The Instigator
Apologician
Pro (for)
Winning
20 Points
The Contender
atheistman
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

God Exists

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Apologician
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/10/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,190 times Debate No: 10054
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (31)
Votes (3)

 

Apologician

Pro

When I refer to God, I am referring to a being who possesses "the greatest possible array of compossible great making properties." [1] I will be presenting several arguments (I'll start off with one in my OP) that argue in favor of the existence of such a being. It is up to my opponent to refute these arguments, and then erect a case of his own against me. [2]

Argument 1: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause

The first premise is relatively uncontroversial, and is rooted in the metaphysical principle that out of nothing, nothing comes. By definition, nothing has no potentialities. Thus, it is impossible for something to arise out of nothing, for how can its existence be actualized if the potential is not there to begin with?

The truth of the causal premise is additionally supported by our everyday experience. If the causal premise were false, then it is quite odd as to why we don't observe things coming into existence uncaused and out of nothing in our everyday experience. Presumably, nobody lives their life worrying about the possibility of an elephant suddenly appearing out of nothing in their living room.

The second premise is confirmed by both modern science and by various philosophical arguments. According to standard big bang cosmology, the universe began to exist ex nihil in an infinitely dense singularity more than 14 billion years ago. This singularity served as the boundary to the space-time manifold, and hence the universe began to exist ex nihilo in the sense that there was no moment prior to the singularity.

Scientific verification for the second premise also comes from the second law of thermodynamics, one of the most verified laws in science. According to the second law, the entropy of a closed system tends to increase over time. In other words, the amount of energy required to do work constantly decreases as closed systems tend toward equilibrium. If one drops a small amount of food coloring into a cup of water, for example, the food coloring will diffuse evenly throughout the water.

Applied to the universe, the second law implies that it will eventually attain maximum entropy. This is known as the heat death of the universe. At that point, there will be no energy available to do work, and the universe will be locked in a state of changelessness. If the universe were eternal, however, then it should have already attained maximum entropy. But, since it has not yet attained maximum entropy, then it follows that the universe must be finite in its past duration. Picture a toy that has been wound up. If an infinite amount of time had passed, then the toy should have wound down. The fact that it is still running indicates that it was wound up a finite time ago. On the basis of the second law of thermodynamics, we may also conclude that the universe began to exist.

Approaching the second premise from a philosophical perspective, the universe must have begun to exist because if it were eternal, then its past duration would be actually infinite. However, since actual infinities are impossible, it follows that the past duration of the universe must be finite. Because this argument is complex, I will leave this out of my OP (I will introduce it to later posts if I deem it necessary).

But what must this cause be? Why should we call it God? Couldn't it have been something else? In analyzing this, we must first note that since there is nothing "prior" to the cause of the universe, it cannot be explained scientifically, as this would imply the existence of antecedent determining conditions. Because of this, it follows that the cause must be uncaused and personal (Personal in order to create in the lack of antecedent determining conditions). It must also transcend both matter and time in order to create both matter and time. It must also be changeless, since there was no time prior to the creation of the universe. "And this," in the words of Thomas Aquinas, "all men call God."

Suppose my opponent responds by asking "Who made God?" This is nothing but a stock reply that has no effect on the cogency of my argument. It misconstrues the very argument. The theist does not believe that everything has a cause, only that "Whatever begins to exist has a cause" (The first premise). Since God did not begin to exist, it follows that God therefore does not need a cause.

But more importantly, it follows analytically from the very concept of God that he does not need a cause. For remember that the definition of God that I gave in the beginning is "a being who possesses the greatest possible array of compossible great making properties." Since God is the greatest possible being, it follows that there is nothing that is greater than him (For THAT would be God). This entails that since that there is nothing greater than him, there exists no being that can cause him to exist. Hence, the very concept of God precludes his being caused.

The "Who made God" objection is thus simply a naive and simplistic stock parry that is not given serious attention in academic circles.

_________

SOURCES

[1] - Thomas V. Morris, "Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology" (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1991) 35.

[2] - Sections of my argument are modified from my essay "The Kalam Cosmological Argument" -- http://scaeministries.org...
atheistman

Con

First I'd like to thank my opponent for challenging me to this debate. I'd also like to mention that my opponent has the wrong definition for God. The definition is not "the greatest possible array of compossible great making properties," the real definition is: 'any of various beings conceived of as supernatural, immortal, and having special powers over the lives and affairs of people and the course of nature; deity, esp. a male deity: typically considered objects of worship;
in monotheistic religions, the creator and ruler of the universe, regarded as eternal, infinite, all-powerful, and all-knowing; Supreme Being; the Almighty.'

My opponent uses a favorite theist argument known as the cosmological argument. This argument basically states that things exist, so things that began to exist need a cause. Since there would be an infinite regression of causes, there must be an uncaused cause, and for some reason God must be the uncaused cause. Let me ask you something, why does God have to be the uncaused cause? Why can't the Big Bang or the universe itself be the uncaused cause instead?

"The first premise is relatively uncontroversial, and is rooted in the metaphysical principle that out of nothing, nothing comes. By definition, nothing has no potentialities. Thus, it is impossible for something to arise out of nothing, for how can its existence be actualized if the potential is not there to begin with?"

I don't believe everything came from nothing, and neither does any other atheist.

"It must also transcend both matter and time in order to create both matter and time."
Another possibility is that the matter and energy of the universe always existed. You cite laws of physics such as the Second Law of Thermodynamics to back up your claims. Then you must also believe the Law of Conservation stating that matter can not be created or destroyed. According to this law, matter and energy could not be created by 'God,' nor could there be a point in time when there was no matter or energy.

"Applied to the universe, the second law implies that it will eventually attain maximum entropy. This is known as the heat death of the universe. At that point, there will be no energy available to do work, and the universe will be locked in a state of changelessness. If the universe were eternal, however, then it should have already attained maximum entropy. But, since it has not yet attained maximum entropy, then it follows that the universe must be finite in its past duration. Picture a toy that has been wound up. If an infinite amount of time had passed, then the toy should have wound down. The fact that it is still running indicates that it was wound up a finite time ago. On the basis of the second law of thermodynamics, we may also conclude that the universe began to exist."

This claim that the universe should have attained maximum entropy is not necessarily true, since it is unknown whether the universe itself is a closed system. Your claim that the universe began to exist violates the Law of Conservation, as I mentioned earlier.

"Suppose my opponent responds by asking "Who made God?" This is nothing but a stock reply that has no effect on the cogency of my argument. It misconstrues the very argument. The theist does not believe that everything has a cause, only that "Whatever begins to exist has a cause" (The first premise). Since God did not begin to exist, it follows that God therefore does not need a cause."
"The "Who made God" objection is thus simply a naive and simplistic stock parry that is not given serious attention in academic circles."

My opponent is claiming that responding with the question of 'what caused God,' is misinterpreting the argument, and naive. Why? Isn't the cosmological argument an argument based on the fact that things need to have a cause to exist? Why is God immune to this problem? The answer is because you want God to be the exception in the argument. Because you know that the argument would fall apart if you didn't decide that God was an exception to the cause argument, since there would be an infinite amount of causes. Who made God? Who made the person who made God? Who made the person who made the person who made God etc.

The Cosmological Argument is a contradictory argument, or at least my opponent's version is.

"However, since actual infinities are impossible"

and in another section he claims God has existed forever.

"Since God did not begin to exist"

I didn't have as much time as I would have liked for this round, since I'm tired and don't have that much time until my argument is due, but I'll step it up for the following rounds. I'll now hand it over to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 1
Apologician

Pro

I'd like to thank atheistman for responding to me. In my response, I shall point out several problems with his opening statement.

"I'd also like to mention that my opponent has the wrong definition for God. "

My opponent did not offer any reasoning for this assertion, he simply asserted his definition as valid without showing why mine is false. While the dictionary may define God in the way that my opponent does, leading texts on philosophical theology and the philosophy of religion do not. [1] But this is irrelevant, as I am defending an Anselmian conception of God, one that defines him as the greatest possible being. Thus, my opponent's definition of God does not matter, because it does not accurately describe the type of God that I am defending. Hence, my opponent must use my definition of God if he is to refute my arguments, otherwise he will be attacking straw men.

To reiterate, if my opponent wants to refute my arguments, he cannot set up his own definition of God and precede to attack it (This would be a strawman argument). He must attack the concept of God that I am defending.

"why does God have to be the uncaused cause? Why can't the Big Bang or the universe itself be the uncaused cause instead?"

This attacks at premise two of my argument (The universe began to exist). In my OP, I gave several arguments for the beginning of the universe, which my opponent seems to have neglected. Though my opponent did respond (Inadequately, as we shall see) to my thermodynamics arguments, he completely ignored my argument from contemporary big bang cosmology. As such, premise two (The universe began to exist) still stands.

"I don't believe everything came from nothing, and neither does any other atheist."

I never claimed that my opponent believed that everything came from nothing, merely that premise (1) is true on the basis that nothing does not come from something (ex nihil, nihil fit).

"Another possibility is that the matter and energy of the universe always existed. You cite laws of physics such as the Second Law of Thermodynamics to back up your claims. Then you must also believe the Law of Conservation stating that matter can not be created or destroyed. According to this law, matter and energy could not be created by 'God,' nor could there be a point in time when there was no matter or energy."

My opponent misunderstands the nature of scientific laws. Scientific laws such as the first law of thermodynamics are not necessary truths, they are contingent. While it may be physically impossible for matter to be created or destroyed, there is no problem in affirming that God created matter ex nihilo. God is not bound by physical and contingent laws, he is free to supersede them at his will. It is true that according to the first law of thermodynamics, matter cannot be created or destroyed. But this is a scientific law that God is not subject to. These laws do not apply to the origin of the universe itself, as relativity theory predicts that the laws of nature break down in the initial singularity.

"This claim that the universe should have attained maximum entropy is not necessarily true, since it is unknown whether the universe itself is a closed system. Your claim that the universe began to exist violates the Law of Conservation, as I mentioned earlier."

Because he is an atheist, my opponent must believe that the universe is a closed system. If, however, he wishes to posit a multiverse theory or something akin to that, then he shoulders the burden of proof for demonstrating the existence of multiverses. According to Ockham's razor, we may shave away excess universes because they are entities that are multiplied beyond necessity. Moreover, according to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, any universe that is in the state of a cosmic expansion must have an absolute beginning.

" Why? Isn't the cosmological argument an argument based on the fact that things need to have a cause to exist? Why is God immune to this problem? The answer is because you want God to be the exception in the argument. Because you know that the argument would fall apart if you didn't decide that God was an exception to the cause argument, since there would be an infinite amount of causes."

My opponent misunderstands the argument I have given. I did not state that things need a cause to exist. According to premise one of my argument only things that begin to exist need a cause. God, since he did not begin to exist, does not need a cause. Moreover, my opponent simply ignores my argument and insists that his objection is valid. Since no valid counter-argument has been given, this argument still stands. I shall repeat my initial argument:

It follows analytically from the very concept of God that he does not need a cause. For remember that the definition of God that I gave in the beginning is "a being who possesses the greatest possible array of compossible great making properties." Since God is the greatest possible being, it follows that there is nothing that is greater than him (For THAT would be God). This entails that since that there is nothing greater than him, there exists no being that can cause him to exist. Hence, the very concept of God precludes his being caused.

"and in another section he claims God has existed forever."

My opponent attacks a strawman, nowhere did I claim that God has existed for an infinite period of time. I believe instead that God is omnitemporal (Timeless sans creation, but temporal with creation).

I conclude that my opponent has not adequately responded to my arguments.
___

SOURCES

[1] See Thomas V. Morris, "Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology, Charles Taliaferro, "Philosophy of Religion", JP Moreland and William Lane Craig, "Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview", Paul Copan, "Loving Wisdom: Christian Philosophy of Religion", Michael Murray and Michael Rea, "Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
atheistman

Con

I'll accept the definition of God as: an omniscient, omnipotent, all-good being with the largest compossible amount of great-making properties.

"This attacks at premise two of my argument (The universe began to exist). In my OP, I gave several arguments for the beginning of the universe, which my opponent seems to have neglected. Though my opponent did respond (Inadequately, as we shall see) to my thermodynamics arguments, he completely ignored my argument from contemporary big bang cosmology. As such, premise two (The universe began to exist) still stands."

I thought about this some more, and came up with a new conclusion. If you define the universe as the expansion after the Big Bang, then yes, the universe did begin to exist. But the matter and energy before the Big Bang occurred have always existed because of the Law of Conservation.

"While it may be physically impossible for matter to be created or destroyed, there is no problem in affirming that God created matter out of nothing. God is not bound by physical and contingent laws, he is free to supersede them at his will. It is true that according to the first law of thermodynamics, matter cannot be created or destroyed. But this is a scientific law that God is not subject to."

First you state that 'it is impossible for something to arise out of nothing,' but now you claim 'God created matter out of nothing.' Then you try to defend your failed and contradictory Cosmological Argument by assuming 'God is not bound by physical and contingent laws.' This is based off of nothing, since there is no evidence of God, nor of anything not subject to physical laws. Your argument is based entirely off of assumption and blind faith, opposed to scientific evidence.

"If, however, he wishes to posit a multiverse theory or something akin to that, then he shoulders the burden of proof for demonstrating the existence of multiverses."

Ok: http://www.dailygalaxy.com...

"It follows analytically from the very concept of God that he does not need a cause. For remember that the definition of God that I gave in the beginning is "a being who possesses the greatest possible array of compossible great making properties." Since God is the greatest possible being, it follows that there is nothing that is greater than him (For THAT would be God). This entails that since that there is nothing greater than him, there exists no being that can cause him to exist. Hence, the very concept of God precludes his being caused."

Again, my opponent is blindly assuming that God exists, didn't begin to exist, and is not bound by physical laws. He then tries to back this up with more empty assumptions such as: 'This entails that since that there is nothing greater than him, there exists no being that can cause him to exist.' These are useless contentions if you have nothing to back them up.

"nowhere did I claim that God has existed for an infinite period of time. I believe instead that God is omnitemporal (Timeless sans creation, but temporal with creation)"

So now you're claiming that things can exist out of time. Again, statements like these are useless to your argument when they have absolutely nothing to support them.

Since you asked for arguments against God, I'll present them.

It is impossible for a God to be omniscient, because it is impossible to know everything that will happen in the future. For instance, if I'm at a stop sign, I can choose to turn right or left. This decision then affects where I drive, and can even affect my entire day or even life. I could choose to turn left, then get into an accident and have permanent injuries for the rest of my life. It is impossible for a God to know this. It is also impossible for a God to be all-good and all-ruling, because evil would not exist if he was all-good and had the power to stop evil.

Now I will turn it over to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2
Apologician

Pro

I want to begin by noting that my opponent has not responded to several of my counterpoints.

"I thought about this some more, and came up with a new conclusion. If you define the universe as the expansion after the Big Bang, then yes, the universe did begin to exist. But the matter and energy before the Big Bang occurred have always existed because of the Law of Conservation."

This is simply false and a completely incorrect application of scientific laws. My opponent has ignored the arguments I gave against this. Firstly, laws of physics break down in the initial singularity. Secondly, the singularity served as the initial space-time boundary, such that it is impossible for there to have been any temporal moment "before" the big bang. This implies that the universe had an absolute beginning ex nihilo. Finally, scientific laws such as the first law of thermodynamics do not apply to the origin of the universe as a whole, it is only applicable to phenomena which occur in it. My opponent is guilty of a compositional fallacy.

"First you state that 'it is impossible for something to arise out of nothing,' but now you claim 'God created matter out of nothing."

It is important here to note the distinction between material and efficient causes. A material cause is that which something is made out of (A ruler is made out of wood). An efficient cause is that which brings about some change (The man who carved the ruler). When I say "It is impossible for something to come out of nothing," I do not mean the lack of an efficient cause, but the lack of a material cause. On atheism, there is neither a material or efficient cause. On theism, there is no material cause but there is still an efficient cause (God). That is, on theism, God still causes there to be something, while on atheism, there is a complete lack of any causal factors.

Secondly, God is not bound by physical laws because if he exists, he is the one who set them up. He is not subject to the laws of his own creation.

Regarding my opponents link on multiverses, several points must be made:

-Multiverse theory does not explain much, if anything. It only pushes the problem back further, for what caused these multiverses? Again we are left with an infinite regress.
-According to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, any universe in the state of cosmic expansion (This would include multiverses) must have an absolute beginning. **So adding more universes only makes the problem worse!** Not better.
-There is no empirical proof for the existence of a multiverse. The linked article only states that positing a multiverse is a _possible_ explanation for quantum phenomena. It is certainly not the _ONLY_ explanation nor the _BEST_ explanation (Since it posits additional entities, going against Ockham's razor when other competing explanations do not).

"Again, my opponent is blindly assuming that God exists, didn't begin to exist, and is not bound by physical laws. He then tries to back this up with more empty assumptions such as: 'This entails that since that there is nothing greater than him, there exists no being that can cause him to exist.' These are useless contentions if you have nothing to back them up."

I am not assuming that God exists or anything like that. Rather, I'm demonstrating the question of "Who made God?" is useless given an understanding of what God is (An uncaused being). Since my opponent acknowledges the definition of God as having the greatest compossible range of great-making properties, then it follows that God cannot be caused. On this definition God is the greatest possible being, ***and therefore there can exist no greater being that can cause him. Therefore, by definition God cannot be caused. My opponent continually sidesteps this issue.***

"So now you're claiming that things can exist out of time. Again, statements like these are useless to your argument when they have absolutely nothing to support them."

Once again, if God created the universe, then he exists outside of time (Since time began with the creation of the universe). So, to charge the Christian with an inconsistency because he believes that God has existed for an infinite amount of time is simply false, because the Christian does not believe this, nor is this entailed by the cosmological argument.

"It is impossible for a God to be omniscient, because it is impossible to know everything that will happen in the future. For instance, if I'm at a stop sign, I can choose to turn right or left. This decision then affects where I drive, and can even affect my entire day or even life. I could choose to turn left, then get into an accident and have permanent injuries for the rest of my life. It is impossible for a God to know this."

Firstly, this is simply a circular argument, since my opponent presupposes an indeterminate future -- a scenario that is only valid given God's non-existence (Or Open theism). On theism, the future is determinate, and what grounds God's knowledge of future contingents is that we choose to do it (So, had I chosen to turn left instead of right or vice-versa, then God would have known _that_). This is the middle knowledge approach.

"It is also impossible for a God to be all-good and all-ruling, because evil would not exist if he was all-good and had the power to stop evil."

This is known as the logical problem of evil, and is considered by many to have been decisively refuted with the work of Alvin Plantinga. [1] There is no reason to thing that "evil would not exist if [God] was all-good and had the power to stop evil," since it is logically possible that God could have morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil. As so long as this is even _possible_, there is no logical contradiction between God and evil. Therefore, this argument fails in demonstrating the non-existence of God.

____________

[1] See Alvin Plantinga, "God, Freedom, and Evil" (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 1974)
atheistman

Con

I'm sorry that I won't be able to post my arguments for Round 3, since I don't have the time.
Debate Round No. 3
Apologician

Pro

Argument extended.

I will also follow up on the stated intentions in my OP and present another theistic argument to bolster my case.

2. The Argument from Reason

I will sketch a brief outline of the AfR. According to one of its leading proponents, Victor Reppert, one formulation of the AfR is as follows:

1. No belief is rationally inferred if it can be fully explained in terms of nonrational causes
2. If naturalism is true, then all beliefs can be fully explained in terms of nonrational causes
3. Therefore, if naturalism is true, then no belief is rationally inferred
4. If any thesis entails the conclusion that no belief is rationally inferred, then it should be rejected and its denial accepted
5. Therefore, naturalism should be rejected and its denial accepted. [1]

If naturalism is true, then our origins can be explained mechanistically in terms of natural processes. It thus follows that our cognitive faculties are ultimately the product of nonrational causes. But if our cognitive faculties are the product of nonrational causes, then we should have little reason to trust them. Reason does not come from nonreason -- would we trust the printout of a computer that was produced through nonrational processes? But obviously, we know that our cognitive faculties are reliable. Naturalism is at a loss to account for why this is so, for the naturalist must believe that reason is the end result of millions of nonrational causes. Since naturalism undercuts the foundations for rationality, we are warranted in rejecting it. Theism is a much better explanation, since given the theistic perspective, reason comes from reason as opposed to reason from nonreason.

NOTE: This is not a teleological (design) argument.
_________

[1]. I have modified Reppert's formulation slightly, see Victor Reppert, "C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea" (Downers Grove: Intervarsity. 2003)
atheistman

Con

atheistman forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Apologician

Pro

Well, since my opponent has forfeited the two previous rounds, I strongly encourage a vote for pro. My opponent has failed to give a sound rebuttal to the two theistic arguments I presented (The kalam cosmological argument and the argument from reason). I look forward to his closing remarks.

In the meantime, enjoy the video.
atheistman

Con

atheistman forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
31 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by atheistman 6 years ago
atheistman
Okay.
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
Yes, but I won those debates based on legitimate votes and not bombs. If you feel fine with how you vote than I won't bug you about it.
Posted by atheistman 6 years ago
atheistman
But as I said, it still doesn't matter how many people vote-bomb you, if you still won/are winning the vast majority of your debates. I'd understand your concern if you started losing a lot of debates due to vote-bombing, but that just isn't the case.
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
I encourage you to look at those debates on which you voted and see that it is verifiably certain that I was not positively "votebombed" to the degree that you think. It is, however, demonstrable that, by and large, more people have voted all 7 against me.
Posted by atheistman 6 years ago
atheistman
There are some vote-bombers voting against you, yet you still maintain an incredibly high number of wins/win ratio. Even if there are a lot of vote-bombers voting against you, there could still be a lot of vote-bombers voting in favor of you.
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
I understand your position on the matter. But the problem is that I was ALREADY votebombed. If you look at mostly all my debates you will see the following users: Gmoney, Steven123, Agnostic, Tribefan011 and Youngblood (and Awed more recently). So I would understand if it was a matter of evening out the field, but that is simply not the case. So I would appreciate you voting more fairly in my debates (it does not have to be in my favor) and I will do the same for you.
Posted by atheistman 6 years ago
atheistman
InquireTruth, you're a good debater, I'll admit that. But you don't deserve to be practically undefeated, and with a 96% win ratio. I'm sure you have plenty of vote-bombers who vote in favor of you, and I'm just pushing back.
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
Let's just say that I'm not the only one who thinks you vote unfairly (one of my debates you voted 3 minutes after it has finished - hardly enough time to actually read it). You are on a list of vote-bombers, and, quite frankly, I'm apt to agree with it. Why not just vote fairly?
Posted by atheistman 6 years ago
atheistman
'virtually all my debates' is a hyperbole, and I vote 7 points when I consider your opponents' arguments to be superior to yours.
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
atheistman,

Why do you vote all 7 points against me in virtually all my debates?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by BruteApologia 7 years ago
BruteApologia
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Vote Placed by Thade 7 years ago
Thade
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Vote Placed by Apologician 7 years ago
Apologician
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