Faith in a theistic God does not come from evidence or reasoning so it is irrational.
Debate Rounds (5)
It may well be that the belief that there is no such thing as a god is irrational; that has no bearing whatsoever on this debate.
It is possible to not believe that there is a god whilst simultaneously not believing that there are no gods. That's a bit of a mouthful, for sure; let me tidy that idea up a bit:
When given two bold statements:
"A god exists"
"No gods exist"
It is possible to be of the opinion (as I am) that there is insufficient evidence to justify either claim. Whilst it is true that one of those statements must be true, it is not true that people have to believe one or the other.
It's a little bit like if I have a full gumball machine...
"There are an even number of balls"
"There are an odd number of balls"
One of those statements must be true, but a human being is entirely justified in not believing either claim until proof is furnished, in this case perhaps by counting. (Thanks for the example to Matt Dillahunty )
So, I'm going to completely agree with Con that belief that there are no gods is irrational.
Hopefully, Con'll end up agreeing with me that belief that there is a personal god is irrational.
If I can't win Con over, hopefully I'll win you voters out there.
Faith is seen by many Theists to be a virtue; specifically, the Catholic Church teaches that faith is a theological virtue .
Faith appears to me to be synonymous with "belief without evidence". Certainly we can see some agreement for this point of view in the letters shared between the late Mother Teresa and her mentors in the Catholic Church. Mother Teresa spent almost half a century complaining to her mentors that she didn't hear the voice of God or of Jesus and that the loneliness was a torment for her; the replies were largely along the lines that the suffering she was experiencing was a blessing from God, allowing her to share some of the divine suffering of Jesus .
So, my argument rests for now; here is a brief summary:
=1= There is no known evidence to support a theistic god
=2= There is no known convincing argument to support a theistic god
=3= Theists make a virtue out of faith (belief with no evidence)
=4= Belief with no supporting evidence or rational argument is, by definition, irrational
--- references ---
 Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org...
 Vatican Archive http://www.vatican.va...
 Time Magazine http://content.time.com...
Also, could I clarify a point, please? I assume that you don't believe in the theory of Evolution?
 Argument from Design http://wiki.ironchariots.org...
 Cosmological Argument http://wiki.ironchariots.org...
I most certainly do believe that creationism and evolution are incompatible. In fact, I know that they are.
Do you manage to live with the cognitive dissonance of believing both? I guess that you may; but I suspect that you simply don't understand the significance and implications of evolution by natural selection... either that or you do not understand the creationist claims.
Anyhow, this is a bit of a by-the-by argument; I brought up the question of evolution simply because it is the best answer possible to your design argument when looking at the complexity of life.
Evolution by natural selection is a beautiful story that has played out on the surface of this planet for most of its existence. What is truly fascinating is to see the story in the fossil record play out... to see the sudden bursts of diversity caused by major advances in the complexity of life... moments in the history of life on this planet where things got more exciting virtually overnight.
Here's some of that story:
The first evidence we have for life on Earth is from the first cellular fossils. We find simple single-celled organisms locked into rocks created at least 3,600,000,000 years ago (a conservative estimate).
For the first 3,000,000,000 years, single-celled life was the only game in town. Admittedly, 3,000,000,000 years of survival-of-the-fittest brought a number of technical advances... within the cell, for instance, we can see the story of how things got organised... the cell nucleus evolved to hold the important bits (the DNA), for instance, forming the branch of life know as Eukaryota (that includes us, by the way). But other changes were almost certainly happening outside of the cells, too... strains of these early microbes had certainly learnt the benefits of cooperation and would work in harmony with their siblings, for instance producing poisons that didn't affect them but reduced competition for resources. Another way cooperation could happen is by forming microbial mats, which leave evidence for us to see in the form of MISSes (Microbially Induced Sedimentary Structures).
I'd like you to think about how many generations of life we are talking about. Modern bacteria, under the right conditions, can asexually reproduce within 30 minutes. Let's say that the ancient microbes took two hours... that means 12 generations every day... for 3,000,000,000 years, that's... *quick calculation*...
13,140,000,000,000 generations. 13 trillion.
And, how many might there have been? They certainly covered the surface of the oceans. Estimates of the number of microbes currently on the ocean floor come out at least to 290,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 individuals.
Okay, so a population of 290 Octillion individuals reproducing for 13 trillion generations. That's a staggering number of individuals: 3,770,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
That's how many throws of the dice life took before some really interesting magic started to happen... multicellular life.
But, at some point (possibly 300 million years earlier) the Eukaryotes, still being single-celled, had already evolved a very strange reproduction strategy... very strange indeed... up until they did, reproduction was a case of simple cell-division (mitosis)... what these early Eukaryotes did differently is known as (meiosis) and allowed sexual reproduction, and it is a game-changer: instead of variation being down to random events such as a blast of radiation or an acid attacking and changing a portion of DNA, variation was introduced between each generation via random coupling. This gives evolution something to work with... mutation, change, variation; these are the very fuel of evolution... sexual reproduction turbo-charged evolution.
Multicellularity allowed greater cooperation between cells and brought a new, key possibility: specialisation. By having cells that do nothing but focus on digestion, whilst other cells concentrate on nothing but reproduction, early multicellular life could become highly efficient and, therefore, rapidly successful.
Until... multicellular animals first evolved. Capable of motion, this advance gave evolution teeth. Predation, for the first time in life's history, was a new reality. An arms race between predator and prey literally erupted. Life had never seen such diversity as what happened when predation kicked in.
So, what we can see is gear-changes in evolution... moments in the story of the history of life where things picked up a gear. Only once single cells had become organised and complex; only once sexual reproduction introduced great variation; only once predation gave natural selection teeth could the really exciting fast-paced recent story begin. Eyes, mouths, gills, lungs, teeth, ears, noses, electrodetectors, camouflage, speed, strength, leaves, trunks, flowers, fruits... all of the elements of the wonder of life that we see today. Three billion years of single cells, then 600 million years till today.
Well, that was a big fat diversion. I offer it up to you, gentle reader, not directly for the debate at hand, but indirectly so. The point is that the theory of evolution by natural selection absolutely explains the state of life on Earth. We do not need to resort to watchmaker arguments and have a god be doing everything when we have such a compelling, complete, demonstrable and elegant theory.
So, to Con's specific challenges: "the existence of our universe suggests a power capable of its design". No, no it doesn't. When asking why something exists the way it does, why should we seek to provide the most complex answer possible (a purposeful thinking agent)? I don't. You don't normally either! When we find a smooth pebble on the beach, we don't wonder if ancient man had invented sandpaper! There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to jump to "God did it"... well, there is one motivation: post-rationalizing a god that you already believe in. What's more, it's a pretty crumby "explanation" as it goes... it poses more questions than it answers... I mean, seriously, where did this hyper-complex god come from?
Con does challenge me with the concept of abiogenesis; how did life actually start? First, let me say that early life on this planet was pretty darned simple compared to life today... but, to answer the question: there are at least two possibilities:
A) Life started by chance from a chemical soup
B) A thinking agent created it (could be alien, could be a god, could be a faerie)
Which of those looks more rational to you? Because if you go down the B route, you're explaining one complex phenomenon by invoking one of greater complexity (for which you have no evidence). That is not rational. And you're at some point going to hit the problem of an infinite regress and have to accept A anyway! It's no good, Mr. James, it's turtles all the way down!
By the way, we face a similar brain-strainer when we are confronted with a theist using the Cosmological Argument:
"How did everything start?" is the question we are faced with; I suggest that you look at it this way... there are two possible answers:
A) Something simple
B) Something complex
Rationality would plump for option A; option B is not making matters easier, it's not explaining... opting for option B leaves us in more of a mess than we were in when we began.
Now, it's absolutely fine to read all that I have put and say "but I still believe in a theistic God". But, if you must, please accept that you are not doing this through evidence or reason but via a route we may call "faith".
I'm going to offer what I think is the best argument to show that there is no evidence of God:
Theists are not shouting about it.
Seriously, does anybody here think that if there were any actual evidence in support of a god the theists would be quiet about it? No, it would change the World... investigating that evidence would be the most important intellectual pursuit that Man could engage in.
Have no doubt on this point: there is no evidence of any god.
All we have is a collection of logically fallacious arguments that are used to post-rationalise... and all of those fail for the simple reason that they boil down to this:
Standard form of deistic/theistic rationalization::
But how do you explain X?
Answer A: something simple, scientific and testable
Answer B: something complex, supernatural and untestable
All we need do is substitute X for anything that theists think might not have a compelling answer already... whatever is at the very edge of human knowledge... wherever there are gaps... this is the God of the Gaps http://en.wikipedia.org...
We can put "the origin of the universe", "the origin of life" or "the complexity of life" into X and arrive at, roughly, the Cosmological Argument, the Watchmaker Argument and Creationism. None of these are rational, and each of these asks us to accept a complex, supernatural answer with no supporting evidence. We'd be better to answer "don't know" to any of these questions (although the third is clearly answered by natural selection) than to jump to such rash conclusions.
How could it ever be rational to answer any question with "something supernatural and fantastically complex for which there is no evidence"?
For now, I rest my case.
bracken257 forfeited this round.
I don't think that it's terribly extreme of me to make the assertion that there is no evidence for God; I can say this because so many faithful would agree, as would all atheists. Indeed, followers of religions may accuse those who follow "false religions" as not doing so on the grounds of evidence.
"Evidence" generally gets presented as combined personal revelation, but I hardly think I need explain in too much detail here why that is a fallacious idea; for a start, two people may have personal revelations that are logically inconsistent with each other... thus we would have a lot of explaining to do as to why we should trust personal revelation as rational reason to believe.
I've never heard a reasonable argument that makes a good case for the existence of God (as I've explained) and, anyway, I'm somewhat dubious that one could consider it rational to accept a logical argument as a justification for belief without supporting evidence whilst still claiming to be doing so through rationality alone.
There is, of course, Pascal's wager, I suppose... you could try to hide behind that.. certainly if the idea had any merit then you might try to argue that your belief is reasonable and rational because of Pascal's wager. BUT... the idea is a completely laughable joke. Essentially, we are asked: If there is a God and you don't believe, what'll happen? And if there is no God and you do believe? Well, then, it's better to believe! If this sounds resonable to anybody out there (I know people to whom it does), please consider these refutations:
With competing mutually explusive claims, how do I know which god to believe in?
But anyway, one cannot "choose to believe" in anything. One either does believe or one does not. Even if belief is the key to eternal life, I could no more fake it till I make it than I could a belief in Martians. Can you believe in Martians at will?
One does potentially lose a great deal when one believes in a non-existant god... many life choices could be adversely affected by this belief. One might give a tithe to the Church or dedicate great chunks of your life to a nonexistant cause.
When we get past the sophistry of the Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Design, the Argument from Morality and Pascal's Wager, we are left with what? No evidence!
Well, I suppose that most religious folk could provide their chosen book of scriptures as "evidence" for their God. "God wrote the Bible/Quran/Etc" so there is evidence of God! With all the will in the World, I think that anybody can see that this is unlikely to be sufficient evidence to shake a rational unbeliever into belief... and, I charge, that route was never the path to faith. By the way, it seems to me a far more common argument in Muslim circles than Christian... the argument is supported by the "special miraculous nature" of the words... apparantly, if you study Arabic, it becomes obvious that no human being could ever have composed the sublime and miraculous form of the writing in the Qu'ran.
So...I can't really add more... I have shown good reason to dismiss all arguments presented and suggest that there is no evidence; I am not generally opposed by theists in this matter, who often say that "faith is a virtue".
Con has not provided the slightest piece of evidence, nor any particularly compelling logical argument, to support the idea that Faith in a God could be based in evidence and reason.
I urge you, gentle voters, to pass the motion.
bracken257 forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Ff
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