The Instigator
Magic8000
Con (against)
Losing
41 Points
The Contender
Nur-Ab-Sal
Pro (for)
Winning
52 Points

God Exists

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 22 votes the winner is...
Nur-Ab-Sal
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,672 times Debate No: 31071
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (256)
Votes (22)

 

Magic8000

Con

Resolution: God Exists
I will be negating this and defending the position that God probably doesn't exist.

BOP is shared

Rules:
No Forfeits
No Fallacies
No Insults
72 Hours to Post
8000 Characters Max
1 Week Voting Period
Start your arguments in round 1
Follow the debate structure

Structure:
Round 1: Pre-debate info and Con's arguments
Round 2: My arguments + rebuttals
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Rebuttals
Round 5: Conclusion, no new arguments or rebuttals. Keep under 1000 characters.
Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

I’d like to thank Magic8000 for challenging me to this debate on the existence of God. I'll define God as a being which has the general Judeo-Christian attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness, which all major monotheistic religions ascribe to the being they understand as God. I'm not referring to a specific deity, for that would require more than 8000 characters, just a classical theistic conception of God.

Introduction

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor of the Church, is one of the greatest Western philosophers of religion to ever live. In his magnum opus, the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas writes, “there are five ways of proving there is a God.” (ST, 1.2.3) These arguments rely on Aristotelian metaphysics which I will explain as the argument progresses. Out of the Five Ways, I’ll use the first – a simple cosmological argument based on the Aristotelian idea of motion. I’ll then analyze the implications of this argument and show how it affirms the existence of God.

The First Way, or the Thomistic Cosmological Argument

For Aristotle and Aquinas, motion did not mean spatial movement, it meant change. So in order to understand the First Way, let’s analyze the concept of change. However, for the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, change is nonexistent; for this entails that a state of affairs, such as my microwave oven blaring obnoxiously, must come from another state of affairs, my microwave oven’s silence. To Parmenides, this is impossible – the being of my microwave’s blaring comes from the non-being of my microwave’s silence, but ex nihilo, nihil fit, Parmenides says: out of non-being, no being can come. Aristotle responded to this argument with the distinction between potentiality and actuality – that is, the new state of affairs exists as a potential within the previous state of affairs, until it is actualized by that previous state.

Now, we know that a potential cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist as a state of affairs yet. So only something actual can raise a potential to actuality. In the case of my microwave oven, the microwave oven must exist before it can raise its potential to trumpet cacophony. So what is actualized is actualized by an actual. However, we must stop somewhere – for only can we observe change if something is changing it; thus, an infinite regress of actuals is meaningless and would not be able to produce change. Note, however, that here Aquinas is referring to ahierarchical system of motion, not a linear system of motion. A hierarchical system is one in which potentials are simultaneously dependent on actuals; for instance, a microwave’s potential to be raised three feet in the air is actualized by a three-foot-tall refrigerator, which is in turn actualized by the Earth, and so forth. So Aquinas means there must be a “First Mover” in this sense. Further note that the “First Mover” exists as actus purus, pure actuality, without any potentials, for these potentials would only move the system of motion further back – or, in Aquinas’s words, “we arrive then at a first cause of change not itself being changed by anything, and this is what everybody understands by God.” (ST, 1.2.3)

Analysis

We know by definition that this unmoved mover is devoid of any potentiality. A being of pure act cannot be material, as that which is material inherently has potentials – for instance, to grow warmer, to move, etc. Incapable of any change, by definition, this immaterial being must be immutable and atemporal. We also know that this being is singular, for if there were more, then to distinguish between them there must be some unactualized potentiality – but we know thatactus purus presents no potentialities.

Aquinas distinguishes between two forms of power: active power, the ability to act, and passive potentiality, the ability to be acted upon. Thus, as Pure Act, this being has all possible active power; that is, he has all possible ability to act, but no ability to be acted upon. Thus we can derive omnipotence.

Knowledge, in the Aristotelian tradition, consists of three sequential states: the ability to grasp concepts, the ability to form complete statements on those concepts, and the ability to form conclusions based on those statements. We know that a cause can only give what it has itself – for instance, a microwave oven cannot turn our leftovers into chickens, because it simply does not have that ability, while it can heat. As the mover of all forms (in Aristotelian hylemorphism, the form is the pattern of related things; for instance, the form of man is rational animality) this being must have all forms in this immaterial, noetic way. Thus we can derive omniscience.

An objective standard of goodness exists as the extent to which a being actualizes its essence. For instance, a good treeis one which realizes its form of growing out with a great number of branches. Because this being is purely actual, it exists as absolute perfection, having no possible potentiality to be greater.

Hence, there exists an immaterial, atemporal, immutable, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good being which sustains all in the Universe.

Conclusion

In the First Way, I (or rather St. Thomas, to not take credit) demonstrated that the Aristotelian concept of motionrequires there be a First Mover of pure actuality to actualize the potential for change. I then analyzed the properties this First Mover must have as Pure Act, deriving omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness. And, after this long journey, we arrive at the affirmation of the existence of a God in the Judeo-Christian sense.

I’d like to thank Dr. Edward Feser for his book Aquinas, and for his lecture at Our Lady of Mercy, which was very helpful in understanding the relevant parts of the Summa Theologiae.

Debate Round No. 1
Magic8000

Con

I would like to thank Nur-Ab-Sal for accepting him. I would also like to thank him for thanking me for challenging him!

Expanded Argument from Non-Cognitivism

  1. There are three attributes of existents which concern us particularly, these being:

    A. Primary Attributes- The basic nature a particular thing is composed of. What a thing is, specifically, that it may do particular things or affect those around it in a particular way. The following two types of attributes provided below can only be applied to a thing if they can be related to an existent’s primary attribute and the primary attribute is positively identified

    B. Secondary Attributes - Character traits or abilities a particular thing may enact or possess. examples: being generous, kind, powerful, wise

    C. Relational Attributes – What we associate with the character. For example, in the case of President Obama, the fact that he is the President of the United States is an example of a relational attribute.

2. B as well as C are dependent upon and must be related to an existent’s A in order to be considered meaningful.

2a. This is known by the law of identity. A carrot has the primary attribute allowing it to have the secondary attribute of color. While a feeling doesn’t have the primary attribute to have color as a B or C attribute.


3. The term “God” lacks a positively identified A.

3a. Giving it B and C attributes without giving A, is like saying “nothing” can love. Nothing doesn’t actually have a primary attribute to love.

4. Because of this, the term “God” holds no justified A, B, or C. (From 2)

5.However, an attribute-less term (a term lacking A, B, and C) is meaningless.

5a. Simple, by the law of identity, if something doesn’t have an identity, it doesn’t have meaning. It would make it a belief in nothing.

6. Therefore, the term “God” is meaningless. (From 3, 4, 5)

C. Therefore, the god concept is invalid.

This would mean talking about or giving evidence of a god is useless, until a definition is given. Pro gave the tri-omni definition, but these are all clearly secondary and do not succeed.

First Way: Argument from Motion.

Pro gives us the argument from motion which is based of the Aristotelian idea of motion (as stated).


I must ask Pro, is he using “motion” as just a synonym for “cause” or are you basing it off the validity of Aristotelian physics?

I ask, why does this first mover need to be God? Pro says the mover needs to be “immaterial”, but this is uncertain.

"What existed before the big bang? It's still an open question. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps another universe or a different version of our own. Perhaps a sea of universes, each with a different set of laws dictating its physical reality." [1]

There's no reason to assume an immaterial mover. Why can't there exist some type of matter without potential? Even if it was a necessary part, why should we think it's a being? Same with atemporal, why should we think of something atemporal is a being? It's also claimed the mover is immutable. This can't be true, it must be mutable in some way or else it would still be creating universes.

Pro tries to prove omnipotence by claiming “...two forms of power: active power, the ability to act, and passive potentiality, the ability to be acted upon. Thus, as Pure Act, this being has all possible active power;”


I see no justification for this either. This is committing an excluded middle fallacy, because if something has no potential, this doesn't mean it has all active power and vice versa.

I need Pro to explain what he means in the omniscience section. Are you saying the mover must be omniscient because it must have everything it gives and since it gave man rationality, it too must have all forms of rationality, meaning omniscience? Just want to make sure, before I go any further.

Pro says the mover must be good, because an “ objective standard of goodness” exists. What do you mean by “objective standard of goodness”. If you define it as coming from God, then the argument is circular. Since you assume goodness comes from God, to prove this God is good. If it means something else, then the conclusion can't be reached. Why must the mover be moral and why should we think this morality came from it?

Natural Movers.

Under the mainstream interpretations of quantum physics, quantum vacuum fluctuations have no cause. [2][3]

But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. Keep in mind E=mc^2 shows energy and matter are basically one in the same, they can transform into each other The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus, in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero. [4]

Edward Tryon said


The laws of physics place no limit on the scale of vacuum fluctuations. The duration is of course subject to the restriction ΔEΔt ~ h, but this merely implies that our Universe has zero energy, which has already been made plausible. [5]

Tryon's model is falsified, but he set the stage. There's newer updated models that use the same foundations as Tryon. Like Alexander Vilenkin's quantum tunneling model. His model states the universe came from an uncaused quantum tunneling event. [6]

So the first mover doesn't need to be a God at all. Why should we believe in the God hypothesis over the scientific alternatives?


Back to Pro!

Sources

____________________________________________________________________________

[1] http://science.howstuffworks.com...

[2] “In the everyday world, energy is always unalterably fixed; the law of energy conservation is a cornerstone of classical physics. But in the quantum microworld, energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion.” Davies, Paul. 1983. God and the New Physics. London: J. M. Dent & Sons.

[3] “Even in a perfect vacuum—a region of space containing neither matter nor energy—particle-antiparticle pairs (such as an electron and its antiparticle opposite, the positron) constantly appear and disappear....”

https://www.cfa.harvard.edu...

[4] Hawking, Steven. 1988. A Brief History of Time. Toronto: Bantam

[5] Tryon, Edward P. 1973. Is the universe a vacuum fluctuation? Nature 246: 396-397.

[6] http://www.mukto-mona.com...

Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

Thanks to Con.

Non-Cognitivism

Con argues that God has no “primary attribute,” or a distinct nature that holds His essence. Con argues that I used a tri-omni definition (obviously speaking of the properties of omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness), and since these are clearly what he called “secondary attributes,” his non-cognitivism campaign supposedly strikes at the core of my argument. However, there are two problems with his argument.

First, Con’s argument from “non-cognitivism” has an obvious problem: that “primary attributes” aren’t very meaningful unless they, too, are composed of “secondary attributes.” For instance, what am I? I’m a human (specifically, an Atlantean king). But what is “humanity”? Aquinas agreed with Aristotle that the essence of humanity is rational animality, but these are only “secondary attributes” of a man. So, what is the “primary attribute” of rationality, or animality? “Secondary attributes” are the only meaningful way to make sense of language, as iteratively questioning the “primary attribute” of something will return no result that does not appeal to any “secondary attributes.”

Unfortunately, there is a deeper problem. Con assumes that there must be an existence above God’s essence, such that God’s existence is prior to his essence. However, Con’s trinary hierarchy of “attributes” is a rather crude way to regard a being of Pure Actuality – for God isn’t “composed” of metaphysical parts such as “attributes,” etc.; rather, we view these as useful analogical tools to describe an ultimately simple being of Pure Act. That is to say that the “properties” of omnipotence, omniscience, etc., do not describe metaphysical parts which, when added, form into the whole of God’s essence; rather, they are merely pointers to a distinct being. Allow me to explain further.

Existence is actuality; a potentiality is something, but it is something that does not exist in the way that an actual thing does. For instance, the potentiality of my microwave to beep obnoxiously does not exist yet in the actual of my microwave’s calm silence. However, I’ve already proven that God is absolutely devoid of potentiality as a being of Pure Act. So as Pure Actuality, God’s essence is existence, because actuality is existence. This may be a little abstract for some, but it can nevertheless be demonstrated through a rather simple analysis.

So when I say that God “has” these “attributes,” note that I am not arguing that God is a distinct being above His individual “properties.” God is Pure Actuality, which is His essence, which is His existence. The “attribute” argument is completely useless when discussing the metaphysically simple God of classical theism.

The First Way

Con more or less undertands the Aristotelian idea of motion, which is synonymous with change, not causation. For the sake of clarity, I’d like to add that the First Way stems from ideas central to Aristotelian metaphysics, which is entirely distinct from Aristotle’s outdated views on physics.

Onto the argument: Con implicitly concedes there must be a first mover, as he does not question Aquinas’s metaphysical demonstration of it – however, this is not saying much, as he almost completely misunderstands the argument as presented. His rebuttals concerning the Big Bang assume I’m arguing for a First Mover from a linear series of events, rather than a hierarchical series as I explicitly stated in first round. Although I do believe God created the Universe, and although I do believe Con misconstrues modern physics, it is irrelevant to my argument – Aristotle held that the Universe never began (that is, he held there doesn’t need to be a First Mover in a linear series) but simultaneously held there must be a First Mover in the hierarchical sense, as a First Mover maintains the motion of the Universe. This is a very common misunderstanding of Aquinas’s argument. To summarize: the First Mover has absolutely nothing to do with causing the Universe in a linear, temporal sense, and everything to do with moving the Universe in a hierarchical, simultaneous sense.

Con objects to my analysis of the First Mover. So as a being of Pure Actuality, it is impossible for God to be a material thing – as I’ve stated before, materials necessarily have potentials; for instance, the potential to grow warmer, or move, or be split into its constituents, etc. Con also claims that God can’t be atemporal, but, devoid of any potentials, anything Purely Actual cannot act on the potential to temporally shift from t = 0 to t = 1. So, in the same sense that God is necessarily immaterial, God is necessarily atemporal, as He is absolutely devoid of any potentials. It is in this same sense that God is immutable, for immutable means unable to change, and, lacking any potential which could be raised to actuality, it is metaphysically impossible for God to change. That God created a Universe is an act of Will, which represents an actualization of the potential Universe’s existence, not the actualization of a potential within God.

Next, Con questions my analysis of omnipotence. My opponent claims that I’ve committed the fallacy of the excluded middle, but I do no such thing. As Pure Act, a limitation on God’s active power would represent a potential for more active power; God has no potentials and thus has all active power. If one argues that God would necessarily have all impotence is a misunderstanding of the idea of power; impotence is a privation in actuality rather than an actuality.

My opponent’s response to omniscience is merely an inquiry into the nature of knowledge. If one analyzes what it means to have knowledge, one will quickly find that to grasp man is to grasp the concept of the form of man: that is, the pattern or essence of man (rational animality, as mentioned earlier). Thus, God has all forms in an immaterial way, which is what constitutes knowledge: for if God did not, this would represent an unactualized potentiality. Merely stopping to consider the artifacts of pure actuality will address most of my opponent’s misunderstandings.

An analysis of goodness reveals that something is good if it realizes its essence. For instance, a good cup is one which realizes its form of holding liquid. So an unactualized potentiality in the form of a “cup” deprives a “cup” from being a good instantiation of a “cup” (for instance, if the cup has a vast hole in its bottom). However, God has no unactualized potentalities: following, God is an absolutely perfect instance.

Finally, Con ends his reponse with the suggestion that certain quantum events operate with no cause. Unfortunately, this is entirely false, for Con is reducing the word “cause” to a deterministic cause – that is, that a certain cause will always produce a certain effect. Quantum fluctuations, as epistemically uncertain as they are, are thus purported throughout scientific literature to represent an event with no cause whatsoever. Unfortunately, quantum fluctuations show nothing of the sort, for quantum fluctuations rely on a quantum vaccuum. That is to say that the spontaneous appearance of quantum particles are causally conditioned on a quantum vacuum which exists causally prior to said fluctuation.

Suppose a particle materializes in empty space – what was once a potential is now actual. Though the vacuum is empty, it inherently has the potential to produce these particles out of nothing – which only reaffirms the idea that what is actual is actualized by another. As such, this does nothing to undermine the Aristotelian metaphysics surrounding change.

Con turns it over to me with an inquiry concerning “God” versus “scientific alternatives.” I see no such explanatory dichotomy: there is no scientific alternative to a First Mover, for a First Mover can be inescapably demonstrated through a simple analysis of the idea of change. No scientific principle undermines the Aristotelian conception of change, as nature itself operates on it.

Debate Round No. 2
Magic8000

Con


Non-Cognivism



Pro gives 2 apparent problems with my argument.



1. This is irrelevant, wrong, and doesn't do anything to the argument. If I say I'm nice, that's a secondary attribute. I have the primary attribute of a human to have that secondary attribute. If something causes me to stop being nice, this doesn't take away my primary attribute of being a human. This also isn't damaging the argument if true. It would just mean you need to provide secondary and primary attributes. A man can have the secondary attribute of being rational because of the primary attributes associated with man. If a man isn't rational (being dead) he still has a primary attribute to have other attributes.


2. I'm fully aware “God” isn't suppose to composed of anything metaphysical or otherwise. This is why the argument works. Since “God” doesn't refer to anything that exists, it isn't any meaningful than a “Fodgl”. Saying something exists and is actual doesn't give it meaning. I can say a “Fodgl” exists and therefore is big and red. This isn't doesn't make it meaningful at all. We can apply this to an infinite amount of meaningless things to make them meaningful. What does it mean when you say God is pure actual? Does it mean God just has all power or what?


First Way


Pro says the argument isn't a cosmological first cause argument. Pro messed me up when he titled the argument “Thomistic cosmological argument” and quoted st. Thomas saying the “first cause is god”. This made me think “change” was referring to cause and the hierarchy of motion was a hierarchy of causes up to the first one. I apologize, but I suggest Pro be more clear in future debates.



Since I know what is meant by the argument I will now further refute it. The argument assumes Aristotle's idea, that the natural state of matter is rest. Newton's first law of motion is



“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” [1]



So it's just as natural for something to move in a constant velocity, as it is for something to be at rest. No prime mover needed.



“Galileo has studied motion using a ball rolling onto level surface from an incline plane. The smoother he made the surface, the further the ball would roll to. He reasoned that if he could make a very long surface perfectly smooth, there would be no resistance to stop the ball; and it would continue in motion indefinitely or until something stop it. Thus, contrary to Aristotle, Galileo concluded that objects could naturally remain in motion rather than come to rest at a point.” [2]



The Michelson–Morley experiment proved there doesn't exist an absolute standard or reference in the universe. Einstein used this conclusion for his Theory of Relativity. His theory showed there was no such thing as absolute motion and all velocities are only relative to something else. This makes the Prime Mover argument nonsensical.




Pro straw mans me on the immaterial and atemporal parts. I wasn't saying such a mover can't be atemporal, I said there's no reason to assume that it was a being just with that info.



as I’ve stated before, materials necessarily have potentials; for instance, the potential to grow warmer, or move, or be split into its constituents, etc. “



The material things we observe have potentials. As I've stated before “Why can't there exist some type of matter without potential?”



Pro said the mover is immutable in the sense of unchanging himself. It's still agreeing with what I said, that the mover must be mutable in some way. In this case his mind.



Omnipotence, Omniscience vs Potentiality



What do you mean by “Potential”, it seems like you've changed it. In the omnipotence section Pro said



“...and passive potentiality, the ability to be acted upon”



I based my objection off potential meaning the possibility to be acted upon. Now it seems Pro is meaning just possibility. If God has all power, this entails contradictions.



For insistence, let's look at the old omnipotence paradox (modified a bit by me)



“Is God so omnipotent that he can create a rock so big he can never lift?”



and the omnipotence vs omniscience paradox



“If God is omniscient, he knows the future with 100% certainty, so how is he omnipotent?”



The traditional answer would be just to say “Omnipotence is not the ability to do anything conceivable, but the ability to do anything consistent with His nature and consistent with his desire, within the realm of his unlimited and universal power, which we do not possess.” [3]



This however wouldn't work, because it would mean God does have potential to be more powerful.



Pro gives a false analogy with the good cup. A cup is good because of the human idea of convenience and comfort. It's not comforting to have water spilled on us. The standard of good doesn't come from the cup itself. A more realistic analogy is this, there exists a cup that's the ultimate standard of what is good for cups, and this ultimate standard came from the cup, which proves a good standard exists. That would be circular, because you assume the standard comes from the cup, and use this standard to prove a cup is good.



Since Pro said his argument wasn't really a first cause argument as labeled, there's no reason to respond to the natural movers section.





Sources


______________________________________________________________________-


[1] http://www.physicsclassroom.com...


[2] http://library.thinkquest.org...


[3] http://carm.org...

Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

Thanks to Con.

Non-Cognitivism

My opponent’s response here is inadequate, as he does not seem to understand either of my points.

Con’s lexical game concerning the term “God” is simply untenable. Con reasserts there must be an existence prior to an essence, but gives no example of a terminal existence which cannot be described in terms of its own essence. In other words, Con seems to believe that being “human” is a cessative point in our existence, and it is this “primary attribute” which must exist before his array of properties, “secondary attributes,” can exist. But he does not explain how being “human” is a primary attribute. As I described in round 2, “humanity” is not a terminal point in existence, as it can be described further in terms of its essence – that is, rational animality. And then both rationality and animality can be described in terms of their respective essences, and so forth. Unless my opponent can give an example of an existence, i.e. a “primary attribute,” that cannot be expressed in terms of its essence, i.e. “secondary attributes,” the argument fails in its own criteria.

Subsequently, Con misses the argument from divine simplicity – he simply reasserts his round 2 argument and ignores my entire case. As I demonstrated in my initial argument, there must be a purely actual First Mover – consequently, the term does in fact refer to something which exists. Con questions what the term “purely actual” means, and for this, I’ll redirect him to my intial argument. To quickly summarize, a hierarchical series of motion mandates a mover with no potentials – pure act. Since actuality is existence, and since God’s essence is actuality, God’s essence is existence. Thus, God needs no existence prior to His essence. Remember, dear opponent, this structure of attributes assumes much that classical theism does not accept – and even if I were a theistic personalist, I’d still find this argument poor for the reasons outlined in my first point!

So it seems Con misunderstood each of my rebuttals, and resultingly ignored them.

First Way

First, I’ll mention that Con has thankfully dropped his arguments from the supposedly uncaused nature of quantum events.

The argument is cosmological, but does not argue from a linear series. Aquinas does not argue there is a first cause in the temporal sense, but rather in a simultaneous sense – the quote I employed does not assert that the “first cause is God,” but rather that “a first cause of change” is what theists understand to be God. I explicitly outlined this argument from hierarchical motion in my initial case.

Alas, Con enters the substance of my argument and objects with an argument commonly advanced to Thomists – that Newton’s first law of inertia effectively refutes Aquinas and Aristotle. But indeed this conflict is nonexistent. The principle of inertia itself presupposes Aristotle’s principle of motion: for the compulsion of an entity to change translation in some manner first mandates there be something actual that realizes that potentiality. Spatial linear translation is itself an inherent potentiality; as such, to change directions, there must be something actual which realizes this potentiality. And this is exactly what Newton’s law prescribes. Note that Newton’s law really clashes with Aristotle’s physics, which required there exist a continuously operative force to actualize translation at any given moment – the impetus theory, obsolete, but not identifical in any way to the principle of motion.

While Newton’s first law seems to intuitively pose a threat to Aristotle’s metaphysics, as it does in fact concern the nature of actuality and potentiality, my opponent’s next two arguments concerning the relativistic nature of spatial translation have nothing to do with motion in the Aristotelian sense. While Newton’s ideas anent the continuous nature of spatial translation seemingly conflict with the metaphysical principle of motion, the relativistic nature of spatial translation is irrelevent, as a potential is still actualized by an actual, and as such is no threat to Aristotle.

Con claims I’ve erected a strawman in my response to his critique of atemporality and immateriality. He declares that there is no reason to assume these given the information provided. However, I’ve shown twice that the First Mover must be atemporal and immaterial necessarily – remember, temporality is the capacity to shift from t = 0 to t = 1, which represents the actualization of the potential Pure Act has not. Con next questions the inherent potentiality of material. It should be intuitively grasped by the reader that as a finite configuration in space, material particles have the intrinsic potentiality to translate to another point in space (among other potentials I’ve mentioned).

Next, Con claims that the mind of God changed with respect to Creation, but it’s difficult to see where this change lies; the intent to Create can exist atemporally; as such, there is no contradiction here.

Con turns to omnipotence. He simply confuses potentiality, an unactualized state of affairs, with passive potentiality, one of the two types of power in the Thomistic tradition. Passive potentiality is the power to be acted on; that is, the ability for an inherent potential to be actualized by another. God has no such power in this sense, as he has no potentials and thus no ability to be acted upon. Active power is the ability to actualize a potential. As Pure Act, God has all active power; thus, God has all ability to actualize a potential, as any less would represent a potential for more. It cannot be said that more represents a potential for less, as less is a privation in actuality rather than an actuality.

Subsequently, Con presents the omnipotence paradox – supposedly, God’s potence or impotence to create an unliftable stone paradoxically refutes the idea of omnipotence. However, there is no such paradox, for active potentiality is the ability to actualize a state of affairs which exists as a potential within existence. As a metaphysical impossibility, lifting an unliftable stone is incompatible with existence and as such exists not as a potential. Hence, the paradox only misrepresents the classical theistic conception of omnipotence, which is perfectly justified given God’s essence.

As mentioned earlier, God exists atemporally, and as such has unchanging knowledge of the state of affairs at all times. So to actualize a state of affairs that will not be actualized is just as nonsensical as lifting that which cannot be lifted. Each of these paradoxes entail a contradiction – that which is incompatible with existence – and hence has no outcome that negates God’s omnipotence. My opponent claims that each of these paradoxes entail potentials within God to possess greater power: as we’ve seen, however, there is no power which could actualize a self-contradictory potential, since such potentials do not exist.

Again Con misinterprets the idea of goodness within hylomorphic dualism, declaring that his vaguely Platonic theory of forms is superior to the Aristotelian theory. The idea is not that goodness comes from the extent to which a specific instantiation of a cup resembles an ultimate cup, but rather that goodness comes the extent to which a cup actualizes its form of cup-ness. Con’s claim the hylomorphic theory of goodness is based in the cup itself merely confuses a specific instantiation of a form with the form itself.

Finally, I’d like to add that my argument was never a cosmological argument from a linear series, as I explicitly rejected this in my round 1 case.

Debate Round No. 3
Magic8000

Con

Apologies for the screwed up formating in R3

Non-Cognitivism

1. A Human has the primary attributes because it is composed of physical things and this gives it intelligible meaning. Pro wants me to give “a “primary attribute,” that cannot be expressed in terms of its essence, i.e. “secondary attributes,”

SA.net offers an example and I gave one in a past debate

Firstly, if one were to say that, “The dress is beautiful”, and I were to respond by asking, “What is a dress?”—it would hardly be a help to me for that individual to respond, “It has a nice design and is comfortable”. While it being comfortable and being designed attractively may play a factor in its being called beautiful, my question has not been answered. I have not asked for further secondary characteristics of the dress, but rather what the dress is itself that it has the capacity to be called “beautiful”. [1]

If I say a computer exists and you ask “what's a computer”, is it meaningful to define it as

“Having tons of information, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, it can talk if you tell it to, a great tool, has solved many problems, it can be bright and sometimes dim.”

This doesn't give us any meaning.

2. Pro defines God as “a hierarchical series of motion mandates a mover with no potentials”

This isn't a meaningful definition at all. I asked what God is, not what it mandates.

this structure of attributes assumes much that classical theism does not accept”

Then the “God” of classic theism can't be considered meaningful. The attributes are set by the laws of logic and the fundamental meaning of what it is to define something. Pro hasn't given a meaningful definition of God in this debate. Any arguments for this thing called “God” are useless as the very thing is meaningless.

First Way

Newton's laws agreeing with Aristotle’s principle of motion are completely irrelevant. It still eliminates the need for a first mover. Since, if two bodies are at rest, by the laws of gravity they will move toward each other, eliminating the need for a first mover.

Pro then claims that relativity poses no threat to the argument. Aristotle's theory of motion assumed that there exists absolute motion [2] [3]. This is wrong.

The theory of relativity also resolves the question of absolute motion. When one speaks of an object as being in motion, such motion is usually in reference to another object which is considered at rest. Although a person sitting in a car is at rest with respect to the car, both in motion with respect to the earth, and the earth is in motion with respect to the sun and the center of the galaxy. All these motions are relative.

It was once thought that there existed a light-carrying medium, known as the luminiferous ether, which was in a state of absolute rest. Any object in motion with respect to this hypothetical frame of reference would be in absolute motion. The theory of relativity showed, however, that no such medium was necessary and that all motion could be treated as relative.[4]

He declares that there is no reason to assume these given the information provided.”

No! I said with that information there's no reason to assume a being.

Con next questions the inherent potentiality of material. It should be intuitively grasped by the reader that as a finite configuration in space, material particles have the intrinsic potentiality to translate to another point in space”

Yes, this is what we observe. Why can't there exist some type of matter without potential? Quantum physics is very counter-intuitive, so it can very well be that we will one day see matter with no potential and able to move in points of space. Obviously you believe in a mover with no potential and can't it move in space?

Pro derived omnipotence like this

Aquinas distinguishes between two forms of power: active power, the ability to act, and passive potentiality, the ability to be acted upon. Thus, as Pure Act, this being has all possible active power; that is, he has all possible ability to act, but no ability to be acted upon. Thus we can derive omnipotence”

So, I'm not confusing passive potentiality. Pro threw “potentiality” into the mix without defending against my initial response to this way we get omnipotence. It's a change of terms.

Pro says the omnipotence and omniscient paradox is a “metaphysical impossibility”. This begs the question, who decides what is and isn't metaphysically possible? If God or some part of God decides it, then God has made a stone that he can't lift, and this would mean something in God is limiting in nature. There could be a standard above God that decides it. This would mean that this standard must too have no potentials, to decide what is and isn't potential.

This also puts us in another dilemma. Since God is bound by what is metaphysically possible, then is it possible for something to move without a first mover? If yes, then a first mover isn't needed, since it's possible for something to move without one. If no, then God himself needs a first mover to start this movement. If God is just in a category where it's only possible for him to be moved without a mover, then this would just be engaging in a special pleading fallacy [5].

If I'm understanding Pro, he's saying the cup resembles an "ultimate cup". This however isn't answering where the actual standard comes from. If it's external from the cup, that's completely fine, because it's a cup. If it's external from God, then the atheist can account for the objective standard of goodness without a mover. Not good for his argument

I suggest Pro rephrase the opening argument to state it isn't an argument from the cause of the universe to prevent confusion in future debates.

[1] http://www.strongatheism.net...

[2] http://plato.stanford.edu...

[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...

[4] http://www.infoplease.com...

[5] http://www.fallacyfiles.org...

Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

Thanks to Con. I’d like to mention I meant “active power” rather than “active potentiality” when discussing the omnipotence paradox.

Non-Cognitivism

No, no, no. Con has pretty much trapped himself in his own argument – his rebuttal is that one would cognitively halt at dress, but it doesn’t follow that the dresss existence is therefore metaphysically cessative. While fashionable humans may have a mutual cognitive understanding of the term “dress,” this doesn’t imply that the dress is a terminal point in existence – in fact, the very question “what is a dress?” posed in Con’s attempted rebuttal demonstrates that the dress’s existence is not terminal – for the only way one could answer this is in terms of its essence, i.e., a “sartorial cloth,” which are secondary attributes. So cognitively halting at “dress” doesn’t show that the term “dress” therefore corresponds to something in reality. The so-called “primary attribute” of substrata is a cognitive construct and does absolutely nothing to advance Con’s argument that “God” is meaningless. Sure, any number of alphabetic randomizations can produce words that correspond to nothing in reality – but words that are cognitively meaningful aren’t so because they are metaphysically cessative, as they, too, are described in terms of their “secondary attributes.” Secondary attributes are what makes any word cognitively meaningful.

I find it hard to believe that Con honestly feels I gave “a hierarchical series of motion mandates a mover with no potentials” as a “definition” of God. I was describing how we can deduce from the Aristotelian concept of change that the essence of God corresponds to reality. This demonstration was not a “definition” of God, as I’ve already described God’s essence as Pure Act such that God’s existence is not prior to his essence, but rather equivalent to it. Con simply has no grasp on the Thomistic doctrine of divine simplicity, which I’ve demonstrated through the nature of actuality and how it relates to existence.

Con fails to realize that his call for “primary attributes” fail to be cognitively meaningful in their incessant nature as artifacts of “secondary attributes,” and that God’s essence of Pure Act is equivalent to his existence as Pure Act, thus erasing the need for a “primary attribute” at all.

First Way

Con confuses Newton’s laws of motion, which concern the nature of spatial translation, with Newton’s law of universal gravitation, which concern the nature of material attraction, but this is beside the point, as neither refute Aristotle’s conception of motion as change. Both represent a potential being actualized by that which is actual (a compulsive force in both cases), which is the primary notion of Aristotle’s ideas. Remember, the Aristotelian principle of motion does not state that all actuals are raised by Pure Act; for instance, the actualization of the elevation of my microwave oven is dependent on my actual refrigerator. It does, however, state that independent actuals must be raised to act, as only that which is actual can actualize. Spatial translation and such therefore presuppose Aristotle’s principle.

Anent his campaign to advance modern relativistic physics into conflict with Aristotle’s conception of motion, Con uses three sources that describe Aristotle’s theory of absolute motion, which concerns Aristotle’s physical theories of spatial translation, not Aristotle’s metaphysical theories of change. In my initial case, I stated clearly, “motion did not mean spatial movement, it meant change.” In every round, I’ve provided a clear distinction between motion as change and motion as spatial movement.

Con claims that I’ve misrepresented his case, and that he means there is no reason to assume a “being” with the “properties” of atemporality and immateriality. On the contrary, I’ve shown multiple times that as Pure Act, God’s essence is actuality, which is existence. This is what classical theists mean by “being” – existence. Atemporality and immateriality are natural artifacts of God’s essence as Pure Act, for to be temporal or material implies intrinsic potentialities.

This brings us to Con’s rehashed rebuttal concerning the possibility of a material with no potentialities. That Con continues to raise this objection demonstrates his misunderstanding of the concept of a “potential.” All material, as finite spatiotemporal configurations, have inherent potentialities – that is, as I’ve repeated, the potential to spatially translate, the potential to temporally translate, the potential to heat, etc. There exists no material which does not have these potentials, since these potentials are inherent to the nature of matter. Quantum particles are themselves subject to such potentiality, as they are actualized into existence by the actual quantum vacuum, and exhibit other such potentials, such as the wavefunction's collapse onto a position. Materials are intrinsically subject to potentiality.

Con’s criticism to the two types of power makes no sense. He claims that I have thrown “potentiality” into the mix without responding to his initial critique, which I believe to be the response anent the fallacy of the excluded middle. I’ll make this simple: God is Pure Act, which devoids Him of any potentialities. As such, God has all active power, the ability to actualize potentials, but no passive potentiality, the ability to have a potential actualized. Con claims there is no need for God to have all active power; but less active power would represent a potential, absent in Pure Act, for more power; more active power, however, is not a potential for less, since less power is a privation in what is actual, rather than an actuality in itself. Thus God has all active power.

Next, Con presents two new paradoxes based in confused notions of metaphysics.

First, there is no design in metaphysical possibility; no one “decides” what is possible and what isn’t possible. A square circle is metaphysically impossible not because God arbitrarily made it so, but because a square circle is incompatible with existence – an artifact of reality rather than divine preference. Consequently, the assumed necessity of a “decision” behind possibility is a perplexing one indeed.

Second, Con questions the principle of motion. He argues that if it is possible to move without a mover, then we needn’t a First Mover, and if it is impossible to move without a mover, then the First Mover must be moved itself. But this is again based in confused interpretations of Aristotelian metaphysics. The answer to the paradox is that it is impossible to move without a mover; but to move is the actualization of a potential by an actual. Thus, hierarchical series of motion mandate there exist Pure Actuality, moving things while being unmoved itself. That which is in motion is moved by another; Pure Act, devoid of potentials, is not in motion. As such, a First Mover is necessarily unmoved in its essence of pure actuality, while necessarily moving things in accordance with the very principle of motion we observe around us.

Next, Con claims that I’m espousing a Platonic theory of forms that I explicitly rejected in the previous round. I’m not arguing that cups are good in the extent to which they resemble an ultimate cup; I’m arguing that cups are good in the extent to which they instantiate the form of a cup (the essence or pattern of a cup). Hence the objective standard of goodness exists as the extent to which it actualizes its essence. This is a pretty simple Aristotelian explanation of goodness, one that transcends specific instantiations of cups, instead based in their form. That God is Pure Actuality reveals that God’s essence is existence, and thus is absolutely perfect in goodness, as there is no greater instantiation of essence than its existence.

I’ll reiterate that I did in fact argue from a hierarchical series in round 1, exemplifying this with the simultaneous motion of a microwave oven upon a refrigerator.

Debate Round No. 4
Magic8000

Con

Conclusion, remember, keep under 1000 characters.

I would like to thank Pro.

I haven't found Pro actually trying to give "God" meaning at all. Pro has repeatedly straw manned me in the discussion of immaterial and atemporality. Pro ignores that by the laws of physics things can "change" without the need of a prime mover. Pro really hasn't answered me on the objective moral section and flew over my full argument in the metaphysical possibility section. Pro also seems to be interchangeably terms like "Hierarchical" "Spatial" and "Linear". Along with "potential" and "passive potential".

Let the voting begin!
Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro


Con never really understood the substance of my points – with noncognitivism, he failed to understand the descriptive regression of primary attributes into secondary attributes, as well as the metaphysical simplicity of God with respect to His existence and essence. With the First Way, Con repeatedly made huge mistakes such as confusing linear and hierarchical series, translation and change, etc., attesting to his obvious disregard for my initial case. Con’s only serious objection was that of Newtonian physics, which I demonstrated presupposed the Aristotelian principle of motion. His attempts to refute the necessary properties of a First Mover resulted mostly in a reiteration of my original, untouched, analysis. Most of Con’s attempts at rebuttals were nothing more than confused notions of metaphysics – i.e. that a material can be purely actual, that metaphysical possibility is designed, or that Aristotelian goodness revolves around an ultimate instantiation.


Debate Round No. 5
256 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
Oh, BTW, you may wonder why an atheist goes to church.
Well, it's because I'm a business man and some of my biggest clients attend churches, mostly Catholic, Anglican and United Church, where I rotate between them all to keep in contact with my clients.

Yes, churches have their use, as does any community gatherings.
They are useful for networking.
Because of my knowledge of religion and theology, those within the church cannot pick me as being atheist.
Some of the really devout theists fear atheism and I join them in a "Let's all attack Atheists session".
ROFL!
It's fun attacking atheism with religious folk. :-D~
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
I've possibly been excommunicated from many churches in my youth.
Got caught out back of church where I wanted a smoke and had run out of rolly papers so I used a page out of a church bible. It didn't taste any different to the normal cigarette paper, so the priest told me to keep the bible since I destroyed it and never return to his church again. Which I wasn't intending to do anyway, since I left that town a couple of days later. By then I'd smoked several pages of that bible until I received my unemployment payment which allowed me to buy some more tobacco and papers. I was only 16 then and living on the streets. A few years later another priest in a different town got upset when I drilled holes in a large, leather bound bible and used it for a party prop. It was the Bible he had loaned me while I was attending his theology class.
Though I'd been going to the library and reading philosophy books as well, which is where I discovered Voltaire's work and he was extremely critical of the Catholic church.
So I discovered Voltaire was entirely correct in his criticism of Catholicism and quit Theology in a very blatantly antagonistic way. Yes, I was told never to return to that seminary nor church as well.
LOL! So I've been excommunicated twice, though not officially as far as I know, since I've frequented other Catholic churches and taken sacrament, though I hate the wafers, which I feed to the birds afterwards.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
Also true Devient in "Abortion is wrong, but drowning every child in a flood is righteous"
Yes, the Irish Cardinal/idiot, has threatened the Irish PM and all his ministry with excommunication if they go ahead with the abortion reforms which will see abortions allowed if the pregnancy puts the woman's life in danger.
The PM and his cabinet have simply ignored the Cardinal's empty threats, because excommunication affects nobody in reality, so it's a waste of time and breath.
The PM stated that he worships his god in his own way, so excommunication does nothing anyway.
The church has no authority over those who worship their god in their own way, Catholic or otherwise. The bible doesn't give the church any such authority, so they have none!
Yes, the Church is archaic, outdated by thousands of years in it's social concepts and ethics.
Since it is based on a book that was outdated over a thousand years ago, it can never catch up to the present. Thomas Aquinas set many of the doctrines and lies the church uses to justify it's insignificant (in modern times) existence.
The church is losing the Ireland (it's last bastion), nearly lost USA, and has already lost Australia and England.
The church is doomed to die a slow death and GOOD RIDDANCE!
Aye M8! :-D~
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
True Devient, Common sense/morality/ethics, humanism existed thousands of years before the bible was conceived and before Moses/Mosheh (if he did indeed exist).
Some archaeologists and anthropologists now believe that the Ten Commandments were actually plagiarized from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Akkadian laws.
More humanistic ethics existed in ancient Chinese cultures, the forerunner of Taoism from which Lao Tzu learned his concepts from contained extremely humanistic and environmentally conscious ethics, infinitely more environmentally conscious than Judaism and Christianity.
It's the lack of environmental ethics in Christianity is the prime cause for the massive devastation of our planet.
Had Europe been controlled by Buddhism, Confucianism or Taoism, the planet earth would still be in a very healthy condition. Thanks to Christianity/Judaism/Islam, it's a disaster in progress.
Posted by devient.genie 3 years ago
devient.genie
Idiots 9:48--Abortion is wrong, but drowning every child in a flood is righteous :)

CaptainObvious 6:1--Homosexuality is a size 10 foot. You dont get to choose the size of your feet, nature does that for you :)

DevientGenie 8:35--Although its extremely frightening to be diagnosed delusional from indoctrination of religious poisons, and even though it seems scary to get rid of your religion, its important to understand, that together, we can find the cure :)

CaptainObvious 7:58--Relax, morality is a just fancy word for common sense. Religion does Not own common sense, anymore than they own marriage in a court of law. Learn to be human, then learn how to help humans, then you win. If you cant learn those things and teach your children without outdated doctrine, youre part of the problem:)
Posted by Nur-Ab-Sal 3 years ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
Yes, Sagey, and I'm sure you're the paradigm example of a brilliant intellectual, surpassing me, so magnificently shortened to "Nab," by an untold amount of "perceived intelligence points." Bravo to you, sir. Bravo.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
Nab is Catholic?
Catholics follow the porkies created by that idiot, Thomas Aquinas.
A man with a supposedly brilliant mind, but sadly redirected into producing lies to support the Catholic delusion against genuine, rational criticism.

Yes, the whole Catholic church and it's doctrines are extremely retarded.
The problems that the Church are having with Ireland at the moment with even the Irish PM going against the Catholic church's stupidity under the idiotic threat (non-existent/bluff/non-biblical) of excommunication is demonstrating how ridiculously retarded Catholicism is.

Being an advocate for Catholicism is definitely a cause for point reductions in the perceived intelligence stakes.
Posted by devient.genie 3 years ago
devient.genie
I believe in doing good because you want to Not because you will get a reward after death. I believe in teaching children the truth instead of fairy tales. I believe in monogomy.

I believe in the shot clock and three point line in basketball. I believe religion is the single most destructive thing mankind has created. I believe in democracy. I believe in foreplay. I believe that scientific advances in medicine save more lives than prayers.

I believe in philanthropy. I believe in sticking up for the underdog and those who cant for themselves. I believe actions speak louder than words. I believe that you are surprised by the size of this response. I believe that nature is indifferent and Not evil. I believe in a playoff system in college football.

I believe religion is divisive and dangerous. I believe that everybodys friend is really nobodys. I believe in myself. I believe that when mankind embraces the truth based on evidence and Not faith, mankind will prosper. I believe in being an organ donor.

I believe Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I believe if you have to lie to your children and motivate them to be good for fear of eternal punishment is a weak and insecure way to raise children. I believe there is more virtue in doing good for mankind because you want to make life better, instead of doing good for mankind to earn a scooby snack when you die.

I believe the universe is too magnificent and mysterious to be created by a being who uses human sacrifice to show love and forgiveness. I believe in loyalty. I believe your god is too small for my universe.

I believe science leads mankind to KNOW new understandings of the universe and life and outdated doctrine leads to NO new understandings of the universe and life.

I believe that if you are outside looking at the stars and do Not have a feeling of awe in your heart, youre doing it wrong.

I believe that these comment sections are not big enough to fit everything I believe in:)
Posted by Nur-Ab-Sal 3 years ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
Devient, I wonder what you're like in real life.
Posted by devient.genie 3 years ago
devient.genie
We understand why you must tap. Its all in True Scripture :)

DevientGenie 3:45--Religion is a crime against human intelligence. The Genie is a Vigilante against such criminal activity :)

Ouchies 11:6--Proliferating a religious fairy tale in front of the Genie, is akin to jumping off a high dive platform into an industrial sized wood chipper :)

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
-John Adams
22 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Smithereens 3 years ago
Smithereens
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RDF in comments
Vote Placed by xXCryptoXx 3 years ago
xXCryptoXx
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Countering Billdekel's unfair counter vote.
Vote Placed by Billdekel 3 years ago
Billdekel
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Countering Pennington and BigSkys rubbish rfds. 4+3=7 Wish I could give a real vote :/
Vote Placed by TUF 3 years ago
TUF
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Re-fraining from voting on this one. I don't think Con's argument is as fallicious as he makes it sound. It was quite a bit over-aggerated. Also I agree that sources should be utilized better by the pro in future philosophic debates. Unfortunately most people are under a silly notion that sources provide only statistical data and scientific evidence. Given that pro has done a pretty good job at staying to the point with his arguments and making them resolute, it wasn't so much needed in this debate.
Vote Placed by Pennington 3 years ago
Pennington
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I felt both had a increditable debate. I award Pro with arguments because I felt He gave the best rebuttals and argument. Con felt as if Pro was begging the question but I thought Pro provided a adequate respose to his claims.
Vote Placed by BigSky 3 years ago
BigSky
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I felt both sides made very strong cases, but aside from Nur-Ab-Sal's very professionally put together argument (conduct) I felt he also made the better argument.
Vote Placed by Subutai 3 years ago
Subutai
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Counter-VB. EDIT: Counter another VB.
Vote Placed by TrasguTravieso 3 years ago
TrasguTravieso
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I must say this was an impressive debate. Although con held his own, I must say Pro's defense of Aquinas won the day.
Vote Placed by jh1234l 3 years ago
jh1234l
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: counter tyler.schillim, please give a valid RFD. when he does give a valid rfd please counter this vote.
Vote Placed by tyler.schillim 3 years ago
tyler.schillim
Magic8000Nur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: God is the reason why we are here right now. End of story.