Is the Existence of a God Logical?
First round acceptance only.
God: the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe. (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
Existence: The state or fact of having being especially independently of human consciousness and as contrasted with nonexistence. (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
Logical: Agreeing with the rules of logic : sensible or reasonable. (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
Note: I put this debate in the philosophy category because this debate will be more about the laws of cause and effect and the ideas of nihilism and materialism rather than scripture.
Looking forward to an enlightening debate!
First of all, let's introduce these philosophical principles. The law of cause and effect states that for every effect there is a complete cause and for every cause there is a definite effect. Nothing can occur without cause, and a complete cause will inevitably have an effect. A 7th-century Buddhist philosopher named Dharmakirti wrote in his Pramana-vartika (Commentary on Valid Knowledge), "What can prevent the effect of a complete cause?" The answer, of course, is nothing. This principle shall be the idea on which the majority of my argument shall be based.
The secondary philosophical principle is the idea of immutability. This term simply means that something does not change. The existence and state of a subject is permanent.
Here are the reasons that the idea of a creator or god is illogical.
Genesis 1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." If I am interpreting this correctly, then it would logically follow that there were no heavens or earth before the "beginning." Since the ancient people who wrote these scriptures understood "the heavens" to mean the very fabric of space itself, this must mean that before the Creation there was nothing. And by nothing I don't mean emptiness. I mean no reality, no existence. It is important that this distinction be made between emptiness (the existence of a space-time that has nothing inside of it) and nihilism (the idea that no space or reality exists). So already we see a flaw in this idea of a divine creator. If there was nothing before the Creation, how could there have been a creator? There would have been no reality for a God to exist within. And furthermore, God must have popped into existence as he created reality! You can see that this is a logical fallacy. If reality exists because of God, and God exists because of reality, then there is no way for this idea of a creator to hold true.
Let's assume I misinterpreted the scriptures and that instead of nihilism before the Creation there was instead emptiness. Sometime before the Creation God simply appeared without a cause. Why do I assume that it was without a cause? If there was nothing in this universe, there are no phenomena occurring that could cause a God to exist. So we are forced to assume that God came into being because of...himself. So now we must ask ourselves the question: can something be its own cause? To this I say no. If something were to cause itself, it would create an infinite string of paradoxical thinking. Assume something were to pop into existence because of itself. For this thought experiment, we'll split the thing into two different forms of itself, "cause" (1) and "effect" (2). Say 1 caused 2, and 2 occurred because of 1. If 1 caused 2, we must ask, what caused 1 to cause 2? The answer to this is 2. Simply repeat the idea infinitely. 1 caused 2 which caused 1 which caused 2 which caused 1...Illogical, right? I certainly think so. There must be a first cause to all phenomena. For example, from a scientific standpoint, the cause of any phenomena can be identified--the Big Bang. The reason that something cannot cause itself is because there is no extraneous first cause. In an infinite string, which came first? The answer is neither. This must mean that the existence of God had no first cause and therefore is illogical. If there is no extraneous first cause, the effect cannot occur. Something causing itself is the same thing as an effect having no causes. So what if there was a first cause? Something that created God? Well then we must ask what created it? And what created the thing that created God, and so on and so forth. It's another infinite loop and therefore an impossibility.
Looking forward to your arguments!
Although I believe God is immutable, I do not agree that "something" does not change. Certain things do change while others do not change. You state: "The existence and state of a subject is permanent". What happens when we die? I am sure you will agree that our physical existence or state is definitely not permanent.
You are correct stating that there were no heavens or earth before the beginning. However, I disagree with your conclusion that the ancient people who wrote the scriptures mean that before Creation there was nothing. The scripture you quote supports my statement.
Genesis 1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The writer obviously believed God, a Spirit, was present before Creation. There might not have been anything material or what we consider as nature around but it is stated that there was something supernatural present before Creation.
You state: "So already we see a flaw in this idea of a divine creator." There is only a flaw when you exclude the supernatural. The flaw is actually not considering all the options that includes the possibility of the supernatural.
You further state: "If there was nothing before the Creation, how could there have been a creator? There would have been no reality for a God to exist within." The Bible states that God is everlasting. Although I do not know what exactly God does or how He does it to be everlasting, I do understand the concept. The concept is not unreasonable and time is often associated with the idea. No one can determine when time began or if it will ever stop, but it exists and is a reality. Everlasting means that there is no beginning or end. In other words, there is no cause. However, this can only be true of something that is not part of this material naturalistic Creation. As stated before, the God of the Bible is Spirit who transcends Creation. He is not bound by the limitations we observe in Creation. You state again: "If reality exists because of God, and God exists because of reality, then there is no way for this idea of a creator to hold true." You mention two options although three are available. God is everlasting, therefore His existence is a realty. It's then not a matter of dependencies.
You ask: "So now we must ask ourselves the question: can something be its own cause? To this I say no. If something were to cause itself, it would create an infinite string of paradoxical thinking." Again your question poses problems for nillhism and the idea that realty is an illusion. Can nillhism have caused itself? If yes, then that refutes nillhism. If no, then how are we even able to discuss nillhism? And again, is nillhism a reality or an illusion? And however you may answer that question the next will be, is that a then a reality?
I disagree with your statement that "There must be a first cause to all phenomena". Observing a material creation does not justify including the supernatural into the conclusios that can be derived from materialistic observations. Nillhism deals with what is materialistic and natural.
You say: "For example, from a scientific standpoint, the cause of any phenomena can be identified--the Big Bang". Science limits itself to nature. This is only true of what is naturalistic or materialistic. Things become really weird if there was nothing before Creation or the big bang. How can nothing cause the big bang. You stated yourself that something cannot cause itself. It is absurd to think nothing can cause something. Nothing cannot even cause nothing. The way you present Nillhism makes the Big Bang also impossible leaving no logical explanation why creation exists. But the facts are we are here existing, busy debating.
You conclude: "So what if there was a first cause? Something that created God? Well then we must ask what created it? And what created the thing that created God, and so on and so forth. It's another infinite loop and therefore an impossibility." The infinite regress argument actually makes the idea of God as stated in the Bible logical as the origin of Creation. Asking who created God, and then who created that etc etc can also be applied to the big bang. What was first? Heat or a molecule? A molecule then what caused the molecule and then what caused that etc etc. The infinite regress argument do not provide any answers or solutions to the problem it poses if you only consider that which is natural. It's like asking, what does the color blue smell like. Eventually it must conceded that something materialistic could not have caused itself and that the answer must be looked for somewhere else. The logical alternative is that something supernatural that possess the quality of being everlasting, without beginning or cause, could be the cause of Creation. Therefore the God of the Bible who is everlasting and transcends creation is a more logical explanation than what science or nillhism can offer.
You ask what caused the idea of nihilism? Philosophers in the 17th and 18th centuries who contemplated the idea of nihilism, including Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, who asked, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" No, nihilism is not a reality. As far as you and I can perceive, we live in a very much existentialist reality rather than a nihilist one (or lack thereof).
You say that there were no heavens or earth before Creation but that there was some existence or reality. If I am understanding you correctly, you mean to postulate that there was emptiness rather than nothingness. I don't know if this scripture inherently means that God was present before Creation, but I'll agree to interpret it as such henceforth for the sake of argument.
About your interpretation of immutability: I was not claiming that everything is immutable. God also cannot be both immutable and have no beginning; I'll address this later. Your point about death simply proves that human physicality is not immutable. I never claimed that it wasn't.
You say God is everlasting. Here's where the trouble comes in. If God has no beginning, then he must have been around for an infinite amount of time before the creation, right? So he had been around forever and then he just suddenly, spontaneously decided to create the universe as we know it. This proves that God cannot be immutable because something influenced him to decide to create. Therefore, his mental state changed to create the idea of Creation. God thus cannot be both immutable and everlasting.
There are a number of reasons that he may have made this decision. There must have been some event occurring externally that influenced him to create the universe. Possibly another supernatural being somehow put the idea in his head. Perhaps a nonexistential event (impossible) caused him to create the heavens and earth. You may argue that the decision and its causes were internal. This is impossible because the mind is influenced only by external stimuli. God, having existed forever in a space devoid of matter or consciousness, would have had no reason to come to this conclusion.
The most important problem with the idea of creation, however, is our current definition of a god. The definition that you agreed to for this debate was an all-powerful God. The truth is that if anything whatsoever influenced God to create, he is no longer all-powerful and thus not a god. We are forced to conclude that there must have been something influencing him, because he spent an eternity doing absolutely nothing and then suddenly came to the conclusion that he must create the universe. He could not have made an internal decision because that would be an effect without cause because he had had no outside experiences.
Yet another problem: let's consider God's existence before the creation. The probability that he would create the universe at any particular time is one in infinity, correct? This is synonymous with the mathematical quantity of infinitesimal, which for all intents and purposes is equal to zero. Thus, we can conclude that at any given point in time the chance of God creating the universe is 0%, correct? From this logic we can make the assumption that there is no chance that God created the universe, because at no point in time would there even have been a chance of Creation.
Why do you disagree with the laws of cause and effect? These rules do not pertain specifically to materialistic or purely natural causes. A supernatural cause can also lead to its related effect. The supernatural is not excluded as a possible cause for phenomena. But the idea of an event occuring without a cause, whether it be natural or otherwise, is ludicrous.
You seem to be misunderstanding nihilism. What you are talking about is existential nihilism, which argues that there is an inherent reality but that the scope of the universe means that nothing humanity ever does matters. I was simply referring to nihilism to make the distinction between "nothingness" and "emptiness."
You ask what is my explanation for creation? I agree with you that the mainstream scientific idea of the Big Bang is not in synchrony with the laws of cause and effect. Thus, I subscribe to the Buddhist philosophy that our universe is one in an infinite string; that the Big Bang was the result of the end of the previous universe. It is a scientific theory that at some point in our universe's future the acceleration of space will stop and reverse itself, eventually resulting in a "Big Crunch" and bringing about the end of our universe. Modern Buddhist scholars say that this scientific concept makes sense and is in accordance with their philosophy. This theory has none of the inherent flaws of Creationism yet also is in accordance with the laws of cause and effect.
Eagerly awaiting Pro's response!
You say "So he had been around forever and then he just suddenly, spontaneously decided to create the universe as we know it. This proves that God cannot be immutable because something influenced him to decide to create". Yes something did influence God to create, He himself, and therefore He can still retain the attribute of immutability. See below regarding the Trinity. The problem here is that immutability does not apply to all aspects concerning God. His essence and being is immutable. Take for instance the human race. A human is immutable in the sense that he or she is flesh and bone from the moment they are born until the day they die. During a humans life span many decisions (a change in state of mind) will be made, that will be changed and even not carried out but did the person at any time stop being flesh and bone? The reason a person's being does not change when a decision is made is because being human is not dependent on decisions they make. Even if you decide today that you are not human, you will still be human. In the same way God can make a decision without it affecting His immutable qualities. Your conclusion is a contradiction that "God thus cannot be both immutable and everlasting". By definition that which is everlasting is uncaused because everlasting had no beginning and do not have an end. Everlasting IS an immutable quality. If it could change, like have an end, then it was not immutable to begin with.
You say "You may argue that the decision and its causes were internal. This is impossible because the mind is influenced only by external stimuli". This argument may apply to Allah who is only one person but not to the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is Spirit and exist as a Trinity of three persons. The Bible states that creation was made for the Son to glorify Him. The Father loves the Son and therefore creation came into being. The decision was therefore internal without external influences. The motivation is love, which is a personal internal motivation between the Father and His Son.
I fail to see how ANYTHING that influenced God to create will make him no longer all powerful. It seems to me that you think all powerful is the ability to do whatever you like, perhaps you can define it for future clarity. This is not the case. All powerful encompasses the idea that everything will submit to God's will in the end because God have the power to make it so. God cannot lie because God chooses not to lie. Making the decision not to lie does not make God less powerful because the attribute of power is not dependent on whether anyone can tell a lie or not. It is also obvious looking at the natural world that your decisions does not automatically influence your ability. If you decide to go work out in the gym today, did you immediately become more stronger or less powerful right there and then when you made the decision? Again, your conclusion that God could not make an internal decision may apply to other gods but not to the God of the Bible. Your argument, by implication, that an internal decision is probably a logical explanation why creation came into being therefore fits in with what the Bible teaches and makes the existence of the God if the Bible more logical than what other explanations can offer.
If God could create creation at any given point in time like you say then it is more reasonable to conclude that at any given point in time the chance of God creating the universe is 100%. If it was possible for God to create at any given point then He could have done so in any and every second of infinity. Therefore it is not one possibility in infinity to create but millions, billions or whatever numerical value you can associate with how long into infinity you think God created. If God could create at any given point because the possibility was an ever present conscious option to Him, then it is more logical that He would have created than not. The other problem with the probability is that God could have decided to create but then waited before He did so. Nobody including God is under any obligation to make a decision and then to immediately carry out that decision.
I do not disagree with the law of cause and effect but rather disagree with your conclusion used in your example that therefore that which is supernatural must also have a cause. If the supernatural is not excluded from the rules that apply to creation then it will not be SUPERnatural anymore. SUPERnatural can only be above that which is natural if it transcends it and are not bound by that which apply to the natural creation. You state: "But the idea of an event occuring without a cause, whether it be natural or otherwise, is ludicrous". I disagree and already explained that everlasting cannot end nor begin therefore it is an uncaused reality. The God of the Bible is from everlasting, without beginning or end.
You say that "Modern Buddhist scholars say that this scientific concept makes sense and is in accordance with their philosophy." The theory of a previous universe does not solve anything and the same problem that cause and effect pose for science is also applicable to the Buddhists view. One of the previous universes must have had a cause because it could not have caused itself. If not then the infinite regress argument also apply and therefore the Buddhists explanation becomes irrational because it cannot solve the problem it faces or give and explanation of how everything began. The book of Revelation predicted 1900 years ago that this earth will end. In the book of Peter it is stated that this universe will come to an end. It's always refreshing to see that science is finally catching up. Prophecies like that found in the Bible is a clear indication of SUPERnatural information that could only have been passed on by a supernatural Being. 1900 years ago there was no way scientifically that anyone could naturally have come to the conclusion that this universe will end, but Peter and John did based on information received via a supernatural source. One last thing regarding the regress problem, and I'm not trying to be sarcastic, but I would have expected enlightened souls to know the answers to such questions instead of creating more questions.
I apologize. I cannot post right now. I will post a lengthy argument in Round 5 rebutting your arguments in Round 3 and whatever else you wish to add this round.
Let me also clarify my position regarding what was before creation when the subject of nihilism was discussed. Before creation there was Spirit. There are other verses in the Bible that specifically says this. One says; before you formed the earth, from everlasting thou are God (my paraphrase). In other words, I do not believe there was reality (a general reference), or space or emptiness. There was a personal Spirit being who is an uncaused intelligent reality. Because I believe this I expect to see some form of intelligence in creation. It is a common fact now that everything contains some code imbedded in it's make whether it is DNA, wave lengths in the air or the atom. If the world really came about spontaneously then I would expect to see things destroy itself for no apparent reason (the big bang was apparently an explosion and from experience we know an explosion can only destroy). You would expect to see things appear out of nothing before your eyes, laugh all you want but this is what science tells us happened. The question science cannot answer is why we do not observe this happening anymore. This is the claimed basis for existence, the underlying law that is suppose to govern us, who changed these laws that it does not work that way anymore? Those of you who would like to comment, please do not tell me I do not know how science works, it's the so called spokesmen for science who does not realize someone needs a lot more faith to make the transition from nothing to something.
Logic: Logic is independent of Evolution. What was and is true will remain true. If Rational capabilities were a result of natural selection then our reasoning abilities will be unreliable and therefore not trustworthy to be used as a basis for any other meaningful investigation.
Truth: Truth is the point where all disputes stop. Truth is not subjected to so called evolutionary rules of change. Truth brings an end to what is considered changeable and contradicts the evolutionary theory that what is today will be changed tomorrow. If everything around us were really subjected to unguided transformation then what is true can never have existed. What would be true today would be a lie tomorrow because it is supposed to be subjected to constant change that we have no control over.
Justice: The concept of justice is meaningless if there is no afterlife. The fact that the idea exist indicates that the knowledge had to be revealed by a being who has access to supernatural information because man in his natural state cannot grasp the concept by observation. If a man kills 20 people and steals his whole life and nobody brings him to account for what he has done, how would you deduct that justice exists? If the man do get caught but commit suicide and stop existing, how would justice be served? The idea of justice has a point, a final instance, where everyone has to give an account of what they have done. This is what is taught in the Bible. The Bible teaches that people cannot escape Justice by ending their lives and therefore Justice becomes meaningful and rational.
Round 4 arguments:
You say "if God had loved the Son all that time, why would he not create before?" We get some glimpses in the Bible of what everlasting is. It states that one day is as a thousand years for God. Counting infinity and experiencing infinity is therefore two different things. Deciding to do something and waiting to execute the decision in no way determine whether you love someone or not. Again, there are many examples using a natural family to get this point across. However, many times a parent decide to do something and the child is impatient and will then make foolish claims that the parent does not love him or her. The fact is, if the child really loves the parent, then they will be patient and not doubt each other's love. This should be sufficient to show that there was no new factor needed to alter anyone's decisions and I still maintain love was the reason Creation came into being as the Bible states. If you look at creation, you find that humans have everything they need to take care of themselves and be self sufficient. That is what I would expect to see if the Creator was loving. Yes, PEOPLE do mess it up for each other, but the fact cannot be denied that the Creator loved his creation and gave it the means to sustain itself. I will just briefly mention again, all powerful does not mean God can do anything, this is because God CHOOSES not to do some things. God is all powerful in the sense that He can do and choose not to do things but in the end He is still able to carry out His will and make everyone else to submit to it. The Bible states that there will be a day that everyone will meet the Creator and that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Again "for something to be completely immutable, it has to remain completely unchanged" It is possible for something that is an immutable fact to coexist with things that are not immutable without changing its immutability. The difference is that the mutable things cannot change the immutable and works therefore in the framework of that which is immutable. Lies vary and change but no matter what the lie is or how it differs from subject to subject, a lie is immutable because it always is something opposite of the truth. The immutable attributes of God relate to being and essence. The human race as far back as we can observe have always been flesh and bones. That is the immutable being of a human. Old humans die, new ones are born and they all share flesh and bones. Decisions are made, physical appearance change but that does not change the immutable being of humans. As pointed out , if you decide you are not flesh and bones today, it cannot change the fact that you are and will remain flesh and bones. Therefore it should be clear that mutable things can function in a immutable framework and do not have the power to override the immutable as you claim. Again: "something to be all-powerful, it cannot be changed in any way (mentally, physically, existentially, etc.)." God is omnipotent in the sense that He can do anything but also choose not to do some things. Choosing not to do something does not make him less powerful. God chooses not to lie. Can a lie make you as a being more powerful or less powerful? Of course not. There are many other examples of things that can change without affecting the degree of power you have. Your statement is therefore not correct. "Nothing can make a purely internal decision. Psychology tells us that all decisions are influenced, at some level, by external experiences." Yes perhaps in some respect, if only one person was involved. Psychology make this assumption because they teach the sub conscious mind exist. Whenever you point out a decision that someone can make without external influences then they fall back on the sub conscious mind excuse. The sub conscious mind is just theory, it has never been proven. It cannot be subjected to the scientific method, but people still claim it is scientific. This is not applicable to God. "These are all perceptions that are influenced by societal expectations, so it would make you less powerful mentally, but not physically." If you choose something and are able to do it, although you cannot do it you are more powerful in the sense that you have power over that which you choose not to do. It does not make you less powerful mentally. "Even with the other entities that comprise the Trinity, this is still impossible, because the other entities also have no experience and thus cannot count as an influence." The persons experience each other. "How can the chance of God's creation be 100%?" If God was conscious of the fact that He could create at anytime then it is not a probability of one in infinity. Let's say you think about buying a yo-yo all the time. You have the money, you are in good health, you think of all the good times you will have using the yo-yo, you know where to get it, you love the yo-yo's then what would be the chance of not going out to buy it? That's my point. "The law of cause and effect must also apply to supernatural causes." If the law applied to the supernatural in the same why that it applies to that which is natural then there would be no supernatural." Reality, in its purest sense, has and will exist forever." Reality refers to something that already exist. Reality itself as a general definition cannot create, it can only refer to something that can create. It does not solve any problems of origin. We also know that some reality can be an illusion (especially when using drugs) and some reality is true and a fact. Who was responsible for reality? What was the reality and who determined what it was? How did it come into being? A general reference to reality creates questions and it does not provide answers. General reality as defined is not personal, unintelligent, neutral. How can an unintelligent reality make a decision to start creating? Reality is possible to experience by us because we as intelligent beings that can perceive it. A rock is also a reality but does not have any abilities we can observe so that we can classify it as intelligent? Can a rock produce another rock? Maybe a book? It cannot, but it is a reality. This is the problem with "a reality" that existed that had no intelligent capabilities. If the reality did have intelligent capabilities in order to make the decision to start creation then it is obviously that which we refer to as God. You can't have it both ways. "It appears that there may be just a slight difference in how the end of the universe is described, but just because two things agree does not mean they are true." I stated that so called science are catching up with the Bible. Whether it is true CAN be proven when it happen as opposed to the probability that it will happen." It does not mean that one is "finally catching up" to the other." Yes it does, the Bible has been saying that for over 1900 years. Show me other scientific journals that predict the same thing 1900 years ago."All of your arguments about the Big Bang have no relevance" I mentioned this and gave definitions of some things that in my opinion present problems with so called scientific theory. Since Buddhist claim that science is compatible with their view it also means that the same problems face the Buddhist. If they do not subscribe to the whole theory and only choose that which they want to believe then it is not honest to claim science in whole as support for their views. Thank you too for a great debate! All the best to you!