The Instigator
Fenrir
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
kvaughan
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

I am God, and you do not exist--Take II

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/14/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,684 times Debate No: 438
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (24)
Votes (10)

 

Fenrir

Pro

So I posed this argument before, and was destroyed horribly in the voting (last I checked, my contender had over 4 times the number of votes I had). However, I am pretty stubborn, and convinced that, if correctly posed, this is an argument which actually is flawless. So, here's my second shot.

My first point: I am God. By "God," I do not mean I am the God that is worshipped in Judeo-Christianity, nor am I any other "God" in that sense. I will define my Godhood as me, or, at least, my subconsciousness, being the omnipotent and, to a degree, omniscient creator of the universe.

So, this is the preface: Everything we sense--see, hear, feel, taste, smell--is a neurological reaction to stimuli. That is, our sensing of something is something that goes on in our mind. So, why is it not possible that there are in fact no stimuli, but that everything we sense is the product of our subconscious minds? That is, all we sense exists only in our minds, which create the illusion of the reality we perceive. The stimuli which we encounter are all facades created in our minds.

With all our senses thus being in question, so is the existance of others. Any consciousness can prove to itself that it exists, simply because it is aware of itself--"I think, therefore I am," as said by Descartes*. Thus, I can no for myself that I do exist. However, it cannot be proven to me that anybody else exists. While they may lay claim to being aware of their own respective consciousness, to me it is still possible that this is simply my mind creating the image of somebody telling me this.

Now, if I am the only one who exists, that would mean that all of creation is the fabrication of my own mind. Everything I sense is something my mind has made, and that means my mind must have created everything. This establishes my first claim to Godhood--creator of the universe. If my mind has created everything, then it also has powert to alter everything as it sees fit--I am thus, at least in my subconscious, omnipotent. Now, anything that I can learn I actually already know--if the information can be presented to me, and the presentor is actually a creation of my own mind, then I must actually already know what I can learn. For example, I might study American history in a book. However, because that information is available, that means my mind has already created, and thus already known it. Anything that is in my capacity to know, I in fact do. Thus, to a significant degree, I am omniscient.

Now, to end, I would like to clarify a few things to solidy the argument.

1) This argument assumes that I do exist. Claiming that I cannot prove to anyone else that I exist does nothing but solidy my own claim that one cannot prove one's existance to another.

2) The argument is not simply that you do not exist, but that it is impossible for me to personally be proven otherwise. You may say that you can prove to yourself that you exist, but this does not prove it to me, so I can still believe you do not exist.

If there are still some points that you are not clear on, but think you might want to debate this, just leave a comment and I'll address it.

*Those who followed the previous iteration of this debate may note that in the comments I mentioned I was not familiar with Descartes; it was not until after I stated that that I ascertained it was he who said that.
kvaughan

Con

Ah Fernir, we meet again!

I too believe that I have experienced some problems with people reading my position and voting on that instead of reading my arguments, so I sincerely hope that anyone who reads this doesn't vote for me just because I am endorsing an intuitive position, but actually votes for the person who does a better job.

Ok, so this debate is going to get real complicated real fast, but I'll start with an easy argument. Your claim is that because everything is ideas (or as you claim neurological responses to stimuli) you are never aware of the external world directly and thus have no reason to think it exists. Even if I give you this claim, you also don't have any reason to assume that it DOESN'T exist. Not having knowledge of something only proves that you don't have knowledge of it, it does not prove that it doesn't exist.

Now the complicated bit: the philosopher Immanuel Kant deals with this sort of argument in his famous work, The Critique of Pure Reason. Kant argues that human perception of the world is necessarily grounded in time and space (I can go into why this is so, if needed, but it will take a while). Now with that as background, here is summary of Kant's argument:

"(A) I have knowledge of myself: ‘I am conscious of myself as determined in time'
(B) In order to have such knowledge, I must have knowledge that something ‘permanent' existed from the time of my previous mental state to the present
(C) This permanent could not be one of my mental states
(D)Therefore, the permanent of which I have knowledge must be something ‘outside me,' i.e. an object in the external world

Kant uses this argument to prove that the external world does in fact exist, refuting your argument.

A final argument is a cheap one, but I don't think you take your own argument seriously. If you thought the external world existed, who are you debating with? Who's voting on your arguments? Why would you ever post on a site like this if you really believed what you say.
Debate Round No. 1
Fenrir

Pro

I do concede to the equal impossibility of proving something does not exist. But as I said before, "[this] argument is not simply that you do not exist, but that it is impossible for me to personally be proven otherwise." Though I did not make it perfectly clear in my opening argument, I think it's fair to say that the same idea is applicable if you replace "you" with "anything," so that the argument would read "[this] argument is not simply that [anything does] not exist, but that it is impossible for me to personally be proven otherwise."

So, if I do believe that proving something's non-existence is just as valid an argument as proving its existence, why did I choose the latter? Simply, it's more interesting. If I was to say it was impossible to prove that you do not exist, who would care? We already take for granted the existence of everything. But in challenging the existence of everything, of posing the idea of nothingness, I get a lot more thoughts going, and typically will get a much more interesting argument.

I will now address your last point, questioning why I would bother posing this argument at all if I did in fact believe that everything was just a creation of my mind. Well, I see it as such: just because everything else doesn't exist, my emotions still do. Thus, I will still interact with others, and still posted this argument, because I enjoyed doing so. Whether or not they are fabrications does not change the enjoyment I get from them. Thus, it seems that you might suggest that if, in fact, nothing is real, why bother doing anything? Well, why not? Who cares if it doesn't matter? If it keeps my conscious mind feeling good, then I will do it, whether or not I believe it to be real.

Now, to address the big point you raised. Perhaps it is a lack of understanding on my part, but I see no need to have knowledge of some external reference in order to validate internal awareness. Why not simply presuppose the existence of the internal knowledge? In doing so, nothing would be required to follow. That is, true knowledge of something makes it the case, by defintion: if I can truly say that I know 1+1=2, then it must follow that that is the case. However, if I was to simply presuppose that 1+1=2, it does not necessarily mandate it to be so. As such, why not simply presuppose the existence of the external object, rendering it's actuality unproven?
kvaughan

Con

You'll have to forgive me for being a little confused by exactly what you're arguing. In point 2 of your opening statement, you say this:" 2) The argument is not simply that you do not exist, but that it is impossible for me to personally be proven otherwise." In interpreted this to mean that BOTH the claim that I do not exist and the claim that you cannot be proven otherwise are true. I you endorse the first claim, you are clearly mistaken as per my argument, but it appears that you do not endorse this claim. Shame – the argument was so good.

Onto my big argument: I do think you misunderstand Kant's argument. According to Kant, time is an addition to the perception of the world that out minds make a priori. We gain this understanding of time though experience – we cannot gain it through the kind of intellectual understanding that your 1+1=2 analogy argues for. Just as all the knowledge in the world about the physics and movements necessary to hit a baseball do not train your muscles to actually hit it. In Kant's view, you need to actually experience the stable external and a mental construct won't do. The problem at a fundamental level is that the mind does not posses the stability needed to gain temporal understanding.
Debate Round No. 2
Fenrir

Pro

Hm..I'm beginning to fear that, once again, my lack of clarity will be a significant downfall for me...Well, I'll try to be as unequivocal in my conclusion as I can be.

As for the statement "The argument is not simply that you do not exist, but that it is impossible for me to personally be proven otherwise," I confess I did not state this as clearly as I intended. Perhaps it would be better understood if I phrased it as such: "The argument is not the simple idea of whether or not you exist, but rather that I cannot be proven otherwise." I realize that this lack of clarification is, unfortunately, a bit unfair, but as your major argument is addressing the proof of something's existance, I'm not feeling -too- guilty..

Now, then, turning to the main argument. Personally, I find Kant's ideas, while certainly plausible, to be speculative. While it does seem logical that our minds would have to actually experience the external in order for it to create a realistic fabrication, who can say what our minds are in fact capable of? Certainly, it may seem, at the very least, that our minds have limits, but much of this would be based on supposed scientific research on what may be simply false representations of the mind. In truth, we have absolutely no knowledge of the extent of power our "actual" minds may have.

Also, I concede that it does seem improbable, regardless of the power of our minds, that they would be capable of creating a temporal world with realistic interactions. However, it's entirely possible that what we experience in a pseudo-reality is nothing at all what an "actual reality" is like, if there even is one at all. Thus, our concept and understanding of the temporal may in fact be entirely false, with "unrealistic" physical properties of interation, but it would still be naught but a fabrication.

To make it as clear as I can: It may indeed be true that our minds are not capable of creating a realistic temporal world, that it would be impossible to do so without the understanding of a true external object, but we still cannot say with absolute certainty that our minds are not capable of creating a pseudo-reality, even if it is not accurate in comparison to a true reality.
kvaughan

Con

If I thought your argument was just about epistemological limits, I would have been much more reticent to debate you. It is almost impossible to conclusively prove anything to anyone unless it is an a priori fact and even then people find ways to disagree. So, just demonstrating that I can't prove something to you is almost a non-statement – a truism.

Kant's argument is that even a pseudo-reality would not be able to generate a stable world because our minds are constantly changing. We seem to be going around in circles on this point, so I'm not going to say anything else, I'll just leave it at that.

It was an interesting debate and I enjoyed it!
Debate Round No. 3
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Fenrir 9 years ago
Fenrir
Spazybanana? I don't think you grasp the concept of hypothetical arguments. I in no way believe my argument to actually be true. All I believe is that it cannot be disproven. So, saying that I have a screwed up brain is representative if nothing more than the fact that you are rude and cannot grasp the concept of this argument to a degree that would validate your comments on it.

For logicman, the usage of the word "we" and its grammatical inflections was simply for the ease of explaining, having the concept of stimuli etc. being clarified as something not only pertaining to me, but to all of the hypothetical people beyond me.

Lastly, for jose14rock: By saying I was omniscient to a degree was to say that I was, in a way, omniscient. That is, while I may not "know" everything, as more and more facts are constantly being discovered, I do "know" all that can be known, which means that all available knowledge is mine. Thus, to a degree, I am omniscient.
Posted by revleader5 9 years ago
revleader5
Haha. Fenrir has no votes right now, so now his opponent has an infinite amount of votes more than him.
Posted by spazybanana 9 years ago
spazybanana
And how can I vote for you I dont exsist?
Posted by spazybanana 9 years ago
spazybanana
Fenrir? I think you have a screwed up brain. No offence but saying I dont exsist??? What the heck? Maybe Im ignorant. Please try to explain.
Posted by logicman 9 years ago
logicman
right off the bat in your statement, you said that what WE are feeling is a nueral stimuli. First off, there would be no WE if we dont exist. and if we dont exist, then we wouldn't exist. And if were a god or God himself, you would suck at it.
Posted by Fenrir 9 years ago
Fenrir
The main point of the argument, as I hope I have made pretty clear, is the impossibility of proving that anything exists beyond our own consciousness.
Posted by longjonsilver 9 years ago
longjonsilver
(Forgive me if this has been answered already.)

How can I vote Pro if all you can really prove is that: you can't prove that I exist. That isn't sufficient for you to win this round because you are trying to affirm the claim that I do not exist and that you are god. All you have actually proven is that you COULD be god and I MIGHT not exist. But this doesn't prove what you wanted to.

I think Con wins purely because Pro hasn't upheld his goal.
Posted by joze14rock 9 years ago
joze14rock
"To a significant degree, i'm omniscient"

no no no....

You either are or you aren't.

And I find it funny how Fenrir used Descartes. In my debate with the same topic, in which I was the Con side, I used him as well to prove that I'm a thinking thing as well.
But I took it further-
A thinking thing cannot be contradictory
and
Their are some things that are not dependent on other things, in which if this whole world was a concoction of my brain- everything would be dependent on my brain.
Posted by Creed-Diskenth 9 years ago
Creed-Diskenth
meh heh heh. so funny how polite you guys are trying to be. I respect that, very well done. But to answer your concern General, i kind of agree with you.

Only until the debate is over.

Then i think that questioning the debaters can lead to much rewarding secong thoughts, especially after hearing a conlcusive opinion via your opponent. these debates have a purpose of allowing you to test your opinions and ideas, and in the process refine them and grow from these critiques. Anyone who is willing to put their idea out in the open is certainly strong enough to handle some questions.

And to kvaughan (please tell me how you got that username), i think that philosophers dwell within a realm of thought and reason. They are certainly using logic and reason, which can be true if not proven. but by metaphysical i mean the imagined, and the idea of everyone around you not existing is certainly imagined. by proof i mean PROOF, unrefutable evidence or facts; which can be used multiple ways. The very fact that the metaphysical cannot be proven is why God is still debated to this day.
Posted by Fenrir 9 years ago
Fenrir
P's and C's represent points premises and conclusions in an argument, respectively. The idea is to lay out certain truths as your premises and from these form some sort of insightful conclusion.
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