The Instigator
Nzrsaa
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
fnarkchang
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

It is reasonable to believe that God exists

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/1/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,163 times Debate No: 39823
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
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Nzrsaa

Pro

First round for acceptance.

God = the God of the monotheistic religions
fnarkchang

Con

it is unreasonable to believe that God exists
Debate Round No. 1
Nzrsaa

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting my debate.

Not only do I think it is reasonable, I think that is is probable - even certain that God exists. To attempt to prove this I will argue that the Ontological argument, following modal logic - along with two sub-arguments, means that it's actually more than reasonable to assert that God exists than not.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

1) It is possible that a maximally great being exists
2) If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world
3) If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then a maximally great being exists in every possible world
4) If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then a maximally great being exists in the actual world
5) If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists
6) Therefore a maximally great being exists
7) Therefore God exists

So if premise 1 is correct, then premises 2-7 follow logically and necessarily. So what reasons do we have to think that premise 1 is correct? I will present 2 arguments that, if correct, prove that it is possible that a maximally great being (i.e God) exists.

COSMOLOGICAL

1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause
2) The universe began to exist
3) Therefore the universe has a cause.

This cause has to be: Timeless (As it brought time into existence), changeless, immaterial (As it brought space and matter into existence), personal and hugely powerful (By the mere fact that it brought the universe into existence)
There are only two things that have all these properties - Abstract Objects (So numbers or Laws) or an Unembodied Mind or Conscience (So 'God'). And since Abstract Objects cannot cause anything, by deductive reasoning the cause of the Universe is an Unembodied Mind.

PREMISE 1

What reasons do we have to believe Premise 1? Here are the main three reasons:

- Something cannot come from nothing - the golden rule of Metaphysics.

- If something can come from nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why everything and anything comes into being from nothing.

- Common experience and scientific evidence confirm premise 1. This is always verified and never falsified, and an appeal to inductive reasoning.

PREMISE 2

What about Premise 2? Well, we know this for 2 reasons:
- The Big Bang; this states that the universe cosmically expanded from a singularity a finite time ago, which is accepted by essentially all cosmologists today.

- An actual Infinate cannot exist. In 2003, three leading cosmologists: Arvin Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary. In other words, the universe began to exist.
Additionally, Infinity does not exist because the very concept of it is an absurdity. To give an analogy - if i have an infinity number of coins, numbered 1,2,3 etc. up to infinity. If i took away all the even numbered coins, i would be left with all the odd numbered coins - so infinty. Infinity--infinity=infinity. Now if i took away all the coins numbered greater than five. I would then be left with 5 coins. So infinity--infinity=5. this is contradictory as if i take the same value away from infinity, it comes up with contradictory results.
So the universe cannot be infinite in the past - but rather have a finite beginning.

PREMISE 3

Premise 3 logically follows

ARGUMENT FROM MORALITY

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist
3. Therefore God exists

PREMISE 1

If God does not exist, there is no transcendent source for moral values and duties. So if God does not exist, morals are subjective - no moral action is fundamentally better or worse than another. Similarly if God exists, morals are objective - God is the setter of morals, and moral actions are good or bad according to his standards. With objective moral values and duties, it would state that for example, helping a homeless man is better as a moral action than say, child abuse.

PREMISE 2

How do we know morals are objective? Well, through personal experience. When we see an animal, we know that petting it would be morally better than attacking it. Equally, when we see a child, we know that talking in a friendly manner to it is morally better than assaulting it. I don't think that anybody who isn't a sociopath can deny that morals are objective.

PREMISE 3

Therefore God exists

So we have formulated some characteristics of this being - it is transcendent of time and space, is changeless, personal, hugely powerful and the source of moral authority.
A Maximally Great Being has all of these qualities so I think that it is firmly established that not only is it possible, it is even probable that a Maximally Great Being exists and so the rest of my argument follows.

My opponent now needs to refute my arguments to deny that to believe in God is reasonable.
fnarkchang

Con

Ontological Argument
A perfect being cannot exist, because characteristics of a perfect being would contradict with one another. For example, an omnipotent being would be able to create beings from free will but an omniscient being would be able to know what this person will do, therefore contradictory to free will.

Cosmological Argument
I do not agree entirely agree with premise 3. The knowledge that humans have in the scope of the universe is so limited, that the wisest conclusion here is one of ignorance. We are not capable of demonstrably proving in an absolute manner that the universe does in fact have a cause.

However, if it were the case that the universe did indeed have a cause, you cannot equate "cause" to a "creator".

1.The creator is immaterial
It is impossible in the physical realm for anything immaterial to create something material, therefore it would be reasonable that the cause of the universe can be of material.

2.A conscious
it is not necessary that a cause needs to be conscious in order for an event to happen. An apple falls off a tree because of high winds; notice, that there is not a conscious present but a cause and an event occur, therefore it can be the case that the cause of this universe is not conscious.

3.Non-physical mind
You note mind as a single object, but would it be logically wrong if I said the universe could have been caused by the agreement of multiple non-physical minds? How are you so certain that the cause of this universe is a single, conscious, immaterial object?

Morality

Morals are subjective.
Morality is subject to the environment and circumstance that is presented. If morals are objective, then it would be that in every single case killing is wrong, when I can easily concoct a scenario in which killing would be justified.
Debate Round No. 2
Nzrsaa

Pro

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

By definition, a Maximally Great Being cannot be contradictory. If you laid out all the qualities that a Maximally Great Being possesses, 'uncontradictory' would be down there.
As for the example Con gave, Just because this being is omniscient doesn't mean he can't give his creation free-will by any stretch! All it states is that God knows what a person will freely do in any set of circumstances ahead of time.
I think this is more of a fore-knowledge/middle-knowledge confusion. I personally adhere to fore-knowledge, as do the vast majority of monotheists and so I don't think this is a serious objection to the monotheist interpretation of a Maximally Great Being.

COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

Out of all the premises I laid out, I have to say, I am surprised my opponent disagreed with Premise 3. Because if the first two premises are correct, then the conclusion logically and necessarily follows. Con did not even attempt to refute my first two premises and so if they are correct, which i certainly think they are, Con cannot then attack the conclusion that follows. Con has then made no attempt to prove otherwise.

My opponent then proceeds to say this:
'However, if it were the case that the universe did indeed have a cause, you cannot equate "cause" to a "creator" '
This is exactly what you can do! For without the cause, there would be nothing! No creation! So the cause IS the creator by definition.

IMMATERIAL CREATOR
Remember I gave reasons to think that the cause has to be immaterial? Considering the physical world came into being a finite time ago, the cause of the universe CANNOT be a physical cause - otherwise, it would have had to exist BEFORE it existed in order to cause the universe. This is an obvious contradiction, and so the cause of the universe HAS to be immaterial.

A CONSCIOUS
My opponent states that a conscious is not necessary as a cause of a universe. Really? Then how is it going to make the decision to create or not create? How is an unconscious being going to create anything at all?
In the example Con gave, we need to distinguish between material and efficient cause.
Aristotle distinguished between them - An efficient cause is an agent that brings about an effect; whereas a material cause is the matter that constitutes the effect.
To give an example - Leonardo Da Vinci is the efficient cause of the Mona Lisa - while the material cause is the paint and canvas.
In my opponent's example, the wind would be a material cause. However, the universe CANNOT have a material cause - as I have explained before, the cause has to be immaterial; therefore the cause of the universe is an efficient cause which HAS to be conscious. The Mona Lisa could not have an effiecient cause that was not conscious, otherwise it just wouldn't exist - There would be no artist to paint it.

NON PHYSICAL MIND
In the sense of my cosmological argument, sure. There could be numberous causes. But I didn't argue that, and it is not the point I am trying to achieve. Remember - I am trying to prove that it is POSSIBLE that a maximally great being exists, and I feel I have achieved that in the argument.
We can also apply Occam's Razor to the argument - only one explaination is necessary, and to apply any more than what is needed is gratuitous.

MORALITY
Well, my opponent has in fact proved my point! In his example, he makes a moral judgement - 'I can easily concoct a scenario where killing would be justified'. Soin other words, one course of action is morally 'better' than another - this is exactly what objective morality asserts. Were morals to be subjective, any killing, regardless of circumstances, is no more or less wrong than giving to charity for example.
If killing is in any way 'justified' under any circumstances, as my opponent states, that shows the objectiveness in morality.

CONCLUSION

My opponent has not sufficiently refuted my arguments and so the premise still stands - it is possible that a Maximally Great Being exists. The rest of the Ontological argument follows.
fnarkchang

Con

Ontological Argument
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." - Jeremiah 1:5
You contradict yourself when you say free will and fore-knowledge can coexist. If one were to know absolutely what I were to do tomorrow, and that I will never be potent enough to change my actions contrary to the fore-knowledge, then it is evident that I do not have free will. I am predestined to do whatever it is that I am known to do. Moreover, if the god is able to "sanctify" and "ordain" a person before he is even made in the womb, then it is evident that this person will not have free will, as his actions are already known to be holy enough to be a prophet.
You will never convince me or anyone reasonable that omniscience and omnipotence can coexist within the powers of one being. It's inherently contradictory, and thus, a perfect being in all aspects cannot exist.

Cosmological Argument
You're right, I am open to the possibility that the universe does have a cause, but there are also scientific theories that there was a material universe prior to the big bang and it just so happens that it collapsed and began anew. Both are a possibility, but as a skeptic, I'm not to believe either case until demonstrable and evident proof can be given. Therefore, when asked upon whether or not the universe has a cause, I'm unable to give such information because of I simply do not know for sure. Also, if one were to suggest that the universe has a cause, it is their burden to absolutely and demonstrably prove such a case to us and prove all other cases such as the multiverse theory, pocket universe theory, and chaotic inflation theory wrong, and until then, me or anyone reasonable should not believe in any case.

Immaterial
"it would have had to exist before it existed..."
ok...
I do not see the logic of your contradiction because it is incredibly vauge. Moreover, I will still continue to abide to my original reason why the creator cannot be immaterial - In the sense that I have never seen an event without a cause, in the same sense, I have never seen anything immaterial create something material, and until you can objectively prove otherwise, I cannot and will not change my position, nor should anyone reasonable. And indeed, if god truly exists, then it should be of ease to prove that miracles and contradiction to physical laws can occur.

A conscious
"Then how is it going to make the decision to create or not create?"
Creation of an object is independent of a conscious; a conscious does not need to be present for matter to be created. When winds blow a Tragopogon dubius plant and its seeds fall onto the ground, and rain and sunshine is present, there will indeed grow another Tragopogon dubius plant, and voila. No "effective cause" is needed to create something.
It is possible that the universe had already existed prior due to other scientific theories, therefore it is also possible that material had existed before the big bang, therefore, it is also possible that a material cause without an efficient cause, caused the beginning of space and time in our universe.

Non-Physical Mind
"We can also apply Occam's Razor to the argument"
Occam's razor states that a claim with the smallest amount of assumptions is USUALLY the correct one. Notice how it's not an absolute rule, but a suggestion. However improbable, my claims are still viable, and you cannot use occam's razor to "prove" that my claims are false. Therefore, I still abide to the possibility that there can be several non-physical minds.
"There could be numberous causes"
If you are arguing the case for an immaterial, omnipotent, conscious creator (notice how specific that is), and use the cosmological argument to lay the foundation for such a being, and the proceed to say, "well, in the sense of the cosmological argument, there could be numerous causes," then your foundation for such a specific being has already fallen apart, and therefore your cosmological argument is not viable for the creator you're trying to prove.

Morality
My opponent clearly does not know the definitions of objective and subjective morality.
If you were born in Nazi Germany in 1935 under the Third Reich in a extremely anti-Semitic home, do you honestly believe that you would know better? I am not afraid to agree that if these were the circumstances that were given to me, I would've hated the Jewish people, and anyone reasonable would say so too.
Morality is subjective, and what that means is that my morals are subject to the environment around me.
"Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual." - Frederic Nietzsche
Debate Round No. 3
Nzrsaa

Pro

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

Straight off the mark, we have a problem - My opponent quotes the Bible. I never mentioned Christianity in my arguments - nor do they necessarily appeal to it. In fact, Christianity has nothing to do with any of my points.
My opponent states that free-will and fore-knowledge cannot co-exist. But I really see no reason to believe this.
As I have already stated - we have free-will to do whatever we want to in any set of circumstances. God will simply know what we will choose. What is the problem with that? If we decide to choose differently, God will have foreknown differently.
Say that I foreknew that someone was going to freely choose to steal from an old lady. Does that mean that they did not freely choose to commit this action? No. If the thief freely chose to not steal, then I would have foreknown that they would not steal.
There is NO contradiction between free-will and foreknowledge.
Despite the fact that the Bible quote has nothing to do with this debate, I will respond to it anyway.
In the context, all it means is that God had appointed Jeramiah as a prophet a long time ago - all as part of God's divine 'plan' for humanity. Now this does NOT mean that Jeramiah does not have free-will. He could choose to be God's Prophet, in which case God would have foreknown. Or, Jeramiah could have chosen not to become God's prophet - in which case, God would have foreknown. Just because God foreknows a course of action does not mean that there is no free-will!

COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

You can't merely say 'I simply do not know for sure'. Because I have given an argument. And it states that if the two premises that I gave are correct, then the conclusion 'therefore the universe has a cause' follows inescapably. I have given reasons to think this and yet Con has not given any reasons to think otherwise; but simply dismisses it, saying he does not know. And when con says 'it is their burden' I completely agree! And I have given reasons to think that the universe has a cause! I also gave reasons to think that any other universal theorem is false through the Bourde-Guth-Valenkin theorem as i described earlier. As for the multiverse theory, my argument will still apply to the 'motherverse'. So I have given reasons as to why the universe has a cause, but my opponent has not given a single rebuttal. Rather, he just dismisses it saying he does not know.

IMMATERIAL

When I said 'it would have had to exist before it existed', this was based on earlier arguments. Considering all of the physical world came into existence a finite time ago (Bourde-Guth-Valenkin), there would have been a point when the physical world did not exist. So in order for a physical cause - which by definition has to be a part of the physical world - to be the cause of all the physical world, the physical world would have to exist before it existed in order to accomidation the physical cause. This is an obvious contradiction.
My opponent says 'I have never seen anything immaterial create something material'.
So is my opponent saying that a thought cannot create an action?
If someone thinks 'I am going to walk over there' and then walks over there, this is an example of a non-material cause (a thought), creating the effect of movement.
But can thoughts then cause the universe? Simply, No. Thoughts can't cause anything as they themselves have a material cause (the human brain), and the cause of the universe has to be uncaused, immaterial, timeless, changeless etc, as I described in my earlier arguments (thoughts are caused, bound by time and change).

A CONSCIOUS
Ok so firstly, let's re-establish the definitions of efficient cause and material cause:
Efficient cause: the agent that brings about a change
Material Cause: The matter that constitutes a thing.
In Con's example, the efficient cause is the wind, rain and sun. This is obvious. the material cause is the plant and seed. This is also obvious. So yes, an effective cause is needed.
As with the rest of my opponent's points, he has obviously not paid attention to any of my premises. I refer him back the the Bourde-Guth-Valenkin theorem - any universe which has on average been expanding throughout it's history (as our universe has done), cannot have an infinite past but must have a past space-time boundary. The universe has not existed forever, and began to exist a finite time ago.

NON-PHYSICAL MIND

Again, I re-iterate my previous points.
If when Occam's Razor, when applied to the cosmological argument even makes it PROBABLE that a maximally great being exists, then my Ontological argument has succeeded in proving Premise 1 and therefore God exists.
Additionally, a number of Maximally Great Beings (Omnipotent Beings) is simply impossible - Otherwise the being would not be maximally great (a contradiction).
So if I have established that it is possible that a maximally great being exists - as I have done in my cosmological and moral arguments - then we can apply my Ontological argument to conclude that a maximally great being exists. And as numberous Maximally Great Beings is a logical impossibility, we can conclude that there is only one creator of the universe, which is God.

MORALITY

Okay let's give some definitions.
To say that Morals are Objective is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so.
To say that Morals are Subjective is to say that one person's moral opinion is No more fundamentally wrong than another person's.
Subjective morality is different to different VIEWS on morals, which my opponent is confusing. Subjective MORALITY is to do with whether a view is right or wrong or not. Subjective VIEWS is whether a person SEES a certain Moral activity as fundamentally Good or Bad.
So Con obviously thinks that morals are subjective. Does he then think that Child abuse is just fine morally? Does he think that it is alright morally to steal from an old woman? Because these are the types of moral atrocity that subjective morality asserts.
In my opponent's view, the Fundamentalist Religioue terrorist is doing nothing fundamentally wrong when they fly a plan - their morals are just subjective to their environment just as you and me have our morals that are subjective. Now this is obviously not true. We KNOW that what they are doing is fundamentally wrong. Just like they 'know' that what they are doing is fundamentally 'RIght'. This is OBJECTIVE morality.
I said that the main reason we know morals are Objective is our own sense of right and wrong. Regardless of our environment, we know that one moral action is right, and another wrong. This is what Objective morality asserts. Even If that is because of our environment - it is still objective.
Morals are subjective if no moral value or duty is better or worse than another. But this goes completely against our immediate experience, we know that to kill someone is a worse moral action than to love someone. It's basic logic.

CONCLUSION

Overall I don't think that my opponent has successfully countered any of my arguments. He merely dismisses my Cosmological argument and says nothing about it's premises, and does not successfully assert that morals are not objective. As a result, we can confidently say that premise 1 of the Ontological argument is very sound - even certain, meaning the conclusion logically and necessarily follows. So I think it is entirely reasonable to believe God exists.
fnarkchang

Con

Ontological Argument
If it was foreknown what one were to absolutely do, then that person has no other choice than to forego what he is absolutely supposed to do. My opponent mentions that one can decide against it, which is incorrect, because the being then would not be omniscient.
1. A being is omniscient and knows every choice a human being will make
2. That human being is then predestined to do whatever he is foreknown to do and cannot decide against it, otherwise the seemingly omniscient being is not omniscient
3. Therefore, if one is predestined, he does not have freewill
This is of incredibly elementary apprehension, and because you have been brainwashed, you keep pulling fallible logic out of your butt to justify such a case. You need to stop lying to yourself and let your brain do some work.

COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
My opponent says I dismiss the cosmological argument when that's not true. There are more scientific theories of the universe prior to the big bang that contradict the cosmological argument, but since they are theories I cannot know for certain which one is of truth, so therefore, as a skeptic, I conclude that this cannot be known for sure at this point in time with the knowledge humans can ascertain. I accept the possibility of the cosmological argument but I do not adhere to it, as any one reasonable should.

IMMATERIAL
"Considering all of the physical world came into existence a finite time ago"
That is something we cannot know for certain. There are theories that the physical universe did indeed exist before the big bang. So, thus, my conclusion that the creator is material, is still viable.
"So is my opponent saying that a thought cannot create an action?"
An incredibly poor example as an action is not material. Swinging my arms in the air does not make matter. A more proper example would be the number "three" creating a chair, which I have never seen.

A CONSCIOUS
"In Con's example, the efficient cause is the wind, rain and sun. This is obvious. the material cause is the plant and seed. This is also obvious. So yes, an effective cause is needed."
My opponent has listed the efficient cause and the material cause in this case for a cause and an event, but notice that a conscious is still not present. My opponent has failed to realize that i was not arguing for the case of an "efficient" cause nor a "material" one, but instead, I was arguing against the case that a conscious is needed in a cause and event, and my opponent affirmed the case that a conscious is not needed for a material and efficient cause in the quote above.

Non-physical Mind
"If when Occam's Razor, when applied to the cosmological argument even makes it PROBABLE that a maximally great being exists, then my Ontological argument has succeeded in proving Premise 1 and therefore God exists."
Sure probable, but I will certainly not adhere to it, nor anyone reasonable until demonstrable and evident proof is given.
"Additionally, a number of Maximally Great Beings (Omnipotent Beings) is simply impossible"
I have never stated in my argument that these beings were perfect. Therefore, my original argument is still probable.

Morality
"Does he think that it is alright morally to steal from an old woman?"
For an example, say my father is currently having a hypoglycemic attack and is in dire need of some sugary substance, say orange juice, and to add to the example, let's say I'm very poor and the only person within my view is an old lady carrying some cash. I do not have time to ask for the money, and so i take it and buy an orange juice with it to save my father. My actions were justified.
I can concoct any scenario to justify ANY moral acts even to the point of genocide.
Morals are dependent on the environment, not dependent on a law giver. This is incredibly evident with relation to biblical scriptures. Would old testament law be relevant today? Not one bit, as our situation, circumstances, and environment do not provide for the old testament law. What about slavery in the New testament? Again, not even one bit.
Morals are relative, not absolute. Objective morality would say that It is wrong to kill in ALL cases, when Subjective morality would say that there are cases where killing would be justifiable.

CONCLUSION
My opponent has not given any original arguments and each argument have dozens of rebuttals that can be found with the help of Google, and thus I see my opponent's beliefs as one that he cannot himself defend, but must rely on old and falliable ones that have been refuted from every direction.
Moreover, these arguments have been made by adherents of numerous religions, and so it is of inherent falsehood how such arguments can prove every god of every religion, and to strengthen my point, when I presented a biblical example, seeing that my opponent is a Christian, he was quick to reject it knowing that these arguments did not actually prove his God, but just a hypothetical perfect being. In conclusion, if one were to see the logic in your argument, which i doubt, they would be at best, an agnostic which accepts the possibility of a being, but does not adhere to a religion.

In essence, no one will be able to prove that a specific God exists, but that's where faith(irrational belief) comes in, right?
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by sinplicity 3 years ago
sinplicity
For the record, I think it is reasonable to believe that God exists. I also think that it is reasonable to believe that God does not exist, or that there might be many gods, or that God existed but has since passed out of existence as we understand it. I think it is reasonable to believe whatever you want, as long as your beliefs don't become my problem.
Posted by sinplicity 3 years ago
sinplicity
Nzrsaa, in the interest of understanding your position on morality, would it be true to say that you understand morality to have a mind-independent existence, that there is such a thing as a moral fact or facts that are inherent in the universe and that we can discover or understand through sufficient examination?
Posted by Nzrsaa 3 years ago
Nzrsaa
Sinplicity, how is that contradictory at all?
All I was stating was that objective morality has nothing to do with views on morality - as that is irrelevant. Merely because different pople think that what they are doing is right and others wrong does not make morality subjective at all.
I think that is entirely in line with what I said.
Posted by sinplicity 3 years ago
sinplicity
Nzrsaa, you contradict yourself in round 4. "To say that Morals are Objective is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so" stands in direct contradiction to "We KNOW that what they are doing is fundamentally wrong. Just like they 'know' that what they are doing is fundamentally 'RIght'. This is OBJECTIVE morality." Just saying.
Posted by Dr.Jokermort 3 years ago
Dr.Jokermort
I don't understand your argument
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