The Instigator
Rob
Pro (for)
Losing
24 Points
The Contender
drumbum565
Con (against)
Winning
43 Points

If this sentence is true, then God exists.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,230 times Debate No: 883
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (48)
Votes (21)

 

Rob

Pro

In the proud tradition of two millennia of impeccable Christian theology, I would like to demonstrate, through reason alone, that God exists. To do so, I will simply make this argument: that the sentence "If this sentence is true, then God exists." is true.

To illustrate why this must be so, consider, for the sake of argument, the possibility that it is true. That is, suppose, hypothetically, that "If this sentence is true, then God exists." is true. Well, in that case, it would be true that if the sentence were true, God would exist--and since the sentence would indeed be true in our hypothetical scenario, God would, in fact, necessarily exist.

But hold on a minute. We just established that in a hypothetical world where the sentence "If this sentence is true, then God exists." is true, God must exist. But that's exactly what the sentence says! It says that if it is true, God exists; and by examining any world where the sentence is true, we find it impossible to avoid concluding that God, in fact, exists in such a world. The consequent ("God exists") cannot be false if the antecedent ("This sentence (i.e., 'If this sentence is true, then God exists') is true") is true. God's existence follows necessarily and unavoidably, if the sentence is true.

But for the sentence to be true, that's all we need! The sentence, remember, doesn't say "God exists"; it doesn't even claim itself to be true. All it says is that _if_ it's true, _then_ God exists; and we've just established that this is so. So the sentence "If this sentence is true, then God exists." is true.

Which, incidentally, means that God exists. Q.E.D. :)
drumbum565

Con

Your entire case is flawed due to the fact that it requires me to accept that hypothetically this sentence is true, however I accept no such thing.

For starters you since were are debating on the validity of this statement "If this sentence is true, then god exists" I can accept god exists with out any damage to the case at hand. Because the sentence does not in anyway say if this sentence is false god doesn't exist. So i state now that I agree with my opponent that god exists however not by his means to that end.

For my opponents case to hold any water I have to accept the possibility for this statement to be true however I accept no such possibility This sentence is completely untrue and as the Pro who has the burden of proof can not by any means prove this with out my consent that this statement can possibly be true the this debate is over right there and the Con wins.
Debate Round No. 1
Rob

Pro

I don't require you to "accept that hypothetically this sentence is true". All I ask is that you ask yourself this question: "If the sentence is true, then does God exist?" If the sentence is true, then what it says (i.e., God exists if the sentence is true) is true. And since that's all that the sentence itself actually says, if you concede that much, you must concede that the sentence is in reality true.

To show that it isn't true, you would need to show that the logic isn't valid--i.e., that God _doesn't_ necessarily exist even if the sentence is true. Unless you can do this, the sentence's truth is logically unavoidable.

"I can accept god exists with out any damage to the case at hand. Because the sentence does not in anyway say if this sentence is false god doesn't exist." - Of course. Nothing I said implies otherwse. The sentence says nothing about what is or isn't the case if it's false; all it addresses is what is or isn't the case if it's true. Thus, to assess whether or not the sentence is true, we need to see whether its consequent would necessarily follow if its antecedent was true.

"For my opponents case to hold any water I have to accept the possibility for this statement to be true however I accept no such possibility" - Then you need to show that it's _not_ possible. In other words, prove to me that it's impossible for the sentence "If this sentence is true, then God exists." to be true. I don't see any reason to accept that the sentence isn't even possible, even if it seems prima facie unlikely.

"This sentence is completely untrue" - Why? Merely asserting something doesn't make it so.

"Pro who has the burden of proof can not by any means prove this with out my consent that this statement can possibly be true" - I agree I have the burden of proof, but I already met that burden in round 1. This places the burden on you to refute my argument: the burden is now on you, in other words, to mount a case that it is completely impossible for the sentence in question to ever, in any world, be true. I don't need your "consent," as we aren't debating whether drumbum565 agrees that "If this sentence is true then God exists."; we're debating whether the sentence itself actually is, in reality, true.

In fact, even if neither one of us believes that the sentence is true, that doesn't mean it's not true! We could both simply be mistaken. To rebut my argument, you need to actually attack the validity of the conditional, or at least the possibility of the antecedent ever being true (and no, assuming the impossibility a priori won't help you); refusing to consider my logic does nothing to help your case, because whether you personally accept the logic has no bearing on whether the logic follows.
drumbum565

Con

The reason you have not met your burden of proof is due to the fact that you are using circular logic you state that the following:

pretend hypothetically the statement is true

since hypothetically the statement is true you agree since hypothetically its true

then you make a leap since in this hypothetical universe its true it is therefore true <-------------------you only attempt to accomplish the con to concede that it is true in this hypothetical universe. But we aren't debating in that hypothetical universe we are debating in this one. So you can go on and on and on with your current course but all your doing is arguing in a hypothetical universe and unfortunately for your case we are debating in this universe.

Moving on as your burden of proof is once again unmet after my more indepth explanation.

"I don't require you to "accept that hypothetically this sentence is true". All I ask is that you ask yourself this question: "If the sentence is true, then does God exist?" If the sentence is true, then what it says (i.e., God exists if the sentence is true) is true. And since that's all that the sentence itself actually says, if you concede that much, you must concede that the sentence is in reality true." <-----------------------BUT YOU DON'T SAY WHY ITS TRUE IN THIS WORLD YOU ONLY SAY IF ITS TRUE THEN ITS TRUE.....

"To show that it isn't true, you would need to show that the logic isn't valid--i.e., that God _doesn't_ necessarily exist even if the sentence is true. Unless you can do this, the sentence's truth is logically unavoidable." <----RELATE BACK TO THE BEGING

The reason the logic does not make sense is because of the fact that in order for it to make sense you have to accept that hypothetical= real but it doesn't, I could say hypothetically pigs can fly so you agree that pigs can fly hypothetically so you agree to the statement pigs can fly...I could say that but would it make sense NO!!! I leave it there the fact that you are trying to link the hypothetical with the real and that is why your logic does not work because it is purely circular in nature.
Debate Round No. 2
Rob

Pro

I'm not using circular logic. Re-read my first post: I don't start with the assumption that the sentence is true, nor with the assumption that God exists. If I start with any assumption, it's only that it is _possible_ for the sentence to be true, and this seems reasonable to me in lieu of any evidence to the contrary. Just because a proposition seems counterintuitive or strange doesn't make it impossible.

Starting simply from the reasonable premise that the sentence could, hypothetically, be true, I tried to see whether the sentence's consequent followed necessarily from its antecedent, and found that it did: there was no way for God to not exist so long as the sentence was true. From this, it necessarily followed that the sentence was true, since the sentence is true if and only if its consequent necessarily follows from its antecedent. Nowhere did I assume my conclusions, so the reasoning was not circular.

(Moreover, even if it had been circular, that wouldn't make the sentence untrue, which you still need to show. For example, the argument "Mice are mammals that exist. Therefore, mice exist." is circular, yet that doesn't imply that mice don't exist! Circularity does not denote falsehood.)

"since hypothetically the statement is true you agree since hypothetically its true " - I never said that. My argument has never relied on anything like the assumption that the statement is "hypothetically true", whatever that means. All it relies on, if anything, is that the statement _could_, hypothetically, be true. So long as it could be true in some hypothetical world, any world at all, it is necessarily true in our world, because, being a conditional, the sentence's truth is only dependent upon whether its logic follows, not whether it is applicable to the real world.

"then you make a leap since in this hypothetical universe its true it is therefore true" - That isn't a leap, because we're dealing with a conditional. Allow me to illustrate. Consider, for example, the following sentence:

"If I am a bachelor, then I am an unmarried man."

This statement is true even if I am not a bachelor, because it's a conditional. (And note that this statement is not explicitly circular, even if it's trivially true.) The antecedent doesn't need to be true for the sentence as a whole to be true, as long as the consequent must follow from the antecedent. The same applies to "If this sentence is true, then God exists." Denying the antecedent right off the bat is missing the point, because what matters is only whether the consequent follows from the antecedent: the fact that the consequent following from the antecedent is all that's needed to make the antecedent true doesn't change that fact, it just adds an extra conclusion we can draw from the conditional's logic following.

"But we aren't debating in that hypothetical universe we are debating in this one." - True, but if you concede the hypothetical universe, you are forced by logical necessity to concede our universe, because conditionals deal with hypotheticals. Your point would be correct if we were debating the sentence "This sentence is true, and therefore God exists." Then appealing to a hypothetical would be a non sequitur on my part.

But we aren't debating that. We're debating the sentence "_If_ this sentence is true, then God exists". As such, hypotheticals are extremely important, because they help us see whether it's possible for the consequent to be untrue while the antecedent is true. Since this is plainly impossible (i.e., if the sentence is true, there's no way for God not to exist), whereas we see no reason for it to be impossible for the antecedent to be true at all, the only logical conclusion is that if the sentence is true, God exists; and since that is what the sentence says, the only logical conclusion is that the sentence is, in fact, true.

"So you can go on and on and on with your current course but all your doing is arguing in a hypothetical universe and unfortunately for your case we are debating in this universe." - You're missing the point. If we were debating "If I am a bachelor, then I am an unmarried man.", it wouldn't matter whether or not I am a bachelor in this world; all that would matter is that in a hypothetical world where I was a bachelor, I would be an unmarried man. This alone shows that the sentence is true, regardless of the state of affairs in this world. In the same way, "If this sentence is true, then God exists." only needs to be true in a hypothetical world, in order for the _sentence_ to be true in every world, including our own. The only difference between this conditional sentence and the bachelor one is that this one has an imbedded real-world consequence, by virtue of the fact that the sentence's truth (which, again, can be established by its validity in any world, because, like the bachelor sentence, it's a conditional) necessitates the existence of God in the real world.

"BUT YOU DON'T SAY WHY ITS TRUE IN THIS WORLD YOU ONLY SAY IF ITS TRUE THEN ITS TRUE..... " - It's true in this world because an "if-then" (i.e., conditional) sentence is by its very nature about hypothetical situations and their consequences. For example, "If I am a biologically female human, then I have an XX sex chromosome" is true even if I am not female at all in the real world. For such a sentence to be true, all that matters is that if, hypothetically, the antecedent were true, the consequent would necessarily be true as well. For the same reason, all that matters in order to evaluate the bachelor sentence is whether I would be an unmarried man _if_ I were a bachelor; and all that matters in order to evaluate the truth of "If this sentence is true, then God exists." is whether God would necessarily exist _if_ the sentence were true. And since God clearly would exist if the sentence were true, the conditional is true.

"in order for it to make sense you have to accept that hypothetical= real but it doesn't" - No you don't. Where did I ever say that the hypothetical must be real? You accept that "If I am a biologically female human, then I have an XX sex chromosome" is true even if you are not female, do you not? For the same reason, logic forces you to accept that "If this sentence is true, then God exists" is true even if you don't start off with the assumption that it's true in the real world, and merely acknowledge that in a hypothetical world where it was true, God would necessarily exist.
drumbum565

Con

"I will simply make this argument: that the sentence "If this sentence is true, then God exists." is true." <-------------- that is what we are arguing about whether the sentence is true. Your entire "If, Then" argument saying we are debating in the hypothetical is untrue because we are not.

The Debate is whether or not the sentence is true. You state that because of the phrasing of the sentence it implies we are debating in the hypothetical however as I stated with my "flying pigs point" the hypothetical doesn't = the real. Your entire third round argument is based on simply the sentence its self not its validity. Which is what we are debating.

You have not satisfied your burden of proof in real life. You can say that we are arguing in the hypothetical as much as you want but you said in your opening that your goal was to prove God is real through proving the validity of that statement. I have explained why that statement regardless of validity proves nothing of God's existence, and I have proven the statement its self false by way of point out your lack of proof of its validity.

As far as the Bachelor argument is concerned. Your statements saying that the first part does not have to be true for the statement to be true is fine HOWEVER WE ARE TALKING ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THE STATEMENT IS TRUE.

So here are my VOTING ISSUES!

- all of the arguments for the Pro dealt with the Hypothetical while failing to prove this statement is true in real life.

- my opponents entire case is based on circular logic which he admits.

- the pro continues to argue the sentence structure rather than its validity which is what this debate is all about....

With these voting issues present and the arguments laid out it is clear that the only logical vote is for the con.
Debate Round No. 3
48 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by iq_two 9 years ago
iq_two
"If this sentence is true, then God exists."

However, if that sentence is false, God may or may not exist.

There is not enough information to be able to know whether the veracity of that sentence relates to the existence of God, i.e, whether the sentence is true.
Posted by lazarus_long 9 years ago
lazarus_long
Sigh. Again.

OK, here goes. This is not a forum in which formal symbolic logic is appropriate, so we'll try to get through this via plain text.

The proposition is, obviously, of the form "if A, then B."
The problem with this particular version, though, is that it is self-referential; what we're using here for the symbol "A" is a reference to the truth value of the sentence as a whole, so it equates to

if (if A then B) then B.

(You can, of course, continue expanding along these lines forever, if you like; it means nothing, but you can do it.)

However, in the absence of supporting logic or evidence which shows it to be valid, anything of the form "if A then B" is itself mere assumption; it cannot at this point be said to have been "proven" true. We can, as was noted somewhat indirectly in the original statement, merely make the assumption (the term originally used was "hypothetically") that it is true. And if we do that, then yes, "B" would be true. But all this means is that assuming the truth of "if A then B" equates to assuming the truth of B. Hence, it is valid to substitute "B" for "if A then B" into the conditional, and we wind up with

if B, then B.

A simple tautology; it means nothing. Obviously, if B is true, then B is true, but the truth of B is the question at hand - and so we find that the entire argument is utterly meaningless.
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
The argument (unless I be mistaken) was not that god exists, but that god WOULD exist of that statement was correct.
Posted by mobathome 9 years ago
mobathome
First, a bit of classification. Yours is an attempt at using a form of Curry's paradoxes to prove the existence of God. Here's a use to prove Santa Claus exists:

Abelard: "If I'm not mistaken, then Santa Claus exists."
Eloise: "I agree: if you are not mistaken then Santa Claus exists."
Abelard: "You agree: what I said was correct."
Eloise: "Yes."
Abelard: "Then I am not mistaken."
Eloise: "True."
Abelard: "If I am not mistaken, then Santa Claus exists. I am not mistaken. Therefore, Santa Claus exists."
(Found quotes by Artful dodgeballer on a mySpace forum.)

However, your argument schema can also be used to prove "God does not exist" (or any other sentence) so it cannot be the basis for a valid argument.
Posted by Cicero 9 years ago
Cicero
Rob, you admit that the conditional can be true only if one affirms or denies the antecedent. The sentence in question does not do this, so it's not an argument for/against the existence of God. It's just a conditional standing alone -- which gets us nowhere.

Speaking of which, it's December 24th, so I'm out. Merry Christmas to all.
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
"All men are IMmortal, I am a man, I am immortal." - You don't seem to understand how my argument works. You're really arguing against the straw man "This sentence is true; if this sentence is true, then God exists; therefore God exists"; but no one has ever advocated that sentence here, because it's so easy to reject. "If this sentence is true, then God exists" is a much more difficult claim to logically (as opposed to intuitively) reject, because it seems to necessitate its own truth.

And I think Harlan means to point out that an "if-then" statement doesn't need the antecedent to be true in order for the whole statement to be true; "If I am a bachelor, than I am an unmarried man" is true even if I am not a bachelor (hell, it's true even if I'm a woman). So my argument has never attempted to _start_ by asserting that the antecedent is true; instead, I've started by considering what the necessary consequences of the antecedent being true would be, and from _this_ I've concluded the truth of the conditional as a whole (which, because of the unique nature of this type of self-referential conditional, also happens to make the antecedent true in every possible world, as a side-effect).

The fact that there is no apparent empirical connection between the antecedent and the consequent, just a logical one, doesn't make it "untrue" in any sense; it is fully possible that there could, in fact, be some causal mechanism between a sentence and reality as a whole, even if we aren't yet aware of such a mechanism. So it's not good enough merely to point out that the sentence seems silly or arbitrary.

But Harlan is generally correct, in that he notes that "if-then"s don't usually need to have the antecedent true in this world in order to be true as a whole; this sentence is just unusual in that it does, in fact, "accidentally" prove its antecedent true, in the course of evaluating the statement as a whole.
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
"If you are reading this sentence, then all men are immortal." - The problem is that we could imagine a hypothetical world where we are reading the sentence "If you are reading this sentence, then all men are immortal.", and yet where all men are not immortal (because we could imagine reading the sentence in a world where the sentence is false). We could not, on the other hand, imagine a world where the sentence "If this sentence is true, then God exists." is true, and yet where God does not exist. This is because your sentence, unlike mine, does not base its conditional upon its own truth, and thus does not make it impossible for us to conceive of the antecedent being true while the consequent is false. (If, on the other hand, you had said "If you are reading this sentence and this sentence is true, then all men are immortal.", you'd have made a more relevant counterargument, since we indeed cannot conceive of a world where both conditions are true and yet where all men are not immortal.)

The _sentence_ might seem like a non sequitur, but that doesn't particularly matter since my argument supporting the sentence doesn't contain any non sequiturs. A sentence can seem silly or arbitrary without being false; and unless the sentence can be shown to be _necessarily_ (as opposed to merely probably) false, logic still seems to force us to accept its truth.

I agree that reality does not change due to words and logic, but we do need logic in order to understand the world, and we can't simply ad-hoc reject any logical argument whenever it leads to conclusions we don't like. Instead, we need to appeal to consistent and universal rules and principles to dismiss this argument for some inherent shortcoming it has; until we can agree on such a rule or principle, we are left merely flailing about, _knowing_ that the conditional isn't true but unable to _show_ that it isn't true.
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
Yes, some semantics are important here, I just meant that it's quibbling to argue against my word choice of "sentence".

Certainly a conditional can be true. A conditional is true if its consequent is true whenever its antecedent is true. For example, one can certainly say that the statement "If you are a man, then you have two eyes" is false, because someone could be a man and yet not have two eyes. Conditionals can be true or false just like other propositions.

In any case, my argument does not skip step 2: step 2 is shown through a separate argument wherein we examine every possible world and see whether a world could exist where sentence A is true, and God exists; and whether a world could exist where sentence A is true, and God does not exist. The former seems logically possible, while the latter does not seem possible; this means that we arrive, _independently_, at the conclusion that God exists if the sentence is true (because in every possible world where the sentence is true, God does, in fact, have to exist), which allows (indeed, forces!) us to affirm the truth of the sentence itself.

"This is not an argument. This is a conditional. It is not useful." - On the contrary, conditionals are extremely useful in logic in general. And I never said that the conditional was an argument; my argument was _about_ the conditional. All debates on this site begin with a proposition, and then use an argument to try to support that proposition; there is no rule saying that the proposition in question can't be a conditional. (For example, a perfectly valid debate topic would be, "If we criminalize abortion, that probably won't decrease the frequency of abortion.", with the pro making an argument for that conditional. Conditionals are very important for exploring the consequences of possibilities.)
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
actually, it works sola gracia, because, the sentance, is in fact untrue. But if it were true, then it would be true in saying that the snetance being true makes the existance of god, this would be ina world where this is true, however it is not, and the statement is untrue in the sense that there is no connection between the two. But, it can't be false, because it is an if...then and therefore is not actually saying that it is true.
Posted by Sola_Gracia 9 years ago
Sola_Gracia
The closest fallacy I could find that relates to this statement is "non sequitur." The conclusion does not logically flow from the premise: they are unrelated.
If you are reading this sentence, then all men are immortal.
Again, the premise and conclusion do not follow each other. And reality does not change due to words and logic.
All men are IMmortal,
I am a man,
I am immortal.
Sorry, I believe in the existence of God, but the resolution of this debate does not give me further comfort it that.
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