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God Probably Doesn't Exist.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/21/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,912 times Debate No: 76652
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I have picked the dark lord Envisage.

.I am creating this debate to test 2 new arguments that I'm not 100% sure about. One of them is partly original. Also because I haven't done a God debate in a while.

Definitions:God: The sentient necessary eternal (has always existed and held his properties) omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being that was the efficient cause of the contingent universe.

Probably: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

Doesn't Exist: Does not have objective reality or being.

Rules and Other Debate Information:

Debate format:R1: Acceptance
R2: My opening arguments followed by Con's opening arguments (No rebuttals by Con)
R3: Rebuttals to opening arguments
R4: Defense of your original arguments.

BOP is shared.
No forfeits.
No insults.
No semantics.
Follow the format.
72 Hours to Post Argument.
9,000 Characters Max.
10 day voting period.
7 point voting system.
Open Voting
Posting sources in the comments is allowed.


I would like to thank my imaginary opponent for this debate.

May this debate live long and prosper.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks Envisage. May this debate have peace and long life.

Higher order problem of evil.

The higher order problem of evil is the meta version of the POE that was first posited by Yujin Nagasawa [1]. The normal POE states that if God exists, he would wish to stop suffering. The HOPOE states if God exists, he would wish to give a clear irrefutable solution to the problem of evil. Interestingly enough, this actually allows for some solution to the POE to exist, attempting to solve the POE will do nothing to refute this argument.

The regular POE can be said to be a first order problem of evil. A second order problem of evil would be formulated like this [2],

“1:There is gratuitous puzzlement.

2: If God exists (and he is benevolent omniscient, and omnipotent) there is no gratuitous puzzlement.

C: God does not exist. “

There clearly is gratuitous puzzlement. The problem of evil has been around for a very long time. It is perhaps the most well-known argument for God’s nonexistence. Many solutions have been posited, but those only create further puzzlement, as many have been disputed [3][4]. There simply is no clear answer. The problem of evil debate can cause cognitive dissonance, emotional stress or worse create poor reasoning habits in order to escape the POE. These affect other areas where reasoning comes into play. By God’s nature, it would be probable that he wouldn’t want this suffering. The conclusion follows.

However, it doesn’t end there. Let’s assume there is a solution to the second order problem of evil. Then we get a third order problem of evil. Why doesn’t God answer the second order problem of evil? Even if there was a solution to the third order POE we would then have fourth, and so on and so on ad infinitum.

This makes atheism more probable. The theist has to have an infinite amount of justifications for the HOPOE, which practically cannot happen.

The Universe’s Existence

This attempts to argue the universe exists in every possible world, or that God cannot be the reason for the universe's existence. It goes like this,

X= The proposition that the universe exists as a necessity

Y= The proposition that God isn’t the reason for the universe’s existence.

1: If X or Y is true, God doesn’t exist.

2: Either X or Y is true
C: God doesn’t exist.

Premise One

This follows right from the definition of God “...the efficient cause of the contingent universe.”

If the universe exists necessarily, then there is no contingent universe for God to cause.

God being the efficient cause entails that God is the reason for the universe’s existence. If God didn’t exist, then the universe have been caused. He is clearly the reason for its existence.

Premise Two

There is one reason to believe the first horn (X) and a dilemma that can entail either horn. The first is from God’s own nature and the second is from the nature of modal logic.

Since God is necessary, it follows that God created the universe in every possible world. If there exists a world where God exists, but the universe wasn’t created, this would be a different version of God. As God is defined as creating the universe. It would mean God was contingent, since there can be other possible worlds where things about God are true or false. If God currently exists, he exists in all possible worlds. Since God created the universe, then it follows he created the universe in every possible world.

God is also necessarily omnibenevolent. If he existed, he would want to share his love with others. He would have to create the universe, since he loves us.

God must create the universe by his own nature. This entails the universe exists in every possible world (since God is necessary). However, this also means the universe is necessarily [5].

Furthermore, the nature of modal logic entails either X or Y. Consider the statement “There is a cup on the table.”

Assuming there really is a cup on that table, we must ask, what makes this statement true? The statement is made true, because there is a state of affairs where the cup is on the table. However, consider modal statements. What makes it possible that there could be a cup off the table? Or that the cup might never have come in contact with the table? Where is the state of affairs that makes this true?

It doesn’t seem that this question has any favorable solution.

One would be that there is no truthmaker and therefore, modal statements are false. This would entail the necessity of the universe and every action within it (X).

On the other hand, we can state the truthmaker is a real cup that’s not on the table, just not in this immediate reality. This brings us to the second horn of the dilemma, as this entails modal realism. Although this wouldn’t mean the universe exists in every possible world, this necessitates this universe actually existing, because of its possibility. In other words, it would entail the universe exists because it’s possible it can exist (Y). It wouldn’t mean it exists because of God. He couldn’t have been the reason for the universe’s existence.

Con must propose a truthmaker for modal statements that claims they are true to avoid X, but simultaneously doesn’t appeal to any state of affairs to avoid Y.

These two defenses entail that at the very least this universe must have come into existence by the nature of possibility, and at most that the universe exists in every possible world.

Since either X or Y is true, God does not exist.










Argument 1 – Ontological Argument
Inspired & adapted from our fellow member DylanCatlow. God is defined as a “boundless being”, which I argue later will entail a God of the description provided.

The argument is formalised as follows:

1. If God does not exist, then either God is internally incoherent, or is externally constrained
2. God is not internally incoherent
3. God is not externally constrained
C. Therefore, God exists

Defence of Premise 1
To contest P1 would be to forfeit that ontology, or “being” is an objective fact, i.e. that we cannot apply a priori notions to justify anything in ontology- including simply “if --> then” statements. Metaphysical impossibility arises if and only if it is metaphysically incoherent, and thus entails a contradiction with either itself, or something else in reality (law of excluded middle). To quote Baruch Spinoza “there are only two possible explanations for a thing’s non-existence. The first is that the thing is prevented from existing by something external to it. The other possible explanation is that something doesn’t exist because its nature is internally inconsistent.”[1] This holds true even if modal realism is true, since there would always be something in some exemplified world that contradicts the impossible. Purely logical propositions this follows rather obviously from – every logical falsity indeed entails a contradiction with other truth-bearing propositions – which applies to mathematical truths, logical systems, etc.

To contradict reality is thus to be under external “constraint”, for example the ontological claim of “my closet is completely full of water” is metaphysically contradicted by the fact that “my closet contains a broom”. The presence of the broom constrains “a closet full of water” from existing. Absent any external or internal constraint, there is nothing to prevent actualisation of the concept in question – which is the case with God. Given that metaphysical possibility is a subset of logical possibility, then of course internal contradictions also render a thing non-existent.

Defence of Premise 2
God possesses a single attribute in the description (boundless being), which while it will entail logically collieries (such as omnipotence, omniscience, etc.), does not do so out of necessity – thus the exact nature of of omnipotence, and omniscience are determined by what is logically possible of a “boundless being”. Thus, it is impossible for God to be internally contradictory, since you need a minimum of two terms/necessary attributes to entail a contradiction. Furthermore, even if God did contain a multiplicity of terms, the fact that God is boundless means that God would transcend these internal constraints anyway.

To argue that God has a multiplicity of attributes would entail arguing that existence itself is an attribute (since existence is the only other thing God “has”) – which runs into Kant’s famous refutation of existence being a predicate.[2] Existence as a predicate would also entail non-existence as a predicate – and we would have an indistinguishable differenceof a “non-existing essence” and “an essence that doesn’t exist” – essentialism presupposes existence to exemplify itself. Thus, the coherent multiplicity of primary attributes of God is impossible.

Defence of Premise 3
This is true by definition. A boundless being with external constraint would by definition not be boundless and hence not be God.

Justification of attributes
God would contain all logically consistent attributes, lest God be bounded. God as the ground of all being (since everything is tautologically included within God itself) would thus ground all objectivity. Thus, God’s will also is objective, and moral facts and thus derived from this. God would also contain all knowledge, since everything is contained.[3]

Argument from Religious Experience
This argument is not explicitly deductive (and hence will not be presented in such a fashion) – it is an abductive one, i.e. an inference to the best explanation.

The argument follows:

1.There exists a dataset pertaining to noetic religious experiences of God/transcendence
2.The best explanation for this dataset is a being of the ontology entailed by such experiences
3.The ontology of such experiences is that of God – therefore the best explanation is that God exists

Defence of point 1
One does not actually need to have had a religious experience themselves in order to accept this assumption. If we are capable of accepting the assumption that our fellow humans are conscious, and are themselves having a “first-person movie” playing from their perspective, then we are also capable of accepting that these people have had genuine noetic experiences of God. These are broad and exist across a span of socio-religious-cultural barriers. Thus these experiences are relatively non-specific, as we would expect of a religious experience of a genuine origin.

Defence of point 2&3
Inference to best explanation works from multiple criteria:[4]

1. Background knowledge
2. Explanatory power
3. Principle of simplicity

To demonstrate how we use this everyday, and how it is used to justify stuff in science, take your subjective experience of the computer/information device in front of you (whatever you are reading this debate on).

1. You are receiving a noetic experience of the computer, you are receiving sensory inputs that you associate with a being with ontology. Thus, the hypothesis that “a computing device exists in front of me” gives excellent explanatory power over the dataset you are receiving from your sensory inputs

2. We have plenty of examples of experiences with computing devices in the past, and we have established ideas of what they are, etc. Thus the hypothesis is well within background knowledge

3. It posits a single assumption – that the device from which your noetic experience is derived, exists. Additional assumptions don’t need to be added when new data is collected, for example if you receive data that “a device with a wifi signal is emanating from in front of you” – this single assumption is still explanatorily sufficient

Thus, we conclude that device exists as an abductive solution to our dataset.

Now let’s apply this to religious experiences and the hypothesis “God exists” to provide explanatory power:

1. The theists typically receives a plethora of sensory inputs, which match a being with a common core of ontology: transcendent of physical reality; an ‘ultimate reality’ of something holy, eternal and of supreme value; loving, pardoning, personal; intimate union with beholder; discovery of man’s ultimate purpose. A benevolent all powerful being would provide excellent explanatory power over these experiences. Given their demonstrated capability in enabling/instigating a personal relationship with God where one did not exist before, we have a relatively well-established purpose for these, even if it is not the full picture.

A non-theological explanation must provide an ad-hoc argument for why these religious experiences exist in the first place, and provide enough explanatory power to account for *each and every one*.

Given that it is well established that the vast majority of people who undergo religious experiences are of sound mind, and also partake in virtually every echelon of human civilisation, then appealing to hallucinations etc. isn’t going to hold much explanatory power of these experiences.[5]

2. The concept of God is well-within our background knowledge & experiences, for we already know of at least one type of personal, loving beings – which would be us, humans. Thus to posit another, albeit of different ontology and capabilities, is not a significant step. Furthermore we have plenty of theological experience with the multitude of past religions, and divine entities that have been worshipped over the past millennia – such an explanation has been shown to be immensely versatile in the coherent attributes it can undertake.

3. God posits a single assumption, a single brute fact of reality. It the ground of all reality, and the single explanatory factor that is lacking in everything that exists. I assert that a theological universe is a scientists “wet dream”, an even wetter dream than string theory was, with its elegance and relative simplicity. Frequently used to mock religious beliefs – the very fact that God is the ultimate panacea, the ultimate unbounded being goes a tremendous way to explaining a lot (high explanatory scope) while keeping assumptions down to a minimum. The atheist, or naturalist would need to posit a whole plethora of explanations, such as origins of life explanations, origins of the universe, origins of everything. What is more likely, a cobbled together collection of speculation, or one single, simple explanation?

2. pp 563-567
5. The Evidential Force of Religious Experience- Caroline Franks Davis pp 191

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks Con.

The Ontological Argument

This is a neat variation of the ontological argument which states since God is a boundless being, nothing must restrict his existence and therefore must exist. I cannot say I find anything obviously wrong with premise one (at least nothing I’m willing to argue for) , so I will attack premise 2 and 3.

Premise 2

Pro argues that it’s impossible for God to have a contradictory property, since he has only a single property of being a boundless being. All other properties simply follow as logical collieries. However, it seems “boundless being” gives us two properties. Boundless being unlimited and being as relating to sentience. This isn’t claiming existence is a part of God’s properties like Con suggested, as sentience is a property of in its own right. It’s not synonymous with existence, but nonetheless God cannot exist without it. Since God has two properties, the defense for premise 2 fails.

From the above, it seems to be that a boundless being is contradictory. God is bound to sentience. He cannot be insentient, therefore he is bound. God cannot go beyond his nature and therefore isn’t totally boundless.

Lastly, Con argues existence isn’t a predicate. I agree with this, but I don’t see how Con can. The argument states, by God’s definition, nothing is prohibiting God’s existence. This is synonymous with saying God exists by definition. A definition is merely the description of an entity or the meaning of its word. It would entail that existence is a part of these meaningful descriptions, that would mean it’s a predicate. I guess it can be said the the definition of God only entails his existence, but isn’t a part of the definition itself. This doesn’t seem correct, because a definition is about an entity and can only entail existence in the form of other innate properties in that entity.

This premise’s justification is unsound and the premise itself is false.

Premise 3

I don’t find Con’s defense here satisfactory.

Con argues that God by definition has no bounds and therefore no external constraint exists. If we look at Con’s example of an external constraint, we’ll see it’s related to the inductive world. However, Con’s defense is an a priori defense. It deals with the definition of God, not with the external world. A priori arguments cannot tell us about the nature of the complete external world. An a priori deductive argument can only tell us tautological things about definitions [1] like that a married bachelor is impossible. It doesn’t deal with the inductive world.

It might be true that in the external world, sentience is needs to be realized in biological material. Or some other external factor which constrains God that we cannot even begin to conceive.

Premise 3 is unjustified.

Argument from Religious Experiences

Another argument I wasn’t expecting. As with the first argument, I don’t think there is a satisfactorily response to the first premise, so I’ll be attacking premise 2 and 3.

Premise 2 & 3

Con gives a criteria of 3 points to justify the premises.

1. Background knowledge

2. Explanatory power

3. Principle of simplicity

I will respond to Con’s justifications for these and posit why the alternate explanation is likely correct.

Explanatory Power and Simplicity: I’m pairing these two together, since they are related and they way my argument works, it would just be better if they were together. The existence of God may posses some explanatory power if such revelations were consistent. Different concepts of God have existed and developed through the ages [2][3]. The fact that there are different experiences that cater to different religious belief is enough to claim God isn’t that great of an explanation. It also doesn’t seem like a good explanation because what can be counted as a religious experience can be experienced by many people even non-believers [4]

I contend that hallucinations and misinterpretations are a better explanation. The brain tends to look for patterns in nature. This is called apophenia, we want to make sense of random occurrences [5]. This can explain any signs from God, but what about actual auditory and visual experiences?

Con states a majority of people who have some sort of experience are of sound mind. although he doesn’t specify the exact nature of the experiences, I’ll assume he means visual experiences. There is a common misconception that you need to have something wrong with you to have a hallucination. This most certainly isn’t the case. Something such as not getting enough REM sleep can cause hallucinations [6]. Suggestibility can cause hallucinations in completely normal individuals [7][8].

This is a better explanation since we already know these things happen and they’re all that’s needed for a religious experience to come about. It explains inconsistent revelations perfectly. This makes it a simpler explanation too. Since we don’t have to appeal to anything we don’t already know exists.

However, what of Con’s defense of simplicity? It appears to be a bait and switch. The argument is about the simplicity of God being the explanation of religious experience, so why is Con talking about explanations about the origin of life and the universe? Anyway, if this justification was relevant, it still wouldn’t mean a thing. God being the origin of life and the universe tells us nothing about the details and inner workings of such things. Atheism uses the details and inner workings, but concludes that’s all there is. A theistic explanation would still need the details and inner workings (to have a complete explanation), but add on the existence of God. That isn’t necessary.

Background knowledge: Just because we have knowledge about other sentient beings doesn’t entail we would have knowledge that a God would interfere in the development of humanity. Many humans would follow something akin to the prime directive, not wanting to interfere in human culture. Furthermore, just like a beetle’s sentience will likely not tell us much about a human’s sentence, there’s no reason why a human’s sentience would tell us much about a supreme being’s sentience.

An atheist explanation fits the dataset better than the theistic one.

To Pro!


[1] Modern Intellectual Tradition - From Descartes to Derrida, Lecture 7 “The Radical Skepticism of Hume”










R1. Higher Order Problem of Evil
I have objections to both premises, ergo:

“P1: There is gratuitous puzzlement.”

While there is indeed puzzlement, it doesn’t follow that such a puzzlement is gratuitous (i.e. has no “positive” outcomes), that is something that needs to be proven, not assumed by Pro (and appeals to intuition, and “seeming’s” is insufficient to accomplish this). Simply appealing to a potentially infinite number of puzzlements doesn’t actually increase the likelihood of there existing at least one gratuitous puzzlement, since all such puzzlements are of the same logical structure, and thus can all share a common “redemption” for the perceived gratuity (there doesn’t need to actually be a known answer to the PoE, only good common reason to think the conclusion false). A analogy would be the claim that “there exists a raincloud that is actually Thor’s urine”, it doesn’t matter if there is one possible raincloud, or an infinite number, since all rainclouds have a common mechanism for formation, and hence infinite explanatory power is possible from one source. There existing infinite rainclouds doesn’t actually make it any more plausible that Thor urinated once on this planet.

Further, if we assume normative morality, then there is no shortage of methodologies by which such puzzlement would not be gratuitous, for example puzzlements give us an increased sense of wonder of the natural world, and promote logical and critical thought.

That is not to say that these are explanations, except that Pro assumes with no evidence, nor any reason that there is a gratuitous puzzlement when we haven’t exhausted the explanation sources of these puzzlements – especially when we discard normative morality and lean on moral scepticism (the notion that we do not have access to knowledge regarding moral truths). Believing that there is a mechanism – even in light of ignorance of what the mechanism, or redemption is sufficient to solve the issue of alleged gratuitous puzzlement without committing oneself to further puzzlements. We do this everyday for a plethora of problems – we do not have perfect knowledge, and it would be a tremendous leap for Pro to assert that these lead to a negative effect even when assuming normative ethics. Pro gives no reason to believe that our everyday notions of morality have anything to do with the contents of moral realism however, thus moral scepticism is default, and needs to be solved first before moral arguments possess cogency.[6]

“P2: If God exists (and he is benevolent omniscient, and omnipotent) there is no gratuitous puzzlement

Pro hasn’t actually attempted to justify this premise. Puzzlement is not inherently tied to benevolence, or morality in general – and I will go further to argue that even suffering and pain is not inherently tied to morality. God is the ground of all morality, and thus it is by God’s standard that things are deemed good, evil, right or wrong. This can be affirmed by moral scepticism, where nobody has true moral knowledge, including whether or not morality has anything to do with human’s day-to-day lives. We have no reason to believe this would be the case, and conflating desires, and social behaviours with objective morality is patently absurd and a classical fallacy of equivocation.[6]

R2. The Universe’s Existence
Pro hasn’t defined “universe” here, but for the sake of argument I will assume that Pro is referring to “everything that exists in a metaphysically possible world”, which seems to be the most natural and consistent with his arguments, given that his argument is not scientific (and hence the scientific definition is inappropriate).

Please see my rebuttals to Pro’s first argument, love is not a prerequisite of benevolence. God can actually be morally indifferent (from the standpoint of normative ethics) to humans, for his goodness may well transcend what immediately happens on our planet. Until Pro solves moral scepticism – he cannot soundly make such claims. Why would we expect an all powerful transcendant being’s nature to be understandable to our contingent whims?

God is contingent
God’s definition is only contingent if and only if it is being interpreted de re. And if it is being interpreted de dicto, then the many worlds objection applies (see later).[7]

De dicto
The definition is de dicto if it is not subject specific, i.e. if “the contingent universe” is refers to the hypothetical contingent universe in the possible world that it exists within. i.e. not in explicit reference to our possible world that we are living and breathing in (although it can refer to such by accident).

De re
The definition is de re when the subject is specific, i.e. if “the contingent universe” is specific to this contingent universe in this possible world. It is explicit to the universe that we live in right now, breathing in, and inhabiting in, and refers to nothing else except this.

Pro has not been explicit in which definition of God he is arguing against, thus he would need to disprove both to uphold the resolution via. this argument.

Furthermore, even if we assume a de re definition, and hence even if God’s definition is contingent, it doesn’t follow that God itself is contingent. It would mean that an act of God was contingent. God’s nature isn’t what he has done, it isn’t anybody’s nature what they have done. For example, take the proposition which I call “Pie”:

“The circumference of a circle is a metaphysically necessary truth equal to pi, is one of the most important numbers in mathematics and was was discovered in babylon and computed by humans to 13.3 trillion digits in 2013”

Pi being equal to the circumference of any circle is clearly a metaphysically necessary truth, yet the statement as a whole above is clearly not metaphysically necessary to be true. Thus, the statement that “Pie is true” is coherent (at least contingently), while the statement “the circumference of a circle is a metaphysically necessary truth equal to pi” is also necessarily true. By analogy, the same is true of God’s definition (with a necessary nature, and contingent reflationary attributes). Pro would have to argue that “Pie’s” contingency renders the truth of pi’s value contingent and hence incoherent to remain consistent.

Many universes objection
If we assume a de dicto definition of God, then his argument only works if and only if there exists a possible world where there doesn’t exist a universe, or if God has created a specific universe in each and every possible world (such as this specific universe).

However, this doesn’t work if there are at least two possible different “universes” – in which case both universes (or more, perhaps infinite) would remain contingent by Leibniz metaphysics, since there is a possible world where that universe doesn’t exist, whilst remaining consistent with God’s de dicto definition that God is the efficient cause of every contingent universe. It would follow that the proposition “a universe exists in every possible world” is true, but it certainly would not follow that each of these hypothetical universes are metaphysically necessary (thus not contingent).

Modal Realism
“What makes it possible that there could be a cup off the table?... Where is the state of affairs that makes this true?”

The truth bearer is that there is a metaphysically coherent state of affairs where the cup never came into contact with the table. If one recalls my original ontological argument, metaphysical incoherence only arises if and only if:

1. There is an external contradiction with the contents of the possible world
2. There is an internal contradiction

If both of these conditions are correct then the proposition is metaphysically possible. Thus is must beconsidered whether or not it is possible in principle to come up with a hypothetical set of necessary and contingent metaphysical constraints which still allow for the cup to not exist on the table.

“On the other hand, we can state the truthmaker is a real cup that’s not on the table, just not in this immediate reality.”

This is just false, due to my previous elucidation of metaphysical possibility. Why should we prefer Pro’s elucidation over mine? Pro just assumes with no justification that all other theories are false, including ones not conceived of yet which is a shifting of the burden of proof fallacy. It is not for me to prove his putative truthbearer false but for him to prove his true.

Furthermore, Pro conflates “efficient causation” with “necessarily possible”. Just because a logical deduction renders that a proposition must be necessarily possible, doesn’t follow that the proposition lacks an efficient cause within the state of affairs it exists within. It would just follow that every genuinely possible state of affairs there would also exist God which was the efficient cause of that state of affairs.


Debate Round No. 3


Thanks Con.


Con claims there is no reason to believe puzzlement is gratuitous. He states appealing to intuition fails to account for this. But Con fails to demonstrate why appealing to intuition is invalid. Certainly intuition can be wrong in various circumstances, but it can also be correct in a variety of situations and should be considered correct in seemingly obvious circumstances until demonstrated false. For example, it strongly appears that I am typing right now, therefore it should be accepted that I am typing right now until proven wrong. We would have to adopt some very strange beliefs if we didn’t go by this.

Similarly, Someone who becomes an atheist because of the problem of evil, then later dies doesn’t appear to have any benefit whatsoever. It should be accepted that there isn’t such a benefit.

Con then states that appealing to a ton or even an infinite amount of puzzlements isn’t sufficient to demonstrate the premise. This is because all puzzlements have the same logical structure. All puzzlements may have the same structure, but this doesn’t entail that everyone uses the structure correctly or understands such structure. This is evident because different people have different views of the problem of evil. This shows that the raincloud example is a false analogy. Unlike reasoning, a raincloud isn’t formed by an intelligence.

Con states that various theories of morality can explain P1 and P2. With normative morality, I’ve already answered. There doesn’t appear to be any benefit and since there is a huge number of puzzlements it’s likely that there’s one case that isn’t.

In regards to moral scepticism, it seems that we’d also have to be skeptical about God’s moral nature. There’s no way we can state God is evil or good. Con appeals to divine command theory, but DCT can tell us what is morally correct or morally wrong. It’s simply whatever God commands [1], this contradicts moral scepticism. If Con’s version of DCT is true, then God’s benevolent nature is redundant and tautological. Benevolence becomes a term for what God says is good, therefore the term benevolence simply refers back to God. However, our agreed definition includes benevolence as a property. Con’s argument entails it’s not actually a property, but something tautological. Therefore, Con is very subtly arguing for a different version of God, instead of what is relevant to the debate.

Appealing to divine command theory or moral scepticism doesn’t leave Con in a defensible position. His raincloud analogy is a false analogy, and appeals to normative morality fail.

The Universe Argument

I accept the definition of the universe that Con has given.

Con first attacks my benevolence defense, although this circles back to the first contention, which I’ve defended.

He then brings up two arguments in accordance to both possible definitions. Although, I was thinking of a de re definition, I don’t think either of Con’s arguments are good.

In regards to de re, Con argues, God’s nature isn’t contingent, but his actions can be. He gives an analogy with the proposition “Pie”. However, it is a false analogy, as “discovered in babylon and computed by humans to 13.3 trillion digits in 2013” doesn’t follow from the nature of Pi. An action done by God would follow from his nature, as actions aren’t made in a vacuum at random. If God didn’t create the universe, then something within his nature is different. He might have no benevolence, no curiosity, no power to do so, and ect.

If Con’s rebuttal was correct, an action doesn’t need to follow from God’s nature. That entails God can do something unwise or ignorant and this wouldn’t contradict omniscience. This is clearly contradictory, God is omniscient and cannot do anything unwise because that would entail he isn’t omniscient.

Is it contradictory to state “My nature isn’t one to binge drink, but I binge drink on a regular basis.”? It seems it is. A nature is “The basic or inherent features of something, especially when seen as characteristic of it:” [2] If I don’t have the inherent feature to binge drink, then it follows I don’t binge drink. If I do binge drink, then I have that feature. If God created the universe, something in his features was the motivation. In a possible world where God didn’t create the universe, he has some component missing.

Next, Con attempts to argue against a de dicto definition. He states since there are different entities in different possible worlds, then they are contingent. Therefore, such worlds are contingent, as they contain contingent entities. The problem is that the definition of the universe is “everything that exists in a metaphysically possible world” , such definition doesn’t entail that every specific thing is metaphysically necessary. Just the totality of things (everything) that exist in a possible world. Something exists in every possible world, but the exact entities are contingent. If they didn’t exist, something else would.

Con’s response is self-contradictory. He states “It would follow that the proposition “a universe exists in every possible world” is true, but it certainly would not follow that each of these hypothetical universes are metaphysically necessary”. But, something is necessary if its truth value remains constant throughout possible worlds [3]. Con’s statement is essentially “It would follow that the proposition “The truth of the existence of a universe is the same in every possible world”, but it certainly wouldn’t follow that each of these hypothetical universe's exists in every possible world.”

That simply makes no sense. Since a universe exists in every possible world, then a universe is necessary.

Lastly, Con goes on to attack my modal realism/TRIV dilemma. He claims coherency makes something possible. If we look at the debate between conceivability and possibility, we’ll see that people argue that conceivability entails possibility [4], or is a guide to possibility [5]. This may seem unimportant, but to the argument it is. A compass may be a guide to where north is, or entail where north is, but it doesn’t make the direction of north. If we mess with the compass using a magnet, the direction of north doesn’t change. The same is true for conceivability/possibility. Conceivability tells us what is possible, it doesn’t make possibility. Something is conceivable because it’s possible. We do have cases where our conceivability changed when we learned something wasn’t possible.

Before we understood chemistry, we could easily conceive of water being made of practically anything. When we discovered water is H2O, it made it so we couldn’t conceive of water being anything else than H2O. We can now only conceive of substances like water being made of other molecules, not water itself. Possibility changed our conceivability, conceivability isn’t the truthmaker of possibility.

I don’t think I’m shifting the BOP. Either the truthmaker for modal claims is made true by some state of affairs in the world or not. Either way, something unhappy for the theist comes up. Wanting an answer is hardly shifting the BOP.

My argument isn’t that the universe wouldn’t have some efficient cause, but that God wouldn’t be it, since he isn’t the reason for its existence. If God didn’t exist, the universe still would’ve since it’s still possible. There is no link to God. Efficient causation was a tool to get to the conclusion that God is the reason for the universe’s existence.

Con brought up some challenging objections. However, they don’t succeed. Actions follow from God’s nature, they are linked. If an action is missing, so is a part of his nature. A universe can be necessary, but contain contingent entities because only something needs to exist. Conceivability guides us to possibility, it doesn’t make possibility.

Thanks for one last time Con.









Ontological Argument

Premise 2
Multiplicity of Attributes
The term being does not directly imply sentience (although sentience is a corollary from a boundless being existing), it is just an existential qualifier (otherwise we are left with “a boundless exists”, which makes no sense) – thus the qualifier “a boundless being exists” adds the existential qualifier to the attribute of boundlessness. I was explicit when doing this when I argued against existence as a predicate, and hence “being” cannot be a predicate, or an attribute, only its attribute of being boundless can be. Pro is equivocating between two definitions of “being” here, and hence his arguments that it entails a multiplicity of attributes based on this are logically invalid. Virtually every philosophical definition one comes across, including Heidegger’s utilisation of it in his acclaimed Being and Time use it as an existential qualifier of some form (e.g. as Dasein). [8]

However, it seems “boundless being” gives us two properties"

I am concerned about Pro’s use of “seems” here, as this is just an appeal to intuition which is just a biological tool for guesstimating without thought – not for abstract thought. Virtually all of our scientific laws are notoriously counter-intuitive is a testament to this.[9] Either it has two or more properties, or it does not, it should be straightforward to elucidate that much deductively without requiring “seems”. Given that I have deductively (not intuitively) justified why God is of one fundamental attribute, my arguments take priority.

Sentience & Boundlessness
Even assuming that sentience is a primary attribute of God, Pro’s objection here lacks any force or merit. How is it coherent to say “bound to sentience”, when sentience gives one their nature and identity. Sentience would grant freedoms rather than subtract from them. It would entail a contradiction to say that a boundless being was not sentient. Going “beyond” God’s nature, when God’s nature is to be boundless makes absolutely no sense – it is contradictory.

Existential Predicate
“The argument states, by God’s definition, nothing is prohibiting God’s existence. This is synonymous with saying God exists by definition.”

I don’t see how this statement is tenable, didn’t my argument require three premises and not just one? God’s existence doesn’t immediately follow if there exists no external constraint to God’s existence, since God needs to be internally coherent too. To make a cup tea you need both tea leaves and water – teabags are not a cup of tea by definition. If it was synonymous with saying it then I wouldn’t have needed the first or second premises for the argument to be coherent.

Pro argues for descriptivism regarding what attributes are, however if we run this in reverse, and assume God does not exist, then we run into contradictions. Thus, regardless of the nature of us playing with words, attributes, qualifiers, etc. we run into logical contradictions and nonentities if we ignore that these entail truths in reality. A priori truths entail truths about objects in reality. If you take a tape measure and run it around the perimeter of any circle, its value will always be the value of the diameter multiplied by pi. This a priori truth is exemplified in reality – and is inherently contradictory to assume it may not be exemplified in reality. It follows it is necessary epistemologically, but not causally.

The key difference between God, and anything else is the fact that God is boundless, and other hypothetical objects are not. For example, if we conceived of the proposition that “a teacup orbiting Mars that exists”. If teacup doesn’t exist orbiting Mars, then using my argument assumptions we are left with two options:

1. The proposition “a teacup orbiting mars” is incoherent
2. The proposition “a teacup orbiting mars” is externally constrained

The former is false, since teacups are known to exist, and orbiting Mars isn’t that big a jump. So the latter must be true – and there are numerous external constrains that can exist for example “there exists nothing but space and meteorites” is an external constraint, since space and rocks fill up the space that a teacup requires to occupy. Thus to say that a teacup exists in orbit around mars is a proposition, but one that is easy to come up with possible external constraints which prevent its existence. The same cannot be said of a boundless being.

Premise 3

“However, Con’s defense is an a priori defense. It deals with the definition of God, not with the external world. A priori arguments cannot tell us about the nature of the complete external world"

I don’t find this response sustainable. A priori arguments tell us plenty about the external world, as they prove tautologically what must happen and what must not happen. We know that logical incoherencies are impossible to exemplify in the external world. These are most often cited to demonstrate impossibilities (such as the possibility of an exemplified square circle/married bachelor), they can also be cited to demonstrate necessities given that the inverse is incoherent. Pro would have had to explicitly challenge my first premise if he wanted to make the argument against a priori justification for the nature of the external world, yet he has already conceded that crucial premise.

Furthermore, “the inductive world” makes no sense – since induction is an epistemological term, not ontological. If Pro is talking about the knowability of the external world – then he just begs the question in light of the weight of the arguments I have presented so far – it is thus a bare assertion.

Pro appeals to the possibility of sentience needing to be realised in biological material, well this doesn’t work for 2 reasons:

1. It is not (and certainly hasn’t been shown to be) a necessary truth
2. The universe is tautologically contained within God by this argument, thus he is of physical (ergo "biological" material)

Argument from Religious Experiences
Explanatory Power and Simplicity
Such revelations are consistent in their common ontology and core of their attributes. While there is superfluous variation in the interpretation of these religious experiences – it doesn’t follow that these are inherent of God. Every experience we have varies in some manner according to pre-existing beliefs. As Pro points out – even atheists have such experiences – which is exactly what we would expect of a general explanation instead of something cooked up in the mind of the religious person. Regardless of whether or not someone believes in gravity – they are still going to hit the ground if they fall.

Pattern seeking is completely irrelevant, as it is the incorrigible experience (basic belief) of God that is being premised here – not the interpretation of such an experience. I am doing the interpreting here via. my argument from abduction by interpreting the data set and fitting an explanation/interpretation of those facts to which I posit God as the cause of them.

Thus Pro is left with hallucinations as an explanation – yet Pro drops that these experiences are noetic/veridical – and hence are equivalent to our everyday perception of reality. That cup on the table is a veridical experience, and thus you are justified in believing the experience is genuine, and not hallucinatory. Similarly religious experiences without good reason to think otherwise (especially in every case of religious experience) – are veridical and hence probably genuine. Furthermore, yes hallucinations exist – but so does consciousness, minds and the idea of God. Theism need only appeal to a different version of what we already know exists.

Pro concedes that God provides tremendous explanatory power even outside of religious experiences at the cost of very minimal assumptions. Pro makes the assumption of hallucinations to explain all religious experiences – I posit God to explain religious experiences and everything else. Furthermore Pro drops that God is indeed a very simple and concise explanation for religious experience. God gives predictions on what a religious experience of him would be – and the data fits the general area of what such a being would predict (transcendence, perfectly good, etc.), and also expected features of the universe (e.g. presence of design). Atheism nor hallucenations do anything to predict the nature of religious experiences.[10]

Background knowledge
“Just because we have knowledge about other sentient beings doesn’t entail we would have knowledge that a God would interfere in the development of humanity”

No, but we have knowledge of attributes of a God that would. Regardless of what a beetles sentience is – if we know a beetle’s sentience exists – then positing that a human-like sentience exists is not a significant jump – since we already know of one such sentience that is possible. Thus it is no longer in principle impossible or implausible.


Debate Round No. 4
108 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by spacetime 9 months ago
Excellent arguments, Envisage
Posted by n7 1 year ago
Sure. We'll have to wait a while because I'm busy for the next few weeks. Also, I cannot remember your argument or my response very well. So you'd have a bit of an advantage if we started it now.
Posted by Ajabi 1 year ago
I'd be happy to debate you on a copy debate n7.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
I think the second argument was a good read. It might work if modified. As for HOPOE, it faces pretty much same problems as POE.
Posted by Envisage 1 year ago
Also, the PoE is pretty specific to religious Gods, and is a reductio - thus you never really have to justify the premise that "assuming God exists evil exists" unless the person you are debating wants to turn upside down their belief system. In both arguments you are stuck defending the premise "if God exists evil will not exist" - which is going to be the one that is defended most passionately, so I don't really see any advantage either.
Posted by Envisage 1 year ago
I think for the second one - you should first lay out what you can establish from God's definition, and then work backwards to see if you can stick them into premise conclusion format. Because you have a lot of ideas on what God's existence would entail. It might be interesting if you applied some PSR assumptions in there - I think it would be easier to affirm a necessary universe that way. And stuff.

Dunno, will be interesting to see what you can accomplish with it.
Posted by n7 1 year ago
I don't think I see any benefit to using the higher order problem of evil over the regular problem of evil now. The HOPOE, actually feels harder to defend than the first order one.

I'm also fine tuning the second argument to be a little simpler.
Posted by Envisage 1 year ago
Appreciate the vote tejretics.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
RFD (Pt. 1):

This was one explosive debate, and I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. I'll just do an impact analysis analyzing the links and impacts of all the arguments and voting that way, instead of going through every single argument and voting line-by-line. In that way, I'll also keep my RFD relatively crisp. Pro's case is based on two contentions, a "higher order" POE and a comparison between God causing a contingent universe vs. the existence of a necessary universe. Con's case is based on an ontological argument from lack of external constraint, and the argument from religious experience via. an inference to the best explanation.

== Pro's Case ==


The HOPOE basically follows a format: if God exists, negative puzzlement wouldn't exist, but it does exist; ergo, God doesn't exist. Con argues that this "gratuitous puzzlement" doesn't exist. While puzzlement does exist, there's no justification that puzzlement is gratuitous. Con says "positivity", in this sense, is subjective and can be refuted via. non-cognitivism. Even on subjective terms, puzzlement would give us a sense of wonder about a natural world, ergo there's no justification for puzzlement truly being "gratuitous". Additionally, puzzlement isn't inherently connected to morality or benevolence, ergo there's no reason to believe an omnibenevolent God would prevent gratuitous puzzlement.

Pro defends the argument saying Con gives no reason to believe appealing to intuition is invalid, and argues that puzzlements have the same moral nature. Pro responds to moral skepticism saying that would question benevolence as well, but drops subjectivity of "positivity". I think Pro fails to defend HOPOE from the objection as to whether puzzlement is truly "gratuitous", since intuition fails to affirm, whether or not invalid.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
(Pt. 2)

2) Non-Contingent Universe

Since the definition assumed the universe is contingent on God, ergo God created the universe, Pro argues the universe itself is necessary, ergo God is incoherent. While Pro fails to justify the dilemma, he justifies the first horn as likely to be true, entailing the second. God himself would create the universe in all possible worlds, i.e. a non-contingent one, which completely contradicts the nature of his own contingent causation. Ergo, this entails a logical contradiction, and modal logic shows that X entails Y.

Con argues: (1) love is not a prerequisite of omnibenevolence, (2) God is contingent only if being interpreted de re, and de dicto interpretations entail many-worlds objection. De dicto entails "this" contingent universe, but assumes other universes are logically impossible sans justification. De re entails "the" contingent universe, and even a de re interpretation doesn't entail that God himself is contingent if God's definition is contingent. Con argues that there *is* a metaphysically coherent state of affairs where the cup never came into contact with the table.

Pro argues that Con's definitions entail a contradiction with omniscience sans justification. Con argues the pie analogy is a false analogy since the definition doesn't follow from the nature of "pie". Pro says since the universe exists in every possible world, it's necessary.

I think the non-contingent universe is tied, since while Pro would have won, he failed to sufficiently explain the argument, and I wouldn't have understood it if I had no outside knowledge.
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Vote Placed by tejretics 1 year ago
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Vote Placed by Ajabi 1 year ago
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