The Instigator
DakotaKrafick
Con (against)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
rogue
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

It is logical to believe no deities exist.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
DakotaKrafick
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/1/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,189 times Debate No: 21647
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)

 

DakotaKrafick

Con

What this debate is about

The full proposition is as reads: "It is logical to believe no deities exist." My opponent, Rouge, will be arguing that it is logical to believe no deities exist. I will be arguing that it is illogical to believe no deities exist. Therefore, the burden of proof will be on both of our shoulders.

To dispel any confusion, I am an atheist, which means I do not believe in existence of deities. But I don't believe in their non-existence either (unless it is specifically defined in such a way as to be historically or logically incoherent).

There will be no semantics in this debate. I want an honest debate on which is more logical: believing in the non-existence of deities (Pro, Rouge) or neither believing in the existence nor non-existence of deities (Con, me).

The term "deity" carries a wide spectrum of possible meanings, but for the purposes of this debate, let's define "deity" as "a supernatural creator of the universe".

Debate structure

Round one: Introduction/acceptance/opening arguments (if Rouge chooses)
Round two: Opening arguments/rebuttals
Round three: Rebuttals
Round four: Rebuttals/Closing statements
rogue

Pro

I thank someone for actually debating them when I suggest a debate! Even if I disagree it still shows intellectual integrity. This should be an interesting debate!
Debate Round No. 1
DakotaKrafick

Con

Thank you, Rogue. It's good to be up against such a seasoned and high-ranking debater such as yourself, and I'm looking forward to this debate.

Why do we believe anything?

To begin I'd like to address the main issue of this debate: How can we determine the truth or falsity of a claim (such as "A deity exists")? The answer is (and I'm sure my opponent would agree), of course, evidence. Whether it be observable physical data or a logically valid syllogism, evidence is the only reason that adequately justifies a belief.

For instance, if I told you your spouse was cheating on you and left it at that, you would demand evidence to support my claim before you even bothered to take it seriously. And if I refused to present evidence, or if I was otherwise unable to provide any, then you would remain as unconvinced as you were before I even told you (which is to say not at all).

If a claim has adequate evidence supporting it, then it should be believed to be true. If a claim has adequate evidence contradicting it, then it should be believed to be false.

So then should we believe God exists or believe God doesn't exist?

To say we must believe any claim to be either true or false commits the logical fallacy known as "false dichotomy", an invalid declaration or implication that only two categories or options exist when, in fact, three or more conceivably do. In this case, a third option exists when presented with a claim: not forming a belief on way or the other, due to insufficient supporting or contradicting evidence. (Please note I am not accusing Rogue of this fallacy; I'm just explaining the logic behind my stance.)

Now imagine, hypothetically, I approached you while holding a closed shoebox and told you "This box contains a deck of playing cards." Without me saying or presenting anything else, should you believe that my claim was true? Of course not, and those who do are overly gullible. The claim may, in fact, be true, but there's no reason to believe so without evidence.

Should you believe, then, that my claim was false? Again, the answer is no; those who do are overly skeptical. While the claim may be false, there is still no reason to jump to conclusions. There is an equal amount of evidence to support the claim that the box contains a deck of playing cards as there is to support the claim that the box does not contain a deck of playing cards. Therefore, the claim "This box contains a deck of playing cards" shouldn't be believed to be false, either (which is the equivalent to saying the claim "This box does not contain a deck of playing cards" shouldn't be believed to be true).

So, then, what if I asked you "Does this box contain a deck of playing cards?" The logically valid answer is neither "Yes" nor "No", but is "I don't know, and will continue to not know until further evidence is either presented or discovered".

Absence of evidence is evidence of absence?

The popular meme "Absence of evidence is evidence of absence" was popularized by the intellectual icon Carl Sagan, but falls short of the logical truth. In reality, an absence of evidence is just that: an absence of evidence in support of the truth or falsity of a claim. My failing to present evidence in support of the existence of the deck of playing cards does not necessarily mean it does not exist. It only means your belief in its existence would be unjustified.

Likewise, though, your believe in the deck's non-existence would also be unjustified without contradicting evidence to the claim that it exists.

The Divine Shoebox

A deity, by definition, is supernatural and therefore transcends our physical universe, the only place we can ever hope to obtain evidence of anything. It's like the deck of playing cards in the box (if, in fact, there even is a deck of paying cards in the box); it's impossible to logically deduce its existence or non-existence.

Do not misunderstand, though: we CAN logically deduce that some things don't exist. For instance, if I had told you instead that there was an Orca whale in the shoebox, you would be justified in believing that claim to be false (since everything we know about Orca whales contradicts the notion that one can fit in a shoebox).

Similarly, we can infer that a maximally omnipotent deity does not exist (a deity capable of anything, including logical absurdities). We can also infer that an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent deity does not exist due to all of the ongoing evils in the world.

But can we say it is logically justified to believe no deity at all exists? Without evidence, no. But I have rambled far too long. Rogue has already said she has evidence for the non-existence of deities, so I will allow her to present this to us.

Over to you, Rogue.


rogue

Pro

I have no issues with Con's first two contentions.

I do however have an issue with Con's third claim. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence in the sense that you said before: if no evidence is show that leads one to believe something exists, there is no reason to believe it exists.

The difference between God and the shoebox is that the deck of cards in the shoebox is a completely plausible claim. It is completely possible for the deck of cards to be in the shoebox. That claim does not go against known theories and scientific law. It is not a miraculous claim. The existence of God however, is. It is not a good comparison. God's existence is highly unlikely knowing what we know about how the universe works, especially if you believe in Biblical literalism. God's hand in our lives does not fit with modern science. How is he controlling our world? How is he controlling our behavior? We know how plants grow and how our behavior works, and there really is not room for God. We know that everything that occurs in our world occurs through natural, not supernatural, processes. So where is God?

"A deity, by definition, is supernatural and therefore transcends our physical universe"- What does "transcends our physical universe" mean? Can we not only sense the physical? If so, how would we have any way of sensing that which transcends the physical? Metaphysical is just another word for supernatural. There is no reason to believe in the supernatural. The more progress we make, the more we find out that everything occurs because of natural processes. The only supernatural explanations people believe are the ones that haven't been completely disproved. We can rightly say that most supernatural explanations were created by people when they did not understand something. Is it logical to believe or even seriously consider the possibility of supernatural explanations knowing this? You can never completely rule them out, but rationally, one would not take them seriously without lots of evidence to suggest that they are correct.

"if I had told you instead that there was an Orca whale in the shoebox, you would be justified in believing that claim to be false (since everything we know about Orca whales contradicts the notion that one can fit in a shoebox)."- God is an Orca in a shoebox. Like I said, God does not fit into what we know about the universe.

Con is under the assumption that there is no evidence for God's nonexistence. I disagree. Now all my evidence is circumstantial and one cannot make a conclusive claim from it, but it is enough to make it logical for one not to believe in a deity.

We have had countless religions over the course of human history. Most of them we now do not take seriously and call them "myths." Those religions had no more evidence than that of the modern ones. Why should we take the modern ones any more seriously?

All religions claim that all other religions are at least partially wrong. Is it really very likely that one of them happens to be right? Is it not more likely that they are all wrong and that no deity exists?

There are also natural, much more plausible, explanations for most "supernatural" claims. For example, people can see "ghosts" if the contingencies around them were similar enough to known stimuli where they normally would have seen the dead person.

There are also natural explanations for the creation of religion and mysticism. Simply put, when humans could not explain something, they made up stories which over time developed into religions.

My comparison will be the classic "invisible unicorn." The existence of an invisible unicorn is a fantastical claim since there is no evidence for its existence, yet its nonexistence is not provable. The circumstantial evidence against this claim is that a unicorn has never been documented to have existed, neither has a truly invisible creature. Is it really logical to reserve judgement completely for something that has no evidence for its existence, has circumstantial evidence against its existence, but that cannot be proved to not exist? No! If a claim is fantastical and has no evidence for its existence, one can logically believe it does not exist since the probability of its existence is very low. One cannot logically make an affirmative claim, but one can logically believe.
Debate Round No. 2
DakotaKrafick

Con

It's clear that Rogue's stance and my own scarcely differ; we are in agreement about many things. However, while I can hardly find fault in the truth of any of her premises, the conclusion she inevitably draws from them is invalid.

She begins by saying she has some objection to my "absence of evidence is evidence of absence" point, but she continues to simply agree with everything I've said. An absence of supporting evidence is justification to not believe a statement is true. There is no evidence supporting "A deity exists"; therefore, "A deity exists" should not be believed to be true. But the same can be said for "No deity exists"; there is no evidence supporting that claim, so it should not be believed to be true.

So what is Rogue's supporting evidence for "No deity exists"? Well, firstly, we can dismiss her comments about Biblical literalism and a deity who personally interacts with the lives of humans. Obviously the historical claims of the Bible can be definitively disproven with just about any single field of science, be it anthropology, astronomy, archeology, biology, chemistry, or almost any other (if not every other). This debate isn't about the belief in a literal interpretation of the Judeo-Christian deity, nor is it necessarily about a deity who even has a personal interest with the lives of humans; it's about a belief in any deity at all.

Rogue asked "What does transcends our physical universe mean? Can we not only sense the physical? If so, how would we have any way of sensing that which transcends the physical?" The answer is, we wouldn't. That's the point I was making: it's impossible to find any evidence relating to deities (be it supporting or contradicting). Without opening the lid of the shoebox, we can't be sure if there's a deck of playing cards in it or not; similarly, without searching beyond our physical universe, we can't be sure what is and isn't there. Wait a second... is there even a such thing as "beyond our physical universe"? I don't know. I see no reason to believe there is; but, then, I see no reason to believe there isn't, either.

She asks "Is it logical to believe or even seriously consider the possibility of supernatural explanations knowing [most phenomena have natural explanations]?" No, it's not. Don't forget I'm an atheist, too, Rogue. I don't believe in the supernatural, and I don't take claims of the supernatural seriously. I don't even bother entertaining a claim, no matter what that claim is, unless it has supporting evidence.

You seem to greatly underestimate the logical gap between not believing a claim is true and believing that claim is false. Evidence is necessary to justify any belief, regardless if that belief is a positive (deities exist) or negative (deities don't exist) assertion. And an absence of evidence in support of a claim does not equate to evidence in contradiction to that claim.

Now that all of those details have been dealt with, let's take a look at Rogue's evidences for the non-existence of deities:

1. "A deity exists" goes against known scientific theories.

She says the deck of playing cards and God were too incomparable for a couple reasons, one being that the deck of playing cards doesn't "go against known theories and scientific law". Which scientific theories are you talking about, Rogue?

Science concerns itself with and deals solely with the physical universe, so suffice to say there is no "God doesn't exist theory".

2. "A deity exists" is a miraculous claim.

This was her second objection to the incomparability of the cards and God. I assume by this she means that "A deity exists" is an extraordinary claim, one that sounds totally strange to an unbiased party. I can agree with this. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to be taken seriously.

However, I would argue that (following this same pattern of logic) "deities don't exist" is also an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence to be taken seriously.

Generally, though, what is considered "extraordinary" or "miraculous" or "bizarre" is too skewed by personal bias. Once upon a time in our species' history, "The Earth is round" would have sounded like a spectacularly nutty claim. It's better to form beliefs based on actual evidence rather than mere speculation.

3. Most religions in history are now considered myths.

There's quite a few things wrong with this evidence:

1. What is popularly considered true does not equate to what is actually true, and what is popularly considered false does not equate to what is actually false. I'm sure my opponent can agree that just because millions of people believe the Christian deity exists doesn't mean it does. Likely, just because people generally consider the Greek gods myths doesn't mean they don't exist.

2. Most, if not all, deities that mankind has invented have a creation story accompanying them that contradict the scientifically known history of the universe; that's the reason I believe the Greek gods and such don't exist. However, a deistic deity makes no such false claims; such a deity would simply have created the Big Bang singularity or have been the catalyst of the expansion of space-time.

3. This commits the logical fallacy of composition: assuming that something is true for all of a whole, because that thing is true for part of a whole. (Example 1: all women I've met have been single; therefore, all women must be single. Example 2: most invented gods have been fictional; therefore, all invented gods must be fictional.)

4. You are not only asserting "No deity in religion exists," but "No deity at all exists"; this includes the deistic belief of a deities.

4. There are natural explanations for most "supernatural" claims.

Again, this commits composition: most natural phenomena we know of have natural explanations; therefore, all phenomena must have natural explanations.

5. People used to use God as a way to explain things they didn't understand.

While this is probably how religions started, it does not necessarily mean a deity does not exist. In other words, the fact that a hypothesis is formulated invalidly does not necessarily negate its truth.

For example, ancient people used to use leeches as a form of medical treatment to alleviate almost all illnesses, even things as basic as headaches, by sucking out the "bad blood". Of course, as time progressed, so too did our knowledge of human anatomy, biology, and diseases. Nowadays, we don't use leeches in hospitals for anything, except of course for certain conditions related to blood circulation and skin problems, such as abscesses and thrombosis. Even though our original hypothesis concerning the medical uses of leeches was clearly invalidly formulated, it turned out to not be entirely wrong.

Back to you, Rogue.
rogue

Pro

rogue forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
DakotaKrafick

Con

What a shame. Extend all arguments and refutations.

rogue

Pro

rogue forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by The_Fool_on_the_hill 4 years ago
The_Fool_on_the_hill
The Fool: interesting
Posted by rogue 4 years ago
rogue
thanks!
Posted by DakotaKrafick 4 years ago
DakotaKrafick
Fixed.
Posted by rogue 4 years ago
rogue
I hate having JUST opening arguments in the first round. Can we change that? I'll even start if you want.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
DakotaKrafickrogueTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited the last two rounds, leaving Con's case unanswered.