The Instigator
Rational_Thinker9119
Con (against)
Winning
2 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

It Is Possible That A Maximally Great Being Exists

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/11/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,690 times Debate No: 35510
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)

 

Rational_Thinker9119

Con

In this debate, it will be my opponent's burden to establish the truth of the relevant modal possibility of a maximally great being (who has necessary existence, if it is possible for this being to exist). It will be my burden to show that my opponent has not established the truth of the relevant modal possibility of a maximally great being.

The first round is not for acceptance, as my opponent will provide an argumet in the first round. However, in the last round, Pro must simply put:

"No argument will be posted here as agreed."

I look forward to a challenging exchange.
KeytarHero

Pro

Once again, I thank Con for instituting this debate. As per the rules, I will make my opening argument in this round and will not argue in the last round.

To add some context, we are debating the first premise in Alvin Plantinga's formulation of the Modal Ontological Argument. The argument goes as follows:

P1: It is possible that a Maximally-Great Being exists (MGB).
P2: If a MGB exists, then it exists in some possible worlds.
P3: If a MGB exists in some possible worlds, then it exists in all possible worlds.
P4: If a MGB exists in all possible worlds, then it exists in the actual world.
C: If a MGB exists in the actual world, then a MGB exists.

We will not be debating the argument as such, I will only be defending the first premise in this debate. Before I begin, I would like to define what a MGB is.

A MGB is a being that exhibits all great-making properties to their maximal extent, and no lesser-making properties. A Great-making property is any property that is better to have than not to have (e.g. love, power, wisdom, etc.). This includes the property of Necessity. A lesser-making property is one that is worse to have than not to have (e.g. corruption, greed, etc.).

So my case will rest on two points: 1) No one has ever shown God's existence to be logically impossible, and 2) That we have warrant for accepting God's existence as possible.

1 -- No one has ever shown God's existence to be logically impossible.

In the Modal Ontological argument, the first premise states the following: "it is possible that a MGB exists." This doesn't mean, "well, a MGB may exist or it may not exist. We just can't know for sure." What this actually means is that it is logically possible for a MGB to exist. In order to argue against its logical possibility, it must be shown to be logically incoherent. No one has ever shown God's existence to be logically incoherent, so God's existence remains a logical possibility.

The most popular argument to try and show the logical incoherence of God is the Omnipotence Paradox, which essentially states "Can God create a stone so heavy that even he can't lift?" But this amounts to a logical absurdity. It rests on a misunderstanding of the word "omnipotence." Omnipotence does not entail the ability to do the logically impossible. It just means "almighty in power." The question is just logically meaningless. It's like asking if God can create a square circle. God can't, because squares by their nature have four sides and four corners and circles have none. So there can't exist a square circle. Just like any stone God could create, he could lift.

2 -- We have warrant for accepting God's existence as possible.

There have been many arguments put forward for God's existence. There are many formulations of the Cosmological Argument (even if you don't think the KCA works, there are other formulations like Thomas Aquinas' and Leibniz' which don't require that the universe had a beginning in time to succeed), the Teleological Argument, the Axiological Argument, the Argument from Contingency, and many other arguments which give us warrant to accept the first premise as possibly true. Obviously, I don't expect Con to argue against every single one of those arguments. Space would not allow it, plus it would just be unfair for me to expect that of him. But my argument here doesn't rest on whether or not any or all of those arguments are true. My argument here just simply shows that we have warrant to accept the first premise as true.

Since we have warrant to accept the first premise as true, and God's existence remains a logical possibility, the first premise of the argument stands affirmed.

With that, I'll turn things over to Con and await his rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 1
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Introduction

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. The Modal Ontological Argument is one that is commonly misunderstood. Many people try to knock down the logic, and fail. People question P3 for example, but this is founded on a basic modal axiom (S5)[1]. The problem with the Modal Ontological Argument is the first premise. First of all, I would like to qualify the different types of possibility, and the possibility relevant to this debate:


(i) Epistemic Possibility[2]

(ii) Subjunctive Possibility (Modal Possibility)[3]


To say something is epistemically possible is to say that it may be true. It might even be subjunctively impossible; we just do not know. This is how most people use the word.

However, to say that something like a maximally great being for example, is subjunctively possible (which the Modal Ontological Argument necessitates) is to say that a maximally great being is definitely not impossible. Or, more precisely; it is not possible for it to be subjunctively impossible that a maximally great being exists. That is a basic modal inference. This means, for the theist to meet their burden of proof in support of the first premise, they would have to show that it is not impossible for a maximally great being to exist.

Noone Has Shown God's Existence To Be Logically Impossible

This whole section from Pro is based on a fallacy called switching the burden of proof[4]. Since claiming a maximally great being is possible is equivalent to the claim that it is not impossible for a maximally great being to exist with regards to modal possibility, then the advocate of the Modal Ontological Argument has to show that God is not impossible; the skeptic does not have to show God is impossible.

Do We Have Warrant For Accepting God's Existence As Possible?

Arguments that exist for God's existence do not show that God's existence is possible. This is a non-sequitur[5]. One can argue for something that is impossible, even if the argument fails miserably, and nobody even knows that the conclusion is impossible.

Both lines of argumentation from Pro are fallacious. Thus, they can be dismissed.

What Pro Must Do To Establish The Resolution

As I previously stated, for the theist to meet their burden of proof in support of the first premise of the Modal Ontological Argument, they would have to show that it is not impossible for a maximally great being to exist. To do that, they would actually have to rule out that which would make a maximally great being impossible. What would make a maximally great being impossible? Lots of things. Lets just take for example non-sentient possible worlds (which include no sentient beings). They would make a maximally great being impossible because if a maximally great being is possible, there would have to be at least one sentient being in every possible world. A maximally great being cannot just exist in one possible world if a maximally great being is possible, as a maximally great being would have to exist in all of them essentially by definition if a maximally great being is possible. This follows from the modal axiom S5. Therefore, the theist would have to rule out non-sentient possible worlds before the burden of proof on the first premise is to be met. Now, the theist might be tempted to, but could not say that non-sentient worlds are impossible by asserting that "God exists in every possible world already", because that would assume that the first premise is true, which is the premise the theist is attempting to defend in the first place by trying to rule out non-sentient possible worlds! Thus, this line of refutation to my objection here would be begging the question.

Now, I am not making the positive claim that the first premise is false. I have no burden to show that non-sentient worlds are indeed possible, and exist in some possible world as I am not making the assertion that this is the case. I simply assert that neutrality, or non-acceptance on the first premise is more reasonable than acceptance, which is a position I sufficiently supported as true (Pro has not shown that non-sentient worlds are impossible). This means that God's existence has not actually been established by the Modal Ontological Argument in context, as there is a huge question mark hanging over that sneaky first premise. There has to be a reason for the notion that non-sentient worlds are impossible before accepting the first premise of the Modal Ontological Argument. This is due to the fact that the first premise of the Modal Ontological Argument necessarily depends on non-sentient worlds being impossible. It cannot both be true that a maximally great being (a being who has necessary existence if existing in some possible world) is possible, and a possible world exists with no sentient beings. Non-sentient worlds being impossible is a required foundation of the first premise that remains as nothing more than an unjustified assumption. We are given no reason to think non-sentient worlds are impossible. Also it is in no way self-evident, or intuitively true that non-sentient worlds are impossible. There must be further external argumentation from Pro in order for him to meet his burden of proof on the first premise of the Modal Ontological Argument.

Conclusion

My opponent's first argument in favor of the resolution was shifting the burden of proof, and his second argument was a non-sequitur. I argued that Pro has to rule out non-sentient worlds as impossible before we should reasonably accept the first premise of the Modal Ontological Argument as actually true. This is because these two statements cannot both be true:

(1) There are non-sentient possible worlds

(2) A Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world

Since (2) rests on the negation of (1), and Pro has not shown that (1) is false; the resolution has not been established.

KeytarHero

Pro

I thank Con for his rebuttal. Let's continue on.

Con has falsely accused my arguments of being fallacious, but I believe his dismissal of my arguments to be in error. And I think, if the reader honestly examines the arguments, you will agree, also.

I already addressed the question of epistemic vs. subjunctive possibility in the first round, though I didn't use the ten-dollar words. In the first premise of the OA, subjunctive possibility is in view. Let's review a few more key definitions for the OA.

Impossible Entity -- an impossible entity is one that does not exist in any possible worlds. It's not just that an impossible entity doesn't exist, it's that it can't exist. Impossible entities are logically incoherent. Square circles and married bachelors are examples of impossible entities.

Contingent entities -- a contingent entity is an entity that exists in some possible worlds, but not others. It is possible for contingent entities not to exist at all, or not to exist at some point and then to exist at others. A contingent entity may or may not exist in the actual world (which is included as a possible world). Humans and unicorns are examples of contingent entities.

Necessary entities -- a necessary entity is an entity that exists in all possible worlds. By their very nature they exist and can not not exist. Numbers, the laws of logic, and God (if he exists) are examples of necessary entities.

I'm not sure that for something to be subjunctively possible, it must definitely not be impossible. However, even if that's the case, then I think the same can be said of God. For example, we know for sure that square circles are impossible entities because squares, by their very nature, have four sides and corners. So there cannot exist square circles because circles, by their very nature, have no sides or corners. Similarly, there is nothing logically incoherent in the concept of God, as Christians understand God, so the existence of God is a subjunctive possibility. If Con expects anything more, then it seems he is expecting me to prove that God actually exists, which is beyond the scope of the first premise of the OA, and is really not possible for me to accomplish. It's not possible to even prove the external world exists beyond the shadow of a doubt. All that is needed is to show that God's existence is at least a logical possibility.

1 -- No one has shown God's existence to be logically impossible.

Con has falsely accused me of shifting the burden of proof. This is incorrect, since I gave positive arguments for my position. I did not simply assert that God's existence is logically possible, then expect Con to do all the heavy lifting in the debate. This argument in particular was used to show that no one has ever succeeded in showing God's existence to be logically incoherent, so God's subjunctive possibility remains. We know square circles are impossible entities because it is a logically incoherent concept. God's existence is not logically incoherent since there is nothing logically incoherent about his attributes, and no one has ever succeeded in showing God to be logically incoherent.

On top of that, I gave a second positive argument for my position.

2 -- We have warrant for accepting God's existence as possible.

Con has also falsely accused me of making a non-sequitur (which just means that my conclusion does not follow from my argument). However, the arguments do, in fact, show that we have warrant for accepting God's existence. The very nature of logical arguments is such that if a logical argument is a sound argument, it is impossible for its conclusion to be false. Con is correct that you can argue for anything, impossible, possible, correct, or not correct with a logical argument. For example, take the following argument:

P1: Socrates was human.
P2: Humans can breathe underwater.
C: Therefore, Socrates could breathe underwater.

This is a logically valid argument, but we know it to be unsound because the second premise is incorrect. However, take the following argument:

P1: Socrates was human.
P2: Humans are mortal.
C: Therefore, Socrates was mortal.

Not only is this a logically valid argument, but it is also sound. The nature of valid arguments is that if the premises are true, then it is impossible for the conclusion to be false. So the first argument is valid (if the premises were true, the conclusion could not be false). However, the argument fails because it is unsound. If the argument were a sound argument like the second argument, then not only would it be valid but the premises would, in fact, be true. Since the premises are true, the conclusion must necessarily be true because it follows necessarily from the premises.

Therefore, if the other arguments for God's existence are sound argument (which is debatable, of course, but beyond the scope of this debate to argue for), then we do, indeed, have warrant for accepting the first premise of the OA as true. In fact, it would make the first premise of the OA much more likely than if we didn't have other arguments for God's existence.

William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland add, "The theistic arguments need not be taken to be like links in a chain, in which one link follows another so that the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Rather, they are like links in a coat of chain mail, in which all the links reinforce one another so that the strength of the whole exceeds that of any single link. The ontological argument might play its part in a cumulative case for theism, in which a multitude of factors simultaneously conspire to lead one to the global conclusion that God exists." [1]

So Con's assertion that my arguments are fallacious are unfounded. The premises stand affirmed.

Responding to Con's case.

So Con responds by bringing up the possibility of non-sentient possible worlds.

While this objection seems reasonable on its face, the problem is that we have much more reason to accept the existence of God than to suppose that a non-sentient world is possible (especially since, as Con suggests, if God really does exist, then a non-sentient world would be impossible). God's possibility goes beyond just logical possibility. God's existence is a metaphysical possibility. Fewer things are metaphysically possible than are logically possible, and for something to be metaphysically possible there must be other reasons to accept it as true (as I argued in my second point above). As Peter S. Williams says, "the repeated failures of attempts to show that God is an incoherent concept justify a pessimistic inference." And some, like Trent Dougherty, have been convinced by this (concluding that the Ontological Argument, in fact, proves God's existence). Since the existence of God is more probable than a non-sentient world, it is more reasonable to conclude that God's existence is possible and a non-sentient world is impossible, given that God is a necessary entity. [2]

To reiterate, Con's assertions that my two arguments are fallacious are unfounded, and I have successfully shown that God's existence is more probable than a non-sentient world, so the first premise of the Ontological Argument stands affirmed. I await Con's rebuttal.

[1] William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (InterVarsity Press, Downer's Grove, Il, 2003), p. 499.
[2] ;(the relevant portion begins at 5:50).
Debate Round No. 2
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Introduction

The Modal Ontological Argument is one of the most interesting arguments for God. However, the failure of it becomes self-evident after critical examination. There is a world which seems just as possible on the face of it as a maximally great being, but this world being possible and a maximally great being being possible cannot both be true. Either one relies on the other being impossible. Has Pro shown non-sentient worlds are impossible? No, and that is the problem.

My opponent lists three different definitions:

(i) Impossible Entities
(ii) Contingent Entities
(iii) Necessary Entities

Pro is correct that God has existence in every possible world. However, this is only if it is possible for God to exist. God doesn't just automatically have necessary existence like the Law of Identity for example. It has to be shown God is possible, then God is necessary.

Pro states that he is not sure if it is true that for something to be subjunctively possible, it must definitely not be impossible. However, this is the case. If it is possible that God is impossible, then God cannot be possible as God necessarily exists if he is possible. Thus, to say God is possible, is to make the specific claim that God is not impossible. Either it is possible, or impossible that God is not impossible. The claim God is possible rests on it not being possible that God is impossible. Once more, this is a basic modal inference. Subjunctive possibility is much stricter than epistemic possibility.

Now, Pro says:

"Similarly, there is nothing logically incoherent in the concept of God" - Pro

Here is the problem. To say there is nothing incoherent about God is to say that there are no non-sentient possible worlds. This is because, if there are non-sentient possible worlds, then God is incoherent. God would entail a sentient being in every possible world if he is possible, but if there are non-sentient possible worlds; God is contradictory. Pro has not ruled out non-sentient possible worlds. Therefore, his claim that God is not incoherent has not been substantiated.

The issue here is that there is nothing incoherent about non-sentient possible worlds. Yet, both non-sentient possible worlds and a maximally great being being possible cannot be true. So Pro has to rule out one in favor of the other.

No One Has Shown God's Existence To Be Logically Impossible

My opponent provided no positive case with regards to this section. He simply claimed that no Atheist has shown God's existence impossible. However, the burden is not on the Atheist to show God is impossible, the burden is on the Theist to show God is not impossible (to say that something is possible subjunctively, is to also say that it is not impossible subjunctively). This whole section from Pro is a fallacious shifting of the burden of proof. Even if not a single Atheist can show that God is impossible, it wouldn't follow from this that God is possible. This is another non-sequitur from Pro.

We Have Warrant For Accepting God's Existence

Pro has to assume his arguments for Theism succeed to make his case. He has not shown that there is even one sound argument for Theism. Therefore, his section here does not show that God is possible. All arguments for Theism could be unsound with untrue premises, and the conclusions of those arguments could be impossible even if nobody knows they are impossible.

Unless he shows that there is at least one sound argument for Theism, there is no way he can use an external Theistic argument as evidence that God is possible.

"God is possible" does not follow from "there exists arguments for God". Thus, this section is based on a non-sequitur.

Both of my opponent's arguments for the fist premise of the Modal Ontological Argument are based on logical fallacies and can be dismissed.

My Argument

Pro claims that if God is possible, then a non-sentient world is impossible. This is true. However, if a non-sentient world is possible, then God is impossible. Ergo, the theist has to show that non-sentient worlds are impossible before we can accept that a maximally great being is possible. Pro has not shown that non-sentient worlds are impossible.

He asserts that God is more probable than a non-sentient world. However, Pro gave no argument for this! Thus, his claim that God is more probable can be discarded, as it is nothing more than a bare-assertion. He claims that to be metaphysically possible, there has to be more reasons than just logical possibility. However, Pro gave no reasons to think God is metaphysically possible, but a non-sentient possible world is not metaphysically possible.

Different Kinds of Situations[1]

Why couldn't the world have consisted of no sentient beings? It doesn't seem metaphysically impossible like something coming from nothing, or something coming into being without temporal becoming. The only reason one would claim the metaphysical possibility of non-sentient worlds is non-existent is if they already presupposed a maximally great being exists and is possible, and thus, there is a sentient being in every possible word. I don't see how Pro can defend the first premise without begging the question.

The fact that arguments exist for God does not suffice, as I devised an argument against the possibility of a maximally great being. I can just accept non-sentient possible worlds on those grounds, just like the theist accepts that a maximally great being is possible based on other theistic grounds. This just puts us back at square one; without the resolution established. Also, Pro mentions that many Christian philosophers believe the argument proves God, but many theists believe the Ontological Argument is a bad argument that proves nothing. Take esteemed Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne for example, in an interview, this was said:

"So the Ontological Argument, which has been used in various forms, fails as even help in anyway?" - Dr. Lawrence Kuhn

"It fails, totally." - Richard Swinburne[2]

Not everyone agrees with Craig and Plantinga. I know many Christians who scoff at the very definition used in the argument. Anyway, since Pro left us with no good reason to prefer the possibility of God, over the existence of non-sentient possible worlds, his argument fails.

"Plainly enough, if you do not already accept the claim that there is an entity which possesses maximal greatness, then you won't agree that the first of these arguments is more acceptable than the second. So, as a proof of the existence of a being which possess maximal greatness, Plantinga's argument seems to be a non-starter. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Plantinga himself agrees..."[3]

Regardless, Pro misunderstands the Modal Ontological Argument. This argument has nothing to do with probability. A non-sentient world has to be impossible for Pro to meet his burden. However, Pro has not even shown probablity.

Conclusion

The Atheist has no burden to show that a maximally great being is impossible. Pro's first argument in favor of the resolution is worthless. Arguments that exist for God do not show God's existence is possible unless they are sound. KeytarHero has not shown that there exists even one sound argument for God. Additionally, Pro gave us no reason to think that a maximally great being's existence in some possible world is more probable than a non-sentient possible world. Pro also never gave reasons as to how God is metaphysically possible, but a non-sentient world is not. These were just assumptions. Since Pro has not shown that non-sentient worlds are impossible; the resolution has not been affirmed. The first premise rests on non-sentient worlds being impossible. There doesn't seem to be anything logically impossible, or metaphysically impossible with non-sentient worlds.

Sources

[1] http://www.jimpryor.net...
[2] http://www.closertotruth.com...
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...

KeytarHero

Pro

I thank Con, again, for his rebuttal. As per the rules of the debate, this will be my last round.

It seems to be a tactic of Con to accuse someone who doesn't agree with him of not understanding. I under the OA just fine, but there were several times when reading Con's last argument that I had to wonder if he's even been reading the same debate I've been engaging in for the past few days.

Con's Case from Non-Sentient Worlds

I'm not sure what Con means that God doesn't automatically have necessary existence like the Law of Identity. That it has to be shown that God is possible, then God is necessary. This statement doesn't even really make sense. If God exists, he exists necessarily (like the Law of Identity). The Law of Identity isn't just automatically necessary; the Law of Identity is necessary because there are no possible worlds in which two entities that are identical would not be the same entity. Just like God is necessary because there are no possible worlds in wihch he fails to exist. This is why a non-sentient world is not a possible world, if God exists. Since the question is whether or not God exists, the possibility of a non-sentient world can't be used against the possibility of God. This is true especially since, as I have shown, the existence of God is more metaphysically probable than the existence of a non-sentient world (since whether or not a non-sentient world is even possible is predicated on whether or not there are sentient necessary entities).

It seems to me that Con is the one who lacks understanding of the OA. God is not necessary just because he is possible. The reason that God is necessary is because he exists in all possible worlds. If it is possible that God exists, then he exists in some possible worlds. This is true of even things that don't exist in the actual world. Unicorns and leprechauns exist in some possible worlds. But necessary entities exist in all possible worlds, including the actual world. Which means that if a necessary entity exists in some possible worlds, it exists in all possible worlds (which is by its very nature as a necessary entity). So one cannot say if it is possible that God exists, then God is impossible. One must show why the concept of God is incoherent. We know that a square circle is impossible because squares by their nature have four sides and four corners, and circles by their nature have none. A square circle is an incoherent concept. In order to defeat the first premise of the OA, Con must show why God is impossible. He has failed to do this, so the first premise of the OA is affirmed.

Con even admits that if God is possible, then a non-sentient world is impossible. Since I have shown that God's existence is possible, this refutes Con's case of a non-sentient world. But as I have already shown, the existence of a non-sentient world is predicated on whether or not God exists, so the question of whether God is possible must be answered first, not the other way around, as Con asserts.

Con's assertion that I gave no argument that God is more probable than a non-sentient world is simply wrong (and led to me questioning what argument he's actually been reading). I'll briefly recap: If God exists, he is necessary so a non-sentient world is impossible (if God exists). That's one strike against a non-sentient possible world. No one has ever proven God's existence is impossible. That's two strikes against a non-sentient possible world. We have warrant in the form of many arguments for God's existence that gives us warrant for accepting this premise. That's three strikes against it. The evidence that we have for God's existence places God's existence as much more probable than the existence of a non-sentient world.

Con continues to come back to why the world couldn't have consisted of no sentient beings. This world, Earth, could have consisted of no sentient beings, if God would have chosen not to create humanity. But to say there is a non-sentient possible world is a much different claim, and that would be impossible if a necessary sentient entity exists. A possible world is simply a possible state of affairs that could have obtained. If there is a necessary entity (which is one that exists in all possible worlds), then a non-sentient possible world, if God exists, would be impossible.

When I mentioned Christian philosophers who believe this argument proves God, I was using them to support my claim (that we have reasons to reject the claim that God is impossible, and that at least one Atheist has accepted the reality of God because of this particular argument, so it is persuasive to some). The fact that Christian philosophers like Swinburne don't accept the OA as sound is irrelevant. That's the nature of philosophy. Not everyone is convinced by every argument. What matters are the arguments presented here. Con has simply misunderstood my reason for including mention of Christian philosophers.

Finally, Con simply misunderstands Plantinga's statement. He's not saying that the OA is unsound. It is internally consistent, and succeeds as an argument. I explained in the last round that this argument shouldn't be used on its own as proof of God's existence, but used in a cumulative case (with each argument like links in a coat of chain mail, not links in a chain). So Con's statement adds nothing to his own argument and takes nothing away from mine.

He can't argue that God is impossible in the next round, since I will not have a chance to respond to it. The first premise of the OA stands affirmed.

1 -- No One Has Shown God's Existence to be Logically Impossible

I trust the reader will have an easier time understanding my argument here. Con has simply refused to engage with this argument, but it is a positive argument to show that God's existence is impossible. Again, we know that square circles and married bachelors are impossible entities. In order for God to be impossible, one must show that God is an incoherent concept. The fact that all attempts have failed shows that God is not incoherent at all. This argument is a positive argument to support the contention that God is not impossible, to say nothing of the fact that my next argument, apart from being a positive argument, also provides positive evidence supporting the claim. My argument is not fallacious, as I have repeatedly demonstrated, but Con insists on asserting that it is. He has failed to refute this argument, so it stands as evidence in favor of the first premise of the OA, that God's existence is possible.

2 -- We Have Warrant for Accepting God's Existence

Whether or not the other arguments for Theism succeed is beside the point. As Atheist Kai Nielsen has pointed out, all arguments for God could fail and God could still exist. It was not my intention here to support the other arguments for God's existence; that would have led to multiple red herrings, debates within a debate, and there certainly aren't enough characters for that. My argument was that those other arguments raise the metaphysical probability of God's existence. We have warrant for accepting the first premise of the OA because of the other evidences in favor of God's existence (such as that nothing comes from nothing uncased (KCA), the Fine-Tuning of the universe (TA), that the universe needs a Prime Mover (TCA), the moral law points to a moral law giver (MA), etc.). Whether or not these actually point to a Creator is not really the point for this debate. I was using it to show warrant that God's existence is at least possible. Con's assertion that I was making a non-sequitur was just silly to begin with. I don't know how much clearer I can make this.

Conclusion

Con has not successfully refuted my case. He has simply resorted to dismissing it away, which is just a dishonest tactic (especially since I have clearly shown how my arguments are not fallacious). The first premise of the OA stands affirmed.
Debate Round No. 3
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Introduction

My opponent charges me with a tactic involving accusing him of not understanding the argument. However, it is not at tactic, but rather additive commentary on top of my arguments and "tactics". For example, my opponent speaks about probability when the argument is about possibility. This shows a clear misunderstanding of the argument. The debate is not whether it is probably true or not that a maximally great being is possible, the argument is about whether it is true or not that a maximally great being is possible. As I have demonstrated, Pro has not even shown that a maximally great being is more probable in the first place.

My Case From Non-Sentient Worlds

KeytarHero states that there are no possible worlds in which God fails to exist. However, this is only true if God is possible. God is only necessary, if possible. Pro has not shown that God is possible. Therefore, we have no reason to believe God exists in any possible world; let alone all of them. My opponent says that a non-sentient world is impossible if God exists, and if God is possible. I agree. However, a maximally great being is impossible if a non-sentient world is possible. My opponent seems to be delving into the world of double standards. He has given 0 good reasons to prefer one over the other, and has failed miserably. My opponent also has not shown how God is more metaphysically probable than non-sentient worlds. To support the false claim to the contrary, Pro says:

"[S]ince whether or not a non-sentient world is even possible is predicated on whether or not there are sentient necessary entities..." - Pro

The above is just embarrassing, as Pro is committing an elementary special pleading fallacy. My opponent is correct that whether or not a non-sentient world is possible is predicated on their being no necessary sentient entities (and no possibility of such an entity). However, the possibility of a necessary sentient entity is predicated on there being no non-sentient possible worlds! Either proposition requires the impossibility of the other. Since I have shown even grounds here, Pro's argument that a maximally great being is more probable falls flat. Even if it succeeded, it wouldn't matter, because a non-sentient world has to be metaphysically impossible, not metaphysically improbable.

Now, God being necessary is dependant on God being possible. God does not exist in any possible world unless he is possible. Pro has not shown that God is possible. We have no real reason to believe God exists in any possible world. Also, Pro says that in order to defeat the first premise, I would have to show God is incoherent. That is false. That would only be true if I was trying to falsify the first premise, not undermine it. However, as the burden of proof is not shared here; I do not need to show God is incoherent to win this debate. The theist has to show that God is not incoherent to meet the burden of proof and win the debate. To do that, the theist has to rule out that which would make God incoherent. Non-sentient worlds would make God incoherent, and Pro has not ruled them out. Thus, the resolution has not been affirmed.

No One Has Shown God To Be Impossible

This argument has no bearing on the resolution, so why would I engage it? Even if not a single Atheist has shown that God is impossible, it would not follow that God is possible. This section from Pro is shifting the burden of proof, and a non-sequitur at that.

We Have Warrant For God's Existence

"As Atheist Kai Nielsen has pointed out, all arguments for God could fail and God could still exist." - Pro

However, the above would only mean, at best, that God could be possible epistemically, this does not indicate subjunctive possibility. This has no bearing on the modal possibility relevant to this debate. Pro also says that we are warranted in believing in God based on evidence for God's existence. This just begs the question, as Pro has not even argued for the notion that there is evidence of God's existence. He mentions arguments, which, if fail, are not evidence of God's existence at all. Pro has to show how these arguments succeed. He has not done so. Therefore, it is truly baffling how Pro is trying to use these external arguments as an argument for God's possibility.

Conclusion

Pro provided two arguments in favor of the resolution:

(i) No Atheist has shown that God is impossible
(ii) There is evidence of God's existence

(i) fails because it is based on a shifting the burden of proof fallacy. The theist must show that God is not impossible, the one critiquing the argument need not show that God is impossible. (i) is also a non-sequtiur, because even if no Atheist has shown God to be impossible, it wouldn't follow from this that God's existence is not impossible. Since (i) is based on two logical fallacies; Pro's first argument is invalid, and it is not sufficient support for the resolution.

(ii) does not succeed as it is based on a fallacy of presumption. Pro has to presume that all the external arguments for God's existence succeed, or else they are not really evidence for God's existence. Also, (ii) is based on a fallacy of equivocation with regards to the word "God". Arguments like the fine-tuning argument, or arguments for a first mover, even if succeed; say nothing on a maximally great being. Even if an intelligent fine-tuner who was the first mover exists, what does this say about this being's greatness? Absolutely nothing. Pro mentioned "Moral Law" and a "Moral Law Giver", but if there is objective morality, there is objective immorality. One could argue for an immoral being, or "Immoral Law Giver". This intelligent fine-tuner could be manevolent (which is why humans are wired and prone for evil), with the entity in question not being omnibenevolent, or maximally great in the slightest. None of these external arguments for God's existence even attempt to show that a maximally great being is possible, just some sort of "intelligent fine-tuner", "first mover" ect... How would the existence of a fine-tuning/ first mover show that a maximally great being is possible? It wouldn't. (ii) fails almost as badly as (i).

The above is sufficient to deny Pro the debate. However, I went above and beyond that showed what the theist would have to do to win this debate. I said:

"[F]or the theist to meet their burden of proof in support of the first premise of the Modal Ontological Argument, they would have to show that it is not impossible for a maximally great being to exist. To do that, they would actually have to rule out that which would make a maximally great being impossible. What would make a maximally great being impossible? Lots of things. Lets just take for example non-sentient possible worlds (which include no sentient beings). They would make a maximally great being impossible because if a maximally great being is possible, there would have to be at least one sentient being in every possible world. A maximally great being cannot just exist in one possible world if a maximally great being is possible, as a maximally great being would have to exist in all of them essentially by definition if a maximally great being is possible. This follows from the modal axiom S5. Therefore, the theist would have to rule out non-sentient possible worlds before the burden of proof on the first premise is to be met." - Me

Pro did not even attempt to rule out non-sentient possible worlds without begging the question. He also committed the special pleading fallacy by claiming that a non-sentient world's possibility is predicated on the impossibility of a maximally great being. He is correct about this. However, the possibility of a maximally great being is predicated on the impossibility of a non-sentient world. Since it works both ways, Pro's argument for metaphysical probability fails.

Every single argument Pro presented was logically fallacious and invalid. Therefore, the resolution has not been established as Pro had the burden of proof.
KeytarHero

Pro

No argument will be posted here as agreed.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by KeytarHero 3 years ago
KeytarHero
Okay, sounds good. Good debate.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Good exchange KeytarHero. In the near future, I am going to challenge you to a debate where I hold the burden of proof to show that a maximally great being is actually impossible. I came up with an interesting argument against the existence of a maximally great being that I do not think anybody has used before, and it would be cool to have you try and tear it down.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Jegory 3 years ago
Jegory
Rational_Thinker9119KeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:20 
Reasons for voting decision: Arguments: Very close; in the end, I couldn't decide to give either debater this point. Sources: CON used quite a few more sources than PRO.