The Instigator
kvaughan
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
SperoAmicus
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points

God and Hell cannot simultaneously exist (redo)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,665 times Debate No: 1077
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (15)
Votes (9)

 

kvaughan

Pro

NOTE: SperoAmicus and I were engaged in this debate earlier, but due to a delay in my argument posting and poor timing with Christmas, Spero was unable to respond in the allotted time and forfeited. But, since the discussion was very interesting we agree to copy and paste our arguments abck into this debate and continue where we left off.

This will be my third go at arguing a problem of evil variant. In my past two debates (and in their comments sections) a theme seems to emerge – people disagree that more or less with the premise that there is evil in the world. There have been many different ways of doing this; you can (correctly) point out that I don't define evil, or say that evil is just an "absence of God" or whatever. While these arguments are useful and necessary to establish the problem, I grow tired of them, so I hope that this argument will sidestep that criticism and allow us to move on to something else.

Here's the argument: if God exists, no one would go to Hell.

I want to start out my mentioning that I will use Hell a lot here, but if you don't believe in Hell, the argument still applies if you substitute "non-Heaven", meaning just that God is incompatible with people going anywhere but Heaven.

This avoids the questions about evil because by definition, heaven is good and Hell is bad. If you deny this premise, I cannot see a reason to be religious. Religions all seem to prescribe ways to get into Heaven, so if you don't agree that heaven is better than Hell, then there is no reason to try to get into Heaven.

My argument formalized is this:
1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to send everyone to Heaven.
3. If God is omniscient, then God knows how to send everyone to Heaven.
4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to send everyone to Heaven.
5. According to religions, everyone does not go to Heaven
6. If Hell exists and God exists, then either God doesn't have the power to send everyone to Heaven, or doesn't know how to send everyone to Heaven, or doesn't have the desire to send everyone to Heaven.
7. Therefore, either God, Heaven, or both do not exist.

I think that's enough to get us started. I look forward to it!
SperoAmicus

Con

Glad you got this going again Kvaughan.

~~~
It might be relevant to know that I am coming from Christian - Roman Catholic perspective. The Catholic understanding of God is somewhat more carefully and philosophically defined than in many other Christian denominations.

To begin with, it's important to understand the qualities of God and the role in which they play with each other. Omnipotent and omniscient may work for our purposes as a definition of God, but we need to take a look at what you've here called the "morally perfect" quality of God. Morality, of course, is prominently defined by the capacity of judgement, so that this would equate into being a "Perfect Judge" as well as one who abides by the standards to which he judges. But you haven't here presented this moral perfection in a way that would in any way disparage against Hell.

The classic usage, from St. Augustine, rather is "omnibenevolent," or all-loving, which you were using in one of the other arguments. But regardless of what definition we use, we need to first understand that this is a standard to which God chose Himself to be bound by covenant promise. This covenant promise restrains His omnipotence to the standards given in His promise, as it would defy omnipotence to make a promise which is beyond Him to keep. Indeed, of course omnipotence would otherwise be incompatible with any sort of moral restraint whatsoever.

So that the question becomes understanding what it is that God has bound Himself to. To a Christian, that is what we understand as Love.

Love is a difficult thing to define, but we can recognize a few things right off the bat, and the conclusions which are to be drawn from them.

1) Love requires a separate entity to be the recipient of One's love.

-> The Distinctly Separate and Free Will of Man.

2) Love is associated with a desire to share Oneself with another.

-> Hence, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3) Likewise, eternal damnation is to not know God. "Weeping and gnashing of teeth" is only an allegory to represent a state of eternal existence which does not know God.

3) Unrequitted love includes a respect for the other person and a refusal to thrust oneself unwanted onto that individual.

-> Therefore, the very love of God prevents Him from forcing Himself upon the Free Human Will which has chosen to reject Him.

There are others, but this will do for now. The first thing you might notice is probably the relationship between this and a romance. That would be dead-on.

"I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,

And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the LORD.

It will come about in that day that I will respond," declares the LORD.
"I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,
And the (AV)earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil,
And they will respond to Jezreel.

"I will (AW)sow her for Myself in the land
I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion,
And I will say to those who were not My people,
'You are My people!'
And they will say, 'You are my God!'"

(Hosea 2:19-23)

The parallel is made throughout the Bible and throughout Christian history. It is the Catholic/Christian understanding that a marriage is an earthly "type" of what will be perfected in one's relationship with God.

In short, you gloss through "morally perfect" as a vague concept without alloting to it the specificity which is warranted to both a promise and a relationship. If "Knowledge of God" is eternal life, then it would not be in the prerogative of Love to force the other person to accept you, for you then would not a Freely Distinct entity to Love.

Once again, you are caught up in the definitions, both of "Hell" and "Morally Perfect."
Debate Round No. 1
kvaughan

Pro

I want to preface my arguments my admitting that I am not 100% clear on your defense. So, if I misinterpret anything, please let me know!

You seem to argue that God's love is like is similar to romantic love and in romantic love, it is essential that the love be mutual. Thus, God does not force us to love him and if we don't love him, we go to Hell, which is essentially an absence of God. If that is your argument I have a few responses (numbered and lettered for ease of debate).

1a) This is a completely ad hoc response. You do not have any external evidence suggesting that "Knowledge of God' is eternal life" or that God's love actually does work this way. The only thing you provide is a biblical quote which is poetic not literal and called into question by the very nature of this debate (i.e. we're trying to decide if God exists and if he doesn't then the Bible is called into question). Instead, you have invented a response that happens to fit the evidence we see without providing additional evidence for this response. As long as we allow ad hoc responses, nothing can EVER be proven wrong.

1b) That being said, it seems very likely to me that God's love does not work the way you describe. God's most common moniker is "God the father", indicating parental and not romantic love. In parental love, the love does not need to be requited; instead the parental figure often does things for the child against the child's will because it is in the best interest of the child. A parent doesn't care what the child thinks about running into the street or if the child agrees with that decision, the parent just does what is best for the child. Seeing as God is the "father" and his potential status over us would be more than equivalent to the status of a parent of a child, it seems more likely that God has paternal love. If God has paternal love, then your theodicy fails we are again faced with the paradox I have presented.

2) This argument is a false dichotomy. You are arguing that if God does not force us to love him, then people will go to Hell. I do not see why this must be so. Why can't God create a world in which everyone is free, yet everyone freely accepts God? Sure, this may seem unlikely to a puny human mind, but a requirement of omnipotence is that the being can do anything which is not logically contradictory. So unless you can demonstrate that freedom and complete acceptance of God are, by necessity, in contradiction, the response cannot fly.

3) Your argument assumes that God forcing someone to love him would be worse than Hell. This just seems false. In most definitions Hell is the worst possible state one can be in. A forced love cannot, by definition, be worse than this. So, this is not in our best interest. Why doesn't God just wait and see who will love him freely and who won't and then only force those who don't love him freely? Then he can have the best of both worlds.

4) This answer begs the further question of why God would create a world like this? God knew when he promised to himself not to force people to love him that it meant people would go to Hell. So, are still faced with the same question.

So, those are some of my thoughts. I look forward to your response!
SperoAmicus

Con

Your response is generally sound, with the exception of several ambiguities which stem from the vagueness of your original statement.

Also, you draw at least once from an argument that I did not make, that Hell is the absence of God. That understanding of course comes from St. Augustine, but the details of our understanding of that have evolved over time. Lacking a "Knowledge of God" is not strictly the same thing as an "absence of God." It isn't simply a matter of God choosing to fill an extra space or give a little extra grace, but of forcing oneself onto another person.

Taking it point by point...

To my claim that "Love" is "Romantic," and therefore reciprical, you assert:
>1a) This is a completely ad hoc response. ... The only thing you provide is a biblical quote which is poetic not literal and called into question by the very nature of this debate (i.e. we're trying to decide if God exists and if he doesn't then the Bible is called into question).

First, your definition of God as "omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect" came from somewhere. Odin, Zues and a schlew of other gods were NEVER defined by terms which are anything like these. The only conclusion which can be inferred from your opening argument, from your reference to "Hell" and from the definition of God which you've provided, is that you're referring to the Christian God, which is defined through the Bible. Therefore, the Bible becomes a relevant source in the definition of love.

If this is wrong, and it is some other God we're discussing, please correct me.

Secondly, we are not "trying to decide if God exists," but specifically, whether there is a contradiction between God and Hell which proves that one or the other does not exist. This is a -technical- question which hinges upon every relevant definition, including "God," "morally perfect," and "Hell." Fine distinctions in the way these are understood matter significantly.

But moving on, you assert....
>1b) That being said, it seems very likely to me that God's love does not work the way you describe. God's most common moniker is "God the father", indicating parental and not romantic love. In parental love, the love does not need to be requited; instead the parental figure often does things for the child against the child's will because it is in the best interest of the child. ... If God has paternal love, then your theodicy fails we are again faced with the paradox I have presented.

This is easily the strongest part of your argument. A parental understanding of love is an equally valid Biblical perspective, and it is absolutely correct that parents attempt to intercede on their children's parts.

But Parental Love and Romantic Love are really very similar on this abstract level. An unrequitted lover still offers kindness to the woman who rejects him, just like a father intercedes in the life of his son.

The problem is that ultimately, as we understand both forms of love, love is naturally meant to be recipricated. And when it's not, there reaches a point where each intervention leads to antagonism and bitterness from the child or lover who must constantly refuse them. So that there is a point when offering someone more of yourself only leads that person to hate you further, and where ultimately, the Father and the Lover must simply pull back and leave the other person to decide for themselves.

If "morally perfect" is in fact defined in this manner of love, as a Christian / Catholic understanding of Him is, then you do not have a contradiction. For Eternal Life is specifically, Biblically defined as "Knowledge of God" (John 17:3), meaning that Hell becomes an amplified form of the bitterness which comes from rejecting a lover.

But according to you:
>2) This argument is a false dichotomy. You are arguing that if God does not force us to love him, then people will go to Hell. I do not see why this must be so. Why can't God create a world in which everyone is free, yet everyone freely accepts God? ... So unless you can demonstrate that freedom and complete acceptance of God are, by necessity, in contradiction, the response cannot fly.

"Freedom to accept" is not a freedom unless you also have the "freedom to reject." Otherwise it would mean you were programmed to accept. And to argue in favor of a world where only those who would choose to accept may exist is to argue for the pre-emptive annhilation of those who would choose otherwise. Whatever we may casually wish, it is presumably better to exist, even in Hell, than to not exist at all, but the latter cannot be tested.

>3) Your argument assumes that God forcing someone to love him would be worse than Hell. This just seems false. In most definitions Hell is the worst possible state one can be in. A forced love cannot, by definition, be worse than this.

I did not argue that forced love would be worse then Hell, but rather, that forced love is not love. In Christianity, God is defined by love in ways similar to what we understand on Earth, and to argue that God should force others to love Him is not arguing for a God who is defined by love. Consequently, you are calling for an oxy-moron. You are also calling for a violation of "morally perfect" as you understand it, for morality stands firmly against coercion.

But finally...
>4) This answer begs the further question of why God would create a world like this? God knew when he promised to himself not to force people to love him that it meant people would go to Hell. So, are still faced with the same question.

But you are forgetting my first and original assertion. God is omnipotent, and may do whatever He wants, but sequentially chose to bind Himself to a definition of Love. Arguing that God was in any way obligated before making such a promise is a violation of your own definition of God as omnipotent. Without this promise, where there is no "intercessor" between God and Man, you have the God of Job, where He may torture you for whatever whim he fancies. Hence, in creating a promise which creates things the way they are, there is no "morally perfect" obligation on His part to avoid a reality which sends people to Hell.

Such that...

I formulize the argument in this manner:
1) God is omnipotent and omniscient.
2) In His omnipotence, He freely chose to bind Himself to omnibenevolence.
3) Omnibenevolence requires a fully-distinct entity to love: Mankind.
4) To be fully-distinct, Individuals must be given the choice to reject God.
5) That rejection of God is defined as Hell and experienced as an infinite magnification of the bitterness associated with the act of rejecting another.
6) We know this because it is foreshadowed in our own experiences with love.

Hence, "morally perfect" and "Hell" are not contradictory.
Debate Round No. 2
kvaughan

Pro

I'm going to do something a little unusually here. I'm going to admit when we are not likely to settle an argument or when an argument is not likely to go anywhere. Hopefully this will lean out the debate and make it more streamlined. But, before I get to the point by point, I would like to admit that this is one of the better responses to this problem of Hell that I've heard. Naturally, I don't think it solves it and I still think the problem of Hell is a huge one, but it's interesting to know that decent responses exist.

1a) I'm just going to drop this argument. I use it mostly as an old standby against the free will defense to the traditional problem of evil and I find it persuasive in that context. Here, it's not as useful. Additionally, even if I'm right, I'm not sure that this gets me anywhere. So, I'm going to move on.

1b) I think we're both on the same page here in thinking that this is my most powerful and intuitive argument. Your response seems to hinge on two claims:

"The problem is that ultimately, as we understand both forms of love, love is naturally meant to be recipricated."

"when it's not, there reaches a point where each intervention leads to antagonism and bitterness from the child or lover who must constantly refuse them."

First, I want to disagree with the claim that "love is naturally meant to be reciprocated". At first this argument glance seems intuitive. Usually when you love someone in any form, you do expect that they will love you back. However, this seems more like a weakness of humanity than a universal definition of love. It seems to me that the purest form of love is the love that expects nothing in return. The person who gives or provides aid out of compassion for another and a real desire to improve their well-being with no desire to receive anything in return seems to be on the whole "more perfect" than the person who expects that love is reciprocated.

The real problem is semantics "love" could mean romantic love, friendship, grandmotherly or ‘wise love', ‘loving-kindness'/ compassionate love or any number of other forms. In some of those forms of love, reciprocation is important (romantic in particular), in others it is not necessary. Since we have no reason to think that God has only romantic love instead of other (and more perfect) forms of love, we have no reason to think that love requires reciprocation.

So, I hope to have demonstrated that a true form of love does not need to be reciprocated.

The second part of your defense is that at a certain point, intervention leads to bitterness and antagonism. I don't see how this actually interacts with the parent analogy. In parenthood, sometimes the parent must do things that lead to the child becoming bitter and antagonistic, but they do it if it is in the child's best interest.

Sure, at some point parents must stop intervening and allow children to handle things for themselves, but this is really due to a fault of the parents. If the parent could always be there and always make the best possible decision for the child, then there would be no need to let them do things on their own. God can, theoretically, do exactly this. So, God should just force us to have knowledge of him because it is in our best interest. Or, if you don't like that proposal, he should perpetually reincarnate us until we finally gain knowledge of him on our own.

2) I completely agree that "Freedom to accept" is not a freedom unless you also have the "freedom to reject." But, "freedom to reject" does not imply that rejection must actually take place. If I give you a choice between getting a million dollars and one dollar as a gift from me, I can predict that every sane person will pick the million dollars -- It's just a better choice This fact does not imply that they did not have the freedom to choose the one dollar gift, it just implies that it was obvious to everyone that a million dollars was a lot better. I am suggesting that it is not logically contradictory that everyone could have "freedom to reject" but no one would choose it. God could just make the attractiveness of choosing him even better than the distinction between the million dollars and one dollar.

Again, this argument is important because if a world where freedom to reject did not imply actual rejection could exist, then a morally perfect God would not create any other world.

Also, I need to take you to task with the claim that non-existence is worse than Hell. First, I don't think we want to say that anyone, God or man, has an obligation to non-existent beings. If we did, then you and I are committing ‘non-existent person murder' by typing out these arguments instead of either getting someone pregnant or getting pregnant ourselves. Also, it seems to me that life could very easily be negative. If life is constant suffering, then you would be better off having not existed.

3) Your response is to claim that since God is defined by love and since forced love is not love, then God is not obligated to force people to love him. What occurs to me here is that this argument is going to hinge on the conclusion of the argument from 1b (we can just call it 1 now if you want). If God's love is a form other than romantic love then forced love is love and God should force us to love him. So, there's not point in debating this point further until we settle the 1b argument.

4) Ok, so it seems to me that your argument is that God is only fundamentally omnipotent and omniscient, but that he chose to bind himself to a definition of love and that this definition creates a world in which some people do go to Hell. Since God promised this to himself when he was amoral, it could not be an immoral promise.

While I understand this response, once you start to think about it, it quickly becomes very confusing. I'm not entirely sure that God does exist temporally in the way you describe and I'm not sure that God was not morally perfect/ defined by love from the beginning, but, I really doubt that this can go anywhere other than senseless bickering over definitions of God. So, I'll drop it for now.

CONCLUSION: in the interest of sticking to relevant debate topics and in sympathy to our dear readers, I have attempted to sideline argument 1a, 3 and 4 for various reasons and focus primarily on arguments 1b and 2.

Thus, my position is essentially that even if God is defined by love, it is likely to be parental love which would allow God to intercede if we reject him because it would be in our best interest. Alternatively, I disagree with the implicit assumption in premise 4 of his formalization that "To be fully-distinct, Individuals must be given the choice to reject God." By saying that it is possible that God could create people with the possibility to reject God who rarely or never do it. This could be done by creating people who are rational and making it obvious that God is the most rational choice.

Well, that's what I've got for now. I look forward to a response.

Also, if any readers have feedback on my arguments please feel free to tell me!
SperoAmicus

Con

Let me begin by saying that I have no sympathy for the reader, and I only use debate.org as a means to flush out my own rational arguments. Consequently, I hope you don't mind if I begin by clarifying something from your comments on argument 4. Then I will go on to address your arguments specifically.

~~~

My breakup of omnipotent and omnibenevolent is done as a way of explaining the otherwise very confusing position. The Bible has wording that explains this position better than I can. "In the beginning was the Word (active tense), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The "Word" of course is the promise, Jesus Christ, and "All things came into being through Him" (John 1:1-3).

"Omnibenevolence" is therefore the sole and infinite action of "Omnipotence," which would otherwise be amoral, and the Catholic Church has long held that one's actions perfect a person.

~~~

1) Romantic Love vs. Parental Love

Let me begin by saying the distinction is a false dichotomy. As you point out:

>The real problem is semantics "love" could mean romantic love, friendship, grandmotherly or ‘wise love', ‘loving-kindness'/ compassionate love or any number of other forms.

While I don't think the Bible mentions "grandmotherly" love, all of these are applicable to God, run parallel with each other, and are given to us as a "type" to understand how we are to experience God. I only pointed to Romantic love as a clearer point of reference for the aspects of love I wanted to highlight.

As to those aspects...

#) The Reciprocity of Love

I assert that love is meant to be reciprocated.

>The person who gives or provides aid out of compassion for another and a real desire to improve their well-being with no desire to receive anything in return seems to be on the whole "more perfect" than the person who expects that love is reciprocated.

The problem hinges upon the word "meant," which refers not to the person loving, or even to the person being loved. Rather, love is by design, by the Designer, intended to be reciprocated.

Love is a purposeful sacrifice of oneself for another person, in a way which openly exposes oneself to the other person, done because one is moved by the other person's inherent truth and goodness and beauty, but the exposing of oneself sequentially creates the Hope of being loved in return.

Consequently, the intention by the Creator is that love is INTENDED to be returned, but cannot by the lover be EXPECTED to be returned. Hence, the other person must have the ability to reject the lover, and naturally experience the full actualization of doing so.

This returns us to my opening remarks. A person cannot be separated from their actions. Ones actions reveal oneself to another. Giving flowers perfects the intention of giving, in the sense that the intention reaches fulfillment in the action.

But a person is most defined by that which they love. So actions which reveal another person as the source of one's love consequently leave one exposed, resulting in the Hope that the love will be returned.

Therefore, God bound Himself to Love, creating individuals whom He fully loves, revealing Himself through creation and the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, without the expectation of being Loved in return, but fully with the Hope that we will.

This was the infinite action of Omnipotence.

&) The Consequences of Rejecting a Lover

It should be noted that the consequences of rejecting an Earthly lover are an aside to the discussion. I return to the definitions, that Eternal Life is "Knowledge of God." To this I qualify, not rational Knowledge, but Knowledge gained through intimacy - reciprocated love. Hell, then, is by definition a rejection of intimacy with God. Earthly Lovers are an aside to whether Hell is contradictory with Omnibenevolance. However, it is still the evidence.

So I assert that rejecting a lover has a negative impact on one's very personhood, and that individuals may reject any form of lover with finality.

>If the parent could always be there and always make the best possible decision for the child, then there would be no need to let them do things on their own. God can, theoretically, do exactly this. So, God should just force us to have knowledge of him because it is in our best interest. Or, if you don't like that proposal, he should perpetually reincarnate us until we finally gain knowledge of him on our own.

Again, you're looking at things from the perspective of the lover, and not of the loved one.

Imagine being loved by someone you're ashamed of... a father who loves you but hates everything you love in turn... a would-be partner who disgusts you... a friend who embaresses you...

Rejecting any of these people damages you as a person, and it is an unkindness to continue putting them into the position of enacting that rejection.

There is no proof of it but to experience it.

~~~

2) "Freedom to Accept" and "Freedom to Reject"

I assert that "Freedom to Accept" is not really a freedom unless one has the "Freedom to Reject." To this you agree, but add:

>But, "freedom to reject" does not imply that rejection must actually take place.

>This could be done by creating people who are rational and making it obvious that God is the most rational choice.

>Again, this argument is important because if a world where freedom to reject did not imply actual rejection could exist, then a morally perfect God would not create any other world.

But in this argument you are only adding another layer of fluff before reaching the same conclusion. If God created man, then He also created man's faculty of "Reason." You are arguing that a person should be bound by his rationality, and therefore bound to the God that created his rationality.

Worthy of note is that this is consistent with reality. There is no causation between religion/atheism and intelligence. Rather, what we are experiencing today is better expressed in this way:

Intelligence => Education
Education => Wealth
Wealth => Entertainment
Entertainment => A Distraction from Religious Depth

This is a consequence of our cultural circumstances. It is entertainment which distracts us from religion because it appeals to the same human faculties as religion, an appreciation of something which is created. But this distraction needn't be understood as resulting in Hell, but only as preventing an individual's personal religious growth.

Hence, there is no connection between an acceptance of God and intelligence, as there shouldn't be, because God cannot make us choose Him just by making us smarter.

As to your remarks on non-existance:
>Also, I need to take you to task with the claim that non-existence is worse than Hell.

Then I will go back to the question of whether God can simply use omniscience to tell what a person will choose, and then only create people who will choose a certain way. Doing so would create the expectation that everything which exists will love you in return, so that love would become obligation and not love.

~~~

Formalized:

1) God is omnipotent.
2) God bound Himself to Love.
3) Love is sacrifice and self-exposure, without any expectations, which creates the Hope of being loved in return.
4) Mankind was created with the Freedom to reject God.
5) A person who for any reason cannot reject God would only create expectation, violating the principle of Love.
6) The act of rejecting a lover damages a person.
7) The act of rejecting the infinite lover is defined as Hell and experienced as the infinite rejection, the infinite damage to ones personhood.
8) We know this from our Earthly experience as lovers.

Hence: An Omnibenevolent God and Hell are not contradictory.
Debate Round No. 3
kvaughan

Pro

If you don't mind, I'll just jump right in.

1) Ok, so the main argument from you is that "I assert that love is meant to be reciprocated" and I feel as if your whole argument, indeed your whole theodicy hinges on this single claim.

I challenge this claim by mentioning that love without expectations seems purer than love that expects something in return. A famous bible verse echoes this idea that love has no expectations:

"Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4)"

What I see as responses to this challenge from you are a few quotes:

"love is by design, by the Designer, intended to be reciprocated."

And: "Love is…done because one is moved by the other person's inherent truth and goodness and beauty, but the exposing of oneself sequentially creates the Hope of being loved in return."

In both cases, I see very little in the way of external evidence supporting the claim that love is meant to be reciprocated. You have merely fiated that God intends love to be reciprocated and then described a vision of love that is consistent with you love-as-reciprocation view. So as I see it, your argument boils down to love is meant to be reciprocated because God created it that way.

Now, we clearly have no way to know how God intended love to work unless he tells us (he is noticeably silent on many issues), but we can look at the evidence and see that many terrific forms of love are often not reciprocated or are imperfectly reciprocated (such as the plethora of forms I mention) and conclude that maybe God did not create love to be reciprocated.

So, without adequate support for your love-as-reciprocation view, I do not see any reason to agree with it.

2) You claim: "There is no causation between religion/atheism and intelligence."

Now, it is of course, technically true that we do not have data suggesting causation between these variables (because we can't manipulate intelligence) but we have some correlation data suggesting a connection:

"In 1975, Norman Poythress studied a sample of 234 US college undergraduates, grouping them into relatively homogeneous religious types based on the similarity of their religious beliefs, and compared their personality characteristics. He found that "Literally-oriented religious Believers did not differ significantly from Mythologically-oriented Believers on measures of intelligence, authoritarianism, or racial prejudice. Religious Believers as a group were found to be significantly less intelligent and more authoritarian than religious Skeptics." He used SAT's as a measure of intelligence for this study." (http://en.wikipedia.org...)

"Sociologist Zena Blau of the University of Houston recently conducted a study of more than a thousand children in Chicago. [...] In 1981 Blau reported that IQs were lowest among children whose mothers have overly strict religious beliefs. Children whose mothers were from a non-denominational or non-religious background had the highest average IQs - 110 for whites, 109 for blacks. Children whose mothers belonged to "fundamentalist" religious groups tended to have IQs that were 7 to 10 points lower. According to Blau, these religion-IQ differences hold even when you take into account the mother's social class, current occupational status, and education." (Understanding Human Behavior" by James V. McConnel, p555-6)

So, there is an inverse connection between religious belief and intelligence and it does not seem to me to be caused by entertainment. To my mind, we as a society are becoming smarter and thus less religious. But there's no way to know for sure.

This seems to refute the whole point of your response on this point.

Additionally, I wasn't even really trying to say that God could make us smarter to make us accept him more. What I am saying fundamentally is that it is not logically impossible that we could have "freedom to reject" and not have actual rejection. It MUST be the case that God could not create a world where we have all the advantages of unforced love without anyone going to Hell or your theodicy fails and I do not see any answer to this point coming from you.

CONCLUSION: I do not have any external evidence validating my opponents claim on point 1 that "love is meant to be reciprocated" despite the fact that I repeatedly provide examples of love that does not necessarily involve reciprocation.

On point 2 I assert that my opponent's theodicy and no one going to Hell are not logically contradictory so an all-powerful, morally perfect deity should create such a world. I do not see any reason to doubt this claim coming from my opponent.
SperoAmicus

Con

It's actually a little odd and out of place to have to answer a call for providing evidence in this debate. The topic is whether a loving God and Hell are contradictory, but as these are Christian terms, then it is the Christian concept of Hell which is under discussion. Whether these are in sync with reality is another debate entirely, irrelivent to the question of their intrinsic compatibility, thereby making a need for such evidence a fallacy.

Nonetheless, I will make every effort to comply, and even without an appeal to obscure, technical sources, which change the results from debate skills to research skills. First, however, I have been presenting a complex argument which needs to develop in layers, and so, even though Kvaughan hasn't quite addressed the fundamental arguments in the last round, before I respond directly, I will develop my argument here in round 4 so that I do not need to do present new material in the final round.

1) The Argument Reformalized

God is Omnipotent.

In His Omnipotence, God pledged Himself to Omnibenevolence, the "Word" through which "all things were made," as the sole and infinite action which perfects Him and brings His will into fulfillment.

Omnibenevolence - Love - is the willing sacrifice of Oneself for another, which exposes Oneself's inner core as Love for the other person, done without expectancy because One is moved by the other.

But exposing Oneself as being in Love with another unavoidably leaves One vulnerable to judgement - acceptance or rejection - which creates the Hope that One's love is returned.

To return another's love is intimacy, to "know" the other person as only lovers can.

To reject another's love damages oneself in the rejecting (more on this below).

We know objectively and resolutely from these consequences of un-returned love that by design, by the Designer, "Love" - as a piece of creation - was meant to be reciprocated.

In order to Love and sacrifice without expectation, One requires a separate, distinct person to Love, who has the Free Will to accept or to reject One's love.

Therefore, God created each member of "Mankind" in His own image, endowing them with the Freedom to return His love or reject it. He revealed His inner core as Love for them through the sacrifice of Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man. And He hopes that His love will be returned without expectancy.

By definition, Eternal Life is to accept His intimacy, to "know" God and His sacrifice of Jesus Christ as only lovers can. Hell, then, is the damage one does to oneself through the act of rejecting the infinite Lover.

Consequently, the "infinite Hell" is the unavoidable result of rejecting the "infinite Lover."

2) One Step Further - The Fall

But Mankind is Fallen, so we don't always see it right away. Of the many consequences of this Fall, we neither Love in full or all at once. Consequently, we cannot reject in full or all at once.

We live in miniature, here, what we will live in full in the world to come. We take things in baby steps, building and revealing our intentions with another person slowly and imperfectly through our actions.

And the result is that we don't often experience the damage we do to ourselves in rejecting another. In the few cases where that rejection is meaningful, we as society are rather distracted by the heartbroken other person.

Which leads me to...

3) The Call for Evidence

You respond to the argument by saying...

>"I challenge this claim by mentioning that love without expectations seems purer than love that expects something in return."

This is what you said in the prior round as well, and I addressed it adequately. You are failing to distinguish between the intentions in loving and the intentions of creating love as something which can be done.

I have conceded, and even emphasized, and even defined love by, the notion that it is done without expecting anything in return. But that expectation is on the part of one who is loving, as distinct from one who is creating the concept of love.

We know that love, by design, is meant to be reciprocated. We know this from the massive disparity in the consequences of love which is returned and love which is not. One is immensely positive, and the other is downright damning.

>"I see very little in the way of external evidence supporting the claim that love is meant to be reciprocated. You have merely fiated that God intends love to be reciprocated and then described a vision of love that is consistent with you love-as-reciprocation view. So as I see it, your argument boils down to love is meant to be reciprocated because God created it that way."

>"Now, we clearly have no way to know how God intended love to work unless he tells us (he is noticeably silent on many issues), but we can look at the evidence and see that many terrific forms of love are often not reciprocated or are imperfectly reciprocated (such as the plethora of forms I mention) and conclude that maybe God did not create love to be reciprocated."

But in all your examples, of a father or a friend or a brother or a grandmother or just a neighbor, you ignore the consequences of love which is unreturned, especially of the consequences of the one who rejects the other. You haven't addressed my counter examples, of what happens to the son who is ashamed of the father who loves him, or the man constantly embarrassed by his best friend, or the little boy who throws his grandmother's treats into the trash.

The love still exists, but the results aren't positive. One person is hurt, the other is damaged. One is heartbroken, the other must train himself to ignore the pain he's just inflicted. One person is in pain, the other must learn not to care.

>"So, without adequate support for your love-as-reciprocation view, I do not see any reason to agree with it."

But we only see these things through the Fall, in parts so easy to miss. We might agree, however, that if any of this were actually true, God would look for a way to show it to us through the Fall. He would want us to see, without possibility of denial, the damage such rejections do to oneself.

It would behoove him, then, to create a type of Lover who defies what we can clearly see love is meant to be, a type of Lover we each are partially compelled to reject even without being prompted. A lover through even the fear of being the target of their affections compels most people to a reject them with unnatural and unwarranted vitriol, and highlight for us all to witness the damage that the experience of rejection does to a person.

If God has created such a lover, and if we do in fact witness undeniably a horrible damage done to those who embrace the corresponding lover-phobia, then the Catholic view of Love holds consistent with creation.

4) The Possibility of a World Without Those who would Reject

In round 2, you asserted:

>"If I give you a choice between getting a million dollars and one dollar as a gift from me, I can predict that every sane person will pick the million dollars -- It's just a better choice This fact does not imply that they did not have the freedom to choose the one dollar gift, it just implies that it was obvious to everyone that a million dollars was a lot better."

>"This could be done by creating people who are rational and making it obvious that God is the most rational choice."

All of this suggests an appeal to intelligence and rationality.

But now, you claim:

>"Additionally, I wasn't even really trying to say that God could make us smarter to make us accept him more.

Yes, you clearly were.

A person is forever enslaved to his perceptions and intelligence, and if God created both Truth and Reason, then he has created the program which enslaves Mankind. This violates the concept of Free Will.

The rest is of your reply is a red herring.
Debate Round No. 4
kvaughan

Pro

I just wanna say real quick before things get heated that I've enjoyed this debate and I'd be happy to do it again in the future.

We seem to be entering what has occurred to me to be the usually final stage in any debate – the ships in the night stage. As the arguments intensify, the distinctions become more nuanced and the chances of really understanding each other decrease. This is where it appears we both are at. I do not feel that you have understood my objections and you do not feel I have understood yours. But I must press on for this final argument – I'll do my best.

Before I get to my arguments, let's talk about ‘external evidence'. I concur that it is strange to call for evidence in a theology debate, but this call does have a point. My argument is that you have simply invented a definition for love which happens to work very well with your theodicy. This is exactly what I was worried about with argument 1a from the very top of the debate (oh so long ago) and this is an ad hoc argument. My worries about the use of ad hoc argumentation are explained above.

Now, what seems to be your response is that we are discussing Christianity and so Christianity is your evidence. My problem with this response is you have not, at any point given me anything in Christianity that explicitly says "love is meant to be reciprocated" where as I have explained that God is often called ‘the father' indicating a type of love very different from the one you think he possesses.

1) What kind of love does God have?

You accuse me (correctly) of dropping your argument concerning the effect of unrequited love. This was not some large blunder on my part, but was instead a well-thought out decision. As I see it, if I am right in defining God's love as paternal, then this whole argument is irrelevant.

If God is the father, he would do what is best for us regardless of if we liked it or not. This could include removing my freedom to "throw my grandmother's treats into the trash" i.e. spurn Gods love. He could just make us love him and accept him and carry about our merry way. What happens to us if we reject God's freely-given love is irrelevant until we have determined that God would even give us the opportunity to reject him.

So, here's where I stand. I do not see any reason to think that God's love works the way you describe. This is where evidence is needed because when people have two different interpretations of the world, evidence and reason are the only ways to settle the dispute. Since you essentially have nothing supporting your arbitrary definition of love, I can't go with you on this point.

2) Given that you rest of your debate has been so good, your response on here is unfortunate.

First, I want to take a moment to discuss my red herring. I just want to bask a little in totally refuting your claim that "There is no causation between religion/atheism and intelligence" with not one, but TWO independent studies that suggest something completely different….

Ahh, that feels good.

Ok, now you claim that I am arguing here that more reason and logic endowed in human beings would make no one reject God and that God should have created us this way. I want to point out AGAIN, that I merely used that as an example of a way that "freedom to reject" could exist without actual rejection.

For your convenience, here are some quotes from me, telling you that I am not arguing what you think I'm arguing:

Round 2: "Why can't God create a world in which everyone is free, yet everyone freely accepts God? … unless you can demonstrate that freedom and complete acceptance of God are, by necessity, in contradiction, the response cannot fly"

Round 3: "I am suggesting that it is not logically contradictory that everyone could have "freedom to reject" but no one would choose it … Again, this argument is important because if a world where freedom to reject did not imply actual rejection could exist, then a morally perfect God would not create any other world."

Round 4: "additionally, I wasn't even really trying to say that God could make us smarter to make us accept him more. What I am saying fundamentally is that it is not logically impossible that we could have "freedom to reject" and not have actual rejection. It MUST be the case that God could not create a world where we have all the advantages of unforced love without anyone going to Hell or your theodicy fails and I do not see any answer to this point coming from you."

In every single round I have stated that my argument is that the two concepts are not logically contradictory and in every single round I have stated that without logical contradiction, your theodicy fails. You have had 3 rounds since I made this claim to answer it and you have failed 3 times. I should win on this point alone and on your fundamental failure to understand my argument and then you absurd attempt to tell me what I argued.

If a world can exist where everyone has freedom to accept God and everyone does it, then a morally perfect God should do exactly that. According to your own ah hoc theodicy, he has not done this. This either means that God is not morally perfect, or there is no hell. If there can be a KO punch in this debate, I think this argument and the corresponding lack of refutation is it.

CONCLUSION: My opponent failed to demonstrate that God's love works the way he describes. This demonstration is necessary because we disagree fundamentally on this topic and without it, I cannot accept his love-as-reciprocation idea.

Secondly, and most easily, my opponent failed to understand that I challenged him on 3 separate occasions to demonstrate that "freedom to reject" necessitates actual rejection and 3 times he completely failed to demonstrate this. He thus implicitly concedes this argument and I win on that alone. If he responds in this last speech it's too late. He's had his turn and squandered it.

Thanks for the debate, it's been fun.
SperoAmicus

Con

I have enjoyed this debate quite a bit as well.

But we're down to the final round. I've presented my position in full in round 4, for readers who are interested in cutting to the chase, and I will simply take these closing remarks to address Kvaughan's last points.

He begins by returning to an original argument from Round 2.

>"My argument is that you have simply invented a definition for love which happens to work very well with your theodicy.

>"Now, what seems to be your response is that we are discussing Christianity and so Christianity is your evidence. My problem with this response is you have not, at any point given me anything in Christianity that explicitly says "love is meant to be reciprocated" where as I have explained that God is often called ‘the father' indicating a type of love very different from the one you think he possesses."

But I have, you simply haven't interacted with them.

I argued,
Intended Reciprocity: "We know this from the massive disparity in the consequences of love which is returned and love which is not."

Romantic Love: "While I don't think the Bible mentions "grandmotherly" love, all of these are applicable to God, run parallel with each other, and are given to us as a 'type' to understand how we are to experience God."

As for Christian evidence, in the very first round, I prevented an extended quote from Hoseah in the form of wedding vows. The rest of Hoseah, incidentally, is a tirade of God against Israel for being an unfaithful lover.

And yet, you ignore this in favor of a "Fatherly Love" position. But assuming that Fatherly Love is as distinct from Spousal love as you imply, yours is the ad hoc position, not mine. You are trying to argue, without evidence, that this is the single type of love out of many which Christianity relates to Omnibenevolence and to Eternal Life. But I have presented evidence in the very first Round that Omnibenevolence, Eternal Life and Hell are defined not by the Fatherly love, but by an intimate love.

I demonstrated,
"This is eternal life, that THEY MAY KNOW YOU, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3)

And the word "know" here is a double entendre, often used to express sex.

Consequently, the Fatherly love of God is not relevant to the discussion of Hell, as the love in question is an intimate love meant to be reciprocated.

It therefore means that God would not force Himself onto the other person.

As for your evidence,

>"First, I want to take a moment to discuss my red herring. I just want to bask a little in totally refuting your claim that "There is no causation between religion/atheism and intelligence" with not one, but TWO independent studies that suggest something completely different…."

Total Fallacy: I admitted a correlation, you didn't come close to proving causation.

If you really wanted a proof of where intelligence leads, find a study which compares the IQs of people converting to Catholicism from Atheism, and from Atheism to Catholicism. As someone who is and knows many converts, the contrast is quite striking.

And anyways, Church attendance now is about the same as it was in the Middle Ages. With only 12 percent of the world claiming to be atheist, I'm not sure that's any higher than anywhere else in time.

Finally, you pull four supposed arguments from each sequential round to supposedly show how God could create a world where people could have freedom to reject, without actually rejecting.

But all of your quotes essentially say the same thing, and don't actually make an argument, let alone interacts with the reasoning I've already provided. In your own summary:

>"In every single round I have stated that my argument is that the two concepts are not logically contradictory and in every single round I have stated that without logical contradiction, your theodicy fails."

Yes, you have so stated. Four times no less.

But all of the human faculties are created by God, and if there is any such faculty which motivates our choice irrefutably, then God has made our choice for us. I made this clear in Round 2: "Otherwise it would mean you were programmed to accept."

Only one's personal choice is relevant. If for any reason every person would not reject God, then there is no free will. Freedom to Accept must come with Freedom to Reject, and it is not freedom but slavery or coercion if God is forcibly motivating that choice for you.

Moreover, in Round 3, I also went back to the definition of love and the need for Love to be done without expectation, saying that: "Doing so would create the expectation that everything which exists will love you in return, so that love would become obligation and not love."

And you seem to concur, saying in Round 4: >"I challenge this claim by mentioning that love without expectations seems purer than love that expects something in return."

CONCLUSION:

I have consistently, sufficiently, addressed Kvaughan's arguments.

God vowed Himself to Omnibenevolence, meaning that through self-sacrifice, He revealed Himself to us, creating the Hope of a Loving Intimacy meant to be returned.
Debate Round No. 5
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
Thank you for your restraint, because no amount of elaborating could ever make that point make sense.

Your religion has made those claims for you. Therefore, you regurgitating such an obvious and worn out point is unnecessary.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Damage to a person is not the same as being just being hurt. Damage to someone's person means something is broken in the way the person is intended to work as a person. But that is more complex a position than I care to further get into on these comments.

Also, to be clear, don't make the assumption that I believe atheism is of itself on par with rejecting God in the soteriological sense. I haven't made any tangible claims about who is or isn't going to Hell.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
Actually, for a "personhood" to be damaged in some way (presumably emotionally since rejection is only dangerous to your physical being when the person being rejected goes postal), they have to have had their emotions hurt by the rejection. This requires that their emotions were invested in it in the first place, which requires them to give a damn. So yes, showing that indifference pre-existed the actual rejection does negate the "personhood" being harmed.

But the more I think of this, the more this is all totally pointless. You keep thinking that I, or anyone rejecting God, am rejecting God as though I was rejecting my actual father. I know my father exists. I've had numerous two-way discussions with him and have felt his arms around me. Those of us who "reject" God do not acknowledge his existance and then flip him off. The fact of the matter is, rejecting God is in no way the same as rejecting our father because, at least in my case, I don't believe he exists. It's the same to me as rejecting your imaginary friend. It causes me no distress whatsoever to turn my back on your imaginary friend. If God exists with all the attributes that you keep giving him, then he will end the debate once and for all when I die, he shows himself to me and we go grab a beer. Because, if he is what you say he is, then he knows why I don't love him and knows that I will as soon as I know he's there. That's love. That's understanding. That's your God, and that's why your God and hell can't exist at the same time.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
"No one has to LEARN to ignore the pain they cause when they do not return love. The fact that they don't return it shows they don't care in the first place."

First, you're oversimplifying. The tangible action of rejecting someone affects us much more than the intangible notion of being indifferent to them.

Second, even following your argument, showing that indifference/rejection pre-existed the action does not show that their personhood is not damaged, or that they did not need to learn the associated callousness.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
"But Parental Love and Romantic Love are really very similar on this abstract level. An unrequitted lover still offers kindness to the woman who rejects him, just like a father intercedes in the life of his son."

My apoligies for thinking you said they were the same. I must have thought that because your actual claim is equally as baseless. If a rejected man still offers kindness to the woman who rejected him, that is much more akin to God not sending us to hell for not loving him. If a rejected man acts in the same way as God when his love is unreturned, he would break into her house and kill her. He would be acting out of love for her, except he'd be really pissed. That, and killing her really sucks for her and is permanent, much like hell.

No one has to LEARN to ignore the pain they cause when they do not return love. The fact that they don't return it shows they don't care in the first place. They don't reject and then learn not to care; they reject because they already don't care. This is just common sense. However, all of your arguments, in every round, consist of these fundamental misunderstandings which seem to have been concocted simply because they bolster your theology. You might be able to convince people who read things and automatically think they're true because they've been written, but not anyone who actually deciphers what you're saying and can think critically about it before they accept it. This debate was really frickin long, so imagine how long it took me since I had to stop at every line of yours just to comprehend what it was you were trying to say. It is for all of these reasons that I voted pro, not just because I don't like christianity.

But me saying that God is much more like an abusive husband or boyfriend is not me disliking the religion; its a damn good analogy for how god acts when he sends us to hell and how god (as he is described by christians themselves) and hell can't possibly exist at the same time.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Mindjob, I didn't argue that parental love and romantic love were the same, but that they followed the same abstract parallels. Regardless, as I showed, even if they are very different, it is not parental love which defines Heaven and Hell.

Secondly, there ARE consequences to the person rejecting someone else. I presented evidence of this in Round 4, which kvaughan ignored.

Finally, most of your comment is on how you don't like religion. But the point isn't to vote on your own preference, but on who won the debate.
Posted by kvaughan 9 years ago
kvaughan
mindjob: Thanks for actually reading the debate (it was a long one!) and for proving an articulate response. This site would be much better if everyone was like you!
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
First, I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with pro's intellect and articulation when it comes to these complex issues. Simply...wow. While con presented some better arguments than I have previously heard in support of his stance, I found logical inconsistencies and simply false contentions in almost every line. One of the many examples is the idea that the rejector is harmed. First-hand experience, popular culture and simple reason suggest that the side being rejected gets the short end of the stick while the rejector does not feel much of anything. Yet, because con said it, it seemed to be held as a fundamental truth while, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Ultimately, regardless of how many excuses for the logical inconsistencies believers want to propose, they are still logical inconsistencies and largely nonsensical. This is the source of so much of the misunderstanding in pro's rounds. For all the references to God being our father and humanity being his children, we obviously exist in a paternal relationship with god. And no, romantic and paternal love are not the same, unless you're a member of NAMBLA. Even if we did have a romantic relationship with God, that simply means that he is no better than a wife-beater when he sends us to hell for not loving him. What kind of God is that?

All of these logical inconsistencies exist, and a kind of battered-wife syndrome pervades among believers, because christianity really boils down to something like this: "the belief that a cosmic jewish zombie, who was his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree". Any attempt to defend something like that is doomed logically from the outset.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Good debate, Kvaughan. I enjoyed it a lot.
Posted by kvaughan 9 years ago
kvaughan
wow, got that one in in the nick of time, eh? I was worried you were going to forfeit again!
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