The Instigator
J.Kenyon
Pro (for)
Winning
51 Points
The Contender
Cerebral_Narcissist
Con (against)
Losing
24 Points

On balance, theism is more plausible than naturalism.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/30/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,301 times Debate No: 13862
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (144)
Votes (15)

 

J.Kenyon

Pro

In this debate, I'm taking the Pro side in Devil's advocacy. Many of my fellow atheists disregard theism without adequately understanding it. This is a mistake. In recent times, brilliant minds have applied analytic philosophy to Christian theology, creating an incredibly sophisticated and nuanced worldview. Owing to the their efforts, it has experienced a renaissance in contemporary philosophical circles.

============
Reformed epistemology
============

There are three common responses to the Regress Problem in modern philosophy: coherentism, infinitism, and foundationalism.[1] I'll be defending foundationalism, which holds that in order for knowledge to be possible, our inferences must ultimately rest on certain basic beliefs that cannot themselves be proven, but are accepted as self-evident. Foundational beliefs require warrant, which separates knowledge from mere true belief. For example, on a multiple choice test, I may guess from several options that Sacramento is the capitol of California. I may also believe that my answer is true, but such belief does not have proper warrant inasmuch as guessing is not a sound epistemic means of attaining knowledge.

Reformed epistemology is an externalist form of reliabilism that holds beliefs have warrant just in case they are produced by properly functioning cognitive faculties.[2] We know that on naturalism, unguided evolution shaped our brains *not* for the purpose of producing true beliefs, but as a mere tool to aid survival and reproduction. By contrast, on theism there is good reason to think that our minds *were* designed to produce sound understanding. Moreover, the most people take the existence of God as self-evident. Thus, *if* Christianity is true, it probably has warrant even in absence of a good argument or conclusive evidence. Note that this isn't an argument for the existence of God, but a defense of the inherent rationality and plausibility of Christian belief.

============
Cosmological argument
============

Alexander Pruss of Baylor university has formulated a modern version of the Leibnizian cosmological argument, which is in turn based on Aquinas' "Third Way."

(1) Every contingent fact has an explanation.
(2) There is a contingent fact that includes all other contingent facts.
(3) Therefore, there is an explanation of this fact.
(4) This explanation must involve a necessary being.
(5) This necessary being is God.

Premise 1 is based on the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR). This means that no state of affairs can obtain, nor can any proposition be true unless there is a sufficient causal or explanatory reason why it should not be otherwise.

Steps 2-3, this fact is a conjunction of all other contingent facts, which Pruss calls the "Big Conjunctive Contingent Fact," or BCCF. It follows from the observation that an infinite chain of contingent facts still can't yield a complete explanation, nor can complete explanations be derived from a causal or explanatory loop. This works in the same way that 0+0 is still 0.

Step 4, the explanation for this fact must be a necessary fact. A conjunction of all contingent facts can't be explained by another contingent fact because this explanans would be a conjunct of the explanandum, resulting in the conjuncton explaining itself, which is logically impossible. Moreover, conceptual explanations are causally impotent, while scientific explanations invoking the laws of nature again fall under the explanandum. The explanation must be either a necessarily occurring event or a necessarily existing substance; but there are no events that occur without substances; events happen to substances, so we are committed to the existence of both. The only type of cause we know of that fits these criteria is that of a volitional agent.

Step 5, Et hoc omnes intelligunt Deum (and this everyone understands to be God).

============
Teleological argument
============

The physical constants of the universe must fall within extremely precise ranges in order to permit life. Just one example: according to Stephen Hawking, if the relationship between the competing effects of explosive expansion and gravitational contraction during Plank time deviated in their ratio from unity by just one part in 10e60, the universe would have either re-collapsed in on itself or expanded too rapidly for stars to form.[3]

A probability statement looks like this: P(X|Y), or the the probability of X on condition of Y. Let "T" represent the fact that many physical constants must fall within precise ranges in order to permit the life of embodied moral agents of the sort that can form meaningful relationships with each other and potentially with God, "L" is the observation that the universe contains such life, and "D" is the proposition that there exists a divine creator. Thus, P(L|T&D) is the probability that sentient life exists on the condition that the universe must be finely tuned and there is a divine creator. P(L|T&~D) is the probability that life exists when there is *no* supernatural designer.

Baye's Rule explains how to revise in light of new evidence the probabilities assigned to competing hypotheses.[4] We know that on naturalism, the chances that the universe would be life-permitting are virtually non-existent. The example I gave earlier is only one of the many variables that must fall within exact ranges, such as the nuclear strong and weak forces, electromagnetism, the number of spatial dimensions, etc. To find out how likely it is there is a divine creator, the following formula is used:

P(D|L&T) = P(L|D&T) x P(D|T) / P(L|T&~D)

Which, even without using precise values, yields the conclusion that it is overwhelmingly likely that God exists.

============
The historical Jesus
============

Many skeptics mistakenly believe the Gospels accounts are historically unreliable religious texts, however, this view is unsupported by contemporary New Testament scholarship. On the contrary, they are written in the genre Ancient Greek Biography, similar to the works of well known historians of the time like Plutarch, Tacitus, and Suetonius.[5] Additionally, they are very early accounts written while the eyewitnesses to the events were still living. By contrast, the majority of our Greek and Roman history was recorded 1-2 generations, or even centuries after the events occurred.[6]

We know with near certainty that Jesus was crucified on Good Friday by the Romans. He died and was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. In addition to the Gospels, we have early and independent attestation to this from I Cor 15:3-5. On the following Sunday, the tomb was discovered empty and Jesus subsequently made numerous appearances to various different people. Even Gert L�demann, a prominent critic of the resurrection admits "it may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ."[7]

In order to account for these facts, yet avoid the conclusion that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, secularists have had to turn to unfounded and often bizarre alternatives, like the swoon hypothesis, or that the disciples stole the body from the tomb. Most of these theories fail to account for certain relevant factors and have thus been rejected by the vast majority of New Testament scholars, however, I'll wait for my opponent to outline his own view before I criticize any of these ideas in depth.

|| CONCLUSION ||

In the absence of defeaters, Christian belief enjoys warrant. In order to win this point, my opponent will have to provide an alternative, superior theory of epistemic justification. Additionally, I've given several powerful arguments that build a cumulative case for the existence of God and enhance the predictive power of theism.

The resolution is affirmed.

References: http://tinyurl.com...
Cerebral_Narcissist

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for challenging me to what will hopefully be an interesting debate.

Argument 1: The Cosmological argument

My opponent presents the following argument.
"(1) Every contingent fact has an explanation.
(2) There is a contingent fact that includes all other contingent facts.
(3) Therefore, there is an explanation of this fact.
(4) This explanation must involve a necessary being.
(5) This necessary being is God."

I will not challenge premises 1-3, however Premise 4, and therefore by extension premise 5 are however logically flawed.

My opponent states,

"Step 4, the explanation for this fact must be a necessary fact. A conjunction of all contingent facts can't be explained by another contingent fact because this explanans would be a conjunct of the explanandum, resulting in the conjuncton explaining itself, which is logically impossible. Moreover, conceptual explanations are causally impotent, while scientific explanations invoking the laws of nature again fall under the explanandum. The explanation must be either a necessarily occurring event or a necessarily existing substance; but there are no events that occur without substances; events happen to substances, so we are committed to the existence of both."

This is essentially the regress problem, my opponent concludes it by stating,

"The only type of cause we know of that fits these criteria is that of a volitional agent."

This however is not a logical conclusion, a volitional agent is merely another contingent fact, the product of existing contingent facts. The claim is self-refuting.

For my opponents argument to work he must demonstrate some evidence or argument for an entity that exists independent of any causal chain of creation.


"Step 5, Et hoc omnes intelligunt Deum (and this everyone understands to be God)."

This amounts to nothing more philosophically valid than a "God of the Gaps". My opponent simply seeks to explain away philosophical problems by assigning them to God. It is equally valid as renaming Dark Matter or a Quantum paradox as God.

The cosmological argument is therefore refuted.


Argument 2: Teleological argument

To part summarise and paraphrase my opponents argument
"1: The physical constants of the universe must fall within extremely precise ranges in order to permit life.

2: The odds of this occurring are astronomical, absurdly so.

3: It is therefore far more likely that the a life sustaining universe is the product of design, as opposed to impersonal process."

Such an argument however has long been debunked.

1: It is not currently known if there exists any potential variation in these basic properties of the universe. It may be that the physical laws of this universe are fixed by the pre-existing nature of reality, and that convenient they create a universe in which life may form.

2: It is not known, (but does admittedly appear unlikely) that if the universe could take an alternate form that life could not form within it.

3: Probability arguments, such as this one, are only valid if it is known how many times you are allowed to roll the die. My opponent may posit astronomically obscene odds for the birth of the universe with the properties it currently has. Without knowing how many big bangs have occurred in this region that we call our universe, without knowing how many universes there are, no such probability argument can exist. If there are infinite number of universes then if my opponents concedes any probability of a universe such as this one occurring then there exists no reason to posit God.

By the same token the odds against both myself and my opponent existing, and the odds of us finding each other on a debate site are astronomically high. Yet there is no pressing case to explain away these odds with recourse to God.

An additional example is to consider a river, and the vast improbability (as in extremely low probability) of the many millions of atoms and sub-atomic being in the positions that they occupy at any given second. It is however nonsense to suppose on this statistical basis that the river does not exist.

4: Complexity does not imply design. Living organisms are incredibly complex but are the product of evolution. Snowflakes are incredibly complex but are simply the result of natural process. One could claim that each snowflake is directly crafted by divine intervention, but to do so is a cumbersome, elaborate and unnecessary act.

5: Proof of design is not proof of God. If I concede to my opponent that the universal variables were set by an intelligence, my opponent must still establish the case that this intelligence is possessed of the qualities of God, omniscience, omnipotence, and of infinite existence. It would be far more probable for such a designer to simply be very advanced.

Or in the words of Voltaire,

“... from this sole argument I cannot conclude anything further than that it is probable that an intelligent and superior being has skillfully prepared and fashioned the matter. I cannot conclude from that alone that this being has made matter out of nothing and that he is infinite in every sense”.

 

6: Richard Dawkins argues that the teological argument should apply to the designer, thus creating a paradox, or an infinite regress of designers (which is arguably it of itself a paradox).

The teological argument is therefore refuted.


Argument 3: The Historical Jesus

Even if I am to concede the existence of a historical Jesus as evidence by the bible, this is not sufficient to establish my opponents case. Christianity requires that Jesus did not merely exist but was a supernatural agent of God, or even God himself. The bible, beyond stating this to be the case does not supply any evidence to this effect beyond stating it to be so. Incidentally this is only an argument for Christianity.

"In order to account for these facts, yet avoid the conclusion that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, secularists have had to turn to unfounded and often bizarre alternatives, like the swoon hypothesis, or that the disciples stole the body from the tomb. Most of these theories fail to account for certain relevant factors and have thus been rejected by the vast majority of New Testament scholars, however, I'll wait for my opponent to outline his own view before I criticize any of these ideas in depth."

All these claims are however far more likely, and far more probable than the assumption that the Christian God exists.

The argument from the historical Jesus is therefore refuted.


My opponent states,

"In the absence of defeaters, Christian belief enjoys warrant. In order to win this point, my opponent will have to provide an alternative, superior theory of epistemic justification. "

Actually as the burden of proof falls upon my opponent to make the case that “theism is more plausible than naturalism”. As I have refuted all three of his arguments I shall await for more.

Debate Round No. 1
J.Kenyon

Pro

I'll begin by noting that Con has not made any arguments either for naturalism or against theism. While this would be fine within the framework of logical positivism or hard empiricism, it is not fine within the framework of reformed epistemology, which Con has not addressed. Formulating a sound theory of epistemic justification is necessary insofar as it places the debate in context and shows how it ought to be evaluated. Unless and until Con provides an alternative set of guidelines, the debate goes to Pro by default.

============
Cosmological argument
============

Con challenges "Premise" 4, which is actually a conclusion drawn from the three previous steps. He alludes to the regress problem, which ignores the fact that this is not a Kalam-type cosmological argument but a Leibnizian version. The whole point of the LCA is to sidestep the regress problem by showing how even an infinite chain of logically contingent events or contingent facts still can't explain why the universe exists rather than nothing. Marc Lange of UNC at Chapel Hill explains "even if 'F' does indeed make A necessary, the account will not have succeeded in revealing what necessity consists in, since 'F' is the very same kind of fact that the account was supposed to be explicating."[1]

Contrary to what Con states, it is not my claim that the universe was created by a necessary being that is self refuting, but his claim that the universe is the product of contingent events. This was established in Step 3, which my opponent has not contested. Step 5 is not a separate conclusion, as Con seems to think, but rather the observation that such a necessary being is what we would recognize as God.

============
Teleological argument
============

First, I must concede that my opponent's caricature of my argument is indeed invalid. Con raises six objections to this strawman. These objections fall into three basic categories: that other explanations can account for fine-tuning, the appearance of design does not necessarily point to a creator, and the fine-tuning argument must paradoxically apply to God Himself. I'll tackle them in this order.

Con claims that there may not be any potential variation in the values of the physical constants of the universe. He has not sourced this claim or bothered to explain it in any kind of depth. What does it even mean to say that "the physical laws of the universe are fixed by the pre-existing nature of reality?" How exactly would this work? What about the "nature of reality" makes the seemingly arbitrary values of the dozens of physical constants fall within precise, life permitting ranges? Even if this account succeeds, Con still needs to explain why "the pre-existing nature of reality" is such that it causes these physical constants to fall within the correct ranges.

Alternatively, he suggests a multiverse could account for fine-tuning. However, this leaves the naturalist no better off. In the most popular inflationary model, the "universe generator," so to speak, would itself need to be fine tuned. Robin Collins explains that the inflaton field, which gives empty space a positive energy density, would expand enormously during the formation of a universe. In order for matter to be created, the amount of energy would have to increase proportionately at a constant rate. Additionally, there would have to be some mechanism that allows for sufficient variation of the paramaters of physics to explain the fine tuning. Finally, many of these parameters are entailed by the structure of string theory and can't be explained by the multiverse.[2]

Next, Con argues that the occurrence of low-probability events and the appearance of ordered complexity is not evidence of God. Yes, the odds of the two of us finding eachother on a debate site are fairly low. However, far from refuting my argument, this actually demonstrates the same principle at work. In order to account for such a low-probability event, we would seek to explain it in terms of antecedent states of affairs: psychological and environmental factors that may have led us here, such as genetics and upbringing. He objects that the intricate design of a snowflake does not prima facie point to a divine creator. However, I pre-empted this objection by formulating my Bayesian inference within the framework of the existence of intelligent life; "embodied moral agents of the sort that can form meaningful relationships with each other and potentially with God." This specific type of design is strong evidence for theism.

Finally, Con cites Dawkin's "Ultimate 747 Gambit," arguing that the teleological argument would have to apply to the creator as well. This is really a silly objection that is wrong on two distinct fronts. If God exists, He must be, by definition, a necessary being. Moreover, God is ontologically simple. Richard Swinburne explains: "theism postulates a God with capacities which are as great as they logically can be. He is infinitely powerful, omnipotent. That there is an omnipotent God is a simpler hypothesis than that there is a God who has such-and-such limited powers...A finite limitation cries out for an explanation why there is just that particular limit, in a way that limitlessness does not."[3] According to Dawkins, something is complex just in case it has parts that are "arranged in a way that is unlikely to have arisen by chance alone."[4] Of course, God is spirit, not a material thing. As such, he doesn't have "parts arranged in a way unlikely to have arisen by chance." Thus, even by Dawkins' own definition, God is not complex.

Even if I concede for the sake of argument that God is complex, this still doesn't pose a serious problem. There is nothing wrong with explaining one instance of organized complexity in terms of another. Alvin Plantinga writes "suppose we land on an alien planet orbiting a distant star and discover machine-like objects that look and work just like tractors; our leader says 'there must be intelligent beings on this planet who built those tractors.' A first-year philosophy student on our expedition objects: 'Hey, hold on a minute! You have explained nothing at all! Any intelligent life that designed those tractors would have to be at least as complex as they are.' No doubt we'd tell him that a little learning is a dangerous thing and advise him to take the next rocket ship home and enroll in another philosophy course or two."[5]

============
The historical Jesus
============

My opponent has either misunderstood or intentionally distorted my argument here. I am not claiming that the existence of Jesus proves that there is a God; I've built a cumulative case based on five historical facts (the crucifixion, burial, empty tomb, appearances made by the risen Christ, and the sincere belief of the apostles) for the resurrection, which strongly implies that there is a God. Con has not disputed any of these historical events, so I assume he agrees they occurred. In the first round, I called on my opponent to give an alternative explanation for them and alluded to several attempts made by secular historians. Rather than actually defending such theories, he blithely asserts that "these claims are far more likely, and far more probable than the assumption that the Christian God exists." This is a clear case of begging the question.[6] If these theories are really as plausible as Con seems to believe, he should have no trouble defending one or more of them.

|| CONCLUSION ||

My opponent has not addressed the single most important argument of the debate: the classification of God as a properly basic foundational belief within the reformed epistemological tradition. His attempts to answer the the Leibnizian cosmological argument and the Bayesian teleological miss the mark and his flippant response to the case for the resurrection of Jesus begs the question.

The resolution is affirmed.

References: http://tinyurl.com...
Cerebral_Narcissist

Con

My opponent states that,
"I'll begin by noting that Con has not made any arguments either for naturalism or against theism. "

The onus is not upon me to do so, the resolution is
"On balance, theism is more plausible than naturalism."

My opponent as instigator bears the burden of proof, the onus is on him to establish that theism has greater plausibility than naturalism. By refuting all his arguments thus far for theism I have prevented him from making a sufficient case to affirm his resolution and therefore have done my job. It is far too late for Pro to re-write the debate, and I hope that the voters see through this weak tactic.

The Cosmological Argument.
My opponent has done nothing to address my counterargument from the previous round. In the absence of any such effort the cosmological argument is refuted.

The Teleological Argument
My opponent states that,
"my opponent's caricature of my argument is indeed invalid. Con raises six objections to this strawman."

Yet provides no evidence as to how I have caricatured or strawmanned. I challenge my opponent to substantiate this charge or withdraw it.

In any case this charge is self-refuting as my opponent appears to recognise my arguments as relevant and attempts to address them.

"Con claims that there may not be any potential variation in the values of the physical constants of the universe. He has not sourced this claim or bothered to explain it in any kind of depth."

It does not need to be sourced, or even explained in depth. It is simple point of logic. My opponents argument is an argument based on ignorance. He argues that the universe appears to be unlikely as a naturally occuring event, without any quantifiable knowledge of the facts involved. It is not known if the universal values, are fixed, or variables.

My opponents demands I argue from authority however, so I will turn to Dawkins who appears to address and refute every single argument my opponent employs.

"Martin Rees, in 'just six numbers', lists six fundemental constants, which are believed to hold all around the universe. Each of these numbers is finely tuned in the sense that if it were different, the universe would be comphrehensively different and presumably unfriendly to life".
P170, the God Delusion.

Dawkins is not obviously being literal in his use of the term 'finely tuned.

He later states,
"Hard-nosed physicists say that the six knobs were never free to vary in the first place... The six numbers may turn out to be no freer to vary than is the ratio of a circle's circumference to it's diameter... Far from God being needed to twiddle six knobs, there are no knobs to twiddle."
P173, the God Delusion

Note that Dawkins does not state this to be a fact, he does not even state it is a theory that he supports. It is a simply a thought experiment that reveals my opponents position to be an argument from ignorance and akin to a God of the gaps.

My opponent states that,
"Alternatively, he suggests a multiverse could account for fine-tuning. However, this leaves the naturalist no better off. In the most popular inflationary model, the "universe generator," so to speak, would itself need to be fine tuned. "

This is superflous, my opponent needs to establish that the issue of fine tuning is a problem. As shown in objection 1, it is not. It is also an argument from ignorance, my opponent can only offer theories and models, not facts, which are required by the burden of proof.

My opponent further states that,
" He objects that the intricate design of a snowflake does not prima facie point to a divine creator. However, I pre-empted this objection by formulating my Bayesian inference within the framework of the existence of intelligent life; "embodied moral agents of the sort that can form meaningful relationships with each other and potentially with God." This specific type of design is strong evidence for theism."

Though an interesting argument it at best suggests that theism is worthy theory on a par with naturalism, not that it supercedes it. Again he is hoist by the petard of the burden of proof.

My opponent states that,
"Finally, Con cites Dawkin's "Ultimate 747 Gambit," arguing that the teleological argument would have to apply to the creator as well. This is really a silly objection that is wrong on two distinct fronts. If God exists, He must be, by definition, a necessary being."

This is pure semantics, one can simply side step logic by renaming a tricky step. This has essentially already been addressed and blatantly ignored.

My opponent references Richard Swinburne's argument or rather statement that God is a simple being. Whilst Dawkins argument with regards a complex creator is one of logic, Swinburne's position is simply a statement. He can offer no argument, logically or evidentially for it, it is not accepted by all theologians.

Conveniently however Dawkins address this very fellow and this very argument, and indeed cites another theologian.
"It is quite coherent, however, to suppose that God, while indivisable, is internally complex."
Keith Ward former Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford.
P179.

My opponent argues
"Alvin Plantinga writes "suppose we land on an alien planet orbiting a distant star and discover machine-like objects that look and work just like tractors; our leader says 'there must be intelligent beings on this planet who built those tractors.' A first-year philosophy student on our expedition objects: 'Hey, hold on a minute! You have explained nothing at all! Any intelligent life that designed those tractors would have to be at least as complex as they are.' No doubt we'd tell him that a little learning is a dangerous thing and advise him to take the next rocket ship home and enroll in another philosophy course or two."

A very clever point, very well explained. But as my opponent knows this does not save him as the example is incorrecly applied. The tractors have been created, the intelligent beings who created them have evolved. Variations exist on this of course, the alien designers could have been designed themselves, by a race that were themselves designed by a race that evolved. The tractors may be self-replicating robots that in a sense have evolved from their orginal creations. Unless my opponent can establish that any of the parties involved are of permanent existence, uncreated, unevolved and without causation he can not rely upon this as an argument.

The Historical Jesus
My opponent has either misunderstood or intentionally distorted my argument here. I am not claiming that the existence of Jesus proves that there is a God; I've built a cumulative case based on five historical facts (the crucifixion, burial, empty tomb, appearances made by the risen Christ, and the sincere belief of the apostles) for the resurrection, which strongly implies that there is a God.

My opponent has entirely ignored my R1 argument and has again claimed misrepresentation. This is a another issue I expect he will resolve in the next round.

In any case I will try again, my opponent has not established the crucifixtion, the burial, the empty tomb, the postumous manifestations, sincere belief of the apostles, as historcal facts. He can quote but one primary source (or a rather a collection of related primary sources) uncorroboratied by additional documents, or archeology. Biblical scholars accept that the gospels were written, years, even decades after the events they purport to portray.

It is infinitely more likely that,
1: Jesus did not exist, being simply part of existing folklore (which his story almost certainly was) and/or and amalgam of several revolutionary leaders.
2: That he survived the crucifixtion.
3: That the story is fabricated.

My opponent will need to supply new arguments for him to have any chance of affirming his resolution.
Debate Round No. 2
J.Kenyon

Pro

Implicit in all of Con's arguments, and specifically in his stubborn refusal to address the case I've built for reformed epistemology, is the assumption that theism is a priori less plausible than naturalism. However, this is an instance of begging the question.

Con has essentially dropped his response to the Leibnizian cosmological argument. Nonetheless, I'll go over it again to see if I can make my meaning more clear. His answer to the teleological argument assumes that it takes the logical form, so I'll attempt to clarify this as well.

============
Reformed epistemology
============

I think Con has misunderstood this argument. The point of reformed epistemology is not merely to establish theism as equally plausible in comparison to naturalism, but as more plausible. Not only is God a basic belief, but He acts an external guarantor for the veracity of our cognitive faculties. As I explained in the first round: "reformed epistemology is an externalist form of reliabilism that holds beliefs have warrant just in case they are produced by properly functioning cognitive faculties. We know that on naturalism, unguided evolution shaped our brains *not* for the purpose of producing true beliefs, but as a mere tool to aid survival and reproduction. By contrast, on theism there is good reason to think that our minds *were* designed to produce sound understanding." This is a hard epistemic defeater for naturalism.

As I've stated several times, in order to win this contention, Con would have to either argue for a different epistemological viewpoint (empiricism, positivism, etc.), or posit a hard defeater for theism. This late in the debate, it would be bad conduct to introduce new arguments. As such, the ballot should go to Pro by default.

============
Cosmological argument
============

Although Con stated his objection is to "Premise" 4, I already explained that is one of three separate conclusions contained within the argument. This leads me to believe that he doesn't understand why it logically follows from 1-3. The "Big Conjunctive Contingent Fact" (BCCF) alluded to in step 2 is the conjunction of all true contingent propositions, with logical redundancies removed. Now, the explanation for the BCCF must involve some necessary fact. Let's say the BCCF is explained by q. What is q like? There are two possibilities: either q is necessary or q is contingent. If q is contingent, then it is contained in the BCCF, and since q explains the BCCF, it follows that q is self-explanatory. Thus, q must be necessary or else contingent and self-explanatory. Of course, q can't be both contingent and self-explanatory as this constitutes a contradiction in terms.[1]

I expected Con to attack either the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) or the notion that the necessary fact posited in Step 4 must be a volitional agent. Since he hasn't done so, I think this will suffice for now.

============
Teleological Argument
============

Again, I think the core of matter boils down to a misunderstanding: Con has given counterexamples that show how fine tuning *might* be accounted for on naturalism. By his own admission, his explanations are not supported by logic or evidence; they are purely conjectural. Not even Dawkins himself accepts the hypothesis that the physical constants of the universe are somehow physically necessary. His basic counterargument runs something like this:

(1) We know of no irrefutable objections to the possibility that fine tuning might occur on naturalism.
(2) Therefore, the fine tuning of the universe was likely caused by natural processes.

Well Holy water, Batman! If that's all it takes to establish the plausibility of a hypothesis, then I'm the Queen of England! Imagine a murder trial. The defendant has no alibi, the bullet has been matched to a gun registered in his name, they have his fingerprints and DNA at the crime scene and several witnesses claiming to have seen him in the area on the night it occurred. The jury, after deliberation, prepares to deliver a guilty verdict. The judge lifts his gavel in anticipation, when the defendant's lawyer shouts "WAIT! You've proven nothing! The murder could have been committed by an evil clone! After all, we know of no irrefutable objections to the possibility of such a thing happening."

While showing how fine tuning might be accounted for on naturalism would be sufficient to refute a logical teleological argument, what I have presented is a Bayesian evidential teleological argument. If I were to state it in formal terms, where "F" represents the fine tuning of the universe, it would run something like this:

(1) We know that F is true.
(2) Theism has much more predictive power with respect to F than naturalism does (ie., F's truth is antecedently many times more probable given theism than it is given naturalism).
(3) Theism is more plausible than naturalism (ie., theism is more probable than naturalism independent of all other evidence).
(4) Therefore, other evidence held equal, naturalism is very likely false.

Regarding divine simplicity, Con claims that God might be "indivisible," yet "internally complex." But this objection is literally incoherent. What does it mean to be "internally" complex? These are terms used to describe physical objects. God is a spiritual being possessed of maximal power, knowledge, and goodness, so there is no conflict between competing desires. God is a timeless being, so there can be no conflict between will and action. Finally, God is a necessary being, so there is no conflict between essence and existence.[2]

============
The historical Jesus
============

Con has not in any way, shape, or form refuted my arguments regarding the historicity of the Gospels. Rather, he blithely, arrogantly, and most importantly incorrectly dismisses the evidence I have presented without providing any of his own. It's frankly insulting to the readers' intelligence to suggest that Jesus never existed. He is mentioned multiple times by several secular sources, including Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Suetonius.[3] Moreover, as I already explained the Gospels are very early accounts written while the eyewitnesses to the events were still living.[4]

The swoon hypothesis hasn't been taken seriously in nearly 100 years. Today, it's generally regarded as medically impossible that Jesus could have survived his torture and execution.[5] Even in the unlikely event that he did, he would be in desperate need of medical attention and would have died shortly after being placed in the tomb. Additionally, the appearance of a haggard, half-dead Jesus would be unlikely the inspire in the apostles the faith that he had risen and conquered death. Finally, this would reduce Jesus to a charlatan and liar, since he would know that he hadn't actually been raised from the dead. This would wholly inconsistent with his character and moral teachings.

Again, Con's claim that it is "infinitely more likely" Jesus never existed, the story was made up, or that he survived the crucifixion is, in addition to begging the question, essentially an argument from personal incredulity.

|| CONCLUSION ||

Con has not made a sound objection to a single one of my arguments; any of them on their own would be sufficient to make my case. Moreover, even if none of them succeed individually, due to their inductive nature, each lends evidential support to the theory as a whole. In this way, I've built a cumulative case for the existence of God. Indeed, even Con conceded that reformed epistemology places theism and naturalism on equal footing. In light of this, his objections to my other arguments -- especially the argument from the resurrection of Jesus -- lack any real heft.

The resolution is affirmed.

References: http://tinyurl.com...
Cerebral_Narcissist

Con

Implicit in all of Con's arguments, and specifically in his stubborn refusal to address the case I've built for reformed epistemology, is the assumption that theism is a priori less plausible than naturalism. However, this is an instance of begging the question."

1: My opponent has not made a case for reformed epistemology, but has merely referenced it.
2: I have not assumed that theism is a priori less plausible than naturalism, rather it is my opponent who has set up the debate with the burden of proof requiring him to establish that theism is more plausible than naturalism.

"I think Con has misunderstood this argument. The point of reformed epistemology is not merely to establish theism as equally plausible in comparison to naturalism, but as more plausible."

This is a misrepresentation, no where have I claimed this. Rather I have simply pointed out that the burden of proof on my opponent requires that he establish theism as more plausible than naturalism. He has thus far failed to do this.

"As I explained in the first round: "reformed epistemology is an externalist form of reliabilism that holds beliefs have warrant just in case they are produced by properly functioning cognitive faculties. We know that on naturalism, unguided evolution shaped our brains *not* for the purpose of producing true beliefs, but as a mere tool to aid survival and reproduction. By contrast, on theism there is good reason to think that our minds *were* designed to produce sound understanding." This is a hard epistemic defeater for naturalism."

Yet my opponent never goes into detail as to how the theistic explanation holds more warrant than the naturalist one. He has given me nothing to refute here.

"As I've stated several times, in order to win this contention, Con would have to either argue for a different epistemological viewpoint (empiricism, positivism, etc.), or posit a hard defeater for theism. This late in the debate, it would be bad conduct to introduce new arguments. As such, the ballot should go to Pro by default."

As this debate stands, all that I need to do to win the contention is to destroy my opponents case. I am somewhat befuddle by this attempt to derail the debate and to change it's original intent. I did not agree to the debate that my opponent introduced in the third round. I agreed to the debate that my opponent originally posted.

As I have destroyed Pros three main arguments, the cosmological, teological and the argument from the historical Jesus, the only viable vote for arguments falls to con.

It is frustrating that I have had to waste approximately 3000 characters in reminding my opponent what the premise of this debate is and also frustrating in that I have had to do this throughout the debate.

The Cosmological Argument.
Again I see no reference to my rebuttal from my opponent.

Indeed he states,
"I expected Con to attack either the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) or the notion that the necessary fact posited in Step 4 must be a volitional agent. Since he hasn't done so, I think this will suffice for now."

I actually I did challenge the latter concept in my round 1 rebuttal. This has not been addressed but simply ignored. My opponent has twice conceded the failure of the cosmological argument and has given me nothing further to refute.

Teleological Argument.
Here my opponent has presented a complete strawman of my argument, deftly avoiding any attempt to actually address it.

My opponent re-presents his argument thusly,

"(1) We know that F is true.
(2) Theism has much more predictive power with respect to F than naturalism does (ie., F's truth is antecedently many times more probable given theism than it is given naturalism).
(3) Theism is more plausible than naturalism (ie., theism is more probable than naturalism independent of all other evidence).
(4) Therefore, other evidence held equal, naturalism is very likely false."

The problem with this is that point 2 & 3 have no logical or evidential support. My opponent has not demonstrated that theism has 'more predictive power' than naturalism, or that theism is more probable than naturalism.

As I have pointed out in the first round, we can not have a probability argument that holds any water when all the pertinent values and variables are utterly unknown. This has never been addressed. The teleological argument is this refuted.

Argument from the Historical Jesus
The main issue is that my opponent simply attacks the weakest quibbles I have against this argument, such as the non-existence of Jesus or the survival of his crucifixion. I will concede that these are weak arguments, however at no point has my opponent ever made any sort of evidential or logical case that Jesus provides sufficient proof for theism.

To explain, my opponent is arguing for theism, and specifically Christian theism and has invoked the historical record of Jesus. For this argument to work he must establish with some plausibility that,
a) Jesus was crucified and died for our sins.
b) Jesus was the son of God and the result of a virgin birth.
c) Jesus came back to life, and appeared to his followers.

Assuming Jesus was crucified I would like my opponent to substantiate his case using logic and evidence as to how
Jesus died for our sins, what that means and how it can be demonstrated.

I would like my opponent to demonstrate that Jesus was the son of God, and that he was the result of a virgin birth.

I would like my opponent to establish that Jesus came back to life and appeared to his followers. Though this is recorded in the bible, there appears to be no corroborative evidence to support it. The fact that something is merely written down, does not mean it is fact.

My opponent has failed to address numerous counter-arguments, conceding all three of his main arguments as a result. He has constantly quibbled over the terms of the debate, that HE set up, and has failed in many cases to establish even the most basic of evidential or logical proofs to support his case. He has also yet to substantiate several rather ungentlemanly allegations of 'strawmanning'.

In short the resolution is negated, and I ask that my opponent leave us with an honest summary or a token resignation to that effect.
Debate Round No. 3
J.Kenyon

Pro

Throughout the debate, Con has either misrepresented or misunderstood the majority of my case. After his arguments were refuted and in some cases corrected, he ham-handedly attempted to shift the goalposts, claiming that I'd failed to establish certain premises that he himself previously conceded were sound, or that I'd failed to be "hoist by the petard of the burden of proof." This has been most evident in his objection to the teleological argument. He has essentially ignored my contentions regarding reformed epistemology and the resurrection of Jesus and appears to have dropped his response to the Leibnizian cosmological argument.

============
Reformed epistemology
============

Con claims that I've tried to change the premise of the debate, however, this is clearly not the case seeing as I originally outlined this contention in the first round. I'm not sure what Con thought my intentions were if I hadn't planned on using it; did I just include it as an interesting digression when I found I had extra characters remaining? Further, he claims I've merely mentioned reformed epistemology without showing how Christianity has warrant. This is ironic considering he actually includes the quote wherein I did just this! Because I have limited characters, I won't bother repeating what I already wrote in the first round.

Building the case for a particular epistemological view generally involves two steps: defending the proposed theory against attacks and showing how other alternatives fall short. Because Con has neither attacked reformed epistemology nor proposed an alternative, my job has been fairly easy. If Con wanted to argue for some form of verificationism, he should have done so in the first round. Similarly, if he had any objections to foundationalism, reliabilism, or externalism, he should have brought them up earlier. At this point, I won't be able to respond to anything he says. If he attempts to introduce new arguments, they should be disregarded by the voters. Con's failure to understand and properly address my contention can't be held against me. My point stands: Christianity is, in the absence of defeaters, a warranted foundational belief.

============
Cosmological argument
============

Con has only raised one real objection: the regress problem, which I've already explained ad nauseum does not defeat this type of cosmological argument. An offshoot of this is his claim that the necessary fact posited as the explanation for the BCCF can't be a volitional agent because "a volitional agent is merely another contingent fact, the product of existing contingent facts." This, however, is not an argument but a bare assertion, and a ridiculous one at that. Yes, some volitional agents exist contingently, however, there is nothing prima facie incoherent or contradictory about the notion of a necessary being.

I've given arguments; Con hasn't. Point Pro.

============
Teleological argument
============

Con's sole objection has been that I've failed to establish that F is unlikely on naturalism, even though he seemed to acknowledge this difficulty earlier when he brought up the multiverse scenario to account for it. Later on, he likened the values of the fundamental constants of physics to the circumference of a circle, however, this is a faulty analogy inasmuch as the value of pi is not only a necessary truth, but an analytic logical truth.[1] The laws of physics, by contrast, are hypothetically compatible with any number of possible values of the specific constants.[2]

To use just one of literally dozens of examples, the law of gravity, represented by F = Gm1m2/r2 could differ in the value of "G" by as much as a factor of 1040, or 10 thousand billion, billion, billion, billion.[3] In order for stars to form, the strength of G can't deviate in it's ratio from unity with electromagnetism by more than a factor of 3,000, meaning that it must be finely tuned to the degree of 3.3 x 1036.[4] Moreover, this is only one of many constants with which the strength of gravity must be carefully calibrated, such as the speed of light, electron and proton mass, the nuclear strong and weak forces, etc.[5] Finally, even if we grant that the various physical constants are fixed in their values, this still fails to account for certain elements of inflationary cosmology, such as the such as the mass density of the early universe, the strength of the explosion of the Big Bang, the strength of the density perturbations that led to star formation, the ratio of radiation density to the density of normal matter, and the incredibly low level of entropy.[6]

============
The historical Jesus
============

Con claims that I have yet to prove Jesus was born of a virgin or that he is the son of God, which is completely irrelevant to the argument from the resurrection of Jesus that I'm attempting to establish.

This is really a very simple argument. We know that Jesus was crucified by the Roman Empire and subsequently buried in a tomb. William Lane Craig explains: "the burial account is part of Mark's source material for the story of Jesus' Passion. This is a very early source which is probably based on eyewitness testimony and dates to within several years of Jesus' crucifixion. Moreover, Paul in his first letter to the church of Corinth also cites an extremely early source for Jesus' burial which most scholars date to within a few years or even months of the crucifixion."[7]

The tomb was subsequently found empty. Jakob Kremer, an Austrian specialist on the resurrection, writes: "by far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb."[8] Indeed, it's obvious why. If this were a falsehood, the Jewish authorities could have easily dispelled the rumor by producing Jesus' body. Following the discovery of the empty tomb, Jesus made numerous post-mortem appearances, both to small groups of individuals and to large crowds. As stated in the first round, this is acknowledged even by skeptics.

All of this evidence points to the resurrection. Virtually none of these facts are contested by New Testament historians, including skeptics such as Gregory Cavin and Gert L�demann. Rather, these historians challenge the interpretation of these facts. For example, L�demann believes the disciples hallucinated Jesus' post-mortem appearances. Con has not actually defended any of these theories, so my interpretation should be accepted by default. I had expected to develop this part of my case in much greater depth, but it has gone virtually unchallenged, so I've had little to add. I think Con is getting hung up about the low prior probability of a miracle, however, what we are concerned about when investigating the past is the posterior probability of a miracle given the supporting evidence.

|| CONCLUSION ||

Con has failed to either attack reformed epistemology or build a constructive case for an alternative epistemological viewpoint. As such, I should win the debate on the strength of this argument alone. Con has also largely dropped his objection to the cosmological argument and his response to the evidential teleogical argument clearly falls short. He has not given any reason to doubt the facts I've established surrounding Jesus' crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, nor has he produced a viable explanation for them. At this point in the debate, it's to late for him to rectify this.

The resolution is affirmed. I strongly urge a Pro vote.

References: http://tinyurl.com...
Cerebral_Narcissist

Con

I will try to keep my summation brief, as for the most part I have been repeating the same things throughout the debate.

To start with my opponent makes a number of erroneous charges against me,

"Throughout the debate, Con has either misrepresented or misunderstood the majority of my case."

Pro has had ample opportunity to substantiate this misrepresentation or show these misunderstandings. Where he has stated this I have directly challenged him, I have been repeatedly ignored. The voter should bear this is mind.

"After his arguments were refuted and in some cases corrected,"

The majority of my arguments have been ignored, none have been corrected. My opponent is simply typing this out of frustration and it is very bad form.

"he ham-handedly attempted to shift the goalposts, claiming that I'd failed to establish certain premises that he himself previously conceded were sound"

I have been forced to remind my opponent in a number of rounds where the goalposts actually are, as for the latter charge my opponent fails to mention where in the debate this occurred.

"He has essentially ignored my contentions regarding reformed epistemology and the resurrection of Jesus and appears to have dropped his response to the Leibnizian cosmological argument."

I am still waiting for my opponent to supply arguments in favour of reformed epistemology, evidence in favour of the resurrection of Jesus, and for my opponent to react to my counter-argument against the cosmological argument.

These allegations, unsourced and unfounded constitute simply appeal to the audience. They are nice little sound bites for the benefit of people who are not too interesting in making the effort to read the debate. Understandable as the debate has been of such poor quality.

"Con claims that I've tried to change the premise of the debate, however, this is clearly not the case seeing as I originally outlined this contention in the first round. I'm not sure what Con thought my intentions were if I hadn't planned on using it; did I just include it as an interesting digression when I found I had extra characters remaining? Further, he claims I've merely mentioned reformed epistemology without showing how Christianity has warrant. This is ironic considering he actually includes the quote wherein I did just this! Because I have limited characters, I won't bother repeating what I already wrote in the first round."

The majority of this paragraph is fictional, I simply ask the reader to point out where my opponent supplied support for the position of Reformed epistemology, as he has failed to do so in four rounds of debate I rather think this should be ignored.

Cosmological Argument.
My opponent has failed to address my counter-argument from Round 1. His argument is simply to handwave away the problem of infinite regress by inventing a magical entity immune from the laws of logic and calling that entity God. I restate my objection from round 1 and remind voter that the cosmological argument has been refuted.

The Teleological Argument
My opponents argument rests on the assumption that there exists a problem of 'fine tuning' in the universal constants that allow this universe to exist in the way it does. It is an assumption that he supplies no evidence to support. The universe may appear unlikely, but that is an argument from ignorance and an argument from personal incredulity.

I have quoted Dawkins who suggests that at this current stage it is not known if these variables are variable at all, my opponent has never progressed beyond this point. I restate my argument from round 1.

Jesus
My opponent states that,
"Con claims that I have yet to prove Jesus was born of a virgin or that he is the son of God, which is completely irrelevant to the argument from the resurrection of Jesus that I'm attempting to establish."

However as my opponent has chosen to assert the truth of Christian theism, which was his choice to do so, it is required that he support the position of Christian theism, which hold these things to be fundamental truths. He can't have the wine without the grapes.

My opponents argument is simply, "2000 years ago a body went missing, and some people wrote down that the guy had come back to life. Therefore Theism is correct, and no corroborative information is required, no other explanation is possible. The only possibility is that this man came back to life and that this proves God."

To repeat, my opponent has supplied no real evidence to support this. He has as much evidence to support this claim as he has to support the continued survival of Elvis.

To summarise,
1: Reformed epistemology, my opponent has failed to provide any support for this position and has attempt to shift the premise of the debate to avoid that issue. This is therefore negated.
2: Cosmological Argument. My opponent has ignored my counter-argument. It is therefore negated.
3: Teological Argument. My opponent has again ignored my counter-argument. It is therefore negated.
4: Jesus, my opponent has failed to build even a basic case for the divinity of Christ and has side stepped the issue. It is therefore negated.

My opponent has also failed to substantiate numerous claims of misrepresentation, misunderstanding or strawmanning despite being directly challenged to do so. Parts of his final round are indeed wholly fictitious.

As my opponent had the burden of proof, it was simply my role to attack and undermine his arguments. as none of this arguments have survived I strongly urge a vote for CON. If the voters somehow disagree I simply ask that they leave an accurate and considered RFD.

Resolution negated, vote CON.
Debate Round No. 4
144 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by surfguru 3 years ago
surfguru
As Immanuel Kant says in his essay, Perpetual Peace, "Modesty forbids us to speak of providence as something we can recognise, for this would mean donning the wings of Icarus and presuming the approach the mystery of its inscrutable intentions." Unfortunately, both participants in this debate have failed to explore the transcendance aspect of theism. I find this laughable as pro correctly asserts the existence of god, yet fatally resolves to using a shallow argument based on a simple string of premises.
In the interest of voting, con should win (depending on the audience's ability to extend his arguments) even though he unwittingly follows pro's shallow argument structure. Vote con in the interest of the bringing correct philosophy into debate.org.
Posted by Freeman 3 years ago
Freeman
@wolfhaines

"Cosmological and Teleological arguments are just as bad and as laughed at by professors as the Ontological argument is."

Who, exactly, is doing all of this laughing?

"God of the Gaps summed up the argument perfectly. Respect for J.Kenyon for arguing the opposing viewpoint though, is hard to do. Theism is based on ignorance, a guessing game of what could be, trying to find one answer for all problems. That in it itself is a primary mistake."

I'll take you up on that.
Posted by wolfhaines 3 years ago
wolfhaines
The arguments J.Kenyon put forward were refuted by C_N. To then go over them again was silly. Cosmological and Teleological arguments are just as bad and as laughed at by professors as the Ontological argument is. God of the Gaps summed up the argument perfectly. Respect for J.Kenyon for arguing the opposing viewpoint though, is hard to do. Theism is based on ignorance, a guessing game of what could be, trying to find one answer for all problems. That in it itself is a primary mistake.
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
popculturepooka
Lol at wolfhaines.
Posted by Grape 3 years ago
Grape
I don't see how you can make the case that he won.
Posted by J.Kenyon 3 years ago
J.Kenyon
If you think C_N won, you are literally retarded.
Posted by wolfhaines 3 years ago
wolfhaines
Cerebral_Narcissist won this easily.
Posted by J.Kenyon 3 years ago
J.Kenyon
I was being charitable, but in a backhanded, sarcastic kind of way.
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
lol, Jeff why did you votebomb yourself?
Posted by J.Kenyon 3 years ago
J.Kenyon
He cast his original vote weeks ago.
15 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by vardas0antras 3 years ago
vardas0antras
J.KenyonCerebral_NarcissistTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Obvious is obvious. Incidentally, does anyone know what happened to CN?
Vote Placed by Punch 3 years ago
Punch
J.KenyonCerebral_NarcissistTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I don't think you can "prove" God's existence. However, to me the evidence of design is pretty persuasive. I also believe that new testament has turned out to be more reliable than previously thought. In effect, Con seems to be arguing that somehow believing nothing is more plausible than believing something. Sorry, that doesn't wash with me.
Vote Placed by tigg13 3 years ago
tigg13
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Reasons for voting decision: So the RFD box only holds this many characters. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Vote Placed by Grape 3 years ago
Grape
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