The Instigator
CerebralCortex
Pro (for)
Tied
14 Points
The Contender
vorxxox
Con (against)
Tied
14 Points

Can't rationally argue for theism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/19/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,521 times Debate No: 6998
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (32)
Votes (5)

 

CerebralCortex

Pro

I think the a topic of whether or not the universe had a designer or designers
and the issue of the first uncaused cause are all very interesting and worth a serious debate,
maybe in some other topic, this is called deism.

Nevertheless even if one grants deism as a rational standing point
it remains to be seen how one can make a rational argument for any particular religion from this point.
People many times fail to notice this fact,
but arguing for a designer is totally insufficient for making claims about a specific theistic belief,
such as Christianity or Islam for example.

Note that even if a theist was somehow able to demonstrate conclusive evidence that this designer/starter god
is a personal god which cares about human affairs, answers prayers, and interferes in the natural course of the world,
in the form of miracles,
all his work would still be ahead of him in showing that his specific religion is correct since:
- All the religions that exist or that have existed in the past make claims about personal gods and miracles.
- These religions are incompatible, so they can't all be true.

Even if we could somehow narrow the list of religions down to the religions that are practiced today,
it would still be impossible to know which of them are actually true.
How about "Sathya Sai Baba" the god man ?
The current estimates are that he has around 6,000,000 followers,
some argue that there are up to 100,000,000 followers,
many of them claim that he is a true miracle worker and they have seen his amazing miracles !
see http://en.wikipedia.org...
Imagine a person like this Sathya Sai Baba living 2000 years ago,
when we had no knowledge of science.
If anything, believing in Sathya Sai Baba claims is more rational than believing in the
Jewish, Christian or Muslim claims
since, at least, we can say the following:
a. We know for sure that this person actually exists
b. The people that claim Sathya Sai Baba is a god man are alive today and can be interviewed
This is much more than we can say for our ancient religions.

Carl Sagan once said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Ancient eye witnesses, hearsay,
or people just being certain of something to be true are just not good enough to be considered evidence,
not to mention extraordinary evidence.

One way to validate our worldview is to verify it for coherency.
For example if I catch my wife cheating on me I can't continue to claim that she is faithful to me because that would be incoherent.
So the worldview of someone that claims that the historical data that exists in the form of the gospel is enough to substantiate extraordinary evidence for Christianity
must also agree that the data that exists about UFOs, Big foot, Vampires and Sathya Sai Baba are more than sufficient as well,
otherwise he is being inconsistent,
like a cheating faithful wife.

Please note that the topic of the debate is about rationality.
If you claim that a specific religion can be taught by appealing to emotion or to "leaps of faith" then I have no argument with you,
I am only arguing with people that claim that their religion is a result of rational thinking.
vorxxox

Con

Thank you for such a wonderful debate. Let me set the grounds for this debate

Definition of rational by merriam webster - 1 a: having reason or understanding b: relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason : reasonable

Definition of reason by merriam webster -

1 a: a statement offered in explanation or justification

1b: a rational ground or motive

1c: a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense ; especially : something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact

1d: the thing that makes some fact intelligible

Definition of theism by merriam webster - : belief in the existence of a god or gods ; specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world

Ok. Now, as far as I know it, your basically saying that there's no logic behind theism. Let's stop right here.

To me, it's called making inferences. I'm only supporting the concept of theism, not any specific religion, since such is all that is necessary to win this debate.

Anyway, things that have purpose imply design. Like computers. Plato and Aristotle argued that complex things imply design. The statement 'Our bodies are so purposeful and well shaped, its like they were built.' didn't sound reasonable to you? It's not like an 'I'm right your wrong' argument. It makes sense.

As for:
"Note that even if a theist was somehow able to demonstrate conclusive evidence that this designer/starter god
is a personal god which cares about human affairs, answers prayers, and interferes in the natural course of the world,
in the form of miracles,
all his work would still be ahead of him in showing that his specific religion is correct since:
- All the religions that exist or that have existed in the past make claims about personal gods and miracles.
- These religions are incompatible, so they can't all be true."

I'm only arguing theism itself, a creator, not a prayer answerer. Your argument right here is nullified.

"Carl Sagan once said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Ancient eye witnesses, hearsay,
or people just being certain of something to be true are just not good enough to be considered evidence,
not to mention extraordinary evidence."

I didn't say it was

"One way to validate our worldview is to verify it for coherency.
For example if I catch my wife cheating on me I can't continue to claim that she is faithful to me because that would be incoherent.
So the worldview of someone that claims that the historical data that exists in the form of the gospel is enough to substantiate extraordinary evidence for Christianity
must also agree that the data that exists about UFOs, Big foot, Vampires and Sathya Sai Baba are more than sufficient as well,
otherwise he is being inconsistent,
like a cheating faithful wife."

Gospel? What gospel? Christians? I'm not arguing Christianity, I'm arguing theism. In this debate, I don't care if there's one God or a trillion, I'm just arguing theism.

Look, theism is a result of rational human thinking. You know what would be funny: If we created evolving robots and sent them to a distant planet. At first, they think they were created by some gods (ie. us) because they're so complex. Then, along come atheists, who believe however we made them is what happened, only it happened naturally and there is no evidence to support theist beliefs. What's funny is that they both are thinking rationally. Yet, look who's wrong.

Now, I'm not arguing that atheists are even wrong, I'm just arguing that theism makes sense and is rational.
Debate Round No. 1
CerebralCortex

Pro

Allow me to humbly suggest that in the future you should read beyond the title before accepting a debate.
The context in which I used the word theism in my title, perhaps out of lack for a better word,
was in the more narrow context of specific religious beliefs.
There are people like John Lennox and Matt Slick that actually feel they can justify their specific brand of Christianity rationally.
see:
http://video.google.com...
http://www.mattslick.com...
My purpose here was to debate a person that shares such feeling about his specific religion.
What you have done was to use an out of context definition of theism which makes it almost identical to deism
and then proceeded by saying all my arguments are irrelevant.

Nonetheless, since we are here to debate here goes:
All we have to argue on basically, is your following statement, which I do not agree with:
"Anyway, things that have purpose imply design. Like computers. Plato and Aristotle argued that complex things imply design. The statement 'Our bodies are so purposeful and well shaped, its like they were built.' didn't sound reasonable to you? It's not like an 'I'm right your wrong' argument. It makes sense."

This is not a powerful rational argument.
What you are basically saying here is that an appearance of design is enough to warrant a designer right ?
That may be a good argument for people living in the time of Plato and Aristotle, but not today.
For example, the earth has the appearance of being flat, does it not ?
The moon has the appearance of being as large as about 4 human heads, is it ?
In fact these two claims managed to fool humanity for a very long time indeed.
It took some highly observant people to look more carefully and notice that the earth has an horizon and therefore, despite its appearance, can not be flat
or to notice that angular size is not the same as absolute size by observing distant objects.

So what have we learned ?
we humans have the appearance of being designed therefore we have been designed right ?
Wrong.
It took the genius of a man like Darwin to find an evidence based theory that shows how we all evolved out of humble beginnings by means of natural selection.

The lesson is therefore to always look more closely,
that is beyond appearance.
Human beings are not like computers because they have a mechanism by which they can reproduce and evolve.

So how are we going to continue this debate ?
Is it going to be creationism vs. evolution or something else ?
vorxxox

Con

Look, all I'm going to say is that I'm not arguing that theism is right or wrong. I'm arguing if it's RATIONAL.

"we humans have the appearance of being designed therefore we have been designed right ?"

That seems like a logical conclusion.

"It took the genius of a man like Darwin to find an evidence based theory that shows how we all evolved out of humble beginnings by means of natural selection."

Well whose fault is that. Proving something wrong doesn't make it irrational.

Just like the argument with T-rexes:

If you don't move, they can't see you.

I believe it's been discredited, but that doesn't necessarily make it irrational, just untrue.
Debate Round No. 2
CerebralCortex

Pro

Ok so now we are arguing about deism.
Do remember that this has nothing to do with the resolution but lets proceed anyway.

Ok, so you say:
"Well whose fault is that. Proving something wrong doesn't make it irrational."

That's right, if its the first time.
So when William Paley made his famous watchmaker claim in 1802
see: http://en.wikipedia.org...
it was very rational indeed.
But after Darwin proved it wrong,
then making the same claim again in a slightly different field,
again based only on appearance is irrational,
because it means you have not learned anything.

It would be like saying the moon is the size of a watermelon because that is how it appears.
Granted, rational if no additional information exists.
But after someone shows you that the moon in in fact the size of Africa and you are confusing angular size with absolute size,
you go ahead and make the same claim about the sun.
Now that is irrational !

It may not be irrational to make a mistake once,
but it is irrational to make the same mistake twice.
vorxxox

Con

"Ok so now we are arguing about deism."

I defined theism with an adequate source, and my opponent kept trying to say: No, your arguing deism. No, I arguing theism.

This is why I have won this debate. I gave adequate definitions of rational. I proved that theism can be rationally argued because it can use logic as defense. He said it can't be done, and I showed him how Aristotle and Plato did it. A rational argument is one backed with logical explanation. And I showed that a rational argument being discredited doesn't make it irrational. You admitted that this argument would be rational if we lacked information, so I guess if the world blows up and only a few people survive and all knowledge is lost, it will be rational again.

:)

I'm out of time, so please vote CON.
Debate Round No. 3
32 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by CerebralCortex 8 years ago
CerebralCortex
Absolutely, I challenge you then ... An invitation has been sent.
Posted by InquireTruth 8 years ago
InquireTruth
lol.

Actually I said "supposedly," because it fails in all ways you look at it. jjmd280 rightly conceded that it "should" work the way I have stated, but, for some odd reason it does not - this is epistemic imperialism.

To prove that an extraordinary claim is true (actually true and not just verisimilitudinous), requires neither an extraordinary amount of evidence nor that the evidence itself be extraordinary. The evidence to prove as truth both extraordinary and ordinary claims remains the same. Challenge me if you are so confident CC.
Posted by CerebralCortex 8 years ago
CerebralCortex
Oh ok, so now you want to claim that its not extraordinary evidence its an extraordinary amount of evidence. I can live with that if it makes you feel better.
I really feel bad knowing this whole long debate was about that :-)
Posted by InquireTruth 8 years ago
InquireTruth
The evidence itself still remains ordinary in all your examples. The only thing supposedly extraordinary is the amount necessary to prove the claim.
Posted by jjmd280 8 years ago
jjmd280
In law, we find three varieties in the weight of burden of proof:

1. proof by preponderance of evidence,
2. clear and convincing proof, and, in criminal law,
3. proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

In conventional science, we usually use (1), but when dealing with extraordinary claims, critics often seem to demand (3) since they demand all alternative explanations must be eliminated before the maverick claim is acceptable. This demand sometimes becomes unreasonable and may even make the scoffer's position unfalsifiable. Since the anomaly proponent is already saddled with a presumption of "guilt," it would seem to me that (2), clear and convincing proof, might be the best standard, though proponents may reasonably wonder why standard (1) should always be denied them.

So, in all actuality, it SHOULD work your way, IT, but in reality it never does. Thus, extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence.
Posted by jjmd280 8 years ago
jjmd280
Did some research on the phrase, and it seems it wasn't originally Sagan's at all.

"And when such claims are extraordinary, that is, revolutionary in their implications for established scientific generalizations already accumulated and verified, we must demand extraordinary proof." (This statement is often abbreviated to "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.") - Marcello Truzzi.

-Which Sagan popularized with the debated phrase.

This is how Truzzi explains the statement, which really makes sense - -

In criminal law, the burden of proof is assigned to the prosecution; in the court of science, it is placed on the defender of the deviant science claim. Whereas, in our legal system, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, in science the maverick scientist is presumed "guilty" (of error) until proven "innocent." This is appropriate since science must basically be conservative in its own defense against myriad would-be invaders. But it is important to remember that the proponent of the paranormal has an uphill battle from the start. The chips are stacked against him, so his assault is not so threatening to the fabric of science as scoffers often characterize it. In a sense, conservative science has "the law" on its side.
Posted by InquireTruth 8 years ago
InquireTruth
Moreover, jjmd280, The Skeptic's claim does not prove Sagan's statement. TS's assertion that extraordinary claims require MORE evidence is not only blatantly false (they are just the only claims we actually want people to prove) but it only means that the amount of evidence demanded is different, not that the actual evidence given is extraordinary.
Posted by InquireTruth 8 years ago
InquireTruth
Actually Cerebral, his statement was "...I see where you are coming from."

He also said, "...That is what Sagan meant...Can't you see it from this angle."

The only way to make Sagan's statement true, is to shift away from what he actually SAID, and hope to make a case about what he actually MEANT.

If you take Sagan for what he said, we are left with the unfortunate notion that the scientific method is itself an extraordinary means of gathering evidence.

This is easy enough to prove. Challenge me to a debate that reads, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," and let us see if we cannot remedy your confusion.
Posted by InquireTruth 8 years ago
InquireTruth
JJmd280, I am disagreeing with the notion that such evidence is considered extraordinary. The ordinary claim that "my neighbor possesses a dog" is not analogous to my "neighbor possesses a dragon," for the simple reasons you have stated. But, even still, in order to actually prove the statement "my neighbor possesses a dog," it would require the exact same method of proof to prove the dragon (dragon being a fire-breathing, reptile with wings). You may believe the claim more easily if it is said to be a dog, but that is still an acceptance of the mere testimonial.

To prove as actual truth or fact, dog or dragon, the same scientific methodology for evidence is required.

The only sentiment I agree with is that some things we accept (from honest people) by merely their testimony and others, if the claim is extraordinary (or the person is dishonest. I would believe an extraordinary claim made by one of my honest friends over most ordinary claims made by liars), we wish to see something beyond the testimony. But this does not mean that the simple claim is actually true - it simply means that we believe it to be true.
Posted by CerebralCortex 8 years ago
CerebralCortex
Ok, IT, this is hopeless. You are not even answering my questions or addressing my points anymore. You seem to be the only one that doesn't agree with the claim anyway, so I guess i'll just rest my case until you answer the questions I've raised. When you are done with that, it would be great if you could also give me an example of a supernatural claim you wish to study and tell me what kind of data would be sufficient scientific evidence to prove it ?
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Vote Placed by studentathletechristian8 8 years ago
studentathletechristian8
CerebralCortexvorxxoxTied
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Vote Placed by InquireTruth 8 years ago
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CerebralCortexvorxxoxTied
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Vote Placed by rougeagent21 8 years ago
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CerebralCortexvorxxoxTied
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CerebralCortexvorxxoxTied
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Vote Placed by vorxxox 8 years ago
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