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Is it rational to believe in God?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/23/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,592 times Debate No: 36956
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Is it rational to believe in God?

Firstly, I will define "God". By "God" I mean "the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being." Secondly, I will define "rational". By "rational" I mean "based on or in accordance with reason or logic".

Clearly, during this debate each side will have to make appeals to reason or logic, and not faith, in establishing their position.

I am opposed to the contention for essentially only one reason - no one has ever demonstrated to me the existence of God. All arguments I have heard for the existence of God have been demonstrably fallacious. However, I do not pretend to believe that it is impossible for God to exist. My question for my opponent is this: "are you able to show through logical argument, and using empirical evidence, that God exists?"

I will now cover several arguments for the existence of God that have been debunked numerous times.

1. The Cosmological Argument

Premise 1 (P1): Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature, or in an external cause.

P2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

P3: The universe exists.

P4: Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence.

P5: Therefore, the explanation of the universe's existence is God.

Clearly, P1 is a false premise. We don't currently have an explanation for the existence of the universe. We don't know why it exists. This argument should go no further as it's founded on a false premise.

2. The Kalam Cosmological Argument.

P1: Everything that began to exist has a cause.

P2: The universe began to exist.

P3: Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Once again premise 1 is a false premise. I mean, sure, everything we encounter in everyday life has some kind of cause, but I ask the the theist how can they know that everything that began to exist has a cause. Maybe there exist things completely outside our current understanding, that arose completely spontaneously.

3. The Moral Argument Based on Moral Values and Duties

P1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

P2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.

P3: Therefore, God exists.

From what I've seen so far, theists are incapable of creating a true first premise, and unsurprisingly, they continue to in this argument. Moral objectivism, also coined moral universalism, is the idea that a system of ethics applies universally, regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexuality, or any other distinguishing feature. it's not clear to me why the existence of God should change whether moral objectivism exists. I've never heard a reasonable explanation for why this is.

4. The Teleological Argument from Fine-tuning

P1: The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance or design.

P2: It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

P3: Therefore, it is due to design.

In this argument, premise 1 is unsatisfying, but essentially correct. Premise 2 however, is a leap of faith. Why can't the universe have arisen due to physical necessity or chance? This argument seems to be an argument from ignorance: we haven't discovered why the universe exists, therefore God created it. My question then is: what if we do discover why it exists, will God then cease to have ever existed?

5. The Ontological Argument from the Possibility of God's Existence to his Actuality

P1: It is possible that a maximally great being exists.

P2: If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

P3: If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

P4: If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

P5: If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.

P6: Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

Premise 2 is the most illogical statement I think i've ever seen. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being may exist in some possible world. I would allow that to pass, but the real premise is garbage.

I look forward to an insightful debate. :-)


Is it rational to believe in God?
I am not going to go into detailed proofs for God's existence. Although I do believe that these are real and powerful, I think that this debate is more about whether or not belief in God is rational. I offer four basic tests for rationality:

1. A belief is rational if rational people believe in it
Rational people believe in God. This is true now and throughout history. I will list a sample, of course, by no means a complete list. It is a list of some of the most famous and profound thinkers of history who had clear belief in God.

Nicholas of Cusa, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Descartes, Pascal, Boyle, Leibniz, Faraday, Mendel, Hertz, Pasteur, Planck, Lemaitre, Godel, Lejeune, Jaki, Miller, Page, Barr, Behe, Lennox, Craig, Aquinas, Feser, Okham, Anselm, Augustine, Lincoln....I could go on.

2. A belief is rational if it has parsimonious explanatory value of facts in our world
One example of belief in God having explanatory value is that it explains the fine-tuning of the universe. Anthropic coincidences exist in the universe. These are coincidences in the laws of physics that make stable matter, a surviving universe, and life possible. They are all coincidental in their values which all converge to allow this type of universe. It seems as though there is a wide range of values that each of these constants could take on. Because of this, it seems highly improbable that they exist by chance. It is theoretically possible that they exist by necessity (although there is no evidence for this as of now as far as I understand). If this is the case however, it only raises the question "Why do the values HAVE to exist in this way so as to allow for matter, life, etc.?" It does not close the questions but opens a new one--less of a physics and more of an ontological question- but a question all the same. The best answer therefore, and a parsimoniuos one, is a designer or small group of designers. This can easily be identified with God.

3. A belief is rational if it can explain deep mysterious of human existence and serve as a compass in life

Belief in God provides meaning, answers questions about life after death, explains morality in an objective way, and answers why is there something rather than nothing. It serves to explain human relationships and the deep mysteries of life. It provides hope for justice. It should be noted that atheists must accept that everyone they have ever loved will one day be dust, meaningless and forgotten. This is a cold reality. I hold that it is reasonable to adopt theism as a counter to this cold reality. I am not saying that this is necessarily evidence for theism, although it is a pointer to the rationality of such a belief because it means that religion does have something real to offer to the human experience.

Further, and more of an argument for theism, I would suggest that free-will is only possibly explained with an immaterial mind. Without the immaterial, free will becomes an illusion. However, this is unreasonable, given that human experience suggests free will is real. To deny free will is to deny the common sense of experience. However, how can materialism account for free will? Where does the freedom to chose reside?
Is it in the atoms of the brain? Is it in the natural processes of the brain? Is it in the nerve cells? Is it in the DNA of the nerve cells? If we say that it is in the brain, how can it be free? All material things are governed by the laws of physics. Some say that QM cannot play a major role in the brain. This would mean brain action would be essentailly deterministic. Others would disagree, however, even if brain action was not deterministic, it would be governed by the laws of physics as any other natural thing would be. There would be no way to insert free will unless an immaterial component of the human being exists. Here would be a major case against materialism and athiesm since atheism is fueled largely by materialism.

4. A belief is rational if there are rational arguments for its truth.

There are rational arguments for the existnece of God. These range from design arguments, to cosmological, to ontological and on and on. Some are more deeply philosophical, others are more scientific, others are simple and intuitive. To dismiss a tradition of theistic philosophy as irrational that goes back to the time of the greatest thinkers in history including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Avencia, Aquinas, Anselm, etc. Is simply and obviously the height of arrogance

Now I will offer a simple argument for the existence of God:

1) There exists in the world things that are contingent, namely things that could exist or could not exist.
2) Contingent things point outside of themselves for the explanation of their existence because they cannot explain their own existence.
3) If all that existed was contingent, all existing things would have to point outside of itself for the explanation of existence
4) There exists nothing outside of "all that existed"
Therefore, there must be something that is not contingent, i.e. something that is necessary and explains its own existence.

This is simple and not a thorough explanation of the metaphysics involved, but I think sound. Here is a brief defense of the premises:
1- Obvious to all of us
2- Since a contingent thing could exist but also might not exist, it cannot explain its own existence. Take for instance a unicorn. Why do unicorns not exist? Do they exist in an alternate reality? The answer for the first is because nothing caused them to exist, or the laws of nature or the proces of evolution or the conditions on earth are not such that the unicorns exist. This is the opposite of horses which do exist. In either case it is not the unicorn or the horse that explains existence, it is some external factor. Similarly, we do not know if horses or unicorns exist in an alternate reality, because we would have to know if they were CAUSED or EXPLAINED in that reality
3- This is true unless it commits the fallacy of composition. However, it does not. A fallacy of composition can be identified easily. Not every reasoning from part to a whole is the fallacy of composition. In this case it is not. The reason is that there is nothing about contingent things that when grouped together they make a necessary thing. Put in metaphysical terms, there is nothing about potentiality when put together it makes actuality. The reason is that potentiality is a form of non-being. In more simple terms, take this example: Would 2 contingent things need an explanation outside of itself for existence? Yes, because even if they are causes of each other, it createse a viscious circle. Hence the two things must point beyond themselves. Likewise with 20, 200000, or infintely many contingent things
4- Self evidnet

Hence a necessary being exists. There are certain qualities deducable about this being but for now suffice it to say, this is usually what is meant by God. For starters, since a necessary being exists by its own nature, the universe cannot be necessary because our universe once did not exist i.e. it is not eternal.

5. A belief is rational if the opposing view has serious flaws

Atheism has some serious wholes in its belief system. For instance, Lawrence Krauss a physicist said with regards to an ultimate explanation "as far as I'm concerned, its Turtles all the way down." This is an affront to reason.
Also, I saw a video about the Kalam argument. Although I do not think I buy this argument, the video did not try to debunk it reasonably but basically said 'since our brains developed to survive in the jungle, we cannot trust them to do this deep philosophy.' Another affront to reason.
Atheism cannot explain intentional states of the mind. What these are is when we are thinking "about" something, our thoughts point beyond the brain. But how can one piece of matter point to another? How can the brain point to a cat? How can a thought be "about" or have intrinsic meaning? How can a materail thing grasp the form, or essence, of something that is not? This is impossible to explain in materialist terms. Hence atheism lacks explanatory value here.
In an atheistic worldview, how can the human being have intrinsic value?
The atheist system also disregards obvious evidence for Christianity. For example, check out the miracles at Lourdes. Atheism must simply ignore these as made up basically.

Con's problems:
I'd like to point out a few flaws in con's arguments. Con's stuff is italicized

"Clearly, P1 is a false premise. We don't currently have an explanation for the existence of the universe. We don't know why it exists."
This is a fallacy. Not knowing is not the same as not actually having. The premise actually can be defended using metaphysics.
Anyway, we don't have an explanation of a lot of things, however everything must ultimately be explained. If it is not, we have an affront to reason. But isn't that the point of this debate? Wouldn't that mean that theism is more rational?

"I've never heard a reasonable explanation for why this is. Premise 2 however, is a leap of faith. Why can't the universe have arisen due to physical necessity or chance? This argument seems to be an argument from ignorance: we haven't discovered why the universe exists, therefore God created it."

First off, this isn't about why the universe exists but why the laws exist as they do. Second, it is no leap of faith, it is where the current scientific data leads. However, see above for my commentary on this argument. It isn't about not KNOWING, its about the in principal low probablity of the fine tuning occuring. Why is it that athiests reject design a priori as the same as "we don't know." look, maybe we do KNOW or have at least a good guess, its just that we have figured out the universe is designed?!?!

Debate Round No. 1


Asrooke forfeited this round.


Arguments extended
Debate Round No. 2


Asrooke forfeited this round.


Argument stands
Debate Round No. 3


Asrooke forfeited this round.


Dmot forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Asrooke forfeited this round.


Dmot forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by sweetbreeze 4 years ago
You can't compare beliefs with beliefs and see which are more logical! Neither are logical! It's rational to have any beliefs just like it's rational to believe in science. Evidence - that's the thing, isn't it? Science has support from evidence, so people think that science is more logical because of evidence, but they don't realise that it's a set of beliefs itself.
Posted by dj21 4 years ago
I see a disconnect between the title proposition and the argument. The argument seems to arguing against some kind of proof of God. The proposition is whether belief in God is "rational." Rational is a phenomenally low bar. I can't imagine a convincing argument that belief in "God" (as phenomenally vague and meaningless as that can be - even Richard Dawkins concedes that Deism is a valid idea) is irrational. One could pick a particular idea of God to target, but there are concepts of God so vague (pantheism and panenthism, in addition to Deism) that are basically atheistic. And certainly every bit as rational as atheism in that fun game of "my reality is realer than your reality."
Posted by mubaracus 4 years ago
I do not understand how your points refute my argument @Dragonfang
Can you be more clear?
Posted by Dragonfang 4 years ago

Actually his existence is explained by being a necessity. His abilities by being omnipotent.

Reefer to the problem of induction for the "We can't see" stuff. Also, you committed arguments from ignorance.

Also, when dealing in court we deal with psychology of others. Meaning that we can't really prove or disprove them any claim. There is only probable or improbable.
Posted by mubaracus 4 years ago
Sorry I had bad grammar in one of the paragraphs. In the 4th paragraph I saying that since the BOP always will rest on proving that Zimmerman had ill intent and there is no concrete evidence, logical will always make it reasonable to assume that Zimmerman could possibly make Zimmerman not guilty.
Posted by mubaracus 4 years ago
It can't be logical to believe on God because the belief in God is meant to defy all logic. Man invented logic. We created the circumstances in life which we think make sense. For example in our world it always logical for 2+2=4. Any other answer to this statement would be deemed as illogical.

Another good example is that in our world generally, an eye for an eye is accepted. If somebody hits you, then it only makes sense that you hit them back. Thus religion is generally illogical on these terms because specifically citing the bible it says "If you are slapped on your left cheek, turn to your right" (Not quoting word for word). So in one instance violence is allowed and the other it is condemned.

Therefore i my opinion it doesn't make sense to attempt to defend a belief in God by a basis of human logic. Any time a person does so, it is in fact fallacy because we hardly understand God who does not work in logical ways but try to support his existence with the same methods that other use to disapprove it.

My conclusion is that through our own logic we can easily disapprove of any instance in life we cannot see. For example citing the George Zimmerman case, we don't know what actually happened in the scenario. Thus we depend on logic to prove which makes more sense. Since the BOP obviously rests on proving that situation had ill intent to prove a crime but very little concrete evidence, logic will always disapprove make it possible for Zimmerman to not be guilty (not to say that he is in fact guilty).

Thus a person who believes in an Omnipotent being can never truly win an argument against someone who doesn't. To believe in God is to accept something supernatural that cannot be explained logically.
Posted by Dragonfang 4 years ago
Meaning morality is still changable, you still can't judge things. You can't call a genocider a bad person. maybe he had a different set of morals. Maybe our morals will change to accept mass killing in the future.
Even better, all "Morally wrong" actions can be justified by survival of the fittest. We can blame the guy for going for his benefit as much as we blame a lion eating an antelope. We can justify encouraing disabled people to suicide for efficency.

So yeah... The argument is more of a pressure tactic if you don't believe in God, since you have to either be irrational or believe nothing is wrong.

4. The Teleological Argument from Fine-tuning
Physical existence is dismissed because from nothing, nothing comes. An almost non-existent chance can be logically dismissed to assume the vastly most probable one.
The possible existence of many universes is used to dismiss an argument (Beliving something with no proof because they don't want to believe in something else?). This can't be proven or falsified. However, it gives other arguments a clear shot. Who started the first domino piece in this never ending sequence.

5. The Ontological Argument from the Possibility of God's Existence to his Actuality
Anything exists in some possible worlds unless it is paradoxal (Like a square circle, or the concept of a married bachelor, or the nothing stuff). There is a possible world where you didn't write this article, a possible world where my name is different, a possible world where Obama is not president.
So if God can exist, then he exists in some possible worlds. God being omnipotent, it would be a contradiction to not be all powerful in all worlds as well, including the actual world.

Arguing the existence of possible worlds is legit because we can't prove (or disprove) our own reality exists. You may be a brain in a vat. You could be having a long/never-ending dream. You could be in a virtual world. Everyone else could be a simulation p
Posted by Dragonfang 4 years ago
1-Cosmological argument

I believe only point 1 or 2 are deniable by a serious person.

P1: Denying it is equivalent to saying:

1: If the universe have no explanation for it's existence, then atheism is true.
2: If the universe have an explanation for it's existence, then God exists.
3- Atheism is true.
4- Therefore, the universe have no explanation for it's existence.

We must understand that there are two ways things can exist:
1- Necessarily, meaning they must exist due to their nature. (Explained better in the ontological argument)
2- Contingently, meaning they may or may not exist.

P2: God is the only necessity with casual ability. Which means he is the only explanation for the existence of the universe.
The universe is a contingent. Denying that is special pleading. Unless you believe that there are parts of the universe that science shouldn't bother explain because they have always existed.

2-The Kalam Cosmological Argument.
You are saying that something can come with nothing. Which is an impossibility established since the beginning of philosophy to be impossible. Nothing is the opposite of something. It can't do anything because it is not anything.

3. The Moral Argument Based on Moral Values and Duties
I believe that this is more of a "Pressure" argument. If it is true, then an atheist must accept that raping girls is not always wrong.
There are two ways to explain morality without God:
1- Social pressure. If the majority think so, then it is right. So if most people are Nazis then Hitler is the greatest man ever. If you are in a secluded island and your buddies want to torture and gang rape a girl from an enemy nation, then it is not wrong, you can't logically call it wrong because you will need to appeal to emotion. We make our own morality, and whatever the majority think should happen is the right thing.

2- Evolution
Posted by Asrooke 4 years ago
@Dragonfang How so?
Posted by Asrooke 4 years ago

Sorry if I've caused offence. In my defence I've simply responded to the propositions given in debate by theists. Religious freedom is the right to hold a belief without being persecuted for holding it. It is not the right to have your beliefs go unquestioned.
Once again sorry if I've offended.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by sweetbreeze 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: The resolution was "Is it rational to believe in God?". Con argued against the proof of God instead of the actual "Is it rational to believe in God?" resolution. Conduct goes to Pro, because he forfeited less than Con.