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Philosophy does not support the truth of Theism.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/4/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 133 times Debate No: 87675
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
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As CON, I'll be arguing that philosophy DOES support the truth of theism.

We have observed many things in this universe.
We have observed nothing from before, beyond, or without it.

We are therefore capable of making judgments about how the universe works, but not about how anything else does.

We might ASSUME that things will stay the same outside, but we've never observed anything to support that, or anything LIKE it to determine if that assumption is well-grounded or not.

It is an inescapable fact of our universe that all things come from something else. Other causes.
And then we've found empirically what we might have supposed philosophically in advance, that our universe had a beginning.

So, something outside the universe must have caused it.

Must something have caused that cause? Not necessarily. Our judgment that everything must have a cause has a technical caveat:
"Everything (we've ever observed, all of which has been in our universe) has a cause."

On what basis would we judge the nature of something outside the universe? It could function by rules unlike those we are accustomed to.

It could thus, not be reasonably argued that the cause of the universe must NECESSARILY have a cause. No basis for a judgment like that.

So we have a transcendent cause of the universe, potentially uncaused, eternal.

Now, in the same way that a sculpture done by Michelangelo reveals something of his character, so does the universe betray something about the nature of the cause behind it.

We live in an orderly, and life-permitting universe. Is this really so salient a feature?

It might not always have been obvious that such was the case, but we have now been made aware that the constants of the universe are in a most precarious balancing act.

Some couple of dozen features of our universe are at levels which, in conjunction, permit life.

Could be coincidence, but the odds are ridiculous, and if that's contested, we can look up just how ridiculous.

So the constants reveal a purpose, the permitting of life.

Now we're up to a transcendent, purposeful, potentially eternal, creating cause.

Tack on what that purpose is: the existence of intelligent beings like ourselves, in a world we can shape according to our will, gaining power as we gain knowledge by using science, a way of thinking which fundamentally requires we learn to think beyond our personal biases and see truth for what it is.

Ours is a universe from within which we can, purely on philosophical grounds, reason to the necessary existence of something beyond the universe, interested in life, in us, potentially eternal.

So reason and observation lead the honest seeker of truth to open their eyes to learn more of this mysterious creator.

Further observation and personal experience reveal much about the nature of this being, but that is to be left to another debate.

Suffice it to say that philosophy takes us this far, and prepares us to go further; it supports our belief in theism.


Your assumption that everything in the universe has a cause, is based upon our limited observations within the universe. We have not observed all of the universe, and therefore we do not know if everything within it has a cause. If we reject the possibility of things which we have not observed, then a man in the desert shouldn't believe a man who comes there with ice. Furthermore, it commits the fallacy of composition: it assumes that because everything we observe within the universe must have a cause, you assume the universe itself must have a cause. A property of a part is not necessarily a property of the whole. Also, you never established that you could not have a chain of causes stretching back. We could have 1 cause, or 2 causes.

Granted the universe is extraordinarily fine tuned, but that is a scientific statement, not a philosophical one. You are stepping outside of the boundaries of philosophy and into science. Therefore that point is irrelevant to the topic of the debate.
Debate Round No. 1


What makes a statement "scientific" and why does it disqualify it from philosophical consideration?

I said that all things are caused, and that was based on observations of reality. Is that too "scientific" for philosophy?

And I never said that these arguments had PROVED there was a God, only that they allowed for a God, that they provided questions which God explains, that in this way, they HINT at a God, and suggest to the rational mind that the God hypothesis is worth looking at. They pave the way, and we must walk the rest of it.

Philosophy will only take us so far, and then we must look to other ways of approaching truth to flesh out our understanding of the existence and nature of God.

Now are you really going to say that the universe doesn't have a cause? It must have come from somewhere, from something. I can understand if you don't think it's God, fine, that's one thing. But to say that it had NO cause at all? Not even itself or something like that? I know some people will argue that it created itself, but they're at least acknowledging that something must have caused it.

Since we've been using observations of the causal nature of reality to argue philosophy, I don't see why we shouldn't use observations of the fine-tuning of the universe to argue philosophy. This is a very strong point, suggesting a purposeful design to the universe with our kind of life in mind.

And while we may not have observed everything in the universe, I think the generalization that everything has a cause is extremely well-founded. Supposing it's wrong, we would live in a universe where some things are causal and some are not.
But everything we see is causal. So, out of the quintillions of observations that billions of humans have ever seen, we're to believe that they just HAPPENED to only see the causal things? All of the acausal things just happened to avoid everything we've ever observed throughout the universe by coincidence?

I'm not saying it's impossible. Only that it's improbable. Ridiculously so. It's for more reasonable to suppose that everything we've ever seen is caused because EVERYTHING is caused. That the fine-tuning of a caused universe for life is because of a purpose in mind.
That a purposeful creation of the universe suggests a mind. A mindful creator, with us in mind, acting from before and outside the universe is surely sufficient to make anyone not avoiding the idea to think of...

Well, you know what. The information provided is already sufficient to lead to the right conclusion. It's obvious.

Like an arrow designating a path, it does not tell us what it'll be like when we get there, but it IS obvious which direction merits our attention.

So it is, that philosophy does NOT not support the truth of theism.


It is not enough for an argument to merely "make possible" the conclusion. It must make the conclusion more plausibly true than false.

The assumption that "everything has a cause", would contradict your assumption that the "universe began to exist." If everything needs a cause, then the causal chain would never end, and there would never be a beginning. Also, your reason for claiming that God is uncaused is not present. Why is God an exception to the rule, but the universe not? This just pushes it back a step: if everything has a cause, what caused God?

1. It is unlikely that if a benevolent God exists, he would allow the existence of natural evil, i.e hurricanes and volcanoes.
2. Natural evil does exist.
3. Therefore it is unlikely that God exists.
Debate Round No. 2


I never claimed that philosophy PROVED God. Only I refuted YOUR claim that it "does not support the truth of theism." Philosophy is fully open to the possibility of God, and therefore, it is not the case that it "does not support the truth of theism."

I hoped to avoid arriving at the point of questioning the cause of God, which is why I stated in my very first round:
"We have observed many things in this universe.
We have observed nothing from before, beyond, or without it.

We are therefore capable of making judgments about how the universe works, but not about how anything else does."

I have no observation of before or beyond the universe. I don't pretend to know how it works. Neither should anyone. THIS universe needs a cause, consistent with every observation we've ever made about it.

As you've pointed out, looking for causes within the universe merely "pushes it back a step." You can push back and back forever, but eventually, you need a cause from BEYOND the universe.
That is God.

Now you say, this thing BEYOND the universe MUST have a cause.
I don't say that. I don't know anything about how things from beyond the universe works. Nobody does. Therefore, nobody can claim that God must have a cause. Being beyond the universe as he is, we can't be sure that he must follow the rules of things within the universe.

So rather, we've reinforced again the important point: The universe must have a cause. That cause must be beyond the universe. That cause from beyond the universe is not known to have a cause.
Therefore, God is not known to have a cause, or need one.

There are many hidden assumptions in the argument from evil. How can you know that a benevolent God wouldn't allow the existence of natural "evil?" I will ask you to prove premise 1 of your argument.

While I haven't heard your defense of the premise yet, I will say, on the subject of God's plan for us and for evil, that it is like a body growing stronger.

A body may pass through disease, but if it is cared for, it will survive. More, it will come out on the other end of the trial without a hint of lasting harm from it. And more still, it will come out with an increased strength, with antibodies to resist such diseases in future cases.

So it is with God's plan. In this life, we pass through difficulties. These difficulties have bad effects, but among them are also good effects, the strengthening of our spiritual body, as it were. At the end of the day, no scar will remain, every tear shall be wiped away. There will be no lasting effect EXCEPT that we will carry with us throughout eternity every GOOD thing which came of our trials. All the strength will be ours forever, and none of the pain.

God wants to maximize our good, not just minimize the bad. It might be a problem if getting that good carried with it some lasting cost, but God has prepared for that cost to be paid fully, so we'll get just the good stuff out of it.

Benevolent indeed, and wiser than a man would think to do.


Sunfire315 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Bound_Up forfeited this round.


Sunfire315 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Bound_Up forfeited this round.


Sunfire315 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by CaptainScarlet 7 months ago
Tired old theist tropes I'm afraid. Modern philosophy is not very theistic compared to its predecessors, despite the romancing of WLC on the topic. We have moved beyond a God, and he is just there to explain personal incredulity of theists. I can't possibly imagine how the universe got here... I can't possibly imagine how it is do designed...I can't possibly imagine where morals come from...

Sean Carrol did an excellent smack down of the KCA and fine tuning argument. WLC was just embarrassing and he normally steam rollers the atheists. The first premise of the KCA was 'not even false' according to Carrol, which was not only entertaining but damned right. Premise 2 is not validated and Craig's usual resort to the BGV thereon was shot down by Carrol. Basically we cannot reason from the mundane, prosaic macro world we live in, back to a time before time itself, where there is only a seething mass of quantum physics where all science and logic break down. It maybe that 'before' Planck time the universe was in an eternal state, we simply do not know. But how a frozen entity who is outside of time and cannot therefore actually cause anything is an explanation is beyond me.

I am glad you brought up the fallacy of composition. It seems to be overlooked when challenging the KCA and it's type. It is like saying every sheep in the universe has 4 legs therefore the entire universe of sheep (the universal flock) has 4 legs. It is faulty as well as shaky reasoning.

As for the design argument the theists enjoys pulling statistics out of his arse. But that is where they came from. How do we know the universe is designed with us in mind and not black holes (which are more numerous) or main sequence stars or asteroids. In a very big universe virtually anything is possible the simpler explanation is that we are designed for the universe (through natural selection). The ratio of this to that etc is hardly compelling, given that we do not know what the starting probability was
Posted by Sunfire315 7 months ago
Ah, so I will be playing devils advocate. interesting.
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