The Instigator
YYW
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

Faith and reason are irreconcilable.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
KeytarHero
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,233 times Debate No: 24065
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (62)
Votes (8)

 

YYW

Pro

RESOLVED: FAITH AND REASON ARE IRRECONCILABLE.

Background:

It has been almost ten months since I have engaged in a debate, but this a topic that I am invested enough in to discuss at length with anyone who is up for the challenge.

My interest in this topic began out of this forum thread: http://www.debate.org... and I will probably draw from it significantly in my argument. (FYI: The good stuff is on page 5.)

I would prefer that I debate this with someone who actually disagrees with this position, but who understands the topic enough to offer a well considered perspective.

If you don’t meet the criteria but wish to accept the debate, then post in the comment section and I’ll make the necessary arrangements if needed. I more or less want to be sure that someone doesn’t accept the debate for imprudent reasons, and the high qualifications are the best insurance policy to that end.

Analysis of the Resolution:

The burden of proof is equally shared among both competitors. I must argue that the resolution is the case. My opponent must argue that the resolution is not the case. Arguments should not deviate from the resolution at hand. This means that I, the affirmative, must argue that faith and reason are irreconcilable. My opponent must argue that faith and reason are not irreconcilable. Simply, that faith and reason can be reconciled or support one another.

The Parameters of the Debate:

Round 1 will be reserved for acceptance and various other formalities, but no arguments should be introduced. Subsequent rounds should be used for debate, and no new arguments should be introduced in the conclusion, in keeping with basic argumentative decorum.

I do foresee that, in the interest of clarity, concepts will need to be defined (and probably in rounds beyond the first round of debate). Semantics should be avoided, although conceptual clash is welcome. That shouldn’t be confused for quibbling over what is or is not the proper definition of a word. Assaults on the dictionary should be avoided.

In re Sources:

Sources, should they become necessary (and I anticipate that they will) may be posted in the comment section, but should be referenced in text.

For example, In the Text of the Debate:

Ludwig Wittgenstein, in the “Tractatus” wrote “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.” (1)

In the Comment Section:

(1) Wittgenstein, Ludwig. “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.” London, pp. 162. (1922)(Accessed online at: http://www.gutenberg.org...)

Basically, just provide enough information that I can easily identify and keep track of what sources are employed, where they can be accessed, and etc. This would best be done in a standardized way, similar (but not necessarily akin to) to Chicago style. Sources should be numbered and ordered.

Additional Things to Take Note of:

Arguments should be evaluated on the degree to which they support or undermine the resolution.

While sources may support arguments, this should not devolve into a source war. Arguments should be judged on their own merit.

Arguments that are tangential to the topic at hand should not be considered by judges.

There should be no lawyering, in the sense that neither competitor should be given an automatic win or loss for a rule/conduct violation unless a forfeiture occurs.

Debaters may use the comment section to ask for clarification from their opponent, and are not precluded from engaging in commentary with observers.
KeytarHero

Con

I accept this debate.

I would just like to use a couple of definitions.

Faith -- My definition of faith comes from Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (NKJV) As Pro is a Christian himself, using the Biblical definition is appropriate for this debate. My faith in God is not a blind faith, and I will be arguing in this debate that it's not supposed to be.

Reason -- A basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc. [1]

I look forward to Pro's opening argument.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...;
Debate Round No. 1
YYW

Pro


I thank my opponent for acceptance.



(1) Faith and Reason are Irreconcilable Faculties of Acceptance



Faith, properly defined and understood is the acceptance of something for which there is no evidence. To have faith, then, is to believe and accept in the absence of evidence. To know, is to believe and accept on the basis of evidence derived through a process of reason. Only where evidence exists can knowledge be formed. Evidence exists where empirical observations (information which can be obtained by observation or experiment) support a logically cogent conclusions. That which can be empirically observed is necessarily limited to the physical world, and thus necessarily limits that which can be empirically proven (facts, what is known or the truth) to the materially physical. In essence, the only truth (empirically observable knowledge) we can derive for ourselves (by means of reason) pertains to the physical world, because that is the scope of our observational reach.



(2) The Empirical Limits of Reason and Functional Difference of Faith



Both faith and reason are means to belief, but what differentiates beliefs are the foundations upon which they are cast. Belief taken on faith in the absence of evidence is distinct from belief taken on evidence, derived through reason. What is beyond the scope of our evidentiary reach is the metaphysical. Knowledge (known facts or information) has the unique characteristic of being falsifiable. Metaphysical postulations (beliefs taken on faith) do not. Morals, spirituality, God, all things which cannot be empirically observed, transcend the physical, and thus if we are to accept that they exist, we must do so on the basis of faith, because there can exist no empirical evidence for their existence. Thus exists the divergence between the physical and the non-physical, i.e. the metaphysical.



(3) Believing and Knowing



To “believe” is simply to accept something as true. To “know” is to be aware (or believe and accept) through observation of evidence through the process of reason. We cannot ‘know’ that which we cannot empirically observe, which highlights the difference between ‘believing’ and ‘knowing’. While we can believe anything on any basis, regardless of wether it is factual or not, we cannot know that which cannot be proven. To be “proven” requires the characteristic of empirical demonstrability, whereas to be “believed” only requires individual acceptance of validity with or without proof. To clarify, to have faith is to believe without proof, whereas to know is to believe with proof. Recall, though, that the metaphysical is beyond the physical world, which means that all statements pertaining to the metaphysical (that which is not or beyond the physical) are beyond empirical proof. To have faith is to believe in the absence of evidence. In consequence, we cannot “know” what must be taken on faith by the same means that we know what has evidence.



(4) Only through the application of reason to empirical evidence can fact or truth be derived



To reason, is to systematically form judgements by a process of logic whereby conclusions of fact (or truth) result. Statements of fact (in philosophy, referred to as positive statements) are descriptive declarations of what empirically is. To explain further, a statement of fact (or positive statement) is something which is observable and provable by empirical means, something which is known, and something which cannot be disproven.



(5) The Normative Limitations of the Application of Reason to the Metaphysical



In contrast to fact normative claims are statements which are not empirically provable and thus cannot be statements of fact, meaning that they cannot be objectively known. While normative arguments may be persuasive, and certainly have tremendous potential to influence what a person believes, they are not, nor can they be, statements of fact. Normative claims cannot be proven or tested, nor are they falsifiable. Normative claims are and cannot be supported by observation, nor can they be proven or disproven because if they were supported by observation, and could be proven or disproven, then they would be empirical statements. (Hence the conceptual mutual exclusivity of the normative and the empirical.) In an argument, normative statements or claims are -in functional terms- reasons devoid of evidence. Thus, normative claims cannot be true or false. At best, they are postulations (things suggested or assumed as true); but they are not and cannot be facts (statements of truth).



We can postulate (normatively, of course) that about the metaphysical, but we cannot make statements of fact about the metaphysical because there exists no evidence to apply reason to. But, for something’s existence to be objectively true, it must be empirically provable. We can refine arguments though logical processes based on normative assumptions to further clarify normative arguments. We, perhaps can even derive new normative arguments from normative assumptions, but in no way can those normative claims have any capacity to state truth. Normative claims, however, are the limit that man can, of his own volition, make in regard to the metaphysical. Thus, while man may apply reason to assumptions taken on faith, objective truth (statements of fact) can not be derived from that which is not empirically grounded. Moreover, because normative arguments transcend empirics, they are insufficient to derive objective metaphysical truth. Metaphysical truth, then, is unattainable for man’s lack of foundational access.



(6) The Epistemological Limitations of the Application of Faith to Annals of the Physical



Reason is the process by which facts may be known through the application of reason to the empirical world. Knowledge requires reason’s application to the empirical world, whereas mere belief by the faculty of faith does not require reason’s application, or empirical observation -only acceptance. Acceptance does not necessitate proof, whereas for knowledge to be knowledge, it must be proven. Hence, the epistemological limitation of faith is realized in that faith functionally jumps the process of reason for lack of evidence, where information is accepted without proof.



Faith and Reason, In summery



Faith and reason are both faculties by which belief may be justified. The divergence, and inherent irreconcilability between faith and reason is highlighted (1) by the means by which they ordain belief, (2) the characteristics of those means and (3) the multiple divergent spheres in which they operate. Faith does not require evidence, or apply reason to that evidence to form conclusions (the beliefs which are accepted as a result of faith). While plausibly any conclusion about anything from anyone may be formed on the basis of faith, those beliefs which can only be taken on faith occupy the realm of conception which is beyond the physical world, and thus is necessarily metaphysical. In contrast, fact which can be known as true is provably so, by means of the application of reason to the empirical, or that which can be physically observed. Secondly, the only statements which can be made about the metaphysical (that which is beyond human observation which must be accepted on the basis of faith) are necessarily normative, they can neither be proven or disproven, but only can be postulated upon. The physical world, however, can be empirically observed, and thus reason can be applied to those observations, to form conclusions which are true. Accurate observations about the physical world are repeatable and falsifiable, and are objectively the case. Normative postulations are necessarily subjective and not falsifiable, because they do not enjoy empirical foundation. Thirdly, and finally, because operational spheres of faith and reason are mutually exclusive ([Reason: physical, objective, empirical] v. [Faith: metaphysical, subjective, normative]), they are conceptually irreconcilable.


KeytarHero

Con

I thank Pro for his argument. In the comments, he indicated that my definitions are unacceptable, but he didn't contest them in his argument. As such, I will continue with these definitions (which are perfectly reasonable and he hasn't supplied an alternate definition). Additionally, even the dictionary definition of faith does not preclude evidence: "confidence or trust in a person or thing." [1] I don't know about you, but I don't trust someone unless I have reason to. Pro hasn't even given a source for his definition. He could just be using his own personal definition, which I would not be bound to accept (especially if it's an ad hoc definition to prove the resolution).

(1) Faith and Reason are Irreconcilable Faculties of Acceptance

The problem is that Pro has a faulty definition of faith. Faith, as properly defined and understood, does not denote acceptance of something despite lack of evidence. If you lack evidence, then you have no more warrant for your belief than someone who believes in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. But there are good reasons to believe in God.

In fact, we, as Christians, place faith "in" God. We don't do that without reason. I would not trust a complete stranger with money, or get in a car with someone I didn't trust. Faith denotes trust, and we can trust in the empirical evidence for God's existence, as well as the philosophical evidence for God's existence. In fact, the Scriptures even support the fact that there are empirical reasons for believing in God (Genesis 1, Romans 1:20, 2:15).

Faith and reason are clearly not irreconcilable faculties of acceptance, because reason leads to faith.

(2) The Empirical Limits of Reason and Functional Difference of Faith

Pro is simply incorrect in his assertions here. If there is a God, and He created the universe, we would expect to see a universe as evidence of God and His creative power. We see such a universe. If there is a God who is all-good, we would expect there to be a moral code written on our hearts. We have such a moral code. The list goes on and on. The empirical evidence, while a naturalist could posit a completely natural explanation, actually supports the existence of God.

(3) Believing and Knowing

Pro asserts that we cannot actually "know" that a God exists, but this is again incorrect. Many people have experiences which confirm the existence of God. For example, when Jesus walked the earth He supported His claims with miracles. In fact, He offered his miracles as proof of his claims to be God (Matthew 11). In fact, Jesus often told His disciples to look for the evidence, not to believe with blind faith. Paul even exhorted others to seek out the evidence for Christ's resurrection, including to seek out the eyewitnesses who were still alive (1 Corinthians 15:6).

Saying that you cannot prove metaphysical statements with empirical proof is only half correct. You can't prove a metaphysical argument with empirical proof (for example, you can't use the evidence to support the Ontological Argument), but you can use physical evidence to support a philosophical argument (e.g. the universe itself is used as proof in the Cosmological Argument). After all, if God created a physical universe, you would expect to see physical evidence. And we do.

Christianity is not a religion of blind faith.

(4) Only thorugh the application of reason to empirical evidence can fact or truth be derived.

To reason does not only require empirical evidence. After all, there is no empirical evidence that a Big Bang occurried. It is simply assumed by trying to look back through the universe. Philosophical evidence is as much evidence as empirical evidence is. God can be proven philosophically, and that would be enough evidence for God's existence.

(5) The Normative Limitations of the Application of Reason to the Metaphysical

Using Pro's own definition, the Big Bang is not a statement of fact because it is not empirically provable. There are many things that cannot be empirically proven but can be metaphysically shown as true. Additionally, I'm sure Pro believes the Holocaust occurred, but it cannot be empirically proven. It can be historically verified, but not proven like science has proven that the Earth revolves around the sun.

(6) The Epistemological Limitations of the Application of Faith to Annals of the Physical

Information can be accepted without proof, but that makes it a blind faith. That doesn't make it faith, for to put faith in something (especially God) requires trust. Additionally, to have faith that God exists requires evidence (and God even supports that). He has said "let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). God wants us to use our minds as well as all the other parts of our body. Reason leads to faith as much as it leads to knowledge.

Conclusion

There is no reason to suppose that faith and reason are irreconcilable, for reason leads to faith. Some people do believe faith blindly, but for many of us (myself included), our faith is supported by the evidence. I can use reasonable arguments to show why I can be confident of placing my faith in God. Showing that some people don't believe in faith reasonably does not mean that faith and reason are irreconcilable. Nor has Pro proven this to be the case.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...;
Debate Round No. 2
YYW

Pro

I want to begin by thanking my opponent for his argument.

(1, 2) The Limits and Differences of Faith and Reason

To begin, I didn’t take note to provide sources for my definitions of faith and reason, because the definitions of faith and reason are not up for dispute. However, in the interest of clarity, I will provide the source of my definition. The Oxford Dictionary (citation in comments) defines faith as the following:

“strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.” (1)

My opponent is correct to assert that “faith denotes trust” but incorrect in the assumption that empirical evidence can exist to prove or disprove the metaphysical. Because empirical evidence can exist only for the physical world, and God (understood a metaphysical being) is beyond the physical world, it is faulty to assert that empirical proof even could exist for the existence or non-existence of God. Contrary to my opponent’s belief, scripture is not empirical evidence, because scripture must be accepted (for what it claims to be) on the basis of faith, just as the existence of God must be accepted on the basis of faith.

Moreover, the existence of the universe is proof neither for or against the existence of God. The same holds for the existence of morality. His argument, like all arguments for the existence of God, assumes the existence of God to prove the existence of God, making his reasoning inescapably circular. While one can apply reason to what is accepted on faith, such claims are normative, rather than positive. They are not descriptions of what empirically is, but rather are postulations on the unknown. As such, that which is believed on faith is not sufficient to articulate what can be known, because all that can be known is that for which there is empirical evidence.

(3) Believing and Knowing

The Bible is not empirical evidence because empirical evidence can be objectively verified, and the sole basis of authority of the Bible is itself. While one may accept that the Bible is what it claims to be on the basis of faith. Because I have already pointed out the circular nature of the argument that the universe is proof of God’s existence, in the interest of preserving character space, I will not repeat what has been covered above.

Additionally, my opponent asserts that “Christianity is not a religion of blind faith.” While well intended, faith, by its nature is necessarily blind (where blind is understood to mean ‘based on conviction’ rather than ‘proof’ as denoted by the Oxford Dictionary provided above).

I would also submit that this is not a trial of Christianity, and as such further references to specified religions (or their spiritual texts) are tangential to this debate. One cannot assert that faith and reason are reconcilable because a book -whose authority is necessarily based on faith alone- says that is the case. To do so would be to structure a fallacious appeal to authority (because that authority cannot be substantiated on an empirical basis) within a circular argument.

(4) Only Through The Application Of Reason To Empirical Evidence Can Fact Be Derived

My opponent asserts that “philosophical evidence is as much evidence as empirical evidence is.” He bases this on the assertion that “to reason does not only require empirical evidence.” While my opponent is correct that one may apply reason to normative (non-positive) claims, he misunderstands what may result from that endeavor. All that can be known is derived through the processes of reason to empirical evidence. As such, the limits of what is knowable begins and ends with the physical world. That which is metaphysical (beyond the physical) is unknowable. Again, this is the difference between what can be known, and what must be taken on the basis of faith. What is unknown (that which cannot be known), if accepted or believed, must be done so on the basis of faith. I will address my opponent’s mentioning of the Big Bang Theory in pt. 5.

(5) The Normative Limits of the Application of Faith to the Metaphysical

I agree with my opponent’s assertion that the Big Bang Theory is not empirically provable, because the Big Bang Theory is a theory, not a scientific law. Scientific laws are simply statements that phenomena occur. Theories, by contrast, are themselves postulations, or suppositions intended to explain something, based on general principles independent of that which is to be explained. Theories themselves, however, cannot be proven. Theories are called theories because they are not empirically provable, for if they were empirically provable, they would be laws. Such is the reason that the scientific community recognizes the distinction. However, discussion of the Big Bang theory is tangential to this debate because it does not speak to the irreconcilability of faith and reason. The Holocaust, by contrast, is a matter of indisputable historical record for which there is prolific video recordings, primary source evidence, and etc. To say that there is no evidence for the Holocaust is absurd.


(6) The Epistemological Limitations of the Application of Faith to the Physical

My opponent is correct to assert that “information can be accepted without proof” because that is what makes “faith” which is necessarily blind. One can certainly trust anything they want, but only through the application of reason to empirical evidence can facts be known. Such is the distinction between believing and knowing, which I have explicated above. To clarify, however, a belief may be believed with or without evidence. By contrast, that which can be known is necessarily grounded in evidence. (That is not to preclude the possibility of the application of reason to beliefs taken on faith, only that any conclusions therein would be normative rather than positive.)

However, one should not misunderstand the application of reason to that which must be taken on faith to suggest that faith and reason are reconcilable, because of the functional differences in outcome between the application of reason to empirical evidence versus the application of faith to that for which empirical evidence cannot exist.

Conclusion:

Reason does not lead to faith. The application of reason to empirical facts leads to knowledge (positive claims, or statements of what can be known). The application of reason to that for which no empirical evidence exists leads to conclusions for which there is no evidence (normative claims, or statements which can be neither proven or disproven). As such, reason is the means by which to derive facts (positive statements) from empirical evidence, or derive normative statements from normative statements. While faith and reason are both faculties by which belief may be justified, the divergence, and inherent irreconcilability between faith and reason is highlighted (1) by the means by which they ordain belief, (2) the characteristics of those means and (3) the multiple divergent spheres in which they operate. Faith does not require evidence, or apply reason to that evidence to form conclusions (the beliefs which are accepted as a result of faith). In contrast, fact which can be known as true is provably the case, by means of the application of reason to empirical evidence, or that which can be physically observed. The only statements which can be made about the metaphysical (that which is beyond human observation which must be accepted on the basis of faith) are necessarily normative, meaning that they can neither be proven or disproven, but only can be postulated upon. Normative postulations are necessarily subjective and not falsifiable, because they do not bear an empirical foundation, meaning that they cannot be or result in fact. In essence because of the existent divergence between the operational spheres of faith and reason, they are mutually exclusive ([Reason: physical, objective, empirical] v. [Faith: metaphysical, subjective, normative]), making them conceptually irreconcilable.

KeytarHero

Con

Thanks to Pro for his rebuttal.

(1, 2) The Limits and Differences of Faith and Reason

I would like to begin by pointing out that the source Pro provides is not significantly different from the one I offered last round. In fact, the first definition is: "complete trust or confidence in someone or something." It even gives an example, "this restores one's faith in politicians." As I said last round, you can have blind faith in something or someone, that is faith without evidence. But you can also place faith in something after viewing the evidence, as the only way to restore one's faith in something is to do it through reason and evidence. Faith is not only placing belief in something without or despite a lack of evidence.

The only reason God must be accepted on the basis of faith is because you cannot prove His existence beyond the shadow of a doubt. But you can prove that His existence is more likely than not, thereby supporting your faith in God. For example, God may be beyond this universe, but since God created this universe, then this universe is certainly proof that God exists. The universe wouldn't exist without God's existence, and logical arguments have been put forth to support that claim. Additionally, empirical evidence is not the only evidence there is. Philosophical evidence for God's existence is evidence, nonetheless.

Pro is wrong to assert that Theistic arguments are inherently circular. If we accept Pro's claim, then all philosophical arguments are inherently circular. We could not even be sure we really exist to be asking ourselves these questions. One can assume one exists because one has to exist in order to doubt his own existence. But Pro would say this is circular reasoning because you are presupposing your own existence. Theistic arguments are not circular. Circular arguments are a case of begging the question. Arguments don't beg the question, people do. An argument like the Kalam Cosmological Argument is a case of deductive reasoning. It does not assume God already exists. It looks at the evidence, everything inside the universe, and argues that since everything inside the universe is contingent (that is, requires a cause of its existence) so, too, does the universe which is made up of all the individual parts. The argument does not presuppose a God. Neither do other strong arguments for God's existence (e.g. the Teleological and Moral Arguments).

(3) Believing and Knowing

The Biblical Scriptures certainly can be verified. For example, the resurrection of Christ happened in history. It can also be historically verified. The Christian religion rises and falls on the resurrection, so since the resurrection can be historically verified, Christianity is strongly supported as the correct worldview. Unless Pro wishes to claim that history cannot be objectively known, in which case we would have to completely disavow the fields of history and archaeology.

I have already shown why not all faith in blind. I have also shown, through Scripture, why it is not a religion that is "necessarily based on faith alone" in round one. This is not an appeal to authority. It is simply to show that even in the first century when the New Testament was being written, the new Christian faith was not based on blind faith but on the evidence in which could be empirically proven (in fact, most of the witnesses to Christ's resurrection were even still living -- Paul encouraged seekers to go search the evidence for themselves).

(4) Only Through the Application of Reason to Empirical Evidence Can Fact be Derived

Pro is simply incorrect to assert that all that can be known is derived through empirical evidence. In fact, that statement alone is self-defeating, because he did not come to that conclusion through empirical evidence. As C.S. Lewis, himself, has written: "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true...and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms." [1] If this world is all there is, we would have no reason to trust our own mental faculties. If we are ever to be sure about what we believe, there must be a higher intelligence that has given us these faculties. The fact alone that we are able to question our own existence points to a God.

(5) The Normative Limits of the Application of Faith to the Metaphysical

The problem is that the Holocaust is still an event in history. People can lie. Video recordings can be faked. There is much historical evidence for the claims of Christianity as well. It is not a religion based on blind faith. But if Pro is correct, then we should reject the Big Bang altogether because there is no way to empirically prove it. But what scientist would get behind someone's statement that the Big Bang never actually happened?

(6) The Epistemological Limitations of the Application of Faith to the Physical

Here, perhaps, we should separate belief from faith. You can believe in something without evidence, but you would require evidence to actually put your faith in something. But you can also believe something based on the best evidence available, as scientists believe the Big Bang happened -- not because they pulled it out of thin air, but because they believe it best fits the available evidence.

I originally put faith in Christ because I literally came "as a child." I believed young enough that I didn't question any of these things. But when I got out of high school and entered college, having to start thinking critically, I started questioning my faith. I started wondering how I could actually know these things are true. After much investigation, and investigating the claims of Atheism and other religions, I came to the conclusion that the best evidence lies in favor of Christianity. Christianity simply has the best explanatory power of the universe and all of life's questions -- it makes the best sense of everything. I came by blind faith, but I stayed because the evidence supported my beliefs.

Conclusion

Faith may not require reason, but faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. Some may have faith without evidence, but many have faith because of evidence. I look forward to our last round.

[1] Lewis, Clive Staples, Miracles, p. 22.
Debate Round No. 3
YYW

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response.

Before I begin, there are some noteworthy things which must be pointed out:


Firstly, this debate is not a trial of Christianity or belief in any specific God.
Secondly, I want to emphasize that this debate is not a test of the faith of my opponent.


(1, 2) The Limits and Differences of Faith and Reason

While con asserts that one “can... place faith in something after viewing the evidence” because “the only way to restore one's faith in something is to do it through reason and evidence,” it is the case that to accept anything on the basis of evidence is to know, rather than to have faith in that which is accepted. I reiterate that to know something is to believe on the basis of evidence, whereas to have faith is to believe in the absence of evidence. Reason is the vehicle connecting what evidence, and what is known. Faith is the vehicle connecting what is unknown (that for which there is no evidence) to that which is believed. Thus, faith and reason govern divergent spheres of function, and are thus conceptually irreconcilable.

While it may be the case that con believes in God, empirical evidence (evidence methodologically obtained that is testable and repeatable) for the existence of God is nonexistent. Empirical reach begins and ends in the physical world, and God is metaphysical in nature. As such, while some may believe in God, God’s existence can not be known because it cannot be proven empirically. As such if one believes in God, they must do so on the basis of faith. Con accepts this by stating: “The only reason God must be accepted on the basis of faith is because you cannot prove His existence beyond the shadow of a doubt.” I would reiterate, however, that this is not a trial of religion or faith and arguments for any specific religion or faith are tangential to this debate.

(3, 4) Believing & Knowing, Positive & Normative

Con’s assertion in (2) that “Philosophical evidence for God's existence is evidence, nonetheless” confuses the functional distinction between positive and normative claims. Positive statements are statements of what empirically is, whereas normative statements are unverifiable.

Statements for or against the existence of God are unverifiable. The authority of the Bible is itself, and as such it’s authority is necessarily circular. Because it can neither be proven or disproven that the Bible is the word of God, it must be accepted on the basis of faith that it is what it claims to be.

Con’s assertion that faith is not blind contradicts the definition of faith. Faith is blind (believing without evidence), for if that which was believed, was believed on the basis of evidence, it would not be faith. (See definition above.)

Furthermore, con misapplies a peculiar form of Cartesian doubt to form his assertion that “the fact alone that we are able to question our own existence points to a God.” In that rite, con is attempting to postulate on the metaphysical, based on the existence of the physical.

It is self evident that our knowledge of the world, begins and ends with the physical, because the physical is all that we can empirically observe. Conclusions on the metaphysical cannot be derived from the physical, because the epistemological divergence between the two. We can positively assert that the physical world exists, but our postulations on the metaphysical are necessarily normative.

(5) The Normative Limits of Faith

While it is the case that man cannot go back in time to witness the Holocaust, pro confuses the functions of historical record with empirical knowledge. While I grant that historical record is plausibly suspect because it is largely testimonial based, the occurrence or non-occurrence of the Holocaust is not sufficient reconcile faith with reason because to accept or deny the validity historical record is academically and intellectually incongruent with accepting or not accepting any religion.

In re the Big Bang Theory, I remind my opponent of the distinction between scientific theory and law. Scientific laws are empirically provable statements THAT phenomena occur, whereas theory attempts to explain WHY phenomena occur. Theory, by definition, is not empirically provable. To assert that it ought to be rejected on the standard of empirical provability confuses the concepts of theory and law.

(6) The Epistemological Limitations of the Application of Faith to the Physical

Con is correct to distinguish belief and faith. Belief is acceptance of something. To have faith in something is the basis of something in the absence of empirical proof. To know something is to accept something on the basis of empirical proof. As such, faith is the faculty to belief without evidence. Reason is the faculty to knowledge via evidence.

While con may interpret his subjective experience as evidence for the metaphysical, he is doing so on the basis of faith, because physical evidence does not and cannot speak to the metaphysical in any way. (I further emphasize that even though con may personally believe something, his belief is not sufficient to make that belief objectively the case.)

Simply, the physical is not sufficient (and thus incapible) to speak to the metaphysical in any way.

Conclusion

Faith is the faculty to belief without empirical evidence. Reason is the faculty to belief with evidence. As such, faith and reason govern divergent spheres, and are thus conceptually irreconcilable. I thank my opponent for a stimulating, and intriguing debate.
KeytarHero

Con

I thank Pro again for debating this topic with me.

I understand that the claims of Christianity are not on trial here. But saying that Christians have faith without any evidence is clearly incorrect. At least incorrect of a good number of Christians, and I would not trust a Christian to defend his faith who did not have any evidence for it.

(1, 2) The Limits and Differences of Faith and Reason

Once again, one can have faith in something with appropriate evidence. We can't actually "know" for certain that God exists. You can neither prove nor disprove His existence. However, you can prove that God's existence is more probable than not. You would not know for sure, but you would have enough evidence to have faith that your beliefs are true. In the same way, we can't actually "know" there was a Big Bang, but scientists believe it happened because it is the best explanation to fit the evidence.

I accept that God's existence must be taken on faith, but not faith devoid of evidence. We can have faith God exists because the evidence points in that direction.

(3, 4) Believing & Knowing, Positive & Normative

The Bible can be proven likely that it is the word of God, through historical verification (archaeology has consistently proven that places, events, and people contained in Scripture are/were real, and we can verify certain claims, like Christ's resurrection, historically), as well as the prophecies that have come true. I realize this debate is not about testing the claims of Christianity, but saying that there is no evidence to support Christianity is certainly false. One would have no reason to believe at all if all we had to go on was blind faith. It could rightly be said that Christians are only Christians because of an emotional need, rather than God actually existing.

My statement that faith is not always blind does not contradict the definition of faith; only the definition that Pro uses. But as I have shown, there are two definitions of faith given by Pro's source: a faith that takes evidence, and a blind faith. Pro has completely ignored the first definition, and I accept that both are true. There are those who believe blindly, and there are those who believe based on the strongest evidence pointing in that direction.

(5) The Normative Limits of Faith

Pro has not shown why one should accept the Holocaust as having actually happened but not the claims of Christianity. Archaeology and history have consistently been a friend to Christianity, proving the existence of the names, places, and events contained in the Scriptures. If one can accept the Holocaust, one can accept the claims of Christianity. In fact, there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for the existence of Alexander the Great.

(6) The Epistemological Limitations of the Application of Faith to the Physical

Physical evidence certainly can be used to support belief in the metaphysical. For example, angels are metaphysical beings. But they have taken human form to talk to humans. Now granted, some people won't accept the evidence we do have (that is, the Old and New Testaments), but put yourself in the shoes of Mary, who was visited by an angel who told her that she was going to become pregnant while still a virgin. The miraculous prediction the angel gave Mary came true. That would certainly be evidence to Mary that she was visited by an angel, a metaphysical being, even if no one else accepts the evidence. To say that physical evidence cannot be used to prove a metaphysical reality is simply untrue. If God, a metaphysical being, created the universe, a physical entity, that universe is certainly evidence that God created it.

Conclusion

I have adequately shown that faith and reason are not irreconcilable. It is certainly true that some people believe blindly, with no evidence for their faith. But it is certainly untrue to claim that faith is never accompanied by reason (i.e. evidence). In fact, philosophical evidence is evidence, just like empirical evidence is. I thank Pro, once again, for the debate.
Debate Round No. 4
62 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
And Keytar, you asked a while back what a person could do to improve their debating skills. I told you to take a symbolic logic class. I redact that advice, lol.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
This has been a most educational experience, indeed. (Moreso after the debate, then before or during.) Congrats, Keytar on getting more votes, and thanks for participating in the debate. I do appreciate everyone who took the time to read the debate.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Personally, I was just going with the common definition of "irreconcilable." In other words, they are mutually exclusive. I was showing how they are not.
Posted by The_Fool_on_the_hill 4 years ago
The_Fool_on_the_hill
@RoyLatham: My point was that it might might be possible to figure out the meaning of "irreconcilable" from the thread discussion. <(XD)

Site rules cannot be put aside in a debate. Sources in comments and arguments is either comments or a forum thread are a conduct violation. It's not serious, but if the point is overlooked then more debaters may think it acceptable<(XD)

The Fool: Yes your Rightiousness!!! Irreconcilable is one of those confusing words.
Posted by Reason_Alliance 4 years ago
Reason_Alliance
I would've just stuck with defending the modern epistemological 'foundationalism' while denying evidentialism... which has already been done by the likes of Plantinga, McGrew, etc.

But the route KH took worked.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
My point was that it might might be possible to figure out the meaning of "irreconcilable" from the thread discussion. The opening argument provided that as the only route to understanding what the debate was about.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
I didn't use the thread as a source, and reading it isn't required to judge the debate. It was only what made me want to start the debate. The thread, as such, existed independent of the debate. That should have apparently been made more clear.

And yes. Irreconcilable should have been defined, as should have every other term mentioned.

Thanks, Roy. I do appreciate the RFD.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
Pro failed to define "irreconcilable" and that was one of several problems in the challenge. Site rules are that debates are limited to the allotted character count, so reading a forum thread to try to figure out what the debate is about is not an option. The idea that critical definitions will be worked out in the debate is not a good approach.

Here is a example of "reconciliation." In his travels, Darwin saw an orchid with a long narrow flower. Darwin then believed, i.e., had faith, that there must be an unusual moth with a long proboscis that pollinated the orchid. The belief was consistent with the evidence, but not proof. His faith was later reconciled when the moth was discovered.

In the debate, Pro essentially argued that faith always remains faith and reason always reason, so there is no way they an reconciled. Con argued that faith in God is confirmed by reason and therefore they are reconciled -- that's a parallel to my Darwin example. Well, faith in God is not confirmed by observation in the same way as Darwin's moth was confirmed. If God were confirmed, philosophers would be out of business on the subject, and clearly they are not. However, Con's argument is correct that if confirmation were achieved then faith and reason would be reconciled. The debate was about the possibility of reconciliation.

Scientific theories are never confirmed as being absolutely true, so there is some parallel of "faith" in them. Scientists are more willing to give up their current theory for a new one than are religious people.

Site rules cannot be put aside in a debate. Sources in comments and arguments is either comments or a forum thread are a conduct violation. It's not serious, but if the point is overlooked then more debaters may think it acceptable.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
Ahh... yes. Let's do that. (I typed the last post before I saw your other post)
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
But all that to say this though, I don't disagree with most of the assessment in either your's or Larz's RFD's. When I say "enlightening" I mean that in the definitive sense of the word, in that I gained a higher insight into the situation for having read both. In that regard, they are both beneficial.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
YYWKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Well, agreed-upon definitions for "faith" and "irreconcilable" were not established throughout the debate. Con stated that one can put faith in something that is evidenced. And YYW's argument about scripture not being valid evidence fell short when he mentioned that evidence for the Holocaust is "indisputable." All in all, in a battle of semantics, con prevailed.
Vote Placed by Double_R 4 years ago
Double_R
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Reasons for voting decision: Both participants made great arguments to affirm their end of the resolution. However both arguments were built on different definitions of faith, therefore this debate came down to which definition is accepted. Con showed that his definition should be accepted by pointing to the fact that Pro disregarded a key part of the definition in his own source, and also by showing that one can have reason to believe in God without knowing that God exists.
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter ScottyDouglas' egregious RFD.
Vote Placed by Reason_Alliance 4 years ago
Reason_Alliance
YYWKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD
Vote Placed by ScottyDouglas 4 years ago
ScottyDouglas
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Reasons for voting decision: I thought this was good arguement and agreed with Con.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro failed to define "irreconcilable" in his challenge, and Con implicitly took a reasonable dictionary definition that they can be reconciled if they can be shown not to be in conflict. Deism, at least, can thus be reconciled, while the Argument from Evil makes the O3 God irreconcilable. Pro attempted to extend the character limits for both sources and arguments. character limits are a site rule, so that's a conduct violation.
Vote Placed by The_Fool_on_the_hill 4 years ago
The_Fool_on_the_hill
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Reasons for voting decision: A hard problem for me to judge this, is that, to my best understanding there is large miscommunication, via, langauge and concepts, between opponents, RFD
Vote Placed by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
YYWKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: See comments