The Instigator
philochristos
Pro (for)
Winning
17 Points
The Contender
ATHOS
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Do unicorns exist?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
philochristos
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/5/2012 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,619 times Debate No: 26013
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (3)

 

philochristos

Pro

I am going to defend the claim that unicorns exist. You need not assume the burden of proving that unicorns do not exist. You can simply poke holes in my argument. Of course you're welcome to assume the burden of proof if you want to.

By "unicorn," I mean a horse with one horn coming out of its forehead. I do not mean rhinoceroses. Nor do I mean a horse or goat that has had a horn surgically implanted or prosthetically attached. I mean what we usually think of when we hear the word "unicorn."

By "exist," I mean instantiated in reality. I do not mean that unicorns exist in stories, books, movies, the imagination, or anything like that. I mean that they are three dimensional beings that occupy space and time and whose properties are instantiated in reality.

Round 1 is for acceptance only. If you want to make any clarification about definitions or about what I'm going to argue or about what you're going to argue, do it in the comment section.
ATHOS

Con

Sounds like a fun debate........ state your claim.
Debate Round No. 1
philochristos

Pro

I want to thank ATHOS for accepting this debate. I just came up with this argument last night, thought it was kind of funny, and figured I'd subject it to scrutiny right away. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

My argument for the existence of unicorns can be summarized in a disjunctive syllogism like so:

1. Either God exists or unicorns exist.
2. God does not exist.
3. Therefore, unicorns exist.

Being as how that is a perfectly valid syllogism, we have only to find out if the premises are true. If they are, then the argument is sound, and we can be confident that unicorns exist. Let's take them one at a time.

1. Either God exists or unicorns exist.

Let me begin with an analogy. Let's say there's a lottery with odds of 1 in a million. And let's say you buy a lottery ticket and win. Although you might consider yourself extremely lucky given the odds against winning, you wouldn't be surprised that somebody won because you would assume at least a million tickets had been sold. Given a million chances of getting the right combination of numbers, and given 1 in a million odds, it's inevitable that somebody will get the winning numbers. It just happened to be you.

But suppose you found out that you were the only one who bought a ticket. In that case, you might suspect that the game had been rigged in your favor. You can't just say, "Well, it was inevitable that somebody would win given all the tickets that were sold." In fact, it was not inevitable. There was a 1 in a million chance that anybody would win. Although not impossible, it's unlikely you won just by dumb luck. It's far more likely that somebody rigged the game.

Well, we face the same sort of situation when it comes to our universe. Before any sort of life, be it ever so exotic, could even be possible in the universe, chemistry would have to be possible. Before chemistry is possible, there has to be a variety of different elements in existence. There cannot just be hydrogen, for example.

Well, it turns out that there are a couple dozen constants and quantities in our universe such that if any one of them were changed by even a unimaginably small fraction, chemistry would not be possible. And without chemistry, no kind of life, be it ever so exotic and foreign to us, would be possible. Here is just one example:

"When the part of our universe that we can see now was the size of a grapefruit, its density of mass and energy was just right relative to its rate of expansion: a difference of one part in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion would have precluded our existence. If the density had been higher, the Big Crunch, a contraction of everything, would have occurred too soon. The Big Bang would have the Little Pop. Had the density been less than it was by the tiniest of fractions, the era of star formation would never have come to pass. Gravity would have been unable to overcome the outward rush, and the universe would have become a diffuse ball of isolated atoms, with no potential for congregating into stars." (Michael Mallary, Our Improbable Universe, p. 4-5)

Other examples of fine-tuning include the strength of the four fundamental forces (i.e. strong and weak nuclear forces, electrostatic force, and gravity), the relative mass of a neutron to a proton, the asymmetry of matter to anti-matter at the beginning of the universe, the half life of a proton, etc. All these constants had to be just right for life to even be possible in the universe. That means the odds that we would exist, given just one universe, is infinitesimally small. This fine tuning argument is not just something made up by Christians to argue for the existence of their God. It is something recognized by physicists and cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking, Paul Davies, Michael Mallary, Brian Greene, Alex Vilenkin, Martin Rees, etc.

So, how do we explain our existence given such outrageous odds against us? Well, we can do that in one of two ways.

One way is to multiply our probablistic resources. If there is a ginormous number of universes with randomly ordered constants, then it's inevitable that at least one of them would be fined tuned for life, and it's no surprise that we should find ourselves in the one that is since we couldn't very well find ourselves in one that isn't. So we can solve the fine tuning problem by postulating an enormous multiverse with enough universes to make a life-permitting universe probable. It's just like the lottery analogy. Given enough tickets (or universes), it's no surprise that somebody would win. We won the cosmic lottery.

Another way is to postulate the existence of a universe-creating engineer, i.e. a designer and implementer of the universe. Going back to the lottery analogy, if one ticket were sold, and it won, we'd all suspect the game had been intentionally rigged. If a person intentionally rigged the universe for life, that would explain how it came about. If there were a designer and creator of the universe, then God would exist since we'd all consider such a being to be a god.

According to the more popular version of the multiverse theory, there is an infinite sea of false vacuum in which universes have always been popping into existence and always will. There are an infinite number of universes. Well, given a large enough number of universes in the multiverse, anything that is possible is probable, and given an infinite number of universes, anything that is possible is definite.

Unicorns are possible. So if the multiverse theory is true, then unicorns definitely exist somewhere in the multiverse.

So, summing up the argument for the first premise, there is either a multiverse or there is a designer of the universe. If there is a multiverse, then there are unicorns. Therefore, there is either a God or there are unicorns.

2. God does not exist

Since we have two options for what could explain the fine-tuning of the universe, we just have to figure out which one is the better explanation.

One might think that the law of parsimony favors the existence of God over the multiverse since God is just one entity, but the multiverse is many entities. But that is a mistaken use of the law of parsimony. It's not just about numbers; rather, it's about being less ad hoc. We already know that at least one universe exists, namely our own. Well, a multiverse would just be more of the same. But God, if he exists, is a completely exotic entity unlike anything in our usual experience. In fact, according to the great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), God is utterly unique, having no analogy anywhere else in existence. There's just one entity like him. That means invoking God as an explanation for fine tuning over the multiverse is unparsimonious. That's one reason to favor the multiverse theory over the design theory.

Another reason is because we have independent reason for believing in a multiverse. We don't need to just cook it up to solve the fine tuning problem because a multiverse is predicted by string theory. String theory has some viability because it reconciles quantum physics with general relativity--two theories that both have extraordinary confirmation but that, until string theory came along, had never been reconciled. That gives us some reason to suppose that string theory might be true, and if string theory is true, then we should expect there to be a multiverse.

From these two reasons, it appears that the existence of God is completely ad hoc, and we can reasonably conclude that God does not exist.

Conclusion

I have given reasons to believe that both of the premises in my argument are true. If they are true, then it follows inescapably that unicorns exist.

Thank you. I look forward to rebuttals.
ATHOS

Con

Interesting. I'd like to thank pro for an interesting and seemingly well thought out argument.



The resolution is "Do unicorns exist?". My opponent is pro defending the claim that they do. All he has done is explain how they could theoretically exist which is not the same as 'instantiated in reality'


Even if there were evidence of unicorns in the fossil record (which I don't think there is) it still wouldn't substantiate his claim
'Unicorns exist"



Could unicorns exist in some multiverse that theoretically exists? Sure! But, that is not the topic of this debate. To quote pro

"By "exist," I mean instantiated in reality. I do not mean that unicorns exist in stories, books, movies, the imagination, or anything like that. I mean that they are three dimensional beings that occupy space and time and whose properties are instantiated in reality.'



So far what we can gather from science and physics, multivereses only exist in the imagination.


Back to pro.
Debate Round No. 2
philochristos

Pro

I want to thank ATHOS for entertaining an admittedly whimsical argument, and I hope whoever else is reading it finds it amusing. I am enjoying it.

If you'll recall in my opening statement, I gave a deductive argument for the existence of unicorns in the form of a disjunctive syllogism.

1. Either God exists or unicorns exist.
2. God does not exist.
3. Therefore unicorns exist.

I gave a three step argument in support of the first premise--(1) the universe is fine tuned in such a way that life is possible, (2) the fine-tuning of the universe can be explained in one of two ways--(i) a multiverse, or (ii) a cosmic engineer/designer, and (3) unicorns are possible.

In response to (1), ATHOS said....nothing.

In response to (2), ATHOS said....nothing.

In response to (3), ATHOS said....nothing.

Besides completely ignoring all the arguments I gave in support of the first premise, ATHOS didn't so much as deny the truth of the first premise, much less offer arguments against it.

What he did say, though, has very interesting consequences. He said that the multiverse only exists in the imagination, but not in reality. If it's true that multiverses only exist in the imagination, then given my arguments for the first premise, it would follow that God exists. The argument would look like this:

1'. Either God exists or the multiverse exists.
2'. The multiverse does not exist (it is only imaginary).
3'. Therefore, God exists.

But I gave two arguments in support of the premise that the multiverse exists in reality--(1') it is a more parsimonious explanation than the existence of God, and (2') it is predicted by string theory.

In response to (1'), ATHOS said.....nothing.

In response to (2'), ATHOS said.....nothing.

Since ATHOS failed to respond to any of my arguments, there's not much I can do but point out the fact. ATHOS hasn't given me any arguments to respond to, and he hasn't given me any occasion to provide further argument in support of the points I've already made. All he has given me so far is a couple of assertions.

One assertion he made was that all I have done is shown that unicorns "could theoretically exist," and that I have not shown that they are "instantiated in reality." But that is simply not true. Given my deductive argument, if the two premises are true, then it follows that unicorns exist in reality. I gave arguments in support of the multiverse existing in reality, not merely being a possibility. In the multiverse theory, there are an infinite number of universes with randomly ordered constants and laws. That's why the multiverse solves the fine-tuning problem. By multiplying our explanatory resources, any improbability can be overcome, which means that any physical possibility must be realized in some universe in the multiverse. Since unicorns are possible, it follows that they exist in some universe in the multiverse. Since the multiverse is part of reality, so are unicorns.
ATHOS

Con



Let's keep it simple.

Where are the unicorns that you claim exist?

3 simple yes/no questions:

1) Are they in any zoos?


2) Could I see one and perhaps even pet one?


3) Would it be possible to get genetic material from one if only one existed to make clones?


If questions 1-3 are answered with no, they don't exist.


If yes. Provide proof. Peer reviewed, thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
philochristos

Pro

ATHOS has continued to ignore every one of my arguments. Since none of my arguments have been refuted (and in fact have never even been addressed), I would say this debate is effectively over and that I have established my point. Unicorns exist in reality.

But just to keep things interesting, I'll answer ATHOS' questions.

1) Are unicorns in zoos.

A great many of them are in zoos. This follows from the multiverse where every possibility is actualized in some universe due to the enormous probabilistic resources.

2) Could I see one and perhaps pet one.

You yourself will never be able to see one or pet one unless they happen to exist in this universe, which my argument does not establish. However, there is somebody exactly like you in some other universe where unicorns exist, and that person can see them and pet them.

3) Would it be possible to get genetic material from one if only one existed to make clones.

That would be possible in whatever universe unicorns exist and people have access to the unicorns. It is probably not possible for you, though, since unicorns don't appear to exist on earth, and we don't appear to have the technology to leave earth and find unicorns elsewhere.

ATHOS claims that if I answer "no" to these questions that unicorns therefore do not exist. But that obviously doesn't follow. After all, if unicorns only exist on planets where there are no humans within several light years, then the answer to all of his questions would be "no," but it wouldn"t follow that unicorns don't exist. Under that scenario, they would exist in spite of the answers to ATHOS' questions all being "no."

And that concludes my part of this debate. ATHOS, thank you very much for indulging me in this debate. I look forward to the voting process and everybody else's comments. I'm genuinely curious what they will say.
ATHOS

Con

oops! Sorry. My bad. I just saw a unicorn cross the street, and it was every color of the rainbow.


Thanks pro for a fun and interesting debate.



Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by ATHOS 4 years ago
ATHOS
philochristos, well I guess unicorns exist. Let me know how I can get one as a pet.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
After speaking with philochristos in private message, I have changed the reasons for my vote.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
You can feel free to send me a message, if you'd like, if you feel my evaluation is in error.
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
I'm tempted to respond to that, but I don't want to influence the voting. Once the voting is over, I may respond. There are a couple of other problems with my argument that nobody has pointed out yet.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
It actually seems that Pro begged the question in this debate. His only reason for believing premise 1 is because he, theoretically, already believed that God doesn't exist (although I know that he does, actually, believe God exists). In this argument, the existence of unicorns is not predicated on the non-existence of God.

However, Con failed to point this out in the debate so I didn't hold it against Pro as it's not my job to be a "third debater."
Posted by ATHOS 4 years ago
ATHOS
This turned out to be a debate of semantics and circular logic.
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
I do not mean that they have been documented or seen. I mean that their existence can be inferred through sound deductive and inductive reasoning from what we know about the world through science and philosophy.
Posted by wierdman 4 years ago
wierdman
Do you mean based on theory or proven to exist? By proven to exist, I mean documented, published, or seen by a viable and reliable source.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
philochristosATHOSTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Wonderful debate. Pro obviously put a lot of thought into it. Con ignored all of the arguments that Pro gave, so arguments to Pro. Also, Pro used an appropriate source and Con used none. So sources to Pro.
Vote Placed by danjr10 4 years ago
danjr10
philochristosATHOSTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: UNICORNS EXIST
Vote Placed by ObiWan 4 years ago
ObiWan
philochristosATHOSTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: I enjoyed Pro's arguments, and when you think about the theory behind them it does actually make sense. Also con did fail to effectively rebut so arguments go to Pro. Pro was also the only one to use any sources and back up his arguments with expert opinions.