The Instigator
orangutan
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
fullofhopkins
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

It is likely that a God or gods exist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/21/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 609 times Debate No: 73943
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
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orangutan

Pro

Is it likely that a God or gods exist?

I am not interested in a semantic debate. By God or gods, I do not refer to a specific monotheistic Judeo-Christian conception of God. Rather, I use a more general, commonplace definition in which gods are either supernatural creators of the universe or even simply supernatural entities that are responsible for a specific aspect of the universe (for example, Poseidon is the god of the ocean, or Mars is the god of war). That is not to say that God cannot possess attributes such as being omnipotent or omniscient or omnibenevolent. Rather, Pro does not necessarily need to establish both that the creator of the universe exists and that he possesses characteristics ascribed to him by Judeo-Christian theologians and philosophers.

Both Pro and Con share the burden of proof.

Round 1 is for acceptance only.
Debate Round No. 1
orangutan

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. I present three arguments in order to affirm the resolution.

Kalam Cosmological Argument

This argument can be formulated in the following way.
1.Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2.The universe began to exist.
3.Therefore, the universe had a cause of its existence.

The first premise is obvious to just about anyone. Our practical experience confirms that things do not pop into existence out of nothing. Moreover, for something to come out of nothing is metaphysically impossible. Nothing has no properties. Also, if universes could pop into existence out of nothing, why doesn't anything and everything pop into being out of nothing with no cause? We do not see horses pop into existence in our living rooms. Due to both metaphysical and empirical reasons, the first premise seems very plausible.

Hence, the crucial premise is the second premise. Some nonbelievers claim that the universe has an infinite past and has never begun to exist. However, the premise that the universe began to exist can be found in any science textbook. According to the Big Bang Theory, the universe began approximately 13.8 billion years ago. Additionally, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Singularity Theorem (BGV) shows that any universe which has, on average, a rate of expansion greater than zero has to have had a finite beginning, with very few exceptions [1]. Even if my opponent denied the standard cosmological model, the Big Bang Theory, my opponent would have to show that his alternative model is an exception to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Singularity Theorem. Otherwise, the BGV Theorem provides strong scientific evidence to believe that the universe began to exist a finite time ago.

Moreover, the very notion of an infinite past is metaphysically impossible. This is because the idea that an infinite number of things can actually exist is metaphysically impossible. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? Mathematics gives contradictory answers. See the Hilbert Hotel paradox [2]. In truth, while the notion of potential infinity is useful in mathematics, the concept of an actual infinity is metaphysical nonsense. This suggests that rather than there being an infinite past, the universe must have a finite past and hence must have begun to exist.

Given premises 1 and 2, the conclusion that the universe has a cause of its existence naturally follows. Since the universe consists of all time, space, and matter, the creator of the universe must be timeless, spaceless, powerful, and immaterial. Moreover, the cause of the universe must also be personal. This is due to several reasons, but here is one of them. The only things that can possess timelessness and immateriality that we know of are abstract objects and disembodied, supernatural minds. But abstract objects cannot cause anything. Therefore, the cause of the universe must be a disembodied mind, a supernatural creator of the universe which qualifies as a god.

The Fine-Tuning Argument

Physicists commonly agree that the universe is "fine-tuned" for the conditions of life. Many constants in the universe are fine-tuned for life in the sense that if these constants were very slightly changed, intelligent life could never exist. To give an example, physicist Luke Barnes says that the amount of matter in the initial stage of our universe is fine-tuned to one part in 10^55 [3]. That is a 1 followed by 55 zeros! And that is just one of numerous examples.

This form of the teleological argument works by using the fine-tuning of the universe as evidence of design. It can be formulated as follows.
1.The fine-tuning of the universe is the result of law, chance, or design.
2.The fine-tuning of the universe is not the result of law or chance.
3.Therefore, the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of design.

The chance that the universe is fine-tuned by accident is almost zero. And no law of the universe seems to suggest that the cosmological constants need to be the way they are. That means that the fine-tuning must be due to design. But that implies that there is a designer of the universe, quite possibly one who was interested in creating life. Since such a designer would be timeless, spaceless, powerful, and immaterial, that creator would fulfill the qualifications of a god as we know it.

Argument from Religious Experiences

Many people are theists due to the cosmological argument and the argument from design. However, many people are also theists for an additional reason- religious experiences. Throughout human history up to the present day, most cultures have had a concept of religion and gods. According to the Pew Research Center, today more than 80% of people in the world belong to a religious group [4]. For a few of these people, God"s existence may simply be a comparatively abstract fact about reality, in the way that "there are seven days in a week" is a comparatively abstract fact. However, for a large proportion of believers, their belief in God or gods is much more than a mere abstract fact. They believe that they have or have had real religious experiences. Some Christians call such experiences "bearing witness to the holy spirit." Likewise, people of practically all religions report knowing that God or gods exist due to feeling the inner presence of a divine being.

This fact can be awkward for a naturalist. For on naturalism, there is no reason to expect that people would have any religious experiences at all. If God or gods do not exist, why should people have such powerful, moving experiences? If theism is true, there is a very straightforward explanation, namely that God or gods exist. The atheist, however, is hard-pressed to come up with any explanation for why people have religious experiences. Unless atheists can provide a compelling explanation for religious experiences, they will be hard-pressed to convince anyone who believes that they feel the presence of the divine in their daily lives. So my opponent must provide a naturalistic explanation for religious experience in order to give the atheistic worldview any credibility at all.

The atheist might object to this argument, questioning the validity of religious experience due to the apparent contradictions between the doctrines of different religions. In response, the atheist would do well to consider the parable of the elephant and the blind men [5]. In the parable, blind men touch different parts of the elephant and come to greatly different conclusions about the nature of the elephant. This story serves as a useful metaphor to explain religious pluralism and defend against the atheist"s objection. Just because people claim different things about the nature of the Divine does not mean that the Divine is not real. It simply means that people interpret religious experiences differently, rather than meaning that gods (the elephant in the parable) do not exist.

Conclusion

I have presented three arguments for the resolution, namely the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Fine-Tuning Argument, and the Argument from Religious Experiences. If my opponent wishes to show that atheism is true, he must refute all three of these arguments and construct his own positive case for atheism. I again thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

[1] See the 2003 paper by Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin entitled Inflationary Spacetimes are not past-complete. http://arxiv.org...
[2] http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com.... I will not rehash the long argument here, since this source explains the thought experiment in a much better way than I could with the limited space I have in this debate.
[3] http://ia902708.us.archive.org...
[4] http://www.pewforum.org...
[5] The parable may be found at http://www.cs.princeton.edu...
fullofhopkins

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for a really well-constructed argument. I'll get right to it.

First, I'm going to address the arguments made by pro

The Cosmological Argument:
Pro appeals to an age-old argument for the existence of God by constructed three simple, but seemingly obviously correct premises - 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause, 2. The universe began to exist, and 3. The universe has a cause of its existence. If the premises are true, the conclusion must follow logically and necessarily, so in order to show the argument is false, I will need to deconstruct one or more of the premises. Fortunately, we have good reason to doubt both of the premises of the argument. I'll do each in turn.

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
This is undeniably true for things in our universe, and the law of cause and effect seems to be constant and universal. However, this gives us no reason to think that the argument applies to the universe itself. In other words, just because we have a law of cause and effect in the universe, it does not follow in any way logically that therefore the universe itself is governed by cause and effect. If this seems implausible, consider light. The speed of light is regarded as a kind of cosmological speed limit, that is, relativity tells us nothing can travel faster than light [1]. But we know that a number of galaxies are receding from us faster than the speed of light - in fact, any galaxy with a recession rate of Z > 1.4 is moving faster than the speed of light. How is this possible? It's because the speed of light is the maximum speed for things within the universe, but the expansion of the universe itself is not self-contained. In other words, this speed limit does not apply to space-time itself, which is indeed expanding away from us faster than the speed of light. This gives us good reason to believe that the universe itself is not subject to the laws and limits of what is contained within it. Therefore, we can at the very least challenge the assumption that the law of cause and effect applies to the universe itself, which means we have no obligation to accept premise 1 in the context of this argument.

2. The universe began to exist
There is actually good evidence that the universe did not begin to exist. I am not claiming that the universe is past-eternal (it might be, but I'll deal with that later). But pro makes the same mistake he did in premise. The word "began" implies a temporal sequence of events, that is, it entails something happening over time. "X began to exist" means there was some time T in which X did not exist, but at time T-prime X did exist. Time, however, did not exist before the big bang, as time is a dimension contained within the universe. This would be like saying the universe had a length or a width before it began to exist, which of course it did not. So while the universe does have a finite age, according to most theories, sequences of events (beginnings and ends) are only coherent post-Big Bang.

Pro also expands his argument by citing the Boarde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, which states that any universe in a state of cosmic expansion had to have a finite beginning. There are a few problems here: first, the BGV theorem only applies to classic models of the universe, that is, models grounded in relativity. In other words, what the theory actually says is that our ability to describe the universe classically breaks down at some point in the past [2]. From that it does NOT follow that the universe therefore could not be past-eternal (it does not disprove it, either, of course).

Given what I think is a sufficient refutation of premises one and two, I see no reason to address pro's conclusion about the nature of the creator of the universe.

The FIne-Tuning Argument
First, it's not clear that the universe is "fine-tuned" for life. Fine-tuning necessarily implies a teleology of the universe, that is, for something to be fine-turned it must be fine-tuned for some purpose. But what is the purpose of the universe - to support life? Here pro attempts to prove his case retrospectively. This can be illustrated with the mud-puddle example. Suppose there was a pothole that filled up with water during a rainstorm. All the excess water would flow off the top, so when the rain stopped, the pothole would be filled with the exact amount of water that it could hold. But it would, of course, be absurd to conclude that therefore the purpose of the pothole was to hold exactly that amount of water. Rather, the exact amount of water (the fine-tuning of the water, as it were) is an illusion created by the nature of what it is contained in. So of course it would seem an enormous statistical improbability that it should rain just enough to fill the pothole, but it is obvious that this would be a misapplication of probability. How does this apply to life?

Here's how: it is tautologically true that the universe exists in a way such that it can support life precisely because we, as life, are here to make such claims and observations. But it would be fallacious to assume that therefore the universe's purpose is to support life. If we do not assume a teleology, as pro does, then it seems more accurate to suppose that life has adopted given the conditions in the universe. In other words, life exists incidentally in the universe, not because that is the goal of the universe. So to say that the universe is fine-tuned for life is tautologically true (because if it were not, we could not make observations about the universe as we would not exist) and is therefore not a good argument.

(Additionally, the statistical improbability of a life-sustaining universe, even if it were significant, would only apply to a single universe. Multiverse theory, while certainly not proven to be true, gives us at least a good reason to think that that might not be true.)

Argument from religious experience
Here pro appeals to what might be called properly basic beliefs, or beliefs that seem to present a priori but are nevertheless very real to very many people. These should not be outright dismissed, but we certainly should not try to extrapolate anything from them. That many people have religious experience does not, of course, prove that God exists or that those experiences are the result of God really being present. The human mind has evolved for hundreds of thousands of years to recognize patterns and to find reasons for things. Science has only existed in any real sense for a blink of an eye on the time scale of human existence. Prior to that, we had to posit God or Gods for the questions we could not answer by direct observation (of which there were a lot). Feeling like there is a God is no more proof of God than feeling that human beings are basically good is proof that they are.

And the elephant example does not work for pro here because it presupposes the existence of something to come to different conclusions about. The atheist argument from contradiction contests that there is an elephant at all; what we suppose is that the blind men are feeling a boulder (or whatever) and concluding that it must really be an elephant. So that example begs the question and can be easily dismissed.

I'm running out of room, but I have no reason to make a case of my own. Pro's resolution is that God probably or likely exists. The negation of that is not that God does not exist; in other words, taking the con position does not make any positive claim or truth-assertion, it simply provides reasons to think that the pro position is not true.

Thank you, I look forward to your response.

[1] https://www.youtube.com...
[2] https://www.youtube.com...
Debate Round No. 2
orangutan

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for what promises to be an interesting debate.

Burden of Proof

I stated in round 1 that Pro and Con share the burden of proof in this debate. That means that my opponent must offer arguments in order to negate the resolution. However, Con has not done so. I contend that if my opponent does not make any arguments, he will not have fulfilled his burden of proof, so the debate automatically results in my victory.

Since my opponent has no arguments to refute, I will use the remainder of my space to respond to my opponent's criticisms of my arguments.

Argument from Religious Experiences

Con barely responds to my points. I argued that, on atheism, we have no reason to believe that people would have supernatural experiences. Yet, clearly many do. Theism and deism have a strong explanation for these experiences, namely that the supernatural exists, whereas atheism does not. The only explanation that Con has tried to provide is that the brain seeks patterns. Forgive me if this does not seem like a particularly simple, well-developed, plausible explanation for divine experiences! Also, the Parable of the Blind Men is in response to atheists that believe that religious pluralism refutes these experiences. The parable demonstrates that it does not- people can have different experiences of the divine while still experiencing the divine. It is the atheist that needs to prove that different experiences of the divine invalidate these personal experiences. Until Con can provide a case for the plausibility of a hypothesis such as the "Mass Delusion" Hypothesis, the God Hypothesis remains the most plausible theory to explain religious experiences.

Fine-Tuning Argument

My opponent invokes the Weak Anthropic Principle [6] in order to "explain" fine-tuning. It should first be noted that if a god made the universe such that it is optimized for interesting chemistry instead, it would still provide evidence for existence of a god. The argument is supported by, but does not depend on, the contention that the universe is fine-tuned specifically for life. Second, the anthropic principle rebuttal is refuted by a thought experiment by physicist Luke Barnes [3]. Suppose you are sitting on the porch of your house with your grandfather, and he tells you that he is Magneto. You don't believe him. Then, a nearby train derails containing TNT, shrapnel, and 50,000 knives. You duck, but two seconds later you are alive. You turn around and see your house covered with 50,000 knives except for silhouettes corresponding to you and your grandfather. You tell your grandfather that you still don't believe that he is Magneto because "It is logically impossible for me to observe being dead, so of course all the knives missed me!" Clearly, the anthropic principle does not really explain the critical question, namely why the knives missed you, or in our case, why the universe is fine-tuned. So the anthropic principle does not help Con's case at all.

Also, my opponent references the Multiverse Hypothesis but barely develops the idea. Robin Collins offers five reasons to reject the Multiverse Hypothesis for the God Hypothesis, one of which is that any universe-generating mechanism would also need to be designed [7]. A couple other arguments are that the God Hypothesis is simpler to the Multiverse Hypothesis and that the Multiverse Hypothesis is an ad hoc attempt to avoid the God Hypothesis. If my opponent wants to rely on the Multiverse Hypothesis, he needs to create a plausible case for it.

So it would seem that my opponent"s objections do not adequately respond to the Fine-Tuning Argument.

Kalam Cosmological Argument

Con believes that the speed of light gives us good reason to believe that laws that apply within the universe don"t apply to the universe. However, this is to mistake the first premise for a physical law, when it is in fact claimed to be a metaphysical law, supported both by a priori reasons and a posteriori evidence. Moreover, Con interprets "begins to exist" in the argument as meaning something like "x begins to exist = x exists at t, and there is a time prior to t at which x does not exist." However, William Craig, in his paper Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause: A Rejoinder, contends that if we take the first premise as truly matching our intuitions, we should interpret "begins to exist" as meaning "x comes into being at t = x exists at t; t is either the first time at which x exists or is separated from any time t* < t at which x existed by a non-degenerate, temporal interval; and x's existing at t is a tensed fact" [8]. This definition takes into account the intuition that things which have existed for a finite time have begun to exist. My opponent could claim that causes always stand in temporal relation with their effects. But, as Craig notes, this "is not at all incompatible with the kalam argument's conclusion, since its defender may hold that God exists timelessly sans creation and temporally at and subsequent to the moment of creation, so that His act of causing the beginning of the universe is simultaneous with the universe's beginning to exist" [8]. In other words, the cause of the universe could be simultaneous with its effect; the cause does not have to be "before" time.

Towards my scientific arguments, my opponent does not challenge the standard Big Bang model, nor does he provide an alternative model which avoids an absolute beginning. He does challenge the BGV Theorem, saying that it only applies to classical models of the universe. However, not only does he not provide a plausible nonclassical model which avoids a temporal beginning to compete with the Big Bang model, but he also does not show why we should not think that the theorem provides good evidence to strongly suspect that such a conclusion also holds for a nonclassical model. Even if the BGV Theorem does not conclusively prove that the universe has a beginning, it strongly points to the possibility that it does. If my opponent wants more scientific evidence, he can read a paper by physicists Mithani and Vilenkin, which concludes, "Did the universe have a beginning? At this point, it seems that the answer to this question is probably yes" [9]. If my opponent wants to deny the beginning of the universe, he has to respond to this conclusion.

Finally, Con completely ignores my argument against infinity based on Hilbert's Hotel. This argument extends. Without sufficient rebuttals to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, this argument is ample proof that a God or gods exist.

Conclusion

It appears that my opponent has failed to refute any of my arguments, namely the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Fine-Tuning Argument, and the Argument from Religious Experiences. Moreover, Con has provided NO arguments to negate the resolution, and hence he does not fulfill his burden of proof. Until he does so, we have strong reasons to affirm the resolution- it is likely that a God or gods exist.

[6] http://science.howstuffworks.com...
[3] http://ia902708.us.archive.org...
[7] http://www.discovery.org...
[8] http://www.leaderu.com...
[9] http://arxiv.org...
fullofhopkins

Con

To address the burden of proof:
Pro is right - we share the burden of proof. But again, keep in mind what the resolution actually says: it is likely that a God or gods exist. Given this resolution, I do not have to prove that the nature of the universe excludes God from existing or that God is a logical contradiction. It seems all I have to do is show that it is POSSIBLE that the universe can exist without God. Then we may use Occam's Razor to infer that it is LIKELY that a God or gods don't exist as this would be multiplying entities beyond necessity. If pro can show that the universe does require a prime mover, then his BoP is fulfilled. But since our best current cosmological models do not posit a God, all I have to do to fulfill my BoP is show that pro's arguments do not hold up, i.e. the universe does not require a God.

Therefore I will again use my round to cast into doubt pro's arguments. If I can do that, then we have no reason to believe his positive claim that a God likely exists. If we have no reason to believe a positive claim, we are left with neutrality. If we are left with neutrality and we have good evidence for our neutrality, we have no reason to posit additional entities. Therefore we may conclude that a God likely does not exist as we have no reason to posit his existence.

Argument from religious experience:
I have to say I don't really understand why pro thinks this argument carries weight. "On atheism, we have no reason to believe that people would have supernatural experiences," he says. But of course this does not follow. Atheism is the lack of belief in a God; it does not tell us that our beliefs always accurately reflect the way the world is. If pro wants this argument to work, he must explain why, on theism, many people genuinely believe in the existence of ghosts, or why many people think that the Illuminati is real. The fact that many people yearn for a higher power to existence in the absence of mankind's ability to understand the world is, of course, not sufficient reason to suggest that a higher power really exists - just like it does not follow that real, metaphysical moral truths exist just because we tend to feel like they do. This is a byproduct of evolution and does not, in my view, count as sufficient proof in any way.

Do ghosts count as the most plausible theory for why many people believe in ghosts? If not, why?

The fine-tuning argument:
"The argument is supported by, but does not depend on, the contention that the universe is fine-tuned specifically for life." If that is the aim of the argument, then it fails. Sean Carroll, an astrophysicist at Caltech, has pointed out that, among other things, the entropy in the early universe was significantly lower than it would need to be to support life - a difference of more than ten figures [1]. Why would this be the case if the universe was fine-turned for life?
The thought experiment pro mentions seems to fail quite obviously to address the point of the anthropic principle. This principle says that the universe is not 'fine-tuned,' because fine-tuning necessarily implies a teleology. When we say a jet is fine-tuned, we are saying it is fine-tuned for some purpose. It is fine-tuned for flight. A computer is fine-tuned to compute. These things were designed to serve a purpose. The fine-tuning argument presupposes that the universe was designed FOR the purpose of supporting life. As I point out, though, this is a tautology. If the universe did not have conditions favorable to life, this argument necessarily could not be proposed. The thought experiment that pro suggests fails to address this point. The argument is not that it is logically impossible that the universe not exist, it is that what we view as fine-tuning is like the water in the pothole: an illusion created by retrospective observation.

I have no reason to expound upon multiverse. I simply mentioned it to show that the apparent statistical improbability of the existing universe was only significant if we presume one universe. I'm not saying we shouldn't presume one universe, I'm just saying that, given many cosmological models do posit multiverse, we do not have to commit ourselves strictly to a single-universe model.

Kalam Cosmological Argument:
"However, this is to mistake the first premise for a physical law, when it is in fact claimed to be a metaphysical law, supported both by a priori reasons and a posteriori evidence." Not at all. Here I am using a physical law as an example to show that we have reasons to doubt the metaphysical law pro proposed. My point here is precisely that the METAPHYSICAL law of cause and effect applies IN our universe, but this does not give us sufficient grounds to posit that it therefore also applies to the universe itself - in which metaphysical laws dependently exist. He cites a Craig argument that immediately begins with a false assumption: "[Craig] contends that if we take the first premise as truly matching our intuitions..." but this is precisely what is wrong with the picture! Here my point is that our intuitions may well be wrong about the beginning of the universe. We want to posit cause and effect since that's what we do in everyday life, but just as the expansion of spacetime is not bound by the physical law of light speed, nor is the beginning of the universe obligated to obey our laws of cause and effect.

BGV theorem:
I am not purporting to challenge the Big Bang model, nor am I suggesting a model that is eternal. These models may be correct, but it is not necessary to suggest a past-eternal universe in order to avoid pro's objections, therefore it would be wholly unnecessary for me to defend such a model. He says, "Even if the BGV Theorem does not conclusively prove that the universe has a beginning, it strongly points to the possibility that it does." Not at all. Again, the BGV theorem only says that our ABILITY to describe the universe classically breaks down at the Big Bang. But this is only because the singularity is governed by quantum mechanics and our laws of relativity break down at this point. This does not suggest that the universe therefore cannot be past-eternal, it only says that we have to start describing the moment at which the Big Bang occurred using non-classical mathematics. In fact, Allen Guth, one of the authors of the BGV theorem, has himself said that he "suspects the universe did not have a beginning" [1]. How could this be the case if his model supposedly shows that the universe did? Because that's not what the model actually suggests.

Pro mentions Hilbert's Hotel. But this thought experiment only shows that infinity, as a concept, is especially hard to think about. It does not by any means show that infinity is somehow logically incoherent or contradictory. At best, we can conclude that infinity is an exceedingly strange concept, and this does not seem to deserve any attention.

Conclusion:
Our best cosmological models for the beginning of the universe work perfectly well without positing the existence of God. Therefore we have no reason to posit the existence of God unless the nature of these models can be shown to be logically inconsistent or contradictory, as this would violate Occam's Razor. So while pro was right to suggest that we both have a burden of proof, his application of it was wrong. In order to refute the claim that a God LIKELY exists, all I have to do is show that we have no reason to posit his existence. To do this, all that is required is to show that our cosmological models can operate without that assumption. If they can, it would be unnecessary to invoke God. I think I have done that. I'm running out of room so I'll conclude.

Thanks pro, this was certainly interesting!
Debate Round No. 3
orangutan

Pro

In my concluding remarks, I would like to thank my opponent for an interesting debate.

Burden of Proof

My opponent reasons that as long as he can show that atheism is possible, he can use a principle of evaluating explanations known as Occam's Razor to claim that atheism is the best explanation of the universe. There are several things wrong with this. First of all, he would have to show that atheism is plausible, not just probable. Second, he would have to refute my arguments, which he has not done. My arguments work by showing that a god is the best explanation for religious experiences, for the fine-tuning of the universe, and for the origin of the universe. I have given reasons for preferring the God Hypothesis over an atheistic hypothesis like the Multiverse Hypothesis. Third, I agree with William Craig when he says, "I will agree [with the atheist] that when more familiar forms of explanation are available, then we should prefer those. But he has got to show that there are these more familiar forms of explanation available for the facts that I will be discussing, and I don't think that there are" [10]. My opponent has not SHOWN that there is a plausible explanation for religious experiences, and while he references the Multiverse Hypothesis, he does not defend it as an explanation. Furthermore, he claims that all he needs to explain the universe is a cosmological model that does not include God. But if he denies the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, this is no explanation, for how can something come from nothing? Moreover, physicists are only in the business of providing naturalistic models, so naturally they will design models without God, never mind that they don"t explain how something can come from nothing. Since my opponent has not shown that ANY naturalistic hypothesis is more plausible than the God Hypothesis, I think his appeal to Occam"s Razor fails miserably.

Argument from Religious Experiences

While on theism, we have reason to believe that people would have religious experiences, on atheism, we do not, for according to that worldview God does not exist. So if atheism is true and people have religious experiences, this requires a solid explanation- otherwise, we have good reason for preferring the God Hypothesis over the Atheistic Hypothesis. My opponent finally provides a hypothesis- people yearn for a higher power. But that hardly seems to explain religious experiences. Kids yearn for the Tooth Fairy, but they don"t experience an inner presence of the Tooth Fairy. My opponent also claims that religious belief is a byproduct of evolution but gives no naturalistic reasoning to believe that this is so. I however, provide a very clear, simple, non-ad hoc, plausible explanation for religious experiences, namely that gods exist.

My opponent also asks if the existence of ghosts is a good explanation for the belief in ghosts. No! First, people do not experience an inner presence of ghosts. Second, people more often believe in ghosts because of easily debunked media footage or sounds in the attic. Third, if ghosts existed, we would expect much more evidence of their existence. But many more people report feeling an inner presence of God than they report feeling the inner presence of a ghost. In order to demonstrate to Con how much more real the belief in God is compared to the belief in ghosts, I cite ex-Christian Mark Vulvetic on his personal religious experiences. He says, "You have to understand that atheism just was not a live option for me at all--it was on par with the notion that there might not actually be a material world at all... After all, I had personal experience of god--I knew his existence and his goodness first-hand" [11]. Nobody would say anything like that in regards to the belief in ghosts! Clearly, the God Hypothesis is still the best explanation for religious experiences.

Fine-Tuning Argument

I must confess, I am astonished to see such abysmal objections to the fine-tuning argument in my opponent's last rebuttal. As I showed in my initial speech, the fine-tuning is well-documented. Even if my opponent thinks that entropy is not fine-tuned for the universe, other constants are, and they require an explanation.

My opponent misunderstands the anthropic principle and the Barnes thought experiment. The anthropic principle explains NOTHING about why we are here. My opponent might be trying to say that he does not like the semantics of the word "fine-tuned." He can call the phenomenon a different word if he wants to, but the fact is, it is highly improbable, on naturalism, that several constants of the universe would be geared towards allowing life. He might object that I am assuming that the purpose was for life, but I already answered that objection- it could be that the purpose of the universe is for interesting chemistry instead, but fine-tuning must still be explained.

Finally, my opponent does not address my arguments against a multiverse. Arguments extend.

Cosmological Argument

I would like to review the arguments I gave to justify the first premise in my opening statement. I claimed that 1) Something cannot come out of nothing, because nothing has no properties. 2) If the first premise is not true, why doesn't anything and everything come out of nothing? 3) The truth of the first premise is shown through everyday experience. My opponent"s speed of light analogy does nothing to refute argument 1. If nothing has no properties, how can something come out of nothing? Furthermore, Con claimed that the causal principle cannot work because there is no time before the beginning of the universe, but I gave an analysis of what the causal principle means in order to show that this does not refute the first premise. In response, my opponent just chooses to attack the intuition/common sense of the definition rather than answer my first two arguments.

Moreover, my opponent seems to not understand what a metaphysical law is and how it differs from a physical law. Craig says, "These are putative metaphysical claims, unrestricted in their application. Such claims are not contingent upon the properties, causal powers, and dispositions of the natural kinds of substances which happen to exist" [8]. Metaphysical laws are not dependent on physical properties, so the beginning of the universe cannot be exempt from them.

Finally, my opponent completely ignores my claim that causes can be simultaneous with their effect, such as a ball causing an indent on a cushion from eternity past. This argument extends.

As for the BGV Theorem, Guth may have a personal bias towards a beginning of the universe, but Vilenkin has written a paper without him that concludes that the universe probably began to exist, as I cited in my previous round.

All my opponent has to say about Hilbert's Hotel is that it is strange. But it shows that if one subtracts infinity by infinity, one gets contradictory answers. This is absurd! It may be logically possible, but it certainly is not metaphysically possible! This argument remains standing.

Conclusion

My opponent has provided essentially NO argument for atheism to support his burden of proof. I have provided three arguments, namely the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Fine-Tuning Argument, and the Argument from Religious Experiences. I have refuted all his rebuttals. I thank my opponent for the debate, and I urge voters to VOTE PRO.

[10] http://www.leaderu.com...
[11] http://infidels.org...
[8] http://www.leaderu.com...
fullofhopkins

Con

Ah! For some reason I thought last round was the final one, but no matter.

Burden of proof:
Let us, yet again, look at the resolution that pro chose: It is LIKELY that a God or gods exist. It is obvious that the con position to this argument is NOT strict atheism, as I am not in any way obligated to argue that God DOES not, or CANNOT exist - only that it is not likely that he does. Pro chose mostly cosmological reasons for this position, so again, let me stress that in order for my position to hold I only need to show that God is not NECESSARY for the existence of the universe. If I can do that, then we have no POSITIVE reasons to believe in God, and therefore Occam's Razor tells us that we ought not posit his existence unnecessarily. This might just be pro confusing atheism as the negation of a belief (I do not believe in God) with atheism as a positive assertion (There is no god), the latter not being the correct definition ON HIS OWN TERMS (given the relatively weak claim in his resolution). Therefore I have fulfilled my burden of proof.

Argument from religious experiences:
I must stress again that it simply does not follow, in any way logically whatever, that because people think something is real it therefore is real. That people REALLY believe in luck and feel its presence when they, say, play the lottery, does not prove luck is real. That people REALLY feel like the spirit of their grandmother protected them during a car crash does not prove it did. Pro responds to my ghost objection by saying that no ghost could give someone the kind of inner peace that God does. But this is a trivial objection - many people believe in God because it gives them some comfort when faced with things like tragedy and death, so of course it's true that God therefore gives people a sense of comfort and ghosts do not. It still says nothing whatever about the truth of feelings that people get. I'd also like to point out I can use pro's very reasons for rejecting the ghost hypothesis to reject the God hypothesis by just changing a few words:
1. People DO feel an inner presence of ghosts (just ask them) 2. People often believe in God because of easily debunked ancient scriptures full of contradiction and inaccuracy 3. If God exists, we should expect to see much more evidence of Him.
By analogy, this argument fails.

The fine-tuning argument:
I can't do anymore to make pro understand this objection. Fine-tuning is indeed well-documented. I have not disputed that fine-tuning exists. I have said that it is tautologically true that fine-tuning exists, because if it did not, no such conversation could take place. Tautological arguments cannot be false, therefore they are not good arguments and can be easily dismissed. "Even if my opponent thinks that entropy is not fine-tuned for the universe, other constants are, and they require an explanation." Like what? This is vague conjecture. Even if it weren't, it would fall prey to the same objection as entropy.
"The anthropic principle explains NOTHING about why we are here." It doesn't purport to. In fact, asking WHY we are here is precisely what makes the fine-tuning argument a bad one: namely, it presupposes a teleology of human existence with no justification for such a belief. It seems pro has no grasped the objection.
"it could be that the purpose of the universe is for interesting chemistry instead, but fine-tuning must still be explained." This begs the question. We are, on a basic level, chemical compounds. Saying the universe is geared toward interest chemistry rather than life is not saying anything substantially different.

"Finally, my opponent does not address my arguments against a multiverse. Arguments extend." You'll note pro made no arguments against the multiverse, he just said we do not have sufficient evidence for multiverse. I agree. That's why I didn't posit that the multiverse was a correct theory.

Cosmological Argument:
Here, pro fails to understand what 'metaphysical' means. Just because something is metaphysical does not mean it is not bound by the confines of the universe. There are philosophers who believe that metaphysics transcend physics entirely, but there are equally many who think metaphysics are merely an extension of physics and therefore are bound by the universe. William Craig's statement is not a universally accepted truth, it just his interpretation of metaphysics which is predicated on a belief in God. Pro would have to provide some justification for thinking the former, and he does not.
"If the first premise is not true, why doesn't anything and everything come out of nothing?" Because anything and everything aren't the universe. I have made it clear that we are not entitled to make inference about the universe itself from evidence contained within it. This goes the other way, too. Just because it's possible that the universe came into being from nothing does not mean it's possible for things IN the universe to do so.

"As for the BGV Theorem, Guth may have a personal bias towards a beginning of the universe, but Vilenkin has written a paper without him that concludes that the universe probably began to exist, as I cited in my previous round."
If the authors of the theorem disagree, then we are not entitled draw conclusions. Here we must accept that the model does not do what pro initially claimed it did and defer to indifference (my position).

Hilbert's Hotel:
"It may be logically possible, but it certainly is not metaphysically possible! " On what grounds? Hilbert's Hotel is only a paradox in the following sense: saying "every room is occupied" and "there is no room for more guests" are NOT equal in this scenario, though they would be in a non-infinite hotel. But, as I said, this only points to the strangeness of infinity and the poverty of our language. It does not in any way show that the concept of infinity is contradictory or incoherent - logically or metaphysically. Pro has either misunderstood or misapplied Hilbert's Hotel.

Conclusion:
Pro has provided several reasons to support his claim that "It is likely that a God or gods exist." However, all of these claims may, at the very least, be drawn into doubt. Therefore we are not committed to them. As a result, it is clear that God is not NECESSARY for any of the reasons given by pro. Since the current models of the universe function perfectly well without God, it would be a violation of Occam's Razor to posit his existence. Therefore we may conclude that God likely does not exist.

I'd like to thank pro for an interesting debate! Vote for whoever you think argued more convincingly!
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by orangutan 1 year ago
orangutan
jmanwdogg, maybe you would like to start a debate on the topic.
Posted by Jmanwdogg 1 year ago
Jmanwdogg
It is entirely possible that a god exists. There is no real evidence against the existence of a god, and it is entirely conceivable that there was a being that created the planet. I'm not entirely sure it is likely that one or many exist, as there is also no empirical data that one does exist. Unlike most things, though, there is no evidence that may lead one to assume there is no god.
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