The Instigator
MBill
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
CosmoJarvis
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

God is the Best Explanation for Why Something Exists Rather than Nothing

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
CosmoJarvis
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/30/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 570 times Debate No: 101574
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)

 

MBill

Pro

This is a heady argument, but a good one. It shows that God is the best explanation for why anything exists at all.

It trades on the concepts of "contingency" and "necessity". Something is "contingent" if it depends on something else. So if "A" is contingent on "B", then you need "B" in order to get "A". Sunlight is contingent on the sun, so if you haven"t got the sun then you can"t have sunlight. The sun is also contingent, because if you didn"t have the swirling mass of space dust (or whatever) that coalesced into the sun then you wouldn"t have a sun. The space dust is contingent because if you didn"t have " and on and on we could go but only to a point.

We can"t have an infinite regress of contingent objects because there would be nothing to start the chain going. You need a fixed point to start the first contingency going. Think of a chandelier attached to a chain. Let"s say that each link in the chain has a number, starting at the bottom with number 1. Let"s say link 1 is hanging on link 2, link 2 is hanging on link 3, link 3 is hanging on link 4, and so on up the chain. If you don"t eventually get to a link that is hanging on the ceiling then none of the links can get upheld. The ceiling in this analogy would be the fixed point, itself not contingent on anything. In reality ceilings are contingent on construction companies, but for the purposes of our analogy imagine that the ceiling isn"t contingent on anything. This sort of existence is called "necessary" existence. It exists by the necessity of its own nature rather than existing contingent on some other set of conditions. The argument shows that not everything can be contingent, there must be some necessary reality to ground it.

Notice that this has nothing to do with any sort of time duration. It isn"t that link 1 first relies on link 2 and then link 2 relies on 3. It is a matter of position, not of chronology. We could imagine that the chandelier had been there forever from eternity past and it would still be the case that the first link relies on the second, the second on the third, and so on. This is what makes this argument a little different from the Cosmological Argument. While the Cosmological argument relies on cause and effect, the argument from contingency relies on the relationships between things without respect to one causing the other. For this reason the argument from contingency works even if we assume the universe has existed forever.

So let"s sketch out the argument:
"Premise One: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. (i.e. it either exists by "necessity" or it exists "contingently")
"Premise Two: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
"Premise Three: The universe exists.
"Premise Four: Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence (from Premise One and Three).
"Premise Five: Therefore the explanation of the universe is God (from Premise Two and Four).
"Premise Six: Therefore, God exists.

Several of these premises are not controversial at all. Premise One is a catch all, encompassing all possibilities. It basically says that things either exist contingently or non-contingently (that is, "of necessity"). This is the equivalent of saying that everything is either "A" or "not A", so it shouldn"t be controversial. Premise three is obvious, and premises four, five, and six are merely logical conclusions of the other premises. Since those are all straightforward, we"ll move on to the controversial premise.

Premise Two: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. Let"s point out exactly what this explanation is explaining. The explanation of the universe is the necessary grounds for the reality of all space, all energy, all matter, and of time itself. In other words, it has to be an abstract object1. There are really only two sorts of abstract objects, numbers and un-embodied minds. There just aren"t any other candidates out there. Since numbers don"t stand in causal relationships to anything (the number 3 never held up a chandelier, even though we"ve labeled one of the links "link 3") then the only remaining candidate is an un-embodied mind. What do you call an un-embodied mind that is the grounds for all space, time, matter, and energy? Christians call Him "God".

1Objects are either abstract or concrete. Abstract objects have no physical referent and concrete objects do. Since the explanation of the universe explains the existence of physical reality, it can"t have a physical referent itself.
CosmoJarvis

Con

Outline:
I. Introduction
II. Rebuttals
III. Scientific Fallacies of the Bible
IV. The Big Bang
V. Sources

I. Introduction

For thousands of years, man has used the concept of a God, deities to explain how the world works; the early Egyptians believed that the calm flooding of the Nile that brought fertile soil was a gift from Hapi, the God of the Nile, the Aztecs thought that chaotic weather appeared when the Gods were angry with the Aztecs, the Greeks believed that the sun was a God riding a golden chariot, and the Norsemen thought all man came from the frost giant, Ymir.

I will be arguing that explaining why something exists with the use of God is inconclusive and possesses no evidence to support these ideas. I will also address my opponent's points, and discuss how the universe began from a scientific standpoint to explain how science is more reliable than holy scriptures and religious beliefs. Because my opponent is arguing for the existence of a Christian God, I will try to also address scientific fallacies in the Bible to explain how the Christian God does not exist.

II. Rebuttals

My opponent believes that God is the best explanation for the existence of something. Certainly, it can be a convenient excuse for why something happens or how something is created but does it properly address the question? My opponent argues that because “Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause,” and “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.” He concludes by saying “Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence… Therefore the explanation of the universe is God. Therefore, God exists."

I believe that my opponent's argument is fallible. His argument is based on cause and effect. He believes that everything has an origin. In his second premise jumps conclusively to the idea of God: "Premise Two: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God." There is virtually no support to this premise. He simply assumes that, if the Universe was created by something, then that "something," had to be God. Additionally, if "Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence," then God too would have a "cause" or beginning. My opponent fails to explain how God was created.

My opponent also fails to provide any evidence for the existence of a God, aside from the belief that a deity created the universe. Also, though he asserts the belief that the Christian God exists in his argument, he fails to provide any explanation for why the Christian God exists, and not why the Greek Gods, Allah, or the Norse Gods are the real Gods.

III. Scientific Fallacies of the Bible

In response to my opponent's argument on how he believes the Biblical God exists, I will explain the nature of the Bible and the scientific inaccuracies which make it an unreliable source for knowledge.

The Bible is a collection of holy scriptures and was compiled in 450 BCE, though there are some texts believed to be as made as early as 1500 BCE. We also have to put into perspective of who wrote the Bible; this was written by multiple people over approximately a thousand years during a time where people used magic and religion to explain things, rather than apply logic and science.

This religious folklore of man being formed from clay or a fragment of a person's rib, alchemy, or the belief that the world is a meager six thousand years old as opposed to four billion years, or the entire Earth being flooded is outright impossible. For example, the Bible claims that the world is approximately 6,000 years old [1]. However, this idea can easily be dismissed. Through radiometric dating, geologists have found rocks surpassing 3 billion years of age [2]. Additionally, Bill Nye, a prominent speaker for atheism, argued against the young-Earth beliefs saying "My scientific colleagues go to places like Greenland, the Arctic, they go to Antarctica and they drill into the ice with hollow drill bits... And we pull out long cylinders of long ice rods... made of snow and ice. It's called 'snow ice.' Snow ice forms over the winter, and snow flakes fall, and are crushed down by subsequent layers. They're crushed together, and are entrapping little bubbles. The bubbles must needs be [from] ancient atmospheres; there's nobody running around with a hypodermic needle squirting ancient atmosphere into the bubbles. And we find certain of the cylinders to have 680,000 layers. 680,000 snow winter/summer cycles. How could it be that just 4000 years ago, all of this ice formed? We can just run some numbers. Let's see we have 680,000 layers of snow ice, and 4000 years since the great flood, that means we need 170 winter/summer cycles every year. For the last 4000 years. Wouldn't someone have noticed that? Wouldn't someone have noticed there's been winter/summer, winter/summer for 170 times in one year?"

IV. The Big Bang

The Big Bang Theory (no, not the show) is the most popular scientific explanation towards the creation of the universe. While we do not possess sophisticated enough tools and technology to peer back at the universe's birth, we can, through mathematical theories and models, provide evidence towards the Big Bang Theory [3].

There are many pieces of evidence that support the Big Bang Theory:

Point One: The Red-shift of light is evidence of the universe's expansion. Light travels to Earth from other galaxies.The distance between the Earth and the galaxy increases because of the Universe's expansion, causing the wavelength of that light to get longer [4]. Similar to how, as stated by the Doppler Effect, sound waves experience a shift in frequency and wavelength towards the observer. This is not due to the sound itself changing, but the distance the observer is from the source of the sound [5]. Similarly, light will have changed wavelengths and frequencies dependent on how far the observer, or Earth, is to the source of the light, or galaxy.

Point Two: According to the research center at Liverpool John Moore's University, "very early in its history, the whole Universe was very hot. As it expanded, this heat left behind a "glow" that fills the entire Universe taking the form of microwaves. Astrologists, using orbiting detectors, have confirmed that there are microwaves all across the universe, providing a great deal of leverage towards the Big Bang Theory [6].

Point Three: According to the Australia Telescope National Facility website, "Astronomers are able to measure the relative amounts of the light nuclei hydrogen, deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen with one proton and one neutron), helium-3, helium-4 and lithium-7 in distant, unmixed clouds of primordial gas. The relative abundances of these nuclei correspond with the calculated predicted ratios from the Big Bang model," [7]. As the universe formed, according to the Big Bang Theory, it created various elements. Scientists, using the Big Bang theory, have been able to predict existing elements and isotopes located in unmixed clouds of primordial gas.

V. Sources
Debate Round No. 1
MBill

Pro

I want to start out by reminding you what my contention was. I am arguing that God exists by demonstrating that an un-embodied mind must exist by the necessity of its own nature in which the potency necessary for a contingent reality may be found. In other words, there must be a mind behind the universe.

I am not arguing for the Christian God. My arguments would work just as well for Islam, Judaism, or even Deism. If we wanted to get into Christian particulars, we would need to look at Jesus Christ but that is outside the scope of this debate. For that reason my opponent"s references to the Bible, holy scriptures, or religious belief are simply misguided. I made no appeal to such things at any point in my opening argument, nor did my conclusions result in Christian particulars.

Furthermore, my opponent seems to think that the Big Bang model is an explanation for the origin of the universe. This is misguided. The Big Bang model is a description of the early expansion of the universe, but it has nothing to say about its explanation. This would be a bit like saying that a physical description of sudden and rapid combustion and expansion is an adequate explanation of what caused an explosion (say of a stick of dynamite, for example). In the same way that the potential and chemical energy within the stick of dynamite is logically prior to an explanation of its explosion, the origin of the universe is logically prior to the description of its early expansion (the Big Bang model).

My opponent has said that I have given no evidence for the controversial premise of my argument, "If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God." You"ll remember that I did give an account for why this explanation must be God. The universe (as I am using the term here) refers to all of spacetime reality, including all matter and energy. Therefore, whatever necessary reality is sufficient to explain the existence of the universe cannot be made up of matter or energy, cannot occupy space, and cannot exist within time. An explanation cannot be composed of the very things that it explains. If this necessary reality explains the existence of matter, for example, then it cannot be composed of matter. Since this necessary reality explains the existence of physical reality, it cannot be a physical (concrete) object. In other words, it must be an abstract (rather than concrete) object. As I said in the beginning, there are only two candidates for abstract objects, numbers or an un-embodied mind. Since numbers do not stand in causal relationships, this necessary reality must be an un-embodied mind.

Why should we think that a necessary reality exists at all? I gave an account for this too using the chandelier analogy. Let me give you another one from Thomas Aquinas. Imagine that a ball is being pushed by a stick. You might ask, "What is pushing the stick?" and the answer could come back, "Another stick of course!" You could then ask, "What is pushing the stick that pushes the stick that pushes the ball?" and the answer might come back, "Why, a third stick of course!!" That could go on for a while, but not forever. If there was no beginning point, no original "pusher" that itself is not pushed, then there would be nothing to push any of the sticks.

In the context of contingent and necessary realities, you might ask, "What is contingent object X" contingent on? The answer might come back, "Contingent object Y". Again, this can only go on so far before you must get to an object that itself is non-contingent (necessary) on which all other objects are ultimately contingent. This non-contingent explanation for all contingent objects is what we call "God".

Allow me to try and sketch the line of thinking this way:

Premise One: If no necessary reality exists, then no contingent realities can exist. (see my example above)
Premise Two: Contingent realities exist.
Premise Three: Therefore, a necessary reality exists.

Now my opponent has asked, "Well if everything needs an explanation, then so does God!" This is quite correct. As I said in premise one, Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. The explanation of God"s existence is the necessity of his own nature. I"m not just presuming that God exists in a necessary way, I have given the arguments above to demonstrate it. Let me put it this way, I have given arguments that demonstrate that an un-embodied mind exists by the necessity of its own nature, and this is what theists are referring to when using the English word "God".
CosmoJarvis

Con

Outline:
I. Introduction

II. Rebuttals
III. Prebiotic Molecules and Abiotic Synthesis
IV. Sources

I. Introduction

In the second round of the debate, I will summarize my opponent's argument in round two, and form my own rebuttals. Additionally, I will discuss "prebiotic molecules" and "abiotic synthesis." I wanted to add this in my round one argument, but I didn't have enough space. I will use prebiotic molecules and abiotic synthesis to explain that God did not create life on Earth through what is referred to as creationism or spontaneous generation.


II. Rebuttals

My opponent quickly dismisses my arguments as null and "misguided," yet provides little reasoning as to why.

My opponent proceeds by arguing that he is not "arguing for the Christian God," explaining that his "arguments would work just as well for Islam, Judaism, or even Deism." He does not make an attempt to explain why he originally stated that he believes the Christian God exists because it "is outside the scope of this debate." He continues by allegedly saying that he originally never stated that his "conclusions result in Christian particulars," even though he made it clear in the first round that he said that the omnipotent and omniscient being he's referring to is the Christian God by saying "Christians call him 'God."

By admitting that he is not referring to a specific God or Gods, my opponent admits that he has no evidence for any God. My opponent attempts to explain the existence of God with an analogy from Thomas Aquinas, a Christian Apologist who consolidated science and religion to create the study of theology, by imagining a scenario of a ball being pushed by a stick. This analogy is very vague and unrealistic. What if, it was not another stick pushing the first stick, but a man pushing the stick? What if the stick and ball were moving downhill, causing gravity to move the stick and ball? What if strong winds were pushing the stick which then pushed the ball?

My argument attempts to answer my question on the existence of God by saying "the explanation of God"s existence is the necessity of his own nature." This seems less explanative than it does confusing and vague. By using the previous analogy of the stick and the ball, my opponent explains that God is necessary for the existence of this world. He's the "force pushing the stick and ball." While this seems all well and good, this hardly explains anything; no evidence, no rationalization, no applicable logic available. The only support my opponent has for his argument is a nonsensical analogy.

III. Prebiotic Molecules and Abiotic Synthesis

Prebiotic Molecules: molecules consisting of nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen believed to be the chemical and environmental precursors of organic life


Abiotic Synthesis: the synthesizing of compounds using non-living molecules [1]

It is widely believed that prebiotic molecules were the precursors of organic life on Earth. They contain the four elements: nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, elements capable of synthesizing amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and other organic compounds. Prebiotic molecules are found in meteorites and stardust [2]. Assuming that the Earth was hit by meteorites millions, even billions, of years ago, we can assume that these space rocks deposited prebiotic molecules [3].


Prebiotic molecules can synthesize organic molecules such as cells and amino acids through abiotic synthesis. While the idea of inorganic molecules creating organic molecules seems like a stretch, it has been proven through the famous Miller-Urey Experiment. The Miller-Urey Experiment was an experiment conducted by biochemists, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey. The experiment showed that several organic compounds could be formed spontaneously by simulating the conditions of Earth's early atmosphere. In the website, Windows to the Universe, the experiment is described as "an apparatus which held a mix of gases similar to those found in Earth's early atmosphere over a pool of water, representing Earth's early ocean. Electrodes delivered an electric current, simulating lightning, into the gas-filled chamber. After allowing the experiment to run for one week, they analyzed the contents of the liquid pool. They found that several organic amino acids had formed spontaneously from inorganic raw materials. These molecules collected together in the pool of water to form coacervates," [4]. The Miller-Urey Experiment proved that substances, such as prebiotic molecules, had the potential to create organic life, given the conditions on Earth's early atmosphere.

IV. Sources
[1] http://study.com...

[2] https://www.merriam-webster.com...
[3] http://www.agenciasinc.es...
[4] http://www.windows2universe.org...
Debate Round No. 2
MBill

Pro

My opponent continues to attack positions that I am not defending in this debate. I do happen to be a Christian, but my aim here is much more modest than proving Christianity. I have been arguing for a theistic worldview at the exclusion of an atheistic worldview. For this reason, even if my opponent were to prove Christianity to be false, it would have no bearing on our debate. It is also entirely unclear to me what point he wants to make in discussing biology. It is unclear to me which premise of my original argument that discussion is meant to undermine.

My opponent has also misunderstood Aquinas's analogy. He has posited various contingent states of affairs (a man, positioning on a downhill slope, and strong winds) in place of the various sticks. The sticks were merely a stand-in, however. They represent any contingent state of affairs. This is why I further simplified the analogy by reducing it to "Contingent object A", "Contingent object B", and so on. Remember, a "contingent" object is one that owes its existence to another. By contrast a non-contingent, or "necessary", object is one that does not owe its existence to another (it exists by the necessity of its own nature). It makes no difference to me if my opponent wants a man, a downhill slope, or strong winds to stand in for the stick in the analogy. These are all contingent states of affairs, owing their existence to some cause outside of themselves. The point in the analogy is that one cannot have an infinite regress of contingent realities. One must eventually get to an object that, itself, is non-contingent. That is to say, it is impossible that contingent realities can exist unless there exists a non-contingent reality (a reality that exists by the necessity of its own nature).

Now my opponent has claimed that I have given no argument for why a necessary (a.k.a. non-contingent) reality must exist. I have given an argument for its existence! Here is the argument again:

1. If no necessary (a.k.a. non-contingent) reality exists, then no contingent reality exists. (This is demonstrated in the analogy)
2. Contingent realities exist.
3. Therefore a necessary reality exists.

Recall back to the original argument that pushes this further to a theistic worldview.

1. Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. (e.g. it is either "necessary" or it is "contingent")
2. If the universe has an explanation for its existence, then that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation for its existence. (from 1 and 3)
5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe is God. (from 2 and 4)
6. Therefore, God exists. (by logical extension from 5)

You'll remember that I also gave arguments for premise 2, that this explanation must be "God" instead of something else. I showed that it must be an un-embodied mind that transcends space, time, matter, and energy. It would be a strange form of atheism indeed that admits the existence of such an entity!

I want to thank my opponent for his time, and you for reading our exchange.
CosmoJarvis

Con

My opponent believes that my evidence of the big bang and my explanation of how life was cultivated on Earth is unnecessary and irrelevant. He throws the Big Bang theory off to the side, calling it a "description of the early expansion of the universe, but it has nothing to say about its explanation," even though the Big Bang Theory clearly proposes that the universe was created through an implosion. As I have stated in round one, there is a lot of evidence for this theory such as cosmic radiation and redshift of light. My opponent believes that my discussion about prebiotic molecules and abiotic synthesis serves little purpose in this debate and makes no effort to address it. However, the Miller-Urey experiment and the existence of prebiotic molecules clearly demonstrates that organic life does not need to be spontaneously created by a divine source, but can instead be cultivated naturally. Prebiotic molecules virtually nullify the argument that a God is necessary to create life.

I apologize to my opponent for misunderstanding Thomas Aquinas's analogy about the sticks and ball. However, I still find it to be insufficient in proving a deity. The situation suggests that there is a ball being moved by a stick, and the stick is somehow being moved by God. This analogy, while understandable, is entirely unrealistic and cannot be applied to anything in reality. I can suggest a situation where unicorns exist. Does that make for a reasonable analogy? Of course not. How does a stick supposedly moved by "God" make for a reasonable and realistic analogy?

My opponent proceeds to clarify why God must exist to "pull the stick that moves the ball," or create the universe and cultivate life completely on the basis of Aquinas's analogy. Though, as I have said previously, this analogy is entirely baseless. It does not refer to a realistic situation. It's unrealistic and fails to prove any sort of valid point supporting my opponent's belief in a God being a "necessary reality."

Because my opponent fails to provide any proof aside from an unrealistic analogy and premises with little support, my opponent has failed to create a sufficient argument that proves that a deity is the best explanation for why something exists rather than nothing. Additionally, his argument is incredibly vague. He does not argue for a specific God or Gods, nor does he provide any evidence of the existence of a deity. Through the explanation of the Big Bang Theory (no, not the show) and evidence for it, as well as prebiotic molecules and the Miller-Urey experiment, I am confident that I have provided an argument proving that things such as life could have been created without a God.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by MBill 9 months ago
MBill
You too!!
Posted by CosmoJarvis 9 months ago
CosmoJarvis
Good debate, MBill. It was a pleasure debating you.
Posted by missmedic 9 months ago
missmedic
Religious faith is both arrogant and ignorant. Because of it's certenty
Far from being arrogant the scientific method is one of humility. It acknowledges the limits of our current knowledge. It doesn"t provide explanations or answers from a position of ignorance, but investigates the unknown in an attempt to reach understanding based on empirical evidence. Surely it is the superstitious or religious approach which claims to know the answers without any evidence except "faith" that is the arrogant approach.
Posted by CosmoJarvis 9 months ago
CosmoJarvis
I apologize for taking a fair amount of time making my argument.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 3RU7AL 9 months ago
3RU7AL
MBillCosmoJarvisTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO fails to support the resolution "God is the Best Explanation for Why Something Exists Rather than Nothing" (GITBEFWSERTN). PRO can't settle on a definiton of "God" and fails to provide any reason that "God" is a "better" or "more useful" explanation for the state of the "universe" before the "initial singularity" or "big bang". CON negates the resolution GITBEFWSERTN by simply probing PRO for specific details. BOP would seem to lean heavily on PRO. Conduct is surprisingly good on both sides.