The Instigator
jamccartney
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
Dmot
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points

Is there a god?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Dmot
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 887 times Debate No: 42831
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (19)
Votes (1)

 

jamccartney

Con

Hello.

I read your comment on my debate and believe that you want to debate me. So here it is. I will list the same points I mentioned in the the other debate:

1. The universe can be explained without the existence of God.
2. There is no evidence that there could be a God.
3. If God created the universe, who created God?

I believe those points to be correct. If you can manage to prove those wrong, like you said, then you win.

I look forward to this debate.
Dmot

Pro

I would like to thank Con for debating this topic with me. I will start by saying that for this round I will only briefly comment on your points as you have not yet elaborated on them and then I will post my core argument for God's existence. In your next round you can elaborate on your points.

The central point I am going to make is that God is not a being among others, another player in the universe that happens to have great power or be especially important in causing the universe. God is not a force that got things going and is not just "the man in teh sky" as it were who happens to take a liking to human beings. My conception of God is fundamentally different. This is because God is the fundamental reality. Now, this argument could be greatly expanded on but for the sake of this debate I will keep it relatively short. Maybe in a further round I will add more to it.


Premise 1- That which has recieved existence had to recieve it from something that posesses it (an effect must have a cause)
Premise 2- There cannot be an infinite chain of substances having recieved existence (there cannot be an infinite chain of cause-effect)
Conclusion- Anything with recieved existence must trace itself back to something with existence that is not recieved.


As for premise 1 here is my defense: Recieved existence means that the thing itself, that is, what the thing IS (its nature or essence) is not the principle for the thing's existence. The essence of this kind of thing can be explained, known, and described whether or not the thing actually exists. A unicorn for example is a type of being. It has an essence and can be described, yet we cannot deduce from its essence whether or not it exists. The same can be said of a dog. However a dog exists and no unicorns do (at least as far as we know). What accounts for this? it cannot be a distinction in the essences of a dog and a unicorn as both are logical possibilities. Therefore there must be something outside of the essence that is the principle of existence. This means that the dog's existence is explained not by its intrinsic nature. Yet it does exist, therefore, there is something added on to the nature of a dog to make it exist. This thing had to be "recieved" as it were by the nature of dog. The nature of the dog alone is a mere "possibility" which cannot make itself real. Something simply possible cannot and does not have the power to generate is own reality. As such, it had to recieve existence from something that had it to begin with. Premise 1 then is: That which has recieved existence (anything that has an essence distinct from existence) must recieve it from something real.


Premise 2 can be defended because if there were infinitely many things recieving existence yet no termination in the series, it would be equivalent to saying nothing exists. There would be no initial principle of existence. Imagine I have a recipe that is from my mom. Who gave my mom that recipe? She recieved it from her Aunt who recieved it from her father and on and on. If everyone had the recipe only as a matter of recieving it, there would be no principle origin of the recipe (i.e. no one wrote it). This would entail that it did not exist. Similarly, imagine a train with carts. The last cart has no engine yet moves on a flat surface. This means it has "recieved" motion as motion is not explained in the cart itself. Perhaps it is pulled by a cart in front of it. Imagine this cart to was being pulled by another and had no engine. If there were a chain of infinitely many carts with recieved motion this would mean there is no engine (by definition). yet no engine means no motion. Therefore we must posit an origin to the motion, something without recieved motion but with it in principle (a train car with an engine). These analogies show that there must be a termination to the regress of recieved existence.


The conclusion is a being that does not have recieved existence but which has it by its own nature. This being's nature would have to be existence itself. Now existence itself could not be divided and therfore is simple. It could not be limited by any sort of nature as it is simple existence (therefore it is infintie). Existence itself exists by necessity and therefore exists forever and as such it is eternal. It must be immateiral as material things are never simple (they are composites of some sort--at least they are composites of a distinct essence and act of existence). By being immaterial it would have the ability to know, as immateriality is the basis of knowlege. These are a brief list of traits a necessary being would have to have. It is not an exhaustive defense because of the character limit. Philosophers like St. Thomas have defended these traits.


My main point is that God is the being that gives the universe reality, not the force that started it off. Think of a book. We do not look at the book and say chapter 1 is the cause and therefore we need not have an author. It is true that chapter 1 is the cause of the subsequent events. Chapter 1 may explain the plot, setting, characters and theme. It may be written according to the plot and the laws of grammer and all. However, it is a different kind of cause than the author. The author is what gives the book existence on paper. Chapter 1 needs an explanation just as chatper 10.


Now for your points:

1) This is not so. The reason is that the universe and that which is in the universe does not have "necessary existence." If it did, it would be eternal because that which exists by necessity cannot fail to exist. However the universe is not eternal, therefore it is not necessary. Since it does not exist by its own nature, it has recieved existence.

Now, some physicists recently have argued that the laws of physics explain the universe. What they really mean is that the laws of physics can explain the beginning of the universe, not why there is a universe at all. I will elaborate on this point later if necessary. However there is no way in principle for science to explain WHY we have a universe. Science can invoke the laws of nature and more fundamental laws. However these are mere mathematical descriptions. They cannot explain why these mathematical descriptions describe something real. Stephen Hawking made this point in his book "A brief history of time."


2) If you are looking for scientific evidence as if God was a hypothesis then this is a bad idea. God is not an explanatory hypothesis in the universe but an ultimate basis for reality. As such, there isn't the same kind of evidence for God as for a scientific theory. There are however many good philosophical arguments for God such as those given by Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Avicenna, Plato, Aristotle, just to name a few. Check out Dr. Ed Feser for a good Aquinas philosopher of the modern world. There are other lines of evidence that aren't just philosophical for example anthropic coincidences and miracles which I might discuss later.

3) This is an elementary objection that has a fatal flaw: When one posits God, they are not positing another contigent being in time. God is the conclusion to the argument that there must be a fundamental base of reality (like what I gave above). This would entail NECESSARY existence. In other words, God could not in principle be caused. God exists by His own nature. Now this is not just asserted, it is argued for. In fact, God is simply the term used to mean "the being which exists by its own nature" and from there other traits (like power, goodness, etc.) are argued for. So God could not have a cause by the type of being that God is.


If your third point was a serious objection to theism, theism wouldve fallen a long time ago. Serious philosophers don't make that point because they understand that God is the type of being that could not in principle have a cause. There is need to invoke a cause of things which are finite, contingent, have recieved existence, are composite, etc. but not the absoultely simple, eternal, necessary, and infinite being.
Debate Round No. 1
jamccartney

Con

Hello and thank you for responding.

I will explain my three points in detail.

The first point states that the universe can be explained without the existence of God. You said that the universe does not have a "necessary existence" and that the laws of physics cannot explain why there is a universe at all. I agree, physics cannot explain why there is a universe, but other sciences can.
One thing that intrigues me is that people say that it is silly that the universe just popped out of nowhere and came into existence, but they think it makes perfect sense for a god to have done that. It's a paradox. It really is.

The second point states that there is no evidence of a God. I have not seen any evidence and would be happy if you pointed it out. When I see the universe, I see a place that has come together due to certain basic laws that govern how the universe works. Now, I understand that you may be thinking: How did this all happen in such an orderly way without the intervention of a god? Many scientists have come up with the theory that there are trillions of universes. If that is so, then there are millions of possibilities of outcomes. It all comes down to the probability, which in our case, was very high.

My third point states that if God created the universe, who created God? You keep talking about how it is illogical for the universe to have been created from nothing, and then you say that God had no cause. Those two statements are contradicting themselves. You see, if you can't explain the universe, you can't explain God. You say "God could not in principle be caused", but that does not work. It works just as much as saying the universe popped out of nowhere.

I will now talk about what you said:

"The central point I am going to make is that God is not a being among others, another player in the universe that happens to have great power or be especially important in causing the universe.""My conception of God is fundamentally different. This is because God is the fundamental reality. Now, this argument could be greatly expanded on but for the sake of this debate I will keep it relatively short. Maybe in a further round I will add more to it."

What I believe you are saying here is that you believe that God created the universe, and has essentially left it alone. This is a fact in which I can slightly agree with, only because I have never seen any evidence of a god. But because I believe that the creation of the universe can be explained without a creator, I refuse to believe it. I prefer to keep looking for answers. Now, your idea of God being part of reality is interesting. You are attempting to describe reality using God. Because science is still struggling to determine what reality is, there is nothing I can really say to prove it wrong. But being a man of science, I choose to never give up until I have proof.

I want to point out that Stephen Hawking no longer believes in God, so he is working to understand how the mathematical equations exist. He no longer thinks they are explainable by God.
Dmot

Pro

Thank you for your response. I have a few points to make:

First, you did not really address my argument. I will restate it in a brief manner. Basically, the jist of my argument is that everything that exists has to have a principle that explains its existence. Since we see around us contingent things, that is, types of things which their own essences do not contain the principle of existence, it follows that these things have to be traced through a series of causes explaining their existence. However, if everything were contingent, there would be no principle of existence to begin with which would be an absurdity, so it follows there is a being that has existence not accidentally but essentially, that is, its essence is the same as its existence. Now this argument, if the premises are true, demonstrates with certainty the existence of a necessary being, one that has an essence that is the same as its existence. In my first post I gave reasons to believe that this necessary being has various qualities. I will elaborate a little bit here:
1- It must be eternal because to exist by necessity is to exist always and forever by definition
2- It must be not composed of parts. If it were composed of parts, it would exist THROUGH those parts (just like I exist insofar as my organs exist) and would not be necessary in itself. Since its essence is simply to exist, it does not exist THROUGH anything but BY its own essence.
3- It must be infinite. Things are limited by a specific limit on their nature (for instnace we cannot fly because our NATURE is HUMAN nature and human nature does not posess the capacity for flight). However, since the necessary being does not have anything to its nature other than the very act of existence, it follows that this being is infinite
4- It must be immaterial because a material thing cannot be simultaneously infinite and simple (infinite in size would imply divisibility, a point which would be simple would imply finite)
5- Powerful- as it is the cause of all things, infinitely powerful from #3
6- Intelligent- As infinite being it cannot be said to be limited. However, if it lacked knowledge, it would be limited. Further, an immaterial thing by definition has the capacity to contain in itself the idea (or essence) of many material things because it is not restricted by matter

I could go on, the above is a very brief list to illustrate a point that this necessary being must have certain traits. Again, look here:http://dhspriory.org... for more on these points (there are other sources as well, this is just one among many).

Now on to what you said. What you said is in bold, my comments in regular print.
physics cannot explain why there is a universe, but other sciences can.

What sciences? See this is impossible because science necessarily appeals to some sort of laws of nature. It cannot get out of this explanatory circle as it were. Because of this, it can explain how the world works, including how it began (at least it can in principle if not yet in reality) but not why it exists.


One thing that intrigues me is that people say that it is silly that the universe just popped out of nowhere and came into existence, but they think it makes perfect sense for a god to have done that. It's a paradox. It really is.

My argument actually shows why this statement is false. The point is not that God popped into existence. Rather, God always existed. Further, God didn't just "happen" to always exist, rather this is a necessary consequence of the nature of a necessary being. Now, you might respond "but the universe is necessary" however this is false and I will give 3 reasons:

1) The universe is finite in time- science tells us this
2) The universe *could have been* otherwise, including its physical laws as physicists both speculate on alternative laws and cannot deduce from the mathematical consistency of laws whether or not they describe reality, indicating, they do not exist by necessity
3) The universe does not exhibit the qualities a necessary being must have, for instance, simplicity or immateriality


Since the universe is contingent, i.e. it has recieved existence (not derived from its own nature) it follows that it has an external cause. We must trace this cause back to a first cause that has existence essentially and is eternal and by definition not only is not caused but could not be caused.

The second point states that there is no evidence of a God.

But why isn't the philosophical argument I gave evidence? God is not a testable hypothesis where we look for experimental evidence. God is the necessary conclusion of deductive arguments. So there may not be inductive evidence for God, but there is deductive proof. Further, you mention the universe coming together from basic laws. The first problem is that it assumes laws have casual capacities which is dubious to begin with. Second, even if they did, they would not exist by necessity because their essence is not simply existence. Stephen Hawking pointed out they are "just a series of mathematical equations, what breathes fire to give them a universe to describe?" --thats just a paraphrase but the point is that alone they are not necessary

The multiverse has nothing to do with this. How does it? It perhaps has relevance to a design argument but did I give a design argument?


As for your point about the universe being uncaused, see what I said above how the universe cannot be a necessary being. I would also like to elaborate on why asking "what caused God?" is uninteligable according to the metaphysics in question. God is the name given to the being which exists by necessity. That is the conclusion of my argument, namely, that there is a being which exists by hte necessity of its own nature, its essence simply is to exist. This being is the explanatory ultimate of why there is anything rather than nothing. As such, it is a termination to the regress of causes and is uncaused. Now, it is not uncaused in the sense that it just happens to not have a cause but exist anyway. It actually could not have a cause but exists anyway because it is the TYPE OF THING that exists by the necessity of its own nature. Its essence is existence. A cause is what gives existence to another thing, but how could anything give existence to a being which has it by its very nature? To ask what caused God is to ask "what caused the by definition uncaused first cause?" its an absurd question. The argument I gave and that is articulated throughout history is an attempt to end the regress of causes and to explain that which needs no further explanation (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Augustine, etc. gave arguments like this, so its unlikely these arguments can be refuted by a qustion like "what caused God?"). See, the conclusion of the deductive argument is not merely to ASSERT an uncaused cause, but to DEMONSTRATE it. Now, you may argue about the various traits an uncaused cause has. That is why I gave arguments as have many philosophers for these traditional traits. These traits are manifestly different than the traits of the universe, so you cannot say the universe is uncaused, as the universe is obviously contingent (see the three reasons I gave above). So saying "maybe the universe is uncaused" is not logical whereas to say "maybe God is uncaused" is necessarily true. See what I'm getting at? At least don't you see why a simple objection like this is a bad one? I mean if it didn't stop the world's greatest philosophers from believing, don't you think it at least likely it has an answer?


Moreover, I did not say God created it and left it alone. Rather, I said God gives the universe reality and is the explanation of why the universe exists, including here and now. That says nothing about God's activity in our lives. Also, I am a "man of science" as I study neuroscience. I just see science has limitations and philosophy can prove the existence of a necessary being. What scientific finding in principle COULD IN THEORY undermine my argument?







Debate Round No. 2
jamccartney

Con

jamccartney forfeited this round.
Dmot

Pro

Do you concede my points?
Debate Round No. 3
jamccartney

Con

Hello. I believe you have beat me in this debate. I just do not know how I can clearly state my points, just because I do not have enough reasoning. Maybe we can debate this again one day, but for now, you won. Thank you for debating this topic with me.
Dmot

Pro

Thank you for the debate.

I encourage you to reconsider your position. Check out http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com...
a good philosopher. I suggest his book "The Last Superstition" on Atheism
Debate Round No. 4
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Dmot 2 years ago
Dmot
Just. Reminder to con, debate argument due in less than a day
Posted by Capitalism194 2 years ago
Capitalism194
Oh lord, can everyone shut and listen to the actual DEBATERS?
Posted by Dmot 2 years ago
Dmot
@Dawn,
I don't even get what you are saying. Does this argument have anything to do with the Bible?
Further, I gave two simple reasons why this being must be eternal and infinite, if you would like better explanations read my link from a historic great philosopher-Aquinas.

I will summarize my point quick though to give you the basic of my argument:
1) Eternal- A necessary being must exist eternally. To exist by necessity means it HAS to exist. In other words, there is no possible state of affairs in which a necessary being fails to exist. To say otherwise is to state a logical contradiction. So, it follows that this being must have no beginning and no end.

Further, by being necessary in itself, its essence is existence, it could not be dependent on another for existence. This means it is independent of time itself for existence.

2) Infinite- Something is limited by a specific nature. The necessary being's nature is simply to exist. There is nothing that can be said to intelligably limit pure existence because this would mean its essence is existence limited by X, but this would mean X is part of the nature.

@ProjectID Yes God is Good. See my link for more details but basically insofar as a thing is in being, it is good. Also, something is good if it is the goal or end of something else. There are various arguments that establish God is the end of all things, therefore, the ultimate good of all things. A short argument would be God cannot have any end other than Himself in creating. This is because there is nothing to add to Himself as He is infinte being. Therefore, the only end He could have in creating is to express/manifest/share in His own being/glory. It follows that He is the end of all things. Now that is brief and only a comment but thats the basic argument
Posted by dawndawndawndawn 2 years ago
dawndawndawndawn
What these, modern, theists miss is that the words and ideas that they use are -totally- modern.

NO ONE who wrote the bible EVER conceived of galaxies or the Big Bang.

They start with fiction and try to mold it to shape fact
AND they behave as if those who wrote the bible and have foisted it's ideas
for the last, two, millennia, could think of such things.
Posted by dawndawndawndawn 2 years ago
dawndawndawndawn
There is no rule, anywhere, that states that things MUST be, "eternal", or "infinite".
It is just silly to state that eternality and infiniteness are ubiquitous.

There is no proof that there ever was nothing to start with.
Posted by Projectid 2 years ago
Projectid
@Dmot : Do you think God is good?
Posted by Dmot 2 years ago
Dmot
It isn't a neuroscientific proof. Its a philosophical one. Which I have briefly outlined. You are arguing backwards. You do not need to first define a soul. We first proceed from what we do know (humans think) to what this entails. I think that my argument demonstrates, given proper metaphysical premises, that intellectual activity cannot be material by its very nature. Therefore, it is outside of the scope of neuroscience. The point I was making is that neuroscience does not show anything to the contrary and arguing that it does is incorrect.
Posted by SimpleObserverofThings 2 years ago
SimpleObserverofThings
"4) Can you explain to me how modern neuroscience can disprove the soul as you seem to imply? Personally, I study neuroscience and actually know a little bit about it. Because of this, I think that you are making an incorrect assumption." I'm not disproving it, just stating that it is unlikely, tell me, because I'm not a neurologist, how can you and your family member reason that in fact we do have a "soul". First off you would have to state what is a "soul" afterwards I would think it would have to be analyzed and demonstrated to exist. Such a finding would land you an instant million dollar paycheck from the James Randi foundation.
Posted by Dmot 2 years ago
Dmot
The ontological argument? No. I have not attempted to explain any argument for God in the comments. I have in my debate. The ontological argument proceeds from the concept of God to the existence of God. My argument proceeds from the existence of contingent things to God, a different argument.

In my comments I summarize my points as follows:
1) Even though you can say something is *possible* it does not entail that it is *true* unless you make an argument for its truth. I am attempting to make a deductive argument for the existence of a necessary being. I think my argument suceeds, in which case, it does not show that a necessary being *might* exist but that it does in fact exist. Therefore, I do not need to observe it or detect it in any direct way as I have an indirect argument showing that it does in fact exist.

2) The argument for the immaterial mind is basically as follows: Thoughts mean something; material things have no inherent meaning, therefore thoughts are by nature immaterial and therefore there is an immaterial component to man. This is an argument that rests on philosophical premises which if I had more length/time could defend. The point is that I do not need a scientific argument to make that point. I do have an understanding of the brain however and realize that nothing in contemporary neuroscience overturns such a conclusion nor do I know what even could as the premises are philosophical.
Posted by SimpleObserverofThings 2 years ago
SimpleObserverofThings
So what you're attempting to explain to me is the Ontological Argument?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 2 years ago
johnlubba
jamccartneyDmotTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession.