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God Probably Doesn't Exist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/28/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
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I have chosen "Dmot" for this debate. He looks like he would be a good and knowledgeable opponent

God:The Judeo-Christian-Muslim Sentient Tri Omni disembodied Mind (omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, ect) who is the timeless Creator of the Universe.

BOP (Burden of proof) is shared. I must show that God is improbable and my opponent must show God is probable.

Debate format:
R1: Opening information and Con's opening arguments
R2: My rebuttal and Con's response
R3: My response and Con's last response
R4: My closing response.

Since Con is arguing in round 1, in round 4 Con will put

"For an equal number of rounds, nothing will be posted here, as agreed."

Since these debates tend to get long, you must limit yourself to a maximum of 3 contentions. This should be enough space for rebuttals and source lists. If there is not enough space to list sources, you may post them in an external link or in the comments.

No forfeits
No insults
No semantics
72 Hours to Post Argument
10,000 Characters Max
10 Day Voting Period
Start your arguments in Round 1
3 contentions max



Thank you for allowing me to debate you. I will use an argument based on the metaphysics of contingency.

1. Definitions

Substance- A substance is basically anything that exists. A substance is made up of two "parts" or components as it were: essence and act of existence.

Essence- Essence here will be used in a broad sense to mean what something is. It can be thought of as the description of the thing. We need not rely on what is known as a strict "essentialism" (a philosophical position in which essences are real components of things and not merely in the mind) because the piont for this debate is that there is some sort of reality that can be described, in other words, there is something real to be descibed. Take for instance a dog. A dog is a type of thing. A dog is a dog, therefore, it is an essence. Now, we need not worry about philosophical issues about the exact nature of a dog, what makes it up, whether or not it is a collection of atoms only, etc. The point is that there is an entity such that it can be described as a "dog." Essence can be seen as a description. As such, it exists as "potential" because there is no reason why a description alone has to describe something real. It can exist as a mere abstraction

Act of Existence- Existence is the quality by which an essence is made into a substance, in other words, that which makes a description describe a reality.

Potential- Something is potential or possible if it is inherently logical and therefore could theoreticaly exist but in itself doesn't.

Contingent Substance- A substance is contingent if it is a composition of essence and existence that are separate.
Necessary Substance- A substance is necessary if its essence is identical with existence.

2. The Argument

Premise 1- Every Contingent substance requires an external cause to exist
Premise 2- The sum of all contingent substances is itself a contingent substance (i.e. all contingent substances considered together)
Conclusion 1- The sum of contingent substances requires an external cause to exist
Premise 3- Since that which exists outside of all contingent substances must be a necessary substance (logically) it follows that If any contingent substance exists, so does a necessary substance.
Premise 4- A contingent substance exists
Conclusion- A necessary substance exists

3. Defense of the Premises (Conclusions 1 and 2 follow from premises 1&2 and 3&4 respectively)

1) A contingent thing is that which is a combination of separate essence and act of existence. This means that what a thing is does not tell us whether or not it exists. The "what" and the "that" as it were are separate. A contingent substance therefore can be described, known, evaluated, and considered without knowing whether or not the thing exists. This is because the essence, which is what is described, known, evaluated, or considered, is itself merely potential or possible. It might exist but it might not. In order to make the potential (essence) into something real (substance) it must be joined to an act of existence. There are therefore two logical possibilities that follow from this:

a) The act of existence is joined to the essence by something (cause)
or b) The act of existence is not joined to the essence by anything (uncaused).

Now as for a, there are two deeper possibilities: First, the essence could join an act of existence to itself (self caused) or it could be joined by a different substance (caused by something else). One is impossible becase it means an essence acts without an act of existence, in other words, a mere essence acts as a cause. For this to be the case, something that exists in a merely possible state would have to make something real. An abstraction (essence/description) would somehow have to generate an act of existence while at the same time not yet existing. The cause would be prior than itself which is a self-contradiction. That leaves us with option 2.

As for b, this would by definition mean that the essence in question did not exist and therefore there would be no contingent substance to begin with. One might object saying "b does not state that the act of existence is not joined to the essence, only that it is not joined by something." The problem is that the essence contains no principle of existence and taken apart from a cause cannot exist. Take an anology: A room is lit by a bright light. We do not see the light bulb, the sourece of the illumination, however we see that the room is bright. We immediately reason to a light bulb of some sort or perhaps the sun is shining through the window because we know that the room itself does not contian the principle of the light. To say that the room is illuminated but simultaneously is not illuminated by anything is to say essentially a contradiction. Likewise, we cannot posit that a contingent substance exists while at the same time there is nothing to account for the essence and existence being joined.
In conclusion, b is false and we must accept premise 1 as true.

2) Sum of contingent things is contingent
Consider one contingent substance. If all that existed was one contingent substance, it would follow that the sum of contingent substances (SCS) is itself contingent. The question then is if we add more contingent substances. Consider two contingent substances, the sum would be both of these considered together. The essence of the SCS would be the essences of the two contingent substances each considered. Would the fact that there are two contingent substances mean that we now have a principle of existence within the essence and therefore a necessary substance? No. The reason is that with two contingent substances, there is still no reason in principle that their essences are identical with their existence and therefore do not need a cause. The essence of the SCS is simply the same essences that make up contingent things, in other words, are merely possible and alone cannot give anything reality. in short, since the sum of the two essences is simply the two essences, we have not added a reason why they must exist. Another way of seeing this is that two possibilities do not add up to a necessity.
It is easy to see how from here no matter how many contingent things we have, they do not add up to a necessary thing and therefore the SCS can be described (essence) separate from existence

3) This simply follows by logical necessity from our definitions
4) Obviously things exist, the only question is whether or not anything has an essence distinct from its existence. This seems obvious enough, but an example would be a dog. The dog had a beginning, the universe is possible without the dog, its essence is doginess rather, etc.

4. The Conclusion

So we can conclude that a being exists by the necessity of its own nature, that is, its essence simply is its act of existence. Essence=existence. Now, what traits must this being have? For the whole story go: For now:

1) Independent- This being must be independent of all else for its existence. Its own nature is simply to exist. Therefore, its nature is not dependent on any other factors, conditions, or causes to exist. It exists in its own right

2) Eternal- This being must exist without beginning and end. Otherwise, it is concievable that the being could fail to exist. Yet to fail to exist is to not be necessary which is a contradiction in terms (necessary being not necessary...). Further, the being must exist independent of time. Therefore, it is eternal

3) Immutable- Something outside of time cannot change, therefore, the necessary being cannot

4) Simple- Something that has parts exists through those parts, or insofar as those parts exist. My computer exists insofar as the screen, keyboard, etc. exist. I exist insofar as my body and soul exist (or for those who do not believe in a soul, insofar as my organs exist). However, a necessary being exists independently. Therefore, it does not exist through parts but by its own nature alone. Therefore, it is not composed of parts and is simple

5) Infinite- Something is finite if it is limited by a specific essence. The essence limits existence in particular ways. For instance, humans do not fly because our essence excludes this capacity. Pure existence cannot be said to be limited however, otherwise we must ask "by what?" But this implies an external nature which is not true of the necessary being

6) Space-less and immaterial- Suppose the necessary being exists in space, it must then be infinite in size (from 5 above). yet infinite sized matter and infinite space is divisible into parts, therefore is not simple which contradicts 4. Therefore, it cannot be both infinite and simple and in space or made of matter

7-10 are all said by way of analogy (we cannot say their exact nature in the necessary being). But, we can say that they are infinite in this being because of #5 above. Thus they are all "omni"

7) Powerful- That which can cause clearly has power in some sense. The necessary being is the cause of contingent things
8) Perfect- something is perfect insofar as it lacks nothing proper to the type of thing it is. (e.g. a pitcher is perfect in baseball if he fullfills his role on the team by getting batters out. He is imperfect when he lacks this skill proper to him. ). However, God cannot be said to lack anything because God is infinite being.
9) Has intellect- Any cause must contain the effect within itself in some manner. Being simple, the necessary being cannot contain the effect within itself except by way of an idea. Hence it has intellect.
Further, that which is immaterial can contain in itself the essences of things other than itself. Matter cannot do this because matter takes on one essence, that which it is, but the immaterial is not limited in this way, hence can contain many essences without being the thing. This is what ideas are and intellectual activity is.

10) Will- is the rational appetite. That which has intellect has will
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my opponent for accepting. I will present my arguments supporting the position that God is improbable.

Contention 1: The Problem of Evil

This is probably the most well known,used, and simple argument against God today. It simply states that since evil exists, God does not. Put formally.

1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.

2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to eliminate all evil.

3. If God is omniscient, then God knows when evil exists.

4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to eliminate all evil.

5. Evil exists.

6. If evil exists and God exists, then either God doesn't have the power to eliminate all evil, or doesn't know when evil exists, or doesn't have the desire to eliminate all evil.

C. Therefore, God doesn’t exist

From [1]

Contention 2: The Argument from Temporal Minds

This argument is saying that a mind must be temporal or bare bad consequences for the theist.

A mind as we usually think of it must have temporal duration. In order for thought A to go into thought B there must be time. If there was no time yet mental processing, then he would have a timeline of past, present and future with no time. If thought A goes to B, we have a past (thought A) a present (thought B) and a future with thought C or continue with thought B. which is incoherent. Yet, God is defined as atemporal, he can’t have a mind and since God’s mind cannot exist, he cannot exist.

Some theists have resorted to calling God’s mind a static mind. In which there is no sequential thought, every thought is there in the mind of God [2]. The consequences of this would result in a self contradictory idea of God.

If a mind is static, every choice is locked into place. God choose to create the universe without a chance to chose. This means if God is necessary, God must create the universe, making the creation of the universe a necessary event. However, a part of what it means to be necessary means it must exist regardless of anything else. It can’t not exist. Making the idea that God creating our contingent universe contradictory. Alternatively, one could say God’s entire mind can be different. However, this would make God a contingent being, because God’s essence is his mind.

Formally put

1. God is/has a mind

2. God’s mind is either static of successive (law of excluded middle).

3. If being static or successive bares non-existential consequences for God, then God does not exist.

4. A static and successive mind does bare non-existential consequences for God.

C. Therefore, God does not exist.

This argument was created by modifying two arguments, one by Rational_thinker9119 and the other by Sargon. Thanks to them.

Contention 3: The Argument from Physically Dependant Minds

This argument is purely probabilistic, saying it is unlikely that there should ever be a physically independent mind.

1. If God exists, he is a disembodied mind.

2. If MDP(mind-brain dependence) is probable, then an existing disembodied mind is improbable.

3. MDP is probable

4. Therefore it is improbable for there to be a disembodied mind

C. God is unlikely.

Premise 1 is true by the accepted definition. Premise 2 is analytically true. If the mind probably must depend on a brain then by definition a mind probably cannot exist on its own. Premise 3 is known by many lines of evidence. After extensive research in this area, philosopher Michael Tooley gave 5 pieces of evidence to support the likelihood of mind brain dependence [3.

(1) When an individual's brain is directly stimulated and put into a certain physical state, this causes the person to have a corresponding experience. [4]

(2) Certain injuries to the brain make it impossible for a person to have any mental states at all. [5]

(3) Other injuries to the brain destroy various mental capacities. Which capacity is destroyed is tied directly to the particular region of the brain that was damaged. [6]

(4) When we examine the mental capacities of animals, they become more complex as their brains become more complex. [7]

(5) Within any given species, the development of mental capacities is correlated with the development of neurons in the brain [8][9]

Tooley concludes

All minds that it is generally agreed that we are definitely acquainted with ... are either purely physical in nature or else are causally dependent on something physical in nature."

Premises 4 and the conclusion follow necessarily. The resolution is affirmed.

Con’s Case

Con’s argument is the argument from contingency. I will outline why the argument fails to prove God is more probable.

Determining contingency

Con says a contingent substance is one that can possibly not exist. I would like Con to answer how he knows what is and isn’t possible. For instance, how do we know the universe could possibly not exist? This rebuttal will continue when he answers this.

Why God?

Con attempts to show this necessary being is a sentient one. His justification for intellect is that the cause must contain the effect by way of idea. Since it can contain an infinite amount of information, it is thus intelligent. However, there is no reason why some type of non-seitnet mindless immaterial necessary powerful force can’t contain all needed information. It could be a mindless force that randomly creates. The universe would have to be created. This would be much simpler since mindless randomness is much not as complex as an ordered mind. It has just about all the properties of God except sentence and is just as good.

Furthermore, it could be the case that a contingent something is necessary. In order for something else contingent to not exist, it may be the case that there must exist some other contingent substance. This means that a necessary being is not necessary.

I have shown that God probably doesn’t exist and that Con’s argument fails.

Back to Con.




[4] One example is from the studies of Jose Delgado. He was able to control a person’s mind through the brain [] []


[6] ibid


[8] ibid






First, I will discuss my argument
Summary- because contingent things exist, there must, by logical deduction, be a necessary being (essence=existence). Then from there I deduced various traits which a necessary being must posesss. These traits included, simple, eternal, immaterial, omnipotent, perfect, all knowing, and a few others. Pro has not so much argued against my central argument (contingent things lead us to a necessary being) as it seems as though he hasn't objected to any of my premises or defenses of my premises, so as of now they stand.

He has raised the point about the universe being necessary, which isn't really central to my argument (my argument works with any contingent things), but an interesting side question which I'll address: We know something is contingent if its essence (what it is) is distinct from the fact that it is. Now, it is clear that the essence of the universe is not the same as its existence. The essence of the universe consists of the essences of the parts of the universe, that which makes up the universe. Further, a necesary being must exist for all of eternity (if it had a beginning this would mean that it came from non-existence, yet a being that exists by the necessity of its own nature cannot fail to exist as this is a self-contradiction). However, the universe had a finite beginning (as modern cosmology strongly suggests). Also, a necessary being must be simple because it exists by its own nature and not through its parts yet the universe is not simple as it is composed of many parts (e.g. regions in space-time, physical objects, planets, people).

"However, there is no reason why some type of non-seitnet mindless immaterial necessary powerful force can’t contain all needed information" -pro

The problem with this is how does an immaterial being contain information at all except in the form of ideas or thoughts? That doesn't even make sense. The being does not have parts, cannot change, has no location, etc.

However, I will elaborate on my argument for why the necessary being has to have intellect. Now, the necessary being is the cause of all contingent things (this was demonstrated). Any real effect must in some sense be contained in a cause. By real effect I mean something that actually has positive existence rather than a privation (e.g. the effect of blindness for instance need not be in the cause because it is a privation rather than having positive existence). There are two reasons why the effect must somehow exist in teh cause:
1) Induction- This is the case of all that we see in the world. For instance, the makeup of a human being is in her DNA which exists in the chromosomes of the sperm and egg cell which make her. If we come across a puddle of water that is red we know right away that there must either be some rust, a spilled red drink, possibly blood or red paint in the water because water is not itself red. A house which is built by builders must first exist in the minds of the builders. Notice in these examples the effect does not exist in the same sense in the cause in every case. The point is that the cause has the principle for the effect's existence.

2) If the effect did not exist in the cause in some sense, it could not exist at all. This is because causation means bringing together essence and existence. That which does not exist cannot do this obviously. That which does exist however must either contain in itself the essence, be of the same essence, or have access in some sense to that essence. Otherwise, there is no way in principle for the cause to act, as it cannot join an essence to an act of existence if that essence is outside of the access as it were of the cause.

Also, if the effect did not pre-exist in some sense in the cause, it would come from nothing. Yet out of non-being, comes non-being because to come from non-being is by definition to not come into existence.

Hence, the necessary being must contain the essences or the principles of existence for the rest of contingent reality. However, it cannot be of the same essence as it is simple and immaterial. Therefore, it must contain the essences by way of idea.

Another argument which I will only mention briefly is that the necessary bieng is infinite (look at my first post). If it lacked cognition, yet humans had it, it would be more limited than human beings. Yet this contradictions the infinity and perfection of the necessary being, hence by deduction it must have cognition in some sense.

Pro's arguments

1) The problem of Evil- I disagree with premise 4, yet suppose I concede it. What follows is that God desires to eliminate all evil and that He can. This means that He will do so. However, the argument does not demonstrate that God has to right now as that doesn't follow. The argument just shows God will eliminate evil at some point. So in order to salvage your argument, you must change the premise to "If God is morally perfect, He would've prevented all evil" or "If God is morally perfect, He would desire to eliminate all evil right now." Same basic idea. The problem is that neither is necessarily true. Suppose evil enters the world against God's will (as a consequence of sin say). Then there exists some evil E. God has the choice to eliminate E or to allow it to remain. God is powerful so say God forsees that He can bring about a great effect G out of E if He lets E remain. On the other hand, if he eliminates E he can also bring about good effect g but its not as grand as G. Is a morally perfect God OBLIGATED to do either? Is it possible that God chooses to allow for E in order to get to G?

The problem with the argument from evil is that you have to know that a morally perfect God does not have morally sufficient reasons to allow for evil in the world. God can allow for evil if He forsees a greater effect may be brought from the evil.

2) The argument from atemporal minds- God's mind is non-sequential. This is because God is eternal. So you have to alter the argument to be the argument from "atemporal will" as it were.

God's freedom does not mean:
God one day has not made a choice, sees His options, considers them, and without compulsion chooses one of them.

God's freedom does mean:
God's infinite will is not altered by internal states, emotions, bias, limits on power or knowledge, etc. God's will pressuposes nothing and is influenced by nothing other than Himself.

Because of this, there is no reason to say that God's will can't be eternal and free. As long as I have had the ability to reason, I have had the will to live. There was never a time when this was not the case. Does that mean my will to live isn't free? Does that mean my will to live is not contingent? No and No. It is free from the first moment because I was not coerexed but my will itself is what recognizes the good of life and continues to will to live. It is contingent because my life is dependent on my will to live which is dependent on my will which is dependent on my intellect which is dependent on my very being.

Further, you say "without a chance to chose" but that implies that in order to make a free choice you need TIME to make that choice. On the contrary, a free choice is one that implies no compulsion, not necessarily a time when the choice wasn't made. God's choice is eternal and constant although also free of any sort of external compulsion or internal necessity. It isn't necessary that God creates the universe, as it is a consequence of His will alone. Yet His will chooses to create not out of any necessity.

Simply because something is eternal does not mean it is necessary. Something may be eternal but contingent.;

Take a look at the above links if you have time. In the second link, look at the question of what God wills by necessity and what God wills by freedom.

3) The argument about minds-

Suppose I concede your entire argument. What does that show? It shows that human minds are dependent on the brain. However, it does not show that minds as such are dependent on a material organ. In order to show that, you would have to show that an immaterial mind is either metaphysically impossible or it is a necessary metaphysical condition for an organ of some sort. You did not do this, you simply provided evidence that the human mind is physically dependent. To argue that this shows minds themselves are is like arguing "human life depends entirely on the brain- when the brain dies, a man dies-- therefore, life as such is dependent on the brain." This is obviously untrue as plants survive without brains. This is called arguing from a particular to a universal and is fallacious.

In any case, I will not concede your point. I think that consciousness is in principle an immaterial capacity. Certainly it relies on the brain in many senses, however, the function itself is carried out by something immaterial. This is because subjective awareness cannot be predicated on material things, either in their fundamental parts, or in any arrangement. I can never "see" your experience, no matter what technology I have. I can measure brainwaves, detect which parts are metabolically active, stimulate certain areas to cause experiences, but I cannot actually have your subjective experience. I may be able to deduce what kind of subjective experience you might be having from the activity of your nervous system, but I cannot have the first-person experience. This implies there is something non-physical about subjective consciousness. Since it is at least in part immaterial, even if our heavily use the brain, it shows minds themselves are in principle immaterial, hence can theoretically act without a brain even if we never directly observe it.
If I see a forest fire it would be wrong to conclude that because the fire I see depends on a living thing all fire as such does. I know that fire in principle does not depend on life but on fuel.

The conclusion then should be that it is at least plausible that a mind exists in an immaterial being
Debate Round No. 2


Contention 1: The Problem of Evil

Con argues that God allows evil to let some greater good come about. The problem with this is, if God is omnipotent, he can bring about this good without the use of evil. If God is morally perfect he would want that. If for example, a women being raped and murdered brings some greater good for someone else doesn’t make the women being raped ok, if the greater good could have been done without the rape.

Furthermore, it is more likely that gratuitous evils exists. Since humans have experienced many apparent acts of it. Consider William Rowe’s famous analogy

“In some distant forest lightning strikes a dead tree, resulting in a forest fire. In the fire a fawn is trapped, horribly burned, and lies in terrible agony for several days before death relieves its suffering." [1]

The possibility of some unknown greater good exists, but the evil being unnecessary is the more probable one.

My argument still stands

Contention 2: Argument from Temporal minds/Atemporal Will

Con misunderstands much of this argument. No where did I state God’s freedom was based on him pondering a choice. Nor did I say anything to contradict the idea that his freedom was from nothing but himself. The point is, if God’s will is from himself, and he is necessary, thus his will is necessary.

Con then goes on to present a fallacious false analogy about his will to live. This is entirely different, Con is a contingent temporal being with a contingent will. He could possibly be different. Furthermore, being eternal doesn’t mean being necessary. Con commits a straw man fallacy, because I never negated that idea.

Con makes an argument that was already preemptively rebutted in my opening statement. He states God’s choice to create the universe is not necessary. I gave this as a possible out. However, if God’s will is from himself and if his will is not necessary, then he is not necessary. If God’s mind is static anything that is different makes himself different. Con’s argument was already responded to.

Con agreed that God’s mind is a static one. However, looking at what a mind is, no definition fits the idea.

1. the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought:

2. a person’s ability to think and reason; the intellect:


Simple static information would be things such as computers and books. We don’t call computers or books minds. Claiming a mind is one that does not function is much like saying we can listen to music while it’s muted or take a car ride without movement.

This argument still stands.

Contention 3: The Argument from Physically Dependant Minds

Every single bit of Con’s response here is misunderstood strawmen. The argument doesn’t say an immaterial mind is impossible. I said from the very start

“This argument is purely probabilistic”

Along with every single premise except the first one is speaking in a probabilistic fashion.

This makes his response from plants moot. I was arguing probabilistically from the minds we observe. It is an inductive probabilistic argument.

Con goes further to straw man the argument. Trying to prove consciousness is in some sense immaterial because you can’t have a subjective experience. This is much like saying genetics is in some sense immaterial. You can see what kind of genes I have and even predict what kind of genes children have. But you can’t have the genes yourself. Anyway, this again is entirely irrelevant. The mind can be immaterial. If it was proven 100% that the mind is in some sense immaterial, this doesn’t change the argument at all. It is still more likely and the best explanation that this immaterial mind is dependent on the brain.

The man I quoted Dr. Michael Tooley has this to say about Dr. Craig’s similar rebuttal.

Dr. Craig distorted my argument. I did not claim, as he said, that there could not be a non-embodied mind, for I believe that non-embodied minds are possible. My argument did not, as he suggested, involve the assumption that dualism is false. For I myself am an interactionist dualist, and I was certainly not making assumptions that are contrary to ones I myself believe!

My argument here was a probabilistic argument. The claim was that all the minds we are acquainted with have a certain property---namely, that they are all at least dependent upon physical entities---brains. But if this is so, then it's reasonable to project that property onto any other minds that may happen to exist. And if you do project that property, you arrive at a certain conclusion-not that the existence of God is impossible, but, rather, that the existence of God is unlikely.” [3]

This argument is still standing.

Con’s case

Determining Contingency

After analysis, the argument I was planning to make here would not be relevant. This is why I asked for clarification. Good thing I didn’t make it.

Why God?

Con essentally repeats himself. He says the information must be contained in the form of ideas or thoughts. There is no reason why some non-sentient force can't contian just the information of these thoughts and ideas. He says the being does not have parts, can't move, and has no location. Of course, we could say we know where information like ideas, thoughts, and memories are stored in the brain. The theist could just say God's mind is a special disembodied mind. The same can be said about this information. He then goes onto talk about how the effect must exist within the cause. I never negated this, so it’s irrelevant to my response.

His other argument is that an unlimited being must have consciousness because it would be limited if it didn’t. An immaterial force could have the information of consciousness without having consciousness itself. Much like how a computer can map the brain of a worm. It has all information of the worm’s brain, but does not have the worm’s consciousness.

Con has ignored my second argument. That a contingent something may be necessary. So, even if my first rebuttal is refuted, my second one is untouched and thus succeeds.

Ultimately, Con failed to take down my alternatives that are just as good as God. His argument remains refuted.


[1] Rowe, William L. (1979). "The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism". American Philosophical Quarterly 16: 337.





Pro's statements in bold throughout

My Argument

Now, remember my argument proceeds from the existence of contingent things (those things with an essence distinct from their existence) to a necessary being (essence= existence). For the rest of this argument it is important to consider what a necessary being is. I am not just positing "logically necessary" although it does follow that this being is logically necessary. The reason this being is necessary is because its essence, that is, WHAT this being is, its very nature, is existence itself and this is why it is necessary[1]. This is also why we can deduce various traits from here like simplicity (if it were composed of parts it would exist insofar as these parts exist not by its own nature) infinity (limits imply non-being or potentiality in some sense and also limits imply an external nature) etc. as I explained in my first post.

You say that I didn't respond to this:
That a contingent something may be necessary

I didn't know what to say as it is incoherent based on my definitions. A contingent thing is one that has a nature distinct from its principle of existence (essence different than act of existence). Hence a contingent thing cannot be necessary (law of non-contradiction). A contingent thing may be necessary in order to produce an effect or prevent an effect however this means it is necessary for something (as my computer is necesssary to type this response). However, this is irrelevant for the sense of necessary that I was using (essence=existence). To argue otherwise is to equivocate on the word "necessary." [2]

The necessary being has intellect:
1. What exists in the effect must in some sense pre-exist in the cause- Pro concedes this point. However, he argues that information doesn't necessarily have to exist in the form of ideas. The problem with pro's statement is twofold:

A) Information, where it does not exist in the form of ideas, is usually only derivitive. This means it does not contain information in itself but only insofar as it is interpreted to contain information. For instance a book contains only derivative information. This means it truly does contain information however this information only exists insofar as the words are given meaning by minds. Words themselves do not have what is called "intentionality" of their own (i.e. there is nothing about the ink splotches that have inherent meaning to them..e.g. cat doesn't have to mean cats, it does so by convention not by inherent meaning in the arrangement of letters). Same could be said about the way in which computers have information. The point is that true information exists insofar as it is interpreted ultimately by a mind. Therefore, we cannot say God lacks a mind but has information because this information would have to have derived meaning, but since God is necessary and all else is contingent, this would be impossible.

B) Even if there could be intentionality in non-sentient entities, how could it exist in an immaterial and simple entity? There is no way to say that an immaterial entity contains information except if it contains it as ideas. A computer might be able to because it has electric circuits, but an immaterial being must posess it in the form of ideas. [3]

2. The necessary being is unlimited. If it lacked intellect it would be limited. This would imply with respect to intellect it had either "potency" or "non-being" and thus some form of external nature other than existence itself. This is a contradiction, therefore, it must contain intellect. All other forms of being can exist as ideas and therefore it is not limited because it lacks these traits.

Much like how a computer can map the brain of a worm. It has all information of the worm’s brain, but does not have the worm’s consciousness
However this implies that the computer is limited with respect to conscioussness as it lacks this power. Hence it does not show arguement 2 is false.

Argument from evil [4]

if God is omnipotent, he can bring about this good without the use of evil

This is not entirely accurate. God can do all things as there is no effect which He cannot produce, this is what omnipotence is. However, not all things can be properly called "effects" as a logical contradiction is not itself an effect. Therefore, God cannot contradict logic.

Now suppose there are two logically possible scenarios 1 and 2. For 1, evil effect E exists and there is a way to produce good G. Situation 2 involves no evil but a lesser good g. Now, God has the power to produce a world with either situation. If E is logically necessary for the production of G, God cannot produce G without allowing (NOT CAUSING) E. So God can either chose 1 or 2 but he cannot chose G without situation 1. Since G is a great good and God's perfection means that He only actively wills the good, there is no contradiction in God willing situation 1 for the sake of G and God being morally perfect. Hence your argument fails.

It is true that we may not KNOW what good effect follows from a particular evil. However this should be expected given that God is infinite, we are finite and that there are many considerations which we cannot even begin to know (e.g. the future, life after death, the gravity of sin, etc.). I would also add that it is at least plausible that a world with suffering allows for greater love and compassion, which is what God ultimately wants. Further, various religions have different further explanations of suffering (e.g. redemptive suffering in Catholicism) that at least make it very plausible that God has good reasons for allowing evil.

Certainly the problem of evil has rhetorical power (as in the examples you gave) and it can be an emotional burden. But logically, it is not a problem as omnipotence and goodness can coexist in God even with an evil world as I demonstrated above and as philosophers have argued over the ages.

Argument from atemporal minds
No where did I state God’s freedom was based on him pondering a choice

It was implied by the fact that you said "without a chance to chose."

In any case, that's not the central point. First, you use an argument to show that time is needed for a mind. However a static mind is a perfect solution. You say that this doesn't fit some "definition." However that doesn't matter. If it doesn't fit a definition it means we are not using mind in the same sense. Which is okay. What the theist means by mind is roughly "the ability to grasp ideas or concepts." Humans do this through time and reasoning and in conjunction with sense experience. These are not logically necessary. God can do so immediately and intuitively without time and sense. It is possible to grasp concepts in one instant (theoretically) therefore a mind can be static.

You shift the argument to one about God's will. However you deny the claim that it has anything to do with eternity. This is therefore an entirely new argument. Your basic argument is: God's nature is necesssary, God's will flows from His nature, therefore, God's will is necessary.

I will concede that God's will necessarily exists and is necessarily good. However, the specific objects of the will are not necessary.

For a full discussion on this, see the link I provided earlier and this one: especially the discussion on the divine will. However, a simple summary to refute your objection is that God's nature is to will the good, which is the manifestation of His own goodness (the ultimate good and the only thing essentially good). This is absolutely necessary as it proceeds directly from God's own nature. However, the means to this end, as they can vary, so can God willing them. God is free to choose among them because there is no external compulsion to will one or the other (as God is the cause of all things therefore God's will presupposes the external) and there is no internal necessity. There is internal necessity that God loves Himself (as this is the essence of will, namely, to desire goodness). This act of will proceeds from God's nature. However, the specific objects which God wills to manifest His goodness does not necessarily proceed from His nature because God's will (which exists on account of His nature) is essentially "to desire goodness." Since however goodness can be varied and many objects can be used to manifest the good, it follows then that God's essential will can coexist with a number of different objects. Since God's nature does not determine these objects and God is unlimited, it follows God is free to chose between these. This universe is one example. God necessarily wills that this universe manifest His goodness on account of His nature, however, that He make this universe rather than that one are both in accord with His nature and His will therefore there is no internal necessity that God chose one or the other.

Also, fy own info, see the link I provided in last post for necessity "absolutely" and by supposition.
Non-Physical minds
  • I know its probabilistic, I was arguing that it is less certain than you would think
  • But you can’t have the genes yourself. This is a false analogy. Genes are DNA sequences, I can see the gene in its entirety. Thoughts are not the same as the neural activity as thoughts involve the subjective as well as the mental. Hence there is more too them than the mere physical
  • It is still more likely and the best explanation that this immaterial mind is dependent on the brain However this shows human minds must depend on the brain. IF, as you and Tooley claim is possible, the mind is immaterial, then it is theoretically POSSIBLE that a mind exist apart from the brain, even if not our minds. Therefore, minds as such can be independent.
  • Since your argument is merely probabilistic, if I can provide a counter-example, then your argument is shown to be false. I argue that I demonstrated that God has intellect in my first few paragraphs and that God is immaterial. Therefore, I provided a counter-example

In conclusion my central argument stands, and pro's points are refuted.

extra links in comments for space

Debate Round No. 3


Contention 1: The Problem of Evil

Con says God’s omnipotence is not doing something contrary to logic. However, in order for Con’s rebuttal to hold he must demonstrate it is logically impossible for God to bring about greater good G without evil E. This is entirely conceivable. For example, a child’s mother dies and the child must spend many unhappy years in an orphanage(E), but a rich Christian family adopts him and he lives his life successfully and happy(G). It is possible that said child became just as successful and happy without this suffering. God can’t do things like create a square circle, but this scenario is entirely possible and consistent with logic. All Con does is ask us to imagine two scenarios where evil is necessary. This to me sounds like question begging, because the goal is to show all evil is necessary.

Con ignores my evidential rebuttal showing his explanation is unlikely. His position is an ad hoc, he says God is infinite and takes things we cannot into consideration. Then goes to say it is plausible some greater good came about. However, this acts as though my second rebuttal is based on certainty, not probabilistic. So, it’s not relevant. Sure it is possible some greater good came about, but it’s likely the evil is gratuitous because it seems as such.

The argument remains standing.

Contention 2: Temporal minds

Con defends a static mind by claiming it means the ability to grasp concepts or ideas. However, “ability” has can have no coherent atemporal definition.

“possession of the means or skill to do something” [1]

A static mind doesn’t do anything, otherwise it would need time.

No, I didn’t shift to a new argument. It’s been the very same from the start. He goes to say what God will is not necessary. He says God’s will is to manifest his good and this can be done through a variety of means. However, with the universe, there is only one way for him to manifest his good. That’s with the creation of it. Not creating it would not be the good thing to do. This makes the creation of the universe a necessity. If the universe could possibly not exist, then this means God is possibly not good. Which makes him contingent. The part about God being contingent if he can be different in this sense was left untouched.

This argument still stands.

Contention 3: The Argument from Physically Dependant Minds

I would like to remind everyone that the debate resolution is not

“God definitely doesn’t exist”

The resolution is

"God Probably Doesn't Exist”

All I have to do is show God is improbable. Not that God is impossible.Yes, it is possible that a mind can exist without a brain, but from what I've presented, it is unlikely. Con claims if he shows a counterexample, the argument is refuted. I’m unsure if Con understands what a probabilistic argument is.

If we notice a child is next to a broken vase upset, it is likely that the child broke the vase. When you ask the child he can state that when he has a friend in china who clapped his hands causing the wind created to cumulate in which it hit his house at the same time he opened the window. Sure, this is theoretically possible, but it is unlikely. Providing a counterexample doesn’t refute the argument that the child broke the vase. If Con is correct in saying counterexamples refute probabalist arguments, then the entire mathematics of probability are in error.

He claims my genes parody is false because genes can be seen. However, using MRI machines we can read thoughts and even digitize them [2]

Con’s case

After three rounds Con finally talks about my necessary contingent argument. However he misunderstood it. I’m not saying they are necessary in the sense that they’re a necessary being, but necessary similar in the way a computer is used to type. In order for something contingent to not exist, it may be the case that something else contingent must exist. This doesn’t mean it’s a necessary being, but it eliminates the need for a necessary being. So, no equivocation is committed. Since Con left this main idea untouched, it remains standing. Since this is the last round, his case is therefore invalidated.

I can stop here since I have already invalidated his case, but I’ll continue to defend my other possibility.

His objection to the idea of raw information existing in a non-sentient force commits the fallacy of composition. Even if it was true that all information in the material world needs a mind to interpret it, this doesn’t follow that all parts of information need the same thing. There can be possible information that doesn’t need a mind to interpret it, but is still information.

He continues to ask how can an immaterial thing contain information in the form of something else other than ideas. One can ask, if information is contained in the Hippocampus, how can God contain information? Of course, Con would claim God is a special unembodied mind. One can say the same about this force. I brought this up last round and Con left it untouched

He then goes to say God must have intellect or else he would be limited. You could use this to say God cannot have intellect. If God caused the big bang, then he must have the effect of the big bang within him. However, the big bang is not a conscious entity, so if God has consciousness he’s limited with respect to the big bang. It works both ways. Furthermore, I would say the computer is not limited because it still has all the information of the worm.


Con’s rebuttal against the POE was that God could bring about some greater good. I said that if God is omnipotent he can do this without the need of evil. Con claimed this was logically impossible, but never demonstrated it was. He only gave a thought experiment showing that if evil without a greater good is impossible, God must take that route. But this doesn’t show that G without E is impossible. Indeed it bares no incoherently like a square circle or a married bachelor. I furthermore argued that it is more likely that gratuitous evil exists. Con said it could still be the case that God has some hidden purpose, but this is irrelevant because I argued that it probably exists. The problem of evil was successful and is standing strong

In my next argument Con argues that God is a static mind. I showed no definition fits this, even with Con’s other definition it still assumes time. Con essentially argued that the objects God wills aren’t necessary. I said that if this is true, God’s essence can be different and thus contingent. Con never replied to that making this argument stand.

In my last argument (which I think Con could have done better on), Con essentially critiques this argument because it’s a probabilistic argument. Throughout the debate he said God is still possible, which I agreed, but he is unlikely given the argument. Con never attempted to argue from probability, instead he argued from possibility, which is irrelevant. This means I have fulfilled my burden of proof in showing that God probably doesn’t exist.

Con’s only argument is based on Thomas Aquinas’’ contingency argument. I argued that there are two equal alternatives. One in which a necessary immaterial force caused contingency and one in which contingent things themselves are necessary because these contingencies didn’t exist, another contingency can exist. Con brushed the second alternative off because it doesn’t fit the description of a necessary being. However, this misses the point. It eliminates the need for one. Making his case invalid, as he failed to take down the main point. My first alternative was that this force could contain all information making intellect not necessary. Con said it had to be intelligent because it can only contain information in the form of ideas. But this was never justified. I pointed out that the same can be said about ideas and the brain. Showing the same special pleading can be done with the force. He failed to rebut that and went on to claim all information we know needs a mind to interpret it in order for it to be meaningful. However, this is a fallacy of composition. His argument from limitation works both ways and something can contain all of the information without being limited. His case failed to prove God is probable.

Thanks Con. Remember, since you went first, in the next round you must post

"For an equal number of rounds, nothing will be posted here, as agreed."






For an equal number of rounds, I leave this blank
Debate Round No. 4
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Timeworn 2 years ago
My friends the Bible has proven Knowledge far pass its time, and if you truly study it. An come to understand it, you do not need believe it or whatsoever, but one thing I am certain, you will be amaze by its Knowledge, I'm not talking about any Bible, study how the Bible came to be, track it's original origin, their are many philolosphical ways of thinking you are solving the existence of a being far pass your Knowledge, Remember we are not the only era of Knowledge lovers. I see myself as a child knowing nothing inFront of Jehovah, clearly by now you have notice that i'am a religious person, but please if you are not, do not let your mind blind you from the truth, at least if you do love seeking knowledge seek the truth of all knowledge.
Posted by Timeworn 2 years ago
If you can't bring yourself to believe that Jehovah God has no beginning and no end, and that nothing cause him because time does not exist for him, because in order for something to BEGAN, first that means time is already working agiants whatever that thing is, however if we take time out of the equation, you will not need a beginning nor an end, And God made sure to clarify his existence, he said "I am, as I am till time indefinite" and that is what Great philosopher can not come to accept, if that is the case, then they should also not exspect that everything that has a beginning to have a cause.
Posted by Dmot 2 years ago
thank you for your comments.
I would just like to say that my justification for God having intellect was twofold (assuming, as pro did, that the effect must in some sense exist in the cause):
1) That information anywhere only exists in a derivative sense unless it has its first inherent meaning in the mind (i gave the example of a book)

2) Even if information can exist essentially without a mind, the problem is, in an immaterial being this is impossible except by way of thoughts. There is no way in which an immaterial being can act like a computer for instance

Further, I gave the justification that not having consciousness is a limitation which is contrary to the infinity of God, which I gave 2 separate arguments for
Posted by Dmot 2 years ago
thank you for your comments.
I would just like to say that my justification for God having intellect was twofold (assuming, as pro did, that the effect must in some sense exist in the cause):
1) That information anywhere only exists in a derivative sense unless it has its first inherent meaning in the mind (i gave the example of a book)

2) Even if information can exist essentially without a mind, the problem is, in an immaterial being this is impossible except by way of thoughts. There is no way in which an immaterial being can act like a computer for instance

Further, I gave the justification that not having consciousness is a limitation which is contrary to the infinity of God, which I gave 2 separate arguments for
Posted by NiqashMotawadi3 2 years ago


This was a very interesting read. Con presented many interesting arguments but they didn't seem to survive further scrutiny. For instance, Pro brilliantly showed that there was a leap of faith in assuming that the external cause is personal and intellectual as it could be unconscious and yet could contain information and cause the creation of the universe. I expected Con to present more justification for why he believes the external cause is God, but he gave red herrings such as that entity being formed of information when that does not all establish that it is conscious or aware of what it is doing. Pro's strongest argument was his modification of the problem of evil into an argument from gratuitous suffering. Con's response, as I understood, was that God has a higher purpose although this does not deal with many isolated cases of suffering such as the "burning forest" which Pro brought forth. To believe that God always has a higher purpose from evil seems to be very problematic. Hence, I award Pro the arguments for generally presenting better arguments and refutations.


Both debaters used good sources. Con's were in the comments section. Tied.


Both debaters had acceptable conduct. Tied.

Spelling and grammar

Con had more spelling errors. He said "coerexed", "forsees", "pressuposes" and many other misspelled words. I take it that he didn't bother to use a spell-checker. S&G go to Pro.
Posted by Dmot 2 years ago
3- q 44-49
4- Same as above q37, 95
Posted by Magic8000 2 years ago
lol ignore the [10] and [11] sources. That's for some other argument and I accidentally posted them in the wrong source list.
Posted by Subutai 2 years ago
I was hoping you'd pick Timeworm - apparently he has scientific proof that God exists...
Posted by Magic8000 2 years ago
Thanks everyone. I am picking the user "Dmot". He seems to be knowledgeable in philosophy and has the most completed debates than anyone.
Posted by auzzypao 2 years ago
I accept, I will prove that the Judeo-Christian God DOES in fact exist.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.