The Instigator
Con (against)
9 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Is "Materialistic science is the only reliable form of knowledge", a scientific statement?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/18/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 705 times Debate No: 67249
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)




"Materialistic Science is the Only Reliable Form of Knowledge"... is a comment made by my opponent, in the forums. My reply was that this statement is philosophical/ideological, not a scientific one, and he disagreed...So here we are.

*Important Note: The debate subject is not the statement itself, but whether or not the statement is a scientific one.
My opponent, as Pro, will argue that it IS scientific. I will take the Con position, and argue that it IS NOT a scientific statement. The burden of proof falls equally as we must both defend our respective positions, on this question.

Acceptance of this debate constitutes acceptance of format and definitions, listed below.

Round 1- Acceptance only.
Round 2- Opening statements only, no rebuttal.
Rounds 3 and 4- Rebuttal and further argumentation.
Round 5- Final rebuttal and closing statements, no new arguments.

Scientific Statement- A statement that can be tested and falsified, if it is indeed false. [1]
I thank my opponent, in advance, for acceptance of this challenge, and look forward to a spirited and informative discussion. Best of luck.


I accept the format of the debate and the definition of "scientific statement". I accept the debate and look forward to the next round.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to Pro for his acceptance. I apologize for the formatting in the first round, I'm having trouble with that and hopefully this round will look much better. Now, without further ado, on with the Opening Statements.

Scientific Statements

As agreed by the participants, a scientific statement is one that can be tested and falsified, if it is indeed false. An example of a scientific statement would be...

Oxygen makes up 21% of the atmosphere.

That statement is observable, in that atmospheric oxygen levels can be measured. It is one that can be repeatedly tested, with other tests giving the same results. If further testing leads to results of 18%, 24%, 19%,then we know that the 21% number is not accurate. It has been falsified. Therefore, the statement fits the criteria to qualify as a scientific statement, and can be shown to be false by repeated testing, if it is indeed false. It is a statement to which the materialistic scientific method of observation, testing, and falsifiability, can be applied. Now let's contrast that example with an example of a statement that is not a scientific one...

The universe created itself from nothing.

This statement is one that we would have trouble dealing with through the materialistic scientific method. We don't observe universes creating themselves, thus no test can be designed to confirm that our universe created itself from nothing. It isn't repeatable, nor is it falsifiable using the materialistic scientific method. Therefore, it is not a scientific statement.

Into which category does our statement of issue fit??

The statement that Pro alleges to be scientific is..."Materialistic science (MS) is the only reliable form of knowledge". We're not here to argue over the truth of his statement, although it will come up, but to determine whether, or not, the statement is a scientific one, according to the definition agreed upon. We can compare his statement to the example of a scientific statement given above, to determine if it also, meets the same criteria.

We expect a scientific statement to be one that can support itself through the use of the scientific method, but when we attempt to apply the materialistic scientific method to his statement, we run into problems. The central claim of his statement has 4 components, which must all be supportable using the scientific method.

a) It must show materialistic science (MS) to, itself, be a "reliable" form of knowledge, in all areas where it claims jurisdiction.

b) It must show MS to be the "only" form of knowledge, or it must be able to use the scientific method to disprove any other potential form of knowledge that may exist. If another form, or source of knowledge exists, then obviously MS can't rationally claim to be the "only".

c) It has to be shown that MS can provide us with truthful answers to all questions that it claims to be able to answer. Otherwise, we can't deem it to be "reliable", in all those areas, nor can it be said to provide us with "knowledge". How can one claim to have "knowledge", if said knowledge can't be shown to be truthful??

d) It must be able to satisfy all these requirements using only the materialistic scientific method. In other words, observations, tests, and falsifiable hypotheses.

As Con, it is my contention that materialistic science cannot support Pro's statement, using materialistic science. I feel that it is one that is made quite often by those who are defending an ideological or philosophical position, that of materialism/scientism/naturalism etc. I believe that his statement falls into the category of an unscientific statement, and over the course of this discussion I will attempt to provide evidentiary support, for that position. Pro, on the other hand, is burdened with the task of proving that his statement is, indeed, scientific.

I thank Pro again for his acceptance of this challenge, and thank the readers for taking interest. I look forward to a lively and informative discussion. Now over to Pro for his Opening Statement. Thank You.



Since it was agreed that the first round should consist of an opening statement and the main arguments of each of the participants of this debate, I have not so much as peered at what my opponent has written for his first round. The following is simply a prepared statement, if it appears to address points that my opponent raised during his opening statements, I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, that this impression is based on something purely coincidental.

The question that we are required to answer is the following: "is science the only reliable source of knowledge?" You will notice that I removed the word "materialistic" from this reformulation of the question, I have done this for two reasons: first, for convenience, as it saves time to just write "science" instead of writing "materialistic science"; the second reason for my decision, is that I consider the phrase "materialistic science" to be a redundancy, science is--by its very nature, and by necessity--materialistic. There is no such thing as non-materialistic science.

I also believe that a definition of the word "reliable" is required, and I would define "reliable", in this case, in this context as follows: something is "reliable" if it can be counted upon, and independently corroborated, e.g. in a court case a witness is deemed to be reliable if his account of the events is corroborated by the evidence and by other independent witnesses.

Now, for the main argument. I will divide my argument into three sections.

1) A description of the nature of scientific theories is in order.

Any scientific theory must be based upon some available facts, and on certain experiments and observations that support it, these must in turn be capable of being replicated and corroborated by other scientists, and even by evidence that is not available or events that have not yet occurred. (Like our witness in the court case).

Scientific theories must also be capable of making predictions and enumerate what facts would corroborate it or falsify. To continue with our analogy, this would be like the defendant, or the prosecutor, making a prediction of probable further evidence that might be found at the site of the event in question, and a description of what events or what piece of evidence would be required to falsify the particular account of the event as narrated by the witness.

If the predictions of a scientific theory are not contradicted, but in fact supported, by future evidence then it is accepted as a successful theory.

2) A description of what would constitute a form of reliable knowledge.

Now, for a form of knowledge to be judged as reliable, it must permit other people to build upon it as if it were a foundation for future knowledge. In the case of our witness in the courtroom, if his account is reliable it might serve as the foundation for the entire case of the defendant or the prosecution--depending on the case in question--and might even help to illuminate more confused and obscure accounts by other witnesses.

Reliable knowledge must also be capable of being accepted by people adhering to different ideologies, and even of resisting the pull of these ideologies, this is what makes it something objective and trustworthy. Again, like our witness, if he is reliable then his account of the events can be accepted by people of different political ideologies and of different creeds, and these--in turn--do not influence his account of the events in question. The more ideologically tainted his account the more probable it is that it is unreliable, and vice versa.

By contrast unreliable knowledge is that which cannot be replicated by others, is contradicted by a large body of evidence, is ideologically-skewed, it is unverifiable and unfalsifiable; it cannot make accurate predictions, it cannot serve as a foundation for future knowledge. Like an unreliable witness in court, the claims of unreliable knowledge cannot serve any purpose other than obfuscate what truly happened.

3) From what I've already discussed about science and the nature of scientific theories, and the nature of that type of knowledge which is reliable, I think that it is clear that science is a reliable form of knowledge. This in itself is not a controversial claim--the controversy arises when one extrapolates this and claims that science is the only form of knowledge that is reliable. Can this be justified? Well, in order for this to be a scientific statement, according to the terms of the debate, it must be possible to conceive of something that might falsify it, so one has to ask: what would falsify it? The most simple manner of falsifying this statement would be to provide an example of a form of knowledge that is as reliable as scientific knowledge is, so the question must be: does such a type of knowledge exist?

My answer would be a simple and clear No. There is no other discipline of the mind that comes as close to science in terms of reliability. Metaphysical philosophy and theology, for instance, the usual candidates that are offered to us as being alternatives to science as sources of knowledge are far from being as clear and precise as science is.

To begin with, there is vast array of metaphysical speculations that have proliferated in the last two thousand years which make incredible, and mutually exclusive claims, about the nature of the universe and the nature of reality, and yet cannot be falsified; neither can they be used as foundations for future knowledge. For instance, one can make the following metaphysical claim: "we live in the virtual reality of a supercomputer, everything is really an illusion, we don't really exist, or at least not in the way we think we do." This is an extraordinary claim, and yet how can it be corroborated? What possible evidence could be provided to suggest that it is true? In point of fact, such a claim is not falsifiable, in a sense it is not even wrong.

This is also true of theology. Most theologians--of any creed, be it Hindu or Christian--assert that there is a supernatural realm of existence, and yet they cannot provide any justification for this claim. They cannot prove to us that this is the case, they cannot even show us that it might be a possibility because this claim takes place beyond the realm of probability. There is no way to access this supposed supernatural realm, and therefore, to claim that such a realm exists, or worse, to assert that it does, is absurd. That it fails to provide any explanation about the natural realm that can be tested is another flaw, and is what makes it an unreliable source of knowledge, indeed, it is even doubtful whether it is even a form of knowledge as it provides no description of the natural world, no claim about a case that might even be observed.

What about those fields which are not sciences themselves but neither are they pseudoscience and are more like proto-sciences, that is, subjects which have not yet attained the rigor of science? Are those fields of study as reliable as scientific knowledge? Well, this is certainly not the case with the most famous of the proto-sciences: psychoanalysis. The theories of psychology postulated by psychoanalysts of different schools--Adlerian, Freudian, Analytic, existentialist, etc--are useful in that they might serve to instill curiosity and guide future research, but the claims of the different schools of psychoanalysis are unfalsifiable, and adherence to one interpretation instead of another--for example, adherence to an Adlerian interpretation of a psychological phenomenon, instead of an analytic (Jungian) interpretation--is based on personal preference, and ideological bias, and cannot be subjected to experimentation. Moreover, each psychoanalytic theory of human behavior is contradicted by a large amount of evidence. Therefore, while the work of psychoanalysts might serve as future foundations for psychological research--by inspiring curiosity in an aspect of human behavior--and thus fulfill one of the requisites that constitute reliable knowledge it still does not satisfy all the other requirements needed to classify it as a source of reliable knowledge.

Preliminary Conclusion.

We have seen that science is a reliable source of knowledge. We have also seen that other forms of knowledge, such as metaphysical philosophy, theology, and psychoanalysis, are either unreliable or not as reliable as science. Therefore, the claim that "science is the only form of of reliable knowledge" stands unrefuted.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to Pro for his Opening Statement.

"Supernatural explanations, by their very character, cannot be tested with the methods of science. That doesn't mean that they are wrong; they are simply outside the realm of what science can legitimately investigate."[1]

"The supernatural is the natural not yet understood"- Elbert Hubbard

The above quotes outline the both the limitations of materialistic science (MS), and the anti-scientific nature of, what you can call "scientific materialism". That is to say, the materialististic ideology using science as a guise.

MS is limited by its reliance on observation, testing, repeatability, and falsifiability. That makes MS very reliable in certain things that do involve natural processes, that can be observed, where there is something that can actually be seen or measured and observed to act in a certain way. It can predict what we should expect, if the hypothesis is true. The limitations of MS kick in when there is no way to observe, or measure, a phenomenon.

MS is powerless to address anything that might be considered "supernatural" or "metaphysical". Not only can it not disprove that these things exist and are true or reliable, it can't even address the issue because those things are not accessible through the scientific method. Any scientist, or science teacher, worth deeming reliable will tell you this. Let's examine the question, "Do ghosts exist?", to illustrate the limitations and pitfalls of MS.

First, there's nothing observable except random claims by people, about some experience they've had. There is nothing that our current technology would allow us to test or measure, that can detect the presence of a spirit being. Secondly, we can't make any reliable predictions about the presence, or lack of, a spirit being or the spirit world. Therefore, the strongest statement that MS can rationally make is that "There is no physical evidence that ghosts exist". MS cannot proclaim reliably that ghosts absolutely do not exist. The only factual point it can make is that, given the current lack of physical evidence, and our current technology, we have no way to support a claim that ghosts exist, neither can we disprove their existence. It may be true that future technology, or future knowledge will allow us to make a more definitive statement, on the issue.

Some people are quick to adopt this as an ideology. If we can't test it then it doesn't exist. That adherence to MS seems a reasonable basis for an ideology, at face value, but an in depth examination of this ideology reveals otherwise.

One obvious problem is that MS cannot provide, or even claim to provide, "true" answers to any question. It may or may not give you the true answer, and even if it does provide you the true answer, MS can't prove itself to provide truths. MS, by it's very nature, must remain dynamic and ever-changing, open to new evidence and technology. Therein lies the problem with the materialist ideology masquerading behind science, and illustrates the anti-scientific nature of it.

An ideologue will claim that the supernatural is unscientific, thus we shouldn't waste time with it. The problem with that is illustrated in the fact that the cell, at one point in history, would have qualified as a supernatural entity, according to the materialists' ideological adherence to what we can produce physically. Ideological thinking within the sciences would have precluded scientists from looking for such an entity as the cell, and would have blocked all the knowledge and technology that has resulted from the never-ending search for knowledge. Materialist ideologues, in essence, ignore our profound ignorance of so much of our existence, and our universe, and supplant current statements of what we think we know, for ultimate truths.

True scientific pursuit does not, and cannot, deal in truths. It deals solely with what we can show, at this current point in time. In Pro's definition of what is "reliable", he avoids the issue of truth. I don't know about you, but for myself, truth is a key aspect of anything that I will consider to be reliable. That raises an obvious question...Should a method that can't assure that it's giving me a "true" answer, be considered reliable in areas that are only accessible in "theory"?? No, it can't, I can only depend on it to give me the most widely accepted interpretation of the evidence that currently exists. Does that most widely accepted interpretation give me something sufficient for an ideology?? Well, that's for each person to decide, but for me, the answer is no. That is ultimately why I decided to challenge Pro to this debate.

Pro's Opening Statement consists mostly of him trying to prove his statement to be true, via argumentation. However, as the debate title and accepted explanation in Round 1 require, he needs to prove his statement via the very scientific method that he subscribes to. He fails to do that, and that is because materialistic science cannot prove itself to be the "only reliable form of knowledge", thus his claim is not a scientific statement, or one that can be adequately addressed by materialistic science. The strongest statement that he can support, scientifically, is that materialistic science is effective in answering questions for which there is a natural explanation, that is accessible through the materialistic scientific method. It does not suffice, for this debate, for Pro to show that MS is reliable, which is what he is attempting to do so far. His statement is that MS is the "only" reliable method, and he will never be able to support that statement, scientifically, unless he has access to all possible knowledge.

It does not suffice, for this debate, to simply argue that theology is not "reliable". That begs the question...Is it true?? If it's true then how can it rationally be said that it isn't reliable?? If it's true, can we then base future knowledge on it?? Sure, we can do that as well as we can base future knowledge on anything else. Pro will, I suspect, argue that we can't know if it's true. My response do you know that we can never know whether it's true or not?? He can't know that, nor can he support his position through the very scientific method that he holds so dear. His method doesn't currently give us access to an answer, meaning he can't know whether it's true or false. He can only choose to ignore theology and place his faith in the interpretations of those scientists that he wants to agree with, and in doing so, will fail to meet his burden in this debate.

If you need further proof that his position is an ideological one, his own words show that to be true...

"There is no way to access this supposed supernatural realm, and therefore, to claim that such a realm exists, or worse, to assert that it does, is absurd."

If you subscribe to his ideology then you should also agree that past scientists, had they all been materialists, would have made the same statement, that Pro made in his opening, about the cell.

"There is no way to access this supposed "cell", and therefore, to claim that such a "cell" exists, or worse, to assert that it does, is absurd."

All I did was substitute the word "cell", for "supernatural". When put in those terms, it's not hard to see the anti-scientific nature of the materialistic ideology. Scientists of the past, had they followed the materialist ideology through to its logical conclusion, would have ignored the possibility of a cell, writing it off as absurd. So while adhering to a purely materialistic ideology, the materialist hides behind a process that can't stick to that ideology, if it is to provide us with new answers and new knowledge. Strict materialism is as circular as arguing that the Bible is true because it says so in the Bible.

Pro goes on to say...

"The most simple manner of falsifying this statement would be to provide an example of a form of knowledge that is as reliable as scientific knowledge is, so the question must be: does such a type of knowledge exist?"

I have no burden of falsifying Pro's original statement. It is he who holds the burden for showing that it is a scientific statement, as he alleges it to be. It is not sufficient for Pro to simply argue that MS is reliable, he has to show MS to be the "ONLY" reliable knowledge that exists. In order to win this debate, he has to show that his statement is scientific, and he has to do so using the scientific method.

He has skipped over all the important parts of showing a statement to be a scientific one, and moved directly to the falsification aspect. What types of tests or measurements have been done to confirm or deny the existence of other knowledge?? What types of repeatable observations have been made that show empirically that MS is the "ONLY" reliable knowledge. In essence, he has made a statement and deems it to be true until someone can falsify it. In that way, his assertion is no different than the statement of faith that Christians make..."I believe that God exists and will do so until you can falsify it". Would anyone buy my statement as a scientific one?? If you buy his, but not mine, then why?? You can't falsify my statement so why do you reject mine, but not his?? You see, this is when you know that ideology has taken over. He has gone beyond what can be supported by the very science that he clings to.

"There is no way to access this supposed supernatural realm"

This alone should end the debate. He admits that science can't access it, at least for now, so he hand waives it away and deems it a false proposition even while admitting that he has no way of knowing the real "true" answer. We have no way to access life forms that may exist on far away planets, so should we stop exploring??



In his opening statement Con lists four criteria that I have to satisfy in order to show that my position is true. I will address them in order and in the manner that I see fit.

First, I will deal with A) & B): I must show that science is the only reliable form of knowledge in the areas over which it claims jurisdiction and that other the "form[s] of knowledge" that attempt to address the same questions are unreliable.

This is a quite simple and easy task to accomplish. I will select two examples in favor of my position. First, in matters of health the only reliable way to cure disease is through medicine (a scientific practice), and it is also true that the only way to understand the origin of diseases and disorders and other ailments is through biology. It could have been the case that other forms of knowledge could have supplied us with cures and explanations of the origins of diseases and disorders, and in fact spiritualist medicine attempts to do this. However, the claims of spiritualist medicine have all been shown to be false, and its cures are not reliable, leaving modern medicine and biology as the only reliable forms of knowledge regarding health.

The second example will be drawn from physics. Cosmology and astronomy, are the scientific fields that cover such things as the motion of the planets, the arrangement of the universe, and the nature of the cosmos. Theology used to attempt to answer these very same questions, by appeal to revelation. However, just like spiritual medicine the claims of theology--as in the case of the Christian view that the earth was at the center of the solar system and of the universe itself--have already been falsified, in all cases, therefore, the claim that theology is a source of knowledge about the cosmos has been abandoned. Once again,the claim of science to be the only reliable source of knowledge in this field stands corroborated.

The second criteria that Con argues that I must pass is the criteria of "truthfulness". Con states that I must show that scientific theories provide us with "truths". I will first venture a definition of truth: "truth" is that which corresponds to the case. Now, let us consider a few basic scientific theories and models to see whether or not science can provide us with "truthful" answers.

1) The heliocentric model of the solar system tells us that the Earth orbits the Sun. This is a scientific theory that has given us a truthful answer, as we know that this model corresponds to the case.
2) The unit of inheritance in living organisms is DNA. This has also been conclusively shown--through experiments--to be true.
3) Is disease carried by smells? It used to be argued that smelling foul things is what carried disease, this was then shown to be false, and was replaced by germ theory of disease which is accordance with the facts.

It is true that scientific theories are not perfect, and are often refined in order to be more accurate, but this does not mean that the answers they provide us are necessarily false. For instance, Einstein's Special and General theories of Relativity expanded upon and refined Newton's Theory of Gravitation, yet they do not refute Newton's theory or make it irrelevant, they simply build upon it.

D) is a criteria that I do not accept as valid. In his second round Con accuses me of not adhering to the terms of the debate, because according to him I have only engaged in rational argumentation and that I have not proved my statement "via the very scientific method that [I] subscribe to", this shows a limited understanding of scientific methodology, as logical argumentation, whether inductive or deductive, is also part of the scientific method. In any case, I have framed a hypothesis--that scientific knowledge is the only reliable source of knowledge--and I have tried to test whether or not this is the case, by trying to see whether or not other forms of knowledge provide us with reliable knowledge, since I have shown that this is not the case--as neither metaphysics, theology, or psychoanalysis provide us with reliable knowledge--I don't see how he can claim that I have not adhered to the standards of the debate.

Let's turn, then, towards Con's second round.

In his second round Con effectively concedes that supernatural and metaphysical claims cannot shown to be true which is what I had argued in my opening statement. Since we cannot decide whether such claims are true we have to cast them aside as nonsensical, and Con has effectively agreed. According to his criteria supernatural claims, and metaphysical claims, cannot be sources of knowledge, since they cannot provide us with truthful answers.

Con reminds us that just because we cannot yet observe and measure and test supernatural entities it does not mean that they do not exist, and it does not mean that in the future we will not be be able to access the supernatural realm. This does not, in the least, damage my case. In fact it is a red herring. I have not ruled out the possibility that a supernatural realm exists, or that certain metaphysical claims might be true. My argument is, quite simply, that since we cannot speak of truth here, we cannot speak of knowledge, and--as I have said--Con essentially agrees with this statement. He says that it is only science that cannot access the supernatural realm, but this is simply false. No one can access the supernatural realm, specially if the supernatural realm in question is a supposed afterlife. So far, science stands as the only source of knowledge, seeing how it is the only one that can be assessed in terms of "truth". There is nothing in Con's arguments that attempts to show that this is not the case.

Con then goes on to use straw man arguments and misrepresent the nature of scientific endeavor in order to try to make a case against science. He begins with an absurd argument regarding the cell. It is true that the cell, and the atom as well, were beyond detection by eyesight for a long period of time. That notwithstanding, the effects of the existence of cells and atoms could be observed, and the assumption of their existence provided the best explanations for certain phenomena observed by natural philosophers--and later on, biologists and physicists. This is not the case with supernatural entities, as they do not make any observable effects upon natural phenomena. Every achievement in science has been based on the assumption that events in the natural world have natural causes, and it is this that has permitted science to make progress, Con is simply wrong in asserting that materialism stultifies science.

He also argues that science cannot show anything to be true. I have already demonstrated how this is not the case, science has provided us with truthful answers in matters of cosmology, astronomy, physiology, and medicine. It is true, but mostly in a trivial sense, that scientific theories are in perpetual revision, but as stated above, this does not mean what that they cannot be relied upon, or that they do not provide us with "truths", again, Newtonian gravitation is not "false". Insofar as it is true in an important sense, one ought to bear in mind that in those cases--like in theories of the mind, or the origins of the universe--scientists do not claim to have certain or reliable theories, in these cases the field of inquiry is still in a hypothetical state.

According to him if science cannot provide us with absolute certainty in all its fields of inquiry then we have to reject the proposition that it is reliable. This is not what I have argued for, in my opening statement I did not say that science provided us with absolutely certain answers, or that absolute certain was required to deem a form of knowledge to be reliable. Once more the position is distorted and misrepresented.

Con's entire argument hinges on the presupposition that my statement is based on an ideology--that there is nothing beyond the natural. Con's view is simply not true: the idea that science is the only reliable source of knowledge does not require adherence to materialistic atheism; it is entirely possible to believe that there is an afterlife and nevertheless express agreement with the view that science is the only reliable form of knowledge that we possess. There are very many theologians who are comfortable accepting this view, and for whom belief in an afterlife is an act of "faith" that is not based on any knowledge of reality--Kierkegaard, for instance, was quite adamant about this.

It was my, perhaps mistaken, understanding that we shared the burden of proof, and that we were both supposed to show that our respective positions were true and those of our opponent false; yet Con refuses to accept his share of the burden. In my opening statement I provided a definition of what constitutes a reliable form of knowledge, I stated the uncontroversial view that science is such a reliable source of knowledge, this was followed by my argument that the other alternatives to science have not shown themselves to be reliable, I also stated that the most expedient way of disproving my position would be to provide an example of an alternative source of knowledge that is as reliable a source of knowledge as science is. Not only has Con failed to give such an example, he has refused to do it

Finally, Con compares the view that science is the only reliable source of knowledge with claims about the existence of a deity. I think that the error here is self-evident. A scientific hypothesis provides us with explanations of observable events, they can be tested, corroborated or falsified. Moreover, scientific theories are reliable, and lacking any other form of knowledge that is as reliable as science the claim that science is the only reliable source of knowledge is justified. This is hardly the case with claims about the existence of God. The belief in the existence of God is based upon "faith" not evidence.
Debate Round No. 3


Ideology and Logical Fallacies

One can usually tell when they are arguing against an ideological, rather than a truly scientific viewpoint, when they find the opponent to be using logical fallacies, to support their position. In Round 3, Pro is guilty of using at least two such fallacies, the fallacy of composition and the genetic fallacy. His entire Round 3 is an exercise in logical fallacies, and misrepresentation of my statements.

Pro begins by saying that meeting criteria A and B is quite simple, and uses medicine and biology, as examples of the reliability of MS in all areas in which it claims jurisdiction. Therein lies the Composition Fallacy [1]. What is true of a part, is not necessarily true of the whole. Because MS is reliable in the field of modern medicine, does not also mean that MS is also reliable in the field of say, origins research. Just because medicine can treat hypertension in humans, does not mean that MS can give us a reliable answer for how the universe got here, as an example.

If I could provide an example of something being correct in the Bible, would you then assume that the entire Bible is true?? Of course not, and it would be a logical fallacy were I to make that argument. That is precisely the same type of reasoning that Pro is employing in Round 3. Pro is attempting to support his position by simply providing examples of where MS is reliable, then assuming reliability of the whole of MS, based on a part.

Even aside from the fallacy, Pro is not meeting his burden regarding the claim. Were we arguing, "Is MS reliable in any area??", Pro's argument might be effective, but I would not have taken a debate on that question. We are here to see if Pro's original claim is indeed a scientific, rather than an ideological, statement. That requires MS to prove that it is, itself, the ONLY reliable knowledge.

Pro goes on to argue for the truthfulness of answers, provided by MS. His definition of truth, "that which corresponds to the case", is close but still a little lacking. A truthful answer to a question, must always be, "the one that is correct". Any other definition of truth is useless, and is an attempt to obscure its meaning and bring it in line with the limitations of MS. That is why any scientist worth his salt will tell you that science doesn't deal in truths. Consider, "How did the universe get here??". The best answer that MS can give is the Big Bang, and that may correspond to the case, while the true answer could very well be, God created the heavens and the earth. Correlation does not equal causation, is a good phrase to remember.

He proceeds in regards to truthfulness, in much the same way as he did in attempting to show reliability, by providing examples and assuming truth of the whole from truth of a part. In doing so, he is again commiting the fallacy of composition.

Pro states..."In his second round Con effectively concedes that supernatural and metaphysical claims cannot shown to be true which is what I had argued in my opening statement. Since we cannot decide whether such claims are true we have to cast them aside as nonsensical, and Con has effectively agreed."...This is blatantly false, and Pro saying that "I have effectively agreed", goes against everything that I've been saying in this debate. I strongly disagree. Pro seems to be taking, "MS has limitations", and using some mental gymnastics, misrepresenting my argument to mean that supernatural and metaphysical claims are nonsensical. The reader should not make that same mistake. My statement speaks solely to the boundaries and limitations of materialistic science, and should not be misconstrued to say that, what Pro calls "supernatural or metaphysical claims", are false or nonsensical.

Secondly, Pro states that these claims must be "cast aside as nonsensical", and earlier he referred to them as "absurd". As I said in the previous round, if followed through to Pro's ideological conclusion, the cell would have, at one time, been considered supernatural and metaphysical. If scientists followed Pro's ideological thinking, such an entity would have been off limits to the scientists of that time. They would have cast it aside as nonsensical and absurd, rather than trying to continue in their search for knowledge and truth.

In his assertion of "nonsense" and "absurd", Pro is stating that a supernatural claim must be nonsense because he deems it to be supernatural. He also argues that if an answer is one that is put forth by materialistic scientists, then it is always a reliable answer. Those are both forms of the second logical fallacy, the Genetic Fallacy [2], and is one that is very often employed by those with a materialism/scientism/naturalism type ideology. When using the genetic fallacy, the offender will use the source as a reason to accept or reject an answer. All things that Pro deems to be supernatural or metaphysical are wrong, because he deems them to be supernatural or metaphysical, not because he can disprove them scientifically. Likewise, if a majority of scientists put forth a natural explanation for some phenomenon, he accepts it and translates that into an ideological statement, because its source is materialistic science. Both positions commit the genetic fallacy.

Another example, and probably the most popular use of the genetic fallacy is, "You're a Christian because you were raised to be so. If you were born in India, you'd be Hindu". Well, so what?? Identifying a source of a belief/claim/etc., does not speak to the validity of said belief. If one were the child of two scientists, and brought up to be a materialist or atheist, does my identifying that source make either materialism or atheism wrong?? No, it doesn't, and were I to make that argument I'd be commiting the genetic fallacy, just as Pro does in this debate.

Not long after saying that "supernatural or metaphysical claims must be cast aside as nonsense", Pro says this..."I have not ruled out the possibility that a supernatural realm exists, or that certain metaphysical claims might be true". How does one call them nonsense and absurd, in one breath, and follow that by saying that you haven't ruled them out?? This is entirely conflicted, given the fact that Pro has also stated in this debate, that such things must be written off as nonsense. The only explanation I can think of for this contradiction is that, for the sake of the reader/voter, Pro is attempting to back off or minimize the inevitable ideological statement, that is inherent in his position.

"My argument is, quite simply, that since we cannot speak of truth here, we cannot speak of knowledge, and--as I have said--Con essentially agrees with this statement." Au contraire mon frere...I strongly disagree. We must always speak of truth and knowledge, and we must always push the boundaries of current knowledge, as true scientific pursuit demands it. To do anything less is pure folly. To write off an answer because of its ideological implications is not science. To state that you will only accept answers that are considered "natural" by our current state of knowledge and technology, while admitting that materialistic science has limitations, is an exercise in circularity, and is an anti-science, ideological position. Again, at one time, the miniscule components of our molecular make-up would have been considered "supernatural", yet they were eventually identified. They were identified because true scientists were willing to explore that which was currently unknown, without the bridles and boundaries placed on them by ideologies.

What was once "supernatural" is now an empirical reality, and is providing us with many advancements in medicine. However, had Pro's ideology been truly followed through to it's conclusion, science could not have pursued such knowledge because it would have to be written off as nonsense.

It's important to note here that not all supernatural claims carry the same potential for legitimacy. "Invisible pink unicorns exist" is quite different than "Our universe was created by a higher intelligence". You can't know that it's pink if it's invisible, is enough to dismiss the former, the latter has more legitimacy though. We know that things don't create themselves out of nothing. We also know that information, such as that found in the genetic code, only originates from an intelligent mind, thus a higher intelligence, although it could be deemed "supernatural", is also a plausible explanation for why we're here.

In conclusion, Pro's use of logical fallacies, in his argumentation, is indicative of the ideological nature of his position. Also, in Round 3, Pro seems to contradict himself, and appears to have backed off to what he deems to be a safer position. To paraphrase, he now seems to be defending the position..."We can't access the supernatural, given our current knowledge and technology, so we can't know if it's true or not." Quite frankly, if he had stated it that way in the first place, I would not have challenged him to this debate. That isn't the statement that he made though, and it is not why we're here. He made a strong claim, and as Pro in the debate, the onus is on him to prove said claim. Thus far he has not done so. I think I have shown, and Pro's retreat is also evidence, that his original position is not defensible using the very scientific method that he attaches his ideology to, thus fulfilling the obligations of the Con position. His own admissions in this, and the earlier rounds, about the limitations of materialistic science, should be more than enough for the reader to determine that his is an ideological position, not a scientific one.



In his Round 4 Con has made three claims about my arguments in Round 3. I will begin by addressing these main claims.

1. Con Claims that my "entire Round 3 is an exercise in logical fallacies," The fallacies that he claims I have committed are A) the Composition fallacy, and B) the Genetic Fallacy.

A) The Composition Fallacy.

Con claims that at the beginning of Round 3 when I was addressing his criteria A and B I committed the fallacy of Composition by trying to show that what is true of the part is true of the whole. It is of course true that while MS might be reliable in some fields it is not necessarily reliable in all fields, which is why I provided more than one example to defend my position; I did not know that I was going to have to provide a list of all the fields in which MS has shown itself to be reliable, but It seems that he was not satisfied with my original examples, and would like me to list all the fields of inquiry in which MS claims to be more reliable than its alternatives, I will try to do this, if I miss one field I would like to ask that Con refrain from passing harsh judgment on me, the field of knowledge is vast, and some fields may slip my mind.

Astronomy is reliable whereas Astrology is not. Paleontology, Biology and Medicine are reliable whereas creation myths and homoepathy and reiki and "alternative" medicines are not. Chemistry is reliable, Alchemy is not. Cosmology is reliable, Theology is not. History and Archaeology are reliable, myths and legends are not. In all these areas of knowledge MS is not only reliable, it is the only reliable source of knowledge.

Con also takes issue with my definition of truth and then provides us with his own "that which is correct". How do we know whether a claim is correct? By examining whether or not it corresponds to the case, so it seems that his definition does not differ very much from mine, except in terms of semantics. He claims that in trying to show the truthfulness of MS I also commit the fallacy of composition. I will not bore you ladies and gentlemen by listing every single field of knowledge in which MS has shown itself to be the only truthful source of knowledge, they are the same as those listed above. I suspect that Con is arguing in bad faith in accusing me of committing the Composition Fallacy--or he needs me to list every single field of scientific inquiry every time I address any of his points--but by accusing me of committing a fallacy he can avoid the issue of actually dealing with my claims.

B) the Genetic Fallacy.

Con also accuses me of having committed the Genetic Fallacy, because, according to his reading of my arguments, I will dismiss any supernatural claims as nonsensical but any claims from MS as reliable. This is a distortion of my position, I have said that in dealing with supernatural claims we have no way of telling whether one of them is true, whether all of them are true, or whether they are all false, I go on to say that therefore we must dismiss them as nonsensical. Con takes issue with my use of the word nonsensical and attributes this to ideological bias. However, as any philosophically educated person should know, we have known at least since Kant that to make claims about the truthfulness of things which are beyond our ability to perceive is absurd, or in the words A.J. Ayer and Wittgenstein, it is nonsensical, in that it makes no sense to talk about these things. Now, Scientists can make hypothesis that are falsifiable, and the vast majority of scientific hypothesis are actually falsified, I do not agree with everything any scientist says, I only accept that which has resisted attempts at falsification. I would also like to repeat that my claim was never that MS provided us with CERTAINTY, only with RELIABLE knowledge. I stated this is in my opening statement and repeated it in Round 3.

So much for the first claim of Con.

2. Con accuses me of having misrepresented his views.

In his opening statements Con argued that knowledge must be capable of providing us with truthful answers. He goes so far as to list the limitations of scientific knowledge, and argued in Round 3, that we cannot decide the truthfulness of supernatural and metaphysical claims. Furthermore, he says that we must always speak of truth and of knowledge, but in the case of supernatural and metaphysical claims we have no knowledge and have no truths. If we cannot know whether metaphysics or supernatural claims provide us with truth, how can they be classified as sources of knowledge? It follows logically that Con must regard supernatural claims and metaphysical claims as nonsensical--the definition of nonsensical, here, being that it makes no sense to speak of something as being "true" if we can't know whether or not it is "true".

3. Finally, Con accuses me of backing away to a safer position.

Con accuses me of having backed away from my original position in claiming that supernatural claims or metaphysical claims might be true, even if we don't know they are true. I would like to clarify that my original position was the following: MS is the only reliable source of knowledge. It was not "there is only one reality, the materialist reality." That would a different claim, and one completely unrelated to the topic at hand. There is no contradiction involved in saying that the claim that there is an afterlife (a supernatural claim) is nonsensical and admitting that it might be true in any case. It is nonsensical, or absurd, to assert that an afterlife exists when we have no access to such an afterlife. For all we know, when we die we go to a theme park ride that lasts for eternity, but since we cannot access the afterlife--by definition--it would be absurd to assert that such a claim about an afterlife is true. What we do know is that we can't know if it s true, and that since it is unobservable we cannot make predictions about it, and it is an unfalsifiable claim, as well as one that cannot be corroborated--again, by definition. The same thing goes for all other metaphysical and supernatural claims, such as the existence of God, Nirvana, the Buddha nature, reincarnation, the "oneness of Being", das Ding an sich, etc, etc.

Now, I will make quick passing remarks on some of the other assertions that Con makes in Round 4.

I would like to call attention to the fact that Con again used the example of the cell as something that was once considered supernatural but has served as a foundation for scientific knowledge. I have already explained why this argument is inadequate in my previous round but I will repeat the main points in quick succession: 1) it was never thought of as a supernatural entity--this in itself invalidates the example. 2) It could be observed through microscopes--that is how it was discovered. 3) Its effects could be observed in nature. 4) It provided the best explanation for certain phenomena.

He states "we know that things don't create themselves out of nothing." This not just an unwarranted claim, it is a false one, demonstrably so. Quantum Mechanics has shown how at the subatomic level particles come in and out of existence without a cause. He goes on to claim that the genetic code is evidence for intelligence, and this claim is unfounded on any evidence. Those who insist that it is designed are inferring the design from DNA, it is not there. DNA mutates randomly, giving rise to new traits in living beings, some of which may be advantageous and some of which may be detrimental, others are neutral. If one insists on saying that the entire mutation process is also guided by a higher intelligence, though it lacks any empirical justification, it is a faith claim, and therefore cannot be classified as a truth claim, nor as a source of knowledge.

Con states that all scientists say that science does not deal in "truth." This is simply not true. There have always been a large number of scientists, and there still are, who think that science provides us with truth--in some areas--or at the very least, approximations of the truth. What all scientists agree on is that Science cannot provide us with absolute certainty in every case. But that is something completely different.

The fact is that Con has misrepresented my position throughout this debate, and in our previous exchange as well, as being one that is ideologically based. Das ist falsch, meine Damen und Herren! Materialism does not presuppose atheism or agnosticism, furthermore, it is possible to adhere to the view that science is the only source of reliable knowledge that we possess and yet believe in an afterlife, or reincarnation, or what have you. I am inclined to believe that Con is engaging in projection. He is an ideologue--a creationist theist--and is projecting his ideological cast of mind unto me, as well as unto anyone that disagrees with him. This is evident in his characterization of his opponents as materialists and atheists and scientists, you will notice, dear comrades, that these are not all apples. Atheism does not presuppose materialism, neither does materialism necessitate atheism, and "scientism" is not necessarily atheistic--in fact, I would dismiss "scientism" as a propaganda term used by religious fanatcs, rather than a real thing. Moreover, in his final remarks, he says that had I elaborated my view, that "MS is the only reliable source of knowledge" and added the superfluous clause "though there might still be an afterlife and God might exist" he would not have challenged me to a debate. This in and of itself shows that Con's opposition to my claim is not based on scientific concerns but on ideological ones, he thought it entailed a denial of God.

Finally, I would like to remark that Con has not addressed any of the actual points I made in Round 3 and simply ignored them, and still does not accept his share of the burden of proof, for he refuses to provide a source of knowledge that would be as reliable as MS.
Debate Round No. 4


In regards to the Composition Fallacy, Pro tries to get out of that by listing more examples, which doesn't change a thing. It simply means that he doesn't realize the fallacy in his reasoning. He even makes the following admission...

"It is of course true that while MS might be reliable in some fields it is not necessarily reliable in all fields..."

Bingo. That admission alone should be enough to make my point to Pro, but it isn't. He continues the fallacy by trying to list more areas where he deems MS to be reliable. Frankly, it doesn't matter if he lists 2,000 fields where it might be useful. Being reliable in medicine, as well as 1,999 other areas, doesn't make it reliable in, again using origins research, as just an example. Pro admits this point in the above quote, yet continues to try and convince the reader of the reliability of the whole based on part. That is fallacious reasoning.

Pro seems to feel that providing an answer that "corresponds to the case" means that he is providing a "truthful" answer. However, nothing in MS tells us that MS is providing us with "truths". In Round 4, I provided a perfect example of how "that which corresponds" may not always be "that which is true". Once again, Pro is attaching his ideological view to science, and is trying to portray the scientific view as "truth". Again, correlation does not equal causation.

Science can't deal in ultimate truths. It must be dynamic, and scientists must be willing to follow evidence no matter where it leads, lest they become ideologues themselves. Nietzsche once said that science cannot explain the world, it can only describe it. Science cannot tell us WHY something exists rather than nothing, it can only tell us at best, HOW it happened. I would even have to question it's ability to do that, but that's another debate entirely. MS can only tell us that thunder, for instance, is the result of meteorological phenomena, rather than being caused by Thor's Hammer. It cannot tell us whether or not a higher being is responsible for putting those processes and phenomena in play. MS, in many cases, can give the HOW, but not the WHY. Telling us HOW something happens does not, in itself, make an ideological statement. The ideology comes in when materialists make claims such as "We don't need God to explain this". Those kinds of assertions go far beyond what MS can support.

The reader should not misconstrue my arguments to mean that I am "anti-science", or that I'm saying that MS is not valuable and useful when it is applied correctly. I am simply knowledgable, and a realist, about the limitations of materialistic science, and I can easily spot when fallacious reasoning is being used, to support an ideological position. MS cannot provide us with ideological "truths". It can only provide the most widely accepted interpretation of the alleged evidence. I would not, as Pro seems to do, attach any label such as "ideological truth", to what amounts to, majority opinion about what the evidence means.

Regarding the Genetic Fallacy, Pro states that I distort his position. That is false, in fact, I used his own words. I can make no rational decision about his meaning, unless I take the words "nonsense" and "absurd", to mean what they mean. If Pro would like another version of his argument to be used, he must choose a different way of phrasing his argument. Defending his preferred terminology does nothing to aleviate the fact that he is using the Genetic Fallacy.

I don't want to get bogged down in a debate about details of a scientific opinion, because it is irrelevant in this debate, but I will address this. Pro goes on to state...

"He states "we know that things don't create themselves out of nothing." This not just an unwarranted claim, it is a false one, demonstrably so. Quantum Mechanics has shown how at the subatomic level particles come in and out of existence without a cause."

This begs the question...What does this have to do with something coming out of nothing?? Where is the "nothing" in this equation?? Until you can show that you actually started with a real "nothing", then you can't rationally argue that you've seen something come from "nothing". There was never "nothing" involved in this experiment and to claim this to be the case seems a complete absurdity. This is simply another example of Pro trying to make an ideological statement out of a finding, and going far beyond what the finding actually shows.

Pro again...

"There is no contradiction involved in saying that the claim that there is an afterlife (a supernatural claim) is nonsensical and admitting that it might be true in any case. It is nonsensical, or absurd, to assert that an afterlife exists when we have no access to such an afterlife".

Sorry but "It could be true but it's still nonsensical and absurd", doesn't strike me as a particularly good scientific, or even ideological position.

"He is an ideologue--a creationist theist--"

Oh no, not one of those!! What does this have to do with the subject of this debate?? Absolutely nothing, and I can think of only one reason why it would be brought up. If I were reading this debate, I'd penalize Pro's conduct for ad homs, and blatantly false statements, such as this one...

"Moreover, in his final remarks, he says that had I elaborated my view, that "MS is the only reliable source of knowledge" and added the superfluous clause "though there might still be an afterlife and God might exist" he would not have challenged me to a debate."

That is an outright falsehood, on Pro's part, and it is very easy for the reader to see that I never said any such thing.

Pro closes by shifting the burden of proof, regarding his claim. He made a positive claim, "Materialistic science is the ONLY RELIABLE FORM of knowledge", and is responsible for showing that MS can prove that claim to be true. Yet, he tries to argue that, since I haven't shown another reliable means of knowledge, he wins. I have shown how MS can't prove itself to be reliable in all areas where it claims jurisdiction, and I have shown how it can't support itself as the ONLY knowledge. That is all the Con position, in this debate, requires. The strong, positive claim was made by Pro, thus the onus for proof of the statement is on him.

Pro doesn't seem to recognize the distinction between these two statements...

a) "I don't currently know of any way to use materialistic science to evaluate things outside its boundaries, so materialistic science can't address the truth and reliability of those things".

b) "Materialistic science is the ONLY form of knowledge".

Statement A is a reasonable statement, and would not likely garner a debate challenge from anyone. Statement B is not defensible, using MS, thus is not a scientific statement. Pro argues A, but needs to show B. His method of argumentation requires the reader to think like him, "Because A, thus B". That is not a winning formula given the accepted terms of this debate, and I trust that the reader will see that as clearly as I do.

Again I thank Pro for taking the time to have this discussion, and thank the readers for their time as well.



I think that this round will be fairly simple. Here it goes.

1. I did not "admit" that MS is not reliable in all fields, all I said was that it was not, by necessity, reliable in all fields. In other words, it could happen that, one day, MS would not be the only reliable source of knowledge in a certain field (say, cosmology). But at the moment this is not the case. Con has once more latched unto one sentence, distorted its meaning, and then attempted to use it to prove his point (straw man argumentation) which is dishonest. MS has shown itself to be reliable in all the fields it seeks to study, which was my point to begin with, and is not a controversial one. Con refuses to recognize this and picks on one field of study, that he thinks I failed to list--origins research--when in fact I didn't, and proceeds to argue that MS might not be the most reliable source of knowledge in that field. However, Paleontology and Biology cover that field and have shown themselves to be the only reliable sources of knowledge in that field of study.

(I already addressed the charge of committing the composition fallacy in the previous round, I will not repeat myself).

2. Con did not provide a counter example to my definition of truth. He only said that the Big Bang model of cosmology corresponds to the case, though it still might be the case that God created the universe. These two claims are not mutually exclusive, as theistic theoretical physicists would be able to explain to him.

3. The question "Why?" is a question that science cannot answer, but nothing else can answer it. It is a nonsensical question (as in there is no sense in asking the question since one cannot receive an answer) that MS does not even attempt to answer. I never argued that MS could provide us with knowledge of things that are beyond our perception. Again, Con misrepresents my position. Saying we don't need God to explain something in science is not an ideological statement, it is a scientific one. We don't need God to explain the origin of the universe, or evolution, or thunder, or what have you, anymore than we need Thor to explain these phenomena. Saying God causes lightning is not an explanation of said phenomenon--it is an unfalsifiable faith claim.

Con also brings up the question of "ultimate truths", and he is right when he says that science cannot answer those questions, but I never claimed that it could, and it is irrelevant to the topic.

4. Con, once more, misrepresents the nature of scientific endeavor and scientific procedures. Successful scientific theories are not just "majority opinions," they are theories that have survived repeated attempts at falsification, which is why they are accepted by the majority of scientists, occasionally to the chagrin of scientists who proposed alternative theories which were falsified. In any case, my argument was not that MS provided us with certainty, just with reliable knowledge, which does not need to be perfect.

5. Con again makes a problem of the terminology I used--"nonsensical" and "absurd"--one would think that anyone educated in philosophy would be somewhat familiar with the work of Kant, Ayer, and Wittgenstein and would understand the words in the context in which I used them, in any case I explained why I used those terms in the previous round, and I notice that Con has not been able to refute my points, he just decided to complain about the semantics.

6. Con brings up the issue of "nothing". Well since no one has been able to come up with a precise definition of "nothing" I will dismiss this point as largely irrelevant. He accuses me of begging the question, but in fact it is he who is begging it. He must be one of those theists for whom the word "nothing" can only mean--to quote Lawrence Krauss--that out which only God can make something. A state in which there is no matter, and only energy, is a perfectly good definition of nothing, it is certainly rather close to the definitions of "nothing" provided by Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine--not atheists the last time I checked. The statement I made is not an ideological one, it is scientific, and it is accepted by other theoretical physicists who are theists, it is not an atheistic statement.

7. During this entire debate Con has accused me of having an ideological bias and he has been guilty of distorting my positions--straw man arguments--and when I point out that it is in fact he who is an ideologue, and I go on to specify his ideology (creationist theism) he accuses me of ad hominem. Again, this is a mark of dishonest argumentation.

8. He accuses me of lying, when he himself said that had he known that my position did not rule out the possibility of the existence of a supernatural realm he would not have challenged me to a debate. Here are his words " he now seems to be defending the position...'We can't access the supernatural, given our current knowledge and technology, so we can't know if it's true or not.' Quite frankly, if he had stated it that way in the first place, I would not have challenged him to this debate." Is it a misrepresentation of his position if I point out the fact that had I said that the claim I made--"MS is the only reliable source of knowledge"--did not rule our the possibility of the existence of God he would not have challenged me to a debate? It does not seem to be the case.

9. Now, as to the question of the Burden of Proof. If I am repeating myself, I apologize, but it seems necessary. At the outset of the debate it was agreed that we both shared the Burden of Proof, that means that not only did each one of us have to try to prove our own positions, but we had to refute the positions of our opponent--Con had to try to refute mine and I had to refute his. I also specified, in my opening statement, what would be the most expedient way in which Con could refute my position, which was the following: if he could offer an example of an alternative source of knowledge that was as reliable as science my position would stand refuted. He has failed to do this.

10. The question of science and supernatural claims. In my opening statement I defined what made a source of knowledge reliable--that it is verifiable and falsifiable, that it can be replicated, that it can make predictions which can be observed, that it must serve as a foundation for future knowledge, that it can resist the pull of ideology, and that it is corroborated by a large amount of evidence. How does MS stand in relation to such a definition of reliable knowledge? I began the debate by saying that MS has shown itself to be reliable in all the fields over which it claims jurisdiction, and I have shown this to be the case throughout the debate. Supernatural and metaphysical claims on the other hand are unreliable because they are, usually, ideologically-skewed--most beliefs of the afterlife are ideological--they are also unverifiable and unfalsifiable because they are beyond the observation, not just of science, but of human beings themselves. If one cannot make observations to assess the truth or the falsehood of supernatural and metaphysical claims, is there any sense in asserting that any of them are true? Is there any sense in, for instance, saying that Ra is the only God, or that Yahweh is the only God? Does it make sense to ask: "do we go to heaven when we die, as Christianity teaches, or do we go through a process of Reincarnation (as certain strands of Hinduism teach)? No, it does not make any sense to ask these questions because we simply cannot observe Yahweh or Ra, and we cannot observe Heaven or the process of Reincarnation. Since we cannot speak of truth here, because we do not know which of these claims is true or which are false, does it make any sense to speak of "knowledge" in these matters? Obviously not, one cannot say that one "knows" that "Brahma" exists if one cannot know whether or not this statement is true.

11. I would like to point out that throughout this debate Con has accused me of ideological bias numerous times, and of lying, whereas in fact it is he who is ideologically biased, and has resorted to misrepresentation and quote mining in order to make his arguments. Furthermore, he has often addressed the form in which I have made my arguments rather than the substance of my arguments--without misrepresenting them, that is.

The debate was is "the statement 'MS is the only reliable source of knowledge' a scientific statement? According to the terms of the debate that were laid out in Round 1 (which was for acceptance only) I have proceeded to make my arguments in favor of that motion: I showed that MS was the only reliable field of knowledge in the areas over which it claims jurisdiction--which is a verifiable hypothesis, and has actually been verified--and, secondly, I delineated the conditions under which the proposition would be falsified--falsification being the method of demarcation between the scientific and the non-scientific--which were the following: if one could provide an example of an alternative to science that was just as reliable a source of knowledge as science, I went on to show that no such alternative exists.

Con has not actually presented any evidence to refute either of the two points I made. He has said that science cannot assess the truth or falsehood of supernatural claims, which was one of my points to begin with--that one cannot observe the supernatural realm and thus cannot judge any supernatural claim as true or false, and therefore, one cannot claim to have any knowledge of the supposed supernatural realm, invalidating supernatural claims as sources of knowledge--and has said that because MS has shown itself to be reliable in most fields it does not mean that it will be the only reliable source of knowledge in the future, which is irrelevant, as the claim was NOT "MS will ALWAYS be the only reliable source of knowledge".
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by ATHOS 1 year ago
disregard my last comment
Posted by ATHOS 1 year ago
I made a mistake in the voting I posted my comment and clicked on cast vote to early, oh well
Posted by medic0506 1 year ago
This formatting is really frustrating. I've done 20 debates and never had trouble with it. Anybody have any suggestions??
Posted by medic0506 1 year ago
Just rebuttals in general, doesn't matter which round. If you think of something in round 4 that you would have liked to have said in round 3, I think you should be able to do that, rather than having strict limitations on what we can talk about each round. I think that allows both participants the best chance to put forth their best case, without having to leave something out because you missed your only chance to talk about it.
Posted by HououinKyouma 1 year ago
One question, medic0506, for our third round, are we supposed to make rebuttals of our second rounds only, or also of our third rounds? Or should we just limit rebuttals to the previous round only--except, perhaps, for the last round, for the sake of order?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Sidewalker 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Despite PRO's repeated denied, I also found his argument ideological and his approach dogmatic, he never logically made his case, and his case didn't even seem to be in line with the task at hand as laid out for the debate. CON argued well and logically made his case. Although a couple links were broken, CON still gets my vote for most reliable sources because he did have sources, I didn't see PRO use any. CON also had better conduct as I think PRO did bring an "us/them" attitude to the debate and try to denigrate CON as some kind of dreaded and wrong "them" as if it were an ideological dispute. That all said, it was a good debate overall, CON just debated better.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro only offered evidence science was reliable, instead of offering evidence that the statement was scientific. Con, on the other hand, did offer evidence to contradict the claim, so arguments to Con.