This first round is just for qualification and me to explain the con side. The con MUST take the side of pure science (the atheistic take on science.) So basically this is Religion vs "Pure Science."
I accept the debate, and my position is that all of the gods (including "God") exist only as myths, not as objective entities independent of human thought. To make for a fair debate, I will omit my arguments in this round, and I await the arguments from Pro.
Assuming you read my instructions, I assume you are taking the side of Pure Science. Good luck in this debate. Now to begin.
To my first point, faith. My opponent is atheist, so by this he does not have faith in Religion. This would make him anti faith, because as an atheist, he would believe that faith is blind and that there is no concrete evidence for God to exist. About faith though, if he is pure science, what about faith in science? I cannot personally verify all the findings of the Bible, but can an atheist who is "pure science" verify all the findings that scientists have to prove that they are true? Right there you would be putting your faith in their words. You, my opponent may believe that science uses objective facts whereas religion is partially subjective. Science would rely on objectivity to allow its own findings to be absolutely true. Yet, it uses the scientific method, which relies on observation, experimentation, and interpretation of the results. Once science loses its objectivity it loses its credibility. That is the problem, the scientific method produces objective data, but the scientist has to interpret the data. You cannot say that science is true just because it uses the scientific method. That is pretty much like saying science is true and God is not because science says so. By what authority is science allowed to claim that it is true more than religion can?
And yes, the miracles in the Bible have been verified by both atheist (for objectivity) and theist scientists as true historical events. Events such as the Exodus from Egypt, David slaying Goliath, parting of the Red Sea, etc. were tested and researched using SCIENCE and the scientific method. Underwater cameras showed pictures of ancient relics i.e. a huge chariot wheel at the bottom of the Red Sea, they were also able to confirm that the design was the same as it was at the time of Moses.
I welcome Pro to Debate.org, and I am pleased to be part of it. I wish such discussions would happen more often.
My general viewpoint of "pure science" is formulated with a few criteria of belief decision-making broadly accepted among practitioners of science:
- Explanatory power - evidence should be strongly expected by a proposition .
- Consilience - hypothesis should expect many diverse sets of evidence .
- Plausibility - the proposition should be implied from broadly-accepted truths .
Putting gods to the test
The hypothesis of the gods does very well with the criterion of consilience, because the hypothesis explains everything in the environment. God explains the existence of the universe, life, human intelligence, religion, rainbows, and lightning bolts. And, indeed, such things have been popularly explained with the gods for many thousands of years. In the ages when the principles of electrical currents were never conceived by human thought, lightning bolts were explained with a blow of the hammer of Thor, the raging justice of Zeus, or other divine powers. Gods explained anything that could not be explained any other known way. However, the hypothesis of the gods is sorely lacking in the other two relevant criteria: explanatory power and plausibility.
Firstly, the hypothesis of the gods fails the criterion of explanatory power, not just because direct scientific evidence of the gods is lacking, but also because indeed the gods may explain everything we can possibly conceive of, not just everything we know. The universe as it currently exists is little or no more expected of the proposition of the gods than any other state of the universe that we can imagine.
Most damningly, the hypothesis of the gods fails the criterion of plausibility, because the objective gods (as they are typically described) are very much not expected from what we generally know and have verified about the known universe. The proposition of Thor’s hammer that causes lightning bolts, for example, does not fit the general model of the universe built and studied by countless observations of both heaven and Earth. This is not just a problem for Thor, but the same quality applies even more so to the more popular Abrahamic “God”; this point is not just asserted by critics, but God is commonly believed by advocates to be independent from all known patterns of observations of nature. This belief is known as “transcendence,” which stresses “the otherness of God from creation” . This common doctrine has the benefit of protecting God from some arguments, but it causes the hypothesis of God to be maximally implausible.
The scientific model of the universe aims to explain the universe in terms of a narrow set of natural patterns. These fundamental laws--including but not limited to the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, big bang theory, theory of evolution by natural selection, and memetics--do not explain all of the data conceived and conceivable (unlike the gods), but such patterns explain a vast amount of the specifics of the evidence with both explanatory power and plausibility. These claims are mere assertions for now, but I would be happy to provide specific examples of how science has powerfully explained observations according to the three given criteria if Con requests it.
Request for further information
Pro introduced several pieces of allegedly scientific evidence in support of his position, and I request that he provide further details. Examples may include:
- “Exodus from Egypt”
- “David slaying Goliath”
- “parting of the Red Sea”
- “Underwater cameras showed pictures of… huge chariot wheel at the bottom of the Red Sea, they were also able to confirm that the design was the same as it was at the time of Moses.”
Ideal evidence would be citations to scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals. But, lacking that, I would at least appreciate citations to any type of source of such information.
 C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions, p. 19.
 Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, p. 9.
 William A. Dembski, “Transcendence (Entry for New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics),” http://www.designinference.com...
I would like to thank my opponent for his rebuttal. I will first start off by catering to his request for further information. Here are the links for the Historical Evidence.
• http://thehive.modbee.com... (the findings in this are rather controversial but STILL possible, also, the current status of it on snopes.com is undetermined even though it has been out for years because of the evidence on each side of the argument about it.)
Now for my rebuttal. I will begin by offering some of the famous works written by Saint Thomas Aquinas about the existence of God.
Thomas’s 5 Proofs:
a. Everything is in motion
b. If an object is in motion, something must have caused it to be in motion
c. There can’t be an infinite chain of movers
d. Therefore there must be a first, unmoved mover
a. An event may cause another event
b. If an event happens, then something other than itself must have caused it
c. There can’t be an infinite cause and effect chain
d. Therefore there was a first, uncaused cause
3. Contingency ( For this proof I challenge my opponent to prove that not everything in the universe or the universe itself is contingent.)
a. Contingent things exist
b. Every contingent thing has a time at which it does not exist because contingent things are not omnipresent
c. If everything is contingent, there would have to be a time in which nothing exists.
d. This empty time would have been in the past
e. If the universe were empty at one time, I would be empty forever, this is a conservation principle
f. If everything in existence were contingent, nothing would exist now. ( There had to be something that was non contingent or else “e” would happen.
g. Hence, God must exist
a. Objects have properties to greater or lesser extents.
b. If an object has a property that is to a greater or lesser extent, there must be an object with with the property to the maximum possible degree.
c. Therefore there is an entity with all properties at the maximum possible degree.
d. Hence God exists.
a. Among objects that act for an end, some have minds, whereas others do not.
b. An object that acts for an end, but does not itself have a mind, must have been created buy a being with a mind
c. So there exists a being with a mind who designed all mindless objects that act for an end
d. Hence, God exists.
His Cosmological Argument (From Philosophy for Dummies by Dr. Tom Morris)
1. The existence of something is intelligible only if it has an explanation.
2. The existence of the universe is thus either:
a. unintelligible or
b. has an explanation
3. No rational person should accept premise (2a) by definition of rationality
4. A rational person should accept (2b), that the universe has some explanation for its being.
5. There are only three kinds of explanations:
a. Scientific: physical conditions plus relevant laws yield the Event explained.
b. Personal: Explanations that cite desires, beliefs, powers and intentions of some personal agent.
c. Essential: The essence of the thing to be explained necessitates its existence or qualities (for example, if you ask why a triangle has 3 sides, I would respond that it is the essence and necessity for a triangle to have 3 sides by its definition.
6. The explanation for the existence of the whole universe can’t be scientific because there can’t be initial physical conditions and laws independent of what is to be explained. Event the Big Bang theory fails to explain the existence of the universe because modern science cannot explain where the original Big Bang singularity came from. The universe as a sum total of all natural conditions and laws cannot be explained unless we have an Archimidean reference point outside the system.
7. The explanation for the existence of the universe can’t be essential because the universe cannot exist necessarily. This is because it could have been possible for the universe not to have existed (if the Big Bang had been slightly different it is possible for large-scale structures to not have existed). Thus the universe is not something that must necessarily or essentially exists.
8. Thus a rational person should believe that the universe has a personal explanation.
9. No personal agent but God could create the entire universe.
10. A rational person should believe that there is a God.
It is more likely for there to be a God than for there to not be a God. My opponent has stated that God is pretty much a way of filling the gaps that humans can not understand. God is not a "God of the Gaps," in fact, that argument is, for the most part, invalid. Every new thing we learn about the Universe, ten more things pop up that we don't know. It's like, we fill one gap in a sinking ship and water starts coming in from ten more leaks. When scientists found out that the Universe was ever expanding, Stephen Hawking and other scientists had to figure out the equation and build on the theory of General Relativity. Which states that “if the universe is governed by the equations of General Relativity, not only are we faced with an ultimate origin, we are all of the matter in the universe, and all of the energy in the universe. But we're faced with a coincident ultimate origin for even the dimensions of length, width, height and time.” (The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology)
I now challenge my opponent to offer evidence as to how the universe was created independent of a higher being. One argument is Quantum Physics, some Atheists claim that a quantum fluctuation caused the creation of the Universe. This would be impossible considering that a quantum fluctuation needs an interval of time for it to take place and up to the exact instant that the universe was created, time didn’t exist.
This closes my round 3 argument, thank you for your time.Sorry for any spacing errors as this was copied from a Word Document that I made.
Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. New Advent Inc, 1996-97.
Dr. Tom Morris. Philosophy For Dummies. Foster City, California: IDG Books Worldwide Inc, 1999.
Varner, Gary. Introduction to Philosophy
The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology
Because Pro has introduced too many arguments for the character limit, I have asked him to pick his top 5, and he chose: “Contingency, design, cosmological [argument], creation, and first mover.” This is a wise selection--the archaeological arguments will be dropped, though I was hoping he would keep them. The arguments he chose instead are less empirical but higher-minded.
The weakness of this argument seems to be premise b: “Every contingent thing has a time at which it does not exist because contingent things are not omnipresent.” This premise is neither proven nor prima facie. The microscopic constituent parts of almost any given object have existed for as long as our knowledge of the universe extends into the past (big bang origin). We have no knowledge of existence prior to that. There is only one type of object that we have observed that comes into existence from seemingly nothing: quantum vacuum fluctuations . Even in the case of vacuum fluctuations, the causes are unknown, so we likewise have no knowledge of anything being “contingent.” The premise has no more foundation than if the premise claimed that everything is not contingent.
Further, Pro challenged, “For this proof I challenge my opponent to prove that not everything in the universe or the universe itself is contingent.”
This would be my burden if the prima facie evidence were that the existence of the universe or any of its constituent parts is contingent. Since that is not the prima facie evidence, the challenge is irrelevant.
This argument states that objects that act for a seeming “end” must have been designed by a mind. This argument had explanatory power through analogy, and it was widely accepted by the best minds in science, before Darwin’s and Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection. The predominant objects designed with a seeming “end” would be living organisms, and their “design” is now seemingly merely the natural expected outcome of the continually-iterative process of unintelligent mutation and natural selection--the variations of the systems that are more capable of reproducing will predominate in the next generation, adapting as expected around every obstacle to reproductive success. Since all living organisms follow the pattern of a single unified family tree (Linnaean taxonomy), the theory of evolution has far superior explanatory power. A hypothesized being with a mind may have designed life following any of a vast number of patterns, not only a family tree.
The weakness of this argument seems to be premise 3: “No rational person should accept premise (2a) by definition of rationality,” where premise 2a is: “The existence of the universe is… unintelligible.” It may very well be that the existence of the universe is unintelligible, but it does not follow that a rational person should not accept this premise by the definition of “rationality.” The definition of “rationality” was not presented, but it can be surmised that a “rational” person under the ordinary definition of “rationality” may justifiably accept a lack of an explanation for a small subset of his or her general perspective. Otherwise, the argument seems to be self-defeating, as follows: what is the intelligible explanation for the existence of God? In the unlikely event that an intelligible explanation can be proposed (using the given criteria of Scientific, Personal, or Essential), then the argument is not self-defeating. But, if the existence of God is unintelligible, then does it follow from the definition of rationality that no rational person should accept the premise that the existence of God in unintelligible?
Pro challenged, “I now challenge my opponent to offer evidence as to how the universe was created independent of a higher being.”
That is a challenge that I cannot meet, and I really do think that a “higher being” is a positive explanation that has at least the seeming of superiority over no explanation. It is an argument that I fully grant.
I would like Pro to reflect on that reality in light of the knowledge that the same situation would have occurred if, instead of the existence of the universe, the phenomenon of lightning bolts were offered as evidence of miraculous intervention of God in the natural world and we were living in a time before the discoveries of the science of electromagnetism.
Suppose Pro had said, “I now challenge my opponent to offer evidence as to how lightning bolts are created independent of a higher being.”
Any time before the 18th century, I would be likewise empty-handed, and I would have no choice but to concede that an intelligent higher being is the only explanation for lightning bolts. In the modern age, the weakness of explaining such mysteries with an equally-mysterious intelligent being has become more apparent. Any imaginable mystery may be explained with the gods, but such explanations serve as probable explanations only when they also supply explanatory power and plausibility. This is the reason why “God of the gaps” typically fails as an explanation. Some gaps may indeed be filled with a god when the god is precisely the same size and shape as the gap, but the oversized gods should not be stuffed in a gap with any size and shape.
The problem with this argument seems to be “If an object is in motion, something must have caused it to be in motion.” The argument implicitly presumes that all “movers” are previously-existing objects, such as a moving cue ball that causes an 8-ball to move. Only with this implicit premise does it follow that “there must be a first, unmoved mover.” However, we know from Newtonian and Einsteinian physics that movement is not caused by a previously-existing mover. Movement is instead caused by forces of physics, such as gravity, strong and weak nuclear forces and electromagnetism. Movement of particles, such as radiation, may be caused by a purely internal process. The premise is further undercut and complicated by the observed reality that there are, again, quantum vacuum fluctuations with no known mover or cause . Under this new model of thought, the argument cannot be directly adapted, because there is no apparent observed pattern of nature that requires us to believe that physical forces were ever caused by anything existing previously.
Returning the challenge
I challenge Pro to present an argument for the existence of God or gods that supplies explanatory power and plausibility, and to explain it in those terms. If Pro shares with me contempt for the “God of the gaps” style of reasoning, then he should detail how his explanation powerfully fits the evidence, and not just cram the gods into the gaps.
I also request that Pro be more careful with his quotes--please do not misattribute a quote from the creationist Hugh Ross to the eminent Stephen Hawking (“if the universe is governed by the equations of General Relativity…” ).
 Tryon, E.P. “Is the Universe a vacuum fluctuation,” Nature, 1973.
 Woese, C.R. “Interpreting the universal phylogenetic tree,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 22, 2000.
I would like to thank Abe for his Rebuttal and I would also like to express how much I am enjoying this debate. As intense and mind exercising as it is, I am enjoying every second of this debate against a worthy opponent.
Now for my rebuttal.
Definition: Occurring or existing only if (certain other circumstances) are the case; dependent on.
Con states that premise "B" of contingency is not proven nor is it prima facie. I object to both of these statements. Premise B is proven due to the definition of Contingent. It also is prima facie.
Definition- Prima Facie: denotes evidence that – unless rebutted – would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact.
My proposition is that a creator exists, I offered evidence that there must be one thing/entity/being that was incontingent for there to be contingent things, if this is not rebutted, then Con can not prove his case. This is logical, we know that the Universe is incontingent due to the Big Bang Theory.
Definition- Theory: system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena.
The Big Bang Theory is accepted as a solid theory of the Universe beginning, therefore the Universe is contingent. Therefore, it is prima facie because if Con fails to rebut it and just brushes this point off then he cannot defeat my argument of Contingency.
I believe Con misses the point on this one completely, I understand why Con got the wrong idea. The argument is not as much intelligent design as it is mindless vs mind. The point of this argument is that if some things have a mind while others do not, it is logical to say that the minded created the mindless.
un·in·tel·li·gi·ble/ˌəninˈteləjəbəl/Adjective: Impossible to understand
It is the nature of rationality to search for explanations wherever they are. So it would be irrational for someone to say that the Universe has no explanation. The intelligibility of the existence of God is currently being presented by me with my arguments, Con. It is inteligible because the explanation of the Universe cannot be completely scientific due to the fact that so little is known about the singularity that caused the Big Bang Theory. But if the universe is just all natural conditions and laws, there can be no initial natural conditions or laws outside it. Therefore, there can be no scientific explanation for the existence of the universe. It can't be essential due to the fact that if The Big Bang Theory happened slightly differently, we would not exist, therefore the Universe isn't necessary. Since rationality demands an explanation, it has to be one of the three explanations, since scientific and essential do not work, personal would give an intelligible reason to believe in God.
I understand where Con is coming from on this one, but I do not believe this is a good comparison, here's why. Lightning bolts come from clouds which we can see with our eyes easily. We are talking about the existence before, well, existence. When did time begin? How did the Universe get made? What was before the Universe? As you can see, lightning bolts are not a good comparison t the creation of all of existence. Con is making a mountain out of a mole hill in this argument.
It is hard for me to refute this because I am not sure where Con is going with this argument. Con, are you trying to go into the argument of quantum fluctuations? Do you want to go there? It will make this debate even more complicate than it already is. Also, with your last sentence, con, are you trying to say the Universe created itself? Please be clearer.
Con, I will answer your challenge in the next round because first I have a question about it. Would you mind elaborating a little more on this challenge? Have I not explained the logic behind belief in God? ( I am not resigning from this challenge btw.)
Thanks for your time.
Contingency, Cosmological and Creation
These three topics of debate converge with each other, so I will merge them.
Pro argued, “The Big Bang Theory is accepted as a solid theory of the Universe beginning, therefore the Universe is contingent.”
To recap, the argument from contingency rests on the point that a contingent universe would compel us to explain the cause of the universe. And, like any gap, the gods can fill it. The universe may or may not be contingent, but Pro hopes that my acceptance of the Big Bang model would compel me to accept that the universe is contingent, making way for the explanation of gods.
Beside the failures of the god-of-the-gaps style of argument (lack of explanatory power and plausibility), the fallacy of Pro’s above argument rests in the common belief that the Big Bang model explains the existence, as opposed to non-existence, of the universe. Unfortunately, however, the Big Bang theory explains no such thing. According to reference :
“The earliest state of the universe that cosmologists have determined to be unpreceded by a state of a different kind is the state constitutive of the Planck era, which occupies the first post-t0 interval of length 10-43 second.”
The big bang model does not explain this earliest state. As a maximally condensed point, it is merely one of many states of the universe as we know it, and that hypothesized earliest state provides no more reason to accept a contingent universe than the current state of the universe.
I illustrated my point about the fallacy of the god-of-the-gaps style of argument with the pre-scientific mystery of lightning bolts. Pro objected, “Lightning bolts come from clouds which we can see with our eyes easily. We are talking about the existence before, well, existence. When did time begin? How did the Universe get made? What was before the Universe? As you can see, lightning bolts are not a good comparison [to] the creation of all of existence.”
The objection is irrelevant, because the analogy is adequate given that both lightning bolts and the existence of the universe are were/are mere scientific mysteries, not evidence that is strongly expected by the explanation of gods, though the gods may explain them much like any other natural mystery. My argument can be more effectively rebutted by specifying how the hypothesis of the gods explains the existence of the universe with more explanatory power and more plausibility than if the hypothesis were applied to explain lightning bolts.
If I misunderstood this argument, then Pro can help his case by providing an example of a mindless “object that acts for an end.” The theory of evolution refutes the line that “An object that acts for an end, but does not itself have a mind, must have been created [by] a being with a mind,” as it applies to the only natural mindless actors for an end that I am aware of--living organisms. Perhaps Pro has some other type of object in mind, but I am aware of what that type of objects may be.
Pro asked, “Con, are you trying to go into the argument of quantum fluctuations?”
Quantum vacuum fluctuations are not central to my argument, so we can leave it out. The invocation of modern physics was not necessary, because the argument was first undercut by the simpler Newtonian physics.
In the model of Isaac Newton, one object does not cause a second object to move, but movement (or, more technically, acceleration) is caused by forces. That is what is explicit in the first and second laws of motion. Newton’s first law of motion is (added emphasis): “If the total force on an object is zero, its center of mass continues in the same state of motion” . The second law of motion is expressed as F=ma, where m is the mass of an object, F is the total force acted on the object, and a is the resulting acceleration of the object .
Newton’s second law approximates all changes in movement of any macroscopic object, a law that is more exactly defined by the equation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, in which forces (not objects) remain the relevant instigators of acceleration.
The argument from first mover was formulated long before Isaac Newton, when material objects were believed to be the causes of movement of other material objects, and the argument has substance only within that mistaken paradigm.
Clarification of Challenge
Pro enquired, “Would you mind elaborating a little more on this challenge? Have I not explained the logic behind belief in God?”
You have explained the arguments for belief in God. The problem is that your methodology is poor--you use rote logic with premises that beg the question. I strongly suggest arguments for the gods using the more-common styles of argumentation, which are probabilistic, not discrete or absolute in certainty. You may choose your own methodology, but I recommend the criteria of explanatory power and plausibility, which are two of the five criteria of Argument to the Best Explanation . Such criteria are common in theological debates, and they seem to be the greatest weaknesses of your argument.
“Explanatory power” is the ability of the hypothesis to expect the evidence. For example, do we strongly expect the present universe from the existence of the gods? If so, how?
“Plausibility” is the ability of the hypothesis to be expected from everything that we commonly accept. For example, do any of the gods fit what we generally know about the universe? If so, how?
 Q Smith, “The uncaused beginning of the universe.” Philosophy of Science, 1988.
 B Crowell, Newtonian Physics, Ed 2.2, 2003, page 102.
 Ibid, page 106.
 C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions, p. 19.
alex0828 forfeited this round.
I conclude the debate with this musical number.