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

God exists.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Ockham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/22/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 12 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 866 times Debate No: 103277
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (19)
Votes (1)

 

Ockham

Con

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

By accepting this debate, Pro agrees that they have the burden of proof to establish that it is objectively more likely than not that God exists. The rules for assessing this are the standard rules of logic, including the rules of deductive and inductive inference. For example, a deductive argument must be deductively valid and have premises that we have sufficient reason to believe are true, and an inductive argument must establish that the conclusion is the best or only explanation for the evidence cited in the premises.

God for the purposes of this debate shall be defined, by default, as an omnipotent, omniscient, all good person. I take this definition from the first paragraph of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on "Concepts of God." [1]

If Pro wants to use a definition other than this default definition, they should ask for me to approve it in the comments section before accepting the debate. The following types of definition are unacceptable: (a) Definitions that attempt to win the debate by defining God as something that obviously exists, like "God is love" or "God is the universe." (b) Definitions that attempt to define God as something radically different from the traditional Judeo-Christian God as conceived of by Anselm, Aquinas, Richard Swinburne, or other traditional authors.

[1] https://plato.stanford.edu...
BrettBoelkens

Pro

I am an antitheist, but I would like to try to argue the other side to improve my own skills.

Arguments
I disagree right off the bat that God should be defined as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. If this was true, Gods' attributes are mutually contradictory. If God knows his own future decisions, he doesn't have free will, since the future was already set. If he can't change his decisions, he isn't omnipotent, if he doesn't know the future, he isn't omniscient. God himself can't limit his own powers, for example, in the Simpsons, he can't microwave a burrito so hot he can't eat it. Also under most theology, humans have free will, so God can't be omniscient. Also if humans can resist God's will, he isn't omnipotent. Plenty of Christians don't believe in the concept. Islam doesn't teach that Allah is all good, he is merely all just. Buddhism doesn't have a God most of the time. Hinduism has loads of Gods, but none are like that. At present, most people's view of God is different than that of the typical Christian view. And this is ignoring all of the other pre christian religions.

First off, I'll borrow William Lane Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument. To begin, everything that begins to exists must have at least one cause. Due to Big Bang cosmology, we know the universe had a beginning. Therefore the universe had at least one prior cause for its existence. The universe can't have existed infinitely in the past, due to the impossibility of an actual infinite. If actual infinities did exist, we could have ridiculous things such as Hilbert's Hotel, which has an infinite number of rooms and can accommodate an infinite number of guests an infinite number of times.

Second, the Leibniz Cosmological Argument. According to the principle of sufficient reason, everything that exists must have a sufficient reason for its existence. Not to be captain obvious, but the universe exists. By extension, it must have an explanation for its existence. God serves as the only explanation for the existence of the universe, therefore God must exist.

Third, the Teleological Argument, more well known as the Argument from Design, or Paley's Watchmaker Argument. If one comes across watch in the middle of a beach, one won't say that it just came to be, or it came along by chance. It would be absurd to say so. The only logical option is that a watchmaker designed it. When the analogy extends to the universe, one must conclude that there must be a divine artificer, a heavenly watchmaker. Similar arguments have been made about the Fine Tuning of the universe. If one of the fundamental constants such as the strong force, weak force, gravitational force, the force of electromagnetism, Plank's constant, speed of light, etc. In total there are approximately 26 or so of them. But if one changed a single constant by a hair's length, life itself wouldn't exist. The line of reasoning is similar, saying that design is much more likely than chance. Some have proposed a hypothetical multiverse, due to quirks in cosmology, particle physics, and string theory. But at the moment, this can't be used as an explanation, since it's completely unknown if they exist or not. Their very existence may contradict Carl Popper's principle of falsifiability in science since we are stuck in our universe. This is also a potential problem due to the inverse gambler's fallacy, where if someone gets a royal flush in poker 5 times in a row, which has a 3.3554432*10^-13 chance of occurring, they can just say that they are in the universe where they get 5 royal flushes in a row. Others have proposed that other forms of life could exist elsewhere. I wish to see their evidence for this. The Drake equation is very unclear in this manner, under the presumption that it is correct. Others have countered with the argument from poor design. Perhaps God isn't omnibenevolent, omnipotent or omniscient, but this wouldn't disprove his existence.

From the Leibniz and Kalam Cosmological arguments, we know there must by some prior cause for the universe's existence that is the reason for its existence. It can't, of course, be an unconscious cause, since unconscious causes can't move towards a goal. If I may quote Aquinas, "as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer," nature achieves the goals of a designer. From the teleological arguments, we, of course, know there must be an explanation for design and this fine tuning. From all of this, we know there is a designer, and this designer must be God.

Anticipated Objections

Immediately, when thinking of objections and counter arguments for Theism, one thinks of Epicurus' Problem of Evil. Whether it be the logical or evidential problem, they address the same points. Is God all powerful? Is God all good? Is God all knowing? These aren't the question of this debate, it could very well be for another debate, but it is irrelevant to this debate. And there are several theodicies proposed by many different theologians. Perhaps this is the best of all possible worlds. Perhaps God wanted us to have free will, so he allows evil. Perhaps as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God. Or maybe evil is an illusion.

Second would be the argument from poor design. This covers only the goodness, power or knowledge of God. It doesn't mention his existence. This is again, a non-sequitur to this debate.

The third objection would more likely than not be that of Occam's Razor, and I would be surprised if my opponent didn't mention it. It is what his profile name is. Occam's Razor is the principle to not multiply entities beyond necessity. What proof does my opponent have that God isn't a necessary explanation? This line of argument can also lead to a reductionist view, thinking that some things don't exist when they in fact do.

Fourth would be the argument from inconsistent revelation. This is still a non-sequitur to this debate on God's existence. He could have been crucified and been dead for a weekend just for fun, and be up around to start Islam. A couple centuries later he starts Scientology, Mormonism, and some cargo cults. But regardless, this is irrelevant to if he exists. He could also just be a deist god, and not interfere with human affairs.



Debate Round No. 1
Ockham

Con

My opponent disagrees with my definition of God. However, I specified in the first round that it was the default definition for this debate, and that my opponent would need to have me approve any other definition before accepting the debate. Therefore, God for the purposes of this debate should be defined as an omnipotent, omniscient, all good person, as stipulated in the first round.

My opponent presents a battery of arguments for the claim that this definition is self contradictory, which I happily accept as sound and as providing strong if not conclusive support for my (Con) position.

In response to Craig's kalam cosmological argument, I would say that the universe did not begin to exist. Time is defined in terms of the universe in physics, so there was no time at which the universe did not exist, which means it did not begin to exist by definition.

My opponent's Leibnizian cosmological argument overlooks the possibility that the universe exists necessarily. He gives this status to God anyway, so we may as well give it to what we know to exist, namely the universe.

The only reason my opponent gives for thinking that the cause of the universe (which has not been established in the first place) was conscious is the watchmaker argument and the fine tuning argument. However, we tell whether something is designed by comparing it with things we know have been made by humans, and the universe does not look like anything that we know has been made by a human, so the inference cannot be justified.

In addition, my opponent has only argued for a conscious cause of the universe. He has made no attempt to argue that the cause was omniscient, omnipotent, or all good, which are the defining traits of God as stipulated in round 1. He is trying to win the debate by setting out a much less ambitious definition that I would not have agreed to, since it has much less religious or practical significance than the default definition.
BrettBoelkens

Pro

My opponent says I have not met my burden of proof by not providing evidence for an OOO (omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent) deity. This is was never my position in the first place due it's mutually contradictory nature making its very existence impossible. It would be like trying to argue for 4 sided triangles, married bachelors, and circular squares. Honestly, that would be an interesting debate, trying to defend the undefendable. That is why I didn't accept this definition since my opponent might as well win by default.

However, if a deity did exist, no matter if it was OOO, it would still have major practical and religious significance. Whoever found this out with relative certainty would win a Nobel Prize. But we aren't dealing with certainty, we are dealing with probability. What is the more likely to be truth, atheism or theism? I am arguing for theism of course. For my opponent to win, he must argue against not only an OOO God, he must argue against the God of classical theism, Spinoza's god, a deistic God, polytheism, etc. The God of Christianity isn't the only potential God available. My opponent personally identifies as an Atheist. Upon most traditional definitions, this must mean that he believes that it is more reasonable to not believe in any gods than to in fact believe. He can't merely disbelieve in the God of Christianity, he must disbelieve in the existence of all the other thousands of Gods. Unless my opponent is an agnostic atheist (aka weak atheism) or believes in the null hypothesis, he must prove that all other Gods do not exist. If he only disbelieves in the God of Christianity he is then a non-Christian, not an atheist. This would be a false dichotomy since Christianity and Atheism aren't the only options. He can't merely prove that gods would be quite unpleasant, he must prove that they don't exist.

His position may possibly suffer from being an argument from ignorance, saying that Atheism is true since there is no proof Theism is true. If he does in fact say, there are no Gods, then the burden of proof is on him to prove this. His position may also suffer from the Black Swan Fallacy, saying that there are not any Gods since we have never seen any. But as one could possibly have never seen a black swan, one could very well could possibly never seen a God. My opponent will more likely than not come up with a reductio ad absurdum, such as comparing God to unicorns or celestial teapots. First off, saying that God is about as likely as Santa Clause is never a good way to convince someone, though some atheists have said there is more evidence for Santa Clause. Second off, a reductio ad absurdum only holds if the law of excluded middle holds, which it doesn't under a dichotomy of Atheism and Christianity.

My opponent also doesn't counter any of the proposed solutions to his possible objections. Until he does, they are still standing.

He also proposed that we understand that something is designed due to comparing it things made by humans. This isn't necessarily true, for example, take beaver dams and bee hives. We knew they were, for a lack of a better term designed by animals well before we ever made man made dams or artificial beehives. We also know that we can create artificial universes on the computer using some fancy science and programming. This also completely ignores the premises the Fine Tuning Argument. To go back to the Royal Flush example, what is more likely? For 5 royal flushes to appear completely randomly, or that someone is cheating. It is, in fact, true, that it may have come about by chance, but one must ask what are the chances of that?

My opponent has also proposed that the very concept of time before the creation of the universe is completely nonsensical. How does he, in fact, know that time started with the universe. Or nevermind that, why couldn't it be created by a timeless deity.

Next, most people have believed in Gods and the supernatural. What evidence do you have that all of them are wrong? Would the Gospel writers and others die for something they knew were a lie?



Debate Round No. 2
Ockham

Con

As I said to begin with, the default definition for this debate is that God is an omnipotent, omniscient, and all good person. My opponent did not ask me to approve his alternative definition, as I stipulated in round 1, so the default definition is the one that applies to this debate. My opponent has presented no arguments for this definition and has argued that it is impossible, so I should be judged the winner of the debate.

The burden of proof principle says that every claim must be supported by arguments or evidence. This is my response to my opponent's claim that I need to refute the existence of the God of classical theism, Spinoza's god, etc. Until he presents some reason to take these claims seriously, I can dismiss them under the burden of proof principle. That's how debates work. I don't have to hunt down every argument for God in the history of philosophy to win the debate, I just have to respond to the arguments presented.

On the other hand, if it's acceptable to just gesture at a bunch of books that argue for your view, I can refer to the work of Michael Martin, Graham Oppy, Herman Philipse, and Jordan Howard Sobel. There are dozens of books that argue for atheism, so I don't think my opponent wants to say that just mentioning someone who disagrees with him is sufficient to give him an obligation to refute all of that person's work. Let's go by the arguments and evidence, not name dropping.

My opponent accuses me of arguing from ignorance and committing the black swan fallacy, but I am really just applying the burden of proof principle. If you assert something, such as that there is a God, you need to give arguments or evidence for it. In addition, I stipulated in round 1 that my opponent automatically accepts the burden of proof by accepting the debate.

He says that we can know that things we've never seen humans create are designed, like beaver dams and beehives, but I think this is just nitpicking rather than addressing the point of the objection. We know that beavers and bees create dams and hives because we have seen them do so. We have never seen a divine intelligence create a universe.

The fine tuning argument assumes that an intelligence would be likely to want to create a universe with life, which there is no reason to believe. We have no objective way of figuring out what a god would be likely to want in a universe. This argument is anthropomorphic - projecting the fact that humans subjectively like life onto a god who would necessarily be a very different type of being. So even if the particular values of the constants that we have are unlikely (although by what standard can we objectively assert that?), the fact that these constants gave rise to life is no reason to think a god caused them. We have no idea what a god would be likely to cause as opposed to blind natural processes. This is why my opponent's analogy to five royal flushes is flawed: we know that humans want to get five royal flushes, but we don't know that gods want a universe with life.

As I said, time is defined in terms of the universe in physics, so it did not exist prior to the universe by definition. I am not saying it could not conceivably have been created by a timeless God. I can imagine all sorts of things that "might" have caused time or the universe. My contention, rather, is that there is no reason to believe that God caused the universe or time.

My opponent implies that the God and/or the supernatural must exist because a lot of people believe in it. I think this is clearly a weak argument. Matters of truth in philosophy are not settled by a poll, they are settled by evidence and arguments, which my opponent has failed to provide.

To sum up, my opponent has argued against the coherence of the definition of God that applies to this debate and failed to provide any compelling reason to believe in God. Therefore, I should be judged the winner.
BrettBoelkens

Pro

Due to my opponent not bringing forth any evidence for his position, and merely attacking mine, he is much like creationists trying to poke holes in evolution. Proving evolution to be false of course does not make creationism true. He still needs evidence that his position is correct, and he has provided none. He says that he needs none, but to meet his burden of proof, he needs evidence. Imagine a madman walking the city streets, shouting that God is dead and that we have killed him. Of course, evidence is necessary for this, Nietzsche knew this, and that is why he not only rebutted arguments but tried to propagate his own. Unlike Nietzsche, my opponent doesn't even attempt to prove his own position, he just says that I haven't proved mine. However, I have provided a plethora of arguments, trying to meet my burden of proof. I at the very least, put my feet in the theological water.

For his claim to be true that gods probably do not exist, he must have evidence against all the gods of history, not merely the God of Christianity. It doesn't matter if I don't prove Yahweh if Allah exists. Both gods are required to have evidence against them. If it is true, that gods don't exist, then there must be evidence for this claim. My opponent provides nil. I do try to accept my burden of proof by providing arguments for the motion.

Let's go back to the design arguments. If you were part of an uncontacted tribe and saw a helicopter off the coast of your island or such, you would, in fact, know it was designed, though you might not blame this on humans.

I didn't accuse you of committing an argument from ignorance fallacy and the black swan fallacy. I said there is a possibility that you did. There is a difference, I personally do not know enough of your own personal beliefs to know if you are a strong or weak atheist, and the difference between the two is substantial.

I didn't intentionally mean to use an argument from authority by citing names. I typically do this so people know what I am referring to. I do this practice literally all the time whether it be a debate or not. And this is only fallacious if one cites an authority, who isn't an authority, or if someone says that something is right merely since they are an authority. And I did neither of those. You could accuse me of name dropping, but I really don't intend to do so.

My opponent has said that my arguments have not been compelling. I beg to differ. Loads of people have found these arguments compelling and that is why apologists often use them. What I think he meant to say that they are not logically valid, nor sound.

In the end, I must thank my opponent for this opportunity to debate him. He was a great debater, and I would do the same again if so asked.




Debate Round No. 3
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 11 months ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: Ubermensch-Tsoa// Mod action: Removed<

3 point to Pro (Argument). Reasons for voting decision: The debate started already stacked but PRO did a good job predicting and addressing CON's arguments therefore reducing and diminishing the impact on CON's arguement.

[*Reason for removal*] The voter must assess specific arguments made by both debaters.
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Posted by BrettBoelkens 11 months ago
BrettBoelkens
Thanks
Posted by Ockham 11 months ago
Ockham
Sure, I'll look it over. I cannot vote on debates, though.
Posted by BrettBoelkens 11 months ago
BrettBoelkens
I personally like the null hypothesis, but I like using it with additional argument. Anyway, can you look at this other debate of mine. I need some critique.

http://www.debate.org...
Posted by BrettBoelkens 11 months ago
BrettBoelkens
Good job, I would debate you again. Thanks for debating. The awkward thing is that I'm an atheist, but I somehow convinced one of the voters God exists.
Posted by Ockham 11 months ago
Ockham
Well my friend, it looks like we have a tie. Good debate.
Posted by BrettBoelkens 11 months ago
BrettBoelkens
Hey, lets flip a coin to tell who wins. Heads I win, tails you lose. :)
Posted by Ockham 11 months ago
Ockham
It seems like voting is basically a weighted random number generator. I have no idea who is going to win this, the score has been going back and forth for days.
Posted by whiteflame 11 months ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: BackCommander// Mod action: Removed<

3 point to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: I'm awarding points where they're deserved, though my main reason for voting is that on this site the creator of the debate gets to set up the rules. There is no way around this and it cannot be argued after the fact. Con set forth a definition and applied the burden of proof for the argument, both were argued against by Pro. This last part is just a bit of advice for Pro if they plan on continuing sharpening their debating skills using this site. The maker of the debate completely controls is by setting up the ground rules. You must only accept a debate when you agree with those rules, the action if accepting the debate is seen as an acceptance of those rules and definitions. You can literally make a debate and set the rule that anyone who accepts it loses the debate to you and according to the rules you'll win.

[*Reason for removal*] While the voter does make it clear that Pro is not allowed to contest the definition after accepting the debate, it"s still unclear why Con won the debate. The voter is still required to at least point to one argument made by Con that affirms the resolution with his set of definitions, even if Pro"s entire argument was off-topic based on those definitions (which isn"t made entirely clear by this RFD).
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Posted by whiteflame 11 months ago
whiteflame
*******************************************************************
>Reported vote: Emily77// Mod action: Removed<

7 points to Pro. Reasons for voting decision: Realistically, though I am also an atheist and will continue to be as such, Pro did a solid job of arguing this debate. Debates here are an intellectual exercise, and the fact that con refused to engage in said exercise simply because pro "made it harder" is a childish stance. Pro had many arguments that any atheist could easily counter, and Con wasn't able to capitalize on a single one. Well done, Pro!

[*Reason for removal*] The voter is required to specifically assess arguments made by both debaters. This requires more than speaking in generalities about each side generally did. While the voter does this somewhat for Con, the same cannot be said of the analysis of Pro"s arguments.
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by philochristos 12 months ago
philochristos
OckhamBrettBoelkensTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded the debate in the first round when he flat out admitted that an omniscient and omnipotent God does not exist. As stipulated in Con's round 1, that's what Pro was supposed to defend.