God Is Real
Debate Rounds (4)
In a discussion about the existence of God, it is critical to keep in mind a principle of logic called the burden of proof principle. The burden of proof principle asserts that when someone claims to have knowledge, they have a burden to provide evidence or reasoning in favor of the purported item of knowledge.
The reason for accepting the burden of proof principle should be clear. If anyone can assert anything as knowledge without providing proof, then anything goes. I can assert that I am the President of the United States without providing any proof, and you would have to accept the claim. Since that's absurd, it should be clear that the burden of proof principle is true.
Moreover, the burden of proof principle is accepted everywhere in everyday life and in science. When a used car salesman says that a car drives well and has no mechanical problems, you don't just take his word for it, you want to take the car for a drive. Similarly, when a scientist asserts that a scientific theory is true, he has to provide evidence and reasoning sufficient to convince other scientists.
So, the burden of proof principle holds. If there is no evidence or reasoning sufficient to establish the existence of God, then we must abandon the claim that God exists as arbitrary, no different from the claim that there are unicorns.
That is the main reason to be an atheist: There is no evidence for the existence of God.
You raise two arguments for the existence of God. First, you ask why people would go through the trouble of writing every word in the Bible if God didn't exist. Secondly, you ask why people witnessed Jesus rise from the dead if Christianity is false.
With regard to your first argument, the reason people wrote every word in the Bible is simple: They were primitive people who didn't understand the world around them, so they wrote down an elaborate mythology that would explain puzzling natural features of the world, provide moral inspiration, and justify the existing social order.
When you suggest that people would not have written all of the Bible if it were false, you are projecting the modern scientific concept of truth onto the ancient world. People living in primitive cultures don't have the idea that if you claim something, then it needs to correspond to reality and stand up to rigorous investigation. That concept is an achievement representing centuries of progress in science and philosophy. Primitive people just want stories to help them understand the world and console them, they don't care about having evidence in the scientific sense.
With regard to your second argument, there is no evidence that anyone saw Jesus rise from the dead. All we have is the stories in the Bible, which are indistinguishable from hundreds of other ancient miracle stories from every time and place. Herodotus, for example, recorded that Persia had soldiers whose heads were like those of giant ants. A reasonable person will reject these stories out of hand, along with the miracle stories in the Bible.
So, to sum up:
1. The burden of proof is on the theist to establish that God exists, and they haven't met their burden of proof.
2. The Bible is the product of primitive people who lacked the concept of science.
3. Therefore, atheism is the rational position.
The website Talk Origins explains the fallacy of incredulity as follows: "It is inconceivable that (fill in the blank) could have originated naturally. Therefore, it must have been created." Basically, because you find something unbelievable, it must not be true.
This is a fallacy because the fact that you find something unbelievable doesn't necessarily mean it isn't true. Lots of things that are amazing are true. For example, it is amazing that there are hundreds of thousands of stars in the universe, but there are. Our intuitions are not a good guide to the scientific reality of the issue.
The problem is compounded in the case of evolution by natural selection, a process that took place over the course of millions of years. Our intuitions about how things develop were conditioned by a human scale of decades, so they aren't a good guide to whether the theory of evolution is true.
Indeed, according to the Pew Research Center, 97% of scientists believe that the theory of evolution is true: "Nearly all scientists (97%) say humans and other living things have evolved over time " 87% say evolution is due to natural processes, such as natural selection."
So, the fact that you find babies amazing, and the fact that you are amazed that there is so much information in a human cell, aren't evidence that God exists. They are just evidence that evolution by natural selection can produce some pretty cool results if you give it millions of years to operate.
The Bible is not proof of God's existence. As I said in my first post (which you did not address), the Bible was written by primitive people who did not have the concept of science. Their goal was not to record the literal truth, it was to write down stories that explained puzzling aspects of the natural world and offered them comfort and moral inspiration.
You say that the Bible is evidence for God because it was written by 40 authors over a period of 2,000 years, but still has a consistent message. This is a very weak argument.
For one thing, there are countless bodies of literature that have a consistent internal message in spite of being written by a number of different people - including the scriptures of religions other than your own. By your reasoning, all of these bodies of literature must have been written by God. A better explanation is that people writing in a given tradition usually have access to the texts that were written earlier in the tradition, so they make sure that what they write is consistent with the earlier texts.
Further, if the Bible has a single consistent message, Christians have been remarkably poor at figuring out exactly what it is. There are thousands of denominations of Protestantism in the United States, and that's not to mention the enormous schism between Protestantism and Catholicism, or between both and the Eastern Orthodox Church. If the Bible had a single consistent message, we would expect Christians to be able to tell us what it is.
Finally, the fact that the Bible is the best selling and most translated book only shows that many people think that it is the word of God, not that God exists. The Quran has sold millions of copies, but you don't regard that as evidence that the Quran was written by God.
To wrap up:
1. You can't object to the theory of evolution simply by appealing to incredulity.
2. The Bible doesn't meet the burden of proof for God's existence.
Since my explanation clearly did not help you understand the issue, I will quote philosopher Philip A. Pecorino from his online philosophy of religion text:
"Why is it that the burden is on the person who makes the claim? Well think whether or not it is a better way to proceed through life to accept anything and everything that people claim to be so. Experience should instruct every thinking human that there is a high probability that not everything that people claim to be true is actually true. Some claims might be made with the claimant aware that the claim is not true and some claims might be made with the claimant thinking that they are true but being mistaken. As it is for most humans not a very good idea to proceed through life based on beliefs that are false and thinking beliefs and claims to be true when they are not, most humans and those who would use reason to guide them will want some evidence and reasoning to support a claim being asserted to be true. So the burden is on those who make claims to offer reason and evidence in support of those claims."
Judges, to sum up the debate:
1. My opponent has never introduced evidence for the existence of God that satisfies the burden of proof principle I introduced in Round 1.
2. My opponent has never addressed my point that the Bible was written by primitive people without the concept of science.
3. Finally, my opponent has never addressed my point that his case rests on several arguments from incredulity.
For these reasons, you should vote Con. Thank you.
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