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

Does God Exist?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/29/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 247 times Debate No: 94215
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (0)

 

Jerry947

Pro

Thanks Cobalt for showing interest in debating me. I am not sure if it is possible for me to hear any new arguments against the existence of God...but I am willing to listen.

Rules:

-Pro argues for God's existence using various arguments.

-Con argues that God does not exist. And yes, Con actually has to provide arguments for the non-existence of God. For some reason people never understand this.

Rules...

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

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

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

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

Definitions:

God-the greatest conceivable being.

Exist-have objective reality or being.
Cobalt

Con

I'd like to thank the opponent for choosing me to debate this topic with him.

I accept the definitions and I accept this debate. I look forward to opening arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
Jerry947

Pro

I will use three main arguments in this debate. Keep in mind that this round is for arguments only. I can't wait to hear the arguments my opponent provides.

The Axiological Argument:

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

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

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

2. Objective moral values do exist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Therefore, God exists.

The Ontological Argument:

1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.

2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

I am interested to see what premises my opponent attacks.

The Teleological Argument:

1. The universe is fine-tuned for life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Not by chance or necessity.

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

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

Con

As per the rules set forth by the opponent, I'll be presenting my arguments this round, saving the rebuttals for the next round.

We'll have a few arguments against the existence of God this round, which will range from logical, to philosophical to mathematical. Some of these will be familiar, some will not. In all cases, I attempt to structure the arguments in a way that is orderly and easy to respond to.

Arguments

1. There can be no "greatest concievable being".

This argument is a logical argument disproving God, as it was defined by the opponent is round 1. Namely, that God is "the greatest conceivable being".

This analysis will look at the word "great". Something that is "great" is good, awesome, and powerful.

a. There is no upper bound to greatness.

Our first task is to demonstrate that there is no "upper bound" to greatness. In other words, there is no "highest possible" greatness that can be possessed by an entity.

We can achieve this proof through use of a simple thought experiment. Suppose that you have imagined in your mind a god, and you have given this god the most awesome, good and powerful characteristics you can think of. You may think that this god is "the greatest possible thing".

But then you realize, there could exist another god which has all of the properties of the first god, with the added ability to control the first god. (This control can be thought of in any way you like, whether it means that the second god has complete control or simply that the second god could beat the first god in an arm wrestling match.)

Realizing that, you now conclude that the second god must be the greatest possible god. But, alas!, you realize that there could exist a third god with the properties of the second, with the added benefit that it can control the second god (and therefore the first.)

You now realize that this "chain" can go on forever -- with every conceivable god's greatness being immediately less great than another hypothetical god which can control the first god.

Given this, it is clear that there is no "maximum greatness". Even with our limited cognitive abilities, even we can always conceive a "greater" god than the one before.

b. Nothing can have the quality of being "the greatest conceivable" thing.

Because of what we learned in (a), we know that the quality of being "the greatest conceivable thing" does not exist. Because the quality cannot exist, it follows that no being can possess this quality.

c. There cannot be a God.

Because God is the "greatest conceivable being" (defined by opponent) and because no entity can have the quality of being "the greatest conceivable thing" (b), it follows that God cannot exist.

Conclusion

Here, we have demonstrated with a simple thought experiment and a powerful logical argument that God cannot possibly exist. It is important to note that the opponent presented the definition of God, meaning he cannot simply renege the claim to escape this logical argument.

2. It is mathematically unlikely that God exists.

We have already demonstrated that "the greatest concievable being" cannot exist, since nothing is the greatest conceivable. For the purposes of this argument, we will instead define God as "sufficiently powerful, good and knowledgeable". Clearly, a significantly great god is also sufficiently powerful, sufficiently knowledgeable and sufficiently good.

Given this, we will make a distinction between "God" and "a god". God is an entity which has power, knowledge and goodness above a certain threshold, which we'll call T. A god is an entity which is more powerful and/or knowledgeable than man, but has either power, knowledge or goodness which is below the threshold.

This argument will show that it is much more likely that a god exists, as opposed to God. (To avoid confusion, I'll be referring to a god as a Being and God as God. This way, the reader never confuses which type of entity I'm referring to.)

Consider the set of all possible Gods and Beings, which we will call G.

G = { 'buddha', 'krishna', 'kthulhu', 'God', 'Zeus', 'unknown1', 'unknown2', ... }

We can divide G in subgroups based upon the "type" of God/Being.

B = Beings = {'buddha', 'kthulhu', 'Poseidon', ... }
D = Gods = {'God'}
U = Unknown Beings = {'unknown1', 'unknown2', ... }

B + D + U = G

B represents the collection of all possible Beings that have already been conceived. Since the amount of Beings thought up by humans is finite, the group B must also be finite.

D represents God, as per my above definition (modified to be possible from the opponent's definiton). Since the opponent's definiton directly implies that there can only be one "greatest being", D must be of length one, containing only a single element.

U represents the Beings which have not yet been thought up by humans and contains an infinite number of unnamed elements. (It is easy to see that there are an infinite number of 'possible' Beings that have yet to be thought up. A simple way to confirm this is to imagine a Being with a single arm. Now, create a "mental copy" of that Being, except now it has two arms. Continue this process ad infinitum, realizing that there are an infinte number of possible unique Beings.) Notably, the set U has an uncountably infinite length. (As opposed to countably infinite sets, like the set of all natural numbers.)

------

Ok, so we've set up the problem. We've identified the set G, which contains an uncountably infinite number of elements. We've further recognized the subset D, which contains the single element, God. (The entity the opponent argues exists.) Finally, we noted the subset U, which contains an uncountably infinite number of elements, none of which are the God to which the opponent refers.

We clearly do not know which of these entities does or does not exist; if we did, we wouldn't be having this debate. As such, we can define a property of each element, known as its "likelihood of existence". For example, we might say that 'Zeus' has a likelihood of existence, P, of 0.2. This would mean that there is a 20% chance that Zeus exists.

We will also assume that only a finite number of Beings/Gods can exist at once. If we say that zero Beings/God can possible exist, then the sum of the P of all elements would be 0. If we say exactly one Being/God exists, then the sum of the P's will be 1. (To signify 100%). If we say that exactly two Beings/God exists, then the sum of the P's will be 2. (To signify 200%). And so on.

Notably, with a finite number of possibly existent Beings/Gods, the sum of the P's will also be finite.

To clarify, by "sum of the P's", I mean the sum of all of the likelihoods of each Being/God. For example, a six sided die would have the following set of possible rolls:

Die = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}

The P-values would be the probability that that particular number was rolled.

P-values = { (1/6), (1/6), (1/6), (1/6), (1/6), (1/6) }

The sum of the P-values is (1/6) * 6 = 1.0. This means that there is a 100% chance that there will be a number rolled. If we rolled two dice, the sum of the P's would be 2.0, indicating that there's a 200% chance that there will be a number rolled, which translates to a 100% chance that 2 numbers will be rolled.

(Now onto the fun part.)

-------------

Since the sum of the P's must be finite and since there are an uncountably infinite number of individual P-values, one of two things must be the case:

(1) The P values are in a geometric series in which r < 1.0. [https://en.wikipedia.org...]

Ie, the P-values would need to be something like: P = {1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, ... }, (the sum of which is 2).

(2) There must be an infinite number of Beings that have a P-value of 0.

Such that there are only a finite number of P-values, thus allowing for a finite P-sum.

Given that we know nothing about the probabilistic distribution of the set G, we can virtually discount (1). After all, G is not an ordered set, meaning it doesn't even make sense that the distribution would follow an exponentially decreasing series.

--------

(We're almost done.) The only remaining option is (2), that there are an infinite number of Beings/Gods that have a 0 probability of existing. With this said, we know that the likelihood that the single element, "God" having a P-value > 0 is obnoxiously low.

To even begin to grasp how unlikely it is for God to have a probability of existing, given the above logic, then do the following thought experiment:

Imagine you have 100 dice, each with 1,000 sides that you roll together 10,000 times. It is more likely that you roll all 1's each and every time than it is likely that God is a P-value greater than 0.

Conclusion:

This (admittedly complicated) mathematical analysis proves that the likelihood of the God defined by the opponent existing is astronomically small. We don't even have words capable of expressing how small this likelihood is. Heck, we don't even have mathematics capable of representing probabilities that small.

3. The Problem of Evil

This wouldn't be a proper "God debate" if this classic wasn't mentioned. I feel it's even more relevant with the way in which the opponent defined God.

This can be formatted as a syllogism:

1. A god which doesn't allow child rape is greater than a god that does.
2. Child rape exists.
3. If a god exists, he is not the greatest, by (1) and (2)
4. Thus, God, as defined by the opponent, does not exist.

Possible resolutions which are invalid:

(A) God is not able to stop the child rape.

If this is the case, then a god which can stop child rape is better than a god which cannot.

(B) God gave humans free will.

This would mean god created some of us with the desire to rape children. A god which does not create some humas with the base impulse to rape is greater than a god that does.

(C) Suffering builds faith and character.

Child rape does not create a lasting positive effect for either party. Especially if it's child rape murder.

Conclusion

These arguments should suffice. I look forward to the opponent's response.

Debate Round No. 2
Jerry947

Pro

Now lets take a look at my opponent's arguments...

1. There can be no "greatest conceivable being"

a. My opponent argues that "there is no 'maximum greatness'. Even with our limited cognitive abilities, even we can always conceive a 'greater' god than the one before."

I could not disagree more. How can you think of a being greater than a being that is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and etc...There does come a point where you can't think of anything greater. My opponent states that perhaps the second God conceived could beat the first one in an arm wrestling match. But a being that is all powerful would never lose such a match. Surely nothing can be more powerful than an omnipotent being. So my opponent's argument really does not hold up.

b. My opponent begs the question when he states that "we know that the quality of being 'the greatest conceivable thing' does not exist. Because the quality cannot exist, it follows that no being can possess this quality."

My opponent has not effectively shown that this being cannot exist.

c. My opponent concludes his argument by saying that God cannot exist since the greatest conceivable being cannot exist. But this argument just does not make sense at all. Surely the being can exist. Nothing could be more powerful than a being that is all-powerful.

2. It is Mathematically unlikely that God Exists

a. My opponent lists all of the different categories of Gods. He states that "we clearly do not know which of these entities does or does not exist."

I think we can narrow down that list. For example, category U represents Gods that "have not yet been thought up by humans." We can completely remove those Gods since the God that exists would not have to be thought up by humans in order to exist. So we can toss out that whole category.

And besides, humans are finite beings as my opponent has already pointed out. So how is it that finite beings could come up with an infinite number of Gods? I mean, humans cannot do anything for an infinite amount of time which includes creating Gods.

So really, the G set of Gods only includes those that people believed in the past and the God that I am arguing for in this debate. That would in fact add up to a finite number.

b. My opponent then states that we can define a property of each element, known as its 'likelihood of existence'. For example, we might say that 'Zeus' has a likelihood of existence, P, of 0.2. This would mean that there is a 20% chance that Zeus exists."

I am not really following this. Why does Zeus have a 20% chance of existing? How do you even determine such a thing? It seems like my opponent plucked that number out of thin air.

c. My opponent then states that "We will also assume that only a finite number of Beings/Gods can exist at once."

Why assume that? How is it even possible to have a finite number of infinite Gods? How can there possibly be more than one infinite God?

d. My opponent states that " If we say that zero Beings/God can possible exist, then the sum of the P of all elements would be 0. If we say exactly one Being/God exists, then the sum of the P's will be 1. (To signify 100%). If we say that exactly two Beings/God exists, then the sum of the P's will be 2. (To signify 200%). And so on."

Sure, that is correct mathematically.

e. Here is the rest of my opponent's argument and my responses to it...

"Since the sum of the P's must be finite and since there are an uncountably infinite number of individual P-values, one of two things must be the case:"

There is no infinite number of P values and I have already discussed why.

"(1) The P values are in a geometric series in which r < 1.0."

No, I disagree that an infinite number of Gods is possible and I have already discussed good reasons for why I disagree.

"Given that we know nothing about the probabilistic distribution of the set G, we can virtually discount (1)."

Sounds like the argument of ignorance to me. X is false since you cannot prove that X is true. This is a logical fallacy and I have also given several good arguments for God.

My opponent concludes his argument by admitting that his argument is complicated. Yet, the argument is proven demonstrably false when you look closely at the logic behind it.

3. The Problem of Evil

a. Here is their argument:

1. A god which doesn't allow child rape is greater than a god that does.

Why? This is a bare assertion. Perhaps the God has good reasons for allowing evil. And for the record, my opponent has does nothing to show that the existence of God is improbable based off of that fact that evil exists. My opponent has the burden of proof here to show that the statements "God exists" and "evil exists" are logically inconsistent. There is no explicit contradiction between the statements and my opponent needs to do a lot more here with their argument. However, there could be a multitude of reasons as to why evil exists. A world in which humans have free will cannot be perfectly good. You can't make someone freely be perfect. Perhaps the purpose of our life is not to live in some perfect world and be God's pets. Perhaps our purpose is to know God and to be able to freely make decisions (which means a world in which there is evil).

However, I find it interesting that my opponent seems to admit that evil exists. This is odd since if they affirm that there is a such thing as evil then they also have to say that there is a such thing as good. Why? Well, that is because in order to know that something is evil, you must also have some idea of what is right.

For example, if someone told you that 1+1 is 4 you would tell them that they were wrong. But in order to know that they were wrong you would have to have some idea of what the answer is. The reason I bring this up is because my opponent is actually affirming the second premise of my moral argument in round one.

If they claim that there is a real good and bad then they affirm that there is a such thing as objective morality which only helps me out. However, if my opponent decides to deny that there is a real good and evil, then their argument about the problem of evil disappears since what is evil would merely be a matter of opinion (meaning no actual problem of evil).

2. Child rape exists.

Yes it does.

3. If a god exists, he is not the greatest, by (1) and (2)

Yeah, you haven't proven that an all-powerful God couldn't exist even with the occurrence of child rape.

4. Thus, God, as defined by the opponent, does not exist.

This argument does not follow at all.

Then my opponent says provides some resolutions that he thinks are invalid:

a. God is not able to stop the child rape.

I don't agree with that resolution so the point is void.

b. God gave humans free will.

They claim that "This would mean god created some of us with the desire to rape children."

This is honestly just bad theology. A God giving people free will only means that people can make their own choices. It then naturally follows that people will make good and bad decisions. Some people will follow the moral ways of God and others will decide to rape children. But it is not God that provides every human with these desires. For if he gave everyone their desires then humans wouldn't actually have free will.

c. Suffering builds faith and character.

My opponent argues that child rape does not create a lasting positive effect. Don't you kind of have to be all knowing in order to know that? Many good things have resulted from horrible things. Divorce and remarriage has often brought more humans into the world. Sometimes sickness helps a person appreciate what they have. Bad leaders can inspire good leaders. I don't say these things to make light of the evil but good things do come from horrible acts.

In the case of child rape, this may result in better law enforcement, this may get people to stop putting their faith in humans and instead look forward to the days where they will be with God. Perhaps the incident will get people to realize that humans created the problem of evil and not God. Perhaps people will stop blaming God for the freely made choices that other people made.

Conclusion:

I enjoyed going through my opponent's arguments. The math argument was really interesting and I thank my opponent for bringing it up even if I do find it completely unconvincing.
Cobalt

Con

As per the rules, I'll be rebutting the opponent's case without defending my own. The final round is reserved for responding to the opponent's rebuttals.

The Axiological Argument

This logical argument is often called the "moral argument", mainly due to the second premise. We'll look at each premise, then determine its validity.

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

I'm inclined to agree.

2. Objective moral values do exist.

This first point in this argument explains, "since we know what is absolutely wrong, there must be an absolute standard of rightness".

The opponent's argument to support this contains the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum, which states that just because many people believe X is true, doesn't mean that it is. The opponent claims "murder is an action that all people ([besides the insane]) recognize as absolutely wrong.

The beliefs of the majority of people don't determine reality. We cannot logically conclude that "murder is absolutely wrong" just because a lot of people think it is. At one point in time, the majority of people that the Earth was at the center of the universe. Despite this belief, the Earth never was and never will be at the "center" of the universe.

Thus, this premise does not stand.

------

The opponent has a second argument supporting this premise. The opponent's argument is essentially this, "People make excuses when they violate Moral Law, thus Moral Law exists. If it didn't, people would not feel the need to make excuses."

This is false. People feel guilty and apologize whenever they have violated a social norm. For example, no one would argue that "farting" goes against Moral Law, yet people will normally apologize whenever they do it. Similarly, whenever a mob member 'whacks' somebody, they don't apologize to their mafioso friends, since they did not violate any social norms.

Importantly, while many people (like myself) might believe morality is ultimately a subjective thing, we still apologize when we violate a social norm. I forgot to do something at my job yesterday and I apologized for it -- even though I don't believe what I did was objectively wrong.

In a subtle way, this is again an argumentum ad populum. Just because a large number of people react to a situation a certain way, doesn't mean that said situation must be objectively wrong.

Thus, it cannot be said that the behavior of humans is indicative of whether an absolute Moral Law does or does not exist.

------

The next argument suggests that "most people have an idea of what is right and wrong, therefore Moral Law must objectively exist."

This has the exact same logical fallacy as the previous two arguments, argumentum ad populum. Importantly, the opponent is assuming that all people are perfect logicians and always behave in a logical way. We are emotional creatures, so this is rarely the case.

Someone can know that X isn't objectively right or wrong, but still feel negatively when this happens to them. Most actions X that many people call wrong are termed as such because they negatively impact someone in some way. For instance, we generally think of stealing as "wrong", because it is damaging to the person being stole from.

It should surprise no one that we often call damaging actions "wrong" and that we get upset when they happen. When someone steals your car, you aren't mad "because that was wrong" -- you're mad because your car is now gone. We rarely hate an action on the basis of it being "wrong" alone, but instead we hate the action because it has negative consequences.

------

The final argument in support of this premise is, "If there is no objective morality, there is no reason to be moral."

This is false. The opponent actually addresses why this is wrong, but then plays a word game to try and defeat that proposition. The reason that this argument is false is because people often behave in a way that benefits society, while decrying things that damage society.

The opponent says, "the problem with this response is that benefiting society is part of what it means to be moral". This may be true, but it does not imply that, "If objective morality didn't exist, no one would want to benefit society."

The reality is that whether or not objective morals exist, people generally try to act in such a way that benefits society. This is a simply a civilized, human behavior. You cannot say that "people benefit society on purpose, therefore objective morals exist" when it's equally as possible that "objective morals don't exist, but people still benefit society on purpose."

----

Thus, this entire premise does not stand, as it is only suppported by fallacious argumentum ad populums. The entire rebuttal to this argument can be summed up in one statement: "How humans behave is not indicative of whether objective morals exist."


The Ontological Argument

This is by far my least favorite argument for the existence of God that I have ever come across. It essentially "defines" God into existence. You cannot use semantics to bring something into existence.

I'll prove this by using a substitution.

1. It is possible that a maximally great unicorn exists.
2. If it is possible that a maximally great unicorn exists, then a maximally great unicorn exists in some possible world.
3. If a maximally great unicorn exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4. If a maximally great unicorn exists in every possible world, it exists in the actual world.
5. If a maximally great unicorn exists in the actual world, then a maximally great unicorn exists.
6. Therefore, a maximally great unicorn exists.

Pretty cool, using the opponent's argument we have shown that a maximally great unicorn exist. Now substitute "unicorn" for "frog". Then for "maximally great version of myself". Then for "maximally great race of aliens who wish to communicate with us".

The first examples show that the argument is ridiculous, but the last example leads to a contradiction in the logic, indicating that it is not correct or correctly formulated.

1. It is surely possible that a "maximally great race of aliens who wish to communicate with us" exists.
2. By the opponent's logic, they therefore do exist.
3. And if they do exist and are maximally great, then they have the ability to communicate with us. 4. If they have the ability to effectively communicate with us and want to, then they will.
5. Aliens have not effectively communicated with us.
6. (5) directly contradicts (2), implicating that this argument is not logically valid.

----

We've now seen, through simple substitution, that the opponent's argument is invalid. And this makes sense. It is impossible to cause something to start existing, simply because you've defined the thing as both "perfect" and "existent". Defining something as perfect, then claiming that perfect things must exist, does not prove that thing exists. Instead, it merely proves that if a perfect thing existed, it would exist -- which boils down to a truism.

The specific premise that is flawed in the opponent's argument is premise (3). Just because something can possibly exist and is defined as "perfect and existent" doesn't mean the existence must happen. It means if the existence was true, then it would be true.

Teleological Argument

As opposed to the previous argument, this is one of my favorite pro-God arguments. Not because I think it has merit, but because answer to it reveals that our way of thinking about the world is very anthropocentric, which shouldn't be too surprising.

The first premise is that, "the universe is fine-tuned for life."

To understand the flaw with this statement, and all the arguments that come from it, you need to understand that "life" can be defined in many different ways.

If you define life as: an organic (carbon-based) being capable of physical reproduction, that lives in temperatures between -20 C and 121 C -- then you have included all existing forms of life on the planet Earth, but you have narrowed the definition substantially.

Is it surprising that life, according to this definition, can only exist in the conditions is does today? The fundamental flaw in the teleological argument is that it assumes life as we know it is the only possible kind of life that can exist.

In reality, life is better described as "an intelligent being". It need not be carbon based, it need not reproduce in ways we understand and it need not exist in temperature ranges so narrow.

You can think of 'life' as a set, whose elements are possible configurations of life. We have no reason to believe that there are a finite number of possible configurations of life. In a universe in which oxygen did not exist, it is completely possible that some organism would exist which does not need oxygen to live.

The life on Earth is just one possible configuration of life out of literally infinite configurations.

Thus, it is true to say that "the likelihood that our type of life existing is unfathomably small", but it is incredibly wrong to conclude that this means "the chance of life existing altogether is unfathomably small".

This argument has a good analogy. Imagine you have a 10,000,000 sided die and you roll it. If you get 8,675,309, you might argue that this couldn't have possibly been caused by chance -- that some intelligent and powerful being must have specifically made the die roll that number.

But the reality of the situation is that, while the likelihood of rolling 8,675,309 is incredibly low, there was a 100% chance that some number was rolled. When we argue that 8,675,309 much have been caused by a God, we are completely ignoring the other 9,999,999 possible rolls that could have happened.

The same is happening here. I agree with the opponent that the chance of "our life" existing is obnoxiously and unrealistically low. But the inference that this means life, as a whole, is unrealistically rare, is unsubstantiated.

Conclusion

I'm out of space, but I believe I have adequately addressed the opponent's case.
Debate Round No. 3
Jerry947

Pro

1. The Axiological Argument

a. I argue that "since we know what is absolutely wrong, there must be an absolute standard of rightness."

My opponent accuses me of using ad populum. But they are very mistaken. My whole point there was to show that people that claim to know what is evil also must know what is good. Remember my math example? You cannot know that something is wrong without knowing the right answer. So the there is nothing about this argument that mentions that X is true because the majority believes it to be true. And this argument points to the fact that there is a real right and wrong. For how can someone claim to know what is right and wrong if there is no objective standard.

b. Then they again accuse me of using the logical fallacy ad populum when I claim that "murder is an action that all people ([besides the insane]) recognize as absolutely wrong."

They again misunderstand what I am saying. I was merely providing several pieces of evidences that point to the existence of objective morality. Here were my pieces of evidence...

-Since people know what is absolutely wrong, there must be an absolute standard of rightness.
-If there wasn't a Moral Law, then people wouldn't make excuses for violating it.
-All people really do know that a standard of right/wrong exist.
-If there is no objective morality, there is no reason to be moral.

All four of these things show that there is an objective moral law. I never once said that the fact that everyone agrees on basic moral principles is the reason why objective morals exist. I did however say that since people know what is right and wrong, this points to the fact that there is this objective moral law that is written on their hearts.

c. My opponent states that "we cannot logically conclude that 'murder is absolutely wrong' just because a lot of people think it is."

I 100% agree with that statement. But my opponent is again missing my point. My point was that since all people recognize murder as being immoral points to the fact that there is an objective moral law in which all humans have to follow. I was NOT saying that the moral law is objective due to the fact that all humans agree on some basic moral principles.

d. My opponent then goes on to address my second piece of evidence that points to the existence of an objective moral law. I argued that the fact that people apologized for doing wrong behavior pointed to the fact that there is a real right and wrong. My opponent claims that "People feel guilty and apologize whenever they have violated a social norm."

This may be true but doesn't actually address my point. People have apologized for violating social norms and people also apologize for doing immoral things. That was my whole point in the first place. And the fact that people say "sorry" for wronging other people points to the fact that there is an objective moral law. For humans would not feel the need to say sorry if morality was based on everyone's opinions.

My opponent then says that "Importantly, while many people (like myself) might believe morality is ultimately a subjective thing, we still apologize when we violate a social norm."

Fair enough, but I wasn't talking about social norms in my initial argument. I was talking about the subject of morality. Apologizing for being rude to someone is not a social norm. It is something we feel like we ought to do which again point to an objective moral law.

e. My opponent then attacks my third piece of evidence for objective morality. They claim that I am "assuming that all people are perfect logicians and always behave in a logical way. We are emotional creatures, so this is rarely the case."

This is not even close to being true. Please try and find one sentence where I claim that all humans are perfectly logical and etc...I never would argue that. However, I do argue that people expect to be treated a certain way. And no matter what culture you go to, you will always find that they practice the same basic moral principles we do.

My opponent then states "Someone can know that X isn't objectively right or wrong, but still feel negatively when this happens to them." Then they give the example of someone being stolen from. They argue that "when someone steals your car, you aren't mad "because that was wrong" -- you're mad because your car is now gone."

I don't see the logic here at all. Of course you are mad that you have no car but you are also angry at the fact that a human had the nerve to steal your car. I mean, this fairy-tale picture of the world my opponent has is just bizarre. Why do you think that lawsuits exist? When people feel stolen from they are not merely just angry that their things are missing. They are literally ticked off at the people that took their stuff. People go after the people that they feel wronged them. But the question is, "how could people feel wronged if there was no real right and wrong?"

f. My opponent then attacks the last piece of evidence I supplied for their being an objective moral law. I argued that without an objective moral law then people would have no reason to be moral. Now let us think about that for a moment...

My opponent denies that there is a real right and wrong yet they still think that people have reason to be moral. How can my opponent deny a "real right" yet still believe that people have a reason to be moral (or to do right things)?

The question is why be moral? Or why benefit society? What reason does my opponent have to be moral if they deny that there is a real right and wrong?

Here is their response: "The reality is that whether or not objective morals exist, people generally try to act in such a way that benefits society. This is a simply a civilized, human behavior."

How does that answer my question? They seem to argue that people should be moral (while denying there is a real right/wrong) in order to benefit society. But again, benefiting society is a moral thing to do. The questions "Why benefit society" and "Why be moral" are practically the same.

2. The Ontological Argument

a. My opponent tries to refute my argument by replacing my "Maximally great being" with the word unicorn. The fact that they do this and the fact that they think this refutes my arguments shows a gross misunderstanding of my argument. Here is their argument...

"It is possible that a maximally great unicorn exists."

I guess.

"If it is possible that a maximally great unicorn exists, then a maximally great unicorn exists in some possible world."

Okay...

"If a maximally great unicorn exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world."

Unicorns are not all-powerful nor are they omnipresent. Therefore they could not exist in every possible world. If my opponent were to say that they were these things, then they would be merely taking away the attributes that make a unicorn a unicorn and they would ironically just be referring to God.

"If a maximally great unicorn exists in every possible world, it exists in the actual world."

No, they could not exist in every possible world. They sure don't exist in the world we live in now...

"If a maximally great unicorn exists in the actual world, then a maximally great unicorn exists."
Therefore, a maximally great unicorn exists."

The whole argument has already falling apart. My opponent tried to prove the existence of a maximally great unicorn yet their argument fails as I have shown. Only a maximally great being could exist in all possible words.

b. Now my opponent tries to show some kind of contradiction in my logic. Here is there argument and my responses to it:

"It is surely possible that a "maximally great race of aliens who wish to communicate with us" exists.
By the opponent's logic, they therefore do exist."

No, I might say that they could exist in some possible world. But I would never say that they exist in the actual world.

"And if they do exist and are maximally great, then they have the ability to communicate with us. If they have the ability to effectively communicate with us and want to, then they will."

This argument doesn't even make sense.

"Aliens have not effectively communicated with us."

True.

"(5) directly contradicts (2), implicating that this argument is not logically valid."

Yeah no, my opponent didn't at all understand what I was originally arguing. I hope things are clear now though.

c. My opponent then argues that "It is impossible to cause something to start existing, simply because you've defined the thing as both 'perfect' and existent." Again, they misunderstand the argument. I merely showed (using deductive reasoning) that the greatest being we can conceive would exist in the actual world if it were it fact possible for that being to exist. Never did I argue that God exists merely because he is perfect.

3. The Teleological Argument

a. My opponent attempting to attack my fine-tuning premise of the argument and instead talks about different kinds of life that can exist. They fail to address my arguments that show that our universe is fine-tuned for life and instead straw man my argument.

b. They then claim that "the life on Earth is just one possible configuration of life out of literally infinite configurations." What does that even mean? I mean, my argument is about the fact that our universe supports all kinds of life (including humans). I realize that there are other ways that the universe could have turned out.

c. For the record, I gave a list of things that would eradicate all life and my opponent didn't address a single fact I brought up.

d. My opponent argues that "while the likelihood of rolling 8,675,309 is incredibly low, there was a 100% chance that some number."

Okay...but the question is "who rolled the dice in the first place?" Yes, the chances are small but what caused the dice to role in our favor? Design is the best explanation.

4. Conclusion

Thanks to my opponent for a good debate!
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Jerry947 4 months ago
Jerry947
I said that "if we know what is wrong, we must have some idea of what is right." To know that something is false/wrong, you merely have to have an idea of what the right answer is.

Glad to hear that you enjoyed the debate!
Posted by MyCables 4 months ago
MyCables
I had a question in regards to a something pro said. Pro said" you cannot know that something is wrong without knowing the right answer." Unless I am misunderstanding, this is not true. We can use things other than knowing the right answer to prove something false. Example: I know that there are not 1000000 grains of sand on the beaches, but I do not know how many there are.

This has been a fun read from both sides.
Posted by Jerry947 4 months ago
Jerry947
@quertyfoo

Hey! Thanks for the comment. Feel free to challenge me to a debate at anytime about the existence of God. Since I use the same arguments every time, you should be well prepared.
Posted by quertyfoo 4 months ago
quertyfoo
Is it just me, or are Pro's arguments seeming the same every time?

Also, on the topic of "maximally great being," mathematically define "greatness." Is it "what the majority agrees is the approximate 'amount of greatness' of a given being"?

Then suppose that 80% of everybody on Earth supposed that they were the maximally great being, and the other 20% worshipped clouds as "maximally great" because they were "super high". Obviously, there is no "greatest being." Logic does not rule by democracy.

Also, supposing there is no God, your "maximally great" logic would still stand. In a universe without God, your logic would work just as well. That is, it would not work. You need to demonstrate how a universe without God is distinguishable from a universe without one.

This leads to my next point: even if you define God as the "maximally great being," (who doesn't even exist because your misuse of math and logic makes me roll on the ground screaming), then how do you know anything about that God? And DO NOT tell me the Bible says so. Have you read the proof of how a heaven-sent message would be indistinguishable from a daemon's message? Even if you had proved a God to exist, it's inapplicable to the real world. The God could be Allah, or a tribal god for a tribe that died out 1000 years ago, or something nobody has thought of. How do you worship God then when you know nothing about him?
Posted by Jerry947 4 months ago
Jerry947
Well, you sure did deliver on your promise.

I appreciate the effort you put into it. I'll make sure to give you a good response.
Posted by Cobalt 4 months ago
Cobalt
I'm sorry for the particularly complicated second argument. I did promise you something you haven't seen before, though.
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