Does God exist?
Debate Rounds (4)
This is my first debate, and indeed, my first post here at debate.org. I would like to defend the claim that God exists. I see that a number of other debates use the first round as an acceptance round, so I suppose I'll request that the first round only be used thusly, for acceptance.
Looking forward to a good debate,
I'm assuming you're referring to the Judeo-Christian God so please correct me if I'm wrong.
Back in 10,000BC History is abundant of carvings showing their respect and admiration for the Sun because this object supplied warmth and light to their tribes and it is simple to understand why as it would bring them security in contrast to the dark night. Without it the crops would not grow and life on the planet would not survive.
Likewise they were also very aware of the stars. The stars gave them a sense of direction when lost. They interpreted the stars into what we know today as constellations which show representations of people and animals which were later on personified into myths and stories. There were 12 to represent each other and the conditions which would happen in that time.
The sun which was the most important was seen as an unseeing creator or God. God's sun, the light of the world, the saviour of humankind.
In 3,000 BC the Egyptians personified the Sun into their God Horus while personified the night into the God Set. The myths and legends they were based on the Suns movement so metaphorically speaking every morning Horus would win the battle against Set while in the night Set would send Horus into the underworld.
Horus is believed to be born on December 25th to a virgin called Isis-Meri. His birth was accompanied by a star in the East and upon his birth he was adored by three kings. At the age of 12 he was a prodigal child teacher and was believed to perform miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water. Horus was known as many names such as 'The Truth', 'The Light', 'The Anointed Son' and 'The Good Shepard'. He was crucified and buried for three days thus resurrected. He also had 12 disciples which coincidentally is the number of Zodiacs as mentioned earlier.
Several of these attributes from Horus seemed to adapt to many other Religious stories with people such as Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, Mithra, Budha Sakia, Salivahana, Zulis, Odin, Orus and later on Jesus Christ.
So I have to ask you, why are all the same?
The reason this happened is because of what I described earlier of Astrology. There is a star called Sirius from the East which on the Winter Solstice is the brightest star. This is aligned with the three brights stars of Orion's Belt which they called The Three Kings. The three kings and the brightest stars all point to the place of the sunrise on December 25th. This is why the three kings follow the Star in the East in order to locate the sunrise, or the birth of the sun which could translate into the story as 'Birth Of The Son'.
So if Jesus Christ is faulty then why wouldn't God be?. There isn't a single thread of evidence for God or Jesus himself.
My opponent's debate strategy is interesting. He weaves a complex narrative from several pieces of historical information, in which the Christian God and the legend of Christ's Resurrection are ultimately descended from the cult of sun worship. The reasoning involved is highly speculative - there is nothing here like the problem of evil or the argument from divine hiddenness, which, whatever their faults, aim to establish their conclusion with a high degree of certainty. Rather, we are given, for instance, possible connections between astrology and the number of Christ's disciples.
If this is less than compelling, it's because any argument from ancient history to the existence or nonexistence of the Judeo-Christian God is going to be less than compelling. If someone is going to believe in the Judeo-Christian God, and do so reasonably, it cannot be on the basis of an historical argument. Rather, it must be in the properly basic way.
What is this properly basic way of which I speak? A basic belief is a belief that one holds without support from any other beliefs. A basic belief is properly basic if it is rational to hold in the basic way. One example of a properly basic belief would be your belief that China has a population of more than one billion people. You heard this claim from someone else a long time ago, then retained a belief in the claim while forgetting the circumstances under which you acquired it. What remains is a belief that China has a population of more than one billion people which has no support from any other belief, yet is entirely rational to hold. (You could hunt down evidence to support this belief, of course, but the point is that you are rational to hold the belief right now, without such evidence.)
Another belief which we hold in the properly basic way is our belief that other people have minds. You don't believe that the people you observe have minds because you gathered evidence and built a case; rather, you instantly intuit that another person has a mind upon seeing them. Similarly, a person with a robust Christian belief does not base his Christianity upon any case that he's built. He knows of the Christian God's existence in the properly basic way.
However, even if, for whatever reason, someone doesn't have a properly basic belief in God, he can arrive at a limited grasp of the fact that God exists. (I will only spell out one argument for God's existence here. This argument is insufficient evidence for God's existence by itself, but, if it goes through, I have a number of arguments similar in form that provide more than enough evidence in sum.)
Consider the fact that the universe exists. There are lots of planets and stars; there are galaxies; there are black holes; and there are the laws of nature which act upon all of these things. The universe, in short, is extremely complex. A long time ago some of this complexity was compressed into a singularity, but even in the singularity, there must have been some significant degree of variance and complexity, and there would still have been the same complex laws of nature which we observe in action today. So, again, the universe is extremely complex, whether we consider it in its present form or in the form of the singularity.
When a reasonable person finds a great deal of complexity, he naturally asks for an explanation. An explanation must either be a scientific explanation or an explanation in terms of the activity of a personal agent, a mind. Can science provide an explanation for the existence of the universe?
To answer that question, consider the nature of scientific explanation. A scientific explanation for the existence of something must include an initial physical state of affairs, a set of laws of nature, and a final state of affairs which necessarily flows from the initial physical state of affairs and the set of laws of nature. For example, a scientific explanation for the moldiness of a piece of cheese on the table might refer to the fact that the piece of cheese had been on the table for two weeks and the law that a piece of cheese will (under such and such conditions) become moldy if left on a table for two weeks.
Returning to our question, then, we see that no, science can never provide an explanation for the existence of the universe. Any such explanation would have to be in terms of an initial physical state of affairs, but we are asking for an explanation of the initial physical state of affairs itself. Again, any such explanation would have to be in terms of a set of laws of nature, but we are asking for an explanation for the laws of nature themselves. So, as a matter of logical necessity, there can be no scientific explanation here.
Fortunately, scientific explanation by no means exhausts the field of possible kinds of explanation. In addition to scientific explanation, there is personal explanation, explanation in terms of the activity of a mind. Since no scientific explanation is available for the existence of the universe, the explanation, if there is one, will have to be in terms of the activity of a mind.
To briefly recap, the universe is complex and wants an explanation, and this explanation can't be given by science. So far, then, all we have concluded is the following disjunctive proposition: either the universe is a brute fact or the universe is the product of a mind. Since the mind in question would also be a brute fact, we are really comparing two scenarios. In the first scenario, the universe just is. In the second scenario, a mind just is, and this mind creates (and thereby explains the existence of) the universe.
How do we choose between the first and second scenarios? Is it more reasonable to take the universe as a brute fact or to go a little further, and posit that the universe is the product of a mind which is itself a brute fact? It's reasonable to posit the existence of such a mind given that two conditions obtain: first, it must be simpler, as an explanatory starting point, than the universe; and second, it must predict the existence of the universe to some significant degree.
To determine whether or not such a mind would be simpler than the universe as an explanatory starting point, we need to consider what the simplest kind of mind would be like, and then compare the complexity of the simplest kind of mind to the complexity of the universe. And indeed, the simplest kind of mind would be very, very simple. Since infinity is simpler than any finite quantity, the mind in question would have infinite attributes. It would have infinite power and knowledge, it would be present everywhere, and it would be perfectly moral. It would be immaterial, meaning that it would have one less attribute (that is, it would lack the attribute of extension), further lowering its complexity. Even the fact of its being a mind rather than a piece of matter would lower its complexity, since a mind is a very simple kind of thing. Compared to the complexity of the physical universe, I think we have to conclude that a mind would be simpler as an explanatory starting point.
But would such a mind predict the existence of the universe? Indeed, it would have enormous explanatory power for the universe. Being perfectly moral (as explained), it would have good reason to create a beautiful physical universe with moral agents, because such a universe would contain two great goods: the good of its beauty and the good of free moral choice between good and evil.
So the existence of the universe does provide a significant piece of inductive evidence for the existence of God. By itself, the existence of the universe does not establish God's existence, but I have a number of arguments similar in form to the above - from order, morality, consciousness, history, religious experience, and more - that combine to form sufficient evidence for God.
Thanks for reading.
Here's an image to give you a better idea, http://img196.imageshack.us...
A basic belief does not support the existence of God, it just shows more people believe in it. No matter how many people believe in it if the Church is unable to back up their belief with legitimate scientific evidence then we can only conclude it's false.
For example, I could say that I believe a Flying Spaghetti Monster exists. Nobody has ever seen one, heard one or touched one but I know it exists because of a book. No matter what I claim if I can't support it then you can only assume it's false.
The difference between God and China having over a billion people is that when you look at the evidence you can see China in fact does according to the Census while God still lacks evidence so it is irrational to continue believing in it without actually having anything to support it. Stories from others are an untrustworthy source of God being proven.
I am aware the universe is complex but using God as a reason is so vague. It's like giving a riddle for an answer.
According to the book of Genesis God said Let There Be Light. Then on Genesis 1:14-18 he made the Sun. How was the Earth already light without the Sun?
The Bible says the God made Man before the Birds (Genesis 1:26-27) (Genesis 2:19) but contradicts itself in other verses by stating Birds came before Man. (Genesis 1:26-27) (Genesis 2:7)
This also occurs in other verses regarding Animals. The Bible states that Man came before Animals (Genesis 2:7) (Genesis 2:19) while in other parts stating Animals came before Man. (Genesis 24-27) (Genesis 2:7)
Science does not currently have a decent explanation for the creation of the Universe but it is working on it. Unlike Religion Science likes to state what they believe is right before becoming so firm on it, and even when they are firm on it they are still happy to be proven wrong because their quest is just to find which is true while in contrast Religion just tries to stick with their original story no matter what evidence hits it.
There have come some brilliant ideas on how the Universe such as the big bang and a new theory from Stephen Hawkings book The Grand Design but nothing has been proven well enough to be regarded as truth. Science currently does not have an explanation but it probably will eventually.
So may I ask you, how do Dinosaurs fit into the Bible?
In reply to my first argument regarding properly basic beliefs in God, my opponent asserted that "no matter how many people believe in [God] if the Church is unable to back up their belief with legitimate scientific evidence then we can only conclude it's false." This seems to rest on a misunderstanding. I was not suggesting that we should believe in God because other people believe in God - that would be a silly argument. Rather, I was suggesting that, should the reader find himself with a properly basic belief in God, he can reasonably assert the existence of God in reality without any evidence, scientific or otherwise.
In this respect, a belief in God is a lot like a belief that other people have minds. You probably don't base your belief that other people have minds on an argument, unless you're a very odd kind of person. Rather, you just sort of naively persist in your belief that other people have minds. There is nothing wrong with believing in God in the same sort of naive way, even if you don't have any evidence.
Anyway, my first point about properly basic beliefs is unscathed. What about my second point, that the existence of a complex physical universe is evidence for the existence of God? In response to my second point, my opponent made three separate substantive arguments.
First, my opponent argued that God is "so vague" as an explanation. I'm not completely sure why he claimed this, as he didn't elaborate on it at all. Maybe his concern is that the term is undefined. To remedy that, here is Richard Swinburne's philosophically precise definition of God: "I take the proposition 'God exists' (and the equivalent proposition 'There is a God') to be logically equivalent to 'there exists necessarily a person without a body (i.e. a spirit) who necessarily is eternal, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and the creator of all things'" . I take it my opponent will point out any problematically unclear aspects of this definition in his next speech and explain what problems they cause for theism.
Second, my opponent made a number of arguments against biblical literalism. However, since I am not a biblical literalist, this is not problematic for me. Nor does the existence of the Christian God depend on the truth of biblical literalism.
Third, my opponent argued that "science does not currently have a decent explanation for the creation of the Universe but it is working on it." This is based on a misunderstanding of my position. I am not arguing from the creation of the universe, but the existence of the universe at all. It does not matter if the universe is eternal or began to exist at some point, for the purposes of my argument, since my argument simply requires that (a) the universe be more complex than God as an explanatory starting point, and that (b) God predict the existence of the universe to some degree. I have shown that conditions (a) and (b) are met in my previous speech. Further, while a scientist may someday discover a good scientific explanation for the beginning of the universe, we have good reasons to think that science will never uncover a good scientific explanation for the existence of the universe, as I explained in my previous speech.
Since my opponent's rejoinders fail, I will add a few more arguments my cumulative inductive case. I will add an argument from temporal order, an argument from moral awareness, and an argument from religious experience.
My argument from temporal order takes off from the observation that all of the pieces of matter in the universe, separated though they are by vast gulfs of space, continuously act just the same way. This is tremendously awkward for the atheist. On atheism, there is just no reason to think that the universe should exhibit this kind of order. It might have been that completely different sets of laws acted in different parts of the universe, instead. Why is the universe so incredibly orderly?
Science cannot provide us with an answer here, because scientific explanations are always in terms of laws, and it is lawfulness itself that we are trying to explain. If we appeal to theism, however, suddenly we have abundant explanatory resources regarding temporal order. God would have wanted there to be a beautiful universe, and an orderly universe is more beautiful than one that lacks order. Additionally, God would have wanted the universe to be predictable so that the beings living within it could formulate long-term plans and engage in scientific study. So, I think it's clear that the temporal order evident in the universe is another piece of evidence for the existence of God.
My argument from moral awareness takes off from the observation that human beings have a deep awareness of morality. We are able to construct long term plans and conduct ourselves by rational principles in our day to day lives. Why should anything like this have evolved? Why didn't evolution stop, for instance, at the level of the monkeys?
On atheism, there's really no reason to expect anything to develop this kind of deep awareness of morality. Nor can science explain why the laws of nature were such as to eventually produce beings with a deep awareness of morality, because, again, scientific explanation must always take off from the laws of nature. However, on theism, there is some reason to expect a perfectly moral God to have wanted there to be beings that could obey the moral law.
My argument from religious experience takes off from the fact that throughout human history, millions of people have reported perceiving God. This has taken a wide variety of forms, but I'll just quote one case for now, that of Christiana Tsai:
"Christiana Tsai was a Chinese lady who was born into a traditional Chinese society in the nineteenth century. She came from a Chinese family that was antagonistic toward Christianity, but she was converted after such an experience: one day she was playing in the backyard, and she noticed a stone that looked very smooth on the surface. She turned it over by a stick and discovered that there was a big lizard and many bugs under the stone. Suddenly, she heard a voice in her heart: "You are just like this stone, looking beautiful from the outside but full of evil inside!" She knelt down and prayed to God for forgiveness. Immediately, she found peace and felt that the burden of sin on her was lifted. Since then, the world appeared to her as the Lord's beautiful garden. She found a source of love in her heart, and felt that even the inanimate objects in the surroundings were singing praise to the Creator with her" .
Now, the only way to show that an experience like that of Christiana Tsai was not veridical (i.e., actually caused by God in the way it seemed to be) would be to show that God does not exist, because if God does exist, then he could and would prevent anyone from experiencing him non-veridically. If God existed, God would not allow people to be deceived into thinking that they were experiencing him when they really were not. Further, if God is omnipresent, it is questionable whether it is possible to have an experience which is not in some way of God.
Absent good evidence that God does not exist, then, we must give experiences like that of Christiana Tsai a great deal of evidential value, which is added to the evidential value of the argument from the existence of the universe, the argument from temporal order, and the argument from moral awareness. In summary, then, the case for God is strong.
 The Existence of God by Richard Swinburne, p. 7
 The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology ed. Craig and Moreland, p. 49
From your second paragraph, 'I was suggesting that, should the reader find himself with a properly basic belief in God, he can reasonably assert the existence of God in reality without any evidence, scientific or otherwise.'
You can do that but it would be irrational. You could believe in anything, but without evidence you can simply dismiss it. As Christopher Hitchens has said 'That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.'
In my previous argument I said God is a vague explanation because it gives little reasons or conclusions about why the world is here other than a book which says quotations such as 'Let there be light' in contrast to scientific research which has hundreds and hundreds of theories with details explanations for everything. From there I begun to explain some of the contradictions within the Bible and how faulty it is but without the Bible this does not help, it gives even worse of a logical explanation for why we are here.
In the argument you described that the universe is beautiful and therefore there must be a creator behind this. This is logical, but faulty. As Stephen Fry explains in the video 'The Important Of Unbelief'* the Universe is not in fact beautiful and orderly. If you look into the wild you will see a violent culture of animals killing each other, in Space asteroids collide all the time. If a God was determining it animals wouldn't need to kill each other for meat, our planet wouldn't be under constant threat of asteroids attacking which have in fact hit this planet before.
* Stephen Fry Video
Morality comes from the instinct to survive, not from a unproven deity. It would be law put down by the tribes in the time which eventually evolved into larger beliefs.
In your argument you described many people perceiving God throughout history as evidence for him. But this has also occurred with the world being flat, many figures through ancient history claimed to have seen the edge of the world when really we now know that is false.
You are good at debating, I must say.
In support of my first claim, that theism is properly basic for some people, I offered an analogy to the belief that other people have minds. Since we believe without evidence that other people have minds, it's also reasonable to believe without evidence that God exists.
How did my opponent respond to my first line of argument? Well, he really didn't offer much resistance to it. He provided no reasons to think that we can't draw an analogy between our belief in other minds and our belief in God. We were only given the assertion that believing things without evidence is always irrational, which begs the entire question. So, I think that a reasonable person will consider this line of argument successful.
In support of my second claim, that there is a good cumulative inductive case for the existence of God, I provided four inductive arguments: an argument from the existence of the universe, an argument from temporal order, an argument from moral awareness, and an argument from religious experience. I have dealt with my opponent's responses to my argument from the existence of the universe in my previous speech, so all that remains is to deal with his responses to my arguments from temporal order, moral awareness, and religious experience.
In response to my argument from temporal order, my opponent asserted that animals suffer in nature all the time. The first thing to note is that this is based on a misinterpretation of the argument from temporal order. The argument from temporal order begins from the premise that all the pieces of matter in the universe act exactly the same way. It is irrelevant to this premise whether or not animals suffer in nature.
Even if it was relevant to the argument from temporal order that animals suffer, the evil of animals' suffering is outweighed by various goods involved in the animals' struggling for survival. As Richard Swinburne explains, "it is good that there be animals who show courage in the face of pain, to secure food and to find and rescue their mates and their young, and who show sympathetic concern for other animals. An animal life is of so much greater value for the heroism it shows.... Animal actions of sympathy, affection, courage, and patience are great goods" .
In response to my argument from moral awareness, my opponent simply asserted that "morality comes from the instinct to survive." This rests on a misunderstanding of my argument from moral awareness. The premise of the argument is simply that the initial laws of nature were such as to produce creatures with a deep awareness of morality. That deep awareness of morality could have been helped along by an instinct to survive, or whatever.
In response to my argument from religious experience, my opponent asserted that perceptions of God are not to be trusted because many people have perceived the world as flat. I hope it's obvious that this objection would apply equally to any perception of anything. Someone could equally object to visual perception on the grounds that "many figures throughout history claimed to have seen the edge of the world." An objection that implies that visual perception is unreliable is probably an unreasonable objection.
So I don't think we've gotten any significant objections to my arguments from the existence of the universe, temporal order, moral awareness, or religious experience. In conclusion, then, both of my core claims seem to go through. Not only is theism properly basic for some people, but it can also be supported by a cumulative inductive case.
 The Existence of God by Richard Swinburne, p. 244
felixgriffin forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Neonix 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited last round, conduct goes to Pro. Con heavily references Zeitgeist (without ever giving credit), a source that's been debunked as a fraud by major secular outlets. Reliable resources go to pro for use of cited sources. Cons lack of credible argument. Neither side proved or disproved anything. Tied on arguments. Not a bad first debate. Good job to both.
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