Debate Rounds (5)
The existence of objective moral attributes proves there is a God. By objective I mean independent of human opinion. For example, its not just our opinion that the holocaust was wrong, it really was wrong. Even if Hitler had won the war and had killed off everyone on earth who disagreed with him so that the only humans alive were those approving of the holocaust, not even this universal acceptance of genocide would make it right. It would still be an evil act even if the whole world thought it wasn't. If though, God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist. This means that there is no real right or wrong, just our opinions. We therefore, have no right to tell the Nazis that what they did to the Jews was wrong. They were following the laws of their state, and people of a foreign country have no say in the matter. Who are were to condemn? Without God, there is no ultimate authority to say that rape is really wrong, or that the holocaust is an evil act.
If there is no Creator, then the other option is that it was by evolution that we came to be, and we are all just animals evolving. If that is the case, then there really is no objective morality, and we are just fooling ourselves to condemn rape and murder. When a male lion grabbed hold of an unwilling female and forces sex on her, he doesn't rape her! When a lion eats a zebra, he doesn't murder that zebra. If we are all just animals, then murder is just survival of the fittest as it has always been throughout our animal history. There is no rational reason on the evolutionary model why we should condemn these practices.
Further, if God exists, then we can make sense of why we help others even when we get nothing out of it. But on a model of evolution via natural selection, there is no naturalistic reason why we should risk our lives for the sake of stangers who cannot return any benefit to us. If we are made in God's image, having his qualities, then we understand why we have these attributes, but without God, non of this makes sense.
The only known source of meaningful information is the mind. The complex information in the cell and DNA must have come from somewhere, and science deals with inference to the best explanation. Nature produces patterns, like waves of the sea making ripples in the sand, but it doesn't produce meaningful information; so if you see the words "I love you" written in the sand, you can be sure an intelligent mind is behind it. Embedded in our DNA is far more complex information than the words "I love you." The information in the DNA, cell, and so forth must be the product of an intelligent designer.
However, since the blueprint for building a protein is stored in the nucleus of the cell and the actual site for building proteins is outside the nucleus, help is needed to get the coded blueprint from the nucleus to the "building site." RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecules provide this help. RNA molecules are chemically similar to those of DNA, and several forms of RNA are needed to do the job. Take a closer look at these extremely complex processes for making our vital proteins with the help of RNA.
Work starts in the cell's nucleus, where a section of the DNA ladder unzips. This allows RNA letters to link to the exposed DNA letters of one of the DNA strands. An enzyme moves along the RNA letters to join them into a strand. Thus DNA letters are transcribed into RNA letters, forming what you might call a DNA dialect. The newly formed chain of RNA peels away, and the DNA ladder zips up again.
After further modification, this particular type of message-carrying RNA is ready. It moves out of the nucleus and heads for the protein-production site, where the RNA letters are decoded. Each set of three RNA letters forms a "word" that calls for one specific amino acid. Another form of RNA looks for that amino acid, grabs it with the help of an enzyme, and tows it to the "construction site." As the RNA sentence is being read and translated, a growing chain of amino acids is produced. This chain curls and folds into a unique shape, leading to one kind of protein. And there may well be over 50,000 kinds in our body.
Even this process of protein folding is significant. In 1996, scientists around the world, "armed with their best computer programs, competed to solve one of the most complex problems in biology: how a single protein, made from a long string of amino acids, folds itself into the intricate shape that determines the role it plays in life. . . . The result, succinctly put, was this: the computers lost and the proteins won. . . . Scientists have estimated that for an average-sized protein, made from 100 amino acids, solving the folding problem by trying every possibility would take 1027 (a billion billion billion) years."—The New York Times.
Have you an idea of how long it takes for a chain of 20 amino acids to form? About one second! And this process goes on constantly in our body cells, from our head to our foot and everywhere in between. What is the point? While other factors too numerous to mention are involved, the teamwork needed to produce and maintain life is awe-inspiring. And the term "teamwork" hardly describes the precise interaction required to produce a protein molecule, since a protein needs information from DNA molecules, and DNA needs several forms of specialized RNA molecules. Nor can we ignore the various enzymes, each performing a distinct and vital role. As our body makes new cells, which happens billions of times a day and without our conscious guidance, it requires copies of all three components—DNA, RNA, and protein. You can see why the magazine New Scientist comments: "Take away any one of the three and life grinds to a halt." Or take this a step further. Without a complete and functioning team, life could not have come about. Who programmed these things to work?
Is it reasonable that each of those three molecular team players arose spontaneously at the same time, in the same place, and so precisely tuned that they could combine to work their wonders? Yeah right!
Interviewed in a documentary film, Professor Maciej Giertych, a noted geneticist from the Institute of Dendrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, answered:
"We have become aware of the massive information contained in the genes. There is no known way to science how that information can arise spontaneously. It requires an intelligence; it cannot arise from chance events. Just mixing letters does not produce words." He added: "For example, the very complex DNA, RNA, protein replicating system in the cell must have been perfect from the very start. If not, life systems could not exist. The only logical explanation is that this vast quantity of information came from an intelligence." The origin of life requires an intelligent source
Thank you for creating and posing this intriguing debate. I am excited to engage and deconstruct this topic together and see where we end up.
You stated in the comments for this debate that you would like to debate a "theist or agnostic" here. I am an atheist (that is, I do not possess a belief in a god, not that I possess a belief that no god exists), but I don't reckon it necessary to use atheism in this debate. The basis for my argumentation will come from epistemology. I simply do not see it possible to prove definitely the existence of god based on the evidence you provided. I may believe in god, and you may too, but I shall argue that it is our belief, not ancillary evidence that can confirm a being that no sane person has ever empirically observed. You must do here what nobody has ever done: prove beyond reasonable doubt to someone (our voters), without revelation, that a god irrefutably exists. If I can reveal the flimsy assumptions of your argumentation, then god exists no more than before this debate had begun.
One more note before I proceed to enter the debating process proper: I don't want to appear to be merely attacking your arguments and not providing my own (as many on this site often do), but this debate is different, as I have no interest in disproving the existence of god, but rather in disproving the notion that one can know or prove the existence of something they haven't experienced empirically and inductively. Therefore, much of my debate will consist of attacking your arguments, followed by providing my own.
You begin by stating that since "life has never been proven to come from nonliving matter" that "therefore, life never came to be by chance." Your argument stands on this problematic foundation. To begin, just because something has not been proven doesn't necessarily allow us to confirm that it is impossible. Just because we don't know does not mean we know not. Furthermore, the Miller-Urey experiment demonstrates that organics compounds could have emerged from inorganic ones, and from organic compounds the formation of a single cell is possible. While we cannot be certain that life originated from this hypothesis, we cannot also be certain that it "would have to be a supernatural act" which you asserted. You may use "god" as an hypothetical causality, but insofar as using this causality to prove existence goes, the evidence is fatally flawed. As part of the same argument, you state that "life comes only from life" implying that life on earth needed a start from supernatural "life", but this becomes problematic as soon as you must justify the origins of your god's "life", as you stated, it must have come from prior life.
In the case of the Nazi party and the Holocaust, I wish you were right- but unfortunately the argument of an "objective morality" is simply not viable. With all due respect, your argument that god must exist because good and bad are so black and white is so outrageous that I doubt many people would buy it. The case of the Holocaust may be simple and thus effective, but it in no way represents the complexity of other moral questions. For example, Hitler was, according to you, objectively evil. But so is murder. So would murdering Hitler be good? You could argue yes, or you could argue no, the point isn't which one is correct- the point is that neither can be correct because morality itself is so complex, nuanced and subject to the individual to act as though morality is somehow uniform.
Throughout the next three paragraphs, you investigate different aspects of morality contending that they are all proof of a god. In many of these cases, simple biology can answer many of your inquiries. For example, you ask why humans help our strangers even if we "get nothing out of it." Well, I would contend that we do get something out of it: the feeling of helping someone, which is a positive and rewarding feeling. As an article in Psychology Today said "Is virtue really its own reward? When it comes to altruism, the brain seems to pat itself on the back. The choice to cooperate stimulates pleasure centers in the brain and can even overcome the urge to strive for increased financial gains. This reward circuitry may provide a biological basis for altruism, selfless behavior that is unique to humans."  Now this is speculation on my part, but this could arise from the fact that 100,000 years ago, before civilization, people were socially tribal, and in a tribe, benevolence and altruism would be "good" for the entire tribe, and thus benefit one's self. So our urge to help out a stranger is an vestigial instinct we developed before cities and faceless strangers. Again, you may use a "god" to help yourself understand this, but there are perfectly decent "a-theistic" explanations that answer the same questions without a Prime Mover.
As for your point that only humans can "rape" and "murder", this is a semantic argument that merely involves language and meaning and definition- not the man upstairs.
Strangely, after dismissing science and discovery, you proceed to the "argument from complexity" and use the complexity of DNA and RNA to prove that be must be designed. And I will admit, the workings of complex chemistry are far beyond my comprehension and ability to explain. But I find it arrogant to assume that just because you or contemporary scientists do not have the answers, it must be divine. For example, if I could take a multi-variable calculus problem to 4th Century BC Athens, they would have no chance in solving the problem. The greatest mathematician might proclaim that: "this is impossible! Only almighty Zeus could solve this!" But in reality, any average engineering major in college today could work the problem out. It is the lack of intellectual infrastructure that inhibits our ability to understand. Without the system of calculus, the Greek has no chance. So just because modern genetics are infinitely complex to our scientists, to dismiss it to "the gods'" workings is absurd. It's a Hegelian problem: your argument assumes that we are in some sort of golden age where everything we understand is common sense, and everything we don't is Godly.
I am only interested in preaching the gospel of "I don't know", I have heard Bill Maher say. I agree with this. I am not willing to surrender to complexity and point upwards. I am not willing to accept simplistic, opportunistic, deductive thinking, and attribute ever notion of difficulty to a Creator I have an interest in promoting.
1. Campbell and Reece, "Biology" 7th ed, p. 58-59
In 1953 Stanley Miller passed an electric spark through an "atmosphere" of hydrogen, methane, ammonia and water vapor. This produced some of the many amino acids that exist and that are the building blocks of proteins. However, he got just 4 of the 20 amino acids needed for life to exist. More than 30 years later, scientists were still unable experimentally to produce all the 20 necessary amino acids under conditions that could be considered plausible. Miller assumed that earth's primitive atmosphere was similar to the one in his experimental flask. Why? Because, as he and a co-worker later said: "The synthesis of compounds of biological interest takes place only under reducing [no free oxygen in the atmosphere] conditions." (The Origins of Life on the Earth, by Stanley L. Miller and Leslie E. Orgel, 1974, p. 33) Yet other evolutionists theorize that oxygen was present. The dilemma this creates for evolution is expressed by Hitching: "With oxygen in the air, the first amino acid would never have got started; without oxygen, it would have been wiped out by cosmic rays." (The Neck of the Giraffe, p. 65)
How likely is it that the amino acids thought to have formed in the atmosphere would drift down and form an "organic soup" in the oceans? Not likely at all. The same energy that would split the simple compounds in the atmosphere would even more quickly decompose any complex amino acids that formed. Interestingly, in his experiment of passing an electric spark through an "atmosphere," Miller saved the four amino acids he got only because he removed them from the area of the spark. Had he left them there, the spark would have decomposed them. So Miller was playing God, manaeuvering events to make life, not letting nature take its course. Without a conscious entity (Miller) to romove the 4 amino acids from the spark area they would die, so too, who was the conscious entity that removed them back at creation? Hmmm. Just because what we know of the natural world tells us that life comes from life, this makes it more likely that life on earth came from previous life; we do not know that life comes from non-life, hence, we cannot appeal to that as a cause.
Although it commonly is asserted that life spontaneously arose in the oceans, bodies of water simply are not conducive to the necessary chemistry. Chemist Richard Dickerson explains: "It is therefore hard to see how polymerization [linking together smaller molecules to form bigger ones] could have proceeded in the aqueous environment of the primitive ocean, since the presence of water favors depolymerization [breaking up big molecules into simpler ones] rather than polymerization." (Scientific American, "Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life," by Richard E.�Dickerson, September 1978, p. 75) Biochemist George Wald agrees with this view, stating: "Spontaneous dissolution is much more probable, and hence proceeds much more rapidly, than spontaneous synthesis." This means there would be no accumulation of organic soup! Wald believes this to be "the most stubborn problem that confronts us [evolutionists]." (Scientific American, "The Origin of Life," by George Wald, August 1954, pp.�49, 50)
Remember, there are over 100 amino acids, but only 20 are needed for life's proteins. Moreover, they come in two shapes: Some of the molecules are "right-handed" and others are "left-handed." Should they be formed at random, as in a theoretical organic soup, it is most likely that half would be right-handed and half left-handed. And there is no known reason why either shape should be preferred in living things. Yet, of the 20 amino acids used in producing life's proteins, all are left-handed! How is it that, at random, only the specifically required kinds would be united in the soup? What chance is there that the correct amino acids would come together to form a protein molecule? It could be likened to having a big, thoroughly mixed pile containing equal numbers of red beans and white beans. There are also over 100 different varieties of beans. Now, if you plunged a scoop into this pile, what do you think you would get? To get the beans that represent the basic components of a protein, you would have to scoop up only red ones—no white ones at all! Also, your scoop must contain only 20 varieties of the red beans, and each one must be in a specific, preassigned place in the scoop. In the world of protein, a single mistake in any one of these requirements would cause the protein that is produced to fail to function properly. Would any amount of stirring and scooping in our hypothetical bean pile have given the right combination? No. Then how would it have been possible in the hypothetical organic soup?
The proteins needed for life have very complex molecules. What is the chance of even a simple protein molecule forming at random in an organic soup? Evolutionists acknowledge it to be only one in 10 to the 113th power (1 followed by 113 zeros). But any event that has one chance in just 10 to the 50th power is dismissed by mathematicians as never happening. Its not just unlikely, its impossible.
A simply row of leaves in a straight line cries out for an intelligent mind behind it, how much more so does the chain of left-handed amino acids and other vastly more complex things in our bodies. Now, since life only comes from life, life must have always existed. But the universe did not, so at some point along the chain of ancestors we will reach a being existing before the universe, but by definition, that would be a supernatural being just because it is outside of nature. That means God, a supernatural entity. Weather this God came from a prior being before it would not refute my argument for his existence. So the question of where did God come from doesn't refute my argument. It might refute some of Christianities concepts of God, but not theism itself. Even Mormon's believe in a created God and yet claim to be Christian. But its possible that there was a first life which always existed. Now, given that we look designed, we must recon it by a supernatural entity because saying its aliens only pushes the same question to another planet; where did they come from? We will get back to the beginning of the universe at some point.
Con claims that the Holocaust does not represent the complexity of other moral questions, but that is besides the point. If there is no universal lawgiver (God), then we have no reason (on an atheist or evolutionary world-view) to condemn it. I challenge Con to tell us, do you agree with me that the holocaust was in fact truely evil? If everyone on earth agreed that it was a good thing, would that make it so? Deep down, even you, know that some things truely are wrong regardless of what other people think; that rape, child molestation, etc, truely are evil, and its not just your opinion. These things are really wrong; and certain things are turely good, like love, respect, generosity, joy. If evolution is true, and there is no God, we are deluding ourselves, and our sense of morality mocks us. There is no justice after death. There is no hell. No heaven. No resurrection; and if I can get away with raping a 6 year old girl, and stealing a blind woman's purse, I should do it for my own benefit, for that's what life is about - survival of the fittest, natural selection! Why should I bother to do what is right even when no one is looking? Can Con answer these questions? The removal of God removes the foundations of morality. I will answer the rest of Con's argument in the next post.
Regarding your analysis about Miller-Urey: I find your argumentation both eloquent and persuasive. Based upon it, if someone does not vote for you as the best citations, then they didn't read the piece. Your knowledge of biochemistry is very impressive- it must be said. However, even with a point for quotations, an educated reader of this debate will understand that you did nothing to affirm the existence of god. If the argument were a disjunctive syllogism, and it were "Miller-Urey or God must have created life" and you had proved "Miller-Urey did not create life" then you would "therefore" be correct. Unfortunately, the are an infinite amount of other explanations for the origin of life, but until you disprove every single one besides "God", this argumentation is fallacious.
Let us be honest: we don't know how the world came into being. Nobody does. Scientists meticulously work towards understanding one study at a time, and preachers and men of religion declare they know from pulpits in every corner of the earth. But as Dylan wrote, "we sit here stranded, all doing our best to deny it." I have no objection to this, as I find enough appreciation in music, sex, ideas, and soccer to make life worth living without knowing the beginnings and the ends. The one problem I do have is when someone declares they "know" the one truth, as you have, stating that god created the world.
Your argument from complexity lies on the great assumption that complexity is independent of cognition. Perhaps this is the root of our debate. In my opinion, 1+1=2 is equally complex/simple as any complex calculus equation. It is only the process of human, pattern-seeking thought that asserts values of complexity, beauty, or sequence. I am not making a post-modern argument, and not arguing that truth doesn't exist outside of human cognition- I am merely saying that independent of our cognition, facts are fact. It is language that assigns us this prejudice. You claim that a "simply row of leaves in a straight line cries out for an intelligent mind behind it, how much more so does the chain of left-handed amino acids and other vastly more complex things in our bodies?" but I would argue that this is your brain seeking an explanation or pattern to understand reality. Independent of cognition, a row of leaves is equally as random or "intelligent" as a pile of leaves.
On to your last argument, regarding morality, I will accept your challenge. Yes, I do think the Holocaust was truly evil. Let's investigate this further. This is why I do: the Holocaust was a case of ethnic-cleansing. Ethnic-cleansing is rooted in the belief that humans are divided by ethnicity and different "races" of people are not equal in value and deserving of equal treatment. This type of discrimination is the basis of racism, which profoundly saddens me, and I find gross enough to shape my views on the Holocaust. However, when I visit my cousin's friend in Virginia, he speaks of the "niggers" as ruining every aspect of his town. So, the Holocaust is evil to me because it is an extreme consequence of racism, which I find immoral. But my cousin's friend is racist and sees no problem with it. If god gives us our morality, then why are billions of humans racist? Why is hatred and prejudice and warfare so prevalent in human history? Because to those who don't practice it, it ISN'T evil. Our values inform our morality. The Americans who killed NAZI soldiers during the war, were they equivalent to German officers sending Jews to their deaths? I would say no, but only because I am of the opinion that Americans were carrying out good. A NAZI would argue otherwise. Who is right? Depends on who you ask.
Again, I do not believe that morality exists independent of human cognition. Why is rape "bad"? It could be instinctual or societal or cultural or conditioned. I DON'T KNOW. But to trace what you consider back to a divine set of values is as equally absurd. How can fundamentalists in Pakistan practice "honor killings" in the greater glory of god, and the West call the practice horrific if all humans are entitled to the same set of morals. And pragmatically speaking, how does God actually implant these values in us humans? And what are they? Is a 55 year old man having sex with a 17 year old horrific to God but with an 18 year old okay? Does god find male circumcision desirable but female circumcision abhorrent? These questions may seem silly, but they are only as silly as your proposal that God is dictating to us these terms. Morality is complex. It is dependent on society's values and setting. IF you really examined your moral beliefs, I bet you would strangely find that your "god" agrees with your exact same set of "morals". Well those are just yours my friend. And in Sparta they had theirs, and in Byzantium they had theirs, and in Iran they have theirs, and in Alabama they have theirs, and in Sweden they have theirs. One person's murder is another person's family planning. And one persons justice is another person's massacre.
Human solidarity, to answer your question. Why do humans tend to not commit crimes that they could get away with? Perhaps it is the same reason I feel moved by Priam's plea to Achilles or Juliet's weeping at finding Romeo dead. Human's have this beautiful ability to relate to one another. Now, many crimes have been committed because of the corrupting influences of power, wealth, et cetera- but I believe absent of these forces, a man chooses not to rape a woman because he is afraid at what he'll find in her tear-filled eyes- solidarity.
As I hope you have found, you can use the "god" explanation in instances of morality, creation, or complexity to understand the unknown- but my friend, the world gets on all the same without it.
"Now this is speculation on my part, but this could arise from the fact that 100,000 years ago, before civilization, people were socially tribal, and in a tribe, benevolence and altruism would be "good" for the entire tribe, and thus benefit one's self. So our urge to help out a stranger is an vestigial instinct we developed before cities and faceless strangers"
There is no good reason in an evolution worldview to presuppose that altruism would exist among any particular species. It doesn't exist now among animals, why would it all of a sudden exist among humans? When a male rat, or lion or monkey, or fish grabs a female and copulates, nothing in nature says this is rape and is wrong. Evolution was supposedly happening for millions of years before humans arrived, so how comes altruism all of a sudden comes to be? Why? Why does rape become wrong? What's more, killing Jews doesn't harm the Germans, so we have no reason to think that at some early time man was conditioned not to kill man by evolution. Didn't the German's evolve with the rest of us? Theism makes more sense out of this than atheism/evolution, and science deals with inference to the "best" explanaiton. Theism has more explanatory power in accounting for the facts.
"But I find it arrogant to assume that just because you or contemporary scientists do not have the answers, it must be divine. For example, if I could take a multi-variable calculus problem to 4th Century BC Athens, they would have no chance in solving the problem. The greatest mathematician might proclaim that: "this is impossible! Only almighty Zeus could solve this!" But in reality, any average engineering major in college today could work the problem out"
It's not the fact that we don't understand how something works that proves that God did it. Rather, it is the very nature of the thing itself that points to the existence of a designer. For example, I don't understand how a particle accelerator works, but this doesn't prove that someone made it. What proves that someone made it is the intricate design, the symmatry of certain parts and how each follows a specific program; we all know that the programming had to come from somewhere, and the information in that programming must come from a conscious entity, because information that carries meaning is the product of a mind. So when we see organisms in the body being obedient to commands, getting detailed instructions and following them, we know the programming had to come from somewhere, a mind, because only minds produce meaningful information. Now, none of this proves that it must be God that put the information there, it could have been aliens from Pluto; but it does show an inteligence is respnsible. But the thing is, we find similar complexity and information throughout the cosmos on various levels. The whole universe seems to follow an order, to follow laws, and we know that explosions don't create order. The bomb that landed on Hiroshima didn't create a beautiful design. No big bang could just cause things to fall into place and create beauty and order. What is the best explantion? What kind of E.T could bring about "universal" as well as "subatomic" order and beauty? The kind of power and inteligence they would need to accomplish this feat, one would need to postulate something very close to a god anyway. And if my opponent doesn't think so, then let him tell us "what kind" of aliens did it. Why can't we find the equipment they used? Are they invisible? Undetectable? Sounds alot like some kind of invisble God to me.
I also argued that life only comes from life; this is a fact of nature. Since life has not be shown to come from non-life, we have to work with what is proven in the absence of alternatives. It is also proven the universe has a beginning. So, life must predate the universe. This is what both premises lead to. My opponent doesn't deny these two premises. Nor can he prove abiogensis, which is only a theory, not a fact. So, if life predates the universe, that life by definition would be outside of nature and hence a god, a supernatural life. It mean that all life came from a supernatural source, and this agrees with my position.
"Unfortunately, the are an infinite amount of other explanations for the origin of life, but until you disprove every single one besides "God", this argumentation is fallacious."
There aren't as many as my opponent claims, the few we have are abiogenisis, God, and aliens. The problem with using aliens is that it only pushes the same problem back to another world filled with the same or even more complexity, begging the same question of "their" origin. Eventually we have to reach the uncaused cause that predates the universe. Lets argue as well, that before the so-called "big bang" that what ever it was that "bangged," existed for eternity before, and never explaoded; so, what did cause it to explode? It could not be a natural cause, because the thing had eternity to experience all natural positions and yet did not expload. Only a conscious entity could have the ability to bring change to a situation that was previously eternally changeless. And if it was a living being, it was outside nature, and hence superatural. Abiogenesis has never been repeated or observed, and is not science. We are left with God.
"Independent of cognition, a row of leaves is equally as random or "intelligent" as a pile of leaves."
But we do have cognition, thank God, and we both know when we see ten leaves in a straight row that it didn't happen by accident, that someone intelligent put them there. How do we know this? Because we can calculate the odds of this happening by chance, and it is so small that we say its near impossible. In fact, any probability that is 10 to the fiftienth power or more is dismissed by mathmaticians as never happening. And I'm saying that the complexity in nature far outstrips that of a few leaves in a straight row. So what kind of being would have the ability, power, and knowledge to create all of nature? We have to postulate something very close to a God no matter what!
On one hand he says that he says the holocaust was "truely" evil, then makes the argument that it wasn't evil to other humans. "Depends on who you ask." He says. But he is proving my point. He knows the holocaust was evil regarless of what others say. What makes him right and them wrong? There must be some higher law over man's opinion; otherwise, its only evil in "his" opinion, but not truely evil. Con, please tell me, if all mankind ageed that the holocaust was not evil, but was good, would that make it truely good, or would mankind simply be wrong? If you agree that manking would be wrong, then there is a higher law outside out opinions, but from where? I'll finish this reply in the next round.
I am starting to feel successful in my argumentation now watching the direction this debate has taken. On your first point regarding altruism. In your first paragraph you give three rebuttals to my assertion that altruism is better explained by biology than mysteriously by some sort of God. You essentially argue:
1. "when we respond kindly to people who treat us horribly, we often do it reluctantly, grumbling, with no accompanying feeling of joy, but something inside us tells us still to do the right thing even to those who don't like us."
2. "evolution is not a reasonable answer anyway, because survival of the fittest holds that this is a dog-eat-dog world, and when a lion eats a zebra for food, he feels no remorse"
3. " there has never been found a particular substance responsible for such emotions anyway"
None of these are true and none of these provide evidence that a god exists. On point one: I stated that humans are instinctual in their altruism, and your description only proves that the instinct to do well can override a "reluctance". If the will to do good was god given, why should he care whether it were to a so-called "enemy" or not? Your second point isn't true. No serious student of biology would ever tell you that evolution is "survival of the fittest". First off, you are thinking of natural selection, which is the means by which most scientists attribute evolution. And even so, natural selection is more like "survival of the most reproductively able"- that is, the ability to reproduce continues a specie's genes, not it's fitness. Therefore, a healthy population of altruistic animals WOULD increase odds of reproduction. And lastly, again, this is factually incorrect. Serotonin and Domamine provide these biological "rewards" and this is well known.
"There is no good reason in an evolution worldview to presuppose that altruism would exist among any particular species. It doesn't exist now among animals..."
Again, two factual inaccuracies. First, I have already showed why altruism would be beneficial in a social society: the individuals' livelihood is directly affected by the group's. And your second point, altruism does exist among animals and this is basically a consensus in the study of biology. Here are some examples:
in dolphins: http://www.bio.davidson.edu...
in Chimps: http://www.sciencedaily.com...
in Birds: http://findarticles.com...
In the second part of your argument, you asserted that the "programming" and "symmetry" and "complexity" proves that it must have been designed. But again, I am telling you: you cannot view the universe outside the very narrow and limited prism of the human mind. If your 2nd grade teacher never told you what symmetry was, a symmetrical figure would bear no more "intelligence" to you than an asymmetrical figure. Again, we can unfortunately only understand the world through our own biases and subjectivity and language. If I drew 6 cards labeled 1,3,4,2,6,5 out of a hand at random, and arrived at 1,2,3,4,5,6 you would assert some sort of intelligence, but in reality, this is a mere pattern that your mind has constructed. A so-called intelligent sequence is only given significance through our own subjective processing, or as you say, "god".
As for the origins of our universe, we have one thing in common: WE BOTH DON'T KNOW. We can't; there is just no way to know. So you attribute what you don't understand to god, but what an absurdity this really is.
Your argument for intelligence through pattern which you made again I have already dismissed. It hasn't held up.
"Con, please tell me, if all mankind ageed that the holocaust was not evil, but was good, would that make it truely good, or would mankind simply be wrong? If you agree that manking would be wrong, then there is a higher law outside out opinions, but from where? I'll finish this reply in the next round."
The answer is simple, man's "opinion" on whether the Holocaust was evil or not does not matter. The Holocaust wasn't evil or good, it just was. IT JUST WAS. Was what? It existed. It is a historical fact. Some call it good, most call it bad. To me it is evil, but just because I firmly believe this doesn't mean it was evil beyond human experience. We humans assign morality, not a god.
May I ask you, please stop responding to the debates further in each round? It is disrupting the flow of the debate. You chose the 8,000 character format, and thus should abide by it. If you cannot refute my entire argument in the allotted space, start to summarize. But we cannot have a fruitful debate addressing points from two rounds ago. Cheers
If that is the case, Con cannot rightfully judge the Nazi's for the holocaust, and neither can any of us. If the holocaust was only wrong in our societal, cultural, or instinctual "opinions," but wasn't wrong by any law beyond that, on what basis can we judge another people for what was in harmony with the laws of their own state - namely, the massacre of millions of Jews? They were not breaking the law of Germany at the time. If rape is only wrong in some people's opinion, what right do they have to punish another man who thinks that rape is ok according to his morals and values? According to Con, he doesn't know why its bad. What right has Con to impose his morality on another person, and say that rape is an evil thing? Without God we have no proper foundation for saying that any action is really good or bad. And if the rapist is simply dancing to his genes, and following his instincts like the animal he is, why should this be condemned? This atheistic doctrine tells us that our sense of morality is delusional, and it mocks us. My point is this: the mere fact that Con considers rape an evil thing despite what the rapist may think argues strongly that even Con himself must be basing his morals on some higher law above himself. If not, then he should not condemn such things, he should not think of them as evil, they just are!
If he truly believed morality was a societal thing, then when the Germans decided to eradicate the Jews, and when the whites decided to put blacks in slavery and treat them as slaves, then this should have made these actions justified, because the whites as a society and the Germans were by majority vote treating blacks or Jews in said way. But Con argues that if God place morals in us, why don't we all live by these same morals? And how did they get there? Well, first of all, all over the world there is a consensus that certain things are good, and certain things are bad. Love, peace, generosity, honesty, and so on are universally accepted as good things, while lying, murder, pain, fear, etc, are recognized as bad. So it's the majority that do conform to the basic morals in all of us. We were created in God's image as a species, so we have these attributes. We have a conscience. When we do wrong, we feel it most of the time. But just as a man can wear a condom and refuse to procreate, we can rebel against our morals. And so many people rebel at times.
But lets get back to a few facts Con seems to have forgotten.
(1) Abiogenesis is not a fact, but a theory. A theory I should to be so unlikely as to be impossible via Miller's experiment. No one has repeated abiogenesis, nor is it seen in nature today, and thus it is not a fact. Life NEVER comes from non-living material, ever, in nature, that is a fact. Science is based in that which is observable and testable; no observation or test has confirmed abiogenesis.
(2) Life comes from life. This is a proven fact of the natural world. It was going on before humans were here, it was observes all during our history, and is still happening now.
(3) The physical universe had a beginning.
(4) Since life comes from life, and NEVER from non -life, life always existed; the universe did not. Life before the universe is by definition outside nature, and hence supernatural life. This supports my argument that a supernatural entity, God, created the world.
Con has not refuted any of the premises on which my original argument was based. He provided a link arguing for abiogenesis which I refuted but didn't have space to go into detail, and he argued that there are millions of other possible explanations aside from this for the beginning of life but gave no examples, hence, we can dismiss this claim.
He claims that a man doesn't rape a woman because of something he sees in her eyes. I don't know that a lion cares what is in a zebra's eye when he eats her.
"In the absence of God, there is no reason to think that the morality evolved by humans is objective. After all, if there is no God, then what's so special about human beings? They're just accidental by-products of nature that have only recently evolved on a tiny speck of dust lost somewhere in a mindless universe and are doomed to perish forever in a relatively short time.
Thus, without God, there is no absolute right or wrong that imposes itself on our conscience. Without God, there are no objective moral values. Actions like rape and child abuse aren't just behaviours that happen to be socially unacceptable - they are clearly moral abominations. They are objectively wrong. And such things as love, equality, and self-sacrifice really are good in an objective sense. We all know these things deep down. We all know that objective moral values do in fact exist."
*credit for content here goes to W.L. Craig
Even though the studies on serotonin seem to undermine the Christian worldview, the results of the research do not necessarily support the notion that brain chemistry alone dictates morality. Rather, the studies shows that brain chemicals merely modulate morality. The observation that highly empathetic individuals were more responsive to elevated serotonin levels is significant. This observation indicates that "serotonin modulates empathetic response to harm—i.e., by boosting an already-present neural signal—rather than being the source of the empathetic response." (Molly J. Crockett et al., "Serotonin Selectively Influences Moral Judgment and Behavior through Effects on Harm Aversion," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 107 (2010): 17433–38; Ibid., 17436) In other words, the brain appears to be hardwired for moral judgment with serotonin influencing the responsiveness of an intrinsically moral brain. This result comports with the words Paul wrote in Romans 2:14–15, which teach that all human beings have God's Law "written on their hearts."
Accordingly, the brain is the hardware that manifests human spirituality and the image of God. Meanwhile, the image of God itself is analogous to the software programming. According to this model, hardware structures—brain regions—support the expression of the various aspects of God's image, such as moral judgment. Brain chemicals are the means to mediate the communication between neurons and, ultimately, the different brain regions. However, brain structures and biochemistry are not the source of moral judgments. Instead they are part of the physical apparatus and operations that make the expression of moral judgments possible. If the hardware of a computer doesn't function properly, the software, though it may be fully intact, cannot work either. In like manner, the brain can be altered, influencing how the image of God is expressed. In this way, increasing or decreasing serotonin levels may impact one's sensitivity to inflicting harm, but serotonin is not responsible for creating the ideal that causing harm is wrong.
"Human beings often manifest radically sacrificial, consequentially altruistic behavior that reduces reproductive success without compensatory reciprocation or kinship benefit. Behaviors such as voluntary poverty, celibate orders of benevolence, Holocaust rescuers, and religious asceticism or martyrdom are examples in humans that have provoked reconceptualism or substantial refinement of evolutionary approaches to human altruism. And even less extreme behaviors, such as adoption of non-kin, anonymous philanthropy, and costly investment in reproductively inert endeavors such as art or funeral caches have stimulated the extension or nuancing of initial sociobiological accounts."
(http://www.discovery.org...) His chimp-link gave no examples proving altruism in chimps, and mathmeticians can give the probability of drawing 1 to 6 randomly as so small as to require anintelligence.
You keep coming back to this point that "Con cannot rightfully judge the Nazi's for the holocaust, and neither can any of us. If the holocaust was only wrong in our societal, cultural, or instinctual "opinions," but wasn't wrong by any law beyond that, on what basis can we judge another people for what was in harmony with the laws of their own state - namely, the massacre of millions of Jews?" Personally, I don't get this obsession with the Holocaust, but we can continue this if you'd like. First off, obviously our morals aren't all divinely inspired and objective, or the Holocaust wouldn't have happened. Obviously NAZIs thought that they were progressing mankind my killing Jews. If there were a God giving all people morality that were objective, then why would so many millions of German citizens (not just members of the NAZI party) support a massacre if it is "objectively" bad. Were all German's godless? No, they were manipulated into justifying a massacre, but only in a world with subjective morality is this possible.
How is abortion murder and satanic to many people in my country, but to many the ability to practice an abortion is a right, and the illegalization of abortion is an infringement on natural right? Your Holocaust example is effective because most people (not all) regard the Holocaust as evil. But with abortion, how can so many with such an fervent view be so differed morally?
I find it funny that you cite SLAVERY of all things as an argument AGAINST societal morality! Most of the Europe and the Africans in the slave trade were completely fine with slavery for hundreds of years. Slavery exists in the bible, and Egypt, Athens, and Rome were all slave driven economies. Aristotle is perfectly comfortable justifying slavery as moral in his "Politics". In short, society saw it as a necessary element of creating wealth. Only in the last two centuries have societies started seeing slavery as immoral. And it would be rather stupid and simple minded of me to claim that only in the 19th and 20th centuries humans have realized the "godgiven" sense that slavery is immoral. We changed our minds as a society, and if anything this proves that morality is a flexible thing. If the Nazi party would have won World War II and actually did create an Aryan civilization, people would celebrate the Holocaust as the purification of the world. All I am saying is that although you may think that everything you think is so intelligent and moral and correct, don't forget how shortsighted you truly are based on the time and situation in which you live.
As far as I am concerned this part of our debate, concerning the morality, is finished. You have failed to prove that in every instance morality is given by god. Prove is the key word. You can continue with this argument in the final round but I don't see it as any good. You have stated your positions and they are what they are. So let's move on to the more interesting (and convincing) part of this debate, the arguments from creation.
I will address your four numeric facts now.
(1) Miller's experiment, while not complete, does demonstrate the creation of amino acids from abiological situation. Just like abiogenesis, your theological argument is also a theory, and has never been demonstrated. You cannot claim to explain how a god created the world any better than Miller can demonstrate the origins of life without god. If you tried to publish your account of God's creation of the earth in a science or philosophy journal, it would merely be laughed at, as you have no evidence nor details of how this happened. You are simply waiting for Godot.
(2) Life does come from life, and no model has ever been proven where life has come from life. So your assertion that life can come from an non-living entity (ie. a supernatural deity) is equally as absurd as anything I say. Live by your words. If life can only come from life, then stop the attribution of life to God. The answer is, we don't know.
(3) Sure. It's easy to assume that the physical universe had a beginning. But to pretend that you know what it is is as absurd as saying it had no beginning.
(4) Since your syllogism has 3 fallacies contained in the premises, I have no reason to refute it.
"He claims that a man doesn't rape a woman because of something he sees in her eyes. I don't know that a lion cares what is in a zebra's eye when he eats her."
Jesus. Do you really not see the difference? A man and a woman are both humans- the SAME species. A lion and a zebra aren't. I don't have solidarity for the fish I eat. Doesn't prove anything.
I think it's unethical that you just copied and pasted someone else's argument for god. I hope that voters read that and punish you for it.
YOUR LAST 3 PARAGRAPHS ARE PLAGIARIZED FROM
I AM HERE TO HAVE A SERIOUS DEBATE. I AM OFFENDED THAT 1/3RD OF YOUR DEBATE IS COPIED FROM EXTERNAL PLACES. AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED, THIS DEBATE IS OVER AND YOUR RESOLUTION IS DISPROVEN BY THE FACT THAT YOU CAN LONGER MAINTAIN AN INDEPENDENT ARGUMENT. GAME OVER
"(1) Miller's experiment, while not complete, does demonstrate the creation of amino acids from abiological situation."
Miller intervened to remove the 4 amino acids from the area of the spark so they wouldn't be destroyed, in doing so, he was playing God. In nature, there would (on the atheist view) be no intelligent being to remove them. Without this intervention by an inleligence, Miller would not have gotten "any" amino acids. He didn't just let "nature" run its course to see if things would evovle, he intervened. I also showed how impossible it was for amino acids forming in the atmophere to drift down and form an organic soup in the ocean; so Miller began with a biological situation that could not have happened anyway.
"Just like abiogenesis, your theological argument is also a theory, and has never been demonstrated."
Life is demonstrated to come from other living things ever time a child is born; and complex organization is demonstrated to come from a mind every time man builds a machine. The brain if a far more complexed and organized "machine," it had to come from somewhere. That life originates with previous life is a proven, observed, testable, scientific fact. There is no currently known case of life that didn't come from a previous life. Also, information that carries meaning points to a mind. A single cell contains all the necessary information for developing a human being. This information carries meaning; it includes the instructions to the cells after the one cell duplicates into many, telling each set of cells which separate funtions to accomplish.
If you tried to publish your account of God's creation of the earth in a science or philosophy journal, it would merely be laughed at, as you have no evidence nor details of how this happened."
When scientist publish their journals on evolution, other scientists who believe differently laugh at them for being so ignorant. Truth is, many scientists know God exists. But I think your argument is flawed because who laughs at an argument doesn't prove or disprove its validity. What if I name a list of scientists who are experts in their fields that don't buy into your argument? Does that make you wrong? Truth isn't decided by majority vote.
"(2) Life does come from life, and no model has ever been proven where life has come from life. So your assertion that life can come from an non-living entity (ie. a supernatural deity) is equally as absurd as anything I say."
I never said that "life can come from an non-living entity." God is not a non-living entity. God is a living being.
"(3) Sure. It's easy to assume that the physical universe had a beginning. But to pretend that you know what it is is as absurd as saying it had no beginning."
I'm not assuming anything. The current astronomical data tells us that the universe did have a beginning and is expanding, which means it was at one time much smaller. Interestingly, its not slowing down, but speeding up. Atrophysicists have settled on the big-bang theory for the most part, but the point is that they agree the universe did begin. And the evidence they present for a beginning is quite impressive, unlike that for evolution. The constants of the universe need to be so finely tuned for life at the very start of the "bang" that even if the electomagnetic force was a bit stronger or weaker by just one zero, no life would exist in the universe. The same could be said about many other constants. The odds of getting them all so finely tuned for life at random or by chance is soooooo small, that many astronomers and scientist attribute it all to an intelligence. The electromagnetic force is about 10 to the 40th power times that of gravity. If we change this to 10 to 41, so that gravity is just a little weaker, stars would be smaller, their interiors couldn't generate enough heat for nuclear fusion reactions, and the sun couldn's shine. If it were 10 to the 39th, the sun would die a lot sooner, we would not be here. The strong nuclear force binds protons and nutrons together the the atom's nucleus. This bonding allows certain elements to form like helium, oxygen, gold and lead. If this force were %2 weaker, only hydrogen would exist; if %2 stronger, only heavier elements but no hydrogen would exist. Without hydrogen the sun wouldn't have the fuel needed to generate life-giving energy, and we would not be here. So its obvious that the universe is "deliberately" fine-tuned for life, obvious except for those blinded by their bias that God cannot exist.
" A man and a woman are both humans- the SAME species. A lion and a zebra aren't. I don't have solidarity for the fish I eat. Doesn't prove anything."
Lions kill each other too. My argument stands unimpeached.
waylon.fairbanks forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Darknes 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro argument wasn't all that good, much of it was based on creationism, although he states a source in round 4 and Con unfairly accuses him of plagiarism, which will give the point for conduct to Pro.
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