The Instigator
Contradiction
Pro (for)
Winning
52 Points
The Contender
CosmicAlfonzo
Con (against)
Losing
42 Points

God is the Best Explanation for Morality

Do you like this debate?NoYes+8
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision - Required
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/26/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,278 times Debate No: 16148
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (85)
Votes (22)

 

Contradiction

Pro

In this debate I will be arguing for one major contention: God is the best explanation of morality. By that, I mean that the existence of objective moral facts is best explained by positing the existence of a supreme being. By "best explanation." I mean it is superior to competing theories in terms of its explanatory scope, explanatory power, plausibility, less ad hocness, accord with already accepted beliefs, and comparative superiority. [1]

I will be defending two arguments, the first is:

1. If objective moral facts exist, then God exists.
2. Objective moral facs exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

By "objective," I refer to the state of being true regardless of human opinion. For example, to say that X (Say, torturing babies for fun) is wrong is to say that "it is wrong for anyone to do X, that X is universally undesirable, that it is wrong to do X even if a person finds pleasure in doing it, and that everyone ought to refrain from doing X." [2] By "moral facts," I refer to both values and duties.

According to the first premise, if there are objective moral facts, then these moral facts have their foundation in the nature of God. This is because morality is prescriptive and is expressed to us in the form of statements such as “Do not lie” and “Do not murder." These statements carry with them a degree of incumbency – that is to say, they communicate commands to us. Both commands and communication, however, can only originate from an intelligent mind. This mind must additionally be a competent authority in order for its commands to be binding on us. Therefore, moral facts require the existence of a supreme legislator who issues these commands to us.

But why should we think that morality is objective? Here are several reasons why the second premise is true.

1) The objectivity of morality is the best explanation for our everyday experience.

The objectivity of morality accords with pre-existing beliefs regarding morality. Beliefs such as "It's wrong to beat your wife," "Child sex-slavery is immoral," and "Treat others fairly" all seem to express true moral facts. Why should we accept moral relativism when it leads to conclusions that are counterintuitive? As Tim Keller puts it, “"If a premise ('There is no God') leads to a conclusion you know isn't true ('Napalming babies is culturally relative'), then why not change the premise?" [3]

2) The objectivity of morality allows for moral judgements

We commonly condemn people or actions as being immoral or praiseworthy. But, if morality is nothing more than one's mere opinion, then it makes no sense condemning or praising someone for their opinion, for the opinion of the serial killer is just as valid as the charity worker's.

3) The objectivity of morality allows for moral progress

Compare the beliefs of antebellum Americans regarding slavery and those held by Americans today. Most people would tend to agree that the change reflects one of moral progress. But how can there be moral progress is morality is not objective? For there to be progress, there has to be a standard to which moral changes can be judged by. If there is no such standard, then all we're left with is simply valueless change.

I've given several good reasons to think that P2 is true. If this be the case, then the conclusion follows by logical deduction.

These are just a few reasons. For space considerations, I have left out several points. Should my opponent choose to attack P2, however, I will elaborate further in subsequent rounds.

My second argument is based on notions of human dignity and equality. It goes as follows:

1. If human dignity and equality exists, then God exists
2. Human dignity and equality exists
3. Therefore, God exists.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." [4] Indeed, this fact so clear that I will not elaborate much on it, for the burden of proof is on the skeptic to challenge this. It doesn't matter whether a person is poor or rich, Christian or Muslim, man or woman -- he is equal alongside his fellow human beings. We complain of human/civil rights violations in society and decry atrocities commited against others (Such as slavery) precisely because we recognize the fact that humans are equal in dignity and equality.

But how can a naturalistic universe ground notions of dignity and equality? In the naturalistic scenario, humans aren't any more special than plants, animals, or even dirt. "Dignity" and "value" are to be found nowhere, much less do we expect them to be instantiated in human beings. Moreover, what could equality be based on? Properties such as rationality, height, skin color, etc... are all degreed properties. They come in degrees of more or less. They thus cannot be the ground of equality.

Theism, on the othe hand, furnishes a rich and substantive explanation of both dignity and equality. On the theistic scenario, humanity is endowed with intrinsic goodness by a God who creates them in his own image. Humanity is equal because they each are made in the image of God, and not because of some degreed property they have.

Conclusion

The arguments I have mentioned provide a strong case for God being the best explanation of morality. My opponent will have a tall task at hand, but I welcome the challenge, and may we both learn from this debate.
_______


[1] -- J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers, Grove, IL: Intervarsity. 2003) p.62
[2] -- Hadley Arkes, "First Things" (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1986) p.24
[3] -- Timothy J. Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York, NY: Dutton. 2008) p.156
[4] -- http://www.un.org...
CosmicAlfonzo

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for taking the time to start up this debate. May this discussion be enlightening to everyone watching.

I will start by addressing your first argument, which I believe to be fundamentally fallacious.

"1. If objective moral facts exist, then God exists."

This is a Non-Sequitor. Objective Morality that is delivered to us in the form of statements does not imply that a God exists. These statements do not imply a "supreme being".

"morality is prescriptive and is expressed to us in the form of statements such as "Do not lie" and "Do not murder." These statements carry with them a degree of incumbency – that is to say, they communicate commands to us. Both commands and communication, however, can only originate from an intelligent mind."

An intelligence that does not necessarily have to be of the supreme nature.

"This mind must additionally be a competent authority in order for its commands to be binding on us. Therefore, moral facts require the existence of a supreme legislator who issues these commands to us."

You say that a theory must have less Ad Hocness, but your first premise is built on assumptions and Ad-hockery.

You operate on the assumption that these moral commands come from a Supreme Being that communicates to us through words, rather than a human source.

You operate under the assumption that the one making these commands must be a competent authority for these commands to be binding to us.

You operate under the assumption that these commands ARE binding to us.

You operate under the assumption that if there is objective morality, God is the only explanation.

Objective morality does not imply that God exists. Only in the largest stretch of semantics can this be made to be true.

"2. Objective moral fac(t)s exist."

If objective morality does exist, your arguments are not convincing in the slightest.

You said that "By "objective," I refer to the state of being true regardless of human opinion.", yet your first support for premise 2 is based on human opinion..

"1) The objectivity of morality is the best explanation for our everyday experience.

The objectivity of morality accords with pre-existing beliefs regarding morality."

Beliefs fall within human opinion. Your first support for premise 2 is irrelevant, as it is an entirely subjective argument. Your second support for premise 2 also falls within this category.

"2) The objectivity of morality allows for moral judgments

We commonly condemn people or actions as being immoral or praiseworthy. But, if morality is nothing more than one's mere opinion, then it makes no sense condemning or praising someone for their opinion, for the opinion of the serial killer is just as valid as the charity worker's."

This isn't an argument for objective morality, this just possibly shows that moral judgments are based on the assumption that there is an objective morality.

"3) The objectivity of morality allows for moral progress "

The practicality or the perceived positive effects of belief is not an indicator of whether or not morality is objective. This is not a proof for objective morality.

Your third argument is equally fallacious, and makes the same mistakes that your first one does, which is using human subjective opinion in itself as proof of objective morality. At the same time, you add more Ad-Hoc assumptions to support your argument.

I'd also like to note that humanism in itself is not an objective moral philosophy, it is a human centric moral philosophy, which is fundamentally subjective by nature.

Objectively, morality only exists as a human construct. It is a memeplex.
Debate Round No. 1
Contradiction

Pro

Before I begin, I would like to extend my thanks to CosmicAlfonso for accepting my debate offer. Now on to his responses. First, however, a word about how I will respond. Unlike CA, who responded to my argument with a line-by-line analysis (Known as "fisking"), I will respond under several general points for the sake of order and clarity. I would also invite my opponent to do the same -- line-by-line refutations usually miss the big picture and can become rather hard to follow.

Attacks on Premise 1

CA challenges the first premise by arguing that it is a "non-sequitur." He charges that objective morality does not imply that God exists. However, he neglects to respond to the defense of the first premise that I provided in the opening argument. Let me now reproduce it:

If there are objective moral facts, then these moral facts have their foundation in the nature of God. This is because morality is prescriptive and is expressed to us in the form of statements such as “Do not lie” and “Do not murder." These statements carry with them a degree of incumbency – that is to say, they communicate commands to us. Both commands and communication, however, can only originate from an intelligent mind. This mind must additionally be a competent authority in order for its commands to be binding on us. Therefore, moral facts require the existence of a supreme legislator who issues these commands to us.

Until CA responds to the aforementioned argument, P1 is certainly not a non-sequitur.

Now, to be fair, he does engage the previous paragraph, but his responses are rather inadequate. He argues, for instance, that the notion that commands must originate from a commander (mind) is ad hoc. Yet he fails to elaborate why it is so. Surely it isn't ad hoc to presume that moral commands originate from a moral commander? Apart from mere assertion, CA never states why it is ad hoc.

He also argues that I operate under the assumption that objective moral facts do exist. Yes, I do, but what exactly is problematic with that, given that I provided arguments for that assumption? Nothing fallacious is present here.

At one point, CA also sets up and attacks a strawman of my argument. He writes, "You operate under the assumption that if there is objective morality, God is the only explanation." That is not true at all. The proposition that I am arguing for is that God is the best explanation of morality. Such a thesis does not exclude the fact that there may be other competing explanations. My responses to relativism even presupposes as such. He thus attacks a blatant strawman.

Finally, he argues that the supreme intelligence posited need not be God. On the contrary, it does, for we are talking about the ground of morality. Unless it is rooted in a supreme being, it cannot be binding for everyone.

Attacks on Premise 2

CA argues that "You said that "By "objective," I refer to the state of being true regardless of human opinion.", yet your first support for premise 2 is based on human opinion." This is not true at all. My first argument for P2 used a type of inductive argument known as an argument to best explanation. That is, I appealed to P2 as the best explanation of what we tend to experience in the world. If competing theories such as relativism lead us to conclusions that are counterintuitive, then why not just reject relativism? Now of course, morality could still be relative, but the point of this type of argument is to establish the burden of proof.

Additionally, we also have to contrast the subjectivity of human experience with its correspondence to reality. Parts of our experience may be subjective, but this does not preclude the fact that our experience is for the most part an accurate indicator of how reality actually is. Suppose I see a tree. What reason do I have for thinking that the tree is actually in front of me? My experience of course. Even though my experience may have subjective elements, my experience is a good indicator of how reality actually is. The same way with moral experience. Simply because our moral experience may have subjective elements to it does not mean that it is not an accurate guide to how reality actually is. Otherwise, we'd have to throw out our knowledge of science and history along with moral knowledge.

CA responds to (2) and (3) by arguing, "This isn't an argument for objective morality, this just possibly shows that moral judgments [and progress] are based on the assumption that there is an objective morality."

This completely misses the point of the argument. Yes, it does assume that moral judgements are based on the assumption that there is objective morality, but the point to be drawn from that is since there are meaningful moral judgements (Ie: Slavery is wrong), that it must imply that objective morality exists.

Challenges to the Human Dignity and Equality Argument

CA provided no objection to this argument.

A Word on "Best Explanation"

The proposition being debated over is "God is the Best Explanation for Morality." In order to show that this is likely false, CA must show that it is not the best explanation by means of advancing a superior moral theory. Other than a slight mention of humanism, he has not done so.

Recall that the criteria for the best explanation are:

1. Explanatory power
2. Plausibility
3. Less ad hocness
4. Accord with already accepted beliefs
5. Comparative superiority.

In order to provide a theory superior to theistic morality, CA must advance a moral theory that satisfies all five criteria. Yet, as I have shown, naturalistic explanations of morality all pail in comparision to the explanatory power offered by theism. Theism has more explanatory power in that affirms that our moral beliefs correspond to reality, thus making it more plausible. Accordingly it is less ad hoc because it does not have to deny that these experiences correspond to reality, making it more in accord with already accepted beliefs. This, in turn, gives it comparative superiority to all other competing theories.
CosmicAlfonzo

Con

I will avoid what you call "fisking", despite my opinion that it is a perfectly valid debate tactic.

Attacks on Premise 1

You say that I did not address your argument, but I clearly did.

You are saying that objective morality implies God. I am saying that even if objective morality does exist, this is not a proof for God. They are unrelated.

You are saying that objective morality is communicated to us through commands like "Do not lie" and "Do not steal". I said very lucidly that you are making the assumption that these commands come from God. God itself is the ad-hoc construction. God is specifically used to justify an objective morality. Your first defense for premise 2 clearly implies this.

Premise 1 makes the assumption that Objective morality is proof of God. I am not making a straw man out of your position, you are clearly stating this. If I am indeed mistaken, clarify.

I also extend my point that you operate under the assumption that objective morality exists, and that your arguments supporting the existence of objective morality are not convincing in the slightest.

Attacks on Premise 2

A man believes that something is wrong, and doesn't feel justified in believing so unless it is objectively true. Therefore, objective morality is true.

Not only does this argument not prove objective morality, but it does not shift the burden of proof. You are making the assertion that there is objective morality, and have presented various non-proofs. I have simply pointed out how they are not proofs. The burden of proof is on you, as you are the one making the claim. I am only pointing out how what you consider to be proof is not actually proof at all.

Your comparison to morality and a tree is faulty. A tree is something that exists in the physical world. Morality on the other hand, is not physical.

Your defense of my points against (2) and (3) are not adequate. Whether something has subjective meaning or not is completely irrelevant to the point of there being an objective morality.

Challenges to the Human Dignity and Equality Argument

My objection to this argument was that it fell into the same pitfalls of the previous argument.. Using subjective opinion as proof for something objective, and relying on too many assumptions.

I'll elaborate. You use the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" as evidence to human equality and dignity. This is not evidence that human beings are equal or have dignity, this is evidence that the United Nations believes in human equality as it defines it.

At the same time, even if I were to go along with your assumption that human beings are equal, this in no way implies that God exists. This is a non-sequitor like your first argument.

Your first premise is utterly absurd, and the second premise can not be objectively true.

Your defense of the theistic position doesn't even make sense, as you say that we are made in the image of God(which is a property), yet we are not equal because of a decreed property.

A Word on "Best Explanation"

This is a big argument from ignorance. If I do not feel the need to assert a position, I do not need to. All I need to do is demonstrate the weakness of your logic.

You have made an assertion that you can not back up. It would be unreasonable for you to expect anyone to take your position as fact.
Debate Round No. 2
Contradiction

Pro

My thanks to CA for adopting my format -- not that I have anything against fisking, I just think that it makes a debate hard to navigate. On to the arguments.

Premise 1

CA argues that I am "making the assumption that these commands come from God. God itself is the ad-hoc construction."

[1]. There is no assumption being made here. I gave an argument as to why moral duties implied the existence of God, I did not merely assume it. To repeat: Commands are imperative statements which carry force behind them. Commands, however, must be intentionally legislated by an authoritative person. For example, if I accidently knock over a box of Scrabble tiles which spell "Go to the store," the command is not binding because it is not (1) intentional, (2) authortative, and (3) issued by a person. If objective morality exists, then, it must be legislated by a lawgiver that is higher than man.

[2]. CA asserts that God is ad hoc. Yet once again, how is it ad hoc? He once again leaves out the explanation. To say something is ad hoc is to say that it is arbitrary, but how is it arbitrary to argue that moral duties originate from God, a supreme moral legislator. This seems to be a perfectly reasonable position. One may disagree with it, but surely it isn't ad hoc.

CA also seems to be mistaking the point of the moral argument. The point of the MA is that God is the best explanation of morality. Consequently, to charge the moral argument with "assuming that objective morality is proof of God" as if it were a bad thing completely neglects this point -- that's what the moral argument is supposed to argue for. Moreover, I did not assume it, I gave reasoned arguments for it.

The strawman charge, moreover, was not directed toward that particular statement. Rather, it was toward CA's claim that "You operate under the assumption that if there is objective morality, God is the only explanation." As I explained earlier, this misrepresents my position.

Additionally, notice that P1 is offered in the form of a conditional statement ("If objective moral facts exist, then God exists). To charge P1 with assuming that morality is objective is to neglect the conditional. Such a criticism is more directed toward P2, to which I will now move.

Defense of Premise 2

CA portrays my argument as follows: "A man believes that something is wrong, and doesn't feel justified in believing so unless it is objectively true. Therefore, objective morality is true."

Not quite. Once again, note that the topic of the debate is: "God is the Best Explanation for Morality." My argument is simply that objective morality better explains elements of our existence, such as our tendency to make moral judgements, our moral intuitions, and our belief in moral progress. Because it is a better explanation, it should be preferred to competing theories of morality. The argument need not even prove objective morality in a strict sense, all that is sufficient is that the explanatory superiority of theism is established.

CA claims the burden of proof on me, as I am making the claim. That's not entirely true. Also of consideration in determining the burden of proof is who advances the more plausible claim. Suppose I claim that the external world exists. The burden of proof is not on me to prove this, even though I may have made the claim. Rather, it's on the skeptic who wishes to deny this (By positing that we are, say, brains in a vat) who shoulders the burden of proof.

In regards to the example I used in which I compared moral experience to sense experience, that one is physical and the other non-physical is incidental. I could very welll substitute sense experience with knowledge of mathematical truths, which are not empirical in nature.

CA's response to (2) and (3) also misses the point. Once again, my argument is based on the fact that God is the best explanation for morality. Human experience may have subjective elements, but we cannot conclude from this that it cannot give us any accurate knowledge of how reality actually is. Such a thesis would lead to global skepticism, in which one doubts everything, and presumably CA doesn't want to go down that route.

Challenges to the Human Dignity and Equality Argument

For the most part, my responses to the aforementioned points carry on to this argument as well.

Now, it isn't clear whether or not CA denies that human beings have equal dignity and rights, but surely this is an utterly indefensible position to hold. On what grounds does he deny the equality of humans? Surely it is more plausible to hold that human beings enjoy equal rights than its negation? My defense of P2 was more of an appeal to its self-evidence. If CA wishes to deny that, then he owes us an explanation as to why he adopts such an implausible position. The burden of proof is on him.

He then writes, "At the same time, even if I were to go along with your assumption that human beings are equal, this in no way implies that God exists. This is a non-sequitor like your first argument."

Once again, this is not an assumption. I offered an argument for this thesis, which I'll reproduce:

"Theism, on the othe hand, furnishes a rich and substantive explanation of both dignity and equality. On the theistic scenario, humanity is endowed with intrinsic goodness by a God who creates them in his own image. Humanity is equal because they each are made in the image of God, and not because of some degreed property they have."

Surely it makes sense to posit that if God exists, then he would have endowed his creation with equal dignity and rights.

On The "Best Explanation"

How is this an argument from ignorance? I am simply following the parameters of the debate. In order to show that something is not the best explanation (As you are arguing), you have to offer an alternative which provides a better explanation. Otherwise, how can you say that it's not the best explanation? "Best" is a comparative term which only makes sense in light of other competing theories.
CosmicAlfonzo

Con

Premise 1

[1]These commands you speak of are clearly non-existent, so your point is completely moot. There is no God going around telling people to not kill or steal. Only people do this.

[2]God is Ad-Hoc in the sense that your support for an objective morality is something that isn't known to exist. It is Ad-Hoc.

If you think that God is the best explanation for morality, I suppose you also think that God is the best explanation for why it rains, or why we tend to leave stools some time after we eat. It isn't the best explanation at all, especially when you choose to define it in a way that is non-falsifiable, not known to exist, and not possible to know.

You may have other ideas as to how objective morality exists, but I am not making a straw man when it comes to your argument in this debate. If you admit that there are other explanations for objective morality, then your whole argument falls apart, as your argument is stated in a way to where objective morality can not exist without god.

Your position is that god is the best explanation of morality, and that God is evident because there is objective morality.. Something which you have not demonstrated.

You are making a lot of assertions, but haven't proven anything whatsoever.

Premise 2

Your first argument for Premise 2 is very clearly what I said it was.

You are basically saying that if you make a claim, the burden of proof is on the skeptic. This is patently absurd, and shows that you do not have an understanding of what the burden of proof is. I do not have to make a counter claim to refute your position, I only have to demonstrate that the rationale behind your position is absurd. What you are describing is a straight out of the book appeal to ignorance.

Challenges to the Human Dignity and Equality Argument

I never made the assertion that people are not equal and do not have dignity. Such an assertion is unnecessary. I am however, pointing out that your evidence is not supportive of this position at all. Like I said, the only thing it shows is the United Nation's position on the matter.

Your thesis is absurd. Just because something explains something doesn't mean that it isn't a baseless assertion. This is another Ad-hoc fallacy, as the theistic position itself hasn't been proven.

On the Best Explanation

Sure then, I'll give you a better explanation. Morality is a human construct, and can not possibly be objective. Allow me to explain how this better fits your own criteria than the position you hold.

~Explanatory Power~

The idea that morality is a human construct better explains why morality is culture specific and has changed so much over the course of history.

~Plausibility~

The idea that morality is a human construct is very plausible. It is infinitely more plausible to believe this than to believe that morality was dictated to us by a divine being.

~Less Ad-Hoc~

There is nothing Ad-Hoc about the idea that morality is a human construct, as this is a perfectly reasonable conclusion based on observation. Belief in an objective morality that was given to us by God falls so far outside of our epistemological limitations, that it is silly to deny that it doesn't rely on Ad-Hoc assumptions.

~Accord With Already Accepted Beliefs~

Based on things which are in our realm of knowing, the idea that morality is a human construct falls perfectly within what we know.

~Comparative Superiority~

The position that morality is a human construct has better explanatory power, is more plausible, less Ad-Hoc, and is in accord with already accepted beliefs.
Debate Round No. 3
Contradiction

Pro

My thanks to CA for his response.

Premise 1

Recall that P1 advances the claim that "If objective moral facts exist. then God exists." This is a conditional claim, it states that if there are objective moral facts, then God serves as their explanation. Given this, CA's first argument against P1 fails. Sure, one may hold that there are in fact no objective moral facts, but that's completely beside the point, which is that if they do in fact exist, then God is their explanation. So this is just a red herring. It's got nothing to do with P1, since it expresses a conditional truth.

In his own words, his second argument is as follows; "God is Ad-Hoc in the sense that your support for an objective morality is something that isn't known to exist." The claim seems to be that because the conclusion is something whose existence is unsupported, that therefore the conclusion is improbable. But this fails at a very basic level to understand the whole point of an argument, in which premises function as evidence for the conclusion. The very point of the first two premises are to provide evidence for the conclusion. To reject the conclusion as CA has did is ignore the fact that I provided arguments for P1 (Commands entail a commander), that he has failed to adequately respond to.

I do not think that God is the best explanation for why it rains, or anything akin to a God-of-the-gaps argument. The implied comparision here breaks down, because the former is concerned with mechanistic processes which can be further explained, whereas the moral argument deals with the ultimate ground of morality.

He then argues that "If you admit that there are other explanations for objective morality, then your whole argument falls apart."

Not at all! Simply because there are competing explanations to a position doesn't mean that any one explanation can't be correct. If you admit that there are other explanations for objective morality, then your whole argument falls apart, as your argument is stated in a way to where objective morality can not exist without god. Suppose that one day, I come home to discover that my television is stolen. Furthermore, I discover that a wallet in the ground which contains the driver's license of Bob, and suppose further that upon checking the records, Bob has been twice convicted of grand larceny. From this I craft a logical argument that Bob probably stole my television. Now, it's possible that the TV just mysteriously vanished, that the mailman stole it, that the license and records were planted, etc... But simply because other explanations are possible doesn't mean that my explanation can't be true or that it can't be the best.

The same with theistic morality. Yes, there may be competing explanations as to the grounding of morality, but that does not in any way imply that my argument fails. Remember once again that the proposition being debated is that God is the best explanation of morality.

Premise 2

I am not arguing that "if you make a claim, the burden of proof is on the skeptic." That's another strawman of my position. I wrote earlier that, "Also of consideration in determining the burden of proof is who advances the more plausible claim. Suppose I claim that the external world exists. The burden of proof is not on me to prove this, even though I may have made the claim. Rather, it's on the skeptic who wishes to deny this (By positing that we are, say, brains in a vat) who shoulders the burden of proof." Applied to the second premise, the burden of proof is on CA because his position lacks plausibility, for it entails that statements such as "Murder is wrong," "Slavery is wrong," "Charity work is good," etc.... are neither true or false.

At any rate, even supposing that I bear the burden of proof, I have advanced claims for my position. CA has not replied to my arguments that human experience, though subjective, is an prima facie accurate guide to how reality is.

Human Dignity and Equality

CA states that he never claimed that people are not equal and not possess dignity. Very well, although I never claimed he did. What remains to be answereed however, is whether or not he actually does believe it. If he does, then he owes us an explanation as to why human beings are equal and have dignity. If not, then he owes us an explanation as to why we are not equal and have no dignity, not to mention the fact that by affirming such an idea (If he does), he cannot complain against slavery, sex-trafficing, the Holocaust, etc... which is surely implausible.

Now, my argument was human equality and dignity was that it is self-evident. It is the skeptic who owes an us explanation, for the skeptic is advancing the more implausible claim. The person who claims that human beings are equal and have dignity no more shoulders the burden of proof than the person who claims that the external world exists.

On the "Best Explanation"

CA has finally offered a competing moral theory to content with the title of "best explanation." He proposes that moral relativism is a better explanation in that it satisfies the criteria better than theism. But does it?

Explanatory power: Relativism does not explain moral progress, moral judgments or moral communication. It may explain why cultures hold different moral views, but theism offers a better explanation, for it affirms the reality of moral progress in cultural views of morality. Under relativism, progess is impossible, since there is no standard.

Plausibility: Nothing much to respond to. CA only asserted that it was more plausible without justifying it.

Less Ad-Hoc: See next response.

Accord with Already Accepted Beliefs: Relativism does not satisfy this criteria adequately, for it requires us to many commonsense beliefs, such as "Humans have equal diginity," "The Holocaust was wrong," "Torturing babies for fun is wrong." Nor does it accord with our beliefs in moral progress. This, in turn, makes relatiism more ad hoc, since it does not explain the data, but rather explains it away.

CosmicAlfonzo

Con

Premise 1

Premise 1 is faulty, because objective morality does not imply God. You have said yourself that God isn't the only explanation for objective morality, which is an admission that this premise is faulty.

Premise 2

You have not proven that objective morality exists.

There is nothing implausible about my position. My position is that morality is a human construct, and can not possibly be objective. Objective morality is an absurdity.

You still have the burden of proof, as not only are you asserting that there is objective morality, but you are also asserting that there is a God. You haven't proven either of these things.

Human Dignity and Equality

Whether I believe in human dignity and equality is completely irrelevant to this discussion. The point I was making, which I've explained twice now is that your evidence for human equality and dignity is not evidence at all.

I will say that objectively, we are clearly NOT equal. We are all different. What you consider to be self evident is anything but. However, as far as legislation is concerned, it is arguable that it is for the better that we are treated equal. That of course, falls in the realm of opinion.

To say that because I do not believe in an objective morality, that means that I can't complain against things that I personally find abhorrent is rather asinine. I am fully capable of adopting a moral stance without being pretentious about it, and claiming that it is objectively true.

To some, treating people the way they'd like to be treated is morality. To others, doing what is beneficial to society at large is morality. To another type, doing what is most beneficial to themselves is morality. Then there are those who base their morality purely on what something else they deem authoritative says.

Objectively, murder is neither bad nor good.. It is murder.. Objectively, slavery is neither bad nor good, it is slavery. Objectively, these things can only be what they are. Morality comes in when you judge these things as being either good or bad. This is opinion. Opinion that is shaped by what you base your morality on.

Morality is an absurdity. Realizing it is absurd does not mean that one has to abandon it.

On the "Best Explanation"

Your entire case is built on subjective opinions, and you still believe that objective morality has the better case?
Debate Round No. 4
Contradiction

Pro

We're now at the final round of arguments. I'd like to thank CA for participating in this debate. Voters, please vote on the basis of who argued their case the best, and not on your own views. Let me now close with a response to CA, and some final considerations.

Premise 1

There isn't much to respond to here, CA claimed that my admission that God isn't the only possible explanation for morality renders it faulty.

On the contrary, it does no such thing. Recall my earlier response, which CA seems to have neglected:

Simply because there are competing explanations to a position doesn't mean that any one explanation can't be correct. If you admit that there are other explanations for objective morality, then your whole argument falls apart, as your argument is stated in a way to where objective morality can not exist without god. Suppose that one day, I come home to discover that my television is stolen. Furthermore, I discover that a wallet in the ground which contains the driver's license of Bob, and suppose further that upon checking the records, Bob has been twice convicted of grand larceny. From this I craft a logical argument that Bob probably stole my television. Now, it's possible that the TV just mysteriously vanished, that the mailman stole it, that the license and records were planted, etc... But simply because other explanations are possible doesn't mean that my explanation can't be true or that it can't be the best.

The same with theistic morality. Yes, there may be competing explanations as to the grounding of morality, but that does not in any way imply that my argument fails. Remember once again that the proposition being debated is that God is the best explanation of morality.

Once again, simply because you have multiple competing explanations doesn't mean that only one explanation can't be valid, nor am I affirming that more than one explanation is valid. Rather, my argument is that theism is the best explanation for morality, given all other competing explanations. That something is an explanation doesn't automatically make it a true explanation -- it has to be argued for.

Premise 2

CA argues that I have not proven that objective morality exists, yet I have failed to see an adequate response given to the arguments I presented in my opening post. He says that there is nothing implausible about his position, but let's refer back to what I said in my last response:

Explanatory power: Relativism does not explain moral progress, moral judgments or moral communication. It may explain why cultures hold different moral views, but theism offers a better explanation, for it affirms the reality of moral progress in cultural views of morality. Under relativism, progess is impossible, since there is no standard.

Plausibility: Nothing much to respond to. CA only asserted that it was more plausible without justifying it.

Less Ad-Hoc: See next response.

Accord with Already Accepted Beliefs: Relativism does not satisfy this criteria adequately, for it requires us to many commonsense beliefs, such as "Humans have equal diginity," "The Holocaust was wrong," "Torturing babies for fun is wrong." Nor does it accord with our beliefs in moral progress. This, in turn, makes relatiism more ad hoc, since it does not explain the data, but rather explains it away.

Overall, relativism lacks comparative superiority.

He also argues that I still bear the burden of proof, yet he utterly fails to engage with the arguments outlined in my previous post.

"Also of consideration in determining the burden of proof is who advances the more plausible claim. Suppose I claim that the external world exists. The burden of proof is not on me to prove this, even though I may have made the claim. Rather, it's on the skeptic who wishes to deny this (By positing that we are, say, brains in a vat) who shoulders the burden of proof." Applied to the second premise, the burden of proof is on CA because his position lacks plausibility, for it entails that statements such as "Murder is wrong," "Slavery is wrong," "Charity work is good," etc.... are neither true or false.


Human Dignity and Equality

CA has revealed that he does not believe in human equality or objective morality, rendering his position more implausible. He may choose to bite the bullet, but such a stance is obviously not the best explanation. It does not account for the fact that we consider moral progress to be real, moral judgements to be meaningful, and moral communication to be possible. Nor can CA complain about sex-slavery, the Holocaust, or a host of other human rights violations.

However, he has a response to that. He argues, "To say that because I do not believe in an objective morality, that means that I can't complain against things that I personally find abhorrent is rather asinine. I am fully capable of adopting a moral stance without being pretentious about it, and claiming that it is objectively true."

Despite his protestings, if he does not adopt an objective moral framework, then he has no grounds to complain against things he finds abhorrent. On what grounds can he say that the Holocaust was immoral? On what grounds can he claim that it is wrong to torture babies for fun? There is nothing to be found on a naturalstic scenario which would possibly justify these claims.

Of course, he can still make the judgments, but they lack substantive content from his worldview. If he wishes for them to in fact be meaningful, then he must borrow capital from theism.

He ends by declaring morality an "absurdity," but once again he provides no argument for this.

The Best Explanation

CA fails to engage with my argument at all, and thus no response is warranted here. Moreover, I have already argued that human experience, despite its subjectivity, provides an accurate guide to how the world really is. His final assertion therefore fails.

Conclusion

CA has failed to defend his points. I urge a vote for pro.
CosmicAlfonzo

Con

Your first argument is

1. If objective moral facts exist, then God exists
2. Objective moral facts exist
3. Therefore, God exists

If you are saying that there are other explanations for objective moral facts, then your first premise is faulty and your entire argument falls apart.

Your justification does not change the fact that your logical argument is presented in a faulty manner. Your justification does not change the fact that we are not talking about things that are observable in the material world. Your analogy is irrelevant, and has absolutely nothing to do with our discussion, which is the reason I didn't address it. I have faith that the people watching this debate are capable of seeing past its ridiculousness.

God isn't the best explanation for morality at all. God is an Ad-Hoc creation. God is something that hasn't been proven, can not be tested, and doesn't explain nearly as much as you think.

My opponent claims that I have failed to engage with his argument all, despite the fact that I have repeatedly shown how his argument doesn't stand up to scrutiny, and isn't worth even taking seriously. This whole argument, he has done little more than appeal to ones emotions, appeal to ignorance, create various ad-hoc arguments, attempt to use subjective opinions to prove objective morality, and showcase a clear failure to understand who has the burden of proof.

I do not need to defend my points as pro asks, as he has not adequately defended his own. There is nothing unreasonable about my position, it is very plausible. My opponent's position on the other is filled with unprovable assumptions that fall outside the realm of testing, or knowing.
Debate Round No. 5
85 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by CosmicAlfonzo 5 years ago
CosmicAlfonzo
Yeah, thanks for clarifying.
Posted by warpedfx 5 years ago
warpedfx
it is a basis but that's not to say it's a normative claim, that it SHOULD necessarily be based on that.
Posted by CosmicAlfonzo 5 years ago
CosmicAlfonzo
The basis of most people's morality seems to be tradition. However, something like "The golden rule" tends to be in one's self interest most of the time. These traditions have their roots in self interest.

Sometimes the most selfish thing you can do is be selfless, and sometimes the most selfless thing you can do is be selfish.
Posted by Dimmitri.C 5 years ago
Dimmitri.C
It seems self-interest would, therefore, be an improper basis for morality.
Posted by CosmicAlfonzo 5 years ago
CosmicAlfonzo
Not everyone has the same idea of self interest.
Posted by Dimmitri.C 5 years ago
Dimmitri.C
"You know what best accounts for our notions of human dignity and equality? You know what best accounts for these notions that slavery is wrong, killing is wrong, etc? Self interest"

What about the Nazi's sentiments of self-interest toward non-Germans?
Posted by baggins 5 years ago
baggins
@ CosmicAlfonzo

I cannot vouch for my comprehension ability to be perfect - but I assure you, I read your debate completely before voting.

I admit, that howsoever unbiased I try to be, some bias will creep in during the voting.

It is also possible that you are assuming that some of your arguments are clear to me just because they are clear to you. It is a fact that when a voter is from opposite ideology from yours - you have to make more efforts. Just as an example, you asserted that morality is a 'just a memeplex' and left it at that. Many people may not know the meme theory. You might have assumed that this is a powerful argument. However I think that meme theory is a pseudo scientific garbage which can be used to prove anything.

Still, I did through the debate once again and I stand by my vote.
Posted by CosmicAlfonzo 5 years ago
CosmicAlfonzo
You know what best accounts for our notions of human dignity and equality? You know what best accounts for these notions that slavery is wrong, killing is wrong, etc? Self interest.

This is the reason why certain ideas under the "morality" memeplex umbrella stick. Moral progress, experience, and judgement comes from empathy, putting yourself in someone elses shoes, and thinking about how you would be treated.

Objectively, morality exists only in the minds of people. People have different ideas of morality just as people have different ideas of beauty. Objectively, morality is something that human beings attempt to do to counteract the objective fact that life isn't fair, we aren't equal, etc. Morality falls in the realm of ideals. The type of morality you are describing can not be objective morality, as there is nothing that makes murder wrong unless you look at it from a relative position. Relative to certain goals, relative to humanity, relative to individuals involved, etc. These views are not universe centric, and can not be objective. Objectively, a murder is what it is(and it isn't a murder), and that is that. There is no judgement, as judgement on an objective level is non-existent.. Either something is, or it isn't. There is true and false. That is it. If an event takes place, it is true, regardless of human opinion. If an event doesn't take place, it is false, regardless of human opinion.

I know there is objective morality, and I know that it comes from God, however, we have very very different understandings of what these words mean. Your understanding of these things makes them incorrect. They are not valid observations of how things actually are.

I'm not talking about "moral epistemology". This is about as meaningless of a concept as "fairy tale epistemology". I'm talking about straight epistemology. You have a position that is very typical of "naive realists", and it isn't me who is making an unjustified epistemological assumption.
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Odd, the last bits of my response keep being cut out...

"You have not demonstrated this. You have not provided any reasonable evidence to suggest this."

REPLY: I argued that moral realism better explains facets of our experience such as moral progress, moral experience, and moral judgement. I also argued that moral realism best accounts for our notions of human dignity and equality. You might deny everything I've just mentioned, but the burden of proof is then on you since you make the more improbable claim (Namely, you deny all of these things when at the very minimum their existence is prima facie plausible).>>>>

"The objective morality position itself relies on far too much that is outside of our realm of knowing, and just about anything you use to support this position is going to be ad-hoc... Your explanation relies on too many things that are NOT observably true."

REPLY: And you said the people who found the arguments convincing must be ignorant of epistemology? Good night. It seems like you are relying on an unjustified assumption of empiricism. What exactly do you mean by "our realm of knowing."

"Evidence points to my position at least being a very plausible and a probable explanation."

REPLY: All you did was point to differing cultural views on morality. That does nothing to establish your point. That only confuses moral epistemology (The order of knowing) with moral ontology (The order of being)
Posted by Contradiction 5 years ago
Contradiction
Hm, formatting error.

"You are saying that objective morality is codified in a book that claims to be the word of God."

<<I dare you to show me where I said or even implied that.>>

"You have not demonstrated this. You have not provided any reasonable evidence to suggest this."

<<I argued that moral realism better explains facets of our experience such as moral progress, moral experience, and moral judgement. I also argued that moral realism best accounts for our notions of human dignity and equality. You might deny everything I've just mentioned, but the burden of proof is then on you since you make the more improbable claim (Namely, you deny all of these things when at the very minimum their existence is prima facie plausible).>>

"The objective morality position itself relies on far too much that is outside of our realm of knowing, and just about anything you use to support this position is going to be ad-hoc... Your explanation relies on too many things that are NOT observably true."

<>

"Evidence points to my position at least being a very plausible and a probable explanation."

<>
22 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Rayze 4 years ago
Rayze
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: The contender clearly outlined that the existence of a supreme being has nothing to do with morality
Vote Placed by One_Winged_Rook 4 years ago
One_Winged_Rook
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: I give the win to PRO here, there were many arguments available to CON that he could have used to refute PRO's position. He wrote off a lot of what PRO said without giving adequate reasons... especially the BoP stuff... PRO can say BoP is on both , and that's OK... it should have been agreed earlier, but it's ok for BoP to be on both... seriously
Vote Placed by Lordknukle 5 years ago
Lordknukle
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Anti vote-bomb Dimmitri
Vote Placed by Greyparrot 5 years ago
Greyparrot
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro lost me right at the start when he used the word "seemed" while making a claim. Use facts, not guesses.
Vote Placed by jewgirl 5 years ago
jewgirl
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: con did not respond to all of pros points. pro was the only one to provide sources.[
Vote Placed by ExNihilo 5 years ago
ExNihilo
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Con dropped a lot in the last round.
Vote Placed by baggins 5 years ago
baggins
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Analysis in comments
Vote Placed by Dimmitri.C 5 years ago
Dimmitri.C
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: CosmicAlfonzo tends to merely conclude that an argument is true apart from explanation. CosmicAlfonzo is also extremely arrogant and rude. Contradiction won this debate as a result of being completely misunderstood, argumentation, arguments provided and source reliability.
Vote Placed by Procrastarian 5 years ago
Procrastarian
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: CosmicAlfonzo won the debate on the resolution "God is the explanation for morality" but that's not what pro was arguing. Pro's points were evidential, not strict proof, so it didn't matter that CA destroyed their validity because CA had a heavier burden; he needed to attack the arguments themselves and show why they aren't "best", and he didn't do that.
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
ContradictionCosmicAlfonzoTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:24 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had BoP and couldn't prove it