The Instigator
Studious_Christian
Pro (for)
Losing
5 Points
The Contender
gizmo1650
Con (against)
Winning
22 Points

God Is Necessary For Morality

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
gizmo1650
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/25/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,601 times Debate No: 13215
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (64)
Votes (8)

 

Studious_Christian

Pro

I thank my opponent in advance for accepting this debate with me. I ask my opponent and the voters to give me some slack for this is my first debate on this website.
I will be defending the position that God must exist for objective morality to exist. Thus the presence of objective morality necessarily implies the existence of God. I would like for my opponent to define the ethical theory they will support.

The syllogism for my argument is as follows:
Premise:
• If God does not exist then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
• Objective moral values and duties do exist.
Conclusion:
• Therefore God does exist.

This is the framework of the debate:
1) My opponent and I will not be debating whether belief in God is necessary to act morally. This question is wholly irrelevant to the discussion.
2) The question is whether God is a necessary ground for morality to be meaningful.

The definition of objective morality I will be defending is as follows: holds that a moral rule is true regardless of whether anyone believes it. It can't be created by personal taste or conviction; nor does it vanish when an individual or society rejects it.
gizmo1650

Con

Welcome.
As a general rule, the instigator has the burden of proof, this means that to win i need only to prevent you from proving your claim true. However, i will provide my explanation of morality later in this post.

The first problem i have is the second of your premises "Objective moral values and duties do exist." (you are already doing better than many users in posting premises)

I would agree with this statement under some definitions of morality, such as "actions or series of actions that result in the most good" with good being a measure of total happiness, and negative values aloud (so it could also be read as least bad, without changing the meaning)

Using that definition i would reject to your first premise that God is necessary.
If you wish to use a different definition please provide one.

Under my definition i will grant the second premise that objective morals exist.
However, i see no reason to see how a God is necessary, or even relevant.
With or without a God, every action, or series of actions, will create a certain (possibly negative) amount of good.
With or without a God, there will be an action, or series of actions, that will create the most good.
That action, or series of actions, is the objectively moral one.
Therefore objective morals exist with or without a God.

My views on morality.
First this is irrelevant to the debate, as disproving mine will not prove yours, but i will provide my explanation any way.
For convenience sake i will focus solely on human morality, although my arguent apllies to all animals.

Resolution:
Morality can evolve
Premise:
Evolution is true
Arguement:
This is not circular reasoning, i am arguing that if evolution is true, morality is a natural result of that process.
1) At some point our ancestors lived interdependently.
2) Eventually some started living together.
3) This sub-group had better chances of survival, and became the only group of the species (which i will refer to as homos, even though this happened before the home- lineage began).
4) Some homos killed others in their group.
5) Those groups of homos that did not kill each other had better chances of survival.
6) Therefore they became the main group of homos.
7) Those groups with a stronger urge not to kill had better chances of survival.
8) Overtime the urge not to kill grew stronger, as the groups where its value was lower tended to die out more often
9) Eventually a strong urge not to kill became hard coded into our brains.
10) This urge became part of our morality.

the other moral views we hold can be derived from similar arguments. For example: Groups that stole from each other fought more withing themselves than groups that did not, giving them a lower chance of survival.
Debate Round No. 1
Studious_Christian

Pro

My opponent has said correctly that I have the burden of proof. He must prevent me by either proving that a form of moral relativism is true or that God is not necessary for morality. If he fails in doing this then my argument is much better than it's negations and thus more rational to believe in.

My opponent has started out by saying "the first problem I have is the second of your premises "Objective moral values and duties do exist." (you are already doing better than many users in posting premises)"
And if I'm not mistaken, he has not given any evidence as to why my second premise is wrong. He has only given us his preferable definition of morality. As it stands my second premise has not been refuted or debunked in any way.

My opponent says that morality should be defined as "actions or series of actions that result in the most good" he goes on and says that moral good is "a measure of total happiness". He then says he sees no reason why God is necessary. Before I give the reasons as to why God is necessary my opponent must understand that God is only necessary for morality if and only if morality is objective and not humans acting according to a pattern of social behavior. God isn't necessary for human beings to exhibit certain patterns of social behavior.
And here are the reasons as to why:
1) God grounds objective moral values; i.e. what counts as good and what counts as evil
2) God grounds objective moral duties; i.e. what we ought to do and ought not to do
3) God grounds moral accountability; i.e. our ultimate fate depends on how we act morally

In defence of (1):
A. Moral Values
Moral values are based in God. God is the model for all that is good and holy; He is the paradigm of what is right. God's objective holy nature is by what we may set the standard of moral actions. Thus if God exists then objective moral values exist and are grounded in Him.
B. Human Worth
But if God does not exist, what basis remains for objective moral values? In particular, why think human beings have moral worth? Why think that humans have value, such that they should be treated a particular way? In an atheistic universe, humans are just animals and are simply by-products of evolution. If we gain morality by evolution, this means that moral values are the product of the struggle for survival. One might say that since morality is of biological worth, homo sapiens have developed a sense of a herd morality. This standard is arbitrary and isn't really a true moral standard. In an atheistic universe, moral values do not exist independently, they are merely descriptions of behaviors that are the product of biological and cultural evolution. And if we would rewind the evolutionary tape, so to speak, and start from the beginning we would see that human beings could have developed an entirely different set of moral values. In other animal species, many things that we think of as wrong are practiced, like stealing and rape. So why think that our practices are objectively true, instead of just customs and fashions of our species? To say that our moral values are better than other species is committing the fallacy of specieism.
C. Free Will
Many naturalists regard man as a purely animal organism. And thus, everything we think and do is determined by the input of our five senses and our genetic code. Therefore all of our moral choices have no moral value or significance. As William Lane Craig puts it, "moral actions would become jerks of a puppet on strings." What moral value or moral responsibility does a puppet have? Moral choices require a non-physical mind distinct from the physical brain in order to make free moral choices.

In defence of (2)
As I said before, on atheism, humans are merely animals. Animals, obviously don't have any objective moral obligation to do anything. I ask my opponent, where would moral duties come from on atheism; to whom is the duty owed? In an atheistic universe, morality is just a subjective impression ingrained into us by social and biological pressure. Things like rape and incest, that aren't biologically or socially advantageous, have become "taboo". But this shows nothing as to why this is actually wrong. As William Craig puts it, The rapists "breaking this social contract is the same as a man belching loudly at the dinner table, it's just being unfashionable".

In defence of (3)
On theism, the moral choices we make affect where we end up in the afterlife. We are all held accountable of our moral choices. God balances the scales of justice in the end. Thus all our moral choices have an eternal effect. In an atheistic universe, it is irrelevant how you act; everybody ends up in the same place regardless of how they live. We are just a species on a speck of dust called earth in a vast universe. It really does not matter how you live. You could be an Adolph Hitler or a Mother Teresa.
Why be moral in an atheistic universe? Why shouldn't a person pursue self interest instead of following the moral conventions of the social contract? It is certainly not always the case that doing the right thing is also doing the thing that gives you pleasure. What binds us to act morally? A very powerful person would not need to be moral, since they can escape all the social sanctions that result from their breaking the social contract. They could simply be without conscious. Why would a very powerful human being do the right thing when it is against his or her self-interest? Moreover, acts of self-sacrifice are completely irrational in an atheistic universe. The inevitable result is that no one will be morally accountable when to do the right thing when it is hard. This is because in the long run, it is both disadvantageous and it certainly doesn't really matter as to what you do.

In conclusion, without God in the picture it is difficult to understand why would we would have objectively true morals. If God does not exist, then there would be no objective moral values nor moral duties nor moral accountability for how we live and act. The horror of such a relative world is obvious. But, on the other hand, if we believe that objective moral values and duties do exist then we have good grounds for believing in a Lawgiver, I.e. God. As we have seen, we cannot truly be good without a Lawgiver, but since we can be good to some degree, then it logically follows that a Divine Lawgiver does indeed exist. These are the questions what atheists must answer:
- What is the basis of objective moral values?
- What is the basis of human value on atheism?
- Why ought we to do the right thing and avoid doing the wrong thing?
- What is the basis for moral accountability?
gizmo1650

Con

Pro stated correctly that he has the burden of proof. This means that he must prove that moral objectivity is true and God is necessary, i do not need to prove the inverse.

I agree i have not refuted your second premise, in fact i think i agreed with it. My problem was that my agreement requires a specific definition of moral, as you have not rejected my definition i will assume it is the one we are both using and grant your second premise.

In response to (1)
A) This argument says that if God exists than objective morals exist and are grounded within him. While i disagree with this statement i will not waste time on it as it is irrelevant. You are arguing that God is the only possible source of objective morality.
B) Pro seams to of mixed up my explanation for objective morality to the source of human morality. I agree that human morality is not objective morality, however my argument for the existence of an objective morality still stands, and was argued independently of evolution and human morality.
Looking at history it is clear that human morality is not objective. For example, their was a time when slavery was moral acceptable, now is not, therefore our morality changed and cannot be objective.
C) I agree that free will does not exist. However at the level we are talking about, there are still multiple paths our brains can "calculate" to take, and one of these paths will lead to the lowest value of discomfort calculated by the other brains. Take computers for example. I think we can all agree that they have no free will. If you give a computer a map and ask it to plot a route from point a to point b, there are several routes it could give. However only one route is the objectively fastest, we would say that this is the best route it could give, even though in reality it could of given no other route. Or if it gave a less efficient route we would say it could of given us a better one, even though technically it could have offered no others.
In response to (2)
again you confuse my explanation for human morality with my explanation for objective morality. Rape is objectively immoral because it causes less good than not raping (or more bad in this context). therefore it is objectively amoral. However, incest is not amoral, as the two people involved are consenting and clearly think that engaging in this action will make them happier than not, and no suffering comes from it. Our disagreement on the subject also proves that human morality is not objective morality.
In response to (3)
Punishment is irrelevant to morality. Not having a reason to do a moral action does not make that action amoral, and not having a reason not to do an amoral action does not make it moral.

Pro states: "without God in the picture it is difficult to understand why would we would have objectively true morals." this does not mean it is impossible, or that our not possessing an alternative proves your side, that is an arguement from ignorance.
In response to Pros questions:
"What is the basis of objective moral values?"
i have already answered this
"With or without a God, every action, or series of actions, will create a certain (possibly negative) amount of good.
With or without a God, there will be an action, or series of actions, that will create the most good.
That action, or series of actions, is the objectively moral one."

"What is the basis of human value on atheism?"
humans have a concept of suffering

"Why ought we to do the right thing and avoid doing the wrong thing?"
Irrelevant to the existence of objective morality. As you said objective morality "holds that a moral rule is true regardless of whether anyone believes it...nor does it vanish when an individual or society rejects it." This means that objective morality exists regardless of whether or not we have a reason to behave accordingly.

"What is the basis for moral accountability?"
again this is irrelevant for the existence of objective morality.

Pro has offered no argument against my explanation of objective morality, or if he did it was hidden in his other arguements, Please provide a clear counter argument. I am not talking about my explanation of human morality (which has only been countered by equating human morality with objective morality)
Debate Round No. 2
Studious_Christian

Pro

I'm going to respond to my opponent in numerical form; addressing each of his attempts to debunk the selected statements from my argument.

1. My opponent said that (A) was irrelevant to the discussion. This is simply not true. (A) establishes that if God does exist it would be certain that objective morals exist due to His very nature. This has everything to do with the discussion.

2. My opponent has completely missed the meaning of (B). (B) was intended to show that in an atheistic universe objective morality could not exist. (B) shows that evolution can not explain the existence of objective morals, which is what my opponent supports as his resolution. In essence, con's argument was "herd morality" which I showed to be completely arbitrary.

3. Con hasn't really refuted (C) at all. He never refuted the main point of (C), which was that all our moral choices have no moral value or significance in an atheistic universe.

4. Again, my opponent has completely missed the point. (2) was intended to show that evolution is absolutely incapable of explaining objective morality. Nothing more. It is interesting when he says "our disagreement on the subject also proves that human morality is not objective morality" as if I hadn't defined this difference already.

5. My opponents response to (3), "Punishment is irrelevant to morality." This has got to be the most outrageous statement yet! As John Stuart Mill points out that moral wrongs are the kinds of things for which punishments seems justified [1]. Punishment is the one thing that separates moral obligation and obligation based upon reason. He then says, "Not having a reason to do a moral action does not make that action amoral, and not having a reason not to do an amoral action does not make it moral." This simply not what I'm arguing. I'm saying that if morality came about from evolution, then morality, as shown throughout my argument, would be subjective. Thus no one can be held accountable for what they have done. There would be no reason to do so anyways.

6. Con states, "this does not mean it is impossible, or that our not possessing an alternative proves your side, that is an argument from ignorance." Did I ever make the claim that since you can not disprove my argument therefore my argument is true? No. I'm saying in light of the evidence I gave above evolution can not supply objective morals.

7. Con answered my first question by saying "With or without a God, there will be an action, or series of actions, that will create the most good.That action, or series of actions, is the objectively moral one."

8. Con answered my second question by saying, "humans have a concept of suffering". Therefore, any moral crime that has an absence of suffering is permitted. This view entirely lacks any moral intention. Thus it shouldn't even be considered.

9. You said, "this means that objective morality exists regardless of whether or not we have a reason to behave accordingly." My question is intended to ask where we get our moral obligations from. If moral obligations are irrelevant to the argument, as you claim, then we aren't talking about objective morality are we? This "ought to do something" is the very phrase that defines all of ethics. I can not be irrelevant to the discussion.

10. You said, "again this is irrelevant for the existence of objective morality."
It has everything to do with moral objectivity. In the absence of moral accountability there would be no "ought" and no convictions. Morality would be debased as subjective.

11. And finally, you said "Pro has offered no argument against my explanation of objective morality". My rebuttal of your explanation of morality is quite clear and throughout my argument.
I'll give you a more clear and slightly different rebuttal by Greg Koukl:
"So, in abbreviated form, the reasoning [of your argument] goes like this: I ought to be unselfish because it is better for the group, which is better for the species, which is better for me. So why ought I be unselfish? Because it is better for me. But looking at what is better for me, is selfishness. So all of this so-called description of where morality comes from, gets reduced to this ludicrous statement: I morally ought to be unselfish so that I can be more thoroughly selfish. That is silly. Because we know that morality can't be reduced to selfishness. Why do we know that? Because our moral rules are against selfishness and for altruism. They are against selfishness and for the opposite. When you think about what it is that morality entails, you don't believe that morality is really about being selfish. Morality is about being unselfish, or at least it entails that. Which makes my point that this description, based on evolution, does not do the job. It doesn't explain what it is supposedly meant to explain. It doesn't explain morality. It is simply reduced to a promotion of selfishness which isn't morality at all. " If you somehow debunk this, the rest of my argument still stands.

Morality is something altogether different. We may debate about all that moral views and understandings entail, but one thing we can all agree on, I think, is that when we are looking for a definition of morality, we know it isn't about selfishness. It is about not being selfish, just the opposite. That's why these explanations don't work. They either smuggle morality into the equation by describing the behavior that is meant to be explained by evolution so they depend upon morality to do the job, or else the descriptions and explanations end up being reduced to selfishness, which isn't what we're trying to explain. We're trying to explain why one ought not be selfish, not why one ought to be selfish." [2]

Thanks for the debate. I hope I'll learn from some of the various mistakes I made in it.

[1]: John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1957 [1861]), 61.
[2]: Stand to Reason: Evolution Can't Explain Morality found on str.org
gizmo1650

Con

1. My point was that you could not use this arguement to porove the existence of God. However, it is also simply false. Objective morals, by you own definition, exist independent of a mind, and since God is a mind they must exist independent of him.

2. Pro has again, mis represented what i was saying. Evolution explains human morality, not objective morality. As i pointed out before, my explanation for objective morality was
"With or without a God, every action, or series of actions, will create a certain (possibly negative) amount of good.
With or without a God, there will be an action, or series of actions, that will create the most good.
That action, or series of actions, is the objectively moral one."
(this is what i wanted a clear counter argument for)

3. As i have already established, free will exists for all relevant purposes. (C) was saying that because free will does not exist morality does not exist. in response to your new phrasing "our moral choices have no moral value or significance in an atheistic universe." i think i have already countered this several times. Every intelligent mind has an amount of happiness. our actions affect this amount of happiness. Therefore there is an action that would result in the highest level of happines. This is the moral action.

4. re-read the first sentence in my argument "again you confuse my explanation for human morality with my explanation for objective morality."

5. So you are saying that something is wrong because you will be punished for it? Then the holocaust would be very moral. People weren't punished for supporting it, and were punished for fighting against it. going back to the agreed definition of morality "actions or series of actions that result in the most good" we can see that morals can exist without punishment. Me raping some one would clearly result in less good than my not raping her, therefore it is amoral. It is not amoral because i will get arrested.

6. I agree evolution can not explain objective morality, my explanation for objective morality can. My point was that, you were saying that because my explanation failed yours must be correct, and that is a clear example of an argument from ignorance.

7. Yes i did, and a also asked for a clear rebuttal of this explanation (although my request was in the last paragraph, not the same place)

8. my explanation of morality was based on avoiding suffering, therefore any entity that posses suffering contains a moral value. therefore humans have a moral value. You do however raise a good point, my definition of morality should be modified to include intent.

9. OUR moral obligations our base on human morality, not absolute morality, and therefore come from evolution.

10. again my definition of morality is based solely on the results an action has, the better the results the more moral, punishment never entered the equation.

11. heres the argument we've been fencing around.
You're right, you have said this. I will grant that human morality is based in selfishness. However, as i have stated many times before human morality is not objective morality.
The argument i asked you to counter was my explanation for objective morality, which is:
"With or without a God, every action, or series of actions, will create a certain (possibly negative) amount of good.
With or without a God, there will be an action, or series of actions, that will create the most good.
That action, or series of actions, is the objectively moral one."

I can find one place where pro even acknowledges my explanation for objective morality (round 3, #7) and here he simply quoted it and didn't even attempt to refute it, despite my clear request to do so. Instead he continually mis-represents my explanation of human morality with an explanation of objective morality despite being corrected on the subject.
Debate Round No. 3
64 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by znormand 6 years ago
znormand
I would like to point out that Studious_Christian is a fraud. He has stolen his arguments from a debate between Shelly Kagan and Dr. William Craig. He actually went directly to the debate summary and COPIED TEXT DIRECTLY from it.

My personal opinion, however differs from both points of view, is regardless, but I will not let it stand unknown that Studious_Christian did not use his own arguments.

Here is the site he stole them from, if you are interested. You can go to this website, and compare them to his words. You will see that he has copied directly from this website. As well, you can listen to the debate on youtube, in a 10 part segment.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
The problem with morality derived from religion is that while religious people agree that God is the basis for morality, they don't agree on what that morality is. Consequently, in practice morality is derived over time according to what proves most compatible with human nature. That is what the Declaration of Independence called moral truths being "self-evident." That is the Deist sentiment that God wrote morality into human nature. Atheists may also derive moral absolutes from human nature as well.

Con won arguments by arguing the evolution of morality. Pro's speling and grammar were much better; it was easier to follow his arguments.
Posted by gizmo1650 6 years ago
gizmo1650
1&2
you are correct, i think i meant immoral, as in a negative moral value, my mistake.
3.
The debate was on the existence of morality, not on the existence of a reason to behave morally.
4.
"Moral obligation is irrelevant to the existence of moral actions" agreed, therefore moral actions can exist without obligation, so the fact my definition does not consider moral obligation is a good thing.
5.
The standard definition of God involves an intelligence, if you have a different understanding of the word please say so.
Posted by Studious_Christian 6 years ago
Studious_Christian
I'm honestly done talking with you Gizmo.

I've shot my arrows; you just don't want to accept that they hit the target.
Posted by Studious_Christian 6 years ago
Studious_Christian
it is amoral to do this to the man with the fear, and morally neutral to do this to the man with no fear. (i can say neutral because we are using a very simple situation, i believe there is no such thing as morally neutral)"

First of all, you're deceived by your own use of language.
Definition of amoral:
"not involving questions of right or wrong; without moral quality; neither moral nor immoral. "

Second,
How can you say something is amoral and then say you don't believe in amorality?

Third,
"we agree then, there is moral action, debate closed."
My point was that if there is no moral obligation there is no "oughtness" to do anything at all. This would completely destroy you're argument.

Fourth,
"what moral obligation? this is still irrelevant to the existence of moral actions."
Moral obligation is irrelevant to the existence of moral actions. Yes. But it is not irrelevant to the discussion or more specifically my argument; which is intended to show that your definition of morality defines subjective morality not objective morality.

Fifth,
"God is an intelligence, therefore nothing based of him is independent of a mind, therefore nothing based off of him is objective, therefore everything based from him is subjective, therefore morality based off of him is subjective."
Where does this definition come from?
Posted by mecap 6 years ago
mecap
@Studious_Christian
"If God's nature was of "non-forgiveness" then he would cease to be a moral grounding."
-- So there is something inherently wrong with non-forgiveness, i.e. something independent of God's nature?
Posted by mecap 6 years ago
mecap
@popculturepooka
"You are switching back and forth between talking about the essential nature of particular objects (how you said "my nature" or "God") then talking about the essential nature of different kinds or classes of objects ("water", "stars", etc)."
-- I am an instance of a given set of characteristics (i.e. a human being), so if I change into stone then I wouldn't be qualified as a human being... if God changes into the Devil, then he wouldn't be qualified as God. The set of characteristics that identify me as a human being or even as "me," are not changing, neither are the set of characteristics that identify God as God.

"You are either talking about somethings *individual* essence or it's belonging to a class or kind type of essence. Which are you talking about?"
-- Given an instance, i.e. me, we can come up with a set of characteristics that would identify me and they wouldn't identify anybody else but me. If I die, those characteristics STILL identify me, they don't change. Whether it's a class of objects or an instance of an object, the characteristics that identify it are not changing.
Posted by gizmo1650 6 years ago
gizmo1650
"The example you gave didn't really have to do with anything I said.
The man who has an irrational fear of spiders had some sort of pschological suffering caused. The man who wasn't afraid of spiders had no pschological suffering at all. But the same action was applied to the two men. In my example, this action would neither be morally good or morally bad. What would become then?"
as i have already explained, it is amoral to do this to the man with the fear, and morally neutral to do this to the man with no fear. (i can say neutral because we are using a very simple situation, i believe there is no such thing as morally neutral)

""The lack of moral obligation does not mean that there is no moral action"
Never said that there was no moral action. You misunderstand what I'm saying. Try to answer my rebuttal again, please."
we agree then, there is moral action, debate closed.

"I'm glad that you changed your definition of morality to account for moral intent. Sadly, you have not done this for moral obligation."
what moral obligation? this is still irrelevant to the existence of moral actions.

"To answer your question,
God's nature is objective. It doesn't change; it's always the same. This characteristic makes him the perfect grounding for morality."
God is an intelligence, therefore nothing based of him is independent of a mind, therefore nothing based off of him is objective, therefore everything based from him is subjective, therefore morality based off of him is subjective.
Posted by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
"-- But that doesn't mean anything... my nature doesn't change either, neither does the nature of stars, planets, air, water, plutonium, etc."

"-- It doesn't matter if that particular instance of the object changes, what we know is that a set of characteristics identify an object... if a water molecule is broken apart into Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms that doesn't change what we recognize as water, it only changes what that instance is recognized as."

I think you are equivocating here. You are switching back and forth between talking about the essential nature of particular objects (how you said "my nature" or "God") then talking about the essential nature of different kinds or classes of objects ("water", "stars", etc). You are either talking about somethings *individual* essence or it's belonging to a class or kind type of essence.

Which are you talking about?
Posted by mecap 6 years ago
mecap
"A temporal object can lose or gain essential properties. That just means it's not identical to what it was."
-- It doesn't matter if that particular instance of the object changes, what we know is that a set of characteristics identify an object... if a water molecule is broken apart into Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms that doesn't change what we recognize as water, it only changes what that instance is recognized as.

"It's not clear God could lose or gain essential properties."
-- If God's essential properties changed, then we wouldn't recognized him/her/it as God.
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