The Instigator
Ockham
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
TheUnexaminedLife
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points

God exists.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
TheUnexaminedLife
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/1/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 850 times Debate No: 102328
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (17)
Votes (1)

 

Ockham

Con

The proposition is that God exists. Pro will be defending the proposition that God exists, while Con will be arguing that Pro has not established that God exists.

By accepting this debate, Pro accepts that they have the burden to do two things:

1. Provide a coherent and reasonable definition of God
2. Provide cogent arguments or evidence for the existence of God

I will explain what each of these mean.

Requirement 1

As I said, the definition must be "coherent" and "reasonable." These are distinct requirements which I will explain.

Coherence

A definition is coherent if it is clear and does not contain a contradiction. An example of an incoherent definition would be "the slithy toves that gire and gimble in the wabe" or "a square circle."

Reasonableness

A definition of God is reasonable if it is actually a definition of God, and not of something else.

An example of a reasonable definition of God is "an omnipotent, all knowing, perfectly good being." An example of an unreasonable definition of God would be "love" or "the universe." The point of this requirement is to allow Pro some freedom to define what they believe in or want to defend, while preventing people from cheating by using a definition that no one would normally think of as God.

I can't provide definitive, mechanical criteria for a reasonable definition of God ahead of time. If you're not sure whether your definition of God counts as reasonable, you can post it in the comments section and I will comment on it. However, I will try to be fairly charitable about this requirement.

Requirement 2

The second requirement just means that Pro has to present a case that is successful by the usual logical standards we apply to arguments and evidence.

Judging

This debate should be judged according to whether Pro meets both requirement 1 and requirement 2. If Pro meets both requirement 1 and requirement 2, they win. If I show either that they have not met requirement 1, or that they have not met requirement 2, or both, then I win. (The basis for using this standard for judging is that it is impossible to establish that God exists without both defining God coherently and giving cogent arguments or evidence for the existence of God.)

Pro can start presenting arguments and evidence in the first round - there is no "acceptance round."
TheUnexaminedLife

Pro

1
My definition of a deistic god, is a power or entity beyond nature (supernatural) that caused, ontologically, the existence of the multiverse or universe in so that something rather than nothing could come into existence. This god is non-interventionist in that they do not intervene in the universe or govern it in any way after their initial creating act. As it is outside of the nature, I do not think anything can be said about the qualities of this power or entity, such as whether it is eternal. This means it could have either created from ex materia or ex nihilo (from something external to it and the universe or from nothing).

2
Our debate centres around, as I understand it, the dichotomy that either a causing god exists or that multiverse or universe existence is perpetual and therefore without start.

However, both options require that we concede some logical principles that we deem necessary and unbreakable. If a causing god exists, then we have to admit something outside of nature that cannot be explained by scientific inquiry. We have to give up our notion that everything can be explained providing we have enough empirical data of the natural world and what’s more concede that something can go beyond our idea of causation. The natural response to hearing of a creating god is the question ‘what caused the causer?’ As Parmenides wrote ‘ex nihilo, nihil fit’, out of nothing, nothing comes. Yet as a power that transcends our natural laws, I would be inclined to say that we cannot know whether it is subject to our notion of ‘causation’. To assert a causeless existence would be a contradiction to not only science but what we believe possible. This is why, for argument’s sake, it must transcend us. It must be supernatural.

The second possibility is problematic as well. It equally makes us concede to a causeless existence (that the universe or multiverse exists from no initial cause). I have included the multiverse theory in my argument to highlight that it doesn’t solve the problem of why something exists rather than nothing. Most scientific minds would agree with the Big Bang theory, that our universe has a beginning, but then argue that it came into existence from parts of existence we do not yet understand. This would opt for two separate sets of laws: the laws of the multiverse or whatever precedes our universe and our universal laws as we understand through nature. If we define the natural as deriving our universal laws, then the multiverse would have to be defined as supernatural.

My real case for deism centres around this premise. Why advocate an entity, a deistic god, over a model of the multiverse which isn’t subject to the natural laws of our universe? Aren’t we anthropomorphising our origins by making it begin with a willing? With a creator? This I think is a strong point. I would note that here you might want to attack my definition of a deistic god as a power or entity and not a particular being for this is exactly how I should avoid this problem. An entity is defined as ‘something that exists apart from other things, having its own independent existence’ (1). I see no reason why this cannot be attributed to a supernatural multiverse either. A supernatural, independent existence that started the universe and is completely impersonal to it. If we accept this the definition for a god, then whatever precedes our universe is a god. If god must be a particular being, if still impersonal, why cannot we attribute the entire multiverse as a particular being as a whole? The founding assumption is that god must be personal and have thoughts and intentions like man; this I would ask you to defend.

Sources:

(1) http://dictionary.cambridge.org...

On a formal note, I will include evidence if my opponent wants an evidence-based debate, but would remind them that the scientific models around this debate are highly technical and that this debate can be done with simple a priori reasoning. My argument is primarily logical but I will use evidence if I need to defend it.

And on an informal note, I would like to say that I’m personally atheist but have read deist scholars like Paine and Leibniz. So, don’t feel you have to go easy on me as not to offend my beliefs.

Debate Round No. 1
Ockham

Con

I thank my opponent for accepting the debate and look forward to an interesting exchange.

From my post in Round 1, my opponent has two obligations in this debate:

1. Provide a coherent and reasonable definition of God
2. Provide arguments or evidence for the existence of God.

I'll consider each of these requirements in turn with regard to his Round 1 post.

1. The Definition of God

My opponent provided a definition with a genus and differentia. I will address the genus first, then point out two problems with the differentia.

1a. The Genus: "Power or Entity"

"Power or entity" is the genus of my opponent's definition. However, the concept of power comes from physics, and refers to the ability of one physical entity to exert force on another physical entity. Again, the concept of an entity refers to a physical being, like a chair, not a supernatural and presumably non-physical being, which is a notion that cannot objectively be made sense of.

1b. The Differentia

The differentia of my opponent's definition is "beyond nature (supernatural) that caused, ontologically, the existence of the multiverse or universe in so that something rather than nothing could come into existence."

There are two problems here.

First, if this being is beyond nature, then we cannot know anything about it, as he admits: "as it is outside of the nature, I do not think anything can be said about the qualities of this power or entity." Yet he has no problem ascribing any number of qualities to this being: He has said that it is a power or entity and that it created the universe or multiverse out of nothing. This is a direct contradiction.

Second, it is a well known principle of philosophy that nothing can come out of nothing, which contradicts the second of the differentia my opponent ascribes to God. In addition, if my opponent holds that something can come out of nothing, then the universe or multiverse could have come out of nothing without God to cause it.

I conclude that my opponent's definition contains multiple contradictions and unclear terms, and therefore that he has failed to meet requirement 1.

2. The Case for God's Existence

My opponent doesn't really present an identifiable argument with premises and a conclusion, but he does make a handful of objections to the idea that the universe is eternal: (a) It "makes us concede to a causeless existence (that the universe or multiverse exists from no initial cause)," (b) most scientists agree with the Big Bang theory, which says that the universe had a beginning, and (c) the multiverse could be God. I will address each of these objections in turn.

2a. Causality

Does an eternal universe violate causality? There are two senses in which the universe could be eternal: either the universe "goes back forever," with an infinite number of years before the present; or the universe goes back some finite number of years, stopping at the "first point in time." Neither of these senses violate causality. If the universe goes back forever, then the universe at each point in time was caused by the universe at a prior point in time, so causality is never violated.

If the universe goes back some finite number of years, then it still does not violate causality. The causal principle does say that whatever begins to exist has a cause. However, the universe did not begin to exist on this account, because beginning to exist means that there was some prior point in time at which it did not exist, followed by a point in time at which it did exist. This is what beginning to exist always means in our experience. Since time is defined in terms of the universe, there could not be a point in time at which the universe did not exist, so it does not fall under the causal principle. It was just "always there."

2b. The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang theory is not a problem for the claim that the universe has always existed. It just says that there was a point in the distant past at which all matter was compressed to a small point, followed by a period over which this point rapidly expanded. It does not say that there was an absolute beginning in the theologian's sense.

(I'm not sure that my opponent is really making this argument, since he concedes that most scientists think it was caused by a prior state of the universe, but I thought it was worth mentioning in case he intended it as an argument.)

2c. The Multiverse

My opponent attempts to win the debate by flatly identifying God with the multiverse. This arguably violates the reasonableness requirement I mentioned in Round 1, but I'll leave it to the judges to decide that. More importantly, the multiverse does not meet my opponent's definition of God, since it is not supernatural. It is just a bunch of universes.

What my opponent is saying, basically, is that atheism is true if there is one universe, but theism is true if there are two universes. Maybe what he means is that the other universe would be supernatural to us, because it's outside of our universe, but then wouldn't our own universe be supernatural from the perspective of someone in another universe? It's not a very plausible argument.

"Supernatural" means ghosts, goblins, and God, not more of the same physical reality.

3. Conclusion

Since my opponent has not met either of the two requirements, I conclude that we must negate the resolution.
TheUnexaminedLife

Pro

You have seemed to have missed my point entirely and thereby the response you give is nothing but a straw man.

1a
The implicit premise in your point here is that only physical entities can exert power; this is untrue. The notion of Santa Claus or a myth like the American Dream holds power in influence without possessing a physical reality. Assuming that a deity is physical or non-physical was not my point because I was describing god's essence as ineffable and inconceivable to the human understanding-- always confined by the laws of this universe. I was not using the term 'entity' as reference to a physical thing, a Cartesian res extensa, but as a thing that is in existence. Or as the dictionary defines, a 'being or existence,especially when considered as distinct, independent,or self-contained'.
http://www.dictionary.com...

1b
My definition was predicated on the one given quality of god, that is an existence possessive of the power to cause the universe, to which more qualities cannot be ascribed. Your point I see as paralleled to arguing that one knows the qualities of someone living under the American Dream because one knows that they abide by the American Dream, namely that they are successful individuals. How god manifests as a particular being, an existence, is unknown. What is deemed 'successful' and 'individual' could have innumerable possibilities and how they arrived there is likewise vague. Predicates and qualities are two seperate labels.

The second issue was precisely the one to which I was addressing. Why god (no capital 'G' required) instead of an impersonal reality preceding the universe which caused the universe? What you failed to address was why we cannot call the latter god and on what grounds there is a rational essence to the word 'god'.

2a
Your reformulations of the cosmological argument on time here, I dispute only insofar as they again avoid the problem. Unless you dispute the Big Bang theory, the universe began. Nothing which begins doesn't have cause-- as set out by Leibniz's Law of Sufficient Reason. The tension I was arguing was of that between 'ex nihilo, nihil fit' and causality. You mention "the first point of time", it is just plain avoidance not to discuss how this point initiated.

2b
Yeats, in the Vision, describes 'the universe a great egg that turns inside-out perpetually without braking its shell'; a universe expanding out and then crunching in, a perennial cycle of creation and destruction. I would agree with you, but unfortunately, science is currently not in total support of the Big Crunch theory after it was calculated that the expansion of the universe is accelerating rather than slowing down; that eventually all energy will be so spread out as to be a sort of nothingness. You cannot assume that the first instance of our universe ensued from all matter condensing down to a single point.

Because you didn't respond to my source question, I will just cite an 'expert' opinion blog which I think explains my point quite well.
https://www.quora.com...

2c
In the comment section you agreed to engage in this debate by using a deist concept of god which I described as 'a supernatural, independent existence that started the universe and is completely impersonal to it.' I see little tension to why this conflicts with a pre-universal reality. I did offer you this little tension for you to use as an objection, which you did not take up.

I would also like to mention the pantheists here, Einstein and Spinoza, who define god in completely naturalistic terms. I personally interpret Spinoza as calling god the totality of reality, ontology itself. From this, I would argue it reasonable that to dehumanise god is perfectly acceptable; though Abrahamic beliefs and popular religions have monopolised the definition of God as being a personal being, this is not essential to a rational concept of the word 'god'.

Supernatural is defined as 'of,relating to,or being above or beyond what is natural;unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal'
http://www.dictionary.com...

Natural laws of this universe contain that of causation: that everything must be caused including the universe itself under the Big Bang theory. My contention was that for something to exist without being caused is in itself supernatural; it is beyond our natural laws and what we define as natural. Now, why I don't think that this is subject to the fallacy of composition is precisely because the universe in not an elastic band; it was caused... With the Big Crunch theory in decline, a pre-existing reality to the universe bringing it into being is the most plausible option available. This is essentially what I meant by arguing that whatever one's belief, it has to sacrifice some sort of logic. One has to permit some sort of eternity. Why not the deist god?

Directly regarding the multiverse, I was referring to a reality external to our universe (a field) in which other universes (particulars) exist. I was A) attempting to reduce the question down to that of being: why does something exist rather than nothing? and B) argue that there are mechanisms external to the universe by which universes are created and reside whether this simply be a causal relation by which one universe causes another. Additionally, by focusing on the multiverse, a widely contested theory, I by no means 'win the debate'. This does not follow.

I encourage you to re-read my first argument now that we should be on the same strand of thought. Your brief did not state when I had to present arguments, with premises and conclusions; currently, we are debating premises. If I come to the judgement that no such argument can be made (I'm not so hubristic as to think that I have a watertight argument for god's existence) I will say so as our debate progresses.

PS
You identify the multiverse theory as 'atheist'; it is secular. One can believe the multiverse theory and be religious.
And, because the Big Crunch theory is still possible but just not probable given current data, I defer to Ockham's Razor 'Ockham': the simplest and most probable is likely true. We will get nowhere debating this issue since it is contested.
Debate Round No. 2
Ockham

Con

I will cover my opponent's definition of God, then his arguments.

1. The Definition of God

My opponent attempts to argue that a power need not be physical because ideas like the American Dream can exert power over the world. I agree that ideas are non-physical, since I am a property dualist. However, ideas, like every other feature of consciousness, depend on a physical substrate, namely the brain. In addition, ideas do not exert "power," although they can influence the brain, because physicists define power as physical.

He writes, "I was not using the term 'entity' as reference to a physical thing, a Cartesian res extensa, but as a thing that is in existence." However, this does not address my point. All of the entities we have experience with are physical entities. If my opponent is to claim that God is an entity, he needs to develop some other concept of an entity and connect it back to observation.

But this may be beside the point, since he writes: "Assuming that a deity is physical or non-physical was not my point because I was describing god's essence as ineffable and inconceivable to the human understanding-- always confined by the laws of this universe."

If adopted, this would avoid the objection I previously made to the genus of his definition, but it contains a contradiction in its own right. We have at least some knowledge of the laws of the universe. Therefore, if God is "confined by the laws of the universe," we have knowledge of God. On this view, God is no longer "ineffable and inconceivable to the human understanding."

In addition, my opponent has suggested that God could be the multiverse or, as he thinks Spinoza thought, "the totality of reality itself." Neither of these candidates are "ineffable and inconceivable to the human understanding."

2. The Case for God's Existence

2a. Causality

My opponent's defense of this argument is to introduce Leibniz's Principle of Sufficient Reason, which he states as "Nothing which begins doesn't have cause." However, I have already addressed this argument. If the universe has existed for an infinite period of time, it did not begin to exist, nor did it begin to exist if it has existed for a finite period of time, since there would be no time at which the universe did not exist on that alternative.

He says, with reference to the first point in time, "it is just plain avoidance not to discuss how this point initiated." But we have to stop somewhere - I stop with the universe, and he stops with God. In addition, the atheist is free to maintain that there was no first point in time, since he can maintain that the universe has existed for an infinite period of time.

2b. The Big Bang

My opponent claims that the Big Crunch theory is out of favor in cosmology. This may be true, but being out of favor does not show that it is false, although we may be more skeptical of it. In addition, nothing about my position requires me to maintain the Big Crunch theory. I can even accept the Big Bang theory as true - all I have to maintain is that its cause was a prior state of the universe, not God.

2c. Supernaturalism

My opponent writes, "for something to exist without being caused is in itself supernatural; it is beyond our natural laws and what we define as natural." First of all, my opponent has not demonstrated that something exists which was not caused, since the universe may have existed for an infinite period of time.

In addition, even if the beginning of the universe were uncaused and therefore, on his definition, supernatural, that would not meet his definition of God, which is a supernatural cause of the universe. Indeed, it would conclusively disprove the existence of God as he defines God, since it would prove that the universe had no cause, and, therefore, no supernatural cause. Being uncaused is not a different kind of being caused - by definition, it is the absence of a cause.

3. Conclusion

I conclude that my opponent has failed to make a convincing case for the existence of God, and therefore that we must negate the resolution.
TheUnexaminedLife

Pro

1. The Definition of God

I would say that you are operating under a very narrow definition of the word 'power'. Take Nietzsche, Foucault, Weber (etc.), nearly every philosopher sees power as a concept above force, which is what you seem to define power as. I do not think power can be reduced down to force.


I wrote:
'Assuming that a deity is physical or non-physical was not my point because I was describing god's essence as ineffable and inconceivable to the human understanding-- always confined by the laws of this universe.'

The latter phrase was given to describe the human understanding and not god's essence. How foolish do you think I am to argue that, 'god cannot be understand by the definitions of this universe' and then 'god is defined by this universe and can be understood by terms within it'? As such, I ignore this statements as a misreading.

I used Spinoza as a demonstration that god's definition doesn't have to be a anthropomorphised entity but of subsets of existence (namely this universal existence). I am arguing about existence outside of this universe and beyond comprehension. Because Spinoza is a pantheist, I was not using him to make a deist argument; that would be absurd. I was using him for his definition of god.

2. The Case for God's Existence

2a. Causality

Again, you've avoided my argument entirely. If you end with the universe, you have to explain how the Big Bang instant came into being. If you do so under the Big Crunch theory, you are advocating an unlikely proposition given modern science and thereby have to concede your position as a denomination of faith. You have to explain the prior state of the universe to this instance in order to prove that the universe existed at a prior state. Failing to do so, the likelihood is that the universe was created.


Do you deny the Big Bang science and that the universe was initially condensed into one singularity? How did it get into this state if the universe is eternal?

2b. The Big Bang

I have largely already dealt with this point. The Big Crunch theory has not been proved false, only unlikely given scientific probability and maths, and you are required to maintain some sort of theory stating what was prior to the Big Bang theory. Stating 'another state of the universe' is a vague as a theist saying 'God did it', with no evidential prove or reasoning.


2c. The Supernatural

Reading through your argument, I now accuse you of tautology (repetition). You have to prove your position, held by many eastern philosophies, that the universe is eternal. You can do this by describing the universe prior to the Big Bang and how the Big Bang came into being.


I am arguing for a reality outside out universe causing our universe. The outside is supernatural since it is outside our natural laws. I am not arguing that an uncaused universe is supernatural, since I don't hold the position that the universe is uncaused and think that it is subject as a whole to the law of causation. The universe as a whole succeeds itself. Evidence points to a place where this succession began (our universal concept of time). We are debating what came prior to this event: external universes, a multiverse, a god or somehow, more of this universe.

3. Conclusion

I have enlarged the font as you asked, and in return ask you to stop repeating those phatic words 'we must negate the resolution' at the end of each of your arguments. Although they sound good, they don't mean anything. I have already communicated that I will be presenting an argument for the existence of god in due time and that we were debating the premises of this argument.

Debate Round No. 3
Ockham

Con

I thank my opponent for his response.

1. The Definition of God

The definition of power that, for example, Nietzsche uses is consistent with my position that power is physical. Power in the sense of power over another person requires the ability to exert physical force. A leader has to physically speak in order to command his army to invade another country, and his will is carried out by the physical actions of his soldiers.

2. The Case for God's Existence

The main thing to keep in mind when evaluating my opponent's argument here is that he has the burden of proof to present a cogent case establishing the existence of God. I do not have to disprove his assertions; he must establish them with arguments and evidence.

My opponent says, "if you end with the universe, you have to explain how the Big Bang instant came into being." No, I don't. All I have to do is maintain that if the Big Bang theory is true, and if the Big Bang had a cause, that cause was simply a prior state of the universe. As long as no evidence is presented ruling out this possibility, the argument does not establish its conclusion. I have no obligation to engage in speculative cosmological reasoning to reject this argument.

He asks, "Do you deny the Big Bang science and that the universe was initially condensed into one singularity? How did it get into this state if the universe is eternal?" As I said previously, I don't have to affirm or deny the Big Bang theory or explain the alleged singularity in order to maintain that this argument does not establish its conclusion.

In other words, here are the possibilities:

Possibility 1. The universe has existed for an infinite period of time.
Possibility 2. The universe has existed for a finite period of time, and had no cause.
Possibility 3. The universe has existed for a finite period of time, and was created by God.

We can expand this list as follows.

Possibilities that involve infinite time:

Possibility 1a. The Big Crunch theory is true.
Possibility 1b. The Big Bang theory is true, and its cause was a prior state of the universe.
Possibility 1c. The universe has existed for an infinite period of time, but neither 1a nor 1b is true - some other cosmological model is correct.

Possibilities involving no cause:

Possibility 2a. The Big Bang theory is true, and it had no cause.
Possibility 2b. The universe has existed for a finite period of time, and it had no cause, but the Big Bang theory is not true - some other cosmological model is correct.

Finally:

Possibility 3. The universe has existed for a finite period of time, and was created by God.

My opponent needs to rule out all of these possibilities except possibility 3 with enough certainty to make it more likely than not that God created the universe. I would argue that he has not done this, which is sufficient to reject his case.
TheUnexaminedLife

Pro

1 Definition of God

You can read Nietzsche in many ways; you have avoided Weber and Foucault for good reason. Personally, I disagree with your reading of him. You say power is physical because it requires external communication in the empirical world. And, it is true if I speak, I need to exert my physical organs. Yet, this doesn't entail power over other people or a causal power in producing effects that transcend me. Speaking to someone isn't sufficient for me to have power over them; previous authority must have decayed to an extent that they follow me or I must be in a position of authority which commands others in the exercise of power. Both positions require that I also be a skillful and able speaker... This isn't a debate on Nietzsche though.

And in any case, this doesn't explain how the American Dream (with no physicality) has power as an idea rather than an organ which exerts itself. Power is the ability to influence or create ex materia and can be manifested beyond concrete measures. Even if these measures are supernatural and beyond human comprehension, they could still be said to hold a power as a predicate and not property of their existence. Existence must be what all things that are real are predicated on.

2. The Case For god's Existence

As it was your position that the universe was perpetual, it was your BOP to demonstrate it. I was directly challenging your belief to which you reply with the tautology, 'I don't need to prove it, only maintain it'. In debating the premises about the start of the universe, I have indicated why I think it was caused. If you dispute this, which you do, you have to provide an alternative explanation to why this is this case which you blatantly refuse to do hiding under the self-imposed regularities of formal debate. How am I supposed to form premises in this round (which I will do, since it is my last opportunity) when I cannot rule out certain possibilities from it? If I had posted an argument in R2, you would have argued against it. All I have done is provide some of the premises for my argument which you refuse to argue against. As such, undisputed by you (who hasn't brought ANY evidence to this debate) I will be using the premise 'the universe began'.

There is no evidence of a prior state of the universe before the Big Bang theory; Time and spatial reality can all be located to a single point before which nothing is measured. How, then, can your position be true that the universe can be proved to exist at a prior state when there is no evidence for it? That was your BOP and since you haven't done this, I am forced to write an argument without considering your entirely faith-based views.

Possibility Group A
1a I have asserted is unlikely given modern science and the acceleration of universal expansion, so should be dismissed on these grounds. We agreed not to cite evidence and you affirmed that this proposition was in line with modern scientific descriptions, so I will hold to it.
1b is the position you refuse to defend which has no evidence in support of it
1c is unlikely given empirical data and therefore to say true, would be a faith-based assumption

Possibility Group B
2a is impossible given Leibniz's Law of Sufficient Reason
2b is likewise impossible given its reliance on an ex nihilo model

Possibility Group C
3a The universe has existed for a finite period of time, and was created by God.
(which I would amend to):
3a The universe has existed for a finite period of time, and was created by a creating power.

The noun 'God' here suggests multiple positions according to how you define god and in any case the universe could potentially have been caused by something that is not-god (I still insist that you don't use the capital 'G' since we are not talking about the traditional definition of god). By using a capital 'G' you suggest the God of classical theism is the only option for the universe's creation thus reduces this position.

So, the argument as far as we've been able to progress it: (following from Rounds 1-3)
P1 The universe has a beginning
P2 Everything with a beginning, had some sufficient power to cause it
C1 The universe had some sufficient power to cause it.
P3 No cause is its direct effect subject to an A-theory view of time
P4 (P2, P3) If there is a sufficient power that caused the universe, it must transcend the universe (be supernatural)
P5 This power both caused the universe and transcends the universe
P6 A deist god is defined as one that power caused the universe and transcends the universe
C2 (P4, P5) A deist god semantically equates to the sufficient power that caused the universe
P7 Everything that has power exists (concretely or abstractly)
P8 If a deist god caused the universe, it has power
C3 A deist god exists.

P3 (imp.) the sufficient power that caused the universe, was not caused by the universe

Debate Round No. 4
Ockham

Con

I'll go over the definition and my opponent's argument, then discuss judging in the conclusion.

1. The Definition of God

My opponent says, " Speaking to someone isn't sufficient for me to have power over them; previous authority must have decayed to an extent that they follow me or I must be in a position of authority which commands others in the exercise of power."

However, these are physical developments. Previous authority decaying, or a given person rising to a position of authority over others, will involve countless physical actions. For example, if you shot the previous leader, the bullet leaving the gun is a physical event. If you were elected to take their place, then the casting and counting of the ballots were physical events. And so on.

He brings up the American Dream again, which is puzzling since I already addressed this example. Ideas like the American Dream require a physical substrate within the physical universe - the brain. All ideas and other conscious states within our experience require a physical brain. Therefore, an idea, other conscious state, or consciousness in general, is not a serious candidate for the creator of the physical universe. It would need a physical brain, which means there would already be a physical universe by definition.

Power is physical, and always depends on the physical world. The creator of the physical universe could not be a power. My opponent has failed to identify a non-physical sense of the word "power" that could apply to the creator the universe, so he has failed to meet requirement 1, presenting a coherent definition of God.

2. The Case for God's Existence

My opponent has presented a deductive argument with eight premises, P1-P8. When evaluating this argument, it is critical to keep two things in mind:

(a) From Round 1, he agreed when accepting this debate that the burden of proof is on him. I can present evidence to undermine his premises, but that is icing on the cake, not an obligation of mine.

(b) It is a basic principle of critical thinking that the conclusion of a deductive argument cannot be more certain than the least certain premise that it depends on, because it requires every premise in the deduction to be true. However, it can be less certain than the least certain premise it depends on, provided that more than one premise of the argument is less than certain.

Therefore, if any one premise of his argument is not established to be more likely than not to be true, I automatically win, because he has not met his burden of proof. However, even if every premise of his argument is more likely than not to be true, the cumulative uncertainty of the premises may still render the conclusion less than probable. For example, even if every premise of his argument has a probability of 75%, the probability of the conclusion is 0.75 multiplied by itself eight times, which is only about 10%.

Now, to the argument (which is basically William Lane Craig's kalam cosmological argument).

P1 The universe has a beginning

My opponent clearly has not shown that this premise is more likely than not to be true. He has not presented any evidence against the claim that the Big Bang was caused by a prior state of the universe - as far as the evidence presented in this debate, there is no way of deciding against that possibility and in favor the one he has argued for (a god). This alone is enough to overthrow his argument.

However, I have also argued repeatedly that there is no scenario on which the universe had a beginning - regardless of whether the universe has existed for an infinite period of time or a finite period. I refer you to my previous posts for this argument. If you agree with me about this, then (a) the probability of this premise is 0% by definition and the argument fails, and (b) the causal principle my opponent's entire argument depends on does not apply to the universe.

In addition, there is the Big Crunch theory, which states that the universe has existed forever. The Big Crunch theory is not the theory best supported by evidence at present, but it might realistically be true. Any probability that this theory has, or any probability that any other cosmological model has, or any lack of confidence we have in our ability to accurately model the universe's beginning billions of years in the past at all (and what a debatable issue!), goes to undermine my opponent's case.

P2 Everything with a beginning, had some sufficient power to cause it

This principle is unjustified, and there is no evidence for it. The only principle we have evidence for is "everything with a physical beginning had a sufficient physical power to create it." This is the only principle that is supported by our experience - my opponent's principle, which is intended to support a non-physical cause, is based on no evidence. (If he refers to his arguments from Nietzsche's concept of power and the American Dream, see my discussion above. Neither of these analogies help support the existence of a god.)

P3 No cause is its direct effect subject to an A-theory view of time

Most physicists support the B theory of time. I don't personally have a detailed knowledge of the debate, but if the physicists are right about this then my opponent's argument fails. So, any authority that the physicists have goes to undermine this premise, and therefore my opponent's argument is rendered even less certain.

C2 (P4, P5) A deist god semantically equates to the sufficient power that caused the universe

My opponent himself admits that "the universe could potentially have been caused by something that is not-god." He is clearly correct that this is possible, and he has presented no evidence to rule out the possibility. This undermines his argument.

3. Conclusion

The main thing I want you to keep in mind when judging this is that my opponent has the burden of proof, and his case depends on a single deductive argument. Therefore, I only need one cogent objection to my opponent's case to win the debate. I'll spell this out.

Requirement 1: If you think my objection to the coherence of my opponent's definition is cogent, then you must vote in my favor.

Requirement 2: There are two ways I could win on this requirement. First, if you think I have shown that any single premise my opponent's case depends on is not more likely than not to be true, then you must vote in my favor. Secondly, you might think that although each individual premise is probable, my objections "nickel and dime" my opponent's case such that the conclusion he is deducing has not been shown to be more likely than not to be true. (See section 2 in this post for elaboration.)
TheUnexaminedLife

Pro

I refer my opponent to R1, when I wrote 'I will include evidence if my opponent wants an evidence-based debate’ to which they were despondent. To then, in R5 argue that I haven't used evidence is a pretty low move; you freed me from evidential BOP when you didn't clarify my response. Additionally, requirement 2 is the form of a disjunction, 'cogent arguments or evidence', meaning that by agreeing to the debate, all I had to illustrate was one or the other. The thing about cogency, persuasiveness, is that is cogent depending of what side of the debate you are on. I’m sure this is why you have been taking the authoritarian tone of voice in your writing, guiding the voters to how they must vote. To amend this in the future, if I was you, I would write ‘sound arguments and evidence’ if it is both of these things which you are asking for. However, this is all technical logical jargon; I know you’ve sought to be like a judge in this debate, but if you are going to be a judge (already presupposing yourself right), I have to call you out on your self-imposed judicial laws. You could have entered into this debate being much less arid in your approach.
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As you implicitly suggested the argument may be deductive, but the premises are inductive and rely on probability. Thus, the conclusion must be that 'God probably exists’.

Definitions
I now understand your position: from Nietzsche’s naturalism, you have then inferred that all things in the universe are physical. This is still however not the case and a very strange argument for someone who professes to be a property dualist. I know Descartes says that res cogitans is bound to res extensa, assuming a brain identity theory as you do (‘a physical brain’) which I think is erroneous given that our identity is embodied (unrelated I know). But, I refer you to the definition of ‘physical’: ‘of or relating to that which is material’ (http://www.dictionary.com...).

Then, I refer you to some of the non-material things in the universe: dark matter, energy waves, empty space. These can still have power without having a physical substrate. Energy and light travels in waves, and is not bound to a physical material like atoms (except in cases where wave-particle duality is salient). Your real argument is that I haven’t proved anything outside of our universe.
Things that exist can have power without material physicality. My definition of god, as I’ve repeatedly asserted, is as an ineffable power only with certain necessary requirements their existence is predicated on. I haven’t ruled out the possibility that god is physical, only that they are supernatural; I have claimed that god’s is transcendent, unknowable, and beyond nature but that they must have sufficient power to cause the universe if they are going to be the deist god.

The American Dream has power but is not in itself physical. I can’t physically grasp the American Dream; yes, I may embody it and it may rely on this embodiment, but that fact in itself doesn’t mean that it is physical.

What’s more, I’m not using a Nietzschean definition of power; if you read back, I conjoined his name with Foucault and Weber in an attempt to argue how your prior definition of 'power' was reductive.


2. The Case for God's Existence

If you don’t mind, I will ignore the basic philosophy lesson you gave given that it was intended to coerce voters rather than argue about god’s existence. Though, I am concerned how you are encouraging them into a form of the McNamara fallacy here, making them judge from inductive statistics rather than the argument itself.

every premise of his argument has a probability of 75%’. From where have you plucked that number from for this purely rhetorical point?

P1 The expansion of the universe has a beginning

I have amended this premise to meet your pedantic standards. It would still require, as Aristotle puts it, a ‘primum movens’ (a First Cause) to occur. This we can call the deist god. An empty, capacious, existence—nothingness—prior to this event could of existed. I struggle to understand why you think that the universe (by which I refer to the expansion of material and energy) was caused by itself without being able to describe any mechanism to me by which it was done so. To not provide me this mechanism and then ask me to argue against it, is like arguing against a brick wall. The prior existence you refer to was nothingness and not what we commonly ascribe as the universe, that is the existence of something.

The Big Crunch theory doesn’t state that our universe is eternal, only that it will condense after expanding thereby supporting the resulting notion that the universe has always done this (on what in laymen’s terms is an elastic band model of the universe).

You haven’t argued that ‘there is no scenario on which the universe had a beginning’; you’ve stated it. It is not my place to provide evidence against the existence of which there is no evidence for (energy and atoms prior to the Big Bang). That would be like asking someone to prove why an imaginary colour doesn’t exist. What the evidence shows is that all universal reality can be reduced down to a singular regularity; where it originated from is unknown. All I’ve done is call this unknown an external reality to our caused universe that we can name god, if we want to.

'All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning' (Hawking)
http://www.hawking.org.uk...

a) Scientific probability is not determined by personal viewpoints and (b), the fallacy of composition, which I have already raised and dealt with.

Since I wasn't arguing an evidential debate, I assumed my opponent had a basic awareness of the current scientfic positions, with the probability being stacked in my favour. I have deferred to Hawking to reiterate my position to provide a more authoritarian voice to reassert what I have already said.

P2 Everything with a beginning, had some sufficient power to cause it

Your response to P2 is nonsense. "everything with a physical beginning had a sufficient physical power to create it."; you again assume I’m arguing for a non-physical god, a false attribution and thereby a straw man argument. And, the principle we have evidence for is for it to be ‘caused’ and not ‘created’. When a domino causes another to move, it doesn’t ‘create’ that domino but it causes its momentum. Similarly, my definition of god set the Big Bang into motion and this was not done in ex nihilo but by a power which transcends this universe. Things are caused into being, they aren't necessarily created; in our universe anyway, by the first law of thermodynamics, there is nothing new under the Sun; nothing is created but caused. God may be caused, but this still wouldn't negate that they caused the universe being what I ascribe a pre-existence to the physical universe.

P3 No cause is its direct effect subject to an A-theory view of time

‘Most physicists support the B theory of time.’ Weak. Appeal to authority/ majority that is completely without a supporting statistic or poll. Since you’ve done it, so will I. Most philosophers and intellectuals believe that the universe was caused under A-theory time by a deist god, so if you don’t want to be a fool, you’ll agree with them too. The past, present and future obviously do not exist all at once: time progresses.

C2 (P4, P5) A deist god semantically equates to the sufficient power that caused the universe

My opponent himself admits that "the universe could potentially have been caused by something that is not-god." He is clearly correct that this is possible, and he has presented no evidence to rule out the possibility.

I used that in covering all potential outcomes; to say that the universe wasn't caused by the definition I have given, is absurd. Yet, because the pre-universe is transcendent, there is a small possibility that the cause likewise transcends us. Arguing against this would again be like arguing against an imaginary colour; there is no reference data to argue against and overcome. Hence, to ask me to do so is simply moronic.
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Taking the position of a passive judge, my opponent hasn’t debated. He’s quite formally and quite aridly stayed back, making claims and not providing evidence for them, guiding people how to vote as if they couldn’t decide for themselves. I would recommend that if he wants to have more fruitful debates, for him to adopt an adversarial rather than inquisitorial style of debate.



Debate Round No. 5
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheUnexaminedLife 7 months ago
TheUnexaminedLife
Assuming that you want to send me a message, you now can...
Posted by C_e_e 7 months ago
C_e_e
TheUnexaminedLife, would you please change your settings so that you can receive individual messages? If you click on my name, for example, on the page that loads, beneath my profile picture are the clickable words "Send a Message". But, I can't do that if I visit your page.
Posted by whiteflame 8 months ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: Coveny// Mod action: NOT Removed<

3 points to Pro (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: As per the rules as I read them Pro must achieve two points, and Con has undermine those two points. In other words Con must prove that Pro hasn't established that god exists. (so the burden of proof isn't required if Con doesn't contest it) Con agreed that power did not require physical form.(uncontested) Con did not prove Pros definition of supernatural to be an unreasonable term in my opinion. Therefore #1 was achieved. Point 2 hinges on what the word cogent means (it can be defined as believable and obviously theism is believable given the number of followers) and I feel like Con was remiss in not defining it. As per the above Cons must prove that Pro's usage is "wrong" and Con did not refute Pros usage of cogent, and therefore Con ticks both his required boxes "winning". Pro presented a coherent definition of god and cogent arguments for his existence in my opinion and "wins". PS I'm an athiest as well.

[*Reason for non-removal*] The voter specifically assesses arguments made by both debaters and goes so far as to thoroughly analyze the burden of proof, who has it, why they have it, and how they met it.
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Posted by canis 8 months ago
canis
so its nothing else than a statement like "Purple elephants exist"..
Posted by canis 8 months ago
canis
What is a god in fact ? we have no facts..
Posted by TheUnexaminedLife 8 months ago
TheUnexaminedLife
That may be true, and I can't help thinking by defining God as all being--existence itself-- we would simplifying a lot of problems.

In regards to pantheism, if it were everything that would still differentiate it from deism. I've argued deism as whatever may be outside of this universe. Pantheism would be both-- this universe and the outside.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
I think it would be possible to imagine that a pantheistic god was the entire (observable) universe without being restricted to just a single universe.

There could be more of it "somewhere else", in the same way a deistic being might be.

If you suppose that a deistic being can create itself, I see no additional problem supposing that a pantheistic being might do the same.
Posted by TheUnexaminedLife 8 months ago
TheUnexaminedLife
Well I think one major differentiation would be that how could a pantheist god cause itself? A deist god is the causer of the universe. The pantheistic god, the universe itself.
Posted by 3RU7AL 8 months ago
3RU7AL
I think deism and pantheism may be compatible.

Deism: belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind.

Pantheism: a doctrine that identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God.

It would seem that one could have a god-universe that never violates the laws of the universe "to supernaturally intervene in the affairs of men" so to speak.

[definitions from google]
Posted by TheUnexaminedLife 8 months ago
TheUnexaminedLife
Thanks Ockham, I will keep that in mind. I usually copy and paste my arguments from word in case my internet crashes, hence the small font.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Coveny 8 months ago
Coveny
OckhamTheUnexaminedLifeTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: As per the rules as I read them Pro must achieve two points, and Con has undermine those two points. In other words Con must prove that Pro hasn't established that god exists. (so the burden of proof isn't required if Con doesn't contest it) Con agreed that power did not require physical form.(uncontested) Con did not prove Pros definition of supernatural to be an unreasonable term in my opinion. Therefore #1 was achieved. Point 2 hinges on what the word cogent means (it can be defined as believable and obviously theism is believable given the number of followers) and I feel like Con was remiss in not defining it. As per the above Cons must prove that Pro's usage is "wrong" and Con did not refute Pros usage of cogent, and therefore Con ticks both his required boxes "winning". Pro presented a coherent definition of god and cogent arguments for his existence in my opinion and "wins". PS I'm an athiest as well.