The Instigator
Ockham
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
BrianCBiggs
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

God exists.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 0 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/10/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 11 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 526 times Debate No: 103499
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (0)

 

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...
BrianCBiggs

Pro

I'd like to thank my opponent for this debate. 

I will be arguing that God exists. Simply put, we could not have this debate if God did not exist.

Theism is necessary for knowledge. This isn't to say that non-theists don't know anything, only that God is the necessary precondition for knowledge. Atheists have knowledge in practice, even if their belief in naturalism would prohibit it in principle.

In order for a human to have knowledge, their beliefs must have been produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly according to a good design plan aimed at true-belief production.

I must point out that when I am talking about knowledge, I do not mean true, justified belief. That definition of knowledge has been discredited. Instead, it should be replaced with the concept of warrant. Warrant is that characteristic, enough of which terms a true belief into knowledge.

Alvin Plantinga has argued that proper function and a good design plan aimed at true-belief production is necessary for warrant:

According to the central and paradigmatic core of our notion of warrant (so I say) a belief B has warrant for you if and only if (1) the cognitive faculties involved in the production of B are functioning properly (and this is to include the relevant defeater systems as well as those systems, if any, that provide propositional inputs to the system in question); (2) your cognitive environment is sufficiently similar to the one for which your cognitive faculties are designed; (3) the triple of the design plan governing the production of the belief in question involves, as purpose or function, the production of true beliefs (and the same goes for elements of the design plan governing the production of input beliefs to the system in question); and (4) the design plan is a good one: that is, there is a high statistical or objective probability that a belief produced in accordance with the relevant segment of the design plan in that sort of environment is true. Under these conditions, furthermore, the degree of warrant is given by some monotonically increasing function of the strength of ,S"s belief that B. This account of warrant, therefore, depends essentially upon the notion of proper function. (Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Function, 194.)

Plantinga's notions of "proper function" and "design plan" succeed where naturalistic accounts fail because Plantinga's notions provide a teleological normativity that naturalism cannot produce.

If naturalism were the case, then no human has cognitive faculties that function properly according to a good design plan aimed at true-belief production.

Ergo, if naturalism is the case, no human has knowledge. Given that the reasonableness of the idea that we have some knowledge (for this debate to even happen, knowledge is required), then due to the implausibility of the alternatives, theism is the case.

On top of that, I would add another way of looking at why this design would need to be the case to produce knowledge.

If no one has comprehensive knowledge of the universe, then no one can have any knowledge of the universe.

There are no "brute" facts. A fact can only be understood by understanding it in the context of it's relationship to other facts.

This means that the only way (apart from theism) that someone can gain knowledge is by understanding all of the relationships between all of the facts.

If you were to try to start with a fact and relate it to another fact without comprehensive knowledge, you could not know if what you purported to be knowledge would be entirely undermined by relationships you had not uncovered.

Perhaps you can think of geocentrism as an example of how this can happen.

But, you cannot simply argue that the probability of your purported knowledge being overturned is low since your ideas about probability are likewise subject to this dilemma.

Only God could have comprehensive knowledge of the universe, by virtue of having created it and defined the relationships between all of the facts.

And God is able to create beings whose cognitive faculties implicitly take into account ideas that God alone can know. In this way, God can give humans a reliable way of knowing that they could not otherwise have. One such idea could be the uniformity of nature presupposed by inductive reasoning.

Theism seems to be the precondition for knowledge. Naturalism provides insufficient conditions for knowledge.

[I owe these ideas to Alvin Plantinga, Cornelius Van Til, and James Anderson. Some of the language comes from James Anderson's paper: IF KNOWLEDGE THEN GOD: THE EPISTEMOLOGICAL THEISTIC ARGUMENTS OF PLANTINGA AND VAN TIL, published in the Calvin Theological Journal (April 2005).]
Debate Round No. 1
Ockham

Con

My opponent presents the following two reasons to think that knowledge depends upon God:

1. Plantinga's proper functionalism is the correct account of knowledge, and it requires the existence of God for knowledge to exist.
2. For anyone to have knowledge, there has to be an omniscient being.

Both of these arguments take the following form:

1. If God did not exist, knowledge would not be possible.
2. Knowledge is possible.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Preliminary Notes

First, note that an argument of this form implies a form of skepticism in the absence of an independent reason to believe in the existence of God. Because if the first premise is true, then any doubt about the existence of God turns into doubt about whether we have knowledge. Premise 1 therefore leads to a form of skepticism - doubt about whether we can "know that we know" anything. I'll elaborate on this in connection with each specific argument.

Second, note that this argument does not establish the existence of God as defined in round 1: an omnipotent, omniscient, all good person. Nothing in the argument from proper functionalism implies that God has to be omnipotent, omniscient, or all good - he could just be a finite tinkerer who goes around creating rational agents throughout the universe with properly functioning cognitive faculties. And the second argument, from omniscience, only establishes at most that attribute, not omnipotence or omnibenevolence.

Third, note that God's existence is arguably incompatible with the existence of knowledge, not necessary for its existence. If the universe operates naturalistically, then we can be assured that our cognitive faculties and the world around us will always operate consistently, in accordance with the laws of nature. However, if God exists, then we can never be sure of this, because there is no way of knowing whether he will choose to deceive us or alter the course of nature at any given time. He could even miraculously interfere with our brains to make the most egregiously erroneous propositions appears self evident to us.

Fourth, note that the argument would apply just as much to God as it would to us. If we need to be created by a higher being to be assured that our cognitive faculties are reliable, then God also needs to be created by a higher being to be assured that his cognitive faculties are reliable. So, much like primitive forms of the cosmological argument, this argument necessarily leads to an infinite regress of creators. Why not just stop with what we know exists?

I'll now move on to address each of my opponent's arguments in turn.

Proper Functionalism

My opponent states proper functionalism as follows: "In order for a human to have knowledge, their beliefs must have been produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly according to a good design plan aimed at true-belief production."

Skepticism is unavoidable on this account even if God exists, because even if God did design our cognitive faculties to arrive at truth, we do not know that God designed our cognitive faculties to arrive at truth. So proper functionalism leads to skepticism even if God exists, in the absence of a proof of the existence and benevolence of God, because in the absence of such a proof we do not know that we know anything. But the whole point of proper functionalism is to provide a reason to believe in God that does not depend on arguments or evidence.

The validity of our cognitive faculties is a self evident axiom, and so it is the common property of naturalist and theist alike. It would be an odd person who was confident of the existence of God, but not of the validity of his faculties! We do not know how our faculties evolved to be reliable yet, and it may take 100 years to find out, but appealing to God is not a scientific answer.

My opponent claims that naturalists cannot account for the normativity inherent in the concept of knowledge: "Plantinga's notions of "proper function" and "design plan" succeed where naturalistic accounts fail because Plantinga's notions provide a teleological normativity that naturalism cannot produce."

However, there are naturalistic accounts of proper function. The notion of proper function in biology generally means something like serving the life of the organism. For example, the proper function of the heart is to pump blood because that is what serves the life of the organism it is a part of. So proper function with regard to cognition would mean doing what serves your life, which generally involves trying to get at the truth.

He writes: "If naturalism were the case, then no human has cognitive faculties that function properly according to a good design plan aimed at true-belief production."

No evidence is provided for this assertion, so I dismiss it as arbitrary. There is no reason to think that naturalism will not be able to explain why our cognitive faculties are so well adapted to get at the truth. The explanation will likely come from evolutionary biology, and certainly not from theology.

The Argument from Omniscience

My opponent's second argument is basically an argument from fallibility. If we assert that we know something without an omniscient being to back us up, then we can't be sure that it won't be undermined by facts or relationships between facts that we discover in the future. Knowledge therefore depends on the existence of an omniscient being.

But as I've noted previously, this implies that we don't know that we know anything unless there is some independent reason to believe in God. If the existence of God is necessary for knowledge, and we have no reason to believe in God, then we have no way of knowing that we have knowledge. So my opponent has not avoided the necessity of providing independent arguments and evidence for God's existence with his epistemological reasoning.

Moreover, the problem of fallibility is not solved by appealing to God. Even if God exists, we still have to rely on our own limited, finite faculties to learn about the world, and we will still make mistakes in our reasoning. (After all, my opponent presumably believes that atheists, Muslims, and the members of all other religions have made such a mistake despite God's omniscience.) Maybe my opponent believes that this is solved by appealing to God's revelation in the Bible, but the Bible is notoriously difficult to interpret in an uncontroversial fashion, which is the cause of all the different sects of Protestant Christianity. We are no more infallible about what the Bible says than we are about anything else.

So how should we deal with fallibility?

First of all, it simply isn't true that every conclusion, no matter how much evidence we have for it, is capable of being overturned someday. The law of identity is not going to be overturned by some new discovery. Moreover, the fundamental laws of science like Newton's laws and the theory of evolution are so well established that they are no longer regarded as provisional by mainstream scientists, although they may be modified with regard to some of their details. (Geocentrism was an idea from before the Scientific Revolution that was rapidly overturned when people decided to start looking at the world with their senses to find out what the world was like.)

Secondly, we should regard "certain" as meaning "beyond a reasonable doubt," not as meaning that you can't imagine a claim being refuted someday. When you say that a claim is certain, what you mean - or ought to mean - is that all of the arguments and evidence support it and there are no significant arguments or evidence that undermine it. This is surely attainable in countless practical contexts. There's nothing wrong with going by the evidence that you have, and after all, that's what everyone is really doing in the end anyway.
BrianCBiggs

Pro

If my opponent will allow, I will introduce some new argumentation this round in response to some of his critiques and not merely defend the arguments set forth in round 1.


I am going to specify that I am arguing not merely for an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God, but specifically the triune God of the Bible.



Transcendental Arguments and Skepticism


The arguments that I have provided and the ones that I am about to provide are dealing with the necessary conditions for particular experiences. So far, that experience has been knowledge.


My opponent made a summary of the general form of my arguments. He then says that if you accept the first premise as true, but doubt the existence of God, you must then doubt whether you know anything at all. In part, I agree. Given the idea that God is necessary for knowledge, you must either accept that God exists or you must take a dive into extreme skepticism.


But, suppose you accept the first premise but doubt that God exists. In what way would you doubt that God exists? If you have knowledge that leads you to think that God does not exist then you have knowledge. That completes the argument and you must have drawn a wrong conclusion from that knowledge. What you cannot do is say that the first premise is true and that you have knowledge that God does not exist.


My opponent sums up his idea by saying that, “If the existence of God is necessary for knowledge, and we have no reason to believe in God, then we have no way of knowing that we have knowledge.” Here he is taking his naturalism for granted. Rather than saying we have a reason not to believe in God, he assumes that we need a reason to believe in God. When establishing that we have no reason to believe in God, we assume knowledge.


Here is what my opponent is trying to turn my argument into:


1. If God did not exist, knowledge would not be possible.


2. I have no reason to believe in God.


3. Therefore, I have no knowledge.


The problem with his syllogism is getting to premise 2 – especially when stated as a *lack* of something. Because, if knowledge is used or assumed in stating premise 1, then you can appeal to my syllogism and defeat the second premise of his syllogism.


My opponent wants to say that an independent reason is necessary for belief in God even if we take the first premise to be true, but he has not given a sufficient reason to believe this.



God’s supposed incompatibility with Knowledge


My opponent wants to say that naturalism can account for knowledge (which I will address a little further on) and he wants to say that God’s existence is incompatible with knowledge due to the possibility of deception. A little further below, I am going to argue that God must be good. So, for the moment, if we take God to be good, then we will not accept the idea of his deceiving us as normative.


But, there is perhaps a greater problem with this thought. It doesn’t touch the argument as he himself has formulated it:


1. If God did not exist, knowledge would not be possible.


2. Knowledge is possible.


What he says doesn’t touch the first premise because it is not a denial that without God knowledge is not possible. What he is instead saying is that with God, deception and false belief is possible. This also doesn’t touch the second premise, because the possibility of deception does not deny the possibility of knowledge.


God’s Cognitive Faculties


My opponent would have you believe that we need to explain God’s knowledge in a similar fashion to the way I am trying to explain our own. But it seems more likely that God’s knowledge of himself and his knowledge of creation is self-contained. His knowledge of creation exists because creation exists according to his design and not merely because of investigation.


I would also add that my argument from omniscience would likely require this to be the case. Investigation would not be able to lead to an omniscience since you would not only need all of the facts of the universe, you would need them throughout time so that either you could be sure they don’t change over time, or so that you could understand how they change over time.



Fallibility and Omniscience


My argument concerning omniscience is not quite an argument from fallibility. It is an argument that there must exist someone with omniscience that has created the environment and our cognitive faculties and has imparted some form of knowledge in order for us to know anything reliably. But, I am not arguing that without that our fallibility is our undoing. It is that we cannot gain any true knowledge to even begin to build on if that were not the case.


Suppose there is a jigsaw puzzle with 10,000 pieces. Suppose you are given 4 of those pieces. You can’t look at the box or any other pieces. You don’t even know how many pieces there are. You arrange the pieces you have in such a way that seems to make sense to you. You claim that you have solved part of the puzzle and that as you get more pieces, you will build on what you have started.


Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing if you have actually gotten any of it correct without the assistance of someone who knows what the puzzle is supposed to look like. But, this isn’t because of fallibility but finitude. You can’t succeed because by yourself you don’t have what you need to succeed. Fallibility would be more along the lines of having what you need, but lacking certainty because you have the possibility of error.



Cognitive ability, Evolution, and Naturalism


My opponent has taken for granted that Naturalism can provide the means of proper function without direction from an intelligence, but evolution:


// There is no reason to think that naturalism will not be able to explain why our cognitive faculties are so well adapted to get at the truth. The explanation will likely come from evolutionary biology, and certainly not from theology.//


I know that my opponent also brings up the possibility of a finite, non-God (as defined for this debate), tinkerer who created us with our cognitive faculties designed for truth. But, if my argument about omniscience is correct, then this tinkerer would at least have to have omniscience in order to create such a scenario. And, if the only ultimate way to gain omniscience is to have defined the relationships between the facts yourself, then he would also have to have omnipotence.


He tries to argue for a definition of proper function, “So proper function with regard to cognition would mean doing what serves your life, which generally involves trying to get at the truth.” But it is not obvious that the truth generally serves your life. If false beliefs can also serve your life, what reason do we have to connect proper function with true beliefs?


Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against Naturalism uses this to bring belief in Naturalism into question:


1. If we have evolved via natural selection, genetic drift, genetic mutation, or similar mechanisms, then our cognitive faculties have also arisen via these mechanisms.


2. If our cognitive faculties arose from naturalistic evolution, are they reliable?


3. Natural selection is concerned with survival, rather than true beliefs or true information from the external world. Natural selection doesn't care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave.


4. The ability of our cognitive faculties to understand truth, given naturalistic evolution, is then dependent upon the connection of belief and behavior.


5. There is not a necessary connection between belief and survival behavior; many false beliefs can lead to survival behavior.


6. Evolutionary naturalism is self-defeating. Given evolutionary naturalism, beliefs produced by our cognitive faculties cannot rationally be believed to be reliable. This includes the belief in naturalism.



The Moral Argument


My argument for a benevolent God rests on his being the basis of having any kind of objective ethics. The basis of the argument is strikingly similar to the one for knowledge:


1. If God did not exist, then there could not be any moral facts


2. There are moral facts


3. Therefore God exists


Many people might object to premise 1. I will outline the argument for it, which I am borrowing from Glen Peoples at rightreason.org. I am only going to outline it for this round since I am running out of characters.


1. If there are moral facts, then their basis is either natural or supernatural (where these two are construed as mutually exclusive categories)


2. The basis of moral facts is not natural


3. Therefore if there are moral facts, then their basis is supernatural


4. The most plausible way to think of a supernatural basis of moral facts is in terms of a supernatural person who brings moral facts about.


5. Therefore, if there are moral facts, the most plausible way to think of their basis is in terms of a supernatural person who brings moral facts about.


I would add to this that if there is a God who brought about the moral facts of the world, then he must be good since he is the very source of how we would define “good.”



The Trinity Argument


Within the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, you have a plurality of persons and a unity of being. So, ontologically, neither unity nor plurality is ultimate. Rather, unity and plurality are co-ultimate.


1. The ontology of the universe is such that either (a) unity is ultimate and not


plurality, or (b) plurality is ultimate and not unity, or (c) unity and plurality


are co-ultimate.


2. If unity is ultimate and not plurality, then knowledge of the universe (even


in part) is impossible.


3. If plurality is ultimate and not unity, then knowledge of the universe (even


in part) is impossible.


4. Knowledge of the universe is not impossible.


5. Therefore, the ontology of the universe must be such that unity and plurality


are co-ultimate.


The reason that ultimate plurality destroys knowledge is that facts are not ultimately related to one another. The reason ultimate unity destroys knowledge is that facts are not ultimately distinguishable from one another.


Debate Round No. 2
Ockham

Con

My opponent asserts that God is a necessary condition for knowledge and moral facts.

In other words, this is the premise he needs:

1. If and only if God exists, we have knowledge and there are moral facts.

However, I think what he has really defended is only the following:

2. If God exists, then we have knowledge and there are moral facts.

In other words, he has really been arguing for the premise that God is a sufficient condition for knowledge and moral facts, not that God is a necessary condition. He does try to address the possibility of a secular account of these phenomena to some extent, but his objections are not strong enough to bear the weight of his case.

Transcendental Arguments and Skepticism

My opponent argues that anyone who attempts to argue for skepticism has to assume that we have knowledge in doing so, so we must have knowledge. I agree, but note that this response is in tension with his main argument. In defending the claim that we have knowledge, he has appealed not to God, but an entirely secular argument that any atheist could agree with. So an atheist is justified, on entirely secular grounds, in believing that we have knowledge - we don't have to appeal to God for that.

But maybe my opponent is making a metaphysical argument, to the effect that the theist can provide an account of how we know things and the atheist cannot. However, there is really no problem with providing a secular account of how we arrive at knowledge. We observe the world and classify objects into different categories, then identify causal connections between the categories, building up a body of inductive knowledge. From this body of inductive knowledge, we can deduce conclusions and implications for future investigation. All an atheist has to appeal to in order to account for knowledge is our ability to observe the world, our ability to form concepts and draw inductive conclusions, and our ability to deduce further implications of our knowledge.

I suspect my opponent will try to argue that an atheist has no reason to believe in induction. However, it is self evident that induction is valid, so no further validation is necessary. People like Hume who argue against induction always assume inductive premises in their arguments, so all of their arguments are self refuting. Moreover, this argument only replaces the uniformity of nature with the uniformity of God. That is, the theist is merely assuming that God always acts consistently to show that nature always acts consistently, so we should stop with what we actually know to exist, namely nature.

God's Cognitive Faculties

My opponent argues that God's knowledge would be "self contained" in a way that ours is not, because it is not the result of investigation. However, if it is not the result of investigation, that renders it all the more fallible. If knowledge based on investigation is flawed, "knowledge" that you have not validated must be even less reliable. This argument only multiplies the necessity of a higher creator for God, given my opponent's premises. In addition, of course, my opponent has here conceded that a being's cognitive faculties do not have to be made by a conscious designer to be valid, which contradicts his proper functionalism.

Fallibility and Omniscience

My opponent says that "we cannot gain any true knowledge to even begin to build on" in the absence of God, but this contradicts his analogy with the jigsaw puzzle pieces. He concedes that the atheist has some pieces of the puzzle, which represent knowledge in the analogy.

Aside from the contradiction in his argument, it's not really clear why my opponent thinks we can't have knowledge, at all, without God. How does our ability to observe the world and form inductive inferences depend on God at all? If God doesn't exist, does that mean I can't look at my chair and see that it is a black chair? That seems absurd.

Maybe my opponent is relying on the idea of Descartes' evil demon or some other form of radical skepticism that he thinks the atheist has to fall into. But I said earlier, the standard for certain knowledge is "beyond a reasonable doubt," not "I can't even imagine how this could be wrong." Doubting that we know anything at all because there might be an evil demon deceiving us (or whatever form of skepticism my opponent appeals to) is not a reasonable doubt, so it does not count as undermining certainty.

I don't think there any forms of skepticism that my opponent could appeal to that survive this observation. Whatever we may think of them as thought experiments, it surely is not reasonable to doubt on the grounds that our senses might be systematically wrong, or that our inductive inferences might be systematically wrong, or that we might be deceived about 1+1=2, or anything like that. You can't reasonably doubt reason.

Cognitive Ability, Evolution, and Naturalism

My opponent has not really addressed my statement that "There is no reason to think that naturalism will not be able to explain why our cognitive faculties are so well adapted to get at the truth." He seems to think it is just an arbitrary assertion, but (a) he has the burden of proof to show that there is no such explanation for his argument to work, and (b) the claim I made is a basic assumption of all mainstream science given methodological naturalism. I don't think he can just dismiss this out of hand. Moreover, there is also the account of knowledge I provided above.

My opponent claims that an omniscient being would have to be omnipotent based on the premise that you have to have created all of the facts to know what all of them are. I don't think he has provided any real reason to believe that premise, though, and I don't know how one would even begin to establish it. I can certainly imagine an omniscient being who did not create all the facts; such a being would have knowledge of all the facts brought to him by a kind of telepathy even though he did not create them. Moreover, my opponent has not established that the being who allegedly created our cognitive faculties would be the same being as the omniscient being of his omniscience argument. They could be completely distinct beings for all he has shown. Moreover, there are facts that God did not create even if he exists, like the facts that are brought about by the free choices of humans. This argument would imply that God cannot know these facts.

In response to my account of proper function, my opponent says that "it is not obvious that the truth generally serves your life." But I would argue that it obvious. It serves my life to have the true beliefs that I'm sitting in a chair typing on a keyboard, that my car runs on gasoline, that refrigerators are not explosive, and a million other trivial beliefs that we rarely even think of. These beliefs provide the foundation for everything that we do, and it is critical for our lives that these beliefs be true. Sometimes it would serve your life to believe something false, but these situations are rare enough that it is better to operate on the principle of seeking the truth.

The evolutionary argument from naturalism overlooks the fact that evolution is unlikely to select for specific beliefs, it is more likely to select for the faculties that produce those beliefs. And, contra my opponent's claim, it is beneficial overall for an organism to have faculties that are oriented toward producing true beliefs.

The Moral Argument

My opponent uses the following premise for his moral argument:

2. The basis of moral facts is not natural.

However, there is good reason to believe that the basis for moral facts is natural, because they supervene on natural facts. For example, wrongness consistently supervenes on natural facts like murder and gratuitous harm. So, we should expect moral facts to turn out to be natural, not supernatural. Some examples of naturalistic accounts of morality are virtue ethics (morality is based on virtue), utilitarianism (morality is based on the greatest good for the greatest number), and egoism (morality is based on enlightened self interest). My opponent needs to show that none of these could be the basis for morality for his argument to work.

Also, even if moral facts are supernatural, that doesn't necessarily a person is the cause of them. They could have a basis in something like Plato's realm of Forms.

In addition, even if sound, this argument does not establish that the being who causes morality is the same being as the omniscient being from the omniscient argument, nor does it establish that it is the same being as the being who created our cognitive faculties in the proper functionalism argument. So, my opponent has provided no arguments that actually prove all three attributes of God, even if we assume that all of his arguments are sound.

The Trinity Argument

My opponent argues that ultimate reality cannot be united or plural: "The reason that ultimate plurality destroys knowledge is that facts are not ultimately related to one another. The reason ultimate unity destroys knowledge is that facts are not ultimately distinguishable from one another." Well, if that's true, maybe there just is no ultimate reality above and beyond the mundane facts we are acquainted with. A concept that leads to contradictions cannot be instantiated.

In addition, his conclusion is "the ontology of the universe must be such that unity and plurality are co-ultimate," which is (a) a contradiction as noted, (b) not a Trinity, and (c) not necessarily the same being as the being who created our cognitive faculties, or the omniscient being from the omniscience argument, or the moral being from the moral argument. These could all be distinct beings, even if all of my opponent's arguments are sound, which would leave him well short of establishing the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, all good God.
BrianCBiggs

Pro

I will admit that because of the character and round limits of this debate, I have basically been giving bare-bones arguments and summaries of arguments.



Transcendental Arguments and Skepticism


I am making a metaphysical argument. I am not saying that atheists (in practice) cannot know anything, or that they cannot know that they know. I am saying that they cannot do this in principle. In other words, atheists can know things and know that they know things, but only because theism is true.


My opponent appeals to induction to give a naturalistic account of knowledge. He also rightly guesses that I will challenge this. He understands that there is a problem with justifying induction, namely that the naturalist must appeal to induction in order to argue for induction. So, he simply labels it as self-evident and moves on. I might agree that induction is self-evident. But that is because of my arguments about cognitive function. It is self-evident because of theism. It is self-evident because our cognitive faculties were designed to take it as self-evident since we cannot justify it apart from an omniscient knowledge about the uniformity of nature. I brought this up in Round 2.


He then says that critiques given by people like Hume are self-refuting because they refer to induction. But my critique is not quite like Hume's. If TI is Induction given Theism, and NI is Induction given Naturalism, then I can construct a Hume-like critique using observations made with TI about how induction works in order to show that NI is unjustified.



God's Cognitive Faculties


My opponent equates knowledge arrived at apart from investigation as unvalidated knowledge. He has no reason to do this. I was arguing that God's self-contained knowledge does not require investigation, because God is the designer of the world and providentially controls it. In this way he has infallible omniscience, not fallible unreliable knowledge.



Fallibility and Omniscience


I will admit that the jigsaw puzzle is not a perfect analogy. But, it is not the argument itself, only an illustration. The idea behind it is that you have to inductively surmise relationships between the pieces to even understand the pieces themselves. You might think the pieces go together one way, only later to find a piece that shows you were wrong that those pieces even went together.


My opponent wants to appeal to inductive inferences to say that the knowledge we have is reasonable. That's fine. But does that work in a naturalistic system? You would have no reason to think that your cognitive faculties were produced in such a way to produce true or reliable inferences. Nor would you have any reason to believe that the universe is a place conducive to inductive inferences.


While I am appealing to a radical skepticism, my opponent hasn't answered this problem. My opponent appeals to knowledge that is intuitively right to show that it is reasonable. But we aren't debating what we can know. We are debating the preconditions for knowing. He says "it surely is not reasonable to doubt on the grounds that our senses might be systematically wrong." I agree. Part of my proof is that knowledge is possible? But what makes it possible? That our senses are systematically designed to bring about right answers. The combination of Naturalism and evolution give us the idea that our senses were not designed to bring about true belief, only survival long enough to reproduce. Given these conditions, it is reasonable to discuss the radical skepticism that might reasonably follow.



The Moral Argument



My opponent questions whether, if there were a transcendent basis for morality, that it would need to be a person. It seems to me that morality is ultimately personal, not impersonal. Moral obligations do not apply to impersonal objects or forces, they only apply to persons. I would take it as more likely that the basis of morality is personal - namely a person.


My opponent argues that moral facts supervene on natural facts, ergo we should expect a natural explanation of moral facts, rather than a supernatural one. But this is basically to say that given physicalism we can expect naturalism.


Utilitarianism


My opponent defines this as: "morality is based on the greatest good for the greatest number." But what is the greatest "good" for any individual? The very idea either assumes some teleology or some way of determining "good" outside of utilitarianism itself. It also suffers from an inability to know that the consequences of any action will result in" the greatest good for the greatest number." Often our actions lead to consequences we did not foresee. This could be solved by my argument from omniscience, which would mean utilitarianism would fit better in a theistic system than a naturalistic one.




The Trinity Argument


My opponent gives no reason for why unity and plurality cannot be co-ultimate. He gives no reason why the Trinity would not provide this. And yet, he also does not claim that the doctrine of the Trinity contains a contradiction. He simply calls the argument a contradiction. In short, he gives you no real reason to doubt it.



Conclusion


He does say that even if my arguments were correct, we could not say that the various beings that are necessary given my arguments are the same being. I disagree. Each of them ultimately must be the creator of the universe. And it does no good to resort to polytheism. The God who is omniscient is omniscient because he created the universe, and by the omniscience argument must also be the one who created our cognitive faculties. The being from the moral argument has to be the creator of the universe and must be self-sufficient (a se) so that he does not answer to a good above and beyond himself. And the God in whom we find unity and plurality must be the basis of all being, and also the creator of the universe. Having multiple gods with different beings would make these arguments contradictory and we have no reason to think that they are.


In addition, I would say that the doctrine of the Trinity is the only place we find the idea of unity and plurality being co-ultimate. But, we cannot know that a triune God exists outside of that triune God revealing himself. The only place such a thing has even claimed to happen is in the Bible. The Bible describes such a state of affairs that unifies the arguments and presents a God that satisfies the definition my opponent has given for this debate.


Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by BrianCBiggs 10 months ago
BrianCBiggs
That's probably why.
Posted by Ockham 10 months ago
Ockham
Maybe it's because the debate is so involved. A judge would have to trace half a dozen arguments across three rounds to arrive at a fair conclusion.
Posted by BrianCBiggs 10 months ago
BrianCBiggs
I agree. Don't know why no one is voting.
Posted by Ockham 10 months ago
Ockham
Good debate. I wonder why no one is voting on it.
Posted by smurfy101 11 months ago
smurfy101
"refrigerators are not explosive" I died
Posted by Ockham 11 months ago
Ockham
No problem. I use Ctrl + Shift + V when I'm pasting something to remove the formatting.
Posted by BrianCBiggs 11 months ago
BrianCBiggs
Sorry about the formatting in the first round... I wrote it in an editor and pasted it into the browser and did not expect it to not wrap the text. I will try to make sure the next round is more easily readable. I apologize for that.
No votes have been placed for this debate.