Is there sufficient evidence for God's Existence?
Debate Rounds (5)
These are the rules I propose:
1) That arguments/answers to arguments be clearly stated in full and neat sentences.
2) That we stick to the subject and not stray into other topics that deserve a separate debate.
I will take the position of Con and will argue that there is no evidence against the existence of God.
Note: this is my first debate taking the position of arguing against the existence of God, I am normally Pro in this debate, So I am happy playing devils advocate for a change.
Thanks to Pro for creating the debate. Please proceed and good luck.
CaritasVeritate forfeited this round.
I await your argument in proving there is evidence for God existing.
As I mentioned earlier, there are other ways to demonstrate God's existence, but these five are among the first that any human being will encounter. These are among the first because human beings rely upon experience (through reason, science, math, etc.), which is naturally bound to the "logical order" of the cosmos. This experience encounters both evidence in "act" and evidence in "effect." When we experience things in activity, such as a chemical reaction, we see the cause of change and the final product of that change. Furthermore, when we see some effect it follows that a certain number of likely causes brought about that product. The five causes that I am going to lay out draw evidence through effects to prove God. This is called efficient causality.
The first Way:
This is based upon the principle of "motion." This first points out that anything in motion was necessarily put in motion by some other cause. As Aquinas put it, "nothing can change from potentiality to actuality on its own." For anything to become active, it is necessary for some other activity to act upon it. This principle is also consistent with Newton's laws. Every motion requires some prior motion. However, it is not logically sound, or valid, to claim that the causes of motion precede into infinite time. Do to this, it necessarily follows that a First Cause be in existence. This First Cause was what Aristotle called the "Unmoved Mover."
This way goes back to what was mentioned earlier--Efficient Causality. Aquinas states here, "There is no case known in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible." Essentially, this is the same as the previous demonstration, except that it involves all beings in the universe, not just motion.
(these next three ways are a little hard to understand, so pay close attention. I will try to explain as simply as possible)
This way talks about the principles of "possibility" and "necessity." In this created universe, there are things that are possible to be and not to be (these are corruptible things). For instance, a flower has the potential to be and not to be: it can come into existence (by growing) and then go out of existence (by dying). These things that come and go possess possibility, but not necessity. For instance, it is possible for a flower to be for a time and then to go away, but it is not possible for the flower to always be, because anything which has the possibility "to not be" MUST at some point not exist. From this, if the world were only made up of things that have possibility (to be and not be), then it follows that at some point there was nothing at all; at a point nothing was in existence. But we know that nothing can come from nothing, so it is concluded that something MUST exist by necessity, which does not have the possibility to not be. This necessary existence must always exist, which means it is pure act (it does not go in or out of potentiality).
This way of proof talks about degrees of "goodness" or "wholeness." And everything in the world is "more" or "less" good. In fact, Aquinas defines that which is evil as the lesser good, or the privation of good (sort of like an empty, dry well that lacks water); evil is an emptiness of something that should be there. In any case, everything has a degree of goodness. What Aquinas is talking about is "gradation." We have ways of describing gradation, such as "hot", "hotter", and "hottest", or, "good", "better", "best." With this, Aquinas says, "the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things." He then concludes this way by saying, "Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God."
This way implies the principle of "governance" or "order" in the world. This is the example that Aquinas gives, "Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God." This argument of Aquinas can be applied to anything: every painting implies the existence of a painter; every law implies the existence of a law giver; and every creation implies a creator--God.
Now remember, these are not the only means of demonstrating God, but they are some of the first we encounter, even if we do not notice them at first. And these are also demonstrative arguments; there are also persuasive arguments as well.
I will now begin refuting my opponent arguments, Firstly I would like to point out how CaritasVeritate closes the 3rd round by saying his arguments are demonstrative in proving God exists, as if he can actually demonstrate that God exists.
I believe this is a false accusation, as a strong theist myself, and committing years of personal research into the existence of God with an obsession, I can confidently suggest that Gods existence can not be proven and neither can it be disproved, God's existence is unknown by any scientific and empirical means.
Although my opponent constructs arguments based mainly on philosophical principles, he should after deeper introspection come to the conclusion that Gods existence based on philosophical concepts are ultimately rested in faith, and indeed, as of yet any scientific argument rests also on faith. There is no evidence to prove Gods existence, I will concede that there are good arguments that strongly suggest Gods existence, but repeat the decision to accept them rests with the individual as a matter of faith and not proof.
Now I will attempt to tackle the 5 arguments presented by my opponent and propose refutations that there is no evidence to prove God exists.
:Note, seeing as my opponent never labeled his arguments with any specific title, other than 5 principles presented by Thomas Aquinas, I will address the arguments as 1 to 5 just like my opponent presented them and do my best to figure the rest out from there.
Argument 1, The un-moved mover..... Whilst it's acceptable for me as a theist to accept this principle. I will point out that I can only accept it as my faith and not as conclusive proof. I can see that this is what people call the God of the gaps argument. We don't know what caused the first thing to be in motion, so it must be God. Rather than calling it an un-moved mover, I will call it the un-known mover. as we just don't know. we don't know what exists beyond this universe and to assume that God is the only possible answer to being the first mover to this universe, would only be speculation and nothing else.
Argument 2, By my opponents own admission argument 2 is essentially the same as the first argument, only it applies to the cause of being as well as the cause of the universe. If my opponent thinks that his argument 2 has proved God is the first being, he is mistaken, I see no evidence to suggest that because A thing can not exist without sufficient cause of itself, that it means it must be God that caused everything, for example what then caused God. My opponent gives no account to why God himself is un-caused, other than just saying it must be so. again a philosophical concept based on faith. not hard strong empirical evidence.
Argument 3, I believe what my opponent is implying is another God of the gaps argument, Something must exist necessarily, that brought everything else into existence. Because the universe is made of of things that can possibly exist or not exist, it follows that even the universe may not have existed, and something must exist necessarily to bring everything else into existence.
Again, the answer to this riddle is un-known and God is inserted into the gaps as a faith based philosophical answer. There is no real empirical evidence of anything that exists necessarily as we can only explore the boundary's of our own universe, we can only speculate what must be beyond it.
Argument 4, Is the weakest of my opponents arguments in my opinion, My opponent states, and I quote.
And everything in the world is "more" or "less" good. In fact, Aquinas defines that which is evil as the lesser good, or the privation of good "
This argument is easily refuted using a reverse psychology, for example: I could say, " and everything in the world is more or less bad, in fact I define that which is a lesser good as more evil or the privation of evil. Even the good can be a curse.
See what is good or bad is mostly a subjective, another mans food is another mans poison, what is good for one person may be bad for another. Milk is very good for growing babies, yet for some it can cause allergies which in turn can cause sickness. Good and bad is always relative to an individual, it may be deemed good if I won the lottery although those who have won huge amounts of money end up destroying themselves with the same money they once thought was the best thing that could ever happen to them.
Argument 5, It seems he is implying that because there are natural laws and beings existing, something must have created them to follow a natural end. A simple suggestion to say this is so, is not enough, Again it is a question of faith I could easily deny that logic and replace it with, things are just the way they are and their is no natural end, we live and we die by reproduction, the laws of physics could just be the way things are also,, and again we can insert another God of the gaps argument, we don't know how everything works towards a natural end so it must be God.
We can not know if God exists or not, we can only have faith in deductive arguments, therefore a faith based belief is not evidence of Gods existence, and deductive arguments are not evidence but supporting arguments. And upon closer inspection any honest theist will admit Gods existence is ultimately a question of faith.
I thank my opponent and hope I can resolved the debate, although I am sure we will hear another counter.
Now to start, you said up front in your opening statement that God can neither be proven nor disproved. Since you presented no logical premise for this statement, this argument only becomes a claim. If you could show the foundations for this statement it would be very helpful.
Also, you said that God is beyond the reach of human apprehension, including science and other empirical means. What I do not understand is how you disqualify these natural, inquisitive means from investigating God. All you said is that these demonstrations cannot be accepted, on the basis that philosophy is just faith, essentially: "philosophical concepts are ultimately rested in faith." On what grounds do you equivocate faith with philosophy in matters concerning God? I see no grounds for this principle, and neither have you presented any. Now I am not saying there is no significant relationship between matters of faith and matters of philosophy, but both are definitely different means of investigation. Also, you seem to be implying that philosophy is not science. Where do we define that philosophy is not science? Even Isaac Newton considered his science as "philosophy of nature."
On the other hand (now I am not sure what your faith is), If you are referring to God as a personal God, and most religions do, who maintains some relationship with humanity, then that is a different matter for discussion. The philosophical proofs that I laid out suggest, fundamentally, that all being, whether animate or inanimate, demands a "First Principle", or "First Cause." And it necessarily follows that nothing greater than this First Cause can be conceived. This First Cause we can naturally call God, the Cause of all other causes. The arguments I presented do not suggest a personal God, and I"m not saying that there is no such thing as a personal God, nor am I saying that he cannot be proven, but we are not discussing the nature of God, only his existence.
The 5 arguments that Aquinas presents are logically bound, and since all men share in the same nature as rational animals, who use logic as means of understanding and inquiry. That being said, it must be binding on all persons as objective. In other words, if these arguments are logically sound and valid, then it they are true for everyone at all times objectively, not subjectively. When you used an example, saying that some things are good for some and bad for others, this is true, but the premise of the example indicates that conditions between persons have changed are contrary. If milk is beneficial for one person and then bad for another, that concludes that there is a physical intolerance, or tolerance, in one person that is not in another.
Now that I have some feedback, I will try to further explain some of the arguments to make them more clear:
In arguments 1 and 2, both conditions necessarily require this First Cause for their own existence. The reason they seem a little redundant is because, in the first case, we are considering activity/energy. In the second argument, we are talking about physical beings. In both cases, however, the need for a first Efficient Cause is demonstrated; any being cannot take credit for its own existence, and no motion can be brought about without some previous motion to create it. And, I am sure that you recognize the principle, "nothing can come from nothing." I said that all things we see have "potential." Also, any potential being or motion does not activate on its own, but they are acted upon in order to become active. Thus First Efficient Cause is necessary, which we can call God.
In the following argument (3), it continues to talk about the nature of potentiality. All material things we encounter, including ourselves, can either be or not be. A man, for instance, is either living or not living. Well, since we have already determined that First Efficient Cause is necessary, then everything that "can be", must at some point "not be." This goes for the entire universe; since everything in the world has potential, then at some point it all must not have been. This is not easy logic to grasp immediately, but it is still sound and valid, which is why I said it requires close attention. In the end, if everything has potential to be, it must first not be. And again we are facing similar necessity for First Cause. It also follows that in order for this first cause to act upon potential being, it itself cannot have potential; it must be completely Act, which is another way of saying that this First Cause must be infinite.
Now regarding the 4th argument, probably what I should have done is explained what Aquinas called the good, which Aristotle also asserted. Now all things have been defined as having some end/purpose. Now the degree in which something fulfills that end is a measurement of its perfection. And when Aquinas uses the word perfection, it is used in the sense of "completeness" or "wholeness." So that which is evil for something is a "lack" of that completion. In other words, evil is the undoing of some order. So, if something is deprived of a certain intended and appropriate order, then that is considered evil. This is what I meant when I said things are more or less good. Evil is the privation of the good/created order. Now when I was referring to the system of gradation, something that is hot, for example, does not take credit for its own heat, but it has been given by something else that is hotter. And Aquinas says that the maximum of any genus is the cause of that genus. Thus, the goodness of something gives credit to something that is greater, or rather the greatest. This Greatest Good we can call God, or Who is All Good; the primary source which all goods come from.
Last of all, the 5th argument says that we cannot speak of creation, or the natural law of order, without acknowledging a creator, or a law giver. The universe demonstrates "order" and "plan" left and right. Science contributes to and supports this. There must be a law maker for order, and there must be a planner for a plan. These things cannot exist on their own.
To conclude, I don"t see anywhere in these 5 ways where faith comes in, and neither is there any premise to conclude that these ways are faith bound. Because man (all men) is a rational animal, we are governed by laws of reason; and since man is bound by these laws, man is not privileged to claim authorship to the evidence of God, and neither does he have the privilege to deny it. It follows, thus, that we can at least confirm God"s existence is rational; we have not inserted a question suggesting that the "nature" of God is rational; that is another question entirely. What we are considering is only the existence.
However I find much is wrong with the way he has tackled my responses to his arguments and instead of addressing my conclusions to his arguments, he has only re-instated the same arguments in a new thread, I have already answered all the 5 principles he has offered, that he Believes is proof for the existence of God, and to which I have challenged that they are not proof or evidence of God, but are instead supporting arguments, which ultimately depend on the individual in accepting the conclusions on a faith based principle, My opponent seems to think they are water tight arguments that are sure proof and evidences that God exists, and also encourages me, as well as the audience to accept them to be scientifically sound.
My opponent even tries to challenge me to provide proof of my claim, that God can neither be proved or disproved, whilst I may note that the entire burden of proof is on my opponent to provide proof that God exists, as he is the one defending the Pro position, I have taken the Con position, and my obligation is not to prove God does or does not exist, but to be able to show that the arguments that my opponent presents are not evidence or proof that God exists.
I rebuttaled all 5 of my opponents principles in my previous round, but my opponent has not challenged my rebuttals individually, instead he offers a paragraph where he rebuttals all my points all together, and then re-instates the same arguments all over again, as if I never understood them the first time.
The only genuine rebuttal I can see made by my opponent is that I have confused philosophy and science as being mutually exclusive. Whist I never actually made that claim, and do not hold to it, because indeed science can depend on philosophy to reach conclusions, and vice versa. I will contend that the 5 principles my opponents points out, do not scientifically prove God's existence, but are conclusions reached by faith based concepts that start out with scientifically and end up philosophically..
For example: Whist it seems scientifically true, that an un-known mover should exist, that set everything else in position, we have no scientific evidence that this mover is God, it can only be speculated that it must be God, based on a philosophical principle. not a scientific one. It's seems scientific that an Un-known first mover must be there, but what it is, is reached through speculation and not science.
Such is the same for the second argument, My opponent believes that because an infinite regress is impossible, that a being must have always existed, that was necessary, to bring all other beings into existence. He calls this evidence of Gods existence, rather than taking it for what it really is, a faith based concept. For example, Whist abiogenesis is still scientifically unproven to be the start of all material life forms on earth, it is still the best candidate along with R.N.A theory, for the origin of all life and is the most probable candidate in the current scientific community. In other words science has no answer to the origin of life, and it certainly has no good empirical evidence of it being God.
Being a theist myself and having invested years of my life into research, I can safely assume that the scientific community do not have evidence of Gods existence, The only strong supporting arguments can only be found in philosophy and not science. It is not my obligation here to provide proof that science can not provide evidence of God, it is my obligation to refute the arguments presented by my opponent as scientific or empirical proof of God, As of yet I fail to see where my opponent has provided any scientific or empirical proof of Gods existence. Instead he bases his arguments on some scientific principles and then relies on a philosophical conclusion, Like the origin of life must be God, or the first mover must be God, instead of realising the conclusion to these principles are only reached through faith. Otherwise we would have have the atheists bang to rights, but as it stands an atheist can contend such principles with alternative conclusions, or yet no conclusion at all. As they simply do not know how the first being came to exist or the un-known first mover, they refrain from speculation, because no matter how strong the supporting argument is to suggest God exists, there is no proof of God existing.
I would like to address argument 4 again, which my opponent does challenge and point out that I used an objective argument when I claimed good and bad are subjective, I should have extended it to being both subjective and objective as I have portrayed in my previous argument. Milk is objectively good for some whilst is may be objectively bad for others. and a lottery win might seem subjectively good to begin with, until the results can turn both subjectively and objectively bad. My opponent seems to think good is all over the universe as opposed to degradation, when in fact all over the universe is just that, degradation, which is what the second law of thermodynamics is a degradation of all matter all over the universe, entropy is only one way and is irreversible, so whilst my opponent makes a claim that good is interwoven through-out the universe, the science tells us quite the opposite, that entropy is actually degrading all matter and energy throughout the cosmos and not improving it for the good but is destroying it until one the principle of entropy will cause everything to disappear into oblivion..
Conclusion, None of the arguments presented by my opponent can prove that God exists, but only offer if I am generous, strong supporting arguments for the existence of God, My opponents wants to refuse this resolution and continue that he can prove God exists. I reject his arguments as solid proof and further state that by the arguments he presents you can not reach a conclusion that God exists without resorting to the ultimate step of faith.
I now hand the debate back to Pro, and also ask the audience to seriously consider if we can prove that God exists or if we can offer strong supporting arguments to reach a conclusion based on faith that God exists.
First, you have been complaining that I have only re-instated my demonstrations, instead of addressing your conclusions. I repeated/rephrased these positions, rearranging my wording, in case there was the possibility that you did not understand them. I will not presume that you didn"t understand them, but I cannot also make a presumption that you did. Also, your conclusions have not been counter-demonstrations. If you believe that my demonstrations are false/weak, then you have to point out the weaknesses, and demonstrate how they are weak. You cannot just claim they are wrong and substitute some hypothesis of your own.
Secondly, I want to address an ongoing problem with your reference to God. It seems that you consistently consider my arguments as proof of a personal, relational, personified God, which is an image most religions depict of God. The arguments presented can in no way demonstrate a God whose consists of a "personal" nature, and with whom man can maintain a relationship. Also, I am not speaking from a religious point of view. One could, perhaps, argue the possibility of a personified deity, but not demonstrate. Personal nature, such as this, could only be proven by means of revelation (aka faith). Considering a Primary (First) Cause, however, that is responsible for all other causes is another matter entirely; science and logic are capable of demonstrating this existence. This First Cause we can naturally call God. For, if God is not the first of all things, then he is dependent on some greater cause; and if god is efficiently dependent, then he is not God. So, we can call First Cause God, but that doesn't make him personal.
Thirdly, you made it sound perfectly clear that you believed that "real" evidence can only arise from scientific, or should I say empirical, proofs. You said in your first response (round 3), "Whilst it's acceptable for me as a theist to accept this principle (principle of motion), I will point out that I can only accept it as my faith and not as conclusive proof." And in the following round, I quote, "I can safely assume that the scientific community does not have evidence of Gods existence, The only strong supporting arguments can only be found in philosophy and not science." This sounds a bit like a naturalism speaking (which concludes that science can"t know anything beyond the physical/tangent world). Granted, there are many levels of science, and not all of them point immediately indicate the first cause, but they all complement each other. Through the fundamental sciences, like physics, chemistry, biology, etc., higher levels of science are capable of demonstrating the first cause. Essentially, every science falls under the category of "reason." The five ways that Aquinas demonstrates are metaphysical demonstrations, but we could not have these demonstrations without some understanding of physics. This is why philosophy and science are inseparable. Remember what I said from the very beginning, that this demonstration is based on "a posteriori" evidence, not "a priori." In other words, evidence is drawn from the effects of the First Cause. From these effects we witness order, and from this order come the higher sciences, namely philosophy. This is not speculation.
Now concerning your last response to the 4th argument, Aquinas has defined good as a perfection. And all perfections have some particular end. Given that this universe is bound by the laws of entropy, science has the conclusion that the world cannot last forever. Eventually, many years away, life will no longer be sustainable. Science has thus argued that the world has a beginning and an end. But a contingent world"a world that is based upon potentiality"naturally comes to an end (which is found in the 3rd Way). The inevitable end of the universe doesn"t deny the good; rather, it acknowledges the good. All creations have some plan, and all plans must have some end. Of course, the end of the world sparks many other questions which science cannot answer. Science cannot tell us about the nature of God. The unanswerable questions of God"s nature must require faith.
I will hand over the final statement to my opponent. I just want to thank you once again for participation. And I hope all who read our discussion will benefit from it.
I will now clear up a few points I find my opponent has mis-interpreted.
Firstly, I have been accused by my opponent for not supplying a counter argument to his arguments which he counts as evidence for the existence of God, I supplied 5 rebuttals which countered all his arguments individually and he did not address them in the same order I addressed them, instead he claims in a foul swoop I am wrong, without even providing the reasons to each individual argument as to why I am not justified in my rebuttals.
Secondly my opponent has charged me in thinking I have approached the arguments with reference to a God who is personal, I have never made an appeal to a personal God or the character of God in any of my arguments. Instead I find it is my opponent who tries to portray an appeal to Gods character by claiming, that goodness is inherently throughout the universe. I rejected from the outset, that My opponent can provide any evidence of the existence of God, That has always been my contention, Nowhere did I distinguish between a personal God or deism. I am happy to contend my opponent has provided no concrete evidence for either.
Thirdly, my opponent has charged me with making an accusation that evidence for God can only be proved in scientific terms, This was never my contention, Instead my contention was that there is no empirical evidence of God provided by my opponent, I granted that the arguments presented by my opponent start out with scientific principles but ultimately end up in philosophical conclusions. Such as the scientific understanding of motion and everything in motion is dependant on a previous motion, but faced with an infinite regress, we must arrive at an un-known first mover, my opponent calls this God, But has no empirical evidence of God, only stating it must be. And this is where I contended that he is applying a God of the gaps argument, Such as the ancients did when they saw thunder, thinking what else could it be but the wrath of God, un-be known to them, thunder is caused due to a reaction to a fluctuation in the weather.
What caused the first thing to be in motion? By a deductive argument we can assume it was God, but that's it. we can not prove it's God. According to Stephen hawkings, A leading physicist, God is not needed to light the blue touch paper.
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing.
So we can see God is not the only conclusion to this mystery, and I doubt God can be proved beyond all doubt to be the first mover, as I have stated many times, it remains a question of faith based on strong deductive arguments.
My opponent argues that all 5 conclusions to all 5 principles are bound by logic and reason, but I may bring it to the audiences attention, that neither reason not logic are concrete evidences, for indeed logic and reason can result in reaching false conclusions. Example: whilst it may be logical for Mary to reason that her husband will come home at 8 pm as he has done every single day for the past 20 years, one day Mary's logic and reason failed to apply when her husband never returned home, simply because Mary's husband had a heart attack in work and died. So in conclusion, Mary used her logic to reason that Jeff her husband would most certainly come home that night as he has always done. Little did Mary know that logic and reason are not conclusive ways to reach certainties.
Lastly my opponent counters my argument that entropy is all over the universe and breaks down everything, he proposes that this bad,( which is entropy breaking everything down to a level of deterioration ) is part of some divine plan that will all become clear and make sense once our beautiful universe is destroyed. I fail to accept that logic. I do not believe that even the bad is good is some sense. Truly evil people do exist, and do not consider Fritz who raped and molested his daughter in a basement for a large portion of her life is in any way beneficial to anybody. Or other rapists who kidnap and molest young girls only to dispose of their body's without a second thought.
As a theist myself, I will admit to believing in God, it's my faith. I do not declare that there is evidence for God existing, instead I will grant that there are strong supporting arguments that can lead one to have faith in God, but as of yet has never actually proved God exists.
I thank my opponent for a great debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by GarretKadeDupre 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Wow, very interesting debate on God's existence. Unlike most, it was relatively simple, easy to read, and straight to the point. I give arguments to Pro because his arguments were not only somewhat new to me, and convincing, but Con's rebuttals were not satisfactory. For example, Con tried to prove that the law of gravity means God doesn't need to exist, but this rebuttal was invalid, because Pro had already explained why any law requires a God. Conduct to Con because Pro, unfortunately, forfeited a round. In summary, I think both sides supported their positions intelligently and professionally, but Pro made an extremely convincing case for the existence of an intelligent God.
Vote Placed by tmar19652 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not meet the burden of proof and therefore loses the arguments point. I will also dock pro the conduct point for the round 2 forfeit.
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