The Instigator
Kinesis
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
socialpinko
Con (against)
Losing
8 Points

Return Debate on a Clichéd Topic - Arguing about God.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/16/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,556 times Debate No: 15981
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (20)
Votes (7)

 

Kinesis

Pro

The existence of God is the most overused topic on this site and I'm fairly convinced most or all of the arguments for both sides fail. Nonetheless, I really can't think of any other topic that would interest many people at the moment, so I might as well announce my return to DDO with it. Hello, people. :)

Terms of the debate

The counter the biased voting that usually occurs on this site in relation to this topic, it will deviate from typical debates and instead will try to focus solely on the quality of arguments presented and the persuasiveness of the debaters by requiring each side to give one argument each in support of the existence of God and the non-existence of God. If anyone wishes to ask for any clarifications before the debate they should do so in the comments and not the debate rounds themselves.

In the preliminary round (i.e. round 1) both sides will list their two arguments and outline them. There will be three rounds for debating. In the first of the three rounds the debaters will argue in support of the two arguments they have presented but will not attempt to refute their opponents arguments. In the second, both sides will address each other's positive case and in the third and final round, both sides will defend their arguments from their opponent's criticisms. The full resolution is:

"The arguments presented by Pro are more persuasive and better argued than the arguments presented by Con"

Note the relative nature of the resolution; if Con presents bad arguments but Pro argues even worse Con wins by the resolution; also, if both argue well but one gets the better of the other (s)he will win. Since only individual arguments are allowed, they do not have to, in themselves, prove the (non)existence of God, but only contribute in a substantive way to the attempt. Both sides shall an equal burden of proof. No semantics are allowed. God will be defined in the classical theistic sense [1]. The argument I shall use in support of the existence of God is:

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
[5]

The Leibnizian cosmological argument is probably the second most popular variant of the cosmological argument today. It is based on a weak form of the Principle of Sufficient Reason [6] (premise 1) which concerns explanations of existence. This is its syllogistic form:

P1: Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

P2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

P3: The universe exists.

: . Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).

: . Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God (from 2, 4).

The argument I shall use in support of the non-existence of God is:

The Darwinian Problem of Evil

The Darwinian problem of evil argues that the sheer enormity of suffering in the animal kingdom is highly implausible on theism or that naturalism has more predictive power with respect to animal suffering than theism, so all things held equal theism should be rejected. There are a number of variants on the argument, from the popular level version by John Loftus in the Christian Delusion [7] to more scholarly versions like the one argued by Paul Draper [8].

Sources
[1] i.e. Omniscient [2] Omnibenevolent [3] and Omnipotent [4].

socialpinko

Con

I first will thank my opponent for posting such an interesting topic for debate. Honestly this is my favorite topic and while I am personally an atheist I have no problem arguing for either side. I really have never been in a debate quite like this but will do my best! Depending on how long you have been gone I may or may not have joined before you left. My name is socialpinko but apparently in one of the mafia games I have been referred to as spinko. Anyways, I thought some form of introductions would be polite. Now on to my own arguments for and against the existence of god.

I'm actually a little bit annoyed at my opponent for claiming the only slightly defensible argument for a god. Oh well I guess I'm going to have to dress up my argument with plenty of bells and whistles.

Argument for the existence of god

I was thinking of going with the teleological argument but I simply think it is utterly indefensible and so went with Plantinga's Ontological Argument for god's existence.[1]

(1.)God exists in our belief but not in reality. (Position of non-theist or atheist)

(2.)To exist in reality is better than to exist in belief alone. -Premise

(3.)One may conceive a being having all of god's properties(my opponent's [1] from R1) existing in reality. -Premise

(4.)A being whic possesses god's properties and existing is greater then god. -From (1) and (2)

(5.)A being greater than god can therefore be conceived. -From (3) and (4)

(6.)A being greater than god cannot be conceived. -Definition of god

(7.)God cannont exist in understanding but not reality. -From (1), (5), and (6)

(8.)God exists in understanding. -Impossible to disagree with.

(9.)God therefore exists in reality. -From (7) and (8)
_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Argument for the non-existence of god

Now my opponent has taken the traditional problem of evil so I think I will follow my opponent with one of the arguments from incompatible properties. I will argue that the properties of omnibenevolence and omnipotence cannont exist in the same being. I have changed it slightly from the argument found at my second source.[2]

(1.)God is essentially omnibenevolent. -Definition

(2.)God is essentially free(omnipotent, able to do anything). -Definition

(3.)God cannot do what is morally wrong. -From (1)

(4.)God is not free. -From (3)

(5.)God is free and God is not free. -From (2) and (4)

I will follow my opponent's wishes and wait until the next round to refute his arguments.

[1]http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2]http://www.pitt.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
Kinesis

Pro

As per the rules, this round will be solely for arguing in support of my two arguments.

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

The LCA requires two defences, assuming Con does not attempt to deny premise 3.

P1: The first premise is a modest formulation of the Principle of Sufficient Reason; it affirms the existence of two kinds of being - things that exist by the necessity of their own nature and hence have no external explanation, and things that are contingent, explained by the existence of causal factors external to themselves. For example, many philosophers would classify mathematical objects such as functions, numbers or ideal shapes in the first category while physical objects like trees, cats, planets and stars belong to the second category.

So what reason do we have to accept premise 1? Well, it seems to have prima facie plausibility: i.e. it makes sense of our initial intuitions so in the absence of a good reason to deny it we should begin from the assumption that it is true. For example, imagine I come across a ball in my garden. The assumption will be that it has an explanation of its existence in terms of its origin (for example, it was produced in a toy factory), its continued existence (because of the particles that constitute it) and its location (someone left it there). If we somehow expanded the ball to a larger size or increased its complexity, that would make no difference to the need for an explanation for it. In contrast, consider abstract objects such as numbers; they don't seem to require an explanation in terms any of these three things - they exist and are maintained because that it simply the way they are: i.e. they exist by necessity of their nature. The same sorts of explanations seem to extend to any sort of object we can think of. We therefore have good reason, on reflection, to accept that PSR is the default position. If there are any exceptions to this rule, it seems obvious that they are rare since every typical example of a contingent fact we can think of requires an explanation. We would therefore need a very good reason to believe that there are any particular exceptions to PSR. One could attempt to escape this argument by arguing that the universe exists necessarily instead of contingently, but I will not try to predict my opponent's response.

P2: At first glance, this seems to be an extremely bold premise - how could one determine that the cause of the universe is God? However, upon conceptual analysis of the cause we can tease out certain crucial requirements for it. The cause must be incredibly powerful as the originator of the entire universe. Occam's razor shaves away a multiplicity of causes since we need not multiply the number of causes beyond necessity. The universe contains all space and time, all physical objects; the cause must therefore be non spatial, temporal and physical (prior to the existence of the universe at least). Only two types of objects fit into this category - the aforementioned abstract objects and minds. Abstract objects do not stand in causal relationships (the number 4 does not cause anything, for instance) so the only option left is a mind. In addition, if the cause of the universe were not an agent, it would co-exist timelessly with its cause and the universe would never be brought into existence. The universe would require an agent to freely choose to bring the universe into existence.

This argument, while in itself does not prove the existence of the God of classical theism, contributes in a substantial way to proving the existence of such a being and thus falls within the terms of the debate.

The Darwinian Problem of Evil


Since it would be impossible adequately explore every major instance of "evil" in the world and how it relates to the existence of God, this discussion will cover solely the suffering that results from the way in which the animal kingdom is arranged. Paul Draper summarises the facts like this:

"For a variety of biological and ecological reasons, organisms compete for survival, with some having an advantage in the struggle for survival over others; as a result, many organisms, including many sentient beings, never flourish because they die before maturity, many others barely survive, but languish for most or all of their lives, and those that reach maturity and flourish for much of their lives usually languish in old age; in the case of human beings and some nonhuman animals as well, languishing often involves intense or prolonged suffering"

That these facts don't sit well with an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God is plausible on the face of it - we would, after all, expect such suffering to be minimised to far less than that which exists in the world if such a being existed. But in what respects, specifically, do they contradict classical theism? Firstly, if God is moral perfection he literally could not care more deeply about the suffering of sentient creatures created by him; in addition, with perfect knowledge and power, he is in a perfect position to prevent the suffering within the animal kingdom. Secondly, many animals have the capacity to flourish rather than suffer, and could flourish rather than suffer if minor changes were made to their environment, and also if major changes were made. A God with the aforementioned attributes would have the ability to bring about both.

It is worth pointing out in addition that if one accepts the theory of evolution the intensity and scope of this suffering is increased many times over. The theory of evolution is accepted by the vast majority of scientists and has been established through multiple scientific professions [1]. In addition, the presence of an explanation for the diversity of life (and copious evidence that it is true) that is wholly natural and does not require intelligent intervention is what we would expect on a non-theistic hypothesis and not on a theistic hypothesis, since God could have easily created life without a process such as evolution. The truth of evolution therefore confirms naturalism, or at least a non-theistic hypothesis, over classical theism.
[1] http://www.talkorigins.org...
socialpinko

Con

socialpinko forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Kinesis

Pro

Since Pro forfeited the last round, I will simply respond to the syllogisms of his arguments this round:

1. The ontological argument - it is helpful to point out that this is not the ontological argument invented and defended by Plantinga in contemporary philosophy. Rather, it is Plantinga's interpretation of Anselm's ontological argument, a long refuted attempt to prove God's existence. In addition, Pro appears to have copied the argument quite badly and made spelling errors, rendering the argument logically invalid. Nonetheless I will be charitable and address the argument found in Pro's source.

The problem with this argument is that is makes no distinction between entertaining an idea and holding a belief. I can conceive a being with all of God's properties and fully accept that part of the concept is existence, without actually believing that God exists. The conception in premise (1) is the same as in premise (3) - the only difference is that in premise (3) the same conception actually exists. Therefore, premise (4) is false because both hypothetical beings have the same quantity of 'greatness'.


2. This argument might be a little more difficult to refute because of the layman's definitions provided in R1 (any philosophically rigorous definitions would immediately falsify Con's position), so it was really necessary for Con to elaborate in R2. Nonetheless, I will provide some possible answers.

Firstly, if omnipotence is defined as 'infinite in power' then it is difficult to see how a logical argument could work against God. He would transcend logic. Such a position has its problems, but if we start from the assumption that God has that property then the argument doesn't work, in principle.

Second, it is not clear that (3) is true. If God is omnibenevolent that might imply that he wouldn't commit morally impermissible actions, not that he couldn't.

Third, if omnipotence is merely defined as 'almighty' then it isn't at all clear that (2) is true, since God could have limits on his power.

socialpinko

Con

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

I will only bring up a point against one of my opponent's premises as I believe that will be enough.

P2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

I will concede that the universe needs a cause but I will not concede that that cause must necessarily be the god which my opponent is defending.

-omniscient
-omnibenevolent
-omnipotent

My opponent has yet to show why this being must necessarily be morally perfect or have complete knowledge of everything, or even be all powerful. I will wait for my opponent to defend these positions in the next round.

The Darwinian Problem of Evil

My opponent cannot conclusively prove that there is not some sort of higher purpose for suffering in the animal kingdom. For example, without the hundreds of thousands of species which went extinct in preparation for the human species to evolve, we would not be here and thus Christians would never be able to enjoy eternity in heaven.

God values human life over animal life, as one can see from numerous examples of animal sacrifice in the Bible and god giving man dominion over animals and the planet in the book of genesis. One can also see this in that god only allows humans to gain salvaton and thus get into heaven. So when one compares the finite suffering of every animal species that has ever gone extinct with the infinite happiness and joy which those with salvation will experience in heaven, the scale tips towards humans and heaven thus outweighing the suffering of extinct animals.
Debate Round No. 3
Kinesis

Pro

LCA:

Con opts for a short, easy refutation instead of tackling the actual argument and demonstrates that he has not actually read the opening post. At the beginning of the debate I pointed out that one argument would essentially be impossible to prove a God with all the aforementioned attributes (with the possible exception of Con's failed ontological argument) so debaters were not required to do so; instead they had to give arguments that contribute to proving the existence of such a being.

The LCA does so because it attempts to demonstrate the existence of a personal mind with an immense amount of power that created the universe. The objection is irrelevant per the terms of the debate.

DPoE:

Whether or not I can conclusively prove that there is a higher purpose for suffering in the animal kingdom is irrelevant. It is of course possible that a higher purpose exists for allowing such suffering - however, it is no less likely that God would have reasons in addition to the ones already presented to prevent such suffering. The question therefore revolves around moral reasons that we already know or can logically deduce.

The proposition that such suffering is necessary to produce humans is equally weak, because an omnipotent God could create humans though other means.

Pointing to the bible is irrelevant since we are not discussing the biblical God, but the God of classical theism. Even if God is shown to be callous and uncaring to animals in the bible all that would show is that the bible must be an inaccurate portrayal of God. In addition, it is reasonable to assume that a God with omnipotence could achieve the salvation of humans in the absence of the degree of animal suffering that exists so this objection fails too.
socialpinko

Con




LCA

At the beginning of the debate I pointed out that one argument would essentially be impossible to prove a God with all the aforementioned attributes (with the possible exception of Con's failed ontological argument) so debaters were not required to do so; instead they had to give arguments that contribute to proving the existence of such a being.

My opponent claims that because it is almost impossible to prove that god exists in the way that my opponent described, his weak argument ought to be immune from analysis. My opponent claims that the responsibility of both parties on the pro god part of the debate have to prove it's existence. My opponent has tried and failed to do this in that he has not defended the existence of a being with the properties which he attributes to god. He defined it in the classical theistic sense of having the attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and omni-benevolence. My opponent has not proven any of these attributes exist.

A comparable situation would be if I were to try to prove the existence of Superman except without the laser vision, super strength, ability to fly, X-ray vision, and moral goodness. It is easy to prove the existence of a regular tall, black haired, statuesque guy. But this does not prove the existence of Superman as he is defined.

The LCA does so because it attempts to demonstrate the existence of a personal mind with an immense amount of power that created the universe. The objection is irrelevant per the terms of the debate.

It demonstrates the existence of a personal and very powerful being. My opponent admits this but that is not what god is as how we have defined it in the beginning of this debate. My opponent concedes this and thus his argument may be discarded.

DPOE

The proposition that such suffering is necessary to produce humans is equally weak, because an omnipotent God could create humans though other means.

My opponent could have easily refuted my argument against the DPOE if he had shown one way for the classical theistic god to create humans in their present form by any other means besides evolution. My opponent has not done so and thus my refutation stands.

My opponent also claims that using the Bible as evidence for the existence of the classical theistic god is useless. I concede this as I have not tried to do so and will not.

===========================================================

Now on to my opponent's refutations of my own arguments.

Omnipotence- Omnibenevolence argument

I will concede my opponent's refutation by using omnipotence as a get out of logic free card. My opponent has already defined omnipotence as such in R1.

Ontological Argument

My opponent writes:

The problem with this argument is that is makes no distinction between entertaining an idea and holding a belief. I can conceive a being with all of God's properties and fully accept that part of the concept is existence, without actually believing that God exists.

My opponent seems to misunderstand my argument. I am not arguing that one must believe god exists for it to exist, but that the very definition of god makes it's existence necessary.

I have refuted both of my opponent's arguments both for and against the existence of god. I have however conceded my argument against the existence of god. My argument for the existence of god however still stands as my opponent's "refutation" merely stemmed from a misunderstanding of my argument. Therefore as my argument for the existence of god is the only one that still stands, I have upheld the resolution that,
"The arguments presented by Pro are more persuasive and better argued than the arguments presented by Con". Only the roles are reversed as Con's arguments are more persuasive than Pro's.

Vote Con


Debate Round No. 4
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Appreciated, I could not see that in the OP vote revised.
Posted by Kinesis 5 years ago
Kinesis
"Since only individual arguments are allowed, they do not have to, in themselves, prove the (non)existence of God, but only contribute in a substantive way to the attempt."

- R1.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"At the beginning of the debate I pointed out that one argument would essentially be impossible to prove a God with all the aforementioned attributes (with the possible exception of Con's failed ontological argument) so debaters were not required to do so; instead they had to give arguments that contribute to proving the existence of such a being. "

Where was this?
Posted by Kinesis 5 years ago
Kinesis
All right then.
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
I'm sorry I simply had the window open but was doing something for school. I did not realize it was so close to the end of the round. If you post your round with your refutations I will be able to respond.
Posted by J.Kenyon 5 years ago
J.Kenyon
Can't right now, I'm swamped with calculus. Later, though.

Oh, and Socialpinko was online during the forfeit. Just sayin'
Posted by Kinesis 5 years ago
Kinesis
J.Kenyon, want to take this instead?
Posted by Kinesis 5 years ago
Kinesis
Oh.
Posted by Kinesis 5 years ago
Kinesis
Who the hell are- I mean, hello again vardas0antras!
Posted by vardas0antras 5 years ago
vardas0antras
Hello, Kinesis!
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by jewgirl 5 years ago
jewgirl
KinesissocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: con refuted both of pros arguments while cons paradox argument was refuted and he conceded this. however cons ontological argument went unrefuted.
Vote Placed by Amveller 5 years ago
Amveller
KinesissocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Honesty, is was the comment made by socialpinko "im atheist but will argue the other side that swayed my vote. Be who you are and stick to it
Vote Placed by anarcholibertyman 5 years ago
anarcholibertyman
KinesissocialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision:
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
KinesissocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: I don't think that Con had a very good pro-god side, though his anti-god side was fine (while Pro did good with both aspects). Conduct goes to Pro for the forfiet, and the spelling and grammar only because of the formatting of that last round. Not sure what was going on with that.
Vote Placed by J.Kenyon 5 years ago
J.Kenyon
KinesissocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Clear win by Pro.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
KinesissocialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit, overall much better depth from Pro.
Vote Placed by bradshaw93 5 years ago
bradshaw93
KinesissocialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:14 
Reasons for voting decision: con refuted both of pros arguments while cons paradox argument was refuted and he conceded this. however cons ontological argument went unrefuted.