as there would be an infinite regress. So at least one thing must not have a cause. But things don't come out of nothing. At some point, there was a first cause that has existed forever, because it is outside of time. This cause could be any of the four possibilities I mentioned.

To go from "something" to "anything" is an unjustified leap.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"My opponent claims that the original 'singularity rapidly expanded and the universe was filled with matter and energy.' However, this argument again relies on the belief that nothing is needed to cause this."
That is something without a cause, yes.

"He proposes that there exists a quantum field that can create or destroy matter at will. This contradicts the Law of Conservation of Mass."
The Law of Conservation of Mass only applies within the known universe.

"Further, this proposed field itself has no cause."
It has existed 'forever'.

"This membrane, again, has no cause."
It also has existed 'forever'.

"4) ...there is no cause for matter and energy."
The cycle has continued 'forever'. The cycle can only be looked at from outside of spacetime, in which time does not exist.

" 'Simply because we do not know what causes something doesn't mean the cause has to be God.'
This is irrelevant. Again, I wish to avoid a stereotypical atheism vs theism debate. I urge my opponent to stay on topic."
I thought my opponent was implying that since there is no apparent cause for the big bang (which there is), it has to be God and is therefore causeless. If this is not what my opponent is arguing, then I will forget this point.

"So, his source (http://www.existence-of-god.com......) concedes that atheists use the argument that 'not everything has a cause' to battle causation."
I wasn't getting all my information directly from that source. I was using it to get an idea of some of the counter-arguments to my arguments.

I thank my opponent and await his response.
wjmelements

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response.

My opponent claims that my question is irrelevant. Truly, it is. In the end, this doesn't really matter as to whether or not the resolution is proven or disproven.
----------------------------------------------------------------------- (minusses)
He misunderstood my question. I hope I have made it clear. I personally prefer plusses, but I was simply asking my opponent's perspective.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ (plusses)
CONCESSIONS
My opponent claims that the argument that not everything requires a cause is a concession. However, my opponent's reliance on an argument that some things do not have a cause clearly affirms the resolution.

My opponent further concedes:
"It is not logically possible for everything to have a cause, as there would be an infinite regress. So at least one thing must not have a cause."
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
My opponent claims that "to go from 'something' to 'anything' is an unjustified leap". However, because all causes are essentially also effects, these causes must be tracable to some original cause. My opponent's case that there is no original cause effectively denies causation. By removing the second line of the universe's detachment sequence, my opponent effectively argues against everything. I will explain this further at the end of my argument.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
My opponent concedes that 1 of his great universal causes requires no reason and indirectly claims that the other relies on no cause as well.
Something existing "forever" and then suddenly changing would require a cause. Something existing forever in the first place must have a reason. The claim that no reason is necessary is ignorant of causation.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
THE "END" OF MY ARGUMENT (AS SAID ABOVE)
If every cause is an effect, then there is an infinite sequence that continues backwards in time for eternity (from an atheist perspective).
If atheism relies on the argument that at one point the universe spawned, then this action requires a cause.
If atheism denies the existence of a cause, then atheism is denying that at one point the universe spawned.
Yet atheism relies on the argument that the universe spawned. (See my opponent's first contention).
Therefore, atheism relies on the belief that the universe and essential existence had no cause.
If the universe and essential existence had no cause, then no effect should occur.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
P.S. "nothing" is defined as "not anything" (http://dictionary.reference.com...).

CONCLUSION:
Because "something" is required to have anything occur, and atheism denies that something was required to have anything occur in the first place (from which everything can occur from through causation).

I await a rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 3
MTGandP

Con

On minuses and pluses:
Pluses look too spiny to me. Minuses are better, but they're too small. I like equals the best, then asterisks. If I had to choose between minuses and pluses, I'd say minuses.

"My opponent claims that the argument that not everything requires a cause is a concession."
No it's not. If I claimed that not anything requires a cause, that would be a concession.

"my opponent's reliance on an argument that some things do not have a cause clearly affirms the resolution."
It is necessary for PRO to win, but is not all that is necessary. PRO must show that nothing is needed to have ANYTHING occur. (I really wish I could do italics right now.)

"because all causes are essentially also effects, these causes must be tracable to some original cause."
Yes, but the effects of the first cause did not come from nothing. They came from the first cause.

"Something existing "forever" and then suddenly changing would require a cause."
1. I do not think this point supports my opponent.
2. It's still false, assuming that my opponent is referring to the big bang. The big bang did not exist forever; before it existed, there was no time. Its expansion was the first event.

"(1) If atheism relies on the argument that at one point the universe spawned, then this action requires a cause.
[...]
(2) Yet atheism relies on the argument that the universe spawned.
(3) Therefore, atheism relies on the belief that the universe and essential existence had no cause."
That does not follow. According to (2) atheism relies on the argument that at the universe spawned, therefore the universe requires a cause according to (1). (1) would be a sound premise if we assumed that time existed before the universe. But since time did not exist, (1) is flawed. So (3) is both invalid and unsound.

"If the universe and essential existence had no cause, then no effect should occur."
This does not make sense. One, there clearly ARE effects, so it is ridiculous to say that they cannot exist. Two, the universe under atheism could have been caused; see hypotheses 2 and 3.

GENERAL RESPONSE

It is false that "nothing is needed to have anything occur". According to (admittedly limited) human knowledge, only the first cause required nothing to have it occur. The second cause(s) required the first cause. The third cause(s) relied on the second cause(s). Since the second and third causes are included in "anything", the resolution is proven false. To clarify, I will give an example. According to my case, the universe does not necessarily need a cause. But if I spontaneously fall over, there was a cause. Maybe my legs could not support me; maybe I tripped; maybe someone pushed me. There had to be a cause. This disproves the resolution.

I thank my opponent for this fun and astereotypical debate. Interestingly enough, we did not make a single reference to God or theism.

Vote CON!
wjmelements

Pro

I thank my opponent for his opinion on the +/- issue. I still prefer +.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
OF THE RESOLUTION:
The resolution is a piece of humour that essentially means that atheist don't believe that there had to be an original cause. This was originally clarified in the first round:

"The resolution means that atheist beliefs rely, or depend, on the lack of causation. Causation is the fact that in all properties of the physical world have a cause. For example, we are currently on Earth because the molecules that our bodies stem from have been bound to earth by gravity.
This "Problem of Causation" can be held against atheism in that the universe requires some metaphysical force to exist that would cause the beginning of the existence of matter and energy, which has no cause."

This early clarification means that the debate is framed upon whether or not atheism relies on ignorance of the fact of causation.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
"PRO must show that nothing is needed to have ANYTHING occur."
Since when is that my burden? I must simply affirm that atheism relies on ignorance of causation. That burden is an option of CON to disprove the resolution.

My opponent claims that all the effects of the universe spawn from some first cause. However, such a cause (in all cases) would require another cause, as I will show.

My opponent claims that nothing was needed for anything to happen before the big bang:
"big bang did not exist forever; before it existed, there was no time. Its expansion was the first event."
According to the principles of cause-and-effect, this "first event" and the mere creation of time would require a cause. My opponent does not give a cause... and his atheism-based arguments rely on there being no cause.

My opponent's refutation of my logic relies on the claim that there is no cause without time... However, time is but a dimension of which we perceive to move in one direction at a constant rate. http://www.scienceray.com... Just as other dimensions, time does not have a beginning or an end. Time could not have been created in the beginning, and had it been created in the beginning, this would require causation (contradiction). Atheism relies on the ignorance of this causation.

My opponent's second refutation of my logic is two-fold:
First he claims that there are effects, hence there is a contradiction. This was exactly my point. Once we input causation into the picture, atheism begins to contradict itself.
Second, he claims that the universe could have been originally caused. I have already refuted this (this cause would require its own cause and time could not have been created at the beginning).

CONCESSION:
"If I claimed that not anything requires a cause, that would be a concession."
This is inherently false because the resolution is not that you are arguing that cause-and-effect is possible, but that atheism does not ignore this principle. My opponent clearly has conceded this, as shown in earlier rounds.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
My opponent has attempted to redefine the true meaning of the resolution in the last round to what its meaning was established as in the first round.

I also thank my opponent for the fun and for the avoidance of the stereotypical theism versus atheism debate.

Because the intended and original meaning of the resolution has been affirmed, I urge a PRO vote.
Debate Round No. 4
32 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by abromwell 8 years ago
abromwell
The First Cause argument is an appeal to a juvenile intellect. What is the cause of God? The atheist may not be able to account for the reason gravity exists, but at least gravity is observable.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
Though bitter, it is okay. One cannot win 'em all. Good job, MTGandP.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
Thank you.

And on your last addition, that didn't seem to be a problem.
Posted by bluefreedom23 8 years ago
bluefreedom23
OK wjmelements, the debate is over. Well done to both debaters.

You asked me about the following quote of mine;
"Science is not interested in assigning causes just so that there is always a cause".

What I meant was science does not take unjustified leaps in logic, such as religion does when religions invoke the "sky-hook" explanation of a supernatural deity of some kind, just so they can claim to have all the answers. The invocation of a deity of course explains nothing, since logically one must then explain where the deity came from.

Very briefly Wikipedia describes "sky-hooks" as:
"An explanation of design complexity in the universe that does not build on lower, simpler layers".
For more on sky hooks read up on Dan Dennett, the philosopher who coined the term. Think of a chain with a hook descending from the clouds. This is Mr. Dennett's metaphor for a supernatural explanation of the universe.

Science, on the other hand, does not use sky-hooks. To continue along the same metaphorical lines, science employs cranes, rather than sky-hooks. This is a far more humble and honest approach to answering questions of universal existentialism.

Lastly, don't confuse the fact that although currently "science doesn't have all the answers" with the erroneous conclusion that that implies "anything" came from "nothing".
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Wjm, you are a very impressive debater. Well done. This was a fun debate.
Posted by 3aeed 8 years ago
3aeed
is it possible for you guys to define singularity? MTGandp supports
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
Okay.
Posted by bluefreedom23 8 years ago
bluefreedom23
I'll be happy to answer your question once the debate is over.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
You are correct. I did not just quote wikipedia (my bad, I was referring to the quote you had referenced on the comment of which I had partly quoted). I quoted you and asked you to tell me how this argument rebuts my argument.

I currently see that it supports my case... but I'm open to how you view it.
Posted by bluefreedom23 8 years ago
bluefreedom23
wjmelements, what you just quoted is not from Wikipedia. You failed to notice my end quote immediately prior to this.
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