The Instigator
abard124
Pro (for)
Losing
28 Points
The Contender
InquireTruth
Con (against)
Winning
36 Points

Human social patterns point to the idea that there is no God

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
InquireTruth
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/19/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,832 times Debate No: 8353
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (21)
Votes (10)

 

abard124

Pro

I'll start out by saying that I do not expect to win this. It is a very sensitive topic, and I don't expect to be able to change what you've been taught for years. Even so, I think it will be a very interesting debate, and I really don't care if I win.

Secondly, this is not a debate on whether or not you believe there is a God. If you want to debate that, make your own. This is a debate on whether social patterns point suggest that there is or isn't a God.

So, on to the argument...

If you were to go back in time 500 years, you probably wouldn't be able to find a single person who didn't "know for a fact" that there is a God. As a northwesterner, I see a whole bunch of atheists and agnostics. Maybe, if you live in Alabama, you don't see as many. Sorry. But my point is, the number of atheists is growing. What is the reason for that? As scientific explanations become more thorough and plausible, people start realizing the alternative. A long time ago, there was no theory of evolution. It is human nature to "fill in the blanks." A good example of that is when the Aztecs saw Hernan Cortes for the first time, they had never seen a white person, so they automatically assumed that he was the Sun god. Suffice it to say that it tuned out great for Hernan and not so great for the Aztecs. Another one is that people noticed that the sun and stars moved across the sky, so logically, it made sense that they moved around the earth. It wasn't until the 19th century that the church admitted that maybe it was the earth that moved.
However, sometimes humans are lazy. Most likely, the Aztecs didn't all come to the separate conclusion that Hernan was the Sun god. Likely, Greg the Aztec probably said, "hey, I think that that shiny guy is the sun god," (although maybe not quite verbatim) and then Joe the Aztec probably agreed, and it spread. Point being, Fred the Christian probably said something like, "Hey I really like that Jesus guy... I think he might be some sort of deity, or at least his son, he's so amazing! I think I'll write a book about him." Well, someone read Fred's book and liked it, and thought it was a great explanation. The rest is history.

I don't want to say too much now, so I can save more for later rounds. I think this can be a great debate, even if I don't have any hope of winning.
InquireTruth

Con

=============
Introduction
=============

I would like to thank abard123 for beginning this fascinating debate! I hope we can enjoy ourselves and also encourage further inquiry into this very intriguing topic.

My opponent beings his argument by pointing out that, over the millennia, many societies formulated hypotheses for the sole purpose of filling in the blanks. The argument that he is trying to make – and he can correct me where I err – is that the notion of God sprung out of a human desire to have an answer to all life's mysteries. The most fundamental flaw in this argument, and one that needs to be adequately addressed, is that there is absolutely no reason for cultures to posit a deeply interactive and personal God.

If it is, indeed, human nature to merely make things up when no concrete, scientific answer is readily available (which needs to be at least somewhat substantiated by my opponent), then it stands to reason that societies would posit an uninvolved, clockmaker god – the god of Spinoza and Einstein. Instead, what we find deeply rooted in virtually all cultures, near and far, is an understanding of god(s) interacting with human experience, god(s) who are deeply involved in even the most intimate parts of humanity.

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Contention 1: Belief in a personal God
=============

The fact of the matter is that the endemic belief in a personal god is evidence that God exists. It would be epistemic imperialism to deny this fact. We can asses the verity of such a claim by replacing "god" with "cancer," "love" or "Madonna." Insofar as the widespread belief that Madonna exists is evidence that she does. It is not conclusive evidence – I make no such claim – but it is positive evidence for a personal god, contrary to my opponent's assertion.

Societal tendencies to posit a personal God are not rooted in any explicit way to man's observance of natural phenomena. Yet, for some reason, among all the copious cultures and interdependent, unrelated tribes and societies, there is a strained consistency to have a belief in a personal god or god(s). This consistency stands with friction against the resolution.

=============
Contention 2: Moral Propositions and Logical Absolutes
=============

Though, at first glance, this may not seem like a substantive contention, it is actually strongly supportive of the existence of God. The very fact that all cultures, near and far, indigenous and advanced, can make moral propositions is evidence that God exists. When someone says that such and such is wrong, they are presupposing that "wrong" actually exists, and by virtue of wrong, that such thing as "right" exists. But just like someone cannot call a car "fast" without presupposing the objectionably measurable concept of speed, no one can call something "wrong" or "right" without presupposing an objectionably measurable concept of morality.

But this can be taken further. Humanity's use of logical absolutes and their binding nature (in that all societies must accept the verity of logical absolutes) is evidence that God exists. The fact that all cultures, tribes and tongues accept, acknowledge and are bound by logical absolutes is strongly indicative that God exists.

Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature and are in no way contingent upon time, space, or matter. The argument is essentially that since logical absolutes are not contingent upon time, space, matter or the human mind, then there must be a transcendent mind behind them.

Since moral propositions and logical absolutes are consistent in all societies – it is positive evidence that God exists.

=============
Contention 3: Anthropology and Children and My Opponent's Grand Assumption
=============

Anthropologists have found that in some cultures where religious teachings are withheld from children, the children still believe there is a God (1). Societies, even when trying to suppress the notion of God, demonstrably fail because God seems to have superimposed himself deep in the consciousness of humanity.

Moreover, my opponent's grand assumption is that some how the human tendency to believe in God is evidence that God does NOT exist! Our human tendency towards reason is evidence that reason does not exist? Our human tendency to love and care for one another is evidence that love does not exist and neither does servitude? The maternal tendencies of a mother are illusory because they are a tendency? Indeed, our innate human tendency to believe in reason, love, and god is evidence that those things probably do exist. Admittedly, the mistakes are made in the details – look at what the Greeks (e.g. Plato) said about love when trying to explicate it – they turned into pederasty and hedonism, this hardly proves that love does not exist, just that it does not exist in the way they sought to explain it. The failure of the details does not scathe the verity of the grander hypothesis.

It stands to reason that, since society cannot influence belief in God, insofar as people will believe in God even when society seeks to withhold it, that society is of no relevant factor when considering the hypothesis that God exists.

=============
Conclusion
=============

In anticipation of my opponent's following round, I encourage him to look up the genetic fallacy in order to curb any logical misstep. Since my opponent has yet provided any substantive case for his position, I joyfully await his case and arguments.

Sources:
1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk...

Stephen H. Langdon, Semitic Mythology, Mythology of All Races, Vol. V, Archaeol. Instit. Amer., 1931, p. xviii.
Debate Round No. 1
abard124

Pro

**Well, I got my computer to work (for now), so I will go against all the laws of happy weather and finish this argument instead**

Thank you for responding!

"The argument that he is trying to make – and he can correct me where I err – is that the notion of God sprung out of a human desire to have an answer to all life's mysteries."
That is part of my argument, yes, but you seem to have missed the more important part, which is that, as science is explaining more and more things, people are believing less and less in a God. Yes, I do attribute that confusion mostly to my own underemphasis of that point, as it should have been the gist of my argument, and it failed to be.

To avoid further confusion, the so-called "social patterns" are that people use God to fill in the blanks, but now that science and well-supported theories are filling in those blanks, people no longer need to believe in a God to fill in those blanks. The fact that we are letting go of the belief in a God is the same as how you slowly let go of the belief in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. As you thought of a more viable explanation for certain things, you decide that what is still left blank probably has a better explanation than the easter bunny. If you still believe in Santa, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny, I apologize for ruining your life.

"Instead, what we find deeply rooted in virtually all cultures, near and far, is an understanding of god(s) interacting with human experience, god(s) who are deeply involved in even the most intimate parts of humanity."
The best way to envision my point is by thinking about the restoration of great paintings. A good example of that is the last supper (no pun intended). It has been restored at least five times (wiki). Before it is restored, it has holes and it's hard to see, so you have to imagine what should be there. Even now, it still has many cracks and wear, where you would have to imagine what is there. I will include the picture for your reference (http://upload.wikimedia.org...). But each time it is restored, paint fills those cracks and you won't have to imagine anymore. What we see now is a collaboration of every restoration from the original Leo to the newest restoration, and everything in between. Life is the last supper. What we knew at first is what's still left of the original: not much. You would have to imagine quite a bit and many parts would probably not be exactly what Da Vinci intended. So, it is open to interpretation. So, that was around the time that there were Pagans and Mayans and Jews (maybe not Christians or Muslims yet), but my point is, the different views were about evenly spread into many different cultures and civilizations. Add in the next few restorations, and what is left of them. Still not much, but more than the original. This is when people were starting to recognize some scientific fact not upheld by religion (Sorry, but the sun is bigger than 14 inches in diameter).Then there was the massive 20-year restoration which ended in '99. before it, there were many holes, and a few errors. So they fixed it. This includes fixing scientific errors, such as the sun revolving around the earth, as well as filling in more blanks. This can be thought of as a scientific revolution of sorts. There are not many places that are terribly hard to make out, and the painting looks new. Science has steeled in, and most phenomena have been proven (The earth is round), strongly supported by evidence, so much so that it is practically proven (think evolution), and well thought out, well evidenced theories (think Wegener's theory). Some people still choose to believe against those, but the options are opening up, and many people are seeming to think that scientific evidence is more viable than a book of so-called divine fact.

Your argument about a personal God, if I got it right (alas, it was a bit hard to follow--I'm pretty sure Madonna exists...), you are saying that god exists only in ones own mind. If I got that right, that is a bit far fetched. I was referring to a monotheistic God, Adonai, Allah, or whatever you wish to call it, but I'm basically trying to prove that God is a figment of one's own imagination. Therefore, your argument that God is inside all of us and to each his own (if that is your argument, that is) is not a valid point.

"Yet, for some reason, among all the copious cultures and interdependent, unrelated tribes and societies, there is a strained consistency to have a belief in a personal god or god(s). This consistency stands with friction against the resolution."
Actually, it supports it. You look at all the different religions, and many believe in a god, but all different. They are seeing the painting just a little differently, but the are still seeing it.

"Contention 2: Moral Propositions and Logical Absolutes"
There is world of difference between God and morals. I don't believe in God, and you don't see me going out and shooting people, yet Al Quaeda is a very religious group.

"Anthropologists have found that in some cultures where religious teachings are withheld from children, the children still believe there is a God (1)."
I read the article, and it goes to prove my point that people can fill in the blanks. Young children wouldn't understand evolution because you'd have to understand genetics and genetic variation, as well as reproduction, so obviously it would be easier for a four year old to understand that some magical person in the sky waved his finger and stuff appeared. I remember when I was a little kid and was on airplanes I would always look out the window and look for God, thinking he was some really big dude that was sitting on the clouds. Obviously now I know that that's wrong. Why is that? My frontal lobe is more developed now. I have a better sense of logic and reason than I did then. There is a reason that most 4 year olds believe in a higher power, and that is one of the patterns (though not necessarily social) that is evidence that there is not a God.

"Moreover, my opponent's grand assumption is that some how the human tendency to believe in God is evidence that God does NOT exist!"
Yes and no. I'm saying that that is a major part, and the more science that is readily available to society, the fewer people believe in God. To go back to the last supper, because I like that analogy, humans have a tendency to fill in the blanks, even though there is nothing there, but once someone physically fills in the blanks, there is no need to imagine anymore, because you know the truth of exactly what it looks like.

Hopefully my power jack will hold out long enough to post a round 3, but if not, I'd just like to thank you for a great debate which has been very interesting and thought provoking, and may the best man win!

Also, there is no rush to post the next round... Enjoy the weather, I don't need your argument urgently or anything...
InquireTruth

Con

InquireTruth forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
abard124

Pro

abard124 forfeited this round.
InquireTruth

Con

==================
Introduction
==================

I extend my highest approbation to abard for his kindness in this debate. He makes a great case with his "filling in the blanks" hypothesis. However, and unfortunately, his case is sorely wanting in the area most fundamental for the fulfillment of his burden – I will expound on this below.

==================
As science explains, people believe less?
==================

My opponent's entire premise erodes beneath him because its very foundation is unsound! He says that, due to science, people are now less likely to believe in god(s). This could never more untrue! Atheism is in decline worldwide (1). Munich theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg has said, "Atheism as a theoretical position is in decline worldwide." Alister McGrath, an Oxford Historian, in his book, "The Twilight of Atheism," meticulously explicates this phenomenon – pointing out that if atheism is the nexus of reason and science, why has it become so rare by the turn of the 21st century? In a recent article, McGrath comments on atheism's future saying it, "seems increasingly to lie in the private beliefs of individuals rather than in the great public domain it once regarded as its habitat."
Belief in God is actually increasingly globally – steady and persistent.

==================
Point of a Personal God
==================

This is the crucial and fundamental point that my opponent misunderstood (I'm sorry if it was not entirely clear). There is no reason for people to make up a personal god – one who is deeply interactive and participatory. My opponent's argument would rightly apply to a deistic understanding, but certainly not a theistic one. The god of deism serves only to fill in the so-called scientific blanks. But the god(s) of theism could not have sprung from a similar desire to fill in the blanks, as its interactive and participatory initiative with mankind fills no blanks – there was never any need to posit a PERSONAL god(s) in the first place!

==================
Moral Propositions and Logical Absolutes
==================

My point was not that someone cannot be moral or logical absent god, but the very fact that all cultures, near and far, adhere to the principles of logic and all make moral proposition is societal evidence that favors the existence of God.

==================
Does the article support this claim?
==================

My opponent suggests that the article listed in round 1 actually supports his claim. This is thoroughly untrue. First, you need not know all the complex mechanisms of evolution in order to believe that it is true – most all of its adherents have only a superficial understanding. But what the article shows is that, from birth, human-beings are predisposed to believe in god. This means that it is not something that springs from society, but something that is innate.

==================
Grand Assumption
==================

When I stated that my opponent's grand assumption was that he actually thinks the human tendency to believe in God is evidence that God does NOT exist!, he responded saying, "Yes and no. I'm saying that that is a major part, and the more science that is readily available to society, the fewer people believe in God."

As already pointed it, this analysis is completely wrong. As Phil Zuckerman points out in a recent presentation on his findings from surveying non-belief – atheism is on a worldwide decline (2).

==================
Conclusion
==================
My opponent's thesis relies on a flawed assumption and therefore falls short of fulfilling his burden. Atheism is not on the increase, but on a worldwide decrease. Moreover, if we are innately predisposed to believe in God, then there is no reason to believe that God sprung from a societal pattern, but an innate one.

Thank you again for this debate abard124 – you are a great and formidable opponent!

Sources:
1. http://www.washingtontimes.com... and http://creationwiki.org... and The Twilight of Atheism by Alister McGrath
2. http://www.investigatingatheism.info...

Thanks,
InquireTruth
Debate Round No. 3
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
All things considered, this was much closer than I expected...
Posted by Lexicaholic 7 years ago
Lexicaholic
Grammar, abard124 ... "social patterns point suggest that there ... isn't a God" among others.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
I thought spelling was pretty even as well...
Posted by Lexicaholic 7 years ago
Lexicaholic
Well, except for conduct, that was even.
Posted by Lexicaholic 7 years ago
Lexicaholic
The Breakdown:
Pro posits that "social patterns point suggest that there ... isn't a God." Pro has the burden of proof in showing a suggestion (not proving a truth). Con has the burden of showing how social patterns can not even suggest that there isn't a God. Because of Pro's weak affirmative burden, much of the onus falls on Con.

Pro does little to support himself in his opening argument, though this is acceptable considering the strength of his argument. Con does a good job undermining the sources of Pro's belief, but he does little to show how human social patterns can not suggest that there isn't a God, at least not right away.

Pro mentions this, stating that Con ignored his argument that people are moving further from belief as time goes on. This is the only evidence that Pro has provided for his argument, and it is unsourced. Con rightly challenges this assertion by showing evidence that Pro is simply wrong about the observation regarding human social patterns.

Although Con's sources aren't great, they're better than nothing, and absolutely refute Pro's unsourced assertion. Therefore, Con has proven that, within the observed scope (for this debate) of human behavior, social patterns do NOT suggest that there is no God.

Votes Con, across the board.
Posted by InquireTruth 7 years ago
InquireTruth
That is a horrible analogy, as religious and atheist are pretty much mutually exclusive. The point is that no religion includes agnostics and deists and those who believe in the supernatural (many atheists still believe in things like heaven however, which does little to support your contention as it is).
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
But if you put 1000 religious people in a building and 1000 non religious people in a seperate building, which would be more likely to have more atheists?
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
But if you put 1000 religious people in a building and 1000 non religious people in a seperate building, which would be more likely to have more atheists?
Posted by Justinisthecrazy 7 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
not necessarily agnostic is a form of None religion
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
But religion almost always=theism... I agree that there are non religious believers, but I think that it would correlate with atheism..
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