Does God exist?
|Voting Style:||Open||Point System:||7 Point|
|Updated:||10 hours ago||Status:||Debating Period|
|Viewed:||363 times||Debate No:||96051|
Round 2: Opening Arguments
Round 3: First Rebuttals
Round 4: Second Rebuttals
Round 5: Closing Statements
I accept and thank pro for posing such an invariably interesting topic. Pro has not defined the term "God", however I am perfectly fine with any definition of god so far as it's not tautological like pantheism.
I would like to thank Con for accepting my challenge. I look forward to a great debate. As Con pointed out, I didn't define God. I think "immaterial, eternal, and perfect creator of the universe" would suffice as a good definition.
1.It is possible that a Maximally Great Being (MGB) exists.
2.If it is possible that MGB exists, then it exists in some possible world.
3.If MGB exists in some possible world, it exists in every world.
4.If MGB exists in every world, then it exists in the actual world.
5.Therefore, MGB exists.
I anticipate that most of the objections to this argument will be directed at the second premise since it appears to be a non sequitur. However, once one understands what is meant by "MGB" and "possible world," it no longer appears to be a non sequitur. Possible worlds are not parallel realities, but rather different ways that reality could have been. Every object falls into one of three categories when it comes to possible worlds: impossible, contingent, and necessary. Impossible objects cannot exist in any possible world; they have to fail to exist (e.g. square circles). Contingent things exist in some possible worlds; they can fail to exist (e.g. unicorns). Necessary objects have to exist in every possible world; they cannot fail to exist. A MGB has all properties that make it great to the maximum potential. Since it is better for something to be necessary over contingent or impossible, a MGB would be necessary. This means that a MGB would exist in every possible world.
1.Everything has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its nature, or in an external cause.
2.If the universe exists, its explanation is grounded in a necessary being.
3.The universe exists.
4.Therefore, its explanation is grounded in a necessary being.
5.Therefore, a necessary being exists.
Again, I anticipate that most of the objections will be fixed against the second premise. I am going to use the some of the same terms from my previous argument. Since the universe exists, it must either be necessary or contingent. The universe is currently expanding and reaching a state of equilibrium. The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem states that any universe that is expanding must have had a beginning. According to the second law of thermodynamics, the universe is slowly running out of usable energy. If the universe is contingent, and therefore eternal, it would have run out of usable energy by now. Since the universe has been demonstrated to be contingent, something external must have caused its existence. In order to avoid an infinite regression, something necessary must have been involved either directly or indirectly in the creation of the universe.
1.Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2.The universe began to exist.
3.Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Since I provided evidence supporting the notion of a finite universe in support of my previous argument, I don't think that I have to present the same evidence again. The Big Bang is an event where time, space, and matter all came into existence. Since time, space, and matter came into existence at the Big Bang, the cause must be timeless, space-less, and immaterial. God is the only thing that fits the given definition that can cause the universe to exist.
1.The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either necessity, chance, or design.
2.It is not due to necessity nor chance.
3.Therefore, it is due to design.
The universe is finely-tuned for life. If the gravitational constant was off by one part in 10^60, then the universe would either have collapsed on itself or spread too rapidly to allow stars to form. If the cosmological constant was off by one part in 10^120, life would be unable to develop. If the weak force was off by one part in 10^100, life would, again, be unable to develop. The universe is demonstrably finely-tuned, but there is no evidence to support the notion that the constants had to be the way that they are. A designer that fine-tuned the universe is a much more plausible explanation than that which says that universe is fine-tuned due to chance.
I look forward to Con's response and anticipate that this great will be a good one.
It's very seldom one gets the chance to offer a constructive case that also constiutes a rebuttal. If I can establish physicalism as more reasonably true than not, the resolution, as well as pro's arguments are negated.
P1) If physicalism is true, then immaterial things do not exist
P2) God is immaterial
P3) Physicalism is true
C) God does not exist
P1) This follows from the ideology of physicalism
P2) This follows from pro’s definition
P3) I shall defend this premise
C) Follows from P1-3
The syllogism is structurally sound, so all I need to do is defend P3 in order to negate the resolution.
What is Physicalism?
Physicalism- I shall be taking the modern incarnation of physicalism that everything, namely mental states supervene on physical states.
To put this in context of the resolution, if it is true that mental states supervene on physical states, then god does not exist, because as defined God is necessarily immaterial, but has mental capacities, such as having intentionality and causality which is to say his mental capacities do not supervene on physical states. However, as I shall argue, mental states to supervene on physical states.
Mental Phenomena Supervene Upon Neurophysiological Events:
It is the case that mental states/activities are expressions of neurophysiological events. Every empirical study has confirmed this. The methodology is as follows, apply a brain imaging device to subject X, impose stimuli upon X, or instruct X to engage in a mental activity, and in every case it is found that mental activity is supervened upon neuronal events. Furthermore, a holistic claim can be made regarding mental activity as a whole, because the wide range of imposed stimuli and tasks encompass many neurophysiological functions, for which differing neurophysiological sub-regions are responsible,such as memory, motor skill, visualization and critical thought. This in itself is sufficient to affirm physicalism. It is the position of physicalism that mental states are physically realized, so it would follow that one would expect accompanying neurophysiological events.
Mental Function Is Impaired By Physical Events:
If physicalism were not the case, one would expect that physical events would not impair mental function, however this is demonstrably not the case. Patients who have endured brain trauma also experience impaired cognitive function. However, the problem gets worse than this, if physicalism is not true, any person X is more than their mind, however in instances where patients have had their corpus callosum severed, they become different people. This indicates that identity is not maintained, the very premise of dualism. Furthermore, the severing of the corpus callosum disunified mental experience or “consciousness”. Take the key-ring experiment:”Consider a split-brain patient (S) in the key-ring experiment. S has two experiences, one of which represents the word ‘key’ and one of which represents the word ‘ring’, but it seems clear that S does not have an experience of the word ‘key-ring’. But—so the argument goes—any subject with phenomenally unified experiences of the words ‘key’ and ‘ring’ must also have an experience of the word ‘key-ring’. Since S has no such experience, we should conclude that S’s experiences of ‘key’ and ‘ring’ are not phenomenally unified. C”
What To Make Of This?
Physical events inform mental states, impair mental states, negate identity, and in severe cases alter the fundamental nature of consciousness or mental experience i.e, disunity. This provides a very convincing reason to believe that mental states supervene on physical states. Regarding the resolution, we have good reason to not take pro’s arguments seriously as they all presuppose that mental states are independent of physical states. For example, god is defined as immaterial, implicitly rendering him as an independent mental state, further evidence by the attribution of such properties such as intentionality, which is to say that he intended to create universe, and cause, which is to say he caused the universe. However, I provided sound argumentation to believe that mental states supervene on physical states, and if this is more reasonably true than not, we have good reason to believe that God does not exist, because he is essentially defined as a disembodied mind, which cannot exist.
It is the consensus amongst scientists that time began when the universe was created. The creation of the universe welcomed in the beginning of space and time. However, it is the case that God is invariably asserted to be the cause of the universe. I find this to be utterly incoherent. If God is external to the universe, it follows that he is external to space and time. Now, I take it to be the claim not that God is infinitely existing in time, because it is widely held that past infinites are incoherent, and that infinites can’t be realized.So what does it conceptually mean to exist external to spatiotemporal parameters? I suppose you could be a disembodied mind, however mental states depend on physical states, and physical states are predicated on existing physical material, and before spatiotemporal parameters, there were not physical materials, so this can’t be the case. Wel can something exist external to time? I don’t see how.For Example, say I make the claim X exists. And someone asks me where is it? I could evade this by saying it’s a mental abstraction. However, if they ask “when” did it exist and I respond “never”, this is the same thing as saying in no time dimensions, which is effectively what it means to be external to time, which is in turn what effectively means to not exists. If I say X exists in no time parameter, that is to effectively say that X does not exist or never existed for that matter. So when pro defines God as external to time, I would like to know what this means, because so far as semantic interpretation goes, in the light of the inability for the infinite to be actualized, I foresee no way for anything to coherently exist external to time.
Con's argument rests the validity of physicalism. If I can show that physicalism is false, then the argument fails. While the scientific that he presented supports physicalism, there is also much scientific data that refutes physicalism.
The Mind Can Affect The Brain:
Neuroscience has discovered that the mind can actually change and re-map our brain. Several stroke victims participated in constraint-induced movement therapy. The victims that underwent this therapy had created a re-mapping of their brain(http://link.springer.com...). Jeffrey Schwartz conducted an experiment with patients affected by OCD. His studies have determined that mental effort alone can re-wire the brain and significantly lower the effects of OCD(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...). If physicalism is true, then the mind re-wiring and affecting the brain is impossible.
Consciousness Without A Normal Brain:
John Lorber studied patients with severe cases of hydrocephalus (i.e. over 95% full of fluid). He noted that about half of the patients he studied had IQs over 100 and were mentally normal. One particular patient was a student that only had a millimeter-thick layer of brain cells. He had an IQ of 126, gained an honor degree in mathematics, and is socially normal(http://www.rifters.com...). In 1984, a boy by the name of Andrew Vandal was born without a brain. If physicalism is true, we would not expect Andrew even to live. However, he was able to laugh, smile, and even have a personality(http://www.astralpulse.com...=). This is incompatible with physicalism. These discoveries show that consciousness does not come from the brain.
Awareness During Cardiac Arrest:
Several studies have been done on the topic of near-death experiences when it comes to cardiac arrests. Some victims of cardiac arrests have been able to give "detailed descriptions of the resuscitation, as verified by resuscitation staff"(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...). Another study done has noted that half of the victims of cardiac arrest that were part of the study were aware that they were dead. Many other victims in this study, although their brains were not functioning, still had mental activity(http://www.thelancet.com...). Of 101 patients that were victims of cardiac arrest, 2% "described awareness with explicit recall of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ actual events related to their resuscitation. One had a verifiable period of conscious awareness during which time cerebral function was not expected"(http://www.resuscitationjournal.com...). If physicalism is true, how can mental activity be present without a functioning brain?
Clarification on "Atemporal":
Con brings up the objection that being atemporal is an incoherent quality, since that means that it exists in no time, which is to say that it doesn't exist. This results from a misunderstanding on what "atemporal" really means. It is not to say that God exists in no time, but rather that God remains unaffected by time.
Pro has not escaped this dilemma by any means.
Pro has stated two things:
1.“It is not to say that God exists in no time, but rather that God remains unaffected by time.”
2.”The Big Bang is an event where time, space, and matter all came into existence.”
So we both agree that time came into existence with the universe. It would follow that time did not exist prior to the universe. So if God is external to the universe, it is necessarily the case that God exists in no time. Pro has done nothing to reasonably address this problem. Pro has not explicitly stated this, but I take it to be the claim that God is infinite, however this is also incoherent.
A past infinite? No:
In order to be especially non-biased, I’m going to use an argument put forth by William Lane Craig, and apply the concept to God.
Now the concept of infinity is perfectly intelligible in mathematics, however it is incoherent in reality. The creation of the universe occurred a finite time ago. If God is past infinite, how can a infinite series of events lead to a finite conclusion. For example, if we denote the beginning of the universe as event 1, and God caused 1, and God's past-infinite, we would never actually get to 1 in order for God to cause the universe. It would follow 1<x,x1,x2…...xN(ad infinitum). What operation does one employ to get from infinity to 1? Could be infinity- infinity +1? No.
Let’s exemplify this: (N denotes infinity)
However, it is obvious that infinity does not equal zero. Infinity minus infinity is undefined. So I don’t see how God can be past infinite and cause the universe, given that the universe came into existence a finite time ago.
Remember my argument was that mental states supervene, or are contingent on physical states, and pro does nothing to address this at a foundational level.
Pro argues that neuroplasticity negates physicalism. This is definitely not the case. Let’s define the term quickly” The brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.” Pro’s contention is that thoughts can reorganize the neural connections. This is true, however the confusion arises from pro’s failure to address my primary claim that mental states are contingent upon brain states. Thoughts characterize a mental state which are contingent upon brain states, and this is definitely the case, because thoughts are detectable. An FMRI can detect what happens in the brain when one thinks of something. It can be detected when one thinks of a screw driver. Tom Mitchell of Carnegie Mellon states “When we think "screwdriver" or "igloo" for example, Just says neurons start firing at varying levels of intensity in different areas throughout the brain. "And we found that we could identify which object they were thinking about from their brain activation patterns,". So for any thought X, there is an underlying physiological cause Y. So when pro advances neuroplasticity as a refutation to physicalism, this is untrue. Thoughts predicated on brain states, can of course influence other thoughts which are themselves predicated on brain states. This is exactly what one would expect to see if physicalism were true.
One thing to note is this information is 36 years old, this is definitely not the current state of the literature. Lober asks the following question:”How can someone with a grossly reduced cerebral mantle not only move among his fellows with no apparent social deficit, but also reach high academic achievement?” The effects of hydrocephalus are highly contingent upon individual tolerance. It is also the case that the cognitive of effects are progressive. So it is entirely possible that one could properly function with hydrocephalus. Now given this, compared to this extremely scarce collection of stories, there is an incredibly large collection of cases in which hydrocephalus does impair mental function. The vast majority of the evidence supports physicalism. Also note, these subjects are conscious without a normal brain, but they still have A BRAIN. This does not at all circumvent my argument.
Pro presents the following question”If physicalism is true, how can mental activity be present without a functioning brain?” Now it is important to make a distinction. Pro states that they recall something. In the absence of proper brain function, it is entirely possible that one can retroactively construct false memories or sense of awareness. It is utter nonsense that one could be aware of something if they were dead. However, it is perfectly plausible that upon regaining rudimentary brain function one could reconstruct an event. So one pro makes the assertion that they claim to have memories that relate to an event, I would respond of course. However, there is no demonstration that they had awareness when they were clinically dead or brain dead, it is only after the fact, and once again it is perfectly plausible that someone in a mentally impaired state could retroactively produce an event.
The problem of atemporality has not been solved, rather it has been exacerbated, because the alternative to being atemporal in the sense of being external to time is being infinite, which is equally incoherent.
Pro does nothing to refute my physicalist argument at a foundational level, and further offers no mechanism by which the mind and brain could interact if they were different. Pro offers a bunch of cases of special pleading, which can still be explained within the physicalist framework, and by advancing neuroplasticity pro actually substantiates physicalism.
Furthermore, I would like to kindly ask pro to refrain from giving vague, misleading one-sentence derivations from sources, and actually discuss the content of the sources.
God's Infinite Nature:
Con claims that God is incoherent because he claims that God exists in no time. The reason I am opposed to this claim is due to its ambiguous nature. Does the statement mean that God exists outside of time, or that God has never existed at any time? Due to the ambiguity of Con's claim, he should modify it so that his meaning is much more clear. Con's argument against God's eternality presupposes that God exists within time. Since God exists outside of time, his objection doesn't hold any water. 
Con is blowing scientific discoveries when it comes to re-constructing mental images out of proportion. The mental images are reconstructed by observing rotating water molecules in one's brain. This does nothing to promote physicalism (matter is fundamental) over dualism (matter and mind are fundamental) or even idealism (mind is fundamental). The only thing that scientific discoveries has shown is that there is a correlation between mental images and water molecules rotating in one's brain. Both dualism and idealism expect there to be correlations between the mind and the brain. One thing that one would not expect if physicalism is true is the phenomenon known as qualia. This is the subjective experience of sensual perception. For example, wavelengths of a certain frequency enter our eyes and stimulate certain cells which is translated as a certain color. This means that strawberries are actually not red, but their red color comes from our subjective experience. The taste of sugar and the color of red are all mental experiences. The experiences we have regarding our senses cannot be explained by natural processes.
1. The mind exists.
2. Propterties of the mind are not that which matter can have.
C. The mind is not reducible to matter.
From this syllogism and the reality of qualia, physicalism is falsified. Either dualism or idealism is true, meaning that the mind is fundamental in some sense.
Con claims that it is entirely possible that false memories can be developed when one is unconscious during a cardiac arrest. However, in my argument, I disticntly said, "Some victims of cardiac arrests have been able to give 'detailed descriptions of the resuscitation, as verified by resuscitation staff.'" This means that some memories that were developed were not false memories, but actual memories that happened as verified by witnesses. Would this expected if physicalism is true? Hardly!
Pro has contradicted himself, and has effectively conceded this contention. Pro states that I am being ambiguous. No, pro has asserted that God caused the universe, and this axiomatically follows from the definition. Pro and I agree that spacetime, and matter came into existence with the universe. From this it follows that God would have to be external to time in order to create the universe. I argued that this is incoherent, because this would imply that God exists in no time, which is to effectively not exist. If someone asks when did X exists, and I reply “never”, which is the same as saying in no time, then X does not exist. Pro concedes this point, and says that this is a non-concern, because this is not what is meant by atemporal. Pro says”but rather that God remains unaffected by time.” This either implies God is external to time, which I have argued against, or it argues that God is infinite, which I have also argued against. I have argued that existing external to time is incoherent. In the case of being infinite, I argued that you could never get from infinity to a finite event like the creation of the universe. If God is infinite, or eternal if you will, he could not create the universe, because you cannot get to a finite event from infinity. God cannot be external to time, or eternal or infinite within time. Pro has offered no refutation to these claims.
I am definitely not blowing the evidence out of proportion. Pro seems to misunderstand the literature. Pro states: “Both dualism and idealism expect there to be correlations between the mind and the brain”. No, they definitely do not, and this is the problem when we don’t define terms. Per the Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy:”In the philosophy of mind, dualism is the theory that the mental and the physical—or mind and body or mind and brain—are, in some sense, radically different kinds of thing. “ To exemplify this more clearly, this is to say substance dualism is the proposition that the mind and brain/body are composed of fundamentally different substances. I brought up this problem earlier, stating “Pro does nothing to refute my physicalist argument at a foundational level, and further offers no mechanism by which the mind and brain could interact if they were different. “ If the mind and brain are fundamentally different, how could they interact? Descartes could not solve this problem when he proposed dualism, and this problem has not been solved since. You would expect no correlation on dualism. On physicalism, you would expect physical causes to have mental effects, because the mind is what the brain does. If the mind and brain are categorically different, there is no mechanism by which a physical cause, could influence a mind. Idealism is completely incoherent. Consciousness is predicated on awareness, and in order to be aware of something, there must be something external to consciousness to be aware of. Idealism negates the law of identity. If reality is mental, then one would conceivably be able to generate things from nothing, and has done so, or there would be nothing physical, there would be nothing tangible. However nothing is nothing, and therefore cannot be something. On idealism you wouldn’t even expect brains to exist, and it definitely wouldn’t be the case that neurophysiological events affect the mind. It is completely nonsensical. For those who are not familiar with the philosophy of mind, Qualia merely denotes something qualitative about consciousness, or even more simply put, there is something that it is like to be conscious. The reason why contemporary philosophers of mind do not like this term is because it is misleading and tautological. It seems to imply that some conscious experiences are not qualitative. As John Searle said:”It’s all qualitative”. I have no idea how pro came to the conclusion that physicalism would not expect qualia. Sensory input informs experience axiomatically. There are differences in our brains, as a result we may interpret sensory input differently, creating different experiences. Pro uses an analogy from strawberries. Strawberries are red, because we have collectively agree that they are red. It’s subjective in the sense that we could have referred to them by any color, but we have decided that they are red, and this is objective. However, this does not negate that color exists, which is informed by light. The foundations are objective, and we may interpret them subjectively, however we seem to more or less have similar subjective interpretations, and as such we can come to the agreement that strawberries are objectively red. So this objection is nothing more than a category mistake.
I went back and checked pro’s sources. They are not full texts, he was looking at previews of journal entries, and as such we cannot draw any substantive conclusions, because we have none of the actual information. However, I found the full text, and will discuss it a bit later. Regarding memories, pro misunderstands my point. As I said before, which pro did not respond to, there was no demonstration that they were aware while they were clinically dead. I don’t mean false memory as in the sense of not true, I mean false in the sense of artificial. Once again, I don’t see why a patient could not artificially create the perception of memory that pertains to something that happened. Cerebral anoxia could also explain the experience. The brain is not totally deprived of oxygen. If you actually read the full study, you will see that the patients were probably not aware during their resuscitation. “While the low incidence (2%) of explicit recall of VA impaired our ability to use images to objectively examine the validity of specific claims associated with VA, nonetheless our verified case of VA suggests conscious awareness may occur beyond the first 20–30 s after CA (when some residual brain electrical activity may occur) while providing a quantifiable time period of awareness after the brain ordinarily reaches an isoelectric state.” They didn’t regain awareness, and therefore wouldn’t have been able to produce memories or events until after function was regained. This is exactly the point. These recollections are artificial, and it just happens to be the case that they correspond to an event that happened, and this is precisely what the study indicates. Pro misappropriates his own source.
1- Pro has not evaded the incoherence that results from God’s relationship to time in any regard. God’s externality to time, and infiniteness or eternality within time are both incoherent.
2- Pro has still not offered any sufficient refutation to physicalism. You would not expect any correlation at all on idealism. And correlation on dualism is incoherent, because there is no conceivable interaction mechanism.
1-Robinson, Howard, "Dualism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu...;.
2- Parnia, S., Spearpoint, K., de Vos, G., Fenwick, P., Goldberg, D., Yang, J., ... & Wood, M. (2014). AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study. Resuscitation, 85(12), 1799-1805.
Con claims that my accusation of him being ambiguous is incorrect. However, he never demonstrated how he wasn't being ambiguous. I showed how he was being ambiguous, but he denied that he was being ambiguous without giving any reasons as to why what he said doesn't need any clarification concerning God's atemporality. Con also assumes that something must be temporal to exist, however this is pure conjecture. Con must show reasons why existence must preclude atemporality. He also claims that God being eternal is incoherent, but his only argument against this assumes that God is a temporal being, which God is not. He also claims that God could never create the universe, but this once again assumes that God is a temporal being. How convenient is it that his arguments against God assume He is something that He isn't, but when I call him out on it, he defines "atemporal" as "non-existent" even though there is no reason to assume there is a correlation between the two? Con may appeal to the fact that everything we know of is temporal, but that doesn't prove that everything is temporal. It also doesn't prove that something atemporal cannot exist.
Con claims that "If reality is mental, then one would conceivably be able to generate things from nothing, and has done so." Con adds that "spacetime and matter came into existence with the universe." If matter and spacetime came into existence with the universe, wouldn't it be safe to say that nothing existed beyond the Big Bang? If so, then Con just admitted that reality is mental, thus validating idealism over physicalism, for everything material was generated from nothing. Con also claims that idealism negates the law of identity, but again, he doesn't demonstrate how this is true. Con also claims that we shouldn't expect brains to exist under idealism. However, idealism claims that mind is the foundation of reality, not the only thing within reality. The idealism that Con is describing is known as Buddhist Idealism. As for my example for qualia, Con confuses the difference between the concept of red and the word "red." We have collectively decided to call strawberries red in the sense that we call the color we see "red," but that doesn't talk about why we see the color red when we look at strawberries. Strawberries are not objectively red, though. They only appear red due to white light reflecting off of them into our eyes and stimulating certain eye cells. Color is inherent within any object, but rather is constructed by the electrical signals to the brain from our retina. Light and different wavelengths of light exist, but color does not. Color is a mental construct.
I have presented several arguments for God's existence, to which Con responded by claiming physicalism is true and that God is an incoherent concept. Con claims that idealism cannot be true, because if it was, something would have come from nothing. However, cosmologists agree that the universe has come from nothing. In an ironic way, Con admits that idealism is true. Con's claims that God is incoherent rely on the assumption that God is something that He isn't. He responded by saying a statement that I have demonstrated to be ambiguous without Con giving any reason why his statement isn't ambiguous besides that he claims it isn't ambiguous. I would like to thank Con for the opportunity to debate on the topic of God's existence.
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