It is reasonable to Believe in A Personal God
|Voting Style:||Open||Point System:||7 Point|
|Updated:||4 months ago||Status:||Debating Period|
|Viewed:||381 times||Debate No:||95945|
Greetings, I have decided to rejoin the debate community, and find it suitable to discuss a topic that entails rational discourse and subjective feelings.
There have been a veritable plethora of god concepts advanced throughout human history, and for the most part they have been personal, aside from certain deistic entities. In our current state, the prevailing belief of god is overtly personal, as displayed by the three major monotheistic religions, however it is necessary to ask, is this reasonable. As a preliminary, I would like to define some terms as to avoid confusion. If my definitions appear esoteric, or unfair, please notify me so that I may modifiy them in such a way, as to produce a maximally beneficial and productive debate. However, if you do not notify me prior to accepting, I will take it that you are implicitly agreeing to the terms.
Reasonable- If a proposition is said to be reasonable, it is such that the proposition and entailments of the proposition appear to comport with reality.
Personal- A God is personal, if this God intervenes in human affairs, or at the very least, communicates with humans through some form of communication.
God- An entity that is at the very least transcendent, and sufficiently powerful to create our universe.
BOP: As I am implicitly asserting a claim, albeit negative, I will attempt to provide rational argumentation for substantiating my claim. However, the pro side will have to provide argumentation on his or her side. I am advocating"Not X", and the negation of "Not X" is X, therefor the pro side is holding a positive position and must submit positive argumentation, as opposed to merely negating my claims.
1) Con- Debate terms/preliminary matters
4) Further discussion(no new arguments)
5 ) Closing Statements
I would like to thank pro ahead of time for his, or her participation in what I am sure to be an engaging and enjoyable debate. Good luck!
I accept, and will take the pro position.
I'd like to thank xvyz for the opportunity to debate this resolution.
We have conversed about the definition of reasonable and will accept his definition for the purpose of this debate. My opponent's definition of reasonable is contingent on a definition of reality, a term he failed to define, so I will provide a definition of the term, reality.
Reality- the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still broader definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist. https://en.wikipedia.org...
My opponent commented in his "preliminary matters," that most god concepts throughout history have been of a personal nature. I agree with him and would add the collective contributions of humans holding these beliefs have caused the realities of daily life to be vastly improved for many of the inhabitants of the earth.
I ask that anyone who judges this debate take this question into consideration: If believing in a personal God is unreasonable, in that the proposition and entailment's of the proposition do not comport with reality, than why have there been so many discoveries and inventions of believers in a personal God, that have improved the reality of living conditions for human lives?
I look forward to a challenging and rigorous debate. Good luck!
Just because a lot of people who are otherwise reasonable believe something, doesn't make the belief reasonable. That's the definition of ad populum.
There are two ways in which to assess the reasonability of a claim:
1b. A claim that may be investigated through the first criteria is the truth of evolution. We can examine the claims that evolution makes, and can analyze the relevant evidence and determine if the evidence points towards the truth of evolution.
2b. This is what is referred to as an analytic proposition, however I have applied it to reason, as opposed to absolute certainty. For example, I believe it is reasonable for me to not believe I am a brain in a vat, or living in the matrix, because this concept is incoherent. In the reality through which we share experience, I am demonstrably not a brain in a vat, and it is incoherent to appeal to an external reality because I can’t experience it, and have no way to investigate it.
My argument will primarily hinge on the nature of the latter, but will discuss the nature of evidence and what this means for reasonability.
The Argument From Natural Epistemic Investigation
Don’t be discouraged by the terms, it’s actually quite simple.
P1) We live in the natural realm
P2) We can only investigate claims within this realm
P3) A personal God is external to this realm
C1) We cannot investigate claims pertaining to a Personal God
C2) We cannot reasonably believe in a Personal God
Given we live in the natural realm, and can only determine things to be reasonable within this realm, and by definition god is external to this realm, we have no basis for assessing the reasonability of this claim, and therefore it is unreasonable to believe it. Remember, the proposition is “is it reasonable to believe X”, not “is X reasonable”.
While I will hope to establish that X is unreasonable, I foremost hope to establish that X can’t be established as reasonable, therefore it is unreasonable to believe X.
P1:The natural realm, in philosophical context is akin to the universe in scientific context. The natural realm is the totality of material existence(space and time), and by virtue of this definition it is the case that we live in this realm, because we exist and are material.
P2: This premise a is bit more contentious, but fairly intuitive. Take any belief X, and ponder how we can come to this belief. For example, if I make the claim that water is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, this claim can be investigated through the scientific method. We have an understanding of what the terms water, hydrogen and oxygen mean, and therefore we can investigate if it appears to be the case that water is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. And if it in fact appears to be the case that water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, which is the same as stating the evidence points towards the reasonability of this claim, then the belief regarding the composition of water is reasonable. This affirms that evidence can establish the reasonability of belief. Any evidential claim can only be investigated in the natural realm because this is the realm we live in, any it is incoherent to ask if we can evaluate evidential claims outside of this realm, because everything we experience,observe, and sense is within this realm.
Let’s take a non-evidence claim in order to show that even these types of claims can only be investigated in the natural realm. For example, A rock is a rock, if I’m not looking at it. This is a fundamentally logical claim. A=A, not contingent upon observation. However, laws of logic are descriptions of the natural realm, and cannot be applied to external realms. So, I believe it is reasonable to believe that a rock remains a rock in the absence of observation, because if something is in fact a rock, my lack of observation cannot alter its nature. Given these laws of logic are natural descriptions, and make no claims about reality other than the reality we collectively experience, we cannot investigate non-natural claims through logic.
Given that we can only investigate natural claims in a natural world, a non-natural claim cannot be investigated through evidence nor logic, and by virtue, belief in something non-natural is unreasonable, because it cannot begin to be established as reasonable.
P3: This is true by definition, if God is transcendent, he is external to the natural world. If God created the universe, he was external to it, otherwise he would have been contained within the universe, and would not be transcendent.
C1: Follows from P1-P3
C2: This follows from the nature of reasonable belief. Remember, if something is reasonable, it appears to comport with reality. If a belief appears to comport with reality, then the belief is reasonable, and holding the belief is reasonable. However, since claims relating to a personal God cannot be investigated, they cannot be established to comport with reality, and by virtue, holding the belief is unreasonable. This is true in the natural realm, so it is especially true regarding supernatural claims. If I said there was an orange elephant in a neighboring galaxy, there is no way to investigate this claim, and as such it cannot be demonstrated as reasonable, and therefore it is unreasonable to believe it.
If the premises of my syllogism are true, then the conclusions follow based on the nature of reasonable beliefs and the premises themselves.
God or Schizophrenia?
It is vital to make the distinction between a Personal God, and posited interaction with this God. Recall, a God is personal IF he communicates with humans through some form of communication. The issue isn’t if we can appear to communicate with God through prayer or some medium, because it may entirely be the case that one is praying to nothing. However, if it can be demonstrated that a God actually communicates with humans through some mechanism, then we have a Good reason to believe such a God exists, however I do not see a way for this to be the case. How do we understand communication, and furthermore how do we understand that someone has communicated with us? So the question is how can a God, external to the natural realm, communicate with humans in such a way that they can reasonably establish that a God has communicated with them? My opponent may be tempted to invoke the bible as a communication medium, however this an antecedent to that issue, because if it cannot be established that a God can communicate with humans in a way in which humans can reasonably establish that a God has communicated with them, then the bible is an unreliable source.
I will now argue that a human could not reasonably distinguish between a God, and some other source. Divine communication is often displayed in the Form “God told”, but how could the recipient reasonably establish “I have been told by God”? The term “told” implies a verbal communication through some language system, transmitted through voice and received through hearing. There is no way for human to distinguish between a transcendent source of communication and a natural source. For example If God told anyone anything, it could be interpreted as a Schizophrenic episode. Furthermore, I take this to be a more rational interpretation, especially in the context of earlier humans. Humans 2000 years ago did not understand the nature of perceptual disturbances. If God had never communicated with humans up to now, and God attempted to speak to a human, it would undoubtedly be the case that a human, contingent upon if his cognitive faculties were working well, would conclude that he is hearing voices, as opposed to actually communicating with an external source. Earlier humans did not have a good understanding of abnormal psychology, so while they could not reasonably account for these voices, if all conditions were held equal, except for an understanding of abnormal psychology, given it would be unreasonable to conclude that one was the recipient of divine communication now, why would it be reasonable to conclude that one was the recipient of divine communication then?To argue such a point would be to essentially argue that the development of psychology and psychiatry have actually made us less rational, which I think is demonstrably not the case.
In her rebuttal, my opponent needs to demonstrate two things:
1.That we can investigate non-natural phenomena, otherwise a belief in a Personal God will be unreasonable so long as we cannot investigate this claim, and subsequently establish it as reasonable.2. That it would be more reasonable to conclude that one who believes they have been the recipient of divine communication interactions has been actually interacted with by God, than that they were having a schizophrenic episode.
I didn't read my opponent's argument as of yet. I wanted to follow the format that he laid out to the bast of my ability and save my rebuttal of his argument for R3. He stated in R1 that the pro side should state positive argumentation, and not just negate his claims, so I am basing my argument solely on his definitions of Reasonable, Personal, and God, as well as the definition of Reality that I provided.
The human conscious is vulnerable to the influences of Hyperreality. Hyperreality differs from actual reality but yet those who are engulfed in it are not called into question for the unreasonableness that the effects of it have on their expectations in life. For a full explanation of Hyperreality this link provides more info. https://en.wikipedia.org...;
It is important to define another term Hyperreality that I will be expounding upon during this debate. It is imperative to discuss the term in order to differentiate it from the definition of Reality and to understand the kinds of creations that hyper-reality involves and its effects on human consciousness.
"In semiotics and postmodernism, hyperreality is an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies. Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins." https://en.wikipedia.org...;
We can see by it's definition, that hyperreality is anything but reality, but is a method of tricking one's consciousness into believing in something that isn't real, is real. It is man's attempt at filling the void of believing in God, from within, in my personal opinion. Hyperreality is a type of simulation based on desires one has that cannot be realized in the realm of the here and now = reality.
People go thru great measures to entertain themselves using hyperealistic devices, usually for pleasure or for entertainment purposes. Those who both create hyperrealistic devices and those who employ their uses are not deemed unReasonable for doing so, yet those who believe a power greater than ourselves created both our surroundings as well as our own beings, (as well as the Greater Beings ability to communicate to and thru his creation) are to be deemed unreasonable according to my opponent. Is it really unreasonable to behold the land, water, sky, plants, animals, and most of all human beings, who in their own facilities posses the ability to design and create, and not fathom that some greater being is responsible? No it is natural.
I haven't gathered any evidence to support my next contention, but I can imagine that religions may have been the first to impose hyperreality on the human conscious. There motivation for doing so may have been to conform groups of people to a common belief to better control the resources and make the division of labor and goods more feasible. Religion is not however a belief in God. It is in my opinion that it's unreasonable to believe in any form of hyperreality and organized religion may be just that, but a yearning to understand who we are and why we are here is an inquiry that most thinking minds do ponder, and it seems probable (if not discouraged by hyperrealities of technology or religion) that individual inquiry may lead to the belief in a Greater Being, God, who can influence individuals from within. This is not unreasonable to believe, if we look at the complexity of our environment and the workings of our own minds.
When I mention that it is not unreasonable to believe in a personal God, it doesn't necessitate that I am referring to the God of the three major monotheistic religions of the world. I am referring to the Creative Energy that spawned the Laws that govern our existence like physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. For there to be such laws that all of science is based on there must be some kind of order that governs their predictability. These Laws were discovered by humans, but humans didn't create them, so why do humans conclude in many instances that is unreasonable to believe that there is a Greater Being who did create them, and still exists somewhere with in time and space and is even able to communicate with us on a level that we can't currently measure.
What we individually believe affects our actions. Our actions in return affect our environment as well as other humans and creatures. The butterfly effect IS real.
Let's take for example the woman who watches too much dramatization of relationships on television. The Wikipedia entry I cited mentions this so I thought it would be a good example to expand upon. Because she views relationships thru the writers' dramatizations, and her consciousness identifies with them as if they are real she may place value on those types of relationships in her own life. She may be completely out of touch with what her partner or children think or feel. She could project story lines into relationships, or she could possible become bored with the monotony of day to day life to the point that she cheats on her spouse.
The types of people who become engulfed in the hypereality of the dramatizations of movies or television, can also be eager for dramas to occur, such as the need for medical attention, or other tragedies. These are the types who seem to thrive during relatives hospitalizations or funerals. If they were in touch with the reality that many who believe in a personal God are, they would relate more somberly on such occasions.
My point is that the consciousness can't distinguish hyperreality from reality, even if the rational mind claims it knows something is only a movie for example. No one is deemed unreasonable for carrying on lengthy conversations about recollecting movies, but according to my opponent, someone is unreasonable for believing that God communicates thru other living beings or nature or thru their own inner workings. My question is why is this so?
We all share DNA, we aren't hardwired to technology. Why is it more unreasonable to to believe that who ever created the spark of life that allows our DNA to multiply thru reproduction, also has the means to communicate with us thru spiritual means, than to believe that hyperreality that the consciousness has difficultly distinguishing from reality, is beneficial to living productive meaningful lives?
I realize that my opponent may consider my contentions which are based on differentiating hyperreality from reality to be a strawman, and that the resolution of this debate is that it is reasonable to believe in a personal God. I have provided the definition of hyperreality and how it may be related to religion as well as how it is used in entertainment / technology to demonstrate that believing in a personal God isn't unreasonable in comparison to unknowingly allowing ones' consciousness to be influenced by factors meant to manipulate with inner working of the human mind.
If we were free and clear of all influences beyond reality - - the natural tendency would be to behold the complexity of our environment, and seek communion (inner knowledge) with the source of it's creation - GOD.
I would first like to thank pro for maintaining a single line of thought for her entire round, it is too often that debaters put forth a Gish Gallop of minimally defined arguments.Well, I’m not sure how this addresses the resolution, but I think the argument is if we were void of irrational influences, which is to say if we were perfectly rational, we would believe in God. As far as I can tell, pro has not put forth any actual reason to believe this is the case, I don’t believe this is the case, nonetheless I will address pro’s arguments concerning hyperreality.
Pro frames the dilemma as follows: “We can see by it's definition, that hyperreality is anything but reality, but is a method of tricking one's consciousness into believing in something that isn't real, is real.”
It is necessary to distinguish between the influence of false beliefs, and inability of the subject of false beliefs to influence. If hyperreality is the negation of reality, then it doesn’t have the ability to influence anything. It appears to be the case that pro is asserting that hyperreality is a separate entity. For example, with paranoia, if person X believes that entity Y is out to get them, and no such entity Y exists, then it is necessarily the case that Y can’t influence influence X, because Y does not exist.However, the belief itself that Y is out to get X has the propensity to affect X. Hyperreality appears to be a misinterpretation of reality, as opposed to a separate entity. So if it was the case we never misinterpreted reality, I have no reason to believe in God, I rather see it as the case that because we misinterpret reality, we believe in God. Throughout human history multiple Gods have been asserted as explanations for natural phenomena, however these Gods have been dispelled as we begin to interpret reality more rationally. Pro says: “Is it really unreasonable to behold the land, water, sky, plants, animals, and most of all human beings, who in their own facilities posses the ability to design and create, and not fathom that some greater being is responsible? No it is natural.” Pro equivocates “natural” and “reasonable”. As aforementioned, Gods have naturally been asserted to explain natural phenomena, however once we shed off “hyperreality” or misinterpretations of reality, in retrospect we are able to say that these beliefs did not comport with reality, and as such they were unreasonable. So things that are natural aren’t necessarily reasonable. While this is not a debate about evolution, evolution is a sufficient explanation to explain all of the phenomena that pro cited.
Pro says:”It is in my opinion that it's unreasonable to believe in any form of hyperreality and organized religion may be just that, but a yearning to understand who we are and why we are here is an inquiry that most thinking minds do ponder, and it seems probable (if not discouraged by hyperrealities of technology or religion) that individual inquiry may lead to the belief in a Greater Being, God, who can influence individuals from within. This is not unreasonable to believe, if we look at the complexity of our environment and the workings of our own minds.”
Once again pro equivocates intuitive and reasonable. Once again pro essentially saying it’s intuitive to believe that a God is reasonable for the complexity of the universe, however she does nothing establish this as reasonable.
Pro goes on to say”When I mention that it is not unreasonable to believe in a personal God, it doesn't necessitate that I am referring to the God of the three major monotheistic religions of the world. I am referring to the Creative Energy that spawned the Laws that govern our existence like physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. “
If you recall my criteria of a personal God, which we agreed to, this definition of God does not meet this criteria.Pro is essentially asserting a deistic God, which is not the topic of the resolution. Now on an aside, I don’t see how a “creative energy” spawned the universe. Creative implies a mental state, and energy implies matter. While space and time, and subsequently matter came into existence with the universe, so I don’t know how energy could exist prior to the universe. As for disembodied minds, I would say that minds are contingent upon brains, because mental states are inextricably tied to brain states, and brain states are contingent upon the brain,which is contingent upon matter, which did not exist prior to the universe. So when pro says a “Creative energy” spawned the universe, I do not see any justification for this claim.
“My point is that the consciousness can't distinguish hyperreality from reality, even if the rational mind claims it knows something is only a movie for example.”
While movies aren’t real in the sense that life is real, they are representations of things as if they are real, and I can compare my experience in reality, to things that would constitute hyperreality and see that they don’t coincide. If a rational mind claims to know something is a movie, and it is the case they actually know something is a movie, then it is the case that consciousness can distinguish between reality and hyperreality.
Pro sums the argument as follows”If we were free and clear of all influences beyond reality - - the natural tendency would be to behold the complexity of our environment, and seek communion (inner knowledge) with the source of it's creation - GOD.”Once again I see no reason to believe that if we were perfectly rational that we would believe in a God. This merely established that it would be intuitive to believe in God, however intuitive and reasonable are not the same thing. While this is not an evolution debate, evolution can account for the complexity we experience, and as such I don’t the slightest justification for invoking God, let alone that it would be reasonable to assert God as an explanation for anything. Furthermore, I don’t see how any of this addresses a personal God, but it was quite interesting.
Thank you again, yvxz, for a rigorous debate. You are a very challenging opponent, and I am learning a lot about the art of debate from having you as an opponent!
My opponent stated that in my rebuttal I need to demonstrate two things.
1] He stated that I will need to show that we can investigate non-natural phenomenon, otherwise a belief in a personal God will be unreasonable. I assert that what he calls non-natural is in fact natural, in that people have been hearing voices who they transcribe to being voices from the divine, since history has been recorded, therefore it is not non-natural.
Researchers are in fact investigating what is known as supernatural phenomenon. Just because they haven't found any concrete evidence for what they have been exploring doesn't mean that the supernatural realm is non-existent. Therefore, belief in such a realm and the ability to be contacted via hearing voices and believing they are from a personal God, is no more unreasonable than to deny such phenomenon exists. Until evidence exists that there without a doubt is no divine being that is able to contact humans thru them hearing voices, such a belief is not at all unreasonable.
2] Con asserts, "That it would be more reasonable to conclude that one who believes they have been the recipient of divine communication interactions has been actually interacted with by God, than that they were having a schizophrenic episode," I will thoroughly address in this round.
Con's only explanation for someone claiming to be on the receiving end of communication with the divine is mental illness. To assert that someone who has internal communication with what they perceive as divine is mentally ill, is preposterous. Even Oxford Journals, a reputable peer reviewed journal on the topic of schizophrenia recognizes the extent that culture and religious beliefs plays in the diagnosis of something as serious as schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia and Culture
Con states, "A belief is reasonable, if it appears to comport with reality." For billions of humans who live outside of western cultural norms, beliefs in the supernatural phenomenon of hearing voices do comport with reality. The human mind is as complex and diverse as the experiences that individuals experience within their cultural framework. Being on the receiving end of communication with God is realistic to those who expect to experience such within a culture that values such receivers.
Con then goes on to declare,"This is demonstrated through evidence and logic." What he fails to take into consideration is that western scientific approaches to supernatural phenomenon, including those who hear voices that they assign to being the voice of God, are just beginning to be given credence, as researches make discoveries into the ways that hearers of voices, in cultures who do not stigmatize those who experience such, are able to function in comparison to hearers of voices in cultures who label it as an illness and ignore the significance of the messages. I'm not suggesting that all voices of those who experience hearing them are of divine origin, and the fact that they are not all of divine origin disproves cons claim that those who are receivers of communication from God are mentally ill. Evidence and logic cannot be applied to every aspect of existence. Some things cannot be explained by evidence and logic, and just because something can't be explained doesn't mean it is unreasonable.
Given the following four quotations from oxfordjournals.org it is easy to conclude that not all voice hearers can be explained by mental illness.
"It is only in the 20th century, as Leudar and Thomas31 point out, that hallucinations have been described as exclusively the sign of an illness. As a result, the term “hallucination” can carry stigma. Nonetheless, events that appear technically to be hallucinations and that conform to popular expectations of the presence of God are still often reported as religious events in popular Western media."
The article also has this to say on the subject, "Al-Issa32 has suggested that Euro-American culture itself dampens the rate of hallucinations because the shared culture strives to clarify and distinguish whether a given experience is real or imaginary, and when individuals seem not to be able to make such a distinction by reporting something that seems to be a hallucination, they are likely to be labeled as out of contact with reality and therefore pathological. In contrast, he argued, many non-Western societies do not make such a rigid distinction between reality and fantasy. One might expect, then, that hallucinations would be more readily reported outside of the Western setting."
"In sum, the evidence suggests that the voice-hearing experience is deeply shaped by local patterns of understanding the self, the mind, and the fundamental nature of reality. Jenkins11 captures this richness in arguing that the subjective experience of psychosis and schizophrenia provides a “paradigm case for understanding fundamental human processes” and that “hearing voices” is undeniably a fundamental self-process that is thoroughly infused with cultural meaning."
"Hallucinations research, like most experimental work in psychology and neuroscience, is WEIRD.57 That is, a majority of participants and subjects in mainstream studies live in Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic societies, as do the researchers who study them. This limits what is known scientifically and clinically about the ways in which hallucinations are experienced, interpreted and valued across cultures, and places renewed emphasis on the importance of ethnographic and interdisciplinary approaches, as well as on increasing the number of countries and cultural groups involved in research."
Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann also concludes that cultural influences for voice hearers is a factor in how the voices are conveyed to the receiver. The variances in the tone and the messages that those in India and Ghana receive verses the tone and messages that Americans receive suggests that the messages are directed according to culture. Those who live in environments who devalue the messages of voices are more apt to be on the receiving end of negative messages. http://news.stanford.edu...
This wasn't suggested in the Stanford article, but to me this suggests that supernatural forces are able to convey messages that are in sync with the culture an individual exists in. Whether I am correct in my interpretation or not, the fact that there is a clear difference in the types of messages those who hear voices receive, shows that voice hearing isn't a cut and dry topic that can be easily studied or explained, much less automatically passed off as a mental illness. It shows that more research is needed, not that it is unreasonable to believe that hearing voices is from a divine source.
The fact that researchers in psychiatry are treating incidences of hearing voices with consideration as far as the cultural and religious significance of those who experience of such voices, shows that even in a clinical setting, being on the receiving end of communication with God, or the divine in itself is not considered to be unreasonable. Merely claiming to hear voices isn't enough to diagnose someone with schizophrenia.
What’s the difference between schizophrenia and voice hearing? Possibly only a label.
Intervoice, a website dedicated to those who experience hearing voices cites that only 1 in 3 people who hear voices are in need of psychiatric care. "Whilst one in three people who hear voices become a psychiatric patient – two in three people can cope well and are in no need of psychiatric care. No diagnosis can be given because these 2 out of 3 people who hear voices are quite healthy and function well." The cite also lists facts about other statistics of voice hearers. http://www.intervoiceonline.org...;
Eleanor Longden began hearing voices her freshman year of College. She has learned to cope with them by not feeling as thought they were to be a source of shame. She doesn't consider them to be an illness but a part of herself. "While the experiences that get labeled as symptoms of schizophrenia –and the distress associated with them — are very real, the idea that there’s a discrete, biologically-based condition called schizophrenia is being contested all over the world. While voice hearing is linked with a range of different psychiatric conditions (including many non-psychotic ones), many people with no history of mental health problems hear voices. It’s also widely recognized as part of different spiritual and cultural experiences." http://blog.ted.com...
Could it be that schizophrenia was a label slapped on to individuals who had a deeper connection to their inner workings and/or the unseen aspects of the world and that the way that those who experience hearing voices were labeled as ill caused them to experience more negative self reflections? One thing that many of the articles I read about people who experience hearing voices, is that they claim to be able to distinguish the voice of God as non- intrusive / non-demanding, while other voices can be benevolent or malevolent.
The fact that not all voices of those who are labeled with schizophrenia seem to derive from God disproves cons contention that those who claim that God communicates with them are having schizophrenic episodes.
I look forward to further conversation with yvxz on this very engaging resolution.
I appreciate pro’s kindness and would also like to express gratitude to pro for engaging in this debate.
Pro states:”I assert that what he calls non-natural is in fact natural, in that people have been hearing voices who they transcribe to being voices from the divine, since history has been recorded, therefore it is not non-natural.”
This is to miss the point. My use of the word “natural” is not in the sense that a phenomena may be common, or even a natural entailment of the human condition, as sociologist Karen Armstrong notes in Homo Religiosus. As aforementioned, my use of the word natural is in the epistemological sense. My contention is that we can only investigate claims within the natural, or material realm, and by definition a God is transcendent to this realm, and as such we can not meaningfully investigate the validity of such a claim. So pro’s objection is predicated on a failure to make the distinction between “natural” in common discourse, and “natural” in epistemological discourse.
Pro goes on to make the following note:”Until evidence exists that there without a doubt is no divine being that is able to contact humans through them hearing voices, such a belief is not at all unreasonable.”
This is to blatantly advance an argument from ignorance. Pro is essentially stating that because X has not been demonstrated to be false, then X is reasonable, and that it is furthermore reasonable to believe X. As demonstrated through my elephant analogy, this is not how claims are assessed. Even within in the natural realm, I cannot reasonably make unwarranted claims of knowledge. As an extension of Russell’s Teapot,I cannot reasonably assert that a pink elephant exists in a neighboring galaxy, however since I do not have evidence to make such a claim, it is unreasonable. Pro’s objection is predicated on an argument from ignorance, and a fallacious shifting of the BoP.
I apologize for my generalized note on schizophrenia. I should have specifically stated paracusia, which is invariably a symptom of schizophrenia seems to miss the entire point remember, my argument was that how could one reasonably distinguish between an actual case of divine communication and an auditory hallucination. Pro goes on to give a cultural analysis of Schizophrenia. This is not relevant to my point. What does it actually mean to hear voices? “A paracusia, or auditory hallucination, is a form of hallucination that involves perceiving sounds without auditory stimulus.” So the question is, in light of pro’s failure to provide a methodological framework for addressing supernatural claims, how can one distinguish between an auditory hallucination, and divine communication? If paracusia occurs in the absence of stimuli, and divine communication entails unverifiable stimuli, what framework should one employ to distinguish between these? By virtue of my prior epistemological framework, one could not, and as such it would be unreasonable for one to believe they were the recipient of divine communication. Pro has not addressed my framework, which I substantiated, and as such the conflict is unresolved.
My argument isn’t that everyone who hears voices is a schizophrenic. This is an ad absurdum. I actually have no problem with pro’s discussion of the cultural considerations of schizophrenia, however this is not the point. My argument is more foundational than this. As you recall, once again, my argument is that one could not distinguish between a schizophrenic episode, which I was using in the context of auditory hallucinations, and actual divine communication. I’m actually quite fine with everything pro says until this point.
”Could it be that schizophrenia was a label slapped on to individuals who had a deeper connection to their inner workings and/or the unseen aspects of the world and that the way that those who experience hearing voices were labeled as ill caused them to experience more negative self reflections? “
I have no problem with the notion that schizophrenia could potentially be a misappropriated label. However, pro makes a completely unwarranted leap of logic to the inner working of the world. I would like pro to provide evidence for the claim that an auditory hallucination can translate to some mystical knowledge. If you recall my epistemological discussion, how could this even be verified?
“The fact that not all voices of those who are labeled with schizophrenia seem to derive from God disproves cons contention that those who claim that God communicates with them are having schizophrenic episodes.”
This was definitely not my argument. My claim was not at all that an invariable symptom of schizophrenia was a claim of divine communication. It was that how could one distinguish between a schizophrenic episode and divine communication Pro’s statement is an utter non-sequitur.
Pro has failed to address my epistemological framework. I was careful to employ this argument first such that it constituted a prerequisite. All else is of secondary concern. Pro gives a brilliant discussion of schizophrenia as it relates to sociocultural considerations, however this does not address my point. Let me rephrase my contentions more concisely, and I apologize for any confusion that ensued from my failure to be concise;
 I have argued that claims are addressed on their adherence to evidence and logic. I have further demonstrated what constitutes a reasonable belief. As far as I can tell, pro has not actually addressed this contention in any substantive way besides shifting the BoP and advancing an argument from ignorance.
 If an invariable trait of a personal God is that the God communicates with humans, how could one reasonably verify this communication. My argument was that one could not verify communication from a God, and as such how could one further distinguish between an auditory hallucination and divine communication?
I would like to refocus the discussion along these line because it would appear that we are not on the same page.
The crux of my argument is epistemological, and I used the example of schizophrenia,and hallucinations to show this.
With this being said, I pass it back over to pro, and would like to again apologize for my inadvertent and misleading equivocation of schizophrenia and paracusia/ auditory hallucinations.
I realize that my opponent is more skilled in the art of formal debating. I hope this round I can elaborate on points that I was trying to convey that fell short of what I had intended. I appreciate the spacing of con's R4. It assisted me in composing this round.
Natural vs. Natural
I am not versed in philosophy, and I realize this is a philosophical debate, so I apologize for not grasping the way my opponent used the word natural.
I am not shifting the BoP, since it is shared. If it is unreasonable to believe in a personal God because the claim cannot be investigated thru scientific methodology; than it is equally reasonable - for those who hear voices - to believe that those voices are of a divine nature because the claim cannot be disprove thru scientific methodology. Is it possible that scientific methodology is only applicable to the physical realm, and in that it isn't always predictable? Is con claiming that only things that can be proven 100% by scientific methods should be given any credence?
One can differentiate thru discernment, and individuals who experience such phenomenon can sense the intention of the entity in which they are in communication. Not very scientific, I know, but if following one's intuition in regards to using discernment when in communication with an unseen force, brings forth a positive result, than to believe it is a personal God is not unreasonable.
Only the schizophrenic or individual who hears internal voices him/herself could distinguish between an episode and another source (God) of communication is my point. As a matter of contention, I would argue that a schizophrenic/paracusic would be the most equipped to discern whether a voice is the usual chatter, divine or even induced by modern technology. If technology was developed that could relay voices into one's mind, a schizophenic/paracusic would possibly be less likely to be duped.
Proof is the dictate of science and law; Faith is the dictate of conscience and gnosis. What is reasonable to someone who believes; is unreasonable to someone who requires proof. There doesn't have to be a consensus for what is reasonable, in order for an individual to gain something for what they reasonably believe.
If someone follows an inner voice, (or conscience) and receives positive results, how is it unreasonable to believe it is the guidance of a personal God?
I realize now that this should have been my main argument all along.
xvyz R4: "This was definitely not my argument. My claim was not at all that an invariable symptom of schizophrenia was a claim of divine communication. It was that how could one distinguish between a schizophrenic episode and divine communication Pro’s statement is an utter non-sequitur."
If one (who isn't schizophrenic) can attribute a schizophrenic episode to being mistaken for the voice of God, but not all schizophrenics claim to be in communication with the divine during a schizophrenic episode, than it stands to reason that a schizophrenic episode is equivocal as far as rationalizing it to be mistaken for communication from God.
I would like to once again thank pro for participating in this debate, which despite us largely talking past one another, was still interestingly constructive. I would like to offer a few terse rebuttals/clarifications before I offer my closing statement.
This would explain why pro and I were talking past each other. The crux of my argument was that we can only investigate claims in the natural realm, and since God is transcendent to this, we cannot investigate this claim, and as such we cannot establish the reasonability of this claim.
my apologies, this was in the context of an argument from ignorance, so my brain defaulted to shifting the BoP. I should have said moving the goal posts. I have not been discussing anything in terms of certainty; I have been discussing things in terms of reasonability, and as such, pro stating I need to completely disprove the supernatural, is to effectively move the goal posts from reasonability to certainty.
" If it is unreasonable to believe in a personal God because the claim cannot be investigated through scientific methodology; than it is equally reasonable - for those who hear voices - to believe that those voices are of a divine nature because the claim cannot be disprove through scientific methodology. "
I'm not attempting to be derisive or rude, but I'm at a loss. I have argued that claims need to be demonstrated as reasonable, as a prerequisite to one being reasonably justified in believing a claim is true. I just explained last round why the assertion that something needs to be disproved, or otherwise it is reasonable, is a fallacious argument from ignorance. Furthermore, pro just made the exact same argument. As I have argued ad nauseum, through my elephant analogy, claims need not be disproved, they need to be substantiated before belief in them can be established as rational. Keeping this in mind, I have reasonably established that we can only investigate natural claims, meaning that one cannot investigate supernatural claim, entailing that one cannot establish a supernatural claim as reasonable, and therefore it is not reasonable to believe supernatural propositions. This is definitely not set in stone. If pro would have offered an alternative epistemological framework for somehow investigating supernatural claims, that would have been something. In the absence of an alternative framework, the crux of pro's argument is an argument from ignorance. Also, just for clarity, an argument from ignorance is defined as the assertion that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proved false. In this context, pro has stated that, because I have not disproved God, or the supernatural, then they are reasonable, and once again, this is not how we assess claims.
Pro is guilty of affirming the consequent. It is the claim that if someone has been communicated with by God, then the cause can be discerned. Pro is arguing p>q,q>p. The only derivation to be made is the contrapositive(p>q then ~p>~q). It could be the case that someone could be communicated with by God, and that the cause could not be discerned, which I have argued. As such, the structure of this argument is invalid. Leaving this aside, pro states that someone suffering from auditory hallucinations, is most qualified to discern the actual source. The problem with this, is that by definition there is no actual source. This is precisely what it means to hallucinate, response to non-existent stimuli. So one discerning between a categorically non-existent stimuli, and a categorically unverifiable stimuli(at least categorically as so far that I have argued, without encountering adequate refutation) could not distinguish between the two.
just because I believe something and it provides benefits doesn't mean that it's reasonable. Pro has equivocated beneficial and reasonable. I could believe that I have fairy god parents, and this belief could provide comfort and joy, however per the established definition of reasonable, that something comports with reality, a belief in fairy god parents is demonstrable unreasonable, as well as a belief in a personal God.
1.Non-schizophrenics don't have schizophrenic episodes.
2. I'm not sure how to interpret this, but as far as I can tell, this is exactly my point. One could never substantiate the assertion that they have been communicated with by God, because this is indistinguishable from an auditory hallucination, and as such the assertion that one has been the recipient of divine communication is unreasonable.
I have argued two basic contentions:
1- We can only investigate claims in the natural world.
2- One could not reasonably distinguish between divine communication and auditory hallucinations or paracusia if one wants to be fancy.
I believe I have substantiated both of these claims. If God is transcendent to the natural world, we cannot meaningfully investigate claims pertaining to God, and as such they cannot be established as reasonable, and as an entailment, it is unreasonable to believe in a God, especially a personal one. I have also argued that divine communication is indistinguishable from paracusia, because a categorically unverifiable stimuli, and non-existent stimuli are indistinguishable.
I would to thank pro for engaging in this debate, and giving me a rigorous welcome back into the debate community. I don't just debate to win, I debate to learn, and I can honestly say I have definitely gained some new knowledge from pro's rounds, and as such I am very grateful.
This being said, pro has not offered any adequate refutations to my arguments, and as such I have upheld the BoP, and affirmed the resolution. It is unreasonable to believe in a personal God.
This round has not been posted yet.