Is there a non-fallacious logical argument proving the existence of God?
Debate Rounds (5)
BoP is on Pro.
As Con, I will defend the resolution that there is no non-fallacious logical argument which proves the existence of god.
As Pro, my opponent will argue that there are one or more non-fallacious logical arguments which prove the existence of god. Pro is welcome to defend existing arguments of debatable legitimacy such as those conceived by Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Averroes, Kant, etc.
"God" is used loosely here to refer to an intelligent entity which created the world; does not need to be the Judeochristian god.
Pro is welcome to make their arguments in the first round. I will attempt to prove that they are fallacious, inaccurate or otherwise illogical. May the best arguments win :)
I will first point out an ambiguity in the title of this debate and go on to explain my position: It is not clear whether or not you are attacking teh logical validity of the arguments for God's existence or the soundness. Since anyone can make a valid argument for the existence of God (e.g. 1) If the universe exists, God exists; 2) the universe exists therefore God exists). this is probably not what is meant. So the way I understand the question is whether or not there are any arguments for God's existnece which are sound and valid, i.e. suceed in demonstrating God's existence. I think that there are such arguments. This is what I will be defending and if I misunderstand the question, please correct me.
As for good arguments for God's existence, I think there are a good chunk of different levels of certitude and of different styles. I will defend one based on metaphysics. Due to the fact that this is a debate forum and not something like a book, I cannot spell out each and every detail or every metaphysical principle on which this argument depends. So any big questions that it might raise I hope to address and then work from there, but there is no way where I can provide a 100% fool-proof, air-tight demonstration God exists in this space. In any case, I will do my best to show an argument can succeed in demonstrating (at least with great probabliity if not absolute proof) that God exists.
Substance- A substance is basically anything that exists. A substance is made up of two "parts" or components as it were: essence and act of existence.
Essence- Essence here will be used in a broad sense to mean what something is. It can be thought of as the description of the thing. We need not rely on what is known as a strict "essentialism" (a philosophical position in which essences are real components of things and not merely in the mind) because the piont for this debate is that there is some sort of reality that can be described, in other words, there is something real to be descibed. Take for instance a dog. A dog is a type of thing. A dog is a dog, therefore, it is an essence. Now, we need not worry about philosophical issues about the exact nature of a dog, what makes it up, whether or not it is a collection of atoms only, etc. The point is that there is an entity such that it can be described as a "dog." Essence can be seen as a description. As such, it exists as "potential" because there is no reason why a description alone has to describe something real. It can exist as a mere abstraction
Act of Existence- Existence is the quality by which an essence is made into a substance, in other words, that which makes a description describe a reality. Existence makes essnece real
Potential- Something is potential or possible if it is inherently logical and therefore could theoreticaly exist but in itself doesn't. So a story book for instance might or might not describe history and it might be historic fiction, therefore, we say that it is potential or possible. The story alone doesn't exist or create reality or tell us if it describes reality, but there logically could be a reality which it describes.
Contingent Substance- A substance is contingent if it is a composition of essence and existence that are separate.
Necessary Substance- A substance is necessary if its essence is identical with existence.
2. The Argument
Premise 1- Every Contingent substance requires an external cause to exist
Premise 2- The sum of all contingent substances is itself a contingent substance (i.e. all contingent substances considered together)
Conclusion 1- The sum of contingent substances requires an external cause to exist
Premise 3- Since that which exists outside of all contingent substances must be a necessary substance (logically) it follows that If any contingent substance exists, so does a necessary substance.
Premise 4- A contingent substance exists
Conclusion- A necessary substance exists
3. Defense of the Premises (Conclusions 1 and 2 follow from premises 1&2 and 3&4 respectively)
1) A contingent thing is that which is a combination of separate essence and act of existence. This means that what a thing is does not tell us whether or not it exists. The "what" and the "that" as it were are separate. A contingent substance therefore can be described, known, evaluated, and considered without knowing whether or not the thing exists. This is because the essence, which is what is described, known, evaluated, or considered, is itself merely potential or possible. It might exist but it might not. In order to make the potential (essence) into something real (substance) it must be joined to an act of existence. There are therefore two logical possibilities that follow from this:
a) The act of existence is joined to the essence by something (that thing is what I mean by cause, so in other words, this means that the thing is caused).
or b) The act of existence is not joined to the essence by anything (i.e. it is uncaused).
Now as for a, there are two deeper possibilities: First, the essence could join an act of existence to itself (self caused) or it could be joined by a different substance (caused by something else). As for the first option, this is impossible becase it means an essence acts without an act of existence, in other words, a mere essence acts as a cause. For this to be the case, something that exists in a merely possible state would have to make something real. An abstraction (essence/description) would somehow have to generate an act of existence while at the same time not yet existing. The cause would be prior than itself which is a self-contradiction. Therefore we are left with the second option, namely, another existing substance causes the essence in question to be joined to existence and thus the conclusion would be an external cause is necessary in order for a contingent substance to exist.
As for b, this would by definition mean that the essence in question did not exist and therefore there would be no contingent substance to begin with. One might object saying "b does not state that the act of existence is not joined to the essence, only that it is not joined by something. The problem is that since an essence cannot join itself to an act of existence and at the same time is not idential with the act of existence and further simply because it is logical does not mean it is real (there is no reason to suppose that something logical entials that it exists and also there is observational evidence to the contrary) then it follows that there must be a reason why it is there in a contingent substance to begin with. Take an anology: A room is lit by a bright light. We do not see the light bulb, the sourece of the illumination, however we see that the room is bright. We immediately reason to a light bulb of some sort or perhaps the sun is shining through the window because we know that the room itself does not contian the principle of the light. To say that the room is illuminated but simultaneously is not illuminated by anything is to say essentially a contradiction. Likewise, we cannot posit that a contingent substance exists while at the same time there is nothing to account for the essence and existence being joined.
In conclusion, b is false and we must accept premise 1 as true.
2) The sum of all contingent substances is itself a contingent substance. Being a contingent substance requires 2 basic things: 1) Essence and existence are distinct, 2) Essence and existence are both present, in other words, it must be real and describable.
Now consider one contingent substance. If all that existed was one contingent substance, it would follow that the sum of contingent substances (SCS for short) is itself contingent. The question then is if we add more contingent substances. Consider two contingent substances, the sum would be both of these considered together. The essence of the SCS would be the essences of the two contingent substances each considered. Would the fact that there are two contingent substances mean that we now have a principle of existence within the essence and therefore a necessary substance? No. The reason is that with two contingent substances, there is still no reason in principle that their essences are identical with their existence and therefore do not need a cause. The essence of the SCS is simply the same essences that make up contingent things, in other words, are merely possible and alone cannot give anything reality. in short, since the sum of the two essences is simply the two essences, we have not added a reason why they must exist. Another way of seeing this is that two possibilities do not add up to a necessity.
It is easy to see how from here no matter how many contingent things we have, they do not add up to a necessary thing and therefore the SCS can be described (essence) separate from existence
3) This simply follows by logical necessity from our definitions
4) Obviously things exist, the only question is whether or not anything has an essence distinct from its existence. I claim that the computer I am using does. First of all, it can be described completely without invoking real or unreal. Second, its parts have no intrinsic relationship (pieces of metal) to have to work together or be joined. Third, this computer has not always existed. 20 years ago, it wouldve been a mere idea and abstraction, exist as a potentail, and therefore it has an essence distinct from its act of existence.
4. The Conclusion
The conclusion that follows is that at least one necessary being exists. That is, at least one being has an essence that does not exist as a mere possibility because the essence simply is existence. This being is what is known as God, what is described in the Bible as "I am Who Am" and there are various "Divine" traits that it must have which I will discuss at another point but in the interest of space I will leave for another round if it comes up.
Ithacus forfeited this round.
i guess my opponent concedes
Ithacus forfeited this round.
Ithacus forfeited this round.
Ithacus forfeited this round.
Dmot forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by KingDebater 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had arguments and didn't forfeit.
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