The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Faith in a theistic God does not come from evidence or reasoning so it is irrational.

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/3/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 541 times Debate No: 72838
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (14)
Votes (1)




My argument is essentially that there is no good evidence or good reasoning that could convince anybody to believe in a personal god. Thus belief must come (in those who self-evidently do believe) from pressure, fear or blind faith... as such, it is irrational.


You argue that there is no evidence or reasoning to suggest the existence of a God, but do you have any valid evidence or reasoning to suggest otherwise? Thus, the belief that there be no such thing as a God is irrational.
Debate Round No. 1


That's a fair start; let's roll...

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 [1])

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.

On Faith

Faith is seen by many Theists to be a virtue; specifically, the Catholic Church teaches that faith is a theological virtue [2].

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 [3].

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 ---
[1] Wikipedia
[2] Vatican Archive
[3] Time Magazine


Pro does provide a convincing argument, but we must consider how and why he is able to do so. He is able to ration because he exists. He exists thanks to an intricate system of processes that, from just one minuscule malfunction, could cease to function. The color of his eyes, whether or not he is able to curl his tongue, his height- every aspect of my opponent relies on specific genetic combinations. The fact that he and I are able to debate this topic possibly from opposite ends of the nation- or even the world- we can thank the universe for. How, one might ask, is it possible that we exist? The chances of a universe so detailed, with functions so interdependent, are slimmer than some can attempt to imagine. This suggests a master creator- a God. Also, as long as we are discussing the rationality of ideas, let us keep in mind that in order for anything to be rational, it must have at some point had a cause.

Debate Round No. 2


As I understand that round, Con's position is essentially putting forward the Argument from Design [1] with a nod to the Cosmological Argument [2]. Is that a fair synopsis of your defence, Con? Could I press you for a more formal expression of whatever argument you're bringing to the table?

Also, could I clarify a point, please? I assume that you don't believe in the theory of Evolution?

[1] Argument from Design
[2] Cosmological Argument


To simplify this for you, Pro, yes, I am arguing that the existence of our universe suggests a power capable of its design. You are incorrect however in the assumption that I do not believe in the theory of Evolution, although I believe I am correct in assuming that you hold the belief that Evolutionism and Creationism are incompatible. Since you seem to be familiar with the Cosmological Argument, let us see if you are familiar with the Watchmaker analogy, basically stating that design implies a designer. Now, a watch must be designed to run, but once it has been designed it can run on its own. It is no miracle that life has evolved. This fact is irrelevant to the debate, as was your last "argument," as you didn't actually put forward any argument to challenge mine. The miracle is, Pro, that life existed so that it could evolve.
Debate Round No. 3

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

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.
Debate Round No. 4


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.
Debate Round No. 5
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by DiverseSynergy 1 year ago
I agree Solipsism as a standalone proposal for existence is unresolvable and goes nowhere. I only use it as a counterpoint to people who suggest it is irrational to accept something before empirically testing it " for all the reasons I put forward in my previous post.

If you argue that your brain is a random by-product of a random universe, then on what logical basis can you conclude that your random brain of chemicals and electrical signals is capable of independent rational thought in any case? And how would you hope to empirically prove it, even if you believe that your brain can have independent rational thought in such a scenario?

As goes God, this is a vast topic " hence I have explained my position and challenged yours by way of a debate! I look forward to hearing from you, as I have a feeling this will be fascinating.
Posted by AndyHood 1 year ago
Thank you and I'd like that.
My issue with solipsism is only that it seems to go nowhere.
I'm tired and drunk and will give you a better answer when rested and sober, but would you mind if I asked what "God" means to you and why?
Posted by DiverseSynergy 1 year ago
@AndyHood - I like your debating style and your logical approach, we'll have to have a showdown on a topic sometime.

By the by, I don't adhere to Solipsism - I just use it as a philosophical tool to make the logical point that you cannot insist on "proof" and "evidence" to accept something, because whatever "proof" you think you have falls at the very first hurdle in that you might not be here on Earth in the first place!! I'm perfectly happy to accept that I really am a human being, that I really do live on planet Earth, and that God created it - I can't "prove" any of these assumptions, but then I'm not the one arguing from a position where I have to rely on empiricism.

Incidentally, far from being boring, I find the concept of Solipsism truly fascinating! Might it be you only find it 'boring' because your empirical stance cannot deal with it? That is not meant as a dig, it is a genuine question for self-reflection.

I maintain it is irrational to demand a purely empirical viewpoint on this universe, on the basis you cannot "just assume" that you can trust your senses. The key to Daniel Dennett et alia is that you first have to assume that this universe isn't an illusion. You can't have one "free" unprovable assumption, and then demand empirical evidence from there on in! Everyone takes everything on faith; it's just that some of us are more willing to accept it... ;o)
Posted by AndyHood 1 year ago
@Unitomic - Yeah, I know, it's a lazy debate - the theists just don't know that yet :D
But know this: I'm not just trying to score points, I'm trying to change minds
@Afterdark - Yeah, at least for this debate I will cede deism. For two good reasons:
1. I can't so easily argue against deism; I don't agree with the Cosmological Argument one bit, but that doesn't stop it being compelling for many people. Fortunately, the CA doesn't speak to theism.
2. I don't think that it matters too much. Deists don't do us-and-them or homosexual-bashing or condom-prevention in AIDS-torn Africa, or stand against Golden Rice because we might be tampering with some lunatic god's will.
@vi_spex obvious troll is obvious
@wilpin me too; Deism = God created the universe, Theism = AND he has a personality
@DiverseSynergy 1: You're welcome to your solipsism; cogito ergo sum and all that; boring!
Anyhow, if you accept that the whole of the World you experience isn't an illusion then we can explain consciousness quite well, thank you very much. See Daniel Dennett lectures on the subject, he's most informative, extremely thought provoking and very charming.
@missmedic true that, yup
@DiverseSynergy 2: I got this ;)
Posted by DiverseSynergy 1 year ago
Whilst MissMedic might have a point, it is in fact far simpler than that - Con's comment is simply irrelevant to the debate. Oh, Pro literally just replied and made the exact point I was about to...
Posted by missmedic 1 year ago
Con is using the argument to ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam)

The argument to ignorance is a logical fallacy of irrelevance occurring when one claims that something is true only because it hasn't been proved false, or that something is false only because it has not been proved true. A claim's truth or falsity depends on supporting or refuting evidence to the claim, not the lack of support for a contrary or contradictory claim. (Contrary claims can't both be true but both can be false, unlike contradictory claims. "Jones was in Chicago at the time of the robbery" and "Jones was in Miami at the time of the robbery" are contrary claims--assuming there is no equivocation with 'Jones' or 'robbery'. "Jones was in Chicago at the time of the robbery" and "Jones was not in Chicago at the time of the robbery" are contradictory. A claim is proved true if its contradictory is proved false, and vice-versa.)
Posted by DiverseSynergy 1 year ago
Given that there is no evidence that you really are a human being on Earth, then is it irrational to assume that too?

I really don't get the hang up on "proof" or "evidence", when you can't prove the very source of your own consciousness - on which all other "proof" hinges (solipsism/brain in a vat/an infinite number of equally unprovable alternate possibilities).
Posted by Chaosism 1 year ago
Sorry for butting in with that last comment of mine, but I had the info right in front of me when I saw that question...
Posted by Chaosism 1 year ago

Theism is the belief in the existence of God, or in one or more gods.
- Monotheism is the belief in God, or a single god.
- Polytheism is the belief in multiple gods.

Deism is the belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. [Oxford] This means that Deists believe that God exists, but he does not interfere or interact with the words; they do not believe in miracles or prayer.

Deism is a subset of monotheism.
Posted by Afterdark 1 year ago
Wilpin: Deism involves a belief in a god, but one who does not involve himself in the affairs of his creation.
Theism involves a belief in a god who is actively involved in his creation.
The existence of a god, therefore, would be a question of deism, whereas the merits or actions of a god (theodicy, etc) would be be a question of theism.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Ff