This has been for a while, and still is, my favorite topic on DDO, ever since my first debate, titled "A Supreme Being Can Rationally Exist". I'm looking forward to some more interesting opposition on this topic, which is my strong suit. Voters must have an Elo score of 2,000 or more to vote, and you must have completed at least 1 debate to accept. If you have not completed a debate yet and still wish to accept, please apply in the comments section.
God likely exists.
God - the immensely great, omnipotent, omniscient, intelligent, transcendent cause of the universe.
Likely - probably; >50% chance of.
Exist - have physical or metaphysical, objective reality.
Note that Pro must attempt to prove God as defined exists, and Con must attempt to disprove it; thus, an argument saying "you cannot ascribe properties to a being unless it exists" is irrelevant.
1. No forfeits.
2. All arguments must be visible inside this debate. Sources may be in an external link or within the debate.
3. No new arguments in any rounds except the opening round.
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere.
5. No trolling.
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (i.e. arguments that challenge an assumption in the resolution).
7. No deconstructional semantics.
8. The BoP is shared -- Pro must argue that God likely exists, and Con must argue to the contrary.
9. Pro must present their case in round one and waive the final round.
10. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.
R1. Pro's case
R2. Con's case, Pro rebuts Con's case
R3. Con rebuts Pro's case, Pro rebuts Con's case, defends and crystallizes
R4. Con rebuts Pro's case, defends and crystallizes, Pro waives
1 - http://plato.stanford.edu...
2 - http://dictionary.reference.com...
3 - Google ("define exist")
...again to whomever accepts, and to voters who vote on this debate.
Part one. Exactly how would a god exist? How could it have created the universe? Well there are obvious things that a god could not be. So a few things god could not be, is anything bound by space and time. Since space and time do not exist independently from the universe. Thus could not exist before hand, therefore a god cannot be bound by them otherwise he couldn't have created them. So now all known matter is crossed out. Well next question, how does a god have complete control of the universe(a requirement for being omnipotent)? Well he would have to interact with the things in the physical world, without being physical? Well one possibility is that he can break the laws of physics, which makes sense since he is omnipotent. But what if he didn't want to say break those laws for personal reasons, well he could still interact with probability. It is given that an omnipotent being would have control over probability, and quantum mechanics deals a lot with probability. Something that had a 1/10^99999999 of happening quantumly naturally could be guaranteed if an omnipotent god wanted it to.
Part two. Why is it more likely than not that a god exist? Well that comes down to the nature of physical things. Everything comes from another thing, and another thing, and another thing. Now we can trace this to a point we call the big bang(I prefer to call it the great spacial expansion). But then why did this happen, nothing physical just happen without a cause. Well the only explanation is something that doesn't need a cause was the cause. Such a cause could not be physical in nature otherwise it would have also required a reason to exist. Also why is the universe the way it is? Why is it something instead of nothing. Why do the laws of physics work the way they do? Why is gravity related to space, time, and the speed of light? While we can say well this causes this, so that is why, it still doesn't explain why does that cause that. This question of why keeps on going until you use circular logic or you run into a road block. The only possible explanation is that something that does not need explanation is at the source.
I thank mathgeekjoe for accepting.
For the purposes of this debate, I shall define ‘universe’ as the three dimensions of space, one dimension of time, and everything in between them. Thus, by this definition, the universe encompasses all of time, space, energy, matter, antimatter, and gravity.
C1) Argument from incoherence
As Michael Martin notes, the concept of ‘God’ does not refer to a coherent concept, thus attributing existence to it is logically impossible sans coherence . The coherence of an object is determined by the nature and behavior of the object, and the nature of God is incoherent in the property of ‘greatness’ attributed to God.
‘Greatness’ is an inherently subjective term, with qualities that determine greatness dependent on the subject--the subject here being God, whose attributes of transcendence, omnipotence, and omniscience are referenced to ascribe a property of ‘greatness’. To assert that something is great requires a standard for it to become meaningful and coherent.
For example, in a universe with only a pencil and nothing else, one cannot assert the pencil is ‘sharp’, since the term ‘sharp’ is a relational attribute and requires a standard to become meaningful, viz. a pencil that is not sharp, thus objectively defining the inherently subjective property. Similarly, greatness is a relational attribute, and runs into the following problems: (a) a standard is required to render the term ‘greatness’ coherent, and (b) the content of what greatness comprises of is inherently subjective.
For a being defined according to being great, (a) renders God’s very nature a matter of subjective decision, thus ascribing objective properties to the concept lacks coherence, and (b) renders God meaningless unless an objective standard exists by which God can be called ‘great’. This entails a dilemma: either the standard is internal to God or it is external to God. The former begs the question, since then God is self defined, leading to a definition of God being ‘himself’, thus the term ‘God’ is ascribed to anything. The latter is false since God is transcendent, and, sans the universe, there exists nothing except God if he does exist.
C2) Impossibility of a caused universe
a) Requirements for Causality
Physicist Sean Carroll notes two features that allow us to coherently talk about any form of causation whatsoever.
i. Time & the arrow of time (determined by entropy)
ii. Physical laws
Time and the arrow of time are naturally required to speak of causation. Without an arrow of time, it is impossible to coherently speak of a ‘process’ of anything, or a ‘beginning’ of something. The beginning would have to have a fixed point in the arrow of time, without which it is impossible for anything to coherently ‘happen’ over a period of *time* (because there is no time).
For something to ‘occur’, it has to occur with a principle supporting its possibility. Possibility is incoherent without physical laws, as objective properties or actions are incoherent without limitation. It can be illustrated by the paradox of the stone, which admittedly does not disprove omnipotence, but illustrates how physical laws are necessary for anything to coherently have a ‘cause’ or beginning.
Prior to the origin of the universe, there were neither physical laws nor time. Sans these essential features of the universe, to speak of causality is incoherent. That the universe was caused is the primary assumption of deism, and without these properties, a caused universe is incoherent.
Another reason why the universe must be uncaused is the truth of eternalism. For something to come into being, there must be a state in time where it first doesn’t exist . Under eternalism change doesn’t ontologically happen and therefore neither does causation . William Lane Craig writes, “[o]n a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang; it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction.” 
Furthermore, the B-theory and eternalism entail lack of coherent temporal ‘change’. J.M.E. McTaggart writes, “Changes must happen to the events of such a nature that the occurrence of these changes does not hinder the events from being events, and the same events, both before and after the change. Now what characteristics of an event are there which can change and yet leave the event the same event? (I use the word characteristic as a general term to include both the qualities which the event possesses, and the relations of which it is a term -- or rather the fact that the event is a term of these relations.) It seems to me that there is only one class of such characteristics -- namely, the determination of the event in question by the terms of the A series.” 
According to general relativity, space is ‘stretchable’. This was confirmed by the Friedmann observations and Hubble’s Law, that were used by Georges Lemaitre to propose the Big Bang theory, that states the universe is expanding, which is shown via. the cosmological redshift . The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin singularity theorem, derived by Arvind Borde, Alan Guth and Alexander Vilenkin, further supports the theory that the universe is expanding .
General relativity also yields eternalism, since it models time as a ‘fourth dimension’ of space itself, allowing for the block universe theory to be likely true. Causality cannot be stressed on unless one assumes the presentism ontology of time, which is dubious in light of scientific discoveries supporting eternalism, especially special and general relativity. “Many [scientists and philosophers] have argued against presentism on the grounds that presentism is incompatible with the theory of relativity.” 
In special relativity, each observer has their own ‘plane of simultaneity’, a small section of three-dimensional space where all events are simultaneous . “Special relativity suggests that the concept of simultaneity is not universal: according to the relativity of simultaneity, observers in different frames of reference can have different perceptions of whether a given pair of events happened at the same time or at different times, with there being no physical basis for preferring one frame's judgments over another’s. ... So, in special relativity there can be no physical basis for picking out a unique set of events that are all happening simultaneously in ‘the present’.”  This entails eternalism.
Experiments from quantum mechanics have also vindicated eternalism. Photons have been entangled through time . An experimenter can choose to entangle photons even when they don’t exist in the present anymore. Other experiments show time is an emergent phenomenon. An outside observer would view the universe as static .
There is reason to believe eternalism is true via. God’s nature. God is omniscient, he knows everything possible about the past, present and future. As philosopher David Kyle Johnson argues, for God’s knowledge to be true, there must be the event which makes it true . God’s knowledge about something like, a cup on the table is made true by an existing cup on the table. If God’s knowledge had no truthmakers, then his knowledge would be false. What then, makes God’s knowledge about future or past events true?
It would have to be the future or past event. However, since the future is causing God’s knowledge it must exist. If the future is non-existent, there are no properties about the future. Making it impossible for God to know anything about it. This entails the future must exist, as well as the past. Eternalism is therefore implied via. God’s omniscience. As we have shown above, eternalism and a caused universe cannot coexist. Thus, omniscience is incompatible with God’s own properties.
C3) Occam’s razor
Occam’s razor posits that among a set of explanations, the one with least number of assumptions is a priori most likely . Metaphysical naturalism has less assumptions than belief in God--it assumes only the existence of a physical universe with laws, while religious belief assumes the existence of a physical universe with laws and God. God here is an unnecessary hypothesis, thus can be rejected as a priori unlikely, similar to Russell’s analogy of a teapot .
The concept of God involves the addition of various properties, many of which we don’t have a coherent understanding of, e.g. greatness, which is subjective, and omniscience, which contradicts God’s property as a cause. This adds to the complexity of the concept of God and the number of assumptions, making God less and less likely via. Occam’s razor.
The resolution is negated.
4. W.L. Craig and J.P. Moreland. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, pp 183-184.
The "Argument from incoherence" was mostly targeted at the term greatness being subjective, this is redundant and irrelevant. Greatness is merely a term given to god by his creations. Since god is capable of creating and destroying what he creates at whim, he is clearly greater than anything he creates. Thus in comparison to the universe(his creation) he is immensely great. It would be redundant and irrelevant to say that god could not be considered great if he didn't create anything. This merely proves the obvious that god may not be considered great if he were to create nothing. This doesn't prove that god does not exist, just that it is possible for him to not be considered great. But this is irrelevant because he did create the universe and can, if it was his will, completely control or destroy it, and as such can be considered immensely great.
R2. Rebuttal to "Impossibility of a caused universe"
Causality is a very robust term that can exist independently of the arrow of time, and even in reverse of it. While for most practical application it moves with the arrow of time, that does not mean that it is exclusive to it. For instance, there are experiments that suggest that the future can cause the present state of a quantum particle. Since the future was causation of the present quantum particle, clearly "causality" is more robust of a term. In addition during a moment of time, something can cause another, this is also independent of the arrow of time. Thus it is certainly possible, and in my opinion more likely than not that god caused the universe.
R3. Rebuttal to saying it is impossible for god to be omniscient
My opponent has made the claim that for god to be omniscient, that the future must exist. I disagree. Since god has to be void of physical properties(otherwise he could not create the universe) he also has to be void of time. Him being void of time means that he can be at the future and past at the same moment. This does not mean that the future exist, merely that an omnipotent does not have to wait for it to happen.
R4. Rebuttal to block universe
My opponent has made the argument that the universe is in fact a block universe, instead of a presentist view. I have even given some evidence to support this argument. Unfortunately the evidence comes out to that the universe is not a block universe. This is evident from the fact that even when the future supposedly causes a present event, it does not mean that the future exist in that matter. In the actual quantum experiment, the knowledge of the future and past of the particle merely gives a 90% probability of guessing it. If the universe was truly a block, it would have been practically 100%. One could argue that this 10% difference could indeed be the future not being set in stone. While the effect of the future could cause something in the present, the future does not yet exist, thus could fail to exist after this cause.
In accordance with the debate structure, I shall not defend my case in this round, and, instead, rebut Pro’s case.
I shall not address the possibility of God since I don’t need to address that the uphold the negative side of the resolution. Thus, I shall only address the cosmological argument that Pro presents for the existence of God. Pro’s case is basically formulated as the Leibnizian cosmological argument, or the kalam cosmological argument, and can be formulated thus:
1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. Thus, the universe has an explanation of its existence.
5. God is the explanation of the universe’s explanation.
6. Therefore, God exists.
A simpler formulation would be that of the kalam cosmological argument:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe begins to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
4. If the universe has a cause, that cause would have to be God.
5. The universe has a cause.
6. God exists.
The justification of the first premise by Pro commits the fallacy of composition, viz. it assumes that since all objects that make up the universe have a cause, the whole universe itself must have a cause . Things within the universe require causes since they are bound by physical laws, e.g. the First Law of Thermodynamics, and time. Sans physical laws and time, we don’t have any reason to believe things need causes, and the causal principle breaks down. As Sean Carroll notes, causality lacks coherence without natural laws and time. Without time, we lack time directionality, which is required for anything to coherently ‘happen’. Sans natural laws, we lack physical constraint and the unbreakable principles that require causality. An example of a violation of the causal principle would be in the zero-energy universe hypothesis, that suggests the net energy of the universe is precisely zero , allowing it to emerge from nothing .
The second premise is a core assumption of Pro’s argument--assuming the universe had a beginning. According to eternalism, the universe cannot have had a coherent beginning. Eternalism assumes the universe is a four-dimensional block, where the past, present and future are all equally real, and the passage of time is illusory . Eternalism is vindicated by special relativity. According to relativity of simultaneity, a theory of special relativity, there is no absolute simultaneity, i.e. no two events can be absolutely simultaneous, and simultaneity is relative to observation . This would mean that each observer has a personal ‘plane of simultaneity’, where variants in observation results in different perception as to whether events are simultaneous . Each observer considers their set of present events to be a three-dimensional universe, but even the slightest movement of the head or offset in distance between observers can cause the three-dimensional universes to have differing content. If each three-dimensional universe exists, then the existence of multiple three-dimensional universes suggests that the universe is four-dimensional . If the universe is four-dimensional, then the fourth spatial dimension is that of time, vindicating eternalism.
Pro next provides various questions relating to the relation between time and space, etc. These ‘why’ questions do not vindicate God in any manner, thus are irrelevant to the resolution. Such questions are merely unanswered questions in science and philosophy--and God does not answer them either.
7. Albert Einstein. Relativity - The Special and General Theory, pp 30-33.9. http://www.jstor.org...
Mathgeekjoe forfeited this round.
Pro’s rebuttal can be found in the comments section.
C1) Argument from incoherence
Pro basically asserts that God is ‘great’ *subjectively*, but since God’s existence is contingent on his immense greatness, and existence is objective, God would have to be objectively great. Pro concedes that greatness is inherently subjective.
His attributes of creator, etc. do not affirm objective greatness, as cited in the definition. I present an observation that none of your arguments defend objective greatness, thus you have not defended a God of this definition.
Pro just entirely concedes this contention, and his argument is basically “God can exist if he’s not great”, which is flawed since God is, by definition, immensely great, and for a being x to exist, each of x’s properties must be possible. Thus, Pro’s refutation is flawed since it drops the premises and questions the conclusion--this is a logically sound argument, where the following premises entail the conclusion “God doesn’t exist”.
1. If God cannot be great, he doesn’t exist.
2. God cannot be great.
This automatically entail that an objectively great God, as defined, does not exist, thus Pro virtually concedes this argument.
C2) Impossibility of a caused universe
A causal relationship between A and B implies that A caused B to exist over a period of time. The only way the causal relationship can be equalized is via. simultaneous causality, and it is unlikely that A can cause B simultaneously, since a standard relationship of simultaneous causation is B causing itself . Thus, for anything to coherently ‘happen’, the passage of time is naturally required , and causality is an occurrence of an event, e.g. the causality of the universe. A universe cannot have been coherently caused sans time. Furthermore, even simultaneous causality would require unbreakable principles to ‘bind’ the event, allowing it to coherently occur .
“In the actual quantum experiment, the knowledge of the future and past of the particle merely gives a 90% probability of guessing it. If the universe was truly a block, it would have been practically 100%.”
The second statement is a bare assertion, and must be justified, or it would commit ipse dixit .
“Special relativity does not imply the future exist, merely that what is perceived at the present can be warped based on relativistic speeds. It is similar (yet completely different) from how you can get lag on sonar, consequence if an object is moving quick relative to the speed of sound, the your image of it becomes distorted. Also two different observers with sonar may see different images based on their positions and speed. Of course these unusual effects can be attributed to lag of the sonar and doesn't require the future of the object existing out to infinity. It is also possible to attribute lag to time itself. This lagging of time doesn't mean that the future exist, it merely means that what is the present can lag behind because of relativistic speeds and two observers may not see two events happening in the same order.”
No evidence is given for this ‘lag’ of time, which would be incoherent if the passage of time is illusory. We know that the passage of time is mental, since we can change how quickly we perceive it via. drugs like psilocybin , and adrenaline . It’s also dependent on how old you are, younger people experience time slower than older people . It’s reasonable to conclude that the passage of time is a creation of the mind itself. By Occam’s razor, we should accept it. We have established the perception of time is mental, it’s simpler to state there is nothing more to the perception of time than proposing an actual passage of time that the mind interprets. The former posits no unnecessary entities. Furthermore, evidence from physics concludes that time is probably emergent, wherein time is ontologically static .
C3) Omniscience is an incoherent property
Pro here claims God’s knowledge is based on present events. They’re basically claiming God’s knowledge is analogous to a Laplacian demon (a hypothetical demon which knows the present state of every particle in existence can determine the future and figure out the past ).
Science shows this type of knowledge is impossible. Lord Kelvin pointed out that according to the second law of thermodynamics information would have to be lost eventually . Furthermore, modern quantum mechanics is indeterministic, meaning knowing the current state of particles won't get you anywhere in the future. There are certain states which are formed probabilistically .
There is a philosophical problem with this. God can only have knowledge of future events in virtue of the present. Pro is arguing that God created the physical universe. Therefore, the first state of the universe wasn’t always in existence (otherwise omniscience would be incoherent), but this implies God wasn’t always omniscient. Prior to the universe, God would only know that he wants the universe to come into existence. If I am going to create a house and have all the blueprints in my mind, do I have knowledge of an actual house? Of course not. But omniscience entails that God should know everything--even that which doesn’t exist. For example, I’m not eating a pizza right now, so God can’t ‘know’ I am, but he is supposed to ‘know’ everything epistemically by omniscience.
The same problem can be derived via. epistemic nihilism, and Munchausen trilemma , viz. nothing can be known for certain without being logically fallacious, thus ‘knowledge’, in nature, is incoherent. The above analogy simply conveys this.
Thus the Laplacian theory of omniscience is false.
Pro drops Occam’s razor.
Pro’s case--Cosmological argument
As demonstrated, eternalism entails that nothing can coherently ‘begin’ to exist. But Pro misses the point of time and physical laws. Even if causality is not bound by time and physical laws, the universe would not require a cause sans time and physical constraint, according to models such as the zero-energy universe model .
My case still stands, and Pro’s doesn’t. The resolution is negated. Pro also drops Occam’s razor and fails to affirm ‘greatness’. Thus, vote Con. Thanks for a fun debate. Pro *must* waive R4.
2. Michael Tooley. Time and Causation, p 158.
7. Ibid.14. See video.
Mathgeekjoe forfeited this round.
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