The Instigator
Ockham
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
platoandaristotle
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: 8/2/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 527 times Debate No: 103380
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
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...
platoandaristotle

Pro

Challenge accepted. Judging by the number of rounds, I'm going first. Agree to the definition, although I think I want clarification about the extent of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence because I have some arguments which rely on that.
1. Evidence
If my opponent wishes to raise the issue of faith, the problem would be that in the case in which there is no evidence, agnosticism becomes the most reasonable position. God, as has been described, should be a driving supernatural force in improving the world - but there is no evidence of the supernatural even existing.
2. Evil
We've agreed to a definition which, if true, means that God has the ability, knowledge, and desire to prevent evil.
However, if this is the case, a contradiction appears. Plenty of natural evil occurs, which by any moral standard, is a negative influence. If God could stop this evil and did not, it would be wrong, and thus God would not be omnipotent.
3. Contradictions
I think that these individual traits are contradictory.
If God is all-good, then he cannot do evil; however, if he is all-powerful, he must be able to.
If God is all-knowing, then he cannot learn; however, if he is all-powerful, he must be able to learn.
These are what I meant when I said that clarity is needed on the extent of these traits. Some definitions may invalidate these arguments, admittedly.
Debate Round No. 1
Ockham

Con

I've reached an agreement with my opponent:

1. My opponent's round 1 speech will be disregarded during judging.
2. My opponent's next two speeches will argue for the claim that God exists as stipulated in the rules.
3. My next speech will attempt to undermine his arguments for the existence of God as stipulated in the rules.
4. All other rules relating to this debate stated in my round 1 speech remain in force.

Basically, the resolution will be the same, but it will be a two round debate instead of a three round debate.
platoandaristotle

Pro

Note: I'm here as a competitive debater, so I don't necessarily agree with Pro
Time for my actual argument.
The debate over the existence of God is very important. Most people have determined that God exists - here are a few reasons why their choice is rational.
1. The Creation of the Universe
If the universe came into existence at some point, it must have a cause, just like everything does. Scientists agree that the existence of the universe has been finite - the Borde-Guth-Vilenken theorem shows that expansion phases of the universe must be finite.
That means a cause with immense power which transcends the universe, can make decisions independent of spacetime, and at some point along the causal chain, necessary being must exist.
2. The Design In The Universe
It is very unlikely for any random universe to support life, especially when considering the constants of the universe, which, if ever so slightly varied, would make a universe which does not support life.
It seems unlikely that this is necessity, chance, or evolution.
The being mentioned in our previous argument, then, might also have a mind with an intent to create humanity.
3. Plausible Miracles
The Disciples of Christ mentioned in the New Testament had every reason not to trust Christ(they were Jews and in a theocratic dictatorship), but clearly were convinced by the resurrection. Why would they lie?
Many Christians also experience happiness, and a feeling that God is speaking to them, during religious rituals. This is clearly normal, and requires an explanation, the simplest of which is God, doing something to their soul to produce an effect on the brain.
Debate Round No. 2
Ockham

Con

I agree with my opponent that the debate over God's existence is very important. However, I don't think he has successfully defended the claim that God exists.

My opponent begins by pointing out that most people think that God exists. This is true, but I don't think it is a reason to take the claim that God exists more seriously than we would if only a minority of people accepted the claim. For one thing, that would be the ad populum fallacy [1]. In addition, there is an explanation for this fact that doesn't require God to exist or even be a reasonable hypothesis, namely that most people simply are not familiar with the philosophical and scientific considerations that motivate atheism. Support for the latter explanation comes from the fact that most philosophers don't believe in God [2] and that most members of the National Academy of Sciences do not believe in God either [3].

Now, let's move on to my opponent's arguments for God's existence.

1. The Creation of the Universe

For convenience, I will quote my opponent's argument in full:

"If the universe came into existence at some point, it must have a cause, just like everything does. Scientists agree that the existence of the universe has been finite - the Borde-Guth-Vilenken theorem shows that expansion phases of the universe must be finite. That means a cause with immense power which transcends the universe, can make decisions independent of spacetime, and at some point along the causal chain, necessary being must exist."

One might be tempted to criticize this argument for failing to demonstrate that the cause is conscious, let alone capable of "making decisions." My opponent has something to say about that in the next section, so I will pass it over for now.

However, I will point out that my opponent has offered no support, anywhere in his post, for the claim that God is omnipotent, omniscient, or perfectly good. Even if I granted all of his reasoning, it would only establish the existence of a very powerful being who decided to create the universe. In addition, there could be more than one God (billions even, for all he has argued), and God might have passed out of existence immediately after creating the universe. So my opponent's arguments do not come anywhere near establishing the resolution.

My opponent's only support for the claim that the universe began to exist is the Borde - Guth - Vilenkin theorem. I try not to get involved in debates about things in cosmology that I have no first hand understanding of, because it always turns into "dueling quotes." Basically, one person quotes a physicist saying something that sounds supportive of their view, and the other person quotes something a physicist said that sounds supportive of their view, and it just goes on until one side or the other runs out of quotes. It's a completely worthless exercise among any group of people that lack an advanced grasp of cosmology - among which my opponent and I are obviously included.

Here is the actual conclusion of the paper that established the Borde - Guth - Vilenkin theorem:

"Our argument shows that null and time-like geodesics are, in general, past-incomplete in inflationary models, whether or not energy conditions hold, provided only that the averaged expansion condition H av > 0 holds along these past-directed geodesics." [4]

If my opponent is going to rely on the Borde - Guth - Vilenkin theorem to support the existence of God, let him show the logical connections between that claim and the claim that the universe was created by God. Otherwise, I see no reason to take this argument seriously.

But okay, let's play dueling quotes. Victor Stenger emailed Vilenkin and asked him whether his theorem implies that the universe had an absolute beginning. He responded:

"No. But it proves that the expansion of the universe must have had a beginning. You can evade the theorem by postulating that the universe was contracting prior to some time." [5]

Clearly, this quote strongly undermines my opponent's position.

Another objection that can be made to my opponent's argument is that the premise contradicts the conclusion. The premise is that whatever begins to exist has a cause. But if whatever begins to exist has a cause, then there cannot be an absolute beginning to the universe, because the state of the universe at any given time has to be caused by a prior state that comes before it in time. So, my opponent's premise entails that the universe has existed forever.

This latter point also precludes there being any scientific support for my opponent's argument. The law of causality is a presupposition of science, and it entails that the universe has existed forever. Therefore, any argument to the effect that the universe had an absolute beginning is necessarily unscientific.

2. The Design in the Universe

For convenience, I will quote the entire relevant section of my opponent's post:

"It is very unlikely for any random universe to support life, especially when considering the constants of the universe, which, if ever so slightly varied, would make a universe which does not support life. It seems unlikely that this is necessity, chance, or evolution. The being mentioned in our previous argument, then, might also have a mind with an intent to create humanity."

No support for any of these premises is offered anywhere in the post.

There are actually a number of alternative explanations for the fine tuning of the universe under consideration by scientists. For example, the multiverse hypothesis holds that there are a lot of universes with different constants, which increases the probability of one of these universes containing life. [6]

Another problem with this argument is that we would not be here to wonder about the issue if our universe did not have the constants suited to producing life. There is nothing surprising about finding out that the universe is conducive to life - we knew that ahead of time.

In addition, the fine tuning argument overlooks the fact that we tell whether something was designed by a rational agent by comparing it with things that we know were made by humans. The universe does not resemble anything that humans make, so we have no objective basis for concluding that it was made by a rational agent.

In addition, the fine tuning argument assumes that a God would be likely to create life, but there is no rational basis for this assumption. A God would be so radically different from us that we have no basis for predicting what it would be likely to create. This entire argument is based on the fallacy of anthropomorphism - assuming that because we like life, God would like life.

3. "Plausible" Miracles

My opponent appeals to the Bible and religious experience as his final argument. However, David Hume pointed out a problem that applies to both of these alleged sources of evidence. It will always be more likely, in practice, that someone should lie or be deceived than that a miracle has occurred. No matter how unlikely it might seem that the disciples lied (and it's not really that unlikely, given the unreliability of our sources), it will be more unlikely that the laws of nature were violated, because we have more evidence for the law of nature than we do for the disciples' credibility.

Similarly, it will always be more likely that a Christian is misinterpreting an emotion or hallucinating than that they are having a religious experience caused by God. The religious experience would be a miracle if veridical, and therefore, that hypothesis will always be less likely than any remotely credible naturalistic explanation in practice. [7]

Conclusion

As you can see, my opponent's arguments are inadequate to support the resolution.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] https://philpapers.org...
[3] https://www.lhup.edu...
[4] https://arxiv.org...
[5] http://arizonaatheist.blogspot.com...
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] J. L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism
platoandaristotle

Pro

Note: I'm here as a competitive debater, so I don't necessarily agree with Pro
Final notes.
1. The Creation of the Universe
It is true that this argument does not argue for the "omni" traits of God. However, it establishes that the creator was very powerful (perhaps not omnipotent, but indicating such) in that whatever created the universe can act independently of spacetime and can also create an infinite expanse of spacetime out of nothing.
Regarding consciousness and free will, I ask: what else could be necessary and create a contingent object ex nihilo?
It is true that a past contraction phase may be possible. However, apart from the appealing nature of the hypothesis that spacetime is infinite, scientists scarcely accept this notion.
2. The Design in the Universe
One commonly cited instance of design is the cosmological constant, a variable in determining the expansion of the universe. Variance of 1 in 1^123 would cause an unusually fast or slow expansion phase, in any case making life impossible.
We can quote-war on this too: many scientists, such as Robert Jastrow, have talked about certain unusual coincidences that may lead us to believe in design.
3. Plausible Miracles
Hume's response is used by Con here. It may be true that miracles are intrinsically improbable. However, facts which I stated significantly increase the probability.
I have enjoyed the debate, and I hope the same is true for Con!
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Ockham 8 months ago
Ockham
Good debate.
Posted by platoandaristotle 8 months ago
platoandaristotle
Ockham: Okay.
Posted by Ockham 8 months ago
Ockham
Well, I don't really want to win a debate just because the other party misread the resolution. If you want, I'll ask the judges to disregard your round 1 post in my next speech. Then you can make some arguments for the existence of God, I'll criticize them, and you can give a response in the final round.

Basically, the resolution will be the same, except that it will be a two round debate instead of a three round debate. That will give you a fair chance of winning. Are you okay with that?
Posted by platoandaristotle 8 months ago
platoandaristotle
I mean Con.
Posted by platoandaristotle 8 months ago
platoandaristotle
Whoops, I thought I was Pro...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by philochristos 8 months ago
philochristos
OckhamplatoandaristotleTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con stipulated in the beginning that "God for the purposes of this debate shall be defined, by default, as an omnipotent, omniscient, all good person." After Con pointed out that Pro's first argument did not establish the omni's, Pro conceded. I don't know why the same point wasn't made about Pro's second argument, but the conclusion of that argument doesn't point to any omni's either. The only argument that might support the omni's is the third argument since, if sound, it would establish the existence of the Christian God who has the omni's. Pro gave two lines of evidence to support the third argument--the conversion of Jews by knowledge of the resurrection, and modern experience. Con appealed to Hume's argument to rebut both points, and Pro's only defense was to assert that the intrinsic improbability of miracles was overcome by the evidence he already gave. I don't think that amounts to an adequate response.