The Instigator
Kleptin
Con (against)
Winning
23 Points
The Contender
Darth_Grievous_42
Pro (for)
Losing
16 Points

"Purpose" and "Meaning" are not just products of man. They inherently exist in the universe.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/15/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,714 times Debate No: 2681
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (16)
Votes (9)

 

Kleptin

Con

When people ask what the meaning of life is, they assume that everything has to have a meaning, and that everything inherently has a meaning.

I argue that meaning is purely artificial, a human construct.

Meaning does not exist outside the human realm. If something "means" something, it does so only to humans with no objective importance.

In addition, this invalidates many "Why" questions. For example, "Why are we here?". "Why is the universe here?". These questions also assume purpose and are often linked with Intelligent Design/Creationism as "unanswerable questions" that validate faith.

I essentially propose that there is no good reason, proof, explanation, etc. to show that meaning/purpose are more than artificial concepts.

I invite my opponent to present an argument showing otherwise.
Darth_Grievous_42

Pro

As pro, my points will be based on the title, meaning that I stand for "purpose" and "meaning" being inherently existent in the universe.

Perhaps it is not that meaning is meant to be taken from a religious stand point, but a natural one. Faith is only the first science, a way to explain things. Because it beyond our understanding as to how the universe was made we turn to a religious response as it is the only kind of explanation we can make sense of. We've bastardized 'meaning' into thinking that what we do should all be done to make a God happy, and we should be content with living in his little ant farm we call the universe. Religion is a made up human crutch, but that does not invalidate the existence of a general purpose.

This would mean, in a natural sense, that everything has a purpose as to why they exist. The universe was made somehow, the specific way I will not attempt to discuss, so I will argue from when the universe started it life and onward. If you, Kleptin, would like to propose a beginning of the universe then that burden of proof is on you, good luck with that if you chose. Anyway, the purpose of anything in the universe is firstly is to do what you do best. This includes the celestial bodies of the universe, like the sun and black holes. The sun burns. Black holes suck things in and do something with them. That's what they were made to do. By that I don't mean made by a maker, they where just made, however that came to be. But it did happen, my proof is that they exist. Look up in the sky, you'll see the sun. Look in deep space navigation logs and you find black holes. Find the sites yourself, but they are there. But when they were made, they simply had to do what ever came naturally, which I've already stated. Not for a divine purpose, but randomly. The raw materials that made the sun caused it to burn, so that's what it does. When a sun supernovas (no longer able to do what its made to do, aka death) it makes a black hole which happens to suck stuff so that's what it does.

Then there is life. We are a happy accident. First, however it got there, the Earth happens to be placed so that it isn't too cold or too hot. It was made in such a way that it wasn't overflowed with gases like Jupiter, but had enough for an atmosphere. All circumstantial. The Earth purpose is to simply do what it does best, which is rotate in a gravitational field around the sun (the same with all other planets). Earth would exist without its life, water, or air. As long as its a floating rock its fulfilling its own purpose. We just benefited from a random occurrence, being that Earth was positioned and made to be able to be habitable. Not Earth purpose, but no one's complaining. The theory on how life came about that I support is another happy accident. Certain molecules like hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, etc, collided and happened to react making the first life: micro organisms. What did they do best? live and reproduce. As it got further along, they reproduced more began becoming more complex. That just kept happening up until today, where we are still doing the same thing: living and reproducing. That's out purpose because its what we do best. Its how we are made. Because we are not perfect there is only a certain amount of time we exist but we kind of keep living by reproducing. So let me address your issues

reason of meaning: to do what your made to to
proof: besides the impossible, I gave the best proof as humanly possible in accordance to science and reason, not faith.
explanation: read above
Why are we here?: 4th paragraph
Why is the universe here: How is a better question, as that will answer why. But for the moment, why is simply because the universe is here and needs to do something

So now your job is to prove that everything I just said is false. This would mean you would have to know: How the universe was made without bringing faith into it (but I'll let it slide), how life was REALLY made (as in the actual truth to life), and how doing what you do best cannot possibly be any kind of purpose at all (with specific examples in accordance to mine, being: the sun, black holes, Earth, the creation and continuation of life, showing that everything they do has no possible way of being purposeful/meaningful). Failure to answer these thus causes the assumption that you concede to my point and that I win that argument. My information comes from the articles of accredited periodicals like Science Weekly, Discover, and National Geographic, among others (if you doubt this you can find the articles yourself, I assure you they are out there). So all my info is also the best guesses by professional professors.
Debate Round No. 1
Kleptin

Con

"As pro, my points will be based on the title, meaning that I stand for "purpose" and "meaning" being inherently existent in the universe...This would mean, in a natural sense, that everything has a purpose as to why they exist...Anyway, the purpose of anything in the universe is firstly is to do what you do best...That's what they were made to do...By that I don't mean made by a maker, they where just made, however that came to be...But it did happen, my proof is that they exist...But when they were made, they simply had to do what ever came naturally, which I've already stated. Not for a divine purpose, but randomly. The raw materials that made the sun caused it to burn, so that's what it does. When a sun supernovas (no longer able to do what its made to do, aka death) it makes a black hole which happens to suck stuff so that's what it does..."

This entire argument, though well worded, is a very large logical fallacy. Your argument reduces down to

"Things exist"
"Things perform certain actions"
"They perform certain actions because that's their purpose"

You beg the question, assuming that purpose exists.

The things that things do are random, are they not? If that is true, purpose is just what they do, correct? And meaning is just what they do, correct? We have a word for that. It's called "nature". It is the NATURE of the sun to burn and the NATURE of black holes to suck.

NATURE = what things do
PURPOSE = what things are SUPPOSED to do
MEANING = why things are supposed to do certain things

You agree with me in saying that certain things in the universe just ARE. This means, there is no objective meaning to them. Any attempt to explain WHY things are the way they are would be invalid. Thus, you have conceded half my argument, that meaning does not inherently exist in the universe.

"Then there is life...Because we are not perfect there is only a certain amount of time we exist but we kind of keep living by reproducing. So let me address your issues"

This was a very well written and long piece of text that argues that Earth and life essentially exists the way they simply because of how they came to be, which I agree with

"reason of meaning: to do what your made to to"

Your argument is also that what we are made to do, is what we do. Black holes suck, therefore, black holes were made to suck (not by an intelligent maker, just by nature)

Therefore, by substitution, your reason of meaning is "to do what you do."

Your argument is a tautology because it is circular in nature. Anyone who reduces your argument and is not thrown off by the length can see that.

"So now your job is to prove that everything I just said is false. This would mean you would have to know: How the universe was made without bringing faith into it (but I'll let it slide), how life was REALLY made (as in the actual truth to life), and how doing what you do best cannot possibly be any kind of purpose at all (with specific examples in accordance to mine, being: the sun, black holes, Earth, the creation and continuation of life, showing that everything they do has no possible way of being purposeful/meaningful). Failure to answer these thus causes the assumption that you concede to my point and that I win that argument. My information comes from the articles of accredited periodicals like Science Weekly, Discover, and National Geographic, among others (if you doubt this you can find the articles yourself, I assure you they are out there). So all my info is also the best guesses by professional professors."

Not really. Your argument is strong because it is tautological and circular in nature. In order to defeat it, I need not do any of those impossible things you cited, I can simply examine your argument logically, diagnose the logical fallacies, reduce your argument, and call you out on an unsound and invalid conclusion.

***

When someone declares that something has a purpose, it means that it acts towards a certain goal. When someone declares that something has a meaning, it means that there is a significance beyond what is physically present and visible.

These things are clearly different from what my opponent describes. My opponent describes a thing's "nature", which is simply WHAT it does.

If something performs an action randomly, it means it doesn't do so towards a goal. We can invent a goal, but that would be intervening and it would validate my point about meaning and purpose being artificial.
Darth_Grievous_42

Pro

Ah, I see how you are going to play this. Rather than actually attack any of my arguments, you are going to try to debunk them based on their format. I also noticed you have a tendency to bastardize my explanations with manipulated summaries and out-of-context quotes. I write lengthily to convey my whole point, rather than a short version that can be skewed, but you have tried to anyway. I ask the reader to make note of this, and I will proceed.

I assume purpose exists because things exist, yes. Everything in the universe is not stagnant, it is always doing something, yes. However, because they perform certain actions they make their own purpose, their own definition into being. Things were created randomly, then began to react to themselves and the things around them. How and what they do in accordance to that is their purpose. because it is what they do best. In fact, you agree with me with you "nature' statement, as that is exactly what I purposed in the beginning:

Perhaps it is not that meaning is meant to be taken from a religious stand point, but a natural one.

Things are supposed to do (purpose)what they do (nature), and that's why they do it (meaning). Their meaning is to fulfil their purpose within their nature. Because it is not that they just are, its what they do because they are. That is purpose. Because the sun is constantly in combustion and it cannot defy itself, it must shine, and is meant to do nothing else besides that. Because life is born and must survive, it must live, and anything besides doing that would kill it. Nothing exists without doing something, and because they do something they fulfill a purpose for themselves.

I do not restrict myself to saying Earth and life exist because they exist. I say that because they exist and do something they perform a purpose of some kind. For things to be they must exist, and in order to exist they have to do what they do in order to exist, and that doing is their purpose so that they can exist.

Again, I notice you skew my words on reason of meaning. Black holes were made and then sucked, not made to suck. They do what they do because when they were made they just did it. They do what they were made to do. They were not predestined to do it by God or nature, but because they did it when they were made, which makes what they are doing their purpose. Its not circular unless you make it that way, something you seem to do repeatedly. It is not purpose+purpose=purpose, it is composition+reaction=purpose. And equation, not a tautology. Perhaps if you stopped taking things out of context you'd see that.

You must answer my questions, as I call the burden of proof on you. You have to prove that there is evidence to your statement, physical (preferred) or rhetorical. I've noticed that on every response you don't actually provide a counterexample to the point but the process. Its not the framework you should be worried about but the painting inside, and so far your argument is a blank canvass. I'm the only one of us who has actually tried to prove our point, not just disprove the opponent. I can do both, add while subtracting. Just examining logical fallacies does not further prove the point you should be trying to reach, being: "purpose" and "meaning" are just products of man, they do not exist inherently in the universe. I have shown that because of a things nature they go beyond the scope of man, and exist inherently in the universe within themselves. All you've shown is your annoying ability to manipulate text. "Good show", "well done", "I'm blown away".

Certain goal: to exist, and doing what you must to exist = purpose

I do not stop at what it does, but also elaborate on why it does it (its purpose).

It was created randomly, and after that started doing things. Because it does things there is some kind of objective that goes beyond human knowledge. Purpose means "to what end does something do something", I responded that that end is its own existence, and what it does adds to that existence. Because of that extra process it gives itself meaning, thus purpose.

There, I have rebutted your claims. Unfortunately, because you have not built upon your argument, only tried to subtract from mine, there is nothing I can directly refute. Thus my side is stronger. I have more evidence and reasoning that adds to my position, while you've only copied and pasted words. So I ask you again to actually try and prove your point. What about the nature of the universe is determined by man? How is it nothing in the universe is not acting towards some certain goal somehow? What proof do you have? You've shown no evidence towards any of these claims that are fundamental towards your position. Not in round 1 or 2, you've only posed questions and summarized manipulated sentences. You have 1 last round to attempt and give any evidence towards your proposal, otherwise I have won.
Debate Round No. 2
Kleptin

Con

"Ah, I see how you are going to play this."

If your points were more precise, I wouldn't have to try to hard to figure out what you want to say.

"How and what they do in accordance to that is their purpose. because it is what they do best."

Ok, so you mean to say that their purpose is not simply the things they do, but the things they do *best*. How can you characterize what something does best? If purpose is objective, and purpose is the thing that something does best, that means there is an objective way of saying that out of an infinite number of actions that a thing performs, the sun, for example, one of those actions is inherently better than all the others.

By whose standards? Why is the sun shining on earth better than the sun shining on the moon? I declare that your definition is flawed since there is no objective way to declare what the best action a thing performs is. Therefore, the best action is subjective. Therefore, purpose is subjective.

"Things are supposed to do (purpose)what they do (nature), and that's why they do it (meaning). Their meaning is to fulfil their purpose within their nature. Because it is not that they just are, its what they do because they are. That is purpose. Because the sun is constantly in combustion and it cannot defy itself, it must shine, and is meant to do nothing else besides that. Because life is born and must survive, it must live, and anything besides doing that would kill it. Nothing exists without doing something, and because they do something they fulfill a purpose for themselves."

I understand this, meaning I did not misinterpret your point. However, my argument is that purpose presupposes intent. You argue that things are the way they are because of the natures of other things. For example, you would argue that the sun undergoes those reactions because other natures of other things led to its existence, correct? The reason why a sun cannot defy itself is that it does not have the potential. Even the concept of the sun not combusting is fallacious. Thus, your statement that things are "supposed to do what they do" is tautological and circular. How do you know what they are supposed to do unless they are already doing it? If you declare that all purposes are the acts of a thing, then all purpose is relative. The fact that I am raising my hand shows that raising my hand is my purpose for existing.

Yes, I know this is when you clarify that purpose is what something does best. but who determines that my raising my right hand is better or worse than my healing a sick fellow human, or watching television, or getting an education? None of these actions can be objectively declared to be better or worse. Hence, each action is subjective, as is purpose.

"For things to be they must exist, and in order to exist they have to do what they do in order to exist, and that doing is their purpose so that they can exist."

A sun that no longer shines does not cease to exist. A living thing that dies does not cease to exist. It's just that our arbitrary definitions of these things have to be wiped out because we witness a change. In that case, if you define the sun shining as being what it does best, its purpose, and you define the purpose as what something must do in order to exist, then the sun no longer shining would mean it doesn't exist any more.

Suppose we cease the reactions of the sun using technology. The sun no longer shines. Yet, it still exists. The form just changes and it is different from the sun we know. However, it still exists. Therefore, purpose and existence have no correlation.

"Black holes were made and then sucked, not made to suck."

I quoted this not to respond, but because it was funny.

"They do what they do because when they were made they just did it. They do what they were made to do. They were not predestined to do it by God or nature, but because they did it when they were made, which makes what they are doing their purpose."

The reason I call this circular logic is that it presupposes purpose.

You say that purpose is what a thing does. Anything does an infinite number of things. You say that purpose is the best thing that a thing does. By whose standards? How can we judge one action better than another? You say that the purpose is the thing that a thing must do in order to keep existing. Nothing can perform any action that takes it out of existence. A non-shining sun still exists.

"You must answer my questions, as I call the burden of proof on you."

Illogical, since you are supposed to prove the existence of purpose and meaning. That's the same as asking me to prove that god does not exist. The burden of proof falls on you.

"You have to prove that there is evidence to your statement, physical (preferred) or rhetorical."

Fine. At the end.

"I've noticed that on every response you don't actually provide a counterexample to the point but the process. Its not the framework you should be worried about but the painting inside, and so far your argument is a blank canvass."

How can you hang a painting when the framework is about to collapse?

"Just examining logical fallacies does not further prove the point you should be trying to reach, being: "purpose" and "meaning" are just products of man, they do not exist inherently in the universe."

It's the same as showing that God is a human construct and that God does not exist. It's not possible to prove that something doesn't exist. Thus, the burden of proof falls on you, you're the one who has to prove that purpose and meaning *do* exist.

****

First of all, I will reiterate that each of your points suggesting the possibility that purpose/meaning inherently exists outside of human bias has been debunked. The most concise argument I had against it is reproduced below:

"You say that purpose is what a thing does. Anything does an infinite number of things. You say that purpose is the best thing that a thing does. By whose standards? How can we judge one action better than another? You say that the purpose is the thing that a thing must do in order to keep existing. Nothing can perform any action that takes it out of existence. A non-shining sun still exists."

Your proof and arguments for purpose are logically flawed because your definition of purpose is flawed.

You're essentially left with no argument. So now I will propose my own. My argument is for the likelihood of my case, not an absolute proof, since it is impossible to prove the non-existence of something.

Mankind associates purpose with many other words. Duty. Job. Occupation. When creating tools or assigning jobs, they dictate purpose. A bowl is to hold things. A spear is for throwing. Thus, mankind automatically assumed that purpose is inherent to the universe. The sun shines so that crops can grow and so that we can be warm. This is inherent human bias. The sun does not have a purpose outside the human realm. Outside the human realm, the sun shines.

No one can dictate what a thing is supposed to do, nor can anyone dictate a thing's nature. A sun that no longer shines still exists. Suns that die down still exist, and they still act on their nature. The purpose of them shining has vanished because it was based on a bias. However, the sun dying down and not shining is still natural.

Thus, everything has a nature. But nothing has an inherent purpose. Nature is what a thing does. Purpose is what a thing should do. Things cannot go against their nature, logically impossible. Things CAN go against their purpose. I can use a bowl as a hat. Or a spear as a toothpick. Purpose is tied with opinion, bias, and therefore, can only exist if man exists to bestow it.
Darth_Grievous_42

Pro

I do not have to characterize what something does best, they do it for themselves. Like you said it is objective. The human mind does not have to distinguish what anything does best in order for it to be doing it. We don't even have to be identifying correctly what any object is doing, it will still be doing what it does best. Perhaps the sun is doing something beyond our perceptions, greater than we can imagine, but for now, human knowledge is limited to thinking that what the sun does best is combust in on itself, and because of the chemical effects of the constant fire it shines. Shining is a side effect, combustion is what it does best, so far to what we can see. It does what it does best no matter what anyone thinks. It is performing its purpose, we happen to be benefiting from it.

By nobodies standards. I never said shining on Earth was better than the moon. If someone does they are only lying to themselves, assuming they can dictate specifically what goes on in the universe, rather than just accept something is happening and we benefit from it. I said that there is a purpose, and being that something simply does what it does best, whether or not we identify it is null. Therefore, I claim your subjective definition flawed. Purpose is objective, and happens whether man likes it or not, or knows about it or not.

I would agree that yes, via some kind of creation we have both omitted to trying and explain because it is impossible to do so, rather we both worked on the here and now. Again, I did not claim purpose presupposes intent. I have specifically said on many occasions that purpose comes from intent. The sun was made and then combusted. It was not presupposed (unless we are arguing about God, which we are not) it was made somehow, and then did what it did best. It is not tautological, it is an equation, as I have already exemplified. If you did understand this, as you claim you do, you would have realized this with my example. Again you twist my words, making it seem as though I have said something else that I did not. I hope the reader will realize this upon closer examination.

Your hand is a side effect of a greater purpose you have. Not a specific, flawed, and human thing like curing cancer, watching the news, or going to college, etc. Your purpose as life is to live. As long as you live you are accomplishing your purpose, everything else is a delusion of human ignorance. Raising your right hand is inconsequential to that purpose. It is much like the sun having sun spots, a black hole spinning counter-clockwise, or the Earth being an inch off its orbit than last year. It does not effect the larger picture, being the ultimate purpose (doing what you do best). The sun still combusts/shines, black holes still suck (yes, quite amusing), and the Earth still spins in space. Your purpose is still objective, you've just confused it as being something insignificant and subjecting it.

A sun that no longer exists is no longer a sun. It is either a black hole after falling in on itself or a white dwarf. These are not just words. When a sun(star) dies it changes its physical state. It is no longer what it was (we designate it as a sun for classification) but something else. Its old self's purpose is done, it now has a new one. Its changed state will do what it does best, no mater what we say. Still Objective. Shining and combustion are the same thing, we must clarify this. You can't shine without a cause, the cause is combustion, so for all intents and purposes, we will recognize them to be the same. If you stop the shining by, shall we say a giant shield, so Earth can no longer see it, but it is still shining. If you mean stopping the shining by extinguishing all flames then it is no longer a sun, but something else. You changed it, thus it changes its purpose. It still exists, so it is doing what it does best, and doing what it takes to exist. If you mean that you will destroy the sun, then it no longer exists and does not have a purpose anymore, except maybe the debris which will do what it physically can to exist. Still performing a purpose.

[painting: the mona lisa would still be the mona lisa without a frame, you can hang the canvas itself on the wall. The frame itself is meaningless without the art, therefore it is the picture itself that matters, the frame just helps.]

But you have to add to the argument as well, otherwise you are only saying "nu-uh", not constructing a point. I believe I've given sufficient proof to prove my case, now I'll examine the evidence you've only now presented.

Upon reading it, I noticed that it seems you completely agree with my stance that Purpose is not a product of man, as you yourself said:
"No one can dictate what a thing is supposed to do, nor can anyone dictate a thing's nature. A sun that no longer shines still exists. Suns that die down still exist, and they still act on their nature. The purpose of them shining has vanished because it was based on a bias. However, the sun dying down and not shining is still natural"
This is what I have been saying all along. A things purpose is in its nature. It made its purpose based on what it did once it was made, however it was made. Man does not dictate a things purpose, it does it on its own. A bowl serves its purpose by existing by doing what it does best determined by how it reacts to how was made, whether being a substance holder or hat. Same with a spear. Your new definition of purpose defies your first, were you said
"PURPOSE = what things are SUPPOSED to do"
Now it is suddenly what a thing should do? Were did this contradiction come from? It seems to me your definition of purpose is flawed, if you haven't been able to agree with yourself what it is.

I've given you a very specific definition of purpose, which you have skewed to no avail. It applies and proves my premise, being that "purpose" and "meaning" are not just products of man, but inherently exist in the universe. I have countered every argument you've made against my examples that only provide more evidence for my case. You have only given rebuttals, and only in your last round did you provide any evidence for the point you were supposed to have been making from the beginning, which I have easily rebutted. Most of your argument had nothing to do with your proposition at all, but was just copied and pasted clips of my arguments (many times out of context) and questions intended to manipulate my point. All evidence would point to my side being the better argument made. I've stayed on topic, proved my point, provided evidence, and shown yours to be wrong. I would implore the audience to vote based on who point was better made, not on personal beliefs (as that is how it supposed to be determined anyway), and I've given all the evidence I can to show that that side is mine. Darth_Grievous_42 out.
Debate Round No. 3
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Darth_Grievous_42 9 years ago
Darth_Grievous_42
I, too, very much enjoyed this debate. You are a true challenge Kleptin.
Posted by Kleptin 9 years ago
Kleptin
I also enjoyed this debate, though I do feel it to be unresolved. It's probably one of the more enjoyable ones although it may be a bit difficult to grasp.
Posted by aceofelves 9 years ago
aceofelves
Okay, I don't really feel like thinking too deeply about this right now. I feel like the answer to my question should be yes, but then again, my hunch could be wrong.

You both debated well.
Posted by Darth_Grievous_42 9 years ago
Darth_Grievous_42
No, we are speaking from a totally natural perspective. Or at least I was.
Posted by aceofelves 9 years ago
aceofelves
The Bible teaches that Man and the Universe both exist for only one purpose and meaning: to glorify God. I'm curious to know if that statement supports either side at all ?
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 9 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
Ad authoritatem, aceofelves :D.

Meaning is not "just" a product of man, but neither is it inherently in the universe. it is products of the interaction of man and the universe. Without the universe man dies and cannot form meaning, without man no life can use reason (with the possible exception of aliens) in order to discover meaning (purpose is of course decided rather than discovered, but then once that purpose is decided the standards for reaching it are objectively clear in the universe- if your purpose is to live you must not initiate force and fraud and you must produce, preferably in a specialized manner if you can find trading partners, if it is to die you need do nothing :D.
Posted by aceofelves 9 years ago
aceofelves
http://www.ccel.org...

WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM (1674)
Q1: What is the chief end of man?
A1: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.
Posted by Kleptin 9 years ago
Kleptin
Whoops. Tried to respond to this but I forgot I was the instigator XD
Posted by Kleptin 9 years ago
Kleptin
No underhanded intentions here. I can freely edit this thing so feel free to offer suggestions.

I already switched it from 5 rounds to 3.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 9 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
Unfortunately the pro position is set up as a trap (straw man fallacy via false dichotomy), otherwise i'd take the debate (the number of rounds is not a problem for me).
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
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Kleptin
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Vote Placed by FalseReality 9 years ago
FalseReality
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Vote Placed by Darth_Grievous_42 9 years ago
Darth_Grievous_42
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Vote Placed by brittwaller 9 years ago
brittwaller
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Vote Placed by blond_guy 9 years ago
blond_guy
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