The Instigator
Skepticalone
Pro (for)
Winning
11 Points
The Contender
Mhykiel
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Belief in god is justifiable

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Skepticalone
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/28/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,798 times Debate No: 69096
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (43)
Votes (5)

 

Skepticalone

Pro

Let me start by saying I am looking forward to this debate with Mhykiel. We will both be arguing contrary to our preferred positions as part of a Devil’s advocate tourney: http://www.debate.org....


I will be arguing as Pro with a resolution of: Belief in god is justifiable.


Definitions:


Justifiable: able to be shown to be right or reasonable; defensible.


http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...


Belief: a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable.


http://www.merriam-webster.com...



Format:


8,000 characters, 48 hour argument time limit.


Burden of Proof is shared.



Round 1: Acceptance, definitions


Round 2: Opening arguments (no rebuttals)


Round 3: Arguments, rebuttals


Round 4: Arguments, rebuttals


Round 5: Rebuttals & Conclusion (no new arguments)



Good luck, sir!

Mhykiel

Con

I want to thank Skepticalone for instigating this debate. I look forward to seeing his thoughts on the proposal, especially since we are both playing devil's advocate. I will sincerely argue "Con" as I would argue the position.

Burden will be shared, I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Skepticalone

Pro

Thank you, Mhykiel.

This debate is not about whether we can prove the existence of god. Justification for belief in god and concrete evidence for existence of god are not dependent. To believe god can be justified whether a god actually exists or not.

Per our definition above, “justifiable” can be viewed as ‘reasonable’ or ‘defensible’, and belief can refer to a feeling that something is ‘good’, ‘right’, or ‘valuable’.

--Is it reasonable to have a feeling that god adds ‘value’ to some lives?

--Is it reasonable to have a ‘right’ feeling about god?

My goal is to show a feeling that god is ‘valuable’ or ‘right’ is completely within reason.


The Argument from Desire





1. Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.

2. But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.

3. Therefore, there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.

4. This something is what people call "God" and "life with God forever." [1]

Basically, every natural desire we have has a real thing associated with it – hunger speaks of our desire for food, sexual desire speaks of sex, and thirst speaks of our desire for liquid. Our desire for god speaks of god. This is one of my favorite arguments from C.S. Lewis.

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A dolphin wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, "Hope") -C.S. Lewis

The first premise suggests there are different types of desire: natural and artificial. Natural desires would be those mentioned above and others like beauty, friendship, or sleep. These desires we are born with and no artificial conditioning is necessary for them to be manifested. Artificial desires would include material possessions (such as muscle cars), power (as one might find in political office), or special abilities (such as turning invisible or web slinging like Spiderman). These are desires we acquire after birth. Ignoring natural desires will result in deprivation, but foregoing artificial desires will do no such thing in a normal healthy minded individual. The most important reason for making a distinction between the types of desire is artificial desires will not always point to a real thing, whereas natural desire will.

The second premise requires honesty. Even those who disbelieve in a god desire to know him. One common request from atheists is evidence for god. If he exists, we desire to know him. Cross cultural studies of different aged subjects supports a natural desire for god as well:

“The studies (both analytical and empirical) conclude that humans are predisposed to believe in gods and an afterlife, […]. We have gathered a body of evidence that suggests that religion is a common fact of human nature across different societies.” [2]

This desire of god is inherent in all humans in their quest to understand the universe as it really is.

The conclusion follows from premise 1 and 2. A belief in god based on our natural desire to know a creator is valuable just as a desire for sleep or friendship is. This argument does not necessarily speak of the god of the Bible or the Quran, but it definitely speaks of a god.

1. Natural desires are valuable to individual lives.

2. Belief in god is a natural desire.

C: Therefore, belief in god adds value to individual lives.

This argument provides strong justification for belief in a god. Our desire of god illustrates it is reasonable to believe.


I believe I am as interested to see Con’s arguments as he is to see mine. Back to you, Mhykiel.

[1] http://www.strangenotions.com...

[2] http://www.sciencedaily.com...

Mhykiel

Con

Well said Skepticalone.

Opening Argument:

Justifiable: able to be shown to be right or reasonable; defensible.

Belief: a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable.

The first words in the definition for "Justifiable" is "able to be shown". When a subject is "justifiable" that means an action can be performed on the subject. this action is "able to be shown".

The first words of "belief" are "a feeling". This means Belief is a noun. And can stand as the subject of a sentence.

As my opponent pointed out, we are not arguing the existence of God. In fact for my opening arguments the something a belief references is irrelevant.

When we rewrite the proposal using the definitions we have "A feeling that something.. is able to be shown to be right."

When I claim, "I see a Red Apple" and support this claim with "because I see the color red from the apple" is Begging the question or circular reasoning. We would not call that a logical "defence" or "justification" for the claim. But less so because of the nature of the validation. I may see a "Red" apple. But someone who is red-green colorblind may see a "green" apple.

In fact the "red" I see can not be said to be the same "red" you see [1]. Because we can not discern that A=A we are breaking "The law of identity"[2] we know we are no longer discussing anything in a logical manner. What solution to this problem is mechanical measurements. We can agree on the wavelength being bounced off the apple. And we can agree that whether I say the apple is "red" or you say the apple is "green", we are logically discussing the same thing.

This solution is only available because the source of the knowledge, the perception of the color, is from outside either one of us. The source of the knowledge is in a common domain shared by both of us. We call this shared domain "reality".

But a "Belief" the source is internal. It is locked away inside your mind. There is no common domain I can attempt to perceive and share my own experience of. You can't show me your feelings. Discerning whether your feelings are true or not is completely inaccessible to me. There is no demonstration for me to discern if the feeling is accurate. Say you feel sad. You could be deceiving me. You may even be crying. But from my perspective no one else can discern if "I am sad" is true or not because it is internal to you.

A belief could still be rational (consistent with logic and reality). But it will still be indiscernible (unverifiable, unknown to be true or false).

So My argument is and will be "A feeling that God is right CAN NOT BE shown to be right", the counter proposal rewritten with the definitions.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2]https://school.carm.org...

Debate Round No. 2
Skepticalone

Pro

Thank you, Mhykiel.

Clarification



“My goal is to show a feeling that god is ‘valuable’ or ‘right’ is completely within reason.” In other words, a valuable or right feeling of god is reasonable. I hope my opponent won’t begrudge me a little clarification, and being a little more concise may help us both.


The Kalam Cosmological Argument




This is a favored argument of William Lane Craig.

1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.

2. The universe has a beginning of its existence.

Therefore:

3. The universe has a cause of its existence.

4. If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.

Therefore:

5. God exists.

Premise one is continually illustrated by all that surrounds us. Everything that begins to exist has been caused by something. The expansion of the universe, and following this expansion back in time, illustrates the universe had a beginning (The Big Bang). Thus, premise two is valid according to modern scientific observations. Whether you are a theist or an atheist, you will still start from an unexplained starting point when considering origins. The conclusion follows from one and two.


Certainly, we could argue back and forth as to which is more plausible (god or no god), as great minds have been doing for centuries, but the answer to the Kalam is irrelevant to this debate. I provide this example of a philisophical argument for god in order to show belief in god can be rationally justified. This argument is in accordance with logic and science, and
comes from (or contributes to) a reasonable belief in god. I submit this is a justification for a right and valuable belief in god. Even if one denies the explanation, she must accept the plausibility of its truth, and the value of its historical significance.

Rebuttal



Con
: So My argument is and will be "A feeling that God is right CAN NOT BE shown to be right", the counter proposal rewritten with the definitions.


Justifiable: able to be shown to be right or reasonable; defensible.


Judging from his argument, Con’s counter proposal does not rely on the definition of justifiable from round 1. His sentence must rely on two different meanings of the word “right”, but as written and supported by his opening argument, he relies on one meaning for the word right (true or correct). Does Justifiable mean true? No. Let’s say I seek to justify a theft. I might discuss how the thief was on hard times and needed the money to provided food for his family. Does this explanation make the actions of the thief ‘true or correct’? No, but my explanation could make the theft defensible or reasonable (which is in line with our definition of justifiable).

I ask that Con make his counter proposal conform to the definitions he agreed to. He may choose the alternative to ‘right’ from our definition of “justifiable” (reasonable or defensible). If so, then his statement would read,” A feeling that God is right CAN NOT BE shown to be reasonable (or defensible)”. Of course, the wording is Con’s choice, but if he chooses to remain with his original wording, then let the voter be aware of the equivocation, and Con is not arguing for or against the resolution.

Con stated ,”A belief could still be rational (consistent with logic and reality). But it will still be indiscernible (unverifiable, unknown to be true or false)”, and I disagree with this for a number of reasons.


First off, rational means being consistent with logic or reason, and not necessarily reality, as Con has defined it. Obviously, rationality may generally concord with reality as we know it, but we have limited knowledge of reality. Learning something new about our reality is not irrational, so I reject his definition.


Secondly, belief can be rational (reasonable), and the indiscernible nature of the truth does not change that fact. The truth of these arguments is unverifiable, but that is not the question we are looking to answer.
We are not arguing disbelief is more reasonable than belief, or vice versa. We are deciding if a belief in god is justifiable (reasonable/defensible). We are seeking whether a belief stemming from these arguments is reasonable.


With examples such as the Kalam, the Argument from desire, and other philosophical arguments, we establish a right feeling of god is indeed justifiable.


Back to you, Mhykiel.

Mhykiel

Con

Thanks Skepticalone.

My opponent brings up the situation of a man caught stealing. He offers that if the man were trying to feed his family the action (stealing) would be justifiable. unfortunately not every one would agree with this reasoning. And more so it shows that some excuses do not justify the action. Say the man stole a gem, because he had lost his won? Would we find him justifiable then? doubtful. Clearly not any old excuse or any given reason counts as "justification".

An axiom is a presupposition accepted as true. Do we consider axioms to be defensible? No, we do not because that would lead to begging the question or a circular kind of logic. Do we find axioms "justifiable", again not without using a circular logic.

When my opponent bring up the argument by C.S. Lewis that is the "justification" he attempts to use: Feelings about god are justifiable because we have feelings about God. That's circular logic. And the distinction between feelings for real world things and socially injected desires is not well defined for God. A desire for Vishnu occurs when born in India, a desire for spiritual awakening without a God if born into a Buddhist family, a desire for natural balance if born in a Taoist or Shinto family. The Feelings towards God seem to be a artificial desire one born of the social station of a person.

As far as value goes, as I elaborated with the man caught stealing, this value is subjective and circular based on the value one derives from their beliefs. This in any circumstance is not considered rational justification and being circular does not make the belief justifiable. Because nothing of support has been added to the value of the original belief.

The belief is valuable and right justified by it being valuable and right and believed true.

So beliefs are justifiable. When they are supported by true claims. "I believe my son loves me" this belief is justifiable because I can present, I can show other incidents that make my belief plausible. My son tells me he loves me. This action and premise is not contingent on the belief "My son loves me", it is supportive of it.

And as defined Justifiable means to be able to be shown to be right or reasonable. It is not reasonable to use circular logic for this demonstration. And it is not right "correct" or right "as in derived correctly" when the belief is used to support the belief.

That is the case with a belief in God, but not the case with my belief towards my son's feelings.

So a "Justifiable" beleif is one that can be demonstrated to be pluasiblly true. Any beleif in god supported by the beleif in god, is presuppositional. Axiomatic in nature and axioms are not defensible.

Debate Round No. 3
Skepticalone

Pro

Thank you again, Mhykiel.

Rebuttal


My opponent rightly points out an error in my explanation of the argument from desire. I suggested a desire for god speaks of god, and this does not do C.S. Lewis justice. I apologize to any Lewis fans who may be reading this. Properly stated, the desire for something more than can be provided by nature speaks of something other-worldly, more specifically, that would be god. Thank you for pointing this out, Mhykiel.

Con mentions the theft example and misses the point of it. I was not interested in providing a valid justification for a hypothetical thief, but in illustrating his improper use of the word ‘right’. In that capacity, my example stands. In Con’s alternative example, a father can justify his belief that his son loves him, but again, this justification does not make that belief true. The son could be deceiving the father intentionally, or the son could be incapable of love and simply going through the motions unaware of this fact, etc. The father’s justification of his own belief is not tied to the truth of his belief. It is quite reasonable for a father to believe his son loves him based on a perceived loving nature by the son. On those grounds, his belief is justified even if it is a false belief based on untruth.

Con has also stated something I strongly agree with:

“So a "Justifiable" beleif is one that can be demonstrated to be pluasiblly true.”

The strength of the ‘argument from desire’ and the KCA is that they are plausibly true. By this statement alone, Con has agreed belief in god is justifiable. The KCA, the argument from contingency, and many of the ontological arguments have stood the test of time (for centuries) because they are very plausibly true.

Copleston’s Argument from Contingency





1. Things in the universe exist contingently.

2. Something that exists contingently has (and needs) an explanation of why it exists; after all, its existence is not inevitable.

3. This explanation may be provided by the existence of some other contingent being. But then we must explain these other contingent beings.

4. To repeat this ad infinitum is no explanation of why anything exists at all.

5. Therefore, what explains why contingent beings exist at all can only be a non-contingent being.

6. A non-contingent being is one that exists necessarily, and doesn’t need some further explanation for why it exists.

7. This necessary being is God.

Premise one states things in the universe are dependent on other things in the universe for their existence. I think we can all agree to that. Premise two is valid. Explanations are readily available to anything we may encounter in our known universe. Premise three and four are self-explanatory. Premise five follows from four. As a necessity, a being which is not dependent on anything for existence must exist, and that being is god.

I apologize for the brief explanation, but as I pointed out earlier, my case is not dependent on the truth of the syllogisms, but on the plausibility of truth provided by logical arguments. This is yet another example.

Mhykiel

Con

Mhykiel forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Skepticalone

Pro

Conclusion


Unfortunately, due to his round forfeiture, Mhykiel has missed his last opportunity to provide argumentation as to why belief in god is not justifiable. Round 5 is for rebuttals and conclusions, and any new arguments are disallowed. Con has not provided a compelling case against justification of belief in god. He has instead been concerned with redefining “justifiable” in spite of the definitions provided in round one.

My opponent seems to suggest belief in god is only justifiable if the belief is true. This debate is about whether belief in god is justifiable, and it is not necessary to ‘prove’ god exists in order to show belief is reasonable.

However, if the concept of god is plausible then belief is completely reasonable. Logical arguments for god cannot provide evidence (or certainty) for the existence of god, but they do show plausibility. I have provided multiple sound arguments for the existence of god, and thus have illustrated a ‘valuable or right feeling of god is reasonable’ based on this plausibility.

I know I have enjoyed the research involved in this debate, as it has broadened my horizons a bit. Please vote according to who has provided a stronger argument for “belief in god is justifiable”, and do not allow misconceptions of the key terms (justifiable/belief) contrary to the definitions provided to deceive. I thank Mykhiel, and hope the reader has found this exchange to be interesting.

Mhykiel

Con

Thanks Skeptical.

I've stayed withion the bounds of the definitions provided. I understand Skeptical was taking the term "right" to be of value to a person's life. And I argued for it to be "right" as in correct. Which I still think is the intended meaning. The next term in the definition is "reasonable" and we most certainly agree more on that term.

To summarize that is what one of my arguments was. That a beleif in God is not justifiable in that the arguments are not reasonable. If the argument one uses to "justify" their beleif in God is irrational, it then follows by the definition that the beleif is "unjustifiable". That applies to the subject of the beleif. But as Skeptical pointed out this debate is not on the existence of God, but on the "Beleif". Again as I stated earlier "beleif" is a feeling. It is unjustifiable not becuase it is subjective, but becuase feelings are their own emergent knowledge. Indiscernable.

My opponent is using Deontological Justification.

Deontological Justification (DJ)
S is justified in believing that p if and only if S believes that p while it is not the case that S is obliged to refrain from believing that p

(One) is justified in beleiving that (God exists) if and only if (One) beleives that (God exists) while is is NOT the case that (One) is obliged to refrain from beleiving (God exists)


This colloquial usage of the word sounds intuitive and correct. But logically it is reminescent of shifing the burden of proof. A person can beleif what ever they want to beleif as long as information contrary to that beleif does not make person obligated to disbeleive. This means a person can beleive an invisible pink unicorn is eating their garden cabage, is justified in their beleive until someone can point out the real cuase.

Which is what I illustrated with the man stealing example. "justification" expecially as defined "reasonable" must entail more than just the un-proven or possible.

A better description would be the Non-Deontological Justification:

Non-Deontological Justification (NDJ)
S is justified in believing that p if and only if S believes that p on a basis that properly probabilifies S's belief that p.

(One) is justified in beleiving that (God exists) if and ONLY if (One) beleives that (God exists) on the basis that properly probabilifies (One)'s belief that (God exists).

Which I think is certainly a better explaination for reasonable justifications. And certainly at the root of most logical debates. That a person presents justifications for their beleif. And Skepticalone has presented some of those arguments here. Becuase we are not debating the exsistence of God, I'll merely point out a few small errors in the arguments that make them erroneous and unusable to add probability to the existence of God.

Round 1 C.S. Lewis Argument.

As stated previously the argument is incomplete in that it distiguishes between Socially instilled desires and Natural desires for existent and needful things. But it does not make a good argument to why "God" should be identified as Natural Desire. Plus These natural desires for food, water, shelter, ect.. All have demonstrable concerns when not met. For instance a person desires water and when they do not get water they dehydrate and die. Negative impact on health can be seen with other Natural desires. As opposed to the desire to get a new car. But "God" doesn't appear to demonstrate this pattern. When someone goes through life rejecting a desire for "God" no apperent health concerns or impairment express themselves.

Round 2 The Kalam Cosmological Argument.

This is more a case of the Beleif for God dictating how the evidence is seen. the evidence of the Universes existence is then conformed to support the presuppositional beleif.

P4 Doesn't demonstrate that the only cuase to the universe has to be a being of emmense power, will, and mind.

Round 4 Copleston’s Argument from Contingency.

Certainly the beginnign to a chain of contingent events or objects must be something that is non-contingent. Something that is necassary to exist. Why this "Something" is positied to be "God" is a leap without grounds. Energy is known not to be created or destroyed. The way Energy reacts in an expanding continuum of space is determined by "Laws of Nature". Even if these laws are incomplete at the time, or rather we have not completely been able to describe them perfectly.

So far this all speaks to "justification" for a beleif in God being, as defined in round 1, reasonable or defensible.

Skepticalone and I differ on the use of "right", which is where we see his arguments boil down to his round 2 Clarification: “My goal is to show a feeling that god is ‘valuable’ or ‘right’ is completely within reason.” In other words, a valuable or right feeling of god is reasonable.

However this sounds a lot like an appeal to consequenses[1]. In an appeal to consequences a claim is argued to be accepted as true becuase of the beneift that such a beleif would bring.

If we return back to Round 2, my opponent posts:

--Is it reasonable to have a feeling that god adds ‘value’ to some lives?

--Is it reasonable to have a ‘right’ feeling about god?

My goal is to show a feeling that god is ‘valuable’ or ‘right’ is completely within reason.

If the only thing making the beleif "reasonable" is the "value" that it adds ot a person's life, then that would be a fallacious appeal to consequences and therefore I would have to answer: No.


[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...


Debate Round No. 5
43 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Skepticalone 1 year ago
Skepticalone
This was a devil's advocate debate - I don't believe a god exists.
Posted by Reasonslap 1 year ago
Reasonslap
Who's God's creator then?
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
Continued
Hence for that reason, I find reason to prefer Pro's interpretation of the resolution and meaning of what it is to justify a belief. Especially since Pro divorces justifiability from truth in Round 4 (father son example)
Con made an important point regarding categories of justification, but these gave in the very last round, after Pro could respond to the, thus they cannot be weighted very heavily, as they are borderline new arguments.

I don't think Pro did a very good job of developing his positive arguments for God (probably would have been best to stick to 2 at most), but they did enough to affirm his interpretation of the resolution, which I ended up preferring. As such, Pro recieves this vote.
Posted by johnlubba 2 years ago
johnlubba
No, all the illustrations you provide are arguments for God, not god.
Posted by Skepticalone 2 years ago
Skepticalone
*with or without
Posted by Skepticalone 2 years ago
Skepticalone
'God' refers to a deity in a monotheistic religion (such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism), while 'god' refers to a deity without or without a religion. I used the lower case 'god' just as the resolution provided did: http://www.debate.org.... At any rate, thanks for your vote.
Posted by johnlubba 2 years ago
johnlubba
With A capital is the correct way.
Posted by Skepticalone 2 years ago
Skepticalone
God =/= god
Posted by johnlubba 2 years ago
johnlubba
After reading a few round I would vote for Skepticone,

AlthoughI would point out that Not using a capital G when addressing the word God, Is bad grammar.

I may vote on this in time
Posted by Mhykiel 2 years ago
Mhykiel
It wasn't strategic or intended to be offensive. As i said I really don't debate anymore because my time is more sporadic recently. I think an interesting discussion could dive deeper into to the study of justifications alone.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
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Reasons for voting decision: This is a real head-scratcher, since practically all of the arguments for each side seem entirely dependent on the interpretation of the word "justifiable." It's really a question of "justifiable on the basis of what?" rather than just generally justifiable, but I get two different versions of what was necessary for justification to occur. I'm not particularly swayed by either side's arguments, so I go with the stance that makes the most sense to me. If the topic was "belief in the existence of god is justifiable," then I'd have no problem accepting Con's view. However, the topic just seems much broader than that. It's not solely about god's existence, but rather about the larger issue of whether that belief has any justification. I feel Pro effectively showed that justifications exist i that regard. Ergo, that's how I vote.
Vote Placed by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
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Reasons for voting decision: I am really confused on how to judge this because both debaters seem to be jumping from one interpretation of the resolution to another. This debate started out affirming that it's not about the existance of God, but about whether belief in God it's justifiable. But then it seems strange that Pro would argue for that latter case. So either I judge this regarding belief in God in principle, thus whether it's possible to justify a belief in God, or in oractice, thus do the arguments for belief in God hold weight. I presume the former applies here and latter would implicitly affirm the former. To this end Con is more on target here with his opening argument but it's not particularly strong and seems laden heavily on a specific stance in the semantics. Argues that no belief at all is justifiable (at least his arguments were non-specific to God). It seems that Con is arguing that "The fact that I have this belief in God is unjustifiable", since his arguments are directed to that.
Vote Placed by miketheman1200 2 years ago
miketheman1200
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct points due to round FF. I felt there were issues with cons argument that to justify god you must believe in god. That certainly is not the case. Many people who don't believe in god have argued justifications for ones existence before. Aside from this Pro's point of plausibility through logical reasoning was convincing enough to me for my argument vote. Everything else was on par.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 2 years ago
johnlubba
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Reasons for voting decision: Re-tracting my vote.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 2 years ago
dsjpk5
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Reasons for voting decision: Con ff a round.