God's existence - supernatural explanation superior to natural due to violation of nature
Debate Rounds (3)
if you see a magician who waves his wand and makes cats turn into dogs, you could argue a natural explanation is possible, and perhaps even argue that it is preferable. but, the most direct observation is that violations of natural laws have occurred.
likewise, according to our observation in the early universe, things are not acting according to laws as we know them. more than just that, our observation indicates *violations* of laws as we know them. that is, something from nothing, and the thermodynamics issue.
-the law of thermodynamics. this says energy is always breaking down from higher states. this theory basically negates the idea that there is something in our physical universe that goes on and on back infinitely. there can be no infinite beginning, because there is no infinite end. we see an end point coming. that means there must be a finite beginning. that means, if you take things back further and further in time, something must have caused the highest energy level of the big bang. we could call that unknown, God. a reason why we might call it that, is because the phenomenon violates natural laws as we know it- a high energy level came from something other than a higher energy level.
-uncaused cause. we see a finite beginning with thermodynamics, and the big bang. there then apparently exists an uncaused cause. that is, every effect must have a cause, except apparently the first one. (we could speculate about God and his causes or lack thereof, but for our purposes in this reality, we have to content ourselves with what we see-and the cause of our universe apparently had no other cause before it) one might argue the universe could be its own uncaused cause. but that would assume something from nothing. something from something else makes more sense. (quantum mechanics shows something from nothing. but that is at the quantum level, where matter already exists to begin with. we have never observed matter to come from quantum happenings, let alone quantum happenings that didnt have matter already there to begin with)
should that something else be best considered natural or supernatural?
we could infer a naturalistic explanation and have it all be not supernatural, but the actual observation indicates a violation of laws. that is, it is something that doesn't exist in our universe. that is, there is nothing in nature to make note of that could cause what looks like something from nothing. sure, you could say it's merely something that doesn't exist in our universe 'as we know it', leaving open natural explanations. but the direct observation is more than just not what we know - it's violation of reality, apparently more than is possible.
with the analogy of the magician and with God, this acknowledges that there *could* be other natural explanation possibilities. but nothing has to be definitively proven for it to be a called a proof, or even proven.
theists merely are arguing the most straightforward explanation - the magician apparently caused violations of nature, so we say it apparently is supernatural. it might feel wrong making that conclusion, but if that's what it looks like, that's what it's called.
Alright, dailygirl, let's get it on! Best of luck to you, and may this be an interesting and engaging debate.
Before I begin, I think some clarification is in order. The resolution contains a premise and a conclusion. We can reword it as such "Supernatural explanations for the origins of our universe are superior to natural explanations of the origins of our universe", with the secondary clause "Due to violations of nature" removed from it. Why? Well, that would be to assume that it has been established that laws of nature have indeed been violated. However, I think this is what you intend to prove, dailygirl. So let's leave the resolution as "Supernatural explanations of the origins of our universe are superior to natural explanations of our universe". I hope that's okay.
So, moving forward. With that clarified, Burden of Proof rests squarly on your shoulders. You must prove that supernatural models are superior (in explanatory power) to natural models for the origins of our universe.
I need only rebut dailygirl's points or at least make them less plausible. If I can do this, then I have upheld my burden. If I cannot, it means that dailygirl has upheld her Burden of Proof.
So, with that in mind, let's examine the possible explanations available for our universe. There are:
Multiverse Models 
These models are predicated on the assumption that we are one of many, many universes. Not possible universes but actual universes. Meaning that these universes may (or may not) interact with one another. These interactions range from birthing new universes to causing Big Bangs. Why is this important? Well, these are naturalistic accounts for the origins of our universe which need no outside creator to explain them. The energy did have to come from somewhere, however, we cannot conclude that the energy came from God, and any such assertions must be heavily scrutinized, as these tend to fall into Argument from Ignorance, particularly the God of the Gaps, whereby we do not know how to explain something so it must be God. This is different from the "First Cause" argument, as the First Cause can indeed by anything. It could be the First Universe. It could be the First Fluctuation.
Oscilatting Models 
These models are predicated on the assumption that our universe can (or has) existed multiple times. That is to say that there are, could be, and likely have been multiple Big Bangs, which move toward a Big Crush to return to a siltate of Singularity. If our universe is not expanding on average, it could indeed be infinite into the past. This is known as the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem. Oscillating Models are not subject to it.
Now, why are these two possibilities important? It leaves us with three possibilities. Cosmologists tend to support Multiverse Model, though. So, we have at least two possible ways to explain the origins of our universe, possibly three.
How do we determine which is superior? None of these seem any more, or less, probable or plausible at face value. However, one thing to note is that God, as he is interpreted by most deists, theists, pantheists, and panentheists, exists (or at leasted existed) outside of our universe as immaterial. Each of these positions gives different characteristics to God, some religions even choose to anthropomorphize God into a being, or beings, with human characteristics. However, if God is indeed immaterial, we run into an explanatory problem:
How does non-energy act on energy? (The God Model)
The Mass-Energy Equivalence tells us that mass is an extension of energy, in other words, that mass is a measurement of the energy within an object . If E stands for energy, m stands for mass, with c standing for speed of light, we can arrive at the conclusion that E=m by replacing c with 1 (the process is odd even to me, but is explained here) . So even if God did exist, the use of God to explain the origins of our universe creates more problems than it solves. How does non-matter and non-energy interact with matter and energy? For that matter, how does something come from nothing? If X is neither matter nor energy, then X is, for all intents and purposes, nothing. I might be presuming too much, however, it would seem to me that there are certain characteristics that would be necessary for a being outside of our world, which is indeed what "supernatural" seems to imply. Necessarily, If the supernatural is beyond scientific understanding , and that which is scientifically understandable is that which is in our universe, the supernatural must exist beyond that. William Lane Criag, a defender and prime proponent of the Kalam Cosmological argument, argues that God must necessarily be immaterial, beginless, changeless, and timeless, for, in order that God may create the world, God must thus transcend it. In so transcending the world, God earns such qualities. However, "immaterial" necessarily entails non-energy. For example, within nuclear processes, the expenditure of energy can be such that we can measure a decrease in mass. However, for a much more intuitive example, let's view exercise. When we exercise, we expend a certain amount of energy. This expenditure can then be observed as a loss of weight (wieght being mass times gravity, thus a measure of mass). There is a lot of technical jargon that goes into this, however, the key takeawy from this should be understood.
What does this mean?
If we are looking for the "superior" model, we should be looking for the model which answers the most questions. The God Model actually asks it's own questions, or rather, presents more questions. The model which is "superior" is that which is better, in terms of explanatory power. I decided to keep the number of models low, to save character space, and to allow for more direct rebuttals. It seems unfair to suggest multiple models and demand a rebuttal of each. It is much simpler to provide a comparison of the available models.
I look forward to your rebuttals, dailygirl. Thank you again for instigating this debate.
*I am aware that this is a wikipedia article. I wanted to keep the article simple and concise, with as little technical jargon as possible. This was the most easily accessible, in terms of reader availability and prerequisite knowledge. If you (audience members) wish to deduct points, I understand. I just wanted to explain my rational.
con argues that the God model is infereior cause we don't know how non matter interacts with matter. that is beside the point though. if supernatural things do in fact exist, we won't be able to explain them with sceintific reasoning. the point is that it appears supernatural things have occurred, that violations of nature more specifically have occurred.
con also argues how does something come from nothing, as if ithat diminishes the God model. the God model in fact answers it though, cause without that model, we'd be squarely faced with the prospect of something coming from nothing. that is the most strightforward observation we have when we look at the big bang etc. we have to infer into it for it to make better sense. again, why God instead of natural explanation refer back to first post.
i'm not sure which model poses the fewest questions. but the God model makes it more consistent with what we see and what we know. it looks supernatural, it looks like violations of reality, so that's what we call it. perhaps with the approach con takes, the model with the fewest questions is that something can come from nothing. the only question we have is how is that possible? to make it make sense, we have to add more layers, whether that's the God model, or the competing other models. again, see first post for why i argue the God model, the supernatural explanation.
Thank you, dailygirl, for providing your rebuttals.
I shall save my counter-rebuttals and defense for R3.
So, PRO's main points are based on (1) Violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and (2) Assumptions of the Uncaused Cause.
Rebuttal - Point One
"...the phenomenon violates natural laws as we know it- a high energy level came from something other than a higher energy level."
PRO gives no justification for this statement, though it would seem that the entirety of this point rests upon it. How do we know that energy came from something other than a higher energy state? There are several possible explanations for how this might happen, and PRO does not address these. Not to mention, PRO utilizes the Second Law of Thermodynamics incorrectly. The Second Law makes no claims about how long something can exist, but rather discusses the process of increasing Entropy that all things must undergo. Again, there might be possible explanations for the high energy state of our universe.
What justification is given for calling this unknown "God"? Again this is simply an Argument from Ignorance, and a prime example of the "God of the Gaps" form of this fallacy.
I do not know how this happened.
No natural cause can explain why this has happened
Therefore, God exists.
This does not give any justification for the truth of the statement "God exists". If indeed we are using violations of the laws of nature to determine if God exists, should we not first verify that laws are, in fact, being violated? Even if laws have indeed been violated, why must the unknown be supernatural? Are all unknown things "supernatural"? That is to see, is what we currently do not know. If I write the equation "2x - 13 = 19", there is someting which I do not know, which I can then find by testing possible solutions. There is only one possible answer that would make this equation true. We do not know what exactly these variables refer to, but we cannot say "I don't know, therefore God!"., especially if we wish to justify our beliefs on the basis of reason.
The statement that "we could call that unknown, God. a reason why we might call it that, is because the phenomenon violates natural laws as we know it" fails to support PRO's argument. There is also a phenomenon, known as the Quantum Vacuum, that displays similar characteristics, where particles seem to pop into and out of existence. The Quantum Vacuum is observable by science, thus does not fall into the realm of "supernatural", but exhibits the exact same qualities that PRO seems to attribute to supernatural things.
Rebuttal - Point 2
Since we are only talking about "God" in the creator sense (to my knowledge), it has to be determined if something can come from nothing. God is not nothing, this is true, but all available inductive data (which is key to PRO's points) leads us to believe that Creatio ex materia (creation from materials) is only way for things to "come into being". For example, I can't make a table by simply wishing one up, I must use certain materials, wood, nails, lacquer, etc. If God is somehow exempt from this and acts upon nothing to create something, this is equivalent to saying "God did not act on anything to create something", but then how can we use examples of "Intelligent designers" to justify God's existence when all known "designs" require materials? It does not logically follow.
All things which begin to exist have a physical cause of their existence.
The universe began to exist.
Therefore, the universe has a physical cause of it's existence.
This is essentially the "Uncaused Cause" argument. That there must exist some cause to begin all other causes, a cause which is itself uncaused. Well, if all known causes act upon physical substances, doesn't that require that something existence either before or with "God"? That is to say, some grouping of materials existing at the same time, and for the same amount of time as God? Otherwise, we are left with creatio ex nihilo, creation from nothing, and inductive arguments fail to work. PRO's "Uncaused Cause" argument is based on inductive reasoning, thus either (A) PRO concedes this point or (B) PRO must construct a new argument. If PRO concedes the point that creation from materials is the only available inductive data, then that means that PRO must justify preference of the God Model over the available models. If we must have "empirical evidence" to determine which model is correct, should we not require the same of God? If not, we are using Special Pleading, and thus are not reasoning soundly. "For all cosmological models, empirical evidence must be presented. Except for in the Case of God", this is highly irrational, in the sense that we apply a universal rule, then negate it for one particular thing (God) to simply argue that "Well, no other models have evidence, therefore God!" without utilizing any form of process of elimination or providing justification for our assertion that the God model is true.
All of these is disregarding the fact that PRO uses faulty reasoning to arrive at the conclusion of an Uncaused Cause.
" we see a finite beginning with thermodynamics, and the big bang. there then apparently exists an uncaused cause. "
Let's make this a syllogism, and try to plug in hidden premises.
1. If something has a finite beginning, then it has a cause
2. The Big Bang indicates a finite beginning of our universe (from empirical evidence not made available by PRO). *
C1 From 2, therefore our universe has a finite beginning.
C2 From 1 and C1, therefore our universe has a cause.
So, our universe has a cause. How do we shift from "cause" to uncaused cause? It is just as likely that the cause was caused, or was a physically uncaused cause. For example, how do we know that quantum fluctuations did not lead to the increase of energy for the Big Bang? Again, PRO does not provide any reason to believe the cause is supernatural. The Multiverse Models assume the same thing the God Model does: there is some uncaused variable. So, the "Uncaused Cause" argument does not affirm the resolution.
What are we left with?
There are several holes in PRO's arguments that prevent the affirmation of the resolution. Perhaps upon PRO's defense, we can see if this holes are filled in.
I look forward to PRO's counter rebuttals, and the opportunity to defend my points next round.
*My links above do not seem to be working. However, the wiki links do. I am not using much of the information within this webpage, beyond a simple understanding of what the Quantum Vacuum seems to indicate.
because that's what it looks like. there may be other possibilities, but they are mostly theoretical. empirical evidence alone suggests that that's the case. again, something doesn't have to be definitively proven to be able to call it proven.
"he Second Law makes no claims about how long something can exist, but rather discusses the process of increasing Entropy that all things must undergo"
thermodynamics states that energy in systems decrease and order becomes more chaotic without outside input. if we see that our universe is winding down, that means as a closed system the energy has a finite total to it. that means it couldnt have an infinite beginning as that would require infinite energy, which we see doesn't exist in our universe. that means something could not have lasted forever just sitting there waiting to explode into the big bang.
this is justifiably called 'god' cause it appears supernatural. the laws of thermodynamics do not act as normally they would act.
"Even if laws have indeed been violated, why must the unknown be supernatural?"
by definition a supernatural act is a violation of natural laws. i think what you mean is if we have a law that appears violated, we should amend the rules to account for the apparent violation. but that would mean natural laws are not violated, but merely being accounted for.
"leads us to believe that Creatio ex materia (creation from materials) is only way for things to "come into being". For example, I can't make a table by simply wishing one up, I must use certain materials, wood, nails, lacquer, etc. If God is somehow exempt from this and acts upon nothing to create something, this is equivalent to saying "God did not act on anything to create something", but then how can we use examples of "Intelligent designers" to justify God's existence when all known "designs" require materials? It does not logically follow."
if anything, you are arguing for the supernaturla explanation. things have to come from existing things, to follow our rules. but that is not apparently how our universe came into being. it looks like something from nothing. it looks magical, you might say.
"That there must exist some cause to begin all other causes, a cause which is itself uncaused. Well, if all known causes act upon physical substances, doesn't that require that something existence either before or with "God"? That is to say, some grouping of materials existing at the same time, and for the same amount of time as God? Otherwise, we are left with creatio ex nihilo, creation from nothing, and inductive arguments fail to work."
you are trying to argue a natural explanation existing alongside of the God explanation. that would defeat the purpose of hte God explanation, and, again, the fact that the natural explanation breaks down acco0rding to our observations, as you noted, stregnthens the supernatural explanation.
" PRO must justify preference of the God Model over the available models. If we must have "empirical evidence" to determine which model is correct, should we not require the same of God? If not, we are using Special Pleading, and thus are not reasoning soundly. "For all cosmological models, empirical evidence must be presented. Except for in the Case of God"
we have empirical observation. given the the supernatural cause, if for the sake of aguement, existed, it wouldn't be able to be probed throughly analytically. all we can have is evidence. like a magician waving his want and turning a cat into a dog, or causing a dog to exist out of nothing.
"uncaused cause? It is just as likely that the cause was caused, or was a physically uncaused cause. For example, how do we know that quantum fluctuations did not lead to the increase of energy for the Big Bang?"
we dont know quantum machanics to do that. as you admited earlier something from nothing only comes at the quantum level, and only where matter existed to begin with. we are talking about before matter.
i suppose you could posit that God is an infinte serious of causes and there exists no uncaused cause (except the infinite chain would itself be an uncaused cause). but at the beginning of our universe, which is all we have to work with, there appears to be something from nothing. something from soemthing else makes more sense. thermodynaimcs dictates that it is not something that could have lasted forever and then exploded, cause we are reaching a final end to our universe. that means for something else to make more sense would be that it's something that we cannot ascribe according to our laws. it is a violation, or at least outside of our laws. hence, super, outside, natural, nature.
again con points out that other theories are possible. but only theoretically and not empircally, and nothing have to be definitively proven for it to be called proven. we are just calling a spade a spade. after every known scientific attempts at understanding, at what point can we say the magician is actually using magic? (turning a dog into a cat, or causing a dog to exist where nothing existed. in a way, it's just like that. we have nothing, then we have the universe, a grand scale situation of magic, apparently) it would be to deny what true and plainly evident to just live your life as if he isn't, or even to act as if you dont want to take a position on it.
bottom line: if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck.
Thanks for the great round PRO!
Okay. This is my round to defend my points.
PRO: "...empirical evidence alone suggests that that's the case..."
One Question: What empirical evidence? There has been none presented here to give justification for this assertion. Even if we leave the theories aside, and simply go from empirical evidence, we would be left with a Big Bang Singularity, which has been said to be densely packed energy. To go off of what we can empirically test, all of the energy that currently exists has always existed. There has not been an increase, nor has there been an increase. I would wager that to pack all of the energy in the universe into a small point constitutes a state of high energy. For example, a sniper rifile is an extremely powerful long-range weapon. A shotgun is an extremely powerful short-range weapon. If we assume equal power, as unrealistic as it is, a shotgun will be weaker as distance increases. Shotgun shells, at least the regular kind, disperse upon fire. The force is dispersed to create spread, this leads to decreased force. However, sniper rifiles have no bullet spread. They fire one bullet to one specific point, resulting in all the force being concentrated. So, energy has not, in fact, come from somewhere other than a high energy state, at least not in a thermodynamic sense, and this is what PRO's arguments are based on.
"by definition a supernatural act is a violation of natural laws."
Gravity, when applied to us here on earth, would suggest that we move closer to the center of Earth's gravitational pull. That is to say that we should always be pulled down to Earth's surface, as the earth is a much larger gravititational body than we are, and larger bodies exert a greater pull. However, I am capable of jumping and violating that natural law. Therefore, I possess supernatural powers.
"Gravity", however, is any easily violatable law. We are violating the laws of gravity all the time, as we exert the same amount of force against gravity as gravity exerts upon us. What we see here is that we must take all available information into account before we say a law has been violated, and even more so when we say such a thing is supernatural. PRO's definition is so broad that there are several acts that are supernatural. The fact that energy expanded exponentially during the first micro-moments of the Big Bang is supernatural, but when we understand "supernatural" as "beyond natural" or "beyond scientific understanding", we see that this definition fails.
"...it looks like something from nothing..."
This table did not exist a moment ago.
It exists now.
This looks like something from nothing.
This is a supernatural occurence.
Looks can be very much decieving. This is why we have empirical evidence. Even if we deny the possibility of Oscillating Models and Multiverse Models, the original explanation of the Big Bang was that there was a pre-existing Singularity that erupted. This is not something from nothing. We have, as of yet, not found an efficient cause, but this is what the models are trying to do. The God Model requires creation from nothing, which is still something from nothing. I cannot create a table from no materials. It simply doesn't work. Perhaps PRO could have gave a few clarifications to this point, as creatio ex nihilo is the stock God Model.
PRO then goes on to say " but at the beginning of our universe, which is all we have to work with, there appears to be something from nothing. something from soemthing else makes more sense ". This is a key point. If something must come from something else, where does God come from? I was willing to allow PRO to posit God as beginningless and timeless, as William Lane Craig does, but this statement effectively negates that. It rejects the "begins to exist" clause, and simply says "all things which in fact exist must come from something". This means that we are, as of yet, not at the point where we can say the God model is superior to natural models.
PRO concludes by saying "if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck."
It seems to me that rather than looking at an actual duck, we are looking at someone dressed as a duck, and calling her a duck.
Suffice to say, PRO's arguments present several flaws, which I have done my best to point out.
A supernatural model, in order to be superior, would have to answer the same questions as effectively as other models, and not raise any of it's own. That is the hallmark of an effective model. Parsimony dictates that we search for the simplest explanation. If the explanation requires an explanation in order to work, we can not rightly use it, and it is inherently inferior. PRO's two main points are that there must exist an uncaused cause, and that the Second Law of Thermodynamics has been violatated. I have done what I can to poke holes in these points, and erect my own.
My points center around the abject failues of the God Model to produce the same answers as other models, while not raising any of it's own. I have asked a few such questions, and PRO has merely brushed them aside. If we must make an inference to the best explanation of available evidence, the model that we select must make the most of what's available. PRO's God Model attempts to insert evidence where there is none. Namely where her two points are concerned.
Thanks for the debate, dailygirl! It's been fun.
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