The Instigator
MBill
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
byaka2013
Con (against)
Winning
2 Points

God Exists (Moral Argument)

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
byaka2013
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/7/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 433 times Debate No: 101784
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)

 

MBill

Pro

I will be making the case that objective moral values and duties do exist and that since they can only exist if God exists, then God must also exist.

In order to understand the argument, we must first understand what is meant by "objective" and "subjective" truths. Consider two statements that one might make about a painting, that it is beautiful and that it is painted on canvas. If we say that the painting is beautiful, we aren"t really saying anything about the painting per se but about our experience of the painting. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and so the statement that the painting is beautiful is a statement about the beholder. The beholder is the subject who views the painting, and so the statement of beauty is a "subjective" statement. Different subjects may come to different opinions of the painting, and any statement they make about its beauty is true to them. When we say that the painting is on canvas, however, this is true of the object (the painting itself). No matter what subject views the painting, the object itself will always be painted on canvas. Since the truth of the statement, "the painting is on canvas" is true relative to the object, it is "objective".

When we apply this type of terminology to moral issues, it works just the same. If we say that things like murder, for example, are wrong "subjectively" then we are merely saying something about ourselves. We are saying that we *perceive* it as wrong, but that there is nothing *inherently* wrong with it such that other people *should* perceive it the same way. If instead we say that murder is wrong "objectively" then we are saying it is wrong no matter what subject may consider it. If the "wrongness" of murder is objectively true, then someone would be wrong if they came to the conclusion that murder is good. It is true of murder itself that it is wrong, not just true of us that we perceive it to be wrong.

With those preliminaries out of the way, we"ll move on to the moral argument. If you think that there really is such a thing as "right" and "wrong" and that there is a meaningful difference between the two, then it follows that God exists.

Let"s examine why:

"Premise One: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

"Premise Two: Objective moral values and duties do exist.

"Premise Three: Therefore, God exists.

***Premise One: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

This ties into what philosophers call the "grounding" problem. If God does not exist, then there is nothing "out there" that can ground objective moral "rights" and "wrongs". Think of it this way, if a child pretends to be a construction worker as a game then he does he earn a salary? No, of course not. Why not? There is no employer outside of the child"s fantasy that can "ground" his employment. The child is only a construction worker in his own mind. If "right and wrong" only exist in our own minds, then they are no more real than the child"s construction job. We are just "pretending" that there is a right and wrong, but there is nothing in reality that these ideas correspond to.

If God exists, then he is an objective reality in which "right and wrong" can be grounded. Right and wrong correspond with God, right being those things that correspond to his nature and wrong being those things that don"t. Since God is the objective grounding for all reality, morality is objective if it is grounded in him. Keep in mind that we are not saying that "right and wrong" are objective because God exists. We are saying that "right and wrong" are only objective if God exists. We aren"t assuming God"s existence, we"re saying that God is the only candidate to ground objective moral values.

If God does not exist, there is just no viable alternative candidate to be the grounds for any objective moral reality. All of our thoughts and feelings about "right" and "wrong" are in our own heads, no more real than a child"s game of pretend.

***Premise Two: Objective moral values and duties do exist.

We all know this to be true. We have a real experience of right and wrong. We expect others to adhere to the same code of conduct that we do, and we"re indignant when they don"t. This belief in right and wrong is so basic for us that we can"t really escape it in practice. Some might try to deny that right and wrong exist in order to win an argument, but in practice they can"t live that way. Think about it, are things like rape, murder, racism, hatred, exploitation, dishonesty, and the like evil or are we just pretending that they are evil? Do you think people should avoid behaviors dominated by these things or do you think they are really no different from love, compassion, and selflessness? Are we really just pretending that there is a difference between saving people and murdering them? It seems obvious that none of our experiences of right and wrong are just "made up" or pretend. There really are evils in the world, and an evil is one type of objective moral value. If it exists, then objective moral values exist.

***Premise Three: Therefore, God exists.

This just follows logically and inescapably from the first two premises. If objective values can only exist if God exists, and objective values exist, then it follows that God exists.

So the question for you is this, is there a real difference between right and wrong or are you just pretending that there is? If the difference is real, then God exists.

My opponent has two options in attempting to defeat this argument. First, they must give us some basis on which moral values and duties can be objective apart from God"s existence. Second, if they choose to deny that objective morality exists then they must give us some good reason to doubt our moral experience.
byaka2013

Con

If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
That is unsubstantiated. The entire above argument is thus a non sequitur. The only way that works is if we define objective morals as "morals, values, principles, and duties declared by God". This is called begging the question, where you include the claim of your argument within your premise.

Regardless, this argument does not prove any specific God, let alone an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent one. To demonstrate, let us replace God with, say, unicorns. Do you see how ridiculous the output is? Your argument only loosely 'supports' theism, not necessarily monotheism or your specific Christian God.

Objective moral values do not exist.
A person is raised based on the opinions of his parents quite often. This is why, according to http://www.gallup.com..., at least 71% of people have similar political views as their parents. Similarly, if you raised without religion, you would be atheistic- it is the default of all life.
But I digress.

If your parents were terrorists, you would be raised under their beliefs. Society as the few around you greatly influences your morality and thus beliefs. And if objective morality was real, why would so many individuals (especially in the past, the Bible, or even God) not subscribe to it?

Humans are one species: https://coelsblog.wordpress.com.... Therefore, since by definition, objective morality is not dependant on humanity, it should apply to all beings. But it does not. In fact, this concept only applies to us. You may argue that most animals are not as intelligent as us, but I would say they still teach their descendants morals.
Debate Round No. 1
MBill

Pro

My opponent has claimed that I gave no reason to think that objective moral values and duties cannot exist if God does not exist. You'll remember that I gave you the reason why this is the case (in other words, I substantiated this point). Measurements cannot have meaning unless there is a standard against which they are measured. One cannot commit a moral crime unless there is a moral law. My opponent has claimed that there can be an objective measure without an objective standard. This is nonsense. If he thinks that there is an objective basis for moral values and duties apart from God, then let him provide us with what he thinks can ground the reality of objective moral values and duties.

He goes on to make the point that the moral argument does not give you specifics as to which God exists. This is irrelevant. The claim that I have made with the debate title is that "God exists". His point here would be like saying that I must provide you with the specific identity of a person in a room in order to tell you that the room is occupied. There are other arguments that can give you other qualities of God (such as his omniscience, his omnipotence, etc). The moral argument merely demonstrates that he must be morally perfect, in fact the very standard by which morality is measured. He must also be eternal and unchanging, as morality would not be objective if he were not. Finally he must be personal, as an impersonal being cannot impose moral duties on anyone. It would be a strange form of atheism that permits an eternally existing, unchanging, morally perfect, personal being who is the grounds for objective moral values and duties!

My opponent also falls into a common trap. He seems to think that the different moral conclusions that people come to in some way indicates that there is no objective morality upon which their conclusions are based. This simply does not follow. Scientists come to different conclusions about the natural world, and this in no way indicates that there is no objective natural world upon which their conclusions are based. In the same way that scientists are still working with an objective subject matter even though they come to different scientific conclusions, so too are moral agents still working with an objective subject matter even when they come to different moral conclusions.

Finally, my opponent makes the odd claim that since animals are not moral agents that therefore morality is not objective. This simply does not follow. Consider how radical this claim is. He is essentially saying that since there is no moral dimension to wolves killing and eating a baby deer, that therefore there is no moral dimension if my neighbor were to kill and eat the neighborhood children. I'm sure that my opponent would not state it so starkly, but this is the logical extension of his claim.

My opponent has given us no reason to think that there is any potential basis for objective moral values and duties apart from God. He has given us two reasons to doubt the reality of objective moral values (difficulties in moral reasoning on the part of moral agents, and the amorality of animals), but neither seems to have any legs to it.

If he is to defeat the moral argument, he must provide us some atheistic basis for objective moral values and duties and/or he must give us some good reason to think that objective moral values and duties do not exist. If he chooses to do the latter, then his reason to doubt objective moral values and duties must be more obviously true to us than our own personal experience of morality.
byaka2013

Con

Measurements are not morals. There is no moral law. Society as a whole decides something is immoral, then it may as well be. This is similar to money. It has no intrinsic value, but we pretend it does. God is not needed- also, stop trying to shift the burden of proof, which you have not succeeded in. Society is the ground for our morals, but since there are no objective morals, that is what they are not.

It is not irrelevant. I assume you are a Christian. Even if you are arguing for any God, this still weakens your argument. If we know this applies to all deities it basically applies to everything, including fruits. Also, omniscience and omnipotence are not compatible (https://www.quora.com...). But a creator would have to be intelligent, even if immaterial. Since we can only observe or have evidence for material things with a brain, not immaterial (i.e. dark matter), and since God is immaterial, he could have no brain and therefore is not intelligent.

"It would be a strange form of atheism that permits an eternally existing, unchanging, morally perfect, personal being who is the grounds for objective moral values and duties!" That's theism.

Morality is not the same as a scientist's work, a trap common in the Watchmaker argument. Also, science doesn't have to be objective. How is that radical- it is accurate! You can do it- the only thing stopping you is the law.

SOCIETY IS THE BASIS FOR 'MORAL VALUES'. THERE ARE NO *OBJECTIVE* MORAL VALUES.
Also, your argument does not prove God in any way.

Here is something from https://richarddawkins.net....
Hitchens brilliantly devised a wager asking anyone to present him with a moral action that a theist could perform but that an atheist could not. He also inversely asked of an immoral action that could only be undertaken by a religious person. This, to great effect, fleshed out Weinberg"s claim that "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." However, this does not necessarily refute the theist claim that morality comes from God within us as it side steps the necessity of religious dogma.

Dawkins and others have argued the evolutionary reasons for morality which, not that they are invalid, seem to disappoint the theist because they automatically see it as a rebuff to their human dignity. They might say, "Morality is what separates us from the animals because it is a product of the soul or God within man."

We will never get the theist, at least not yet, to admit that morality is a process of genetics and deterministic chemicals operating within the brain and making our choices for us; and while the atheist may be willing to accept morality as a process of evolution and determinism there is still something unsettling to a great many atheists about the notion of free will bing illusory.

Theists also say that science has nothing to offer to the humanities such as music, painting and other arts. I tend to agree with this and would also venture to throw morality into this pile as well. It is entirely possible that science may one day discover an absolute morality and describe it to us but this would be as difficult as

finding the singular equation that can illustrate the workings of the entire universe. Mathematics while the best suited of our many languages to describe the universe may turn out to be fatally imperfect in doing so or we may keep refining the language of mathematics ever closer to the limit of perfection. Suffice to say that theists, and I tend to agree, feel that science is a different human endeavor that only has secondary impacts on morality but no real incite as to its origins or intricate workings (at least, not yet).

At this time I would like to present a definition of humanities as "those branches of knowledge, such as philosophy, literature, and art, that are concerned with human thought and culture; the liberal arts." Also, I would like to now explain why, above, I have lumped morality in with the humanities. Morality like mathematics can have effects in the physical world. However, unlike mathematics which is the language of the physical world and therefore tethered inescapably to it. Morality is a humanity that operates below (or above) language. We can feel morality without describing it in words and we can endlessly hypothesize moral situations without throwing the physical world out the window. To illustrate, many people hypothesize the necessary moral action that needs to be taken to stop an abortion because of metaphysical and physical assumptions that can be examined independently. In deciding whether we are for or against an abortion at a given moment we can make arguments about a soul or argue, "does the baby feel pain?" or both simultaneously. In contrast, we could hypothesize about what changes we would need to make to a constant if gravity operated in reverse or if light traveled half speed but none of the equations change if we decide chemical weapons are good or bad.

Morality is an aesthetic. Theists like Craig may want to believe in an absolute morality and this is fine so far as to say that we may one day discover an agreed upon absolute aesthetic in music and painting. However, even Craig admits that we have made "moral improvements" although he involves himself in quite the mental contortion to explain why morality has always operated at the absolute while at the same time improving.

Theists believe that they are always operating at the moral absolute. This is necessary for their dogma. They therefore claim that God is necessary for morality. For the theist, to admit that morality is relative or evolving towards an absolute perfection while their God operates beyond the physical world and time is to admit that God is inconsistent and imperfect. The theists, like Craig, then mince words and say we have moral improvement but we would not know what absolute we are striving toward unless God was present in us and guiding us.

This is where I come to the point of this essay. When a theist asks how can we have an absolute morality without God we must say that it serves a purpose. Morality serves the desire of a species living together in close proximity. We do not need a perfect version of morality to meet the societal want. Any version of it is better than no version at all. When human beings built the first bridges they did not have an image of the Golden Gate Bridge to work toward, just as the Wright brothers

first airplane was not a failure to build the Concord. Morality exists because there is a desire for it to exist. It increases the quality of life. We see this throughout human history. As morality reaches higher and higher standards and these standards become accepted we in turn make higher demands of our moral code. We then begin to see that morality is a process of positive feedback. Just as building the first bridge meant not having to walk as far and freed time for us to pursue desires instead of needs, developing moral codes allowed us to have less fear of others within society which allows us more time to think about what we want instead of guarding against every stranger we encounter. We also can now see that as communication, travel and other technologies are at the beginnings of creating a global society, morality is once again evolving, as we demand more from it. Now that we have closer contacts with other countries, nationalism has become xenophobia and righteous persecution towards LGBT has become homophobia. Keep in mind that religious texts have remained the same for these changes and many more.

Morality, like any other humanity pleased an aesthetic and evolved, as we demanded more from it.
Debate Round No. 2
MBill

Pro

My opponent has said, "There is no moral law. Society as a whole decides something is immoral, then it may as well be. This is similar to money. It has no intrinsic value, but we pretend it does."

Perhaps you"ve seen the movie, "The Giver". It"s very good, and I would recommend it to you. It seems to be much like the "Hunger Games", "Maze Runner", and "Divergent". In "the Giver" humanity has survived some sort of apocalyptic event and has restructured society in order to ensure that the event cannot happen again. The way they did this was by developing a pill that everyone takes to kill their ability to experience normal human passions (like love, anger, etc). Their purpose was to kill the passions that led to whatever apocalyptic event (war?), and therefore prevent it from happening again.

Anyway, in the movie morality is completely removed from people by use of the pill. People still act rather civil (remember that all passions are gone as well), but you can tell that something is missing. People do what is expected of them, and they have no emotions or aspirations to go beyond that. They do, however, keep one guy around who still has all of the emotions, a man they call "The Giver."

I won"t spoil the movie for you, but there is a scene in the movie that is relevant here. The Giver is training an apprentice to replace him and he is watching a live feed of a nurse at a clinic of some sort who is working with babies. They watch as the nurse measures the two babies, and then the nurse decides that one of them is to be rejected. The nurse then inserts a large gauge needle into the top of the baby"s skull and injects a solution in order to kill it, saying to the baby, "Oh, I know it hurts, but it"ll be over soon," as the baby begins to cry, struggle for a few moments, and then lie still. The apprentice (who has gone off of the pill) is horrified and starts to cry out, "What is he doing? He"s killing it?!?! Doesn"t he know it is a baby?!?!" To this the Giver replies, "He knows it"s a baby, but he doesn"t remember why it matters." We then cut to the nurse as he puts the baby in a box and inserts it down a trash chute.

Unfortunately we need not go to fiction in order to find horrors such as these. Recently there was a gas attack in Syria. I remember the carnage being described as men, women, and even infants writhing in agony and foaming at the mouth as they died painfully. My question for you is this, is this wrong, or are we just pretending that it is? Do you remember why it matters?

If you agree with me that such things are really wrong, that we are not just pretending, if you remember why the lives of these children matter, then you"ll agree with me that at least some things really are wrong. This entails that at least some objective moral values and duties exist. My opponent has given you no reason to doubt that they exist, he has only made the assertion that they don"t. Do you believe him? Do you find his assertions more persuasive than your own personal experience of morality? Do you remember why some things are really wrong, why things like babies are really valuable?

My opponent has made a few statements that I"m obliged to respond to. He said that minds are the same as brains, and that therefore God can"t have a mind because he doesn"t have a brain. He is just asserting that minds are the same as brains, but he hasn"t given us some reason to think that this is true. Things are only identical if everything that is true of one is true of the other. Your mind can think about things. You can, for example, be thinking about the content of this sentence right now as you read it. Brain states, however, cannot be "about" anything. The chemical reactions in your brain are just that, chemical reactions in your brain. They aren't "about" anything. Since your mind can be "about" things and your brain cannot, then they are not the same thing. As my opponent pointed out, you cannot have free will if you are nothing but your brain. You have your own obvious experience of free will, however, which gives you reason to think that you are more than just your brain.

He brought up the questions that Hitchens had asked about a moral action that a believer could take that Hitchens could not. If I remember correctly someone had answered tithing, which was a bit funny. This question misses the point, however. No one is arguing that you need to believe in God in order to behave morally. That simply isn"t the argument. Many atheists are some of the most caring and loving people around. The argument is that there is no intrinsic difference between moral and immoral behavior if God does not actually exist. You may remember the movie "Beowulf". It is based on an old poem whose authorship we do not know. Now suppose someone told you that there was no author, and defended his position by saying he can experience and appreciate Beowulf just fine without believing that the author existed. You wouldn"t need to believe in the author in order to appreciate the poem, but the author would have to actually exist for there to be a poem to appreciate. In the same way, you can experience and appreciate morality just fine without believing in its author, but there would be no morality to experience and appreciate if no author existed. Consider my opponent"s main argument, that there are no objective moral values. He seems to understand that if God does not exist, then there are no objective moral values and duties. In other words, his argument is that there is no author so there is no poem.

The same sort of mistaken understanding is going on when it comes to "moral improvement". As we grow in our understanding of morality, and as more people turn their behavior toward morality, we can have moral improvement. Only if morality doesn"t really exist, if we are "pretending", is moral improvement impossible. If there is no intrinsic difference between societal understandings of morality, then one stage of society can be no more or less moral than another stage. They are just different, without one stage being morally superior to another. My opponent appeals to moral improvement and tries to describe how it happens, but this is evidence that there is such a thing as morality in which one can improve. In other words, we aren"t just pretending.

This is just where my opponent"s argument breaks down. Even he cannot help but believe in morality. He says, "Any version of [morality] is better than no version at all." This is precisely what he cannot say if he believes there is no such thing as morality. If there is no real objective morality, than a society dominated by racism, bigotry, murderous hatred, and sexual exploitation would be morally equivalent to a society dominated by compassionate tolerance and understanding. If there is no such thing as morality, and we really are just pretending, then there simply is no real difference between two such societies. My opponent acknowledges that there is a difference when he says, "Any version of [morality] is better than no version at all."

The fact is that morality does exist, and we all know it by experience. My opponent has given you no reason to doubt your experience, no reason to think that you are just pretending. If morality exists, then that entails that God exists since there is no other candidate to ground objective moral values and duties.
byaka2013

Con

I meant there is no moral law in the context of objective morality. Of course there are morals, but these are predetermined by society. If there was objective morality, why would it ever leave? It surely hasn't been around as long as we have! So, what, does it just have to be discovered? That's ridiculous.

Why do only some people have these morals? There is no constant. Of course humans think it's wrong, but nothing about it is intrinsically wrong- if someone is going to kill you and decide to kill them, you would NOT feel bad at all. Minds are not the same as the brains. Plus, you avoided answering the question entirely. Why would we need God for morals?

If there was a God (or wasn't for you), the world would look exactly as it does now. Obviously morality exists, but it is not objective and is purely based on societal beliefs. The candidate for regular morals is SOCIETY, for the 3rd time.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by whiteflame 9 months ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: samsun01// Mod action: Removed<

0 points awarded. Reasons for voting decision: I believe that god exists .

[*Reason for removal*] In any RFD, even in ones on votes where no points are awarded, must provide some feedback to the debaters. This is not feedback.
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Posted by missmedic 9 months ago
missmedic
We live in a continuously changing world with new kinds of moral problem being generated all the time and much harmful ignorance still to overcome. It's only through abandoning certain widespread religious ideas that progress towards a truly just and consistent morality is possible. There's an ongoing need to develop and refine our moral understanding. The problem is the false and morally corrupting idea that the lawmaker is perfect. It's corrupting because, in causing us to accept unjust laws, it leaves us defending the indefensible. We don't base morality on revelation from authority, that would render us merely obedient. Moral behaviour is doing what's right, not what we're told unless what we're told is also what's right. The worry that, without religion or gods, we've no basis on which to discuss morality, is without foundation. When classing harmless things as immoral results in persecution we've reason to condemn the misclassification. So often declared -'the territory of religion'- moral development is in fact something to which the scientific approach contributes far more and far more reliably due to its emphasis on reasoned logic and evidence, the tools that help us discern what's true and false and without which one can't even formulate a valid argument. To make informed moral choices and therefore moral progress religion needs science, but science does not need religion.
Posted by vi_spex 9 months ago
vi_spex
there is no god.. pew pew
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by QueenDaisy 9 months ago
QueenDaisy
MBillbyaka2013Tied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
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Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: Though pro's R1 argument is consistent, as Con said, premise one needs further substantiating and the whole argument is non-sequitir. In order for Pro's case to be convincingly made, they would have to justify both the claim that objective morality cannot exist without God and that objective morality exists, and I feel they failed to do this convincingly. I would, however, agree with Pro that the motion doesn't specify *which* God is being argued to exist. Hence, any convincing argument that any God exists would have constituted a pass of the motion. Con provided reliable sources, while Pro provided no sources. Neither party came across as particularly discourteous, and I couldn't find any spelling or grammar errors.