The Instigator
Anaxa
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
phantom
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

Natural Selection Disproves Theism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
phantom
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/7/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,443 times Debate No: 29998
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)

 

Anaxa

Pro

Round one for acceptance and definitions.



Definitions


Natural selection
is the gradual, non-random process by which biological traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers.


God is a maximally great being whose great making properties consist of knowing all truths, being all good, and having the ability to actualize any logical facts.




I'm new to this site and I will thank in advance whosoever chooses to debate this with me!
phantom

Con

I'd like to welcome Anaxa to this site.

I would contend that the specific God under discussion having the ability to actualize any logical facts would make it necessarily impossible to disprove him.

I will, however, let my opponent go first.

Good luck.

Debate Round No. 1
Anaxa

Pro

Thank you Phantom for the welcome! ... On to debate mode -



Against Con
At first blush, having the ability to make it impossible to disprove oneself, would presuppose the self's existence, not prove it. And if that self (God in this case), is found to be a contradictory idea, then God is disproved. Thus it would seem that just because God could make it so, that we could never disprove him, nevertheless once we find that we can, in fact, disprove him, then it follows that such a being doesn't exist, why? Because we've disproved him! Yet I'll await Con's argument rather than continue to erect straw men... nevertheless the burden of proof lies on Con to show that natural selection doesn't disprove a being who's capable of making it so, that natural selection can't disprove him.


For Pro
The work on Darwin's finches (and other such studies and observations) is immense and needn't be articulated here. One can simply open any text book on evolutionary development or biology, and see the evidence for natural selection. Moreover, the claim inherent in natural selection isn't even controversial, what IS controversial is that natural selection is the only mechanism that drives evolution and the diversity of species, and so on. But that needn't be adressed here. All that matters, as a fact, is that natural selection occurs and also that natural selection has a nature with it.



The Nature of Natural Selection

Simply put, nature is red in tooth and claw. It's almost as if existence herself was saying to all living things, "keep the beautiful and strong, throw out the ugly and weak." Therefore, the nature of natural selection is intrinsically evil for those who experience it.



Theism's Contradiction

But this nature of natural selection, as such, contradicts the notion of an all good, all powerful wise being who supposedly superintends the process of life! For were it the case that an all good God existed, who was also all powerful as well as all knowing, then clearly he would have found a more wise, more loving, and more feasible way to allow life to originate and prosper! But we don't see this in our experience, therefore such a God has a contradiction, that he cannot both be all powerful/knowing AND be all good.




Conclusion

I'll respond to Con's case in turn.
phantom

Con


Omnipotence

As stated in the first round, my main contention against pro's proof will be that the defined God is necessarily impossible to disprove, at the very least via natural selection. That's because pro has attributed him with the property of being able to actualize any logical fact. In other words, he would have the ability to make square circles exist. This is in contrast to the more common theistic conceptions of omnipotence where God only has the ability to do everything within logic but not the illogical as well (such as making square circles). I however won't contend with the definition as I think natural selection fails to disprove God whichever one we take.

Though I have not yet offered my argument, pro has chosen to predict my reasoning and try to refute it himself last round.

I think it's important to note, we are taking this particular conception of God as a hypothetical. Pro says that my argument would presuppose God in my proving you can't disprove him, thus resulting in my making a fallacious argument. That however is not the case as my argument forms as a hypothetical. As an atheist, I do not even believe in God. I can talk about what certain conceptions of God could do. It's not the same as saying what a god does or will do.

Now, I think pro is taking on a completely futile task. He's trying to refute an irrefutable concept. The way he's defined God, makes that God irrefutable. He's thus defeated himself in his definition. It doesn't matter whether this God exists or not as this is just hypothetical. I could define something as a magical fairy that changes logic every time someone tries to disprove it, resulting in nothing being able to refute it. Even though that being likely does not exist, you cannot prove that it doesn't exist because it, by definition, is irrefutable. In fact I could make up any concept and add in the definition that it is irrefutable, and there is no way to refute it. It's by definition impossible for me to refute irrefutable things. That's not to say there's anything to support the existence of these things. While you cannot disprove God, theists still have the burden of proving his existence, which I personally believe they have always failed to do. I am not defending the existence of God here.

The particular attribute that makes the God we are discussing irrefutable is, as stated, that it can actualize any logical fact. Pro's whole argument rests on the joint attribute that God is all good. An all good God would not use the non-good process of natural selection since he's omnipotent and thus doesn't have to. That is the crux of pro's case. However since this God could actualize any facts, you can't disprove him with natural selection or anything. He's necessarily exempt from logical paradoxes or contradictions with his character. Pro finds natural selection contradictory with an all-good infinite intelligence. But as the defined God would be able to make square circles, he could also dispel this contradiction. An absolute omnipotence could change both logic and morality. He by definition is above them. Therefore, whatever makes natural selection bad, God could make good since God is above morality according to pro. So God could remain all good by making the act which he is committing good. If pro were to say that God could not make natural selection good, then he's limiting the God he's already defined as unlimited. He can't have it both ways. Furthermore, this God could dispel the logical contradiction of an all good being doing bad things. In other words, even if God is all good and natural selection is immoral, the only thing preventing the two from not clashing is the logical principle of contradiction. God, by pros definition, is above logic and thus could change the laws of contradiction so that he could be both good while doing bad.


Summery

Pro has taken on the very futile task of trying to prove the non-existence of a being that is by definition irrefutable. You cannot disprove the God that pro has defined because this God is able to actualize any moral facts as well as logical facts. Whatever moral or logical arguments pro uses to disprove this God thus fail because logic and morality don't bind this God. So pro has defined God as irrefutable then tried to refute him; obviously not something anyone can complete.

So just to summarize all pros contentions as I went somewhat out of order, (1) I do believe in natural selection and evolution, so pro has no need to make an argument for it. (2) The nature of natural selection as we perceive it is irrelevant because it's not binding to the God that pro's defined. (3) This type of theism is not contradictory because contradictions cannot apply to the God pro has defined, whether they be moral or logical.

I'll hand it back to pro now.
Debate Round No. 2
Anaxa

Pro






Against Con

Recall that Con's burden is to show that it's in principle impossible to disprove God by natural selection. That means con supposes that it is impossible for me to show a contradiction between one of God's attributes with a wedge that exists, such as natural selection.


Now first, by having the ability to actualize any logical fact, one doesn't mean that square circles are possible. Rather such a thing would be illogical (it contradicts itself) and therefore God would not have this ability, because a square circle isn't a logical fact, it's an illogical notion by definition. Thus asking such a being to make square circles would just be a meaningless question, not some true "test of power limit." Simply, the notion, "square circle" has no content, it is devoid of any meaning simply because a square-circle, by definition, is a logical impossibility.


Con is correct in saying that he's not presupposing God's actual existence in order to show that God can make himself indefeasible. But rather that Con is holding such a God as a mere hypothesis. But here we see that Con is actually presupposing instead that God is indefeasible rather than refuting my proof against God via the natural selection wedge!


I gave arguments for why God, so defined, is an incoherent idea insofar as natural selection exists and persists. What has Con said against this other than presupposing that this argument fails? Simply this:


"The particular attribute that makes the God we are discussing irrefutable is, as stated, that it can actualize any logical fact."


But here Con confuses what it means for something to have the capacity to actualize any broadly logical state of affairs (fact). Here, one simply means that for any fact F, if F accords with the laws of logic, then F can be actualizable. Therefore, if facts, as such, do not accord with the laws of logic, then they cannot be actualized by God. This entails that God just can't go around making illogical things logical. That in and of itself would be illogical! But this is where Con's whole cases rests upon, a confusion of logic.


I've already said everything there is to say in order to win the debate at hand, however it would be instructive to note the other confusions of Con's case. One such confusion is Con's terminology of God somehow being "above logic" and again, "above morality." Such conceptions of God are misunderstandings of what theologians and a-theologians hold concerning God. For there is at bottom not content in such statements such as, "God is above morality and logic." For what does Con MEAN when he says these statements? How could God, a person, be above moral value rather than just being, by nature, all good? Again, what does Con mean when he says "God is above logic?" How could a personal deity logically be a-logical? It seems therefore that Con is confusing logical law with physical law. But that's absurd, for there are many logical possibilities that aren't physical! (Some may even argue that there are physical possibilities that aren't logical, see Quantum Logic).



For Pro

(Con has not responded to natural selection contradicting God, but has only attempted to show it's irrelevence given Con's misunderstanding of "logical facts.")



Conclusion

I thank Con for his response, however it seems that his case against mine is based upon a misunderstanding of what it means for something to be logically actualizable. I've given a clear definition in this round on what that means by way of first-order predicate logic, and so Con must contend with either that definition or move on to a second objection. Either way it seems that this debate is tipped in favor of my argument so far.
phantom

Con

It appears there has been some confusion over definitions. I will respond in two ways, (first) that the definition is confusing and my interpretation of it was justified, (two) that my interpretation of the definition was more reasonable than pros and (three) the definition largely does not matter as pro's case fails either way (which I did actually argue partially for last round).

Why my Interpretation of the Definition was Better

The crux of this semantic confusion is under God's defined ability to "actualize any logical facts". Pro says this only means he can do the logical whereas I took it to mean he could make anything logical. I don't think pro is right that his definition was clear. While I do believe it's what he meant by the definition, viewers should only judge the debate by what the definition most obviously implies, and to me, it implies a different meaning to pro's. To "actualize" is to make happen, to make it be so. This doesn't really fit into pros meaning at all. I took it to mean God could actualize anything as a logical fact. Pros says no, but pros interpretation doesn't make much sense for what on earth would the "actualize" mean? How does God actualize logical facts? Aren't they already so? Aren't all facts actualized independent of God? If it's dependent on God, then that's conceding my definition. If it's independent of God, it makes no sense to say God actualizes logical facts because logical facts aren't a thing this God could actualize. God couldn't make facts, or have control over the laws of logic. It makes no sense to say he actualizes them. Saying that God can actualize any logical fact is like saying God has supreme control over logic and can make anything a logical fact. My view of the definition therefore makes much more sense than pros.

I think pro was very ambiguous with his word usage. I believe my interpretation of the definition was not only justified, but a better interpretation than pros. Thus voters should still accept all my arguments that assumed an absolutest omnipotence.


Definitions Aside....


But as I stated last round, the resolution is unsound whichever definition you take. Whether God has absolute omnipotence (the ability to do absolutely anything), or just common omnipotence (the ability to do only, but all, things logical). Now, I don't think my initial objections only apply to omnipotence. For being above morality does not actually have to do with omnipotence at all. Viewers should remember that my argument parted at two different distinct points which the first was, that logic was irrelevant and the second that morality was irrelevant. The definition said nothing about morality except that God was all-good. This entails nothing about whether God is under or over morality. Pro seems to have missed that part. While much of my case focused on the definition of omnipotence, being above morality has little to do with it. Any definition of omnipotence we use, we can still add the premise that God is supremely over morality and not bound by it without making a contradiction.

Morality is not logic. God can be bound by logic but not morality. As far as I can tell, pro ignores this fact and treats being over logic and being over morality as the same. While pro believes his definition entailed God was bound by logic, there is absolutely nothing in his definition that stated God was bound by morality. And indeed, there is little reason to hold that he is. The nature of morality is not something that could be binding to a maximally great God. That's because there's little reason to say morality has any completely objective status, which is something it would need have in order to be binding over God. Morality, rather, is a product of certain types of agency. Humans may produce a type of morality that is partially binding, but it all remains a conceptual idea or system that bares no actual weight in the absence of agency. Lesser agents such as animals or lower evolved humans, have a lesser morality. The more advanced we get, the higher degree of morality we have. The thing about morality though, is that, though it is partially binding to us, we're also binding to it. It requires agency and is dependent on agency. God is also an agent. God is also a much higher agent than humans, in fact, the highest being of all. As morality is a product of agency and God is the most maximally great agent, I would say morality has no binding to God. God is transcendent, all powerful, knowing and good. Good and bad, as a conception of agency, have little baring over God. This does not mean God is not all good. It just means nothing he does can be absolutely bad.

Furthermore, if pro wants to limit God in his definition, it makes little sense to say natural selection disproves him because we would have already conceded that God may have to have partially crooked means of accomplishing ends. In other words, natural selection, while not something God would want in itself, may be necessary for God's purpose. Pro would have to argue that there is no possible world in which God's plan would require natural selection. I think this is a rather indefensible position. We could have no idea what greater good natural selection could accomplish or what God's nature is like. God, by definition, cannot be known from our subjective perspective. We make inferences about other beings from our own experience with beings. But the only experience with beings we have is with humans and lesser beings such as animals. We make our judgements on God based upon our bias experience with humans which is an obviously fallacious thing to do. How could you even strive to understand an infinite intelligence? If you did manage to grasp such a being, I don't think you could ever say you knew what kind of purposes it would put out on the world. A child questions his fathers motives in his ignorance and we recognize this is done from lack of understanding. However, there is no one to recognize the exact lack of understanding God. All we can know is that we can't understand God because that kind of being is just simply impossible to comprehend. When we take the incomprehensibility of a transcendent intelligence, we should immediately drop any notions that something like natural selection could disprove him.

Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Anaxa 4 years ago
Anaxa
Thanks for accepting phantom..
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Double_R 4 years ago
Double_R
AnaxaphantomTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con is correct in pointing out that in order to actualize something God must first have command over that something, in this case logical facts. Pro responds by saying that logic is different from facts, but that only makes his definition more confusing. Something can be a fact, or a logical truth. Using the word logical to describe the fact makes the latter more reasonable, otherwise the word logical in the definition would have no meaning. This leaves a Con victory the only reasonable conclusion. Also, I didn't find Pros natural selection argument convincing because it merely assumes natural selection is bad. I think the argument could be turned to show the exact opposite, but Con didn't address it till it was too late anyway.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 4 years ago
Deadlykris
AnaxaphantomTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I agree with bladerunner060. Also, theism is too broad a term to deal with; technically, deism is a type of theism, too, but would not be at odds with natural selection. But the deism angle doesn't figure into my argument vote, just the 0-point votes.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 4 years ago
bladerunner060
AnaxaphantomTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This was considerably better than I thought it was going to be. Pro did a fine job, but just couldn't carry the resolution. Con had more arguments he could have made if the definitions issue hadn't taken up space, but Pro's case was weak enough that Con didn't have to. Fun to read though!