Believing in God is more reasonable than not believing in God.
BoP is shared as Pro will give arguments in favor of the resolution and Con against it.
God - The omnipotent, omniscient, loving creator of our universe
Omnipotence - The ability to actualize every logically possible state of affairs.
Omniscience - Knowing all true propositions.
Wholly Good - Cannot violate the moral law.
Exists - (This one should be obvious) We are going to look at the actual (non-fictional) extension of the existential quantifier.
All other definitions are to be adapted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy or any other academic, online source for philosophy.
72h per round.
10000 characters per argument.
2000 Elo required to vote and participate.
BoP is shared.
1. No forfeits
2. No new arguments in the final round
3. Keep it civil.
4. No trolling or deconstruction semantics
5. No "kritiks" of the topic
6. This debate is closed, accepting without admission is against the rules.
7. Violation of any rule or the structure will result in a loss.
R1 - Pro's case.
R2 - Con's case
R5 - Pro waives.
Thanks to Con for challenging me to this debate. Good luck!
To begin, there's a bit of tension between Con's title prompt and what they label the "Full Resolution." "God Exists" and "It's more reasonable to believe in God" are different ideas, and since no one can prove the former either way, I intend to respond to the latter. I will be affirming that belief in God is more reasonable than non-belief.
As such, we should define "reasonable." There is no direct definition of "reasonable" in the SEP or IEP, so I hope Con will accept me turning to the dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines "reason" (root of reason-able) as "a statement offered in explanation or justification." So, I will be arguing that belief in God offers better explanations for the observed world than non-belief. I hope my opponent finds this agreeable.
-- Arguments --
1. Origin: Before starting this argument, we must establish that the universe had a finite beginning. Both logic and scientific evidence show that the past cannot be infinite. Logically, if an infinite sequence of past events must occur before reaching this present moment, then we could never actually reach this present moment because it's impossible to complete an infinite sequence of events. Scientifically, the theorem developed by cosmologist and professor of evolutionary science Alexander Vilenkin mathematically proves that the universe "cannot have an eternal past" and therefore must have had a finite beginning .
Resolutions and Reasons
I am perfectly aware of the difference between the title and the resolution, but as a general assumption I believe people are more likely to click on shorter titles.
Perhaps I should have clarified the terminology. The statement "believing in God is more reasonable than not believing in God" is equivalent to "we have more reason to believe in God than not to believe in God". Now, what kind of reasons are we asking for?
The reasons in question are so called normative reasons, considerations which justify or in some way count in favor of a belief. E.g., the fact that I am sitting in front of a PC gives me reason to believe my electricity bill is going to be higher. Similarly, any argument presented here counts, if successful, as a reason.
Thus, my opponents definition and arguments are perfectly acceptable.
Divine Hiddenness 
(1) Necessarily, if God exists, anyone who is (i) not resisting God and (ii) capable of meaningful conscious relationship with God is also (iii) in a position to participate in such relationship.
(2) Necessarily, one is at a time in a position to participate in meaningful conscious relationship with God only if at that time one believes that God exists.
(3) Necessarily, if God exists, anyone who is (i) not resisting God and (ii) capable of meaningful conscious relationship with God also (iii) believes that God exists.
(4) There are (and often have been) people who are (i) not resisting God and (ii) capable of meaningful conscious relationship with God without also (iii) believing that God exists.
(5) God does not exist.
Usually I am a proponent of the argument from evil, but this time I feel like using arguments not as well known. The Divine Hiddenness Argument is a relatively new argument compared to Ibn Sina's Cosmological Argument (contingency) or Sextus Empiricus (or Carneades, I don't think it is known who came up with it) Problem of Evil. I believe it is in part due to the increasing secularization of our modern, western world why people fell the hiddenness of God a lot more than 2000 years ago.
Some people seek for years after the love of God, try out various religions, yet end up with a big void in their life.
Many actual believers face religious crises. Sometimes even induced by reasons supporting an argument from evil, too.
The German theologian Alfred Buss once said (and I try to translate as accurately as possible)
"Honest theology acknowledges that there is no answer to the issue of suffering. Whoever tries to find one is just putting up illusions"
Now, I am of course not claiming that all or even many theologians think this way. That would be ridiculous. The point is that in the face of such concessions it is quite understandable why some honest believers loose their faith.
Friedrich Nietzsche captured the core of the argument very accurately:
"a god who is all-knowing and all-powerful and who does not even make sure his creatures understand his intentions — could that be a god of goodness?"
Where does this leave us?
It seems (1) should sit quite well with theists. J.L. Schellenberg, the creator of the original Argument from Hiddenness, writes
"A perfectly loving God--if those words mean anything--would, like the best human lover, ensure that meaningful contact with herself was always possible for those she loved. [...] The perfectly loving mother or husband or brother or friend will see to it that nothing he or she does ever puts relationship out of reach for the loved one. That is just part of love."
(2) should be quite obvious. It would be a rather strange thing to say "Jill loves John, therefore John is in a relationship with Jill even though he does not know her". At any rate it would most certainly not be the kind of relationship a truly good God would want to have with humans.
Above there are various examples in support of (4).
(3) and (5) are inferences, thus the conclusion follows.
It is no mystery that neuroscience shows us mind-brain dependence. That is to say we know alteration in the structure or chemistry of human brains yields alteration of the mind.
The perhaps most drastic example of this is the procedure known as lobotomy . Essentially it was about putting parts of the brain out of action. It was often times used on war veterans who suffered PTSD and was supposed to cure many other mental illnesses as well. Former patients would become very angry very suddenly, sometimes loose a lot of their ability to memorize and generally were not the same person as before.
Now this is evidence for mind brain dependence if I've ever seen some.
E: The mind is dependent on the brain.
I am a naturalist....almost, as I am one of those crazy people who affirms the existence of abstract objects and irreducible moral facts. But I am a naturalist in the here relevant sense, because I believe mind arises from matter.
This we might call
MN: Metaphysical naturalism about the mind.
Now, opposed to this view we have of course Theism.
T: Theism, the affirmation of the existence of God as defined in the beginning.
The relevant question now is, which is more likely, MN or T, given that E? Let's make a fair assumption and say that T and MN are prima facie equally likely. This assumption will of course be shifted in favor of one or the other side depending on the success of my and my opponents other arguments.
The argument can now be formalized as follows:
1) E is known
2) T is not more or not much more intrinsically probable than N
3) Pr(E | MN) > Pr(E | T)
4) Therefore, other evidence held equal (or only slightly favoring T), T is probably false.
The crucial part now is to argue for 3).
Mind-brain dependence is of course logically consistent with T, but this is an evidential, not a logical argument.
MN on the other hand entails E, it is inconsistent with the existence of any disembodied mind. That means Pr(MN | E)=1. For theism, entailing the existence of at least one disembodied mind and thus providing at least antecedent reason to expect non-physical human minds, the probability can still be high, but it could never be 1, Pr(E | T) < 1.
Thus, theism is probably false.
Karsten Huhn, Wie kann Gott das zulassen? (How coulod God let this happen?), p.46
Howard-Snyder, Daniel; Paul K. Moser (2001). Introduction to Divine Hiddenness. Divine Hiddenness: New Essays. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Thank you Con for stating your case. It's refreshing to see some new arguments (at least, new to me) on this ancient topic.
Divine Hiddenness: Although not specified in their deductive reasoning chain, this addresses not just the existence of god, but the existence of a "good" or "loving" god. I believe it's accurate to sum up this argument as follows: a perfectly loving god would not hide himself from genuinely curious, open people. Since such people exist to whom god appears hidden, it follows that a perfectly loving god does not exist. This is a curious argument. It requires numerous assumptions to work, which I will address below:
1) While Con's deductive chain is solid, their premise in (2) contains a Non-Sequitur. It does not follow that a person must have a conscious relationship with god. At least, Con has given us no reason why this must be so. In fact, many religions believe the relationship with god is unconscious. For example, some Muslim traditions believe that the wrinkles visible on the palms of human hands, which form a pattern that looks like: "^l, l^" correspond to the Arabic symbols for 8+1, 1+8, or 9,9, interpreted as the "99 names of god" being written on every human hand. Unless Con gives reason for why relationship with god must be conscious, this entire argument disintegrates.
2) There is no reason to assume that god is loving or relational. We are not debating about any specific god here, and it is entirely possible that, if god exists, he is malevolent. Certainly the ancient Greeks had no problem conceptualizing this possibility. One is inclined to say "I could never believe in a god like that," but that's irrelevant - existence is not contingent on individual personality preferences.
3) However, Con did specify in Round 1 that God will be defined as "loving" so let's stick with that. If a perfectly loving god did exist, how could we as humans possibly conceptualize or make value judgments about it? How can flawed, imperfect humans pretend to know what a perfectly loving entity would look and act like? Con quotes Schellenberg as saying a perfectly loving god would be like the best human lover, but would it? How does Schellenberg know the definition of "perfectly loving?" I would say that a perfectly loving god is not even close to the best human lover. This compares two dissimilar things - even the best human lover is mortal, flawed, prone to mistakes, and imperfect. We can only define love within our human experience of what love is, and our best projections of what "perfection" would look like are hopelessly confined within an imperfect paradigm. This argument depends on a human understanding of what perfectly loving behavior looks like, which is akin to a 2 year old critiquing his father on correct parenting.
4) This argument also assumes that people are truly open, non-resistant, and capable of weighing evidence in total objectivity. One must admit there's a certain arrogance in this. Essentially, Con's argument says that "I am perfectly reasonable, open, and unbiased, and if legitimate evidence for god existed I would surely be able to see it." But is that really true? All reasonable people strive to eliminate conscious bias, but it would be a titanic accomplishment to fully succeed. Can we ever be sure there are not unconscious motives and biases tinting our views? Furthermore, what are we to make of people who DO see evidence for god and thus believe? This is not an issue of god being "hidden," it's a case of two camps interpreting evidence two different ways. It is quite common for two groups with access to the same information to draw different conclusions - just ask economists.
5) This argument assumes there actually exists a "perfect" piece of evidence, that, if revealed, would eliminate doubt in all rational people. Let's apply this assumption to other issues, for example, vaccines. Some people remain vehemently against vaccines despite mountains of evidence confirming their safety. Is the truth about vaccines therefore "hidden" to these people? Would additional evidence convince them? Probably not. Yet, are the anti-vaxxers irrational or "resistant" to evidence? They don't think so - to the contrary, they believe the evidence actually supports their position. There is no perfect piece of evidence that would convince all people, so the existence of doubters should not be seen as evidence against god.
6) "Jill loves John, therefore John is in a relationship with Jill even though he does not know her." If Jill is analogous to god in this example, it does not follow that Jill's existence is contingent on John's knowledge of her. Jill can still feel perfect love for John (whatever that means), even if John doesn't know who she is, or if John rejects her even after being introduced.
7) At its core, this argument does not really disprove god at all. At best, it simply says "if god does exist, then he is unfair" because he has allegedly hid himself from non-resistant, capable people. God's existence, of course, is not contingent on his perceived fairness. In any case, it is doubtful that imperfect humans could accurately measure the fairness of a perfect being anyway.
Physical Mind - This is another new argument to me, and one that I must confess was hard to follow. From what I can gather, I understand this argument to say that in every measurable case we see the mind is controlled by the brain through naturalistic processes. Therefore, we are forced to accept that MN is more likely than T, which rules out a disembodied mind. (Con, please correct me if this is a wrong interpretation).
There are two flaws with this argument:
1) There is no need to assume god must be a disembodied mind. God could be a physical entity, nature itself (Pantheism), or triune (Christianity).
2) Con admits this argument merely speaks to probability, not proof. Con writes that the probability for T "can still be high," just not as high as MN. Let's assume this is true - we need to remember we're debating about what is more reasonable, not just what is more likely. If Con is willing to admit that the possibility of T "can still be high," that is an incredible statement. Con is admitting a possibly high probability that there are eternal, divine consequences to life on earth. In that case, we must consider Pascal's Wager, which states that if there is a possibility god exists, the believer risks little and loses nothing if he is wrong. Conversely, the skeptic risks much and loses everything if he is wrong. The more reasonable wager, therefore, is to believe in god.
I cannot tell for sure if Con wishes to present the Argument from Evil. If so, please specify next round.
Small Correction and Clarification
First of all, no I do not intend to present any Argument from Evil.
Secondly, I need to change MN from
Metaphysical naturalism about the mind
Metaphysical naturalism with the exception of abstract objects and moral facts.
Fortunately this does not affect my opponents rebuttal.
Origin of the Universe
Now, I do agree that an infinite series of events might cause trouble, however, this is not the only sense in which we can understand the universe to be "eternal". But more on that later.
Let us talk about the BGV-theorem first.
Does it in any way show the universe began to exist? First of all, it is compatible with Hawkins' no-boundary proposal, so it at least does not necessitate a beginning.
So, what does it really conclude?
The BGV-theorem concludes that almost all inflationary model universes are past indeterminate. Which is to say, we have no idea what is going on, our models give no answer.
Indeed, Vilenkin himself writes
"Theologians have often welcomed any evidence for the beginning of the universe, regarding it as evidence for the existence of God … So what do we make of a proof that the beginning is unavoidable? Is it a proof of the existence of God? This view would be far too simplistic. Anyone who attempts to understand the origin of the universe should be prepared to address its logical paradoxes. In this regard, the theorem that I proved with my colleagues does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist."
Let's go back to this other sense of "eternal" I mentioned earlier.
Eternalism is a view in the philosophy of time which states that past, present and future are equally real, no moment of time ever ceases exist. The universe is eternal.
The idea was, I think, first propose Hermann Minkowski. This is known as the Minkowski spacetime of general relativity. How should we imagine this 4D blockuniverse? This passage, describing Minkowski spacetime, captures it rather well
"In this spacetime geometry, there are differences between space and time. But a difference that somehow captures the passage of time is not to be found. There is no passage of time. There are temporal orderings. We can identify earlier and later stages of temporal processes and everything in between. What we cannot find is a passing of those stages that recapitulates the presentation of the successive moments to our consciousness, all centered on the one preferred moment of "now""
This is the eternalist view.
What speaks in favor of this view? It's major rival is presentism, the view that only present object exist, past and future are not real. For any argument for a beginning universe to succeed it must rely on a view under which the past does not exist, e.g., presentism (there are other, but less important ones).
Relativity of simultaneity shows there is no unique point of time which we could call the "present". The only view compatible with this is eternalism, which is incompatible with a beginning of the universe.
Christian philosopher William Lane Craig writes
"On [eternalism], 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. If time is tenseless, then the universe never really comes into being, and, therefore, the quest for a cause of its coming into being is misconceived."
My opponent confuses two arguments. First, he argues for a finite past. Which is one step short of a cosmological argument.
Then he offers 3 possible explanations "for the *origins of the universe". But he argues for fine-tuning, not creation of the universe.
My opponent presents three possible options, necessity, chance and design, for why the universe is like it is. He invites me to include a forth.
Which I am going to do. In fact I am not only going to do that, I am going to suggest a possibly infinite amount of possibilities.
How do we know, that it cannot be a combination of factors?
For example, the weak nuclear force might be this way necessarily, while the strong nuclear force might be completely random.
We see that we can mix any number of necessary and contingent constants, thus greatly increasing the number alternatives.
Furthermore, who says a constant is either fully necessary OR fully contingent? For example, some value might be necessarily constraint to a set of values within which it is entirely random. Now we have an infinity of possible alternatives to design, but I am not even done!
Nobody says within some range (or in general) constants must be *absolutely random. Gaussian distribution seems much more reasonable to me.
Nobody, has ever demonstrated that the constants could possibly have any different values (no, the Penrose ratio is not about this). That would be a nice start before we base arguments on the assumption that they actually could.
Essentially making any fine tuning an argument from ignorance.
My opponent says, there is "no logical or empirical evidence" for this option. I take "logical evidence" to mean "sound argument".
But there is something else we have neither for: God.
If we had empirical evidence, the newspapers would have gone batsh1t crazy. Remember when physicists supposedly found the "God"-particle, which in no way is evidence for a deity?
And no, Pro cannot claim the fine tuning of the universe to be "logical" evidence for God, as this is the conclusion he is trying to arrive at.
He acknowledges he does not exclude necessity with certainty as he is just making an inference to the best explanation. Which is of course a valid thing to do. However, because of the above, it is not at all clear in what sense God would be a better explanation.
In one sense God is certainly not: The God-hypothesis posits more entities than necessity. Ockham's razor dictates that necessity is to be preferred over design. Not as the absolutely best explanation, but as a relatively best explanation compared to design.
I can use the razor as my opponent in no way challenged the idea of necessity being an option able to adequately explain what we see, he merely objected that we have no evidence, ergo no reason to accept it.
It is astonishing hard to find how Penrose calculated his miraculous ratio. If you want to search for it, good luck. Almost all websites listed are hosted by Intelligent Design proponents. Neither those sites nor my opponents source give any insight into the calculations, mostly they draw analogies to show how incredibly big this number his.
Which to me seems fishy.
ID proponents citing a know physicist and providing no substance? What does the Penrose ratio *really represent? Is it a probability as my opponent claims?
To calculate any probability we need to know the relevant probability densities. To know the probability of our universe existing we would need to consider the probability densities of various possible universe first.
But uncontroversially, our sample size is exactly 1.
Consider two dices. The "phase space" here is 2 to 12 (analogous to the phase space expressed by the Penrose ratio). Now, does this mean that every possible value is equally likely?
No, not at all.
A Misguided Argument?
Recall, the God whose existence we are debating is the omnipotent, omniscient, loving creator of our universe.
Does the fine tuning argument prove omnipotence? No, if anything it proves a being powerful enough to tune constants.
Does the argument prove omniscience? No, in fact it could prove a being only knowing how to tune constants.
Does the argument prove a loving God? No, making a universe capable of supporting life might just be done under the intention of torturing innocent.
Does it prove creation? No. My opponent argued for a finite beginning early in his round. He did not argue that God created the universe, he argued that God designed the universe.
It is entirely possible for the here relevant God to coexist with our universe just to one day think, "you know, it's boring here, let's make this place down there habitable".
I am left wondering how this argument supports my opponents position as we are not debating a designer deity.
Meaning, Purpose and Morality
As I have said before, I do believe in moral facts. I am a moral realist, I believe there are objective moral truths.
I do not, however, believe they were somehow created. Indeed, I do not even believe they are natural facts.
"If my opponent believes this to be true then they have embraced Nihilism"
which is an appeal to consequences.
In the end, this section of Pro's opening statement is devoid of any justification for any claim. Thus, there is no reason to accept his conclusions.
 Alexander Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One, pg. 176
== Response ==
Origin: Con counters my claim of the universe's finite past by suggesting that the past could be eternal. Con gives no real evidence for the viability of this claim other than describing the theoretical possibility of a philosophy called "Eternalism." Ironically, the source Con sites for this concept is a website dedicated to refuting Eternalism, which made my research very easy. My opponent's own source concludes, "we have no good grounds for dismissing the passage of time as an illusion. It has none of the marks of an illusion. Rather, it has all the marks of an objective process whose existence is independent of the existence of we humans." 
Con's source rightly identifies that if time is an illusion, and does not pass sequentially, then we should be able to perceive the future as clearly as the past. If there is no passage of time, only temporal orderings, then we should have just as many vivid "memories" of future events as past ones. But we do not. We clearly perceive past events, flowing in sequential order, into the present, and face an unknowable future. All human empirical observation confirms that time does pass, and gives no basis for accepting Eternalism.
Furthermore, time travel must be possible under Eternalism because, as Con says, "past, present, and future are equally real, no moment in time ever ceases to exist." Unlike the model of Presentisim, Eternalism posits that the past remains a real, tangible state that can be returned to from a present or future position. But this creates the "can you change the past?" dilemma. If the past remains a tangible place that one could, theoretically, return to and interact with, then you would be able go back to kill your younger self. But if you did, how could your [now dead] future self have returned to commit the murder in the first place? It is circular logic, which suggests Eternalism is unreasonable at best and completely false at worst.
Con's argument here is very strange and highly theoretical/philosophical. There is no evidence for it.
Con then addresses my use of the BGV-theorem. He claims the theorem proves nothing, and quotes Vilenkin as saying it would be too "simplistic" to conclude that God exists directly from his mathematical proof. I agree. That was not my goal. I was simply using Vilenkin's theorem as a step in showing that he universe must have a beginning, which ultimately gives weight to a "First Cause" argument.
My opponent tries to say the BGV-theorem does not conclude anything. To that, I can only quote Vilenkin himself in his conclusion: "Did the universe have a beginning? At this point, it seems the answer to that question is probably yes."  Now, I am aware that the BGV-theorem only takes into account universe models with classical metrics. There are alternatives if quantum mechanics are brought into the picture, but at that point we would once again be dancing into the purely theoretical. I'm not here to debate about math. I'm simply offering the BGV-theorem as strong evidence that the universe probably had a beginning.
Since we have no evidence to suggest time does not exist, we also must accept the logic that it is impossible to traverse an infinite series of events (therefore, there must be a beginning). It does not matter if Con can identify theoretically possible alternatives to the finite model - we are debating about what is more reasonable. Con must make a case for why their alternatives are more reasonable than what all of humanity observes on a daily basis.
Fine Tuning: My opponent offers a 4th possibility for the origin of the universe and goes on to say there could be infinite possibilities. This is not really an argument. Once again, we are searching for what is more reasonable, not just what is possible. Con is simply throwing out as many options as they can think of without giving reasons why they are likely to be true. One of the most common phrases my opponent uses in this section is "might be." This is not a solid claim or argument. I "might be" a talking elephant - but unless I give evidence for that claim, it is not reasonable to accept it. Con has given no evidence to accept any of these "infinite possibilities."
Con turns my claim that there is "no logical or empirical evidence" for necessity and says the same applies to God. That is, of course, the whole point of this debate, and it is Con's burden to expose the supposed lack of evidence by refuting me. They attempt to do this by claiming that if there was evidence for God, "the newspapers would have gone batsh1t crazy." The deductive reasoning of this claim would look like this:
"If there was evidence for God, then the newspapers would go batsh1t crazy. There is no evidence for God, so the newspapers have not gone batsh1t crazy."
Right? Wrong. This is a logical fallacy called Denying the Antecedent. Denying the premise does not automatically negate the conclusion. Regardless, I would say reality is quite the opposite - perceived evidence for God is perhaps the one thing that humans have gone the most crazy about since the beginning of time. The hysteria surrounding the Pope's visit to Washington D.C. this week is clear evidence of this.
Finally, Con invokes Ockham's Razor to say that Theism posits more entities than necessary, so design is not preferred. Really? Theism is the least extravagant explanation by far. At the risk of over-simplifying my position, Theism gives the most basic origin theory of all: "God did it." Atheism gives no explanation, and no explanation is not a simpler explanation.  Ockham's Razor most certainly does not support Con's position.
Chance: Con counters my use of Penrose's ratio simply by saying it "seems fishy." They then complain that the source websites are "hosted by Intelligent Design proponents" and contain no substance. Do I also get to complain then that my opponent cites pro-Atheism websites (http://commonsenseatheism.com...)? I find this incredible, since the source I sighted was a video where Penrose explains in great detail for over 4 minutes exactly what substance his calculation contains. Furthermore, Roger Penrose is an atheist, so there should be no suspicion of bias just because the cited video happens to be on an I.D. website. I apologize that Con finds my point "fishy," but that is hardly a rebuttal.
But I'll play along. Perhaps Penrose's ratio is inaccurate. The broader point, and one that is largely beyond dispute, is that the odds of the universe existing by chance are incredible. They are beyond incredible - they are astronomical (no pun intended). When returning this debate to the central question of what is more reasonable, Con must give evidence for why it is more reasonable to accept the incredibly small probability of random chance over design. They have not done so.
In the section my opponent titles "A Misguided Argument?" Con tries to show that fine tuning would only prove a being who is powerful and knowledgeable enough to tune constraints - falling far short of omnipotence and omniscience. But they miss that these are power attributes, not power constraints. Yes, it suggests a being powerful enough to tune constraints, but it says nothing about additional power. A being who can tune constraints likely has power to do many other things as well. It does not follow that a fine tuning God has no power to control other things.
Con then accuses me of not proving a loving God or creation. I don't have to prove it. I simply have to show why belief in god is more reasonable than non-belief. I can easily turn these same charges on my opponent, since BoP is shared: prove there is not a loving God, prove there was not a creation.
Meaning, Purpose, Morality: Much to my shock, Con has affirmed the existence of objective morality. This would, seemingly, derail their entire argument of an uncreated universe, because objective moral truths cannot exist as products of random, purposeless chance. Con says that moral truths were neither created nor natural facts. I would therefore request that my opponent expands on this point, because as of now they offer no explanation for these claims.
Conclusion: I will conclude by re-clarifying my arguments. Some of these are necessary inferences from my Round 1 case:
1. The universe must have a finite past. It therefore had a cause.
2. The universe cannot create itself, and nothing cannot produce something. Therefore, something existed before the universe. This something was the "First Cause" of all things.
3. This "First Cause" must have been outside space and time, because space and time must be finite.
4. Something that is outside of space and time which created everything that exists and everything that we know has "all the power" and "all the knowledge."
5. The universal experience of morality, meaning, and purpose (which Con agrees with) is evidence that a law giver with perfect moral understanding exists. A being of perfect moral understanding must be loving and wholly good, by definition.
6. Non-theism cannot account for 1-5, therefore theism is more reasonable.
Back to you, Con.
1) Pro claims premise two is a non-sequitur. But I have to ask how this is possible as it is a premise, not an inference. He could claim, as he later did, that the premise is wrong, but not that it is a non-sequitur.
He ignores my justification for the premise, stating
"Unless Con gives reason for why relationship with god must be conscious, this entire argument disintegrates."
I have. And he deals with it under 6).
2) My opponent states
"There is no reason to assume that god is loving or relational. We are not debating about any specific god here"
To which I respond, yes, there is and yes, we do.
"God - The omnipotent, omniscient, loving creator of our universe"
Pro continues to make my exact point under 3), so why include 2) in the first place?
3) "How does Schellenberg know the definition of "perfectly loving?"
This implies that definitions and the meaning of words in general is not up to us, but somehow transcends us.
If the words we use actually mean something completely different when applied to God, then what is it we are talking about?
If it is beyond human reason, then we have no reason to believe in it.
God, for the purposes of this debate, is defined as loving. Either, this dictates something close to what Schellenberg proposed and this point is defeated or we are not really talking about anything.
No matter what we do, either the argument stands or we simply have a separate reason to deny the existence of this God.
4) Pro claims
"Essentially, Con's argument says that "I am perfectly reasonable, open, and unbiased, and if legitimate evidence for god existed I would surely be able to see it.""
To put my response in the words of my opponent
"One must admit there's a certain arrogance in this."
Not only have I never said that I am any of these things, I also never said that I even desire some relation with this God.
In fact, I could sit here, thinking "this God is a douche, I hate him", yet propose this exact argument, precisely as I did.
Arguments like this can be understood as an internal challenge to theistic belief systems.
The fact that some people do think they discovered God is not evidence against this premise. It would be if those numbers were quite a lot higher, but that is not the case.
"Can we ever be sure there are not unconscious motives and biases tinting our views?"
Which is a question, not an argument.
In fact, one would expect some life-long seekers to actually be biased in favor of belief in God, yet fail to believe just that.
He proceeds to claim that it's a matter of evaluating the evidence differently. Which is to say that both sides are reasonable in their belief.
But that should not be the case. If there was something close to a perfectly loving God, seeking personal relationships, then reasonable non-belief should be a lot harder than it supposedly is in actuality.
5) Here Pro argues there is no perfect evidence God could present to persuade everyone and draws an analogy unreasonable antivaxxers.
But God is not a physician, God is omnipotent.
He could speak with thundering voice down from the skies or make everyone see divine appearances. The list of things he could do to persuade if not everyone, at least most reasonable people is potentially infinite.
Note, I am not saying God would necessarily do this, I am merely showing why Pro's contention fails.
6) "Jill's existence is contingent on John's knowledge of her"
No, but this is not the point. The point is, to be able for two agents to be in a meaningful relation, both have to be aware of each other.
It makes little sense to say "Jill and John are in a meaningful relation, but John does not know Jill".
7) My opponent claims the argument, at best, shows God is not loving, not his nonexistence.
This, quite frankly, is false.
God is defined as
"The omnipotent, omniscient, loving creator of our universe"
These are the necessary and together sufficient conditions for the existence of God. In denying a single condition from the definiens, I am denying the whole definiendum. This is how definitions work.
In a very simple form:
P1) If God exists, God is loving.
P2) God is not loving.
C1) Therefore, God does not exist.
First, I would like explain the argument a little more clearly.
The probability of E
represents the probability of E being the case.Since we know E, we can assign a high probability here. It doesn't even have to be 1.
I am asking under which assumption E is more likely, naturalism or theism. This is expressed by
Pr(E | MN) (the probability of E under the assumption of MN) and Pr(E | T) (the probability of E under the assumption of T)
If sentient beings exist & naturalism is true (assumption), what would we expect to see?
We would expect E in all possible worlds where the above two conditions hold. It is logically impossible under MN for the mind to not depend on the brain. Thus, the probability of E under the assumption MN, Pr(E | MN), is 1.
If sentient beings exist & theism is true (assumption), what would we expect to see?
T is of course logically compatible with E. But, T postulates at least one disembodied mind, who happens to be all powerful.
If T is true, then we could expect all sorts of things. God could have created an idealist world, a materialist world or anything else we could possibly or not even possibly imagine.
The point is T does not logically entail any of these, that is why the probability of E under the assumption T, Pr(E | T), cannot be 1. It has to be less than that. If it was 1, then it would be impossible for there to be a world with disembodied human minds. But that is not true, at least for theism.
Therefore, the assumption MN better explains what we see than T. Or in other words the explanatory power of MN is greater than that of T.
It makes fewer assumption, it is more easily falsifiable and it offers more details about the things we should expect to see and which we should not expect to see.
1) Whether or not God is a disembodied mind is actually irrelevant. The argument concerns on which assumption, T or MN, is more likely. A pantheistic God relevant to this debate, would still be omnipotent. Thus, still giving at least antecedent reason to expect disembodied human minds.
2) I am speaking of proof. Evidential arguments still resemble proof. The Fine-tuning argument my opponent presented is itself an evidential, not a logical, argument and would, if successful, constitute proof of a designer.
My opponent states we are debating what is more reasonable to believe in, not what is more likely. But these are not mutually exclusive. That which is most likely true is what we, as rational agents, have most reason to believe in. This is how we do science, this is how we do philosophy.
We do have more reason to believe in relative space than to believe in absolute space simply because it is more likely true.
First of all, I said the probability of E under the assumption T could still be high, not that it is high or that we have even antecedent reason to think it is high. It might just be zero.
Since I supposedly admitted a high probability of Gods existence my opponent appeals to the Wager.
Now, I do think it is reasonable to expect an afterlife of some sorts if such a God were to exist.
However, my opponent assumes a pluralist or exclusivist view on the afterlife.
What does this mean? Pluralism is the belief that everyone goes to heaven who correctly follows his religion. Exclusivism is the belief that only those go to heaven who follow the correct religion.
The Wager has to assume either of these views.
Why should we accept any of them? My opponent did not argue in favor for them.
Indeed, since we are talking about a loving God, I think inclusivism, the view that everyone goes to heaven, is the safest view on the afterlife.
Perhaps we should just as well wager that one of the first two views is correct.
But God is also omniscient, he knows why you believe what you believe.
Pascal's Wager is an appeal to corrupt, greedy and self-interested motivations. No God interested in a personal relationship would grant you access to heaven after discovering the reasons for your belief.
Indeed, such a God would most likely let those in who proportioned their belief to the available evidence and concluded his existence via rationally justifiable means, not self-interest.
But since we find very strong reasons against the existence of God, like the argument from physical minds, we are not rationally justified in concluding his existence.
It's unfortunate that Con only responded to my Round 2 argument, seeing as this is my last round. In any case, I'll do my best to respond to what was written.
Con's response to my rebuttal #1 from Round 2 is to simply say it cannot be a non-sequitur because it is not an inference. But it most certainly is. Let's look again at what Con wrote:
"(2) Necessarily, one is at a time in a position to participate in meaningful conscious relationship with God only if at that time one believes that God exists"
While I realize that Con intends (2) as a premise within a larger deduction, the individual sentence contains an internal premise/conclusion relationship which is what I'm attacking. Allow me to rearrange it a bit:
"if at that time one believes that God exists..." (premise)
[then] "one is in a position to participate in a meaningful conscious relationship with God..." (inference)
It does not follow that belief in god must lead to a meaningful, conscious relationship with Him. This is traditionally called Deism - the belief in a God without accepting a specific revelation or model of interaction with Him. Therefore, it's a non sequitur.
Con's response to my rebuttal #3 is very important. Con protests that words must actually mean something, and that reason is destroyed if the meaning if words can be transcendent. Con sums it up perfectly - "then what is it we are talking about?" I agree. However, this is not the point I'm making....
I am not arguing that descriptions of God are transcendent and therefore meaningless. Con has submitted an opinion for what perfectly loving behavior would look like ("something close to what Schellenberg proposed"), and accuses God, if he exists, of violating that opinion, thereby suggesting a perfectly loving God does not exist. My objection, very simply, is that human understanding is confined within a flawed paradigm. Therefore, it would be impossible for us to accurately identify divine behavior as "imperfect" because we have no ability to conceive what perfection actually is. It does not mean the idea of perfection is meaningless, but rather that we must admit it would be impossible for us to accuse a perfect being, if he exists, of being imperfect.
Does this mean God is beyond reason? No. It's simply an admission that there are some things we don't fully understand. Con's argument is not an appeal to reason, it's an appeal to arrogance:
"God doesn't behave the way that we think he should. Therefore, god probably doesn't exist."
This is not an argument. It's a complaint.
4) Con offers a strange response to my rebuttal #4. Con says "if those numbers [of people who believe in God] were a lot higher" then it would be evidence against their premise (4). Well, those numbers are pretty high..... most estimates conclude around 85% of the world's population believes in God . Yes, statistics can be skewed and this is a hard topic to measure, but even with a significant margin of error that number is still very large. It's hard to imagine how much higher the number would have to be before being accepted as evidence by Con.
Con says it should not be the case that both sides can be reasonable. But it is. You can find examples of this everywhere. For example, two intelligent, reasonable economists can look at the same market data and reach different conclusions about the economy's strength. Two doctors can draw different conclusions from the same chart. My opponent seems to be saying this is a contest between unreasonable belief and reasonable non-belief. I argue they can both be reasonable, under our definition of reason, but that belief in god offers more reasonable explanations for our observed reality.
In response to rebuttal #5, Con says that God could thunder "down from the skies" and make "most reasonable people" believe. First, it's important to identify the subtle but significant goalpost shifting here. Con as gone from claiming that "all reasonable people would believe" to simply "most" of them. Second, who can say that God never has appeared to people? While I am not advocating any particular religion, many histories (both scriptural and secular) have recorded instances where a god did allegedly appear or speak. Con provides no reason to reject these records, which would be unfalsifiable anyway. Finally, this argument suggests that a "perfectly loving" god would force everyone to believe through divine intervention. I submit, simply, that forcing people to love you does not seem very loving.....
For #6, Con says that two agents must be aware of each other to have a meaningful relation. I agree - but that is irrelevant to this debate. Con's definition of God in Round 1 is "The omnipotent, omniscient, loving creator of our universe." There is nothing about "meaningful relations" to be found. You certainly can love someone without them knowing about you. A mother can love her comatose son. In fact, this is precisely how many religions describe our relationship with God - as being "dead" or "blind" until a moment of conversion. I'm not trying to quibble with semantics, but it does not follow that "loving" must equate to "meaningful relationship."
Con says it makes little sense to say Jill and John are in a meaningful relation if John does not know Jill. But that's not what was originally said. Con said "Jill loves John" and that can certainly be accomplished without John's knowledge.
Con finishes their responses with a simplified deduction:
P1) If God exists, God is loving.
P2) God is not loving.
C1) Therefore, God does not exist.
If this is the core of Con's argument, then it does not work. P2 must affirm the existence of God in order to deny it, which is circular logic. Consider the argument in different terms:
P1) If fire exists, fire is hot.
P2) fire is not hot.
C1) Therefore, fire does not exist.
How can we declare "fire is not hot" if we say that fire does not exist? It's a meaningless statement. In order to say "fire is not hot," we must assume there is an entity, fire, that we can measure to gauge its temperature. But the moment we do that, we affirm its existence, meaning our conclusion is incorrect. There could be numerous reasons why we felt no heat from the fire - perhaps our nerves are damaged, or we're too far away, or the flame is behind glass. The same applies to God - it is not reasonable to conclude his non-existence based on a perceived lack of love.
Responding to my rebuttal, Con says that what is most likely is most reasonable. But that's not necessarily true. Probability is a part of reason, but it is not the whole. We make improbable, yet completely reasonable decisions every day - it's improbable that I will crash my car on the way to the grocery store, yet I put my seat belt on. It is improbable someone will try to rob my home, yet I still lock my door. Why are these actions considered reasonable? Because reason is more than pure probability. It also involves risk vs. reward, cost vs. benefit. This is why I think Pascal's Wager is a strong argument in this case. Even if T is less probable, it is infinitely more reasonable when also considering risk vs. reward.
But is T significantly less probable? Perhaps, but Con doesn't really know. To quote my opponent: "T could still be high...." or, "it might be just zero." This is not reason, it's just a range of possible options.
To counter Pascal's Wager, Con says that God would not allow people into heaven who believed out of self-interest. This is a contradictory claim. Claiming that a loving deity interested in personal relationship would kick believers out based on their motives is contrary to Con's own definition of loving quoted from Schellenberg, which says that a perfectly loving god would always ensure meaningful contact with herself. Indeed, unconditional love is blind to motive - it is unconditional.
But, let's assume there is some contingency on practicing the right religion. This does not help Con's argument at all. It reduces the chances of the believer being correct, yes, but the non-believer's chances remain exactly the same: zero. Pluralism or Exclusivism is irrelevant; when we're simply talking belief vs. unbelief, belief is still more reasonable.
To conclude, we must remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. While the BoP is shared, my opponent is advancing a claim that runs contrary to the almost universal experience of human culture since the beginning of recorded history. That is, by all measures, an extraordinary claim. Con has offered some theories and alternate possibilities, but a possibility is neither evidence nor extraordinary.
Thanks to Con for a fun debate, I enjoyed it. As per the rules, I will waive the last round.
I am perfectly aware that the source stands against me. If I didn't have a response it would be quite silly of me to use it, wouldn't it?
Perceiving the Future
Pro states we should be able to perceive the future and past.
Take the ordinary/everyday view on time. Which might just be presentism. According to it, the "now" is all that exists. I exist now, Saturn exists now, we are just spatially disconnected. This explains why I perceive the weather here at home and why I don't perceive the weather on Saturn's backside.
Under eternalism every point of time exists.
I exist, martian outposts exist, we are just temporally disconnected. For Minkowski spacetime, space and time are analogous.
This explains why I am not able to perceive the martian outpost which exist 1000 years from now.
Pro correctly states that time travel is possible under eternalism. Which is an upside for my view.
We know for quite some time that, if you travel very fast, near the speed of light, or come close to very massive objects, such as black holes, you can "travel into the future".
We make use of this time travel everyday. It is known as time dilation and we use it for our GPS to work properly.
"Because an observer on the ground sees the satellites in motion relative to them, Special Relativity predicts that we should see their clocks ticking more slowly"
This would not be possible if presentism is true.
Pro immediately takes this to enable all kinds of paradoxes, when he talks about the eventual possibility of killing your younger self.
"It is circular logic"
No, this has nothing to do with circular reasoning. This is what we call a paradox.
However, although it's logically possible to travel back in time, you would not be able to change anything. If you were to travel back, you would have already been there. So, if your 20 years old self visits your 10 years old self, you *will fail to kill yourself, because you have already failed to kill yourself.
Finally, my opponent claims there to be no evidence for my view, but he completely ignored my argument from special relativity for eternalism.
Pro objects that this contradicts our experiences, but he cannot on one hand appeal to physics to further his argument and on the other dismiss it in favor of everyday experience.
Concerning the BGV-theorem he quotes Vilenkin himself. However, his source, reasonablefaith.org, does not cite Vilenkin at any point. But even if he said something like this, judging by the language, it was certainly not from any of his professional works.
The 2003 paper is rather clear on its conclusion .
"almost all causal geodesics, when extended to the past of an arbitrary point, reach the boundary of the inflating region of spacetime in a finite proper time"
Which is to say the universe is not infinitely old. However nothing in this paper suggests, that there was literally nothing before that boundary. Which would be needed to speak of creation. It changed, it did not begin.
It continues with
"some new physics is necessary in order to determine the correct conditions at the boundary"
Which is to say we have no clue.
Yes, suggesting an infinite amount of different possibilities my opponent did not consider is an argument. He says he just tries to conclude the most reasonable option.
Imagine examining three swans of an potentially infinite swan population. You discover these three swans are black. Following my opponents reasoning it would be on this basis more reasonable to say all swans are black than to suspend judgement.
Which is absurd. And, as I've said, an argument from ignorance.
It is not my job to present evidence for my suggested possibilities. It is his job to defend the premises of his argument. Therefore, he has to consider at least an representative sample of possibilities, not just three.
But since he dismissed this completely, he has not provided sufficient reason to accept his premises.
I agree, it's "the whole point of this debate" to see whether there is evidence for God. It supposedly is my burden to "expose the supposed lack of evidence by refuting me".
However, as I have said, my opponent cannot use the conclusion of his argument to claim there to be more evidence for God than for necessity. That is to beg the question.
He then makes the the most unnecessary strawman I have seen so far.
"If we had empirical evidence, the newspapers would have gone batsh1t crazy"
He says I am denying the antecedent, "we have no empirical evidence". This way I supposedly conclude that the newspapers have not gone crazy.
Now, why on earth would I want to conclude that?
This debate is about the existence of God, not newspapers.
It is painfully obvious that the newspapers have not gone crazy, therefore I conclude there is no evidence.
It was a joking remark for an obvious conclusion and does not deserve to be taken this seriously.
The reason why I invoked the razor was explained in the same paragraph.
"I can use the razor as my opponent in no way challenged the idea of necessity being an option able to adequately explain what we see, he merely objected that we have no evidence, ergo no reason to accept it."
Which he ignored.
He asserts atheism gives no explanation.
First of all, atheism does not even attempt to explain this, it's a category mistake. I might just as well prefer a fairy theory over evolution, as fairies give at least some explanation for quantum entanglement while evolution gives none. Sounds absurd? It is.
Secondly, if we interpret his statement as referring to physical necessity giving no explanation, then he commits the fallacy of proof by assertion. As I've said, I used the razor precisely because my opponent has not contested the notion of necessity being a valid explanation. Now he simply asserts that it isn't and demands me to defend necessity.
To get this clear. This is his argument. He needs to justify his premises to reach his conclusion. Unless he does that, there is no reason to think his conclusion is true.
But now, there is no opportunity left for him to do so.
Pro misses the point of my rebuttal. Neither is all I have to say about the ratio that it is fishy, nor is my point that the ratio might be inaccurate.
"Con must give evidence for why it is more reasonable to accept the incredibly small probability of random chance over design"
No, I do not have to do that. My point is that the Penrose Ratio is not even a probability to begin with. Which I have explained in the round Pro is responding to. Therefore we cannot talk about incredibly small possibilities as we do not even have a single probability at hand, which we could talk about.
Thus, my opponent cannot use the Penrose Ratio to argue against chance.
Further, he dropped my contention that nobody has ever demonstrated that the constants could possibly have any different values.
My opponent states
"A being who can tune constraints likely has power to do many other things as well"
To which I of course agree. I never claimed anything to the contrary.
But on what basis do we conclude that it can in fact do not only many other things, but all other things?
Recall, it is a necessary condition for a being to be omnipotent before we could say it is God. It has to be fulfilled for some being to be.
So even if his argument was successful, it would be incredibly weakened by this consideration.
He continues with
"prove there is not a loving God, prove there was not a creation"
Which I have done with the argument from Divine Hiddeness and Eternalism, respectively.
Meaning, Purpose, Morality
"objective moral truths cannot exist as products of random, purposeless chance".
But I already said I don't believe they are. He demands me to justify my believe in the objectivity of morality.
So, let's get this straight, as well.
It was his claim that
"humanity's universal sense of meaning, purpose, and morale value judgments should be interpreted as empirical evidence that these concepts are real. This demands there must be a "God"",
Again, he has to justify his premises to reach his conclusion.
I owe no rebuttal to nobody unless there is at least antecedent reason to believe his premises, but Pro has not given any.
Some Responses to Pro's Last Round
Originally I did not want to respond to keep a clearer structure in this debate. However I feel some points made by Pro need to be addressed.
if at that time one believes that God exists..." (premise)
[then] "one is in a position to participate in a meaningful conscious relationship with God..." (inference)
This is no inference, it is called an implication. In fact separated like this neither part is a valid expression. You cannot state an antecedent (if) without a consequent (then) and still have a valid argument.
He brings up deism again. But we are not talking about deism, we are talking about a loving God, as defined.
Pro says I am shifting the goal posts in going from "all" to "most people". However, I don't even know where I supposedly made the first claim. I said
"if not everyone, at least most reasonable people"
But let's say, I shifted my claim. Moving the goal posts is a fallacy where at first little and later more evidence is demanded. In going from all to most one requires less, not more evidence.
He complains my argument is circular. However I said this is a very simple form of what I wanted to bring across without delving into formal logic speak.
It is painfully obvious that the actual argument is not circular. He dropped my actual objection here.
Lastly, he claims a loving God would not kick you out of paradise, but the wager relies itself on exclusivism/pluralism, which would are inconsistent with a loving God in them self! Thus the wager is a non-starter.
Thanks for the debate and good luck in the voting period!
I feel I must clarify the Vilenkin quote I used was from Vilenkin's actual published work, which I cited from the Cornell University Library in Round 1 (http://arxiv.org...), not reasonablefaith.org. I'd also like re-clarify that BoP in this debate was shared. to But no matter, it's for the voters to decide now.
Thanks again to Con!
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