The Instigator
Rednerrus
Pro (for)
Losing
17 Points
The Contender
unitedandy
Con (against)
Winning
23 Points

God exists. You can't escape it. (TAG debate)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/12/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,265 times Debate No: 18307
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (23)
Votes (8)

 

Rednerrus

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me, my opponent, and everyone else who will read this, "eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to perceive."

This debate is about the existence of God and I (Pro) will be arguing that God is the necessary precondition for intelligibility. That is, without God we can not make sense of our experience, indeed we can not make sense of anything at all. This would mean that knowledge can not be gained, and as I told unitedandy (Con) prior to this debate, he wouldn't even be able to make any logical argument for or against God, or anything for that matter, without presupposing God (the Christian worldview).


I would like for this round to be a definitons and clarifications round only, so I will only present briefly my position and not really make any arguments yet until my opponent presents his position as well.

Definitions

God - God as described in the Bible, as interpreted by Reformed theology. This means that Allah, Buddah, the god of Mormonism, of JW's, of Roman Catholic's and even the Arminianist view of God are all irrelevant. I ask my opponent and the readers to not use any non Reformed view of God to represent my view of God. Those can be settled in a separate debate.


My Position (important! please read and understand what my actual stance is)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1).
God created man in His own image. (Gen. 1:27)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Prov. 1:7)

The God of the Bible is the eternal creator and source of everything. This includes all truths and knowledge. What we know and the tools and faculties that we use to know what we know, He is the source of them all. He is perfect in every way and is the ultimate standard of all truths. His infallible word is the ultimate authority. He created man in his own image and revealed to man His nature, man's nature, and His and man's relationship, ie. creator-creature. Man is to think God's thoughts after Him, since He created man in his image. God's revelation is man's starting point of knowledge. The Bible says in Romans 1, that God made plain to everyone what may be known about Him since creation, namely; His eternal power and divine nature. But man suppresses this truth, and does not acknowledge, honor or give thanks to God, because of his rebellion and hatred toward God.

As you can see, based on my view of God and His word, I can not turn around and try to prove God based on evidences and/or propositions that lead to a conclusion that God therefore exists. I would contradict and betray my own position if I do so. If I claim that God's revelation is the ultimate authority and the ultimate starting point of knowledge, it would therefore mean that:

1. I did not come to believe in God by condcluding that God exists after examining evidences and/or propositions. God revealed himself to all since creation. I knew Him since birth, and so does my opponent, and everyone else.

2. Simply using evidences and propositions to prove God would be futile because my opponent, according to the Bible (my ultimate authority) already has all the evidences that he needs, in fact he already knows God in his heart of hearts. It's this heart that needs to be converted in order for him to stop rebelling against God and suppressing the truths that was plainly revealed to all.

3. It would be un-Biblical (betraying my own position) and illogical to try to use argumentations using autonomous knowledge to come to the conclusion that God therefore exists, because that would contradict my starting premise; that God is the source and starting point of all knowledge. The moment I do that, I would have already relinquished my position and lost the debate.

4. I would HAVE TO first presuppose God in order to prove anything or else my position is false. Now what I claim is that Con, in order to make any argument against God, would also have to do the same exact thing; presuppose God and the truths that was plainly revealed to him!


Now was that a circular argument? How can I presuppose the very thing I am trying to prove?! Well of course it is circular! It is unavoidable when dealing with ultimate commitments. Everyone does it, and I am certain that my opponent will as well. For example, Im sure my opponent will appeal to logic and reason during this debate, since they are our ultimate standards for logic and reason. But you see, he will not be able to prove that logic and reason are logical and reasonable, without first presupposing that they are. There is no way around it.
(Con, if you disagree with this please include your argument in the Laws of Logic section)
The difference is, ONLY the Christian circle is not a vicious one, anything contrary destroys itself, as I intend to show in this debate.

How then can we engage in debate if I'm already presupposing what I'm trying to prove? It's simple. My argument is that my position is THE ONLY system that is internally coherent and that which makes our experiences intelligible, and anything contrary to my position will result to absurdity and/or is internally incoherent when followed to its own logical conclusion.


Internal Critique of Atheism

I intend to show how my opponent's position, atheism, is internally incoherent, inconsistent, arbitrary and results to absurdity. (in the second round)

I would also like to first address a common fallacious argument that atheists like to use when debating against theists. Some atheists like to assert that atheism, is simply the lack of belief in a god, not unlike a lack of belief in elves or unicorns. This is quiet simply wrong but atheists like to use it to insist that all the burden of proof is on their opponent.

Atheism, especially a-Christian-theism (lack of belief in the existence of the Christian God), is not at all the same as, lets say, a-elfism (lack of belief in the existence of elves) for the simple reason that belief or unbelief in the existence of elves holds NO necessary implications whatsoever, since NOTHING is depedent on their existence. The same can not be said about the belief in the existence of God.
For example, If I say that I don't believe that land exists, I can't just insist that the burden of proof is on the landists. I need to also explain what I believe I am standing on and why I am not sinking into the ocean. Likewise, the atheist needs to explain what he is "standing on" so to speak, ie: what are his grounds for morality, reason, logic, epistemology, and his very existence. This makes atheism a WORLDVIEW.



In order to avoid any misrepresentation and miscommunitations, I would like to ask Con to state his views on the following:

Are you a naturalist?
What are the Laws of Logic?
What is your epistemology? (how do we know what we know?)

unitedandy

Con

Introductory remarks

First off, I want to thank Pro for the debate. As this is seen primarily as a clarification round, I will do my best to sketch out a rough road map of my position at this point, and to answer Pro's questions present at the end of his post. In my opening round, I will try to clarify the aims of the debate, and to build on what Pro has begun already by presenting a more formal approach to the issue of TAG, in order that we can best identify where we find common ground and to allow us to focus on areas of conflict.

I should also perhaps state my own personal aim in the debate. I am not arguing against presuppositionalism as a position per se. Indeed, I think Pro is in the majority of Christians who believe “properly basically” i.e.. without reference to arguments for the existence of God, and I have no problem with this in itself. I would even go as far as to say that I actually think a justified evidential case can be made for Christianity. Where I differ from Pro is that although I find no problem here with presuppositionalism as basis for Pro's own belief, it is not a compelling reason for others to believe, and this is where the tension lies.

In the debate, I will defend 2 basic contentions:

1. There are good reasons to think that TAG is flawed.

2. There are better alternatives to TAG which are compatible with atheism.

Definitions and clarification

God - I would simply add that God is an "omni" being of the type typically described.

Atheism - "the lack of belief that there exists a God" (1)

I would argue that this definition is far more typical of atheism and how it applies in my own case. I reject the idea that atheism is a worldview because it seems to me that there are several "worldviews" which encompass atheism (forms of Buddhism, naturalism, materialism and so on. Also, while I am not a naturalist myself, I don't foresee a problem in defending it in this context, as it seems to me to be compatible with the position I will hold in the debate. I stress this not to shirk any burden of proof, but to make clear my own position. I will, as best I can, argue for the naturalist position, as far as I agree with it, but I think it should be pretty clear that I seek to present a pretty substantive case of my own anyway, so there is no need to fear an undue BoP.


TAG and epistemic justification

Pro, it seems, will argue on 2 distinct fronts with TAG - epistemology and logical absolutes (or laws). Firstly, he will try to show that the best epistemic justification is reformed epistemology (RE). Regarding my own case, I will defend the classical foundationalist account of knowledge, which is, after all the primary target of Plantinga’s conception of reformed epistemology. By defending such a position, I will fulfil (if successful) both debate contentions. Most obviously, I will be presenting an alternative to TAG, but also, if CF is more plausible than RE, then its criteria for epistemic justification should be favoured over Pro’s , and thus TAG will be superseded in this way as well. Evidentialism will thus be way to justify the belief in God (2), and the resolution would be negated.

Foundationalism

Foundationalism is a position (like RE) which tries to justify how we know (3). It does this by distinguishing between beliefs which are basic (foundational) and that which is built on this bedrock (non-foundational beliefs). Basic beliefs are typically either self-evident (e.g. simple mathematical, logical or conceptual truths), evident to the senses or introspective (what appears to be the case and cannot be doubted).Therefore:

"A belief is epistemically justified only if (1) it is justified by a basic belief or beliefs, or (2) it is justified by a chain of beliefs that is supported by a basic belief or beliefs, and on which all the others are ultimately based."(4)

We can now formalise how this meets the first debate contention in the following way:

P1 - If CF is more plausible than RE, then belief in the existence of God must be justified evidentially in order to be a rationally held belief.
P2 - CF is more plausible than RE
C - Therefore, the existence of God must be justified evidentially in order to be a rationally held belief.

Obviously, the above paragraph goes some way to justifying P2, as does the criticisms I plan to give of Pro’s RE in the next round. Notice, however that Pro himself admits that RE is circular! Given this, the burden in justifying P2 is decidedly low, given that all that is needed to justify P2 is a position which is not fallacious and somewhat plausible. As for P1, this is true given that evidentialism is implied by CF, and the argument obviously undercuts TAG by concluding that God must be justified evidentially in order to be rational, and since TAG seeks to avoid this, we should conclude that TAG is flawed .


TAG and Logical absolutes/laws (LA) (5)

His second argument seems to regard the laws of logic. Typically, the argument takes this form:


P1 - If God does not exist, logical absolutes (LA) do not exist.
P2 - LA do exist
C - God exists


I will criticise this argument more directly in the next round, but if I am successful in this round in providing a plausible account for LA, then as we will see, the argument will be more or less refuted anyway. It should also be clear that if CF is true, then LA would be foundational beliefs anyway.

In the above syllogism, which should be treated as a rough guide, rather than Pro’s argument (he doesn’t specifically lay out like this, but this is a fair approximation of the TAG argument generally), we have to distinguish between what I call conceptual LA and LA as the nature of existence. Now conceptual LA are the statements of logic themselves; the symbols, language, and framework. Now clearly these concepts are contingent not just upon human minds but on particular persons throughout history (mainly Aristotle), and do not exist without a sentient mind which follows our linguistic process to conceive of them. They are always conceptual by nature and are used as the founding principles of logic. Now, obviously accounting for these would require a historical approach, not a philosophical one , so TAG must refer to LA as laws which govern the nature of existence.

LA as the nature of existence would be what statements like they law of identity REFER to (that something is what it is, and not what is not) - the consistency of existence to behave in a particular way. Now, clearly the nature of existence is not contingent upon anything, it behaves the way it does regardless of what anyone thinks or does, so is transcendent, and does so seemingly in all time and places. But crucially, it is not conceptual. We can conceive of it, but the statements we use (the logical laws) are not laws which govern the universe, but symbols we use to the way things consistently behave - the nature of existence. The laws are conceptual; what they refer to is not (in the same way as the word "apple" is conceptual, but what it refers to is not).

Conclusion

In order to carry the debate resolution, Pro will have to show that his version of TAG can resist criticisms, and that it is more plausible than any alternative offered in the debate. Given the admission Pro makes about how flawed the TAG case already is, and the additional challenges I will seek to throw at it, Pro will show and that TAG is still viable at that it somehow outperforms alternatives in whatever capacity Pro decides to use it.This really is a steep hill to climb, and I invite Pro to make his case.

Sources

1. S.Blackburn (2005), Oxford Dictionary of philosophy, OUP, P27.
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. ibid
5. Theoretical Bullsh!t youtube videos "Slick Logic" and "Matt/Matt" series
Debate Round No. 1
Rednerrus

Pro

I would first like to say that I never gave an "admission" of how "flawed" TAG is. It is not. I would not be using it if it were. What I said was that proving ultimate authorities/commitments (ie God, LA) is unavoidably circular, but not a vicious circle that would be considered a flawed argument. This is true for EVERYONE. Please reread my position in round 1. Remember that my argument is not that God exists because He does (though it's true). I will also not be using Slick's argumentation.I would also like to address Con's rejection of the statement

I made in the first round that atheism is a worldview. He states that "there are several worldviews that encompass atheism." I agree that atheism is not one particular system or worldview, indeed there are many sub groups of atheism just like theism. I would like to clarify my statement and say that every single one of these subgroups is a worldview, and every single one of them is contrary to the Christian worldview. My opponent has already shown that he holds a very specific atheistic worldview.

My Argument

I will be arguing from the impossibility of the contrary:
My aim in this debate is to show thatThe denial of the Christian position (as I stated in round 1) makes intelligibility impossible.

a. The Christian position is the ONLY internally coherent, rational, consistent system. (I'm anticipating Con to try to refute this)
b. Anything contrary to the Christian worldview is internally incoherent, irrational, inconsistent and arbitrary. (As I will try to demonstrate)
c. One must presuppose the Christian worldview in order to prove ANYTHING.
d. One must relinquish contrary worldviews and acknowledge the truthfulness of the Christian worldview and all its implications, if he wants to be rational and consistent.

Only the Christian worldview can account for and make sense of:
1. Morality
2. Knowledge
3. Laws of logic
4. Uniformity of Nature

Let me summarize the Christian worldview to briefly restate my claim:
The eternal God of the Bible is the supreme being that is perfect in every way. He is the standard of goodness and of logic and rationality. He created and governs the universe and is sole reason why it has order. He created man in His own image and revealed who He is and who man is.

Now remember that my argument is that anything contrary to my above claims makes intelligibility impossible. I am claiming that Con himself needs to presuppose these truths to argue against them. Essentially, any argument that he comes up with, ultimately relies on the axiomatic truths that ONLY the Christian worldview can account for. I am also claiming that only the Christian worldview is consistent and can make sense of our experiences.

Internal Critique of Atheism

1. Morality
This is simple, absolute morality can only exist if God exists. Without God, who is the standard of goodness and is the ultimate authority over man's thoughts and actions, morality is reduced to subjective and arbitrary ideologies. This means that we have no basis on which we can call something good or evil. Goodness can not even be defined.Note that I am not accusing Con of being an immoral man, in fact he seems very respectful. What I am saying is that Con does not have a rational basis on which he can say something or someone is wrong. I'll let Con state his view on morality first before I get in to this subject.

2. Knowledge
Con states that he holds to Classical Foundationalism as his epistemology.
"Foundationalism is any theory in epistemology (typically, theories of justification, but also of knowledge) that holds that beliefs are justified (known, etc.) based on what are called basic beliefs (also commonly called foundational beliefs). Basic beliefs are beliefs that give justificatory support to other beliefs, and more derivative beliefs are based on those more basic beliefs. The basic beliefs are said to be self-justifying or self-evident, that is, they enjoy a non-inferential warrant (or justification), i.e., they are not justified by other beliefs." (1)

Foundationalism tries to avoid an infinite regress by claiming that at the very back of our epistemology are these "basic or foundational beliefs" (FBs). This proves my claim in round 1 that Con himself has his own presupposed truths that are not justified by evidences, but are actually his very basis for all knowledge. They can not be proven without resulting to circular reasoning. Which I claimed is unavoidable.
As you can see, in a way we share this view of epistemology, I hold basic FBs as my starting point for knowledge as well. The difference is my FBs are the truths of God's revelation. Con on the other hand, because of his worldview, will not go beyond naturalistic FBs as his starting point. Basically at the very end of all the "why" questions, Con will simply answer, "that's just how nature is."

Now here are the problems with this:

1. Con argues that, " If CF is more plausible than RE, then belief in the existence of God must be justified evidentially in order to be a rationally held belief."
Why exactly must the existence of God be justified evidentially but not Con's basic beliefs, or maybe a better question would be, How can Con somehow prove that CF is more plausible than revelation/reformed epistemology when the only difference between them is that:
a. In RE these FBs are revealed by the omniscient, omnipresent, authoritative creator.
b. In CF these FBs are just known.

2. I assume that these FB's that Con holds are all absolute and universal, now how can man, individually or collectively, "just know" universal and absolute truths?

CF is an incomplete epistemology, and therefore not a good epistemology at all, since it doesn't fully answer how we know what we know. It only answers what we've somehow always known. ie "basic beliefs" CF can not account for knowledge, and must actually presuppose the Christian worldview and theory of knowledge to be rational.

3. Laws of Logic (LA)
The expression of LA are not what I refer to when I speak of LA. Obviously Aristotle simply expressed and transcribed into human languange what LA are. These expressions, symbols, words, etc are not the actual LA. Before Aristotle expresed LA in human languange, they already existed and they will continue to exist if we get rid of every written or verbal expression of LA.
It seems however that Con does not deny that LA are universal and absolute. However, because of his commitment to atheism, he is forced to reject the idea that non physical or abstract entities exist, let alone that they affect and govern the universe. He argues that LA are merely expressions or descriptions of what they refer to; the nature of existence, which in an atheistic/naturalistic universe would mean nature of matter. Con accounts for LA as simply the description of the nature of matter.

Problems:
1. We do not know the inherent nature of matter/existence, we only know what we can observe; how they behave.
2. We can never observe the behavior of ALL of matter/existence ALL THE TIME, therefore we can not create universal absolute "laws" out of our observations.
3. In order for us to correctly observe the behavior of matter/existence we have to already be presupposing LA.

"The laws of thought (laws of logic) are fundamental axiomatic rules upon which rational discourse itself is based." (2)
LA are not dependent on matter. They are abstract laws that we appeal to as our standard for rational discourse.

4. Uniformity of Nature
Con in trying to account for LA is actually assuming the uniformity of nature, ie that nature is the way it is all the time everywhere, and does not/will not change in time. Only the Christian worldview has a rational basis for the uniformity of nature and make induction rational. Con has no rational basis to assume the uniformity of nature, he is again borrowing from my worldview. I would like to know Con's view on the problem of induction.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...
unitedandy

Con

Introduction

I initially aimed at presenting an affirmative case of my own, but given the nature of Pro’s post, I will have to settle for largely addressing TAG as he presents it, and will begin with some general criticisms.


Some general criticisms

Firstly, Pro commits the fallacy of false dichotomy (1). We see this in the basis of his entire post by (wrongly) assuming that proving atheism false is somehow indicative of the truth of Christianity. Even if it were the case that atheism falters, there’s always various other forms of monotheism, polytheism and deism. It’s just not the case that proving atheism false in any way validates Christianity beyond any other worldview, nor is it the case that TAG specifically applies to the Christian God, much less that of Protestantism. Secondly, we see numerous occasions of arguments from ignorance (2), as well as simple question-begging. Nowhere does he give an account of these 4 problems, except for criticising the atheist account, and as I will show, assumes the very things in question. Lastly, Pro resorts to straw-manning:

“ . . . because of his commitment to atheism, he is forced to reject the idea that non physical or abstract entities exist, let alone that they affect and govern the universe”

Now, not only did I explicitly state in my last post that I wasn’t a naturalist, but it seems he associates me with the most extreme interpretations of materialism. Even on my profile page it states that I am an atheist with no firm commitment to either naturalism or materialism, and one of the reasons for this is because I agree with Pro that even defining what the natural or material are is problematic, so much of his commentary sets alight straw-men.

In the 4 areas Pro specifies, these 3 fallacies are frequently present, and thus present a general refutation of Pro’s case.

Atheism?

Before moving on to specifics, I’ll just address Pro’s point about atheism. Firstly, he doesn’t respond to the definition of atheism I gave except to just assert that atheism is a worldview, which I expressly denied and justified this by presenting a standard definition of atheism. My point about highlighting the various perspectives to which atheism is embedded was to show that these are the worldviews, and the lack of or denial of God is at most a proposition, and for me at least, a very tentative one. As this has not been addressed I would insist that my definition should be used, but again, even if it wasn’t, it simply does not follow that atheism implies extreme materialism, so the straw-manning point would still apply.


Morality

Now, Pro here assumes 3 things:
a) that Christianity alone can account for morality
b) that moral values exist
c) that there is a position atheists typically have on morality.

I reject all 3 of these, but again, it doesn’t really matter because Pro begs the question by assuming all of these to be true. But to take them in order:

a) The problem here is that even many Christians reject this. As prominent Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne explains:

“ Some moral truths are clearly moral truths, whether or not there is a God: it is surely wrong to torture children whether or not there is a God.” (3)



Like Swinburne, I’ve personally never seen a reason that theism alone (much less Christianity) can account for moral values, but in order to carry this point, Pro would have to show insurmountable difficulties with ALL secular ethical models, as well as showing how Christianity alone accounts for morality. There’s also issues like the Euthyphro dilemma (4) and other problems, but given the lack of a case from Pro, these are very minor concerns by comparison.

b) Even if Pro was somehow successful in showing secular morality to fail, he can’t just assume moral values exist! While I agree that they do, it is only because I adhere to one of these branches of ethics. Ironically, if he established a), then Pro would have to convince me that moral values exist at all.

c) Contrary to Pro’s assertion, atheism does not logically entail moral subjectivism or nihilism. I myself affirm that objective moral values exist, and atheists can do so without any logical contradiction whatsoever. It simply makes no sense to talk of atheists as a monolithic group with respect to morality.

Epistemology

Foundationalism


Pro’s first point here is to claim that foundational beliefs (FB) are “unavoidable”. This is simply not true. Both Coherentism and Infinitism allow for the possibility of continuous justification, and both are pretty plausible views to hold. His second criticism is to draw parallels between RE and CF. While this is true, a crucial feature of CF is that only beliefs which are rock-solid are foundational. Conceptual truths or incorrigible experiences are not really open to doubt even in principle, while the existence of God is a topic which is highly controversial, and in no way garners the support like FB do. Third, CF is designed to provide merely epistemic justification, not omniscience, as Pro seems to think.

Reformed epistemology

As for RE, the biggest problem with this is that it denies evidentialism. If, for instance, we were to find the body of Jesus, surely Christianity would be falsified? But it seems given RE, proper basicality trumps any and all evidence to the contrary. Also, the biggest headache for RE is the Great Pumpkin Objection. Essentially, through the process of RE (and denying evidentialism), one can believe anything, or construct belief in such a way that it fits any and all situations, which renders postulating God meaningless. Thirdly, it seems to me that RE only aggravates the problem of non-belief, which is perhaps the strongest argument for atheism.


LA

Here, I presented a distinction between conceptual LA and existent LA, as well as assuming Pro would se an argument similar to that of Slick. It seems Pro rejected my tentative formal framework for a TAG like argument from LA. The problem is that he simply fails to replace this framework with anything of his own. He simply states that LA exist and that given the supposed difficulties in accounting for them in an atheistic worldview, Christianity must be true (see false dichotomy, argument from ignorance and straw-manning here all at once). Pro accepts the distinction, but insists he is talking about LA as the nature of existence. Well, then let me say this. Firstly, foundationalism already accommodates LA in this way, and given he doesn’t aim to use an argument similar to Slick’s, it doesn’t even seem relevant to keep discussing it. Secondly, LA do not “exist” like an apple does, but are the nature of all things that do exist. Given this, not only is the argument essentially dead, but also we can easily how this would apply to God. Could God both exist and not exist? Of course not. But then surely, if this is the case, God is subject to the Law of Non-contradiction, and thus cannot account for it, even in principle. Lastly, two of the criticisms Pro gave here (1 & 3) assume strict materialism, which I agree is unpersuasive. The only relevant point he makes is to ask how we know that LA are absolute. He is right, of course. As conceptually flawed as it may seem, and as much observation that we have, the law of identity may somehow be false (okay, so I’m being ultra-generous here), but even conceding this, it would be a far bigger problem for Pro, as he is using LA to prove that God exists!


Uniformity of nature

Again, Pro just makes no argument here, and simply points at the problem of induction as some sort of rational basis for Christianity. There’s simply no justification given at all.

Conclusion

Pro must show (and not just assert) that he can first justify his case and then address all of the problems I have identified with TAG.

Sources

(1) http://mind.ucsd.edu...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(3) R. Swinburne (2010), Is there a God?, OUP, P14.
(4) http://www.moralphilosophy.info...







Debate Round No. 2
Rednerrus

Pro

Intro

I am disappointed that after 2 rounds, Con has yet to grasp the nature of the debate and understand the argumentation that I am presenting. This is mostly due to Con anticipating a form a TAG that I am not even using. In round 1 Con pretty much laid out what he assumed would be my arguments and based his contentions and arguments on them. I ask Con to please reread my actual arguments, ask me questions (in the comments or in his posts) regarding my position, and not simply assume what my arguments are, based on his past encounters of TAG.



Perhaps I should explain my argument again.

Impossibility of the Contrary (IC)

1. The denial of the Christian worldview (CW) makes intelligibility impossible. In other words, if Christianity is false it will be impossible to prove anything, since the existence of God and his revelations to man are the ONLY rational foundations for morality, logic, knowledge and uniformity of nature.

2. One must presuppose the CW in order to try to prove that Christianity is false. In fact one must presuppose the CW to prove anything (note that me presupposing God is consistent with this premise).


Fallacies

Con accused me of commiting these 3 fallacies:

1. False Dichotomy

Con states, "We see this in the basis of his entire post by (wrongly) assuming that proving atheism false is somehow indicative of the truth of Christianity."

This shows that Con does not understand my argument at all. I never asserted that refuting atheism, proves the CW. I said I am arguing from the IC, which Con seemed to have misunderstood. What I'm arguing is that ANYTHING contrary to the CW makes intelligibility impossible, and that any argument against the CW actually presupposes the CW, thus, impossibity of the contrary.
I am merely using Con's position to exemplify this argument since he's the one I'm debating, or in Christian terms, "witnessing to." But he is welcome to present any other view that he thinks will refute my claim, but of course it would be completely irrational for him to continue to hold his position and use a different view to refute mine.


2. Argument from Ignorance

Con states, "Nowhere does he give an account of these 4 problems, except for criticising the atheist account, and as I will show, assumes the very things in question."

I find it ironic that someone who holds to CF would accuse someone of this fallacy.
Again, Con simply does not understand the argument that I presented, and completely missed my accounting for the 4 main topics of the debate. Again, I am arguing from the IC. I did not set up any propositions that conclude, "therefore God exists." My position is that God is the rational basis for these 4 topics, so of course I have to assume God or else I would be contradicting my self.
Im presupposing God and presented how God accounts for morality, epistemology, LA and uniformity of nature, since those are the basis for any rational discourse. My argument for God is that without God it would be irrational to ground anything on those 4 things. If he wants to know how God accounts for them, all Con needs to do is read my first 2 posts carefully.

Con also needs to remember my epistemology and that I am not claiming to have concluded, based on evidences or propositions, that God therefore is the necessary preconditions for these 4 subjects. Im actually arguing from what I claim I already KNOW. I claim that the truth; that the Christian God is what accounts for them, is plainly revealed to all. Having said that, the only way I can demonstrate this is to challenge Con to show me how his or any worldview contrary to Christianity, can rationally account for these 4 topics. If he can't then he is being irrational for relying on any of them to try and refute the CW.


3. Strawman
Con accuses me of strawmanning him because i make statements like, " . . because of his commitment to atheism, he is forced to reject the idea that non physical or abstract entities exist, let alone that they affect and govern the universe"
How exactly is that strawmanning? All I did here is argue that Con's presupposed view is what causes Con to interpret things the way he does.

I took the liberty of just putting Con in the naturalist category for the sake of this debate after he said this, "while I am not a naturalist myself, I don't foresee a problem in defending it in this context, as it seems to me to be compatible with the position I will hold in the debate." I figured, Con can just point out what he doesn't agree with.
While we are at it, maybe you can be more specific on what your view on naturalism is. If you don't believe that matter is all there is, than what else do you believe exist in the universe?


Atheism/Worldviews
I never denied Con's definition of atheism, and I already addressed why I call atheism a worldview in my first post. I explained that although I do acknowledge the simplified definition of atheism (lack of belief in the existence of God), the lack of belief in God (especially the Christian God) automatically comes with necessary implications. If someone says he is an atheist, it is automatically assumed that he has very different VIEWS on the most basic things like morality, epistemology, logical absolutes, nature, existence etc, than that of a theist.

I really have no idea why Con would say, "it seems to me that there are several "worldviews" which encompass atheism", then reject the idea that atheism is a more general worldview. I also did not automatically assume Con's specific views based on his lack of belief in the existence of God. Any one can read and see that I asked specific questions on my first post regarding what I was gonnna talk about and based my arguments on the answers Con provided. He said he has no problem defending Naturalism. I don't get why when I argued against it, he's accusing me of strawmanning him.

But to not waste any more time and precious characters on this topic, I will stop using the word "athiesm" and just say "unbelieving worldview" - any worldview that's contrary to the CW.

Morality

Con again missed the point. My claim was that, moral absolutes (MA) and us knowing them is only possible within the CW. I stated that in an atheistic universe, morality is reduced to subjective arbitrary ideologies and conventions. A consistent atheist therefore, would have to reject moral absolutes. I did not assume MA exists then claimed, therefore they do. What I was trying to show here was that any who does not believe in MA is being inconsistent and irrational when he appeals to them.

Con says that I simply assumed these things, well if he actually read my post carefully Con wouldve noticed that I specifically said that I will not get in to the topic too much until I know what Con's view on morality is. I did not know which one of my claims he rejects, so I did not make ANY arguments YET.

Con in his reply states that he rejects the notion that MA can only exist in a Christian worldview and that he himself accepts that they exist.

He then made 3 arguments (read Con's previous post)
Here are my rebuttals:

a. He fallaciously argues that "many Christians" reject my view (appeal to [alleged] widespread belief). And quotes a "prominent Christian Philosopher" (appeal to FALSE authority). These are invalid, and I explicitly warned Con to not use other Christian views that I don't hold, to represent me. If he wants to quote someone, quote the Bible.

b. Like I already said, Con mistakenly thought that my morality argument was to argue that MA exist. Though I believe they do, my actual aim is to show that if one wants to appeal to MA then he needs to pressuppose my worldview.

c. Con asserts that atheism does not entail moral subjectivism. My challenge for him is to show how he can rationally account for his espoused belief in MA; What is his basis for MA? How did he come to know what ought to be from what is? How are they authoritative?



I ran out of space so I will continue on my argument that only the CW can account for the 4 topics on my next post.

unitedandy

Con

Introduction

The first thing to point out is that Pro essentially dropped 3 out of 4 of the areas for TAG, which leaves me with even less to rebut than before. This was always going to be inevitable, given the scope Pro gave TAG, essentially trying to take 4 topics each worthy of a debate on their own, and squeeze them into 1 debate. Having done this, it is incumbent upon Pro to defend all of these, and limited word count is no excuse, given that this is equally restrictive to me, and that the scope of TAG was decided by Pro in the second round.

General criticisms

False dichotomy - Firstly, the phrase “impossibility of the contrary” doesn’t even make sense:

“Two propositions are contrary if only one of them can be true, but they may both be false.” (1)

Indeed, it may be the case that no worldview can account for these things. It seems that in any case TAG still offers a false dichotomy. Second, Pro says that he is arguing any contrary to CW is false, yet he is still only engaging with one particular subset of unbelief in Christianity (atheism), which simply not enough to deduce CW is true, even if all his criticisms of atheism were justified. In reality, none of them seem to be justified.

Argument from Ignorance - Typically with TAG, God is assumed to account for things like logic, morality and so on. But crucially, there is still an account of some sort. Pro, by contrast, has merely critiqued some aspects of atheism, and has not provided ANY sort of account for these things as of yet, which leads me to ask, where is TAG?

Straw-manning - First, Pro caricatures naturalism to mean extreme materialism, by assuming it precludes belief in things like abstract objects. As Audi says,

“(A) naturalist does not have to be a radical physicalist--taking the position that only physical phenomena are real, not even excepting such well-behaved abstract entities as sets” (2)

Secondly, I did say that I would only defend naturalism “as far as I agree with it” in R1, and I certainly don’t agree in dismissing the possibility of abstract objects or the non-material, so again Pro is still straw-manning both me and naturalism in general.


Atheism

If Pro really does accept my definition of atheism, then much of what he wrote is simply inapplicable. Assuming that atheists necessarily agree on morality, or that their worldview necessitates only matter existing is just false. Atheism is logically compatible with a wide range of views (e.g. moral realism, relativism, nihilism), so when Pro makes generalisations like “morality is reduced to subjective or arbitrary ideologies”, he is simply wrong, and guilty not just of straw-manning, but equivocating atheism (lack of belief) with something else entirely.


Morality

On the issue of morality, I think it simply a question of BoP. Pro has stated that atheistic moral realism (my position) is somehow inconsistent, yet has not demonstrated that this is so. It certainly seems to be the case, prima facie, that this view is unproblematic, given that there is no explicit logical contradiction, as well as secular ethics having existed for thousands of years. To return to my 3 points against TAG here:

a) Here I argued that there were no good reasons I have encountered to believe that atheism cannot appeal to moral values. Pro rejects this on the grounds that Swinburne’s account is not representative of the view that Pro holds, calling him a “false authority”. The problem here is that this quote was used to characterise MY views, not Pro’s, and this was clear when I said:

“Like Swinburne, I’ve personally never seen a reason that theism alone (much less Christianity) can account for moral values”

Again, I am still waiting for Pro to substantiate this point - that there are insurmountable difficulties with atheistic moral realism, which he hasn’t even tried to do. Even then however, the Euthyphro dilemma would still be a problem for him: Is the good that which God commands, or does God command that which is good?

b) Again, Pro just assumes that God accounts for morality, without even countering the possibility that these values don’t exist at all, and that there may be nothing to account for, which would be a particular thorny problem even if he established a).

c) Here we see a shift in the BoP. All I would say is one can take any of the 3 major normative positions, and all of them would agree that certain basic things are wrong, even if why this is so (consequences, categorical imperative, virtue) differs. Such an example would be to say that torturing babies for fun is wrong, and this could be justified by whatever normative framework one adopts.

Until Pro shows that he can account for morality through TAG and that atheism cannot, there is simply no case to answer.

Epistemology

Foundationalism

Here I just want to address a point about why God should not be considered a FB. Firstly, God doesn’t seem to meet the criteria for foundational beliefs in the first place, as I laid out in R1. Second, FB must be things which are, as far as possible, irrational to doubt. There is a clear difference between doubting LA and God, for example, because doubting LA is self-refuting, but also while LA are inconceivable to doubt, even in principle, God is not. The same can be said for incorrigible beliefs. It may be false that grass is green, for example, but the belief that it seems to me to be green is surely certain. Thirdly, unlike LA or incorrigible beliefs, there is ample evidence both for and against the existence of God, and it seems totally irrational to completely discard teleology, evil and so forth when we can use these things to justify our beliefs regarding the existence of God.

Also, Pro has yet to respond to my defence of CF. Extend all arguments.

Reformed epistemology (RE)

I raised 3 points in my last post which were unaddressed:

1. Conflict with evidentialism
2. Great pumpkin objection
3. Aggravation of the problem of non-belief

Extend all arguments. As well as this, RE is form of reliabilism (3). One of the problems with this is that a reliable process is not sufficient for justification, and we see this through things like optical illusions.


LA

Points dropped by Pro:

1. False dichotomy, argument from ignorance, straw-manning
2. Accounted for by CF
3. Problems of LA existing in the traditional sense
4. God seems just as bound by LA, and so cannot account for them.

Extend all arguments. Also, how Pro can know LA seems problematic. Where in the bible does it state the Law of Non-contradiction is true? Does Pro know LA by revelation?


Uniformity of Nature

I am still waiting to here ANY justification on this point, and until such time, I maintain that this simply an argument from ignorance. Moreover, arguments can be used to show, for example, that inductive skepticism leads to absurdity, or that the problem of induction results from linguistic confusion, either of which would solve the problem without God.

Conclusion

Although I have given specific criticisms, the real problems of TAG run much deeper. First, at least as Pro presents it, TAG simply points to problems in thought, and doesn’t make any attempt to solve them. It simply lists difficult problems, and demands an answer, lest TAG be vindicated. Second, the scope of TAG is far too ambitious, not only in such a restrictive debate, but also more generally as well. There is simply no way one can show all other views to be false, and the fact that Pro has barely attempted this with one view is a testament to that. Lastly, there simply is no limit to presupposing. Why can’t I just assume that atheism is necessarily true and that the theist has to account for even bigger problems, like the absurdity of quantum mechanics? If blind assertion creates problems for atheism, then surely the atheist can mirror such an approach, and be just as destructive.

Sources

1 S. Blackburn (2005), Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, OUP, P78
2 http://www.infidels.org...
3. http://plato.stanford.edu...;
Debate Round No. 3
Rednerrus

Pro

Intro

I had to drop 3 areas of the debate because I had to waste so much space on restating my arguments and pointing out to Con that he is accusing me of fallacies that I'm not committing, which he would realize if he would just read my posts carefully.


Fallacies

False Dichotomy

Con still does not understand the argument from the IC. He still thinks I'm asserting that my position is true If I can refute 1 position. I've explained this in my last post.


"Impossibility of the Contrary" doesn't make sense?

Anything that is not CW is contrary to it. It's either A or not A.


Argument form Ignorance

I told Con to reread my first 2 posts for the accounting of the 4 topics. He is still wrongly claiming that I have not provided it. Here it is:

Round 1 - under "My Position", after the Bible verses.

Round 2 - under "My Argument", after I listed the 4 areas of the debate

Obviously Con rejects the CW's accounting, but that's irrelevant. The CW accounts for them whether Con agrees with them or not. Con has yet to give an account for any of them, as I will continue to demonstrate. I'm not however claiming that because Con's position can't, that it automatically follows that no other worldview can't either. If I refute Con's position and succeed in my goal to show Con that he is actually ultimately dependent on the CW to prove his point, then this is just 1 demonstration of my argument. I welcome Con or anyone else to offer a different view to refute my claim that NOTHING ELSE CAN. This claim is consistent with my position since my position claims to have come from an ULTIMATE and absolute authority. Con rejects it, but he does so according to his own worldview where it is presupposed that an absolute personal being does not/can not exist.

Why does he assume LA then? Wouldn’t he have to argue from ignorance to prove them?


Strawman

"Naturalism commonly refers to the philosophical belief that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the world and that nothing exists beyond the natural world.[1]" (2)

If Con does not agree with any part of naturalism then he can just say so instead of accusing me of strawmanning him to invalidated my argument. Con knows that if he provided his specific views then I wouldn't have had to generalize. Con's goal is questionable, It seems like he is just trying to win the debate and not really engage in an informative discussion.

I hope the readers will take the time to read both our posts carefully so they can judge who is committing fallacies.



Atheism


Con is the one who's been misrepresenting me through out the debate. When did I assume that all atheists necessarily agree on morality? My claim is any atheistic view of morality, when followed to their logical conclusions, reduces morality to subjective, arbitrary ideologies. My argument requires for my opponent, whatever view they hold, to actually state their view and dialogue with me. Con simply asserts that I'm wrong and lists views that he thinks prove his assertion but does not give arguments on how they do.

Again, atheism (lack of belief in God) automatically holds implications on the most basic things, ie. morality, LA, knowledge and nature.



Morality

a. Con's references to the "many Christians" and a "prominnent Chrsitian philosopher" are still fallacious, invalid and futile. What good does it do to quote somone I don't agree with? Should I quote Dawkins on how he thinks there is no absolute morality or meaning in life then?

b. Yes I assume that God accounts for morality because he revealed it to me (and to all). How is that not accounting for morality? Because Con rejects it? That's precisely why he's an atheist. Again, my point here is not to prove that MA exist, but to show that any one who rejects it is irrational when he appeals to it and that any one who does accept that MA exist must have a rational basis for it.

c. I am arguing any non-Christian view of MA when followed to their logical conclusion is inconsistent, arbitrary and irrational. Con seems to expect me to prove them all wrong during the debate instead of him presenting what he thinks will refute this claim and having a dialogue. If Con want's to show me that other views can account for MA then why won't he? He's the one who is simply asserting. I have provided the CW basis for MA and I'll provide it again while refuting the Euthyphro dilemma:

The Euthyphro dilemma is a FALSE DICHOTOMY. Here is an analogy,

The question, “who will be the next Michael Jordan?” is often asked in the NBA. A lot of players (like Kobe, Lebron) are compared to him and gauge it by how "Jordan-esque" they are. Now did Jordan himself have to perfectly achieve this "Jordan-esque" game or did he arbitrarily decide and told players that a certain way of play is "Jordan-esque"? The answer is neither. Jordan-esque is in Jordan's very nature. He plays the way he does (Jordan-esque) because he's Jordan. His style of play is what became the standard for being "Jordan-esque".

Likewise, there are no absolutes outside of God. God's very nature is the standard for good. Anything that is contrary to God's nature is automatically wrong. And God revealed this to us, this is how we know what good is.



Epistemology

CF
You misunderstood me and stated that I said that FB are unavoidable. What I actually said was that proving that FB are true will result in an unavoidable circular reasoning.

Ie. "While this is true, a crucial feature of CF is that only beliefs which are rock-solid are foundational."

How exactly did you prove that FB are rock-solid without first assuming that they are?

Epistemology deals with how we know what we know, CF just tells us that we know universal absolute truths, and does not actually explain how we came to know them.

RE

1. RE conflicts with evidenliasm? In RE evidences should AFFIRM revealed truths. The problem is you're fallaciously assuming that these revealed truths could be false.

2. The Great Pumpkin objection assumes that RE is false to begin with. RE is the view that THE absolute supreme creator God who can’t lie, was the one who did the revealing.

3. Non-belief is accounted for in CW

Romans 1:18-21

"...who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature,have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened."


LA

Yet again, Con misread and misunderstood my points and somehow thought that:

1. I am "talking about LA as the nature of existence".

Was this a typo? Because I certainly do not agree that LA are the nature of existence.

2. I am arguing that LA could be false.

I was actually arguing that unbelieving worldviews have no rational basis for LA since they can't account for them, and actually borrow from the CW to contradict it.


I don't know if I understood it right, but I think Con is claiming that LA are FB? I already addressed this in round 2 under "Knowledge". This is exactly what the argument is about, Con can not account for LA, he presupposes them. Saying that they are FB is begging the question.


Just like how God's nature is the standard for morality, God's mind is also the standard for rationality and logic. He is not bound by them. God created us in His image and we are to think after His thoughts to be rational.



Uniformity of Nature

God created and governs the universe as I have already stated. Con has yet to give any rational basis for the uniformity of nature and induction.



Conclusion

"Why can’t I just assume that atheism is necessarily true"

I am trying to show you that you do.




(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com...

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy)

unitedandy

Con

Introduction

Although Pro has yet again neglected several key points, I will address the defining themes of the debate thus far, and show why TAG fails to be convincing.


General criticisms


False dichotomy

If Pro now accepts that falsifying my position is not sufficient to affirm his own, then all of his “internal critique of atheism” is largely secondary to the resolution, and he should now make arguments of his own justifying TAG. Dissolving his own false dichotomy then causes problems for Pro. No longer can he merely criticise atheism, but has to erect justification of his own to support TAG, and then tear down all the alternatives I have offered in the debate. Thus far, he has only really attempted the latter, and has, I contend, been totally unsuccessful in this endeavor.

Argument from ignorance

This is definitely the biggest problem I have with Pro’s TAG. Mumbling “God“ to serious philosophical issues is not grounds for anything, let alone claiming this answer is the sole guarantor of rationality. Secondly, he seems to suggest that I reject TAG because of trenchant atheism. Irony aside, not only do I deny this, but there are many Christians who reject TAG as well, and given Pro’s attempt, it’s easy to see why. Lastly, Pro alleges an inconsistency as I affirm LA foundational, while God is not. Again, I gave justification for this: unlike LA, denying God is not incoherent, God does not meet the criteria of FB (which Pro has yet to challenge), and there is evidence available for/against God.

Straw-man/Atheism

Here I documented that Pro had assumed atheists to have both a monolithic view of morality and non-material things, as well as his equivocation between atheism (my position) and radical physicalism. If he now accepts my definition of atheism, then he is no longer straw-manning, but much of his criticisms are simply inapplicable.


Morality

a) Here, I maintained that Pro could provide no reason to think that atheistic moral realism was incoherent or even unlikely. All he does here is to argue about Swinburne, which I see is a concession of the main point. As for the quote, this was simply to express MY position, and I will reiterate it here: I see no reason why secular ethical theory cannot account for morality, if it exists.

b) Not only did I pre-empt this by arguing that reliabilism is not sufficient for knowledge, but also I think that this reduces discussion to absurdity. Meta-ethics is a pretty vibrant area of philosophy, and Pro seeks to reduce it to iron-clad assumption and pronouncing moral realism by fiat.

c) Pro merely announces that only CW can account for morality, but again, has given no reason to justify this, and this is what he has to show. As for the Euthyphro dilemma, he splits the horns of this dilemma by citing God’s nature as the standard of goodness. But the problem here is that the same dilemma arises again: Does God have control over His own nature (in which case, morality is again arbitrary), or does God have no control over His own Nature (which would externalize morality)?

As well as this, I also showed that even basic propositions invite all normative theories to reach the same conclusion, regardless of the justification given. All 3 normative theories agree on moral ontology without entering the debate of moral epistemology, and Pro didn’t really respond to this distinction at all.

Epistemology

Foundationalism

Again, Pro just repeats that FB are unavoidable. While not only unwittingly giving credence to my position, Coherentism (1) denies FB and is certainly plausible, so Pro is simply wrong, and I pointed this out before in R2. His second question was to ask how one determines FB. Again, I laid out the criteria in R1, and have repeated them throughout. Lastly, CF is only supposed to give epistemic justification for beliefs, either in terms of FB, or that which is built on FB. If I have satisfied this, then my role in providing an alternative to TAG is fulfilled.

Foundationalism seems not only a far better epistemic position than RE, but able to give a plausible account of knowledge in its own terms.


Reformed epistemology

1. The conflict is clear between RE and evidentialism when it comes to BELIEF. Whether these revealed truths can be false is irrelevant (even if it does show the sheer circularity of TAG), it is about the rationality of these beliefs. These truths could have no evidence in their favour, yet be true. The problem however is believing in creationism, for example, is still irrational, even if it turned out to be correct, because of the evidence at present.

2. Pro misses the point here. It doesn’t assume RE false, it points both the absurdity of RE in rejecting evidentialism, and the ability of anyone to justify anything by following a similar process (e.g. belief in the Great Pumpkin).

3. Here, Pro quotes the bible in denying non-resistant non-belief. I could be flippant and dismiss this as a false authority, but a far more serious objection is that it simply does lead to one denying what seems to be evidentially undeniable.

Pro also dropped my criticism of RE as a form of reliabilism. Extend all arguments.

Logical absolutes (LA)

Here he both asserts that LA could be false, and that accounting for them (if they exist) through FB is circular. I have already answered the second point here by reference to FB criteria. The first point is simply incoherent. Even denying LA relies on the Law of Non-contradiction (LNC), so Pro is just stuck in the mire of absurdity here. Also, denying LA would nullify TAG, so this seems highly strange from Pro. Assuming LA do exist, we can turn this into an argument for atheism:

P1 - If God cannot account for LA, atheism is true

P2 - God cannot account for LA

C - Atheism is true

P1 is the logical equivalent of Pro’s TAG, so seems undeniable, without undercutting TAG‘s whole LA argument. Pro says that God accounts for LA with his mind, thus denying P2. But even God’s mind must be what it is and not something else, and is therefore subject to law of identity and the LNC. Another example is that God's mind either exists or doesn't exist, but cannot simultaneously exist AND not exist, thus obeying the LNC. Given that God's mind is as subject to LA as everything else, it clearly cannot account for LA anymore than a tree can, which affirms P2. Thus, LA actually show that God does not exist.

Points dropped by Pro:

1. Knowledge of LA (R3)
2. Distinction between conceptual and existent LA (R1)
3. Fallacies shown in R2.

Extend all arguments


Uniformity of Nature

Strawson dissolves the problem of induction, explaining not only is it reasonable to accept inductive generalisations, but that:

“To deny that it is reasonable to expect a specific conclusion to follow from premises of an inductive argument would be to contradict oneself, because the statement of reasonable expectation is analytically true by virtue of its constituent terms.” (2)


Also, inductive scepticism is absurd. If anyone really thinks past events tell us nothing with regards to all that follows, then they would (if they were consistent) have no qualms about jumping out of a 50-storey building. Lastly, I still maintain that Pro just appeals to a word, rather than actually give an account of the problem, much less showing it to somehow critique atheism.


Conclusion

As we enter R5, the TAG argument has not just been merely refuted and dwarfed by an atheistic alternative, but shown to be a shallow pretence of question-asking, and even if it were clean of all these criticisms, would be equally applicable to Islam, for example.

Sources

1 http://en.wikipedia.org...
2 Mastering Philosophy, Anthony Harrison Barbet, P39


Debate Round No. 4
Rednerrus

Pro

Intro

I have no idea how Con thinks he refuted my argument when he did not even understand it. As for my TAG being applicable to Islam, the argument from the IC would apply to Islam as well. Islam, just like all worldviews contrary to CW, is internally inconsistent and refutes itself, thus impossible. If he wants to present Islam (or any other worldview) as an alternative to the CW, I'm willing to debate that as well.


Fallacies


I will let the readers be the judge of who's committing fallacies and who's dropping points.

If Con wants to say that I can not claim absolute truth without first refuting every single position, then Con needs to stop appealing to universal absolute laws like LA and the uniformity of nature, until he has demonstrated them universally and absolutely true.

Had Con read my posts carefully, he would've realized that my actual argument is that BOTH of us (and everyone else) have PRESUPPOSED worldviews. The only way to prove or refute a worldview is to INTERNALLY critique it and as I will summarize here in R5, the CW is internally coherent and comports with reality while Con's worldview (which he defends and maintains as the correct one out of all that he knows) is internally incoherent, inconsistent, arbitrary, and actually borrows from the CW for its foundation.


Morality

Con, claims that I have "merely announced" that only CW can account for MA. Con seems to think that just because I can't critique all views of MA in 5 posts, that he refutes my assertion.
I challenged him to present any view that refutes my claim, not name them. Con has not at all explained how his or the other views that he is presenting can account for MA and our knowledge of them. I'm not gonna do his work for him and waste characters on my posts. He just asserts that they can account for them.
My argument is that MA is only possible if there is a universal, invariant, transcendental, authoritative, revealed, absolute standard.

No atheistic view of morality can provide this. Con states that he believes MA exists, yet gave no explanation on what his actual basis is for MA and how he came to know them.

I'll leave Con and the readers a question to demonstrate my argument; Why is rape absolutely wrong?
The CW answer is ofcourse is because God according to His nature condemns it as evil. Con needs to give an answer that is not arbitrary (ie. because society says its wrong) or question begging (ie. because its WRONG to cause harm).

We can not know what ought to be, from what is.


Euthyphro Dilemma (note, already refuted)

"Does God have control over His own nature? "

The answer is no, just as God can't not exist. His nature is absolute and unchanging. There is no internal logical or rational problem here. God's existence and nature are absolute and necessary.



Epistemology


CF
"CF is only supposed to give epistemic justification for beliefs, either in terms of FB, or that which is built on FB. If I have satisfied this, then my role in providing an alternative to TAG is fulfilled."

No. Throughout the debate Con's been giving false premises, claiming that if he proves that they're correct then he wins the debate. How is justifying for beliefs provide an alternative to TAG? What Con needs to justify is his belief in FB not beliefs that are based on FB.
The whole debate is about how Con's worldview and all others contrary to CW can not provide the necessary precondtions for intelligiblity.

FB according to founationalism, are not justified at all, thus "foundational". They are self-evident (presupposed). Well then I might as well end the debate by saying that God is self-evident (Which is actually my position). But you see, that's not how debates work. We both have to critique each others points to actually make an argument for these alleged self-evident truths.

Con presents CF as if it's not controversial like theism, but Con knows it has unanswered criticisms.
He didn't even respond to any the problems I presented, here's more:
http://www.theoryofknowledge.info...
http://www.theoryofknowledge.info...
http://www.theoryofknowledge.info...

RE
Again, in RE evidences should affirm revealed truths. If by evidentialism, you mean human interpretations of human observations as the ULTIMATE basis for truth, then OF COURSE RE denies that! Man is not infallible, God is. His revelations can NOT be wrong, while man is proven to always err. Belief in God's infallible revelations are rational, while belief in man's limited conflicting knowledge as ultimate authrority isn't. The Bible is not a false authority with in CW. Unbelief AFFIRMS the revealed truths in the Bibe.

You can't internally critique a view and reject its claims or assume from the beggining that it's false.



LA


Again, when did I assert that LA could be false? Con yet again misrepresented me. The LA argument is that while Con and I both assume LA, Con does not have a rational basis for it, in fact he did not even try providing one. The CW however accounts for LA and our knowledge of it. God's mind is the ground for it and He also revealed and made it plain to us, our limited experience affirms it.

"But even God’s mind must be what it is and not something else, and is therefore subject to law of identity and the LNC. Another example is that God's mind either exists or doesn't exist, but cannot simultaneously exist AND not exist, thus obeying the LNC."

Again, God's very existence and nature is absolute. The fact that God exists and can't not exists, and the fact that his mind is absolute and unchanging, GROUNDS LA. God's very existence is the necessary precondition for LA. Like good and evil, LA are dependent on God's very existence.



Uniformity of Nature


Strawson misses the point. The problem is having no rational basis for the uniformity of nature and induction completely destroys knowledge. His argument proves this by saying that we can not be sure of anything if we deny induction or the uniformity of nature.

"If anyone really thinks past events tell us nothing with regards to all that follows, then they would (if they were consistent) have no qualms about jumping out of a 50-storey building."

This is Con's solution for the problem of induction? Con's argument is basically, everyone believes in induction! That's begging the question, and that's exactly what's so profound, that although past events are not a rational basis for induction, everyone uses it and assumes the uniformity of nature. This shows that everyone is dependent on God's power and revelation to keep nature uniform.

Con after 4 rounds could not provide a rational basis for the uniformity of nature and induction.



Conclusion


Although Con refused to respond to most of my questions and challenges, I hope the readers and Con himself can see that Con's worldview could not provide the necessary preconditions for intelligibility, thus can't provide a rational basis for his argument. Con had to borrow the truths of CW to argue against it, showing how he might be able to suppress the truths of God, but HE CAN'T ESCAPE IT! He is made in the image of God regardless of his rejection of God. He knows God but he refuses to acknowledge Him. He has an obligation to submit to His creator but instead he rebels against Him.

"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man"
Romans 1:21-23

Unitedandy, As I've said before, the problem here is your rebellion against God and your refusal to submit to His authrority. Instead of honoring Him as God, you set yourself up as your own god, and your own mind as ultimate justifier of all truths. You are standing on your own head to keep from drowning instead of setting your feet on the solid ground of God. You must humble yourself and turn to Christ, the truth, the way and the light.
unitedandy

Con

Introduction

In my last round, I want to revisit the 2 basic contentions I laid out in R1:

1. There are good reasons to think TAG is flawed.
2. There are better alternatives to TAG which are compatible with atheism

Notice, if either of these contentions have been met, it is enough to negate the resolution. I contend that in actual fact, both of these have been surpassed beyond any reasonable doubt, and will try to show this as best I can.

Some general criticisms - the fallacies of TAG

In my second post, I began by highlighting 3 fallacies generally present within Pro’s argument - the fallacy of false dichotomy, the argument from ignorance and straw-manning. By R4, Pro finally managed to dissolve 2 of these fallacies by acknowledging that his internal critique of atheism was neither sufficient, nor even primary in determining the affirmation of the debate resolution. As a result, most of his case was self demoted, and I invited Pro to present a detailed, positive case for TAG in its place, which he failed to do. He also managed, rather belatedly, to distance himself from wildly generalised and factually inaccurate statements, such as atheists necessarily acknowledging only the material, or having to believe morality to be subjective or non-existent. Yet again, this came at a price. In order to disentangle himself here, Pro basically recognised that criticisms which saturated his first 2 or 3 posts were simply inapplicable. Yet again, much of these criticisms were rightly recognised as irrelevant by Pro himself. Lastly, the biggest criticism I have of Pro’s TAG is that it is blatantly arguing from ignorance. In every single area, Pro picks a particularly vexing philosophical problem, announces that God accounts for it in his worldview (with no more detail than this), and then demands solutions to these problems from the atheist. The most brazen example of this was in the uniformity of nature point in R2:

“Only the Christian worldview has a rational basis for the uniformity of nature and make induction rational. Con has no rational basis to assume the uniformity of nature, he is again borrowing from my worldview. I would like to know Con's view on the problem of induction.”

When pressed about this, he gave a similar response in R4:

“God created and governs the universe, as I already stated. Con has yet to give any rational basis for the uniformity of nature and induction.

If there is an argument in here, I cannot find it, and this only one example of Pro’s constant assumptions for the existence of God.

Morality

With regards to morality, I want to return to 3 key areas. Firstly, I said in the beginning that I saw no good reason to think that morality requires CW. Pro made no attempt to show a logical incoherence or even some sort of tension in my view, and responded only by insisting that I had to bear the BoP in his argument! I then gave a general account of atheistic moral realism, noting that whatever framework one adopts, certain basic actions are wrong, and as such even by ignoring contentious issues in normative ethics, we can ground morality within the natural world. Pro did not respond. Secondly, I asked how Pro would show that morality existed, even if he were successful in proving secular morality to be false. His answer was baffling:

“Yes I assume that God accounts for morality because he revealed it to me (and to all).”

Again, Pro presumes both that morality necessarily requires God (the whole point of TAG), that morality exists, as well as demanding that everyone else “have a rational basis for it”. This is the mother of all circularity. Thirdly, I gave the Euthyphro dilemma, and Pro responded to my last post by selecting one of the horns, affirming that God cannot have control over his own nature. The problem here however is that if God is not responsible for His omnibenevolent nature, how can He be responsible for morality?

In conclusion then, I see no reason to discard secular ethics, no reason to believe in morality at all if Pro was successful in demonstrating the failure of atheistic moral realism, and justification for believing that there is huge difficulties with theistic morality.

Epistemology

Foundationalism

Here, I presented and defended an alternative epistemic justification to RE, and Pro now gives 2 new criticisms, finally making his way to briefly responding to FB’s criteria, and also stating that it is controversial. As regards to the first point, I simply disagree with Pro that there aren’t some things which are conceptually self-evident. I know, for example, that married bachelors do not exist, not because I assume this, but by understanding that a married, unmarried man is a contradiction in terms. This is true by DEFINITION. As for claiming that FB is controversial, while I agree, this is no grounds for negating it in favour of an even less fancied position in RE.

RE

Here I gave 4 criticisms of RE, only 2 of which have recent responses. First, Pro admits there is a conflict between RE and evidentialism, and bites the bullet in favouring revelation. Obviously, this seems, by definition to be irrational. We should instead follow the evidence wherever it may lead, and since RE can deny even the most compelling evidence, we should reject its application as the grounds for knowledge. Also he claimed unbelief affirms biblical truth. Right, but non-resistant non-belief doesn’t:

Be content with what you have, for God has said, "Never
will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So say with
confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid."

- Hebrews 13:5,6

Given that RE has to deny that this exists, it is again simply at odds with the evidence we have.

Pro also dropped the Great Pumpkin objection, and never once responded to the criticism I gave of RE as a form of reliabilism. Extend all arguments.

To return to the argument from R1:

P1 - If CF is more plausible than RE, then belief in the existence of God must be justified evidentially in order to be a rationally held belief.
P2 - CF is more plausible than RE
C - Therefore, the existence of God must be justified evidentially in order to be a rationally held belief.

Both of us seem to agree that P1 is true. As for P2, given the intractable problems of RE and the ease with which CF was defended, I contend that P2 has been affirmed, and thus that TAG has been defeated here as well.

LA

Here I gave 3 criticisms of TAG from LA, and Pro’s only response in the last round was to my additional argument for atheism using LA. He simply denied P2 by appealing to God’s absolute mind, but as I said previously, God cannot account for LA here because God’s mind is what it is and not something else. In other words, it is bound by the law of identity, and cannot account for it anymore than anything else can. Given that both Pro and I agree that God must account for LA if He exists, since He can't, he does not exist.

Pro also dropped my 3 criticisms of TAG:

1. Knowledge of LA (R3)
2. Distinction between conceptual and existent LA (R1)
3. Fallacies shown in R2.

Extend all arguments.

Uniformity of Nature

Here, Pro alludes Strawson and the absurdity of inductive scepticism by conflating them both, and then concluding that while the alternatives to believing induction are ridiculous, this in no way rescues induction. Apart from the fact that he undermines his entire case with this reasoning, he is still wrong. Strawson wasn’t critical of inductive scepticism because it was an inconvenient problem, his claim was that it self-refuting “because the statement of reasonable expectation is analytically true”. As for inductive scepticism being absurd, this, along with prima facie support for the usefulness and necessity of induction,in conjunction with Strawson is strong justification to accept the uniformity of nature, although I still maintain this is an argument from ignorance.

Conclusion

All in all, I don’t think Pro succeeds in even presenting a proper case for TAG, and certainly not one that the atheist need worry about.
Debate Round No. 5
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rednerrus 6 years ago
Rednerrus
Please don't vote bomb. I didn't type all that to get votes, I typed all that so it can be read. I apologize on his behalf.
Posted by Raisor 6 years ago
Raisor
Look at Guardian's voting history, straight down the line he only votes in favor of conservative christian positions. Oh well.
Posted by unitedandy 6 years ago
unitedandy
Thanks for the votebomb guardian
Posted by Rednerrus 6 years ago
Rednerrus
Raisor,
Thanks for taking the time to read the debate. Yeah the whining was me getting frustrated that I had to use half of my posts to explain my actual arguments. I actually whined a lot more than that but I had to cut them out. Im definitely gonna try to really really make it clear from the beginning next time around.

It's funny though because I really thought Con's epistemology (founationalism) view was his weakest point. Con tried to show how to justify FB but he keeps forgetting that they are NOT justifiable according to CF. I wish I could've focused on the epistemology topic more.

I also just realized that I completely forgot to include what I planned to say in end of this debate. I actually knew that the whole false dichotomy issue will come up before the debate even started. I ran out of space and while I was cutting stuff out I guess I forgot it.

Anyways, what I wanted to say was that, if someone says, "well, even if you prove my worldview cant account for the 4 topics, and all that we currently know, the possibility that a worldview can account for them is still there and someday we can come up with worldview that does."
My respond to that is that it means that you are not being rational right now, but someday maybe you will be. That means your argument presently has no rational basis.

Again, thanks for reading and voting!
Posted by Raisor 6 years ago
Raisor
Really the clincher is the False dichotomy though. Con says the possibility is always there that no available worldviews are justifiable, Pro responds with "its either A or not A." This doesnt address Con's point, that the alternative that no worldviews are justifiable is left out. Con solidifies this in later rounds by arguing that this means Pro needs to generate a positive support for TAG rather than simply saying "anything you suggest will fail."

Finally, I know in the thick of the debate its hard to step back and look at the arguments from an outsider's view, but its rude to insist that because you dont find your opponent's arguments compelling he must be skimming your arguments or not understanding you. If your opponent is missing the heart of your argument, just point it out calmly to the judges. If you are correct then the judges are likely to see so and be sympathetic. But when you say things like "he would realize if he would just read my posts carefully" it comes off arrogant and whiny.
Posted by Raisor 6 years ago
Raisor
RFD:

Pro insists that without God all competing worldviews collapse in a vicious circular argument.

So Con goes ahead and advocates foundationalism and says

"Basic beliefs are typically either self-evident (e.g. simple mathematical, logical or conceptual truths), evident to the senses or introspective (what appears to be the case and cannot be doubted)."
and
"FB must be things which are, as far as possible, irrational to doubt."

So I kept waiting for Pro to show how this system collapses internally, but it never happened. Pro just kept insisting that all competing world views rely on the Christian God and that it is impossible to prove FB's. But Con listed how to justify FB's, and Pro didnt respond. Additionally, Con repeatedly gave reasons why FB's were BETTER than taking God as foundation.

I think Pro's failure to show the internal inconsistency of CW's is embodied in his response to Con question "Why can't I just assume that atheism is necessarily true?"
Pro replies: "Im trying to show that you do."
Ok, so that doesnt answer Con's question of why the assumption isnt valid. Pro is supposed to have some devestating critique of why such an assumption is viciously different than the circularity of Christianity, but when explicitly asked for it Pro doesnt provide it.

I will give Pro that most of Con's objections arent demonstrations that a particular worldview succeeds, that he mostly just spitfires names of different positions. I agree that this is not sufficient to win the debate, however Con does provide a substantial worldview in FB and Pro just never showed where the internal collapse occurs. I think Con would have been better served to strongly detail and defend one or two coherent positions than spout off a list of alternatives. Con does sort of muddle the debate with a bunch of uncompelling side arguments Pro has to try to clean up. But again, Con does back FB as a coherent position.
Posted by Rednerrus 6 years ago
Rednerrus
Im still interested in the PoE debate. Just set it up and we'll get it started.
Posted by unitedandy 6 years ago
unitedandy
Cheers for the debate Rednerrus. As I said, I'd be willing to debate the PoE, as long as it didn't lead to essentially the same debate as this one, which I fear it would if you used TAG as a defence against the PoE. If you're still interested, let me know, and I'll try to get a debate sort ASAP, but I'd be using the exact same argument that I always use, so it wouldn't be any great surprise.
Posted by Rednerrus 6 years ago
Rednerrus
I'd like to thank unitedandy for this debate. I am interested in more debates with you, like the problem of evil, or if you're willing to get into any of the main topics of this debate further, but I do think that these 4 topics are too connected to individualize.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
Good debate so far.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by Enji 4 years ago
Enji
RednerrusunitedandyTied
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Reasons for voting decision: CVB sweetbreeze
Vote Placed by sweetbreeze 4 years ago
sweetbreeze
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Reasons for voting decision: All votes to Pro.
Vote Placed by NewCreature 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con could not provide any rational basis for morality, logic and uniformity of nature. His epistemology proves it since his epistemology claims that these basic truths are self evident or do not have a rational basis, which he simply assumes is true. He just resorted to side arguments that slowed and stopped progression the debate.
Vote Placed by popculturepooka 6 years ago
popculturepooka
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Reasons for voting decision: I think Con gets the edge here because of Pro's many dropped arguments. The debate never really took off, though, because it seemed as if the contenders were largely talking past each other.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 6 years ago
socialpinko
RednerrusunitedandyTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Countering Vote Bomb
Vote Placed by Guardian 6 years ago
Guardian
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Reasons for voting decision: I believe that Pro put forth the best arguments.
Vote Placed by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
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Reasons for voting decision: I thought this was a very interesting debate, though by the middle it was clear that it was going all over the place. Pro's arguments encompassed not merely tag, but a whole host of related arguments for the truth of Christianity. By the end of the debate, it was clear that Pro had dropped a great deal of his contentions, and Con pointed out that some of the them were irrelevant, and the others were reasonable to deny. Some of Pro's arguments unfortunately didn't amount to more than assertions.
Vote Placed by Raisor 6 years ago
Raisor
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments