The Instigator
Dmot
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Sargon
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points

Science has shown/is about to show God to be implausible/unecessary as an explanation

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Sargon
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,066 times Debate No: 56061
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

Dmot

Con

I tried this debate earlier but someone accepted it by accident who agreed with me (at least thats what I think happened). So I'm trying it again.

I want to debate whether or not science has shown or is on the verge of showing that God isn't needed to explain the universe or that God doesn't exist. In other words, does science show God to be less plausible?

I contend that this is NOT the case


Note, this is not a debate about Christianity per se or any other religion. It is a debate about God in general versus science and the discoveries of modern science.
BOP is on pro to show that science has shown this, although this is not a matter of definitive proof.

Also. this is not a debate over whether God does exist or the merits of the arguments for God's existence itself, only whether science can show the arguments to be flawed.

First round make your argument, then we go from there.

Thanks
Sargon

Pro

The resolution of this debate is whether or not science has made it implausible or unnecessary that god is an explanation of the physical universe. While the resolution does not explicitly state that we are talking about god as an explanation of the physical universe, it is clear by Con’s statements in the first round that this is the type of explanation we are talking about (“I want to debate whether or not science has shown or is on the verge of showing that God isn't needed to explain the universe”). Therefore, I will devote this round to arguing that science has made it implausible and unnecessary that god is an explanation of the physical universe.

The Wavelength Function of the Universe shows us that atheism explains the universe better than theism. The WFU has been developed by scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Alexander Vilenkin. Quentin Smith, professor of the philosophy of physics at West Michigan University, explains the theory: "Hawking's theory is based on assigning numbers to all possible universes. All of the numbers cancel out except for a universe with features our universe possesses.’’. Quentin Smith also explains the evidence for this theory: ‘’Hawking’s theory is confirmed by observational evidence. This theory predicts our universe has evenly-distributed matter on a large scale, which would be on scales of super-clusters of galaxies. It predicts that the expansion rate of our universe -- our universe has been expanding ever since -- would be almost exactly between the rate of the universe expanding forever and the rate where it expands and then collapses. It also predicts the very early area of rapid expansion near the beginning of the universe called inflation. Hawking's theory exactly predicted what the COBE satellite discovered about the irregularities of the background radiation in the universe.’’ The problems that the WFU of the universe presents for an omnipotent cause of the universe are also elucidated by Smith: ‘’For the wave function of the universe implies there is a 95% probability that the universe came into existence uncaused. If God created the universe, he would contradict this scientific law in two ways. First, the scientific law says that the universe would come into existence because of its natural, mathematical properties, not because of any supernatural forces. Second, the scientific law says the probability is only 95% that the universe would come into existence. But if God created the universe, the probability would be 100% that it would come into existence because God is all-powerful. If God wills the universe to come into existence, his will is guaranteed to be 100% effective.’ Therefore, science, in particular quantum gravity, shows that god is an unlikely explanation of the physical universe. (http://infidels.org...)

Science proceeds by creating models to explain physical phenomena, and then falsifying or supporting these models based on empirical evidence, choosing the least ad hoc and best empirically supported model. From current scientific thinking, there exist many models explaining the origins of the universe through purely naturalistic means. For example, the Hartle-Hawking model, the Carroll-Chen model, and Vilenkin's quantum tunneling model. In all cases, we have models explaining the universe which are naturalistic. Since these models are all consistent with the laws of physics, then it follows that they are all logically possible. This being the case, science shows that god is not necessary to explain the universe, as there are alternative models which are at least possibly true.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity also shows that there is no external cause to the universe. By external, I mean anything that is outside of our connected space-time continuum. Physicists derive equations from relativity called metric tensors (or metrics for short), which describe the geometric and causal structure of space-time (http://en.wikipedia.org...). Ever since Einstein created general relativity in 1915, four physicists have derived metrics from his theory that describe the universe we live in, which are now called Friedmann-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker (FLRW) metrics. The FLRW metric describes a universe that is isotropic, homogenous, and expanding (http://en.wikipedia.org...). According to the FLRW metrics, there is no first instant of the universe’s existence (http://plato.stanford.edu...). There cannot be a first instant of the universe’s existence because the singularity which is supposed to exist at the first instant of the universe has no physical meaning. For example, the singularity supposed to have infinite temperature, but it’s a zero dimensional point. Temperature relates to molecules moving around, like spreading out when heated, or getting closer together when cooled. How can temperature make any sense at a zero-dimensional point, which by definition, has no movement? (http://www.reasonablefaith.org...) Dr. Craig also points out that a physical object with no duration and no physical extension hardly qualifies as a physical thing at all. (Craig, William L., and Quentin P. Smith. Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology. N.p.: Clarendon Paperback, 1994. Print) If there is no first instant of the universe’s existence, then this creates problems for the idea of god as a cause of the universe. Consider all of the instants of space-time starting at the first instant to the present moment. Once the first instant has been “deleted”, then it becomes clear that each instant of space-time is caused by another instant of space-time. For example, the instantaneous moment T=1 (I am using general relativity’s “cosmic time”) is caused by the instantaneous moment T=.9, which in turn is caused by T-.8, ad infinitum. Because each instant of space-time is caused by another instant of space-time, god cannot cause space-time to begin existing.

In conclusion, science has shown that god is an improbable explanation of the physical universe by way of Hawking’s wavefunction of the universe. Quantum gravity models which explain the existence of the universe further show that god is not necessary to explain the universe. Finally, Einstein’s general theory of relativity shows that god could not have caused the universe. For these reasons, the resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 1
Dmot

Con

Thankyou Sargon for the response. I will first offer my argument that science cannot in principle show that God is unecessary and then respond to yours briefly. Since in general the BOP is on Pro in this argument, I will in the interest of space, not go into depth about my positive argument.


I. My Argument


My argument is that science cannot show God is unecessary given what science itself is. Now, there are a number of arguments for God's existence. Among these, some are more metaphysical than others. These are the ones that date back through the "classical theistic tradition" [1]


Now, among these arguments, there are three main types of a posteriori arguments (ones that proceed from the effect to the cause...contra the style of the ontological argument and those simlar ones)

The three types I would say are variations on the argument from the existence of the universe (cosmological), order (design) and transcendant features (e.g. grades of perfection, morality, intellectual activity, etc.). Science does not even concern itself with the third, therefore, we are left with cosmological and design arguments.


The main thesis of the cosmological argument, formulated by classial theists, is that there are things which are contingent and have a distinct essence (roughly a description of what it is for present purposes) and existence. WHAT something is and the fact THAT it exists are distinct. It is because of this distinction, that the thing itself is contingent, as there is nothing about what it is that entails that it exists [2] [3]

This argument proceeds to argue that a contingent thing via the principle of causality or sufficient reason (depending on the version) requires a cause or explanation and this series, given it is a series of instrumental causes (i.e. a series where each member has derived causal power) [4] must terminate in a necessary being. This is what we know as "God" and further divine attributes are dervied from here.

Now, science itself, cannot falsify this argument. Since the argument seeks to explain contingent things, it is no good to answer with "the laws of physics explain..." because the theist is regarding the laws of nature, the physical universe (even in its very early simple stages) as contingent. You may argue that this is not the case...but this would require a philosophical examination on the nature of contingent things as it applies to the physical universe.

Since science presuposes the existence of at least some physical things (laws, states, etc.) it cannot coherently be called to explain these.


Likewise, a classical design argument is used to explain how God is the necessary source of order in the universe. Since science is constantly explaining the universe in terms of precise mathematical laws, it cannot coherently explain these away without invoking more exact, fundamental regularities. Hence, it has no force against a design argument when properly formulated. Some argue that evolution shows that the design argument is false. But this is only the case if the design argument takes biological complexity and fittingness of organisms to an enviornment as the starting point. If the argument starts with either the fundamental orderly character of the universe or the fundamental intelligibility of the universe, it bypasses evolution altogether as evolution presuposes these things in order to even work, as do ALL scientific theories.

It may be correct that these arguments fail. But if they do fail, it is not because of science, including any branch of science like cosmology or evolutionary biology.
II. Your Arguments

For the sake of simplicity, I divide your arguments into 3.
1) WFU argument- In this argument, you provide a lot of quotes from scientists. I am not a physicist, so I am not competent to answer the scientific questions these quotes from the physicists and philosophers of physics raises. However, I can see a philosophical fallacy in your quote:

" First, the scientific law says that the universe would come into existence because of its natural, mathematical properties, not because of any supernatural forces"

In order to have mathematical properties, something has to exist...at least in some sense.If it exists in the abstract, these mathematical properties, or any other properties are mere potentialities. They have no causal power and therefore cannot coherently be invoked as causes. Assuming moderate reaslism about mathematical entities, these would not even exist except within concerete things or the minds which actually do the abstracting. This is the view that I defend however this would necessitate that either those properties either DO NOT EXIST simply and therefore cannot be invoked as an explanation of the universe since they only exist insofar as the universe does OR they can exist but only within a mind external to the universe. An alternative view on mathematical objects is platonism, but that has its own problems [5]. Even if abstract things did exist in a "third realm" as some mathemeticians believe, the nature of this realm would have a msyterious "participation" relationship with the world. Further, it is clear that a platonic account of universals, mathematical or otherwise, does not involve invoking these universals as causes in the sense necessary here.


The fundamental issue then with this argument is this (to quote you): "Therefore...quantum gravity, shows god is an unlikely explanation of the physical universe." But then this only raises the question, what explains quantum gravity? The existence of the law and the state which it governs.

You may ask the same question about God, what explains God? I answer that God exists by necessity. You may argue that QG or the system it governs does, but that is a PHILOSOPHICAL assertion hence we have left the realm of science.


Finally, theoretical physicist Dr. Stephen Barr explains in his article how there is a wrongheaded notion to try to explain how the universe "came from nothing." This touches on Hawking's propopsal as well as the idea that the laws of QG explain everything [6]


2) Your argument that the beginning can be explained naturally- I agree with all of this here. As Dr. Barr explains in his article, perhaps the beginning can be explained naturally. He believes this to be the case yet he is a devout Catholic and a physicist. How does he reconcile the two? The same way anyone should: God is not a necessary explanation for the beginning of the universe per se. God explains why the universe exists at any moment. He is not a quasi-scientific explanation for the mysterious first moments but a necessary metpahysical conclusion based on metaphysical premises. It is for this reason that Aquinas didn't even see the fact THAT the universe began as a necessary fact in order to believe in God. His arguments presupose an eternal universe. Just like the first moments of a book don't explain away an author no matter what they are, the first moments of the universe don't render a creator meaningless.


3) This is basically answered by the above argument. A beginning point isn't the question here. Also, your argument seems to presupose presentism over eternalism which I think in light of modern physics and philosophy considerations is indefensible.


1 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com...
2 http://en.wikipedia.org... (esp. In esse)
3 http://en.wikipedia.org...
4 http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com...
5 http://plato.stanford.edu...
6 http://www.firstthings.com...


Sargon

Pro

First, I’d like to explain that my opponent has contradicted himself. He argues that there is a temporal beginning to the universe, and that god is the best explanation of this temporal beginning. However, at the end of his round, he states that eternalism is best supported by physics and philosophy. Eternalism is the position that temporal becoming is an illusion, and that all points in time are equally real (http://plato.stanford.edu...) . Therefore, my opponent affirms that temporal becoming is real in one argument, while denying that temporal becoming is real while criticizing my arguments. Furthermore, I can turn this into an argument in favor of the revolution. Since Con admits that science supports the idea of eternalism, then it follows that science supports the idea that temporal becoming is an illusion. Since science entails that temporal becoming is an illusion, then it would follow that any argument about god causing the beginning of the universe is false. Therefore, from Con’s own admissions, science helps to establish the implausibility of god as an explanation of the universe.

I would also like to remind the audience of how weak my burden of proof is in this debate. In order to win the debate, I simply have to show that science offers logically possible explanations of the physical universe as opposed to god. It doesn’t even matter if the explanations I offer are implausible; The only thing I have to do is to show that they are least possible. Unless Con can show that the alternatives I have mentioned are impossible, which he has failed to do as of this point, then a Pro vote is justified, as the resolution is upheld.

I believe that Con has misunderstood my argument from the wavelength function of the universe. Con responds to this argument in several ways and tries to explain how it is flawed to use the WFU to explain the origins of the universe. This is where the misunderstanding begins. I did not mention the WFU in regards to the origins of the universe, but I mentioned the WFU in regards to the probability of the universe existing. As far as I have read, this argument has gone unanswered. Con doesn’t dispute that there is a 95% probability of the universe coming into being, and Con doesn’t dispute that if god existed, the universe would have a 100% probability of coming into being. Con doesn’t dispute the conclusion that this shows that physics contradicts god. Therefore, he drops the entire argument. Any talk about the explanation of the origins of the universe in regards to the WFU is simply a red herring.

In response to my third argument, Con proposes that god is not a cause of the first instant of space-time, but a continuing cause of the universe. In other words, god is the reason that each instant of space-time is able to exist, but is not the cause of the first instant of-space time. However, this is also contradicted by the argument I gave in my first round. God cannot be a continuing cause of the universe because the reason that each instant of space-time is able to exist is that it is brought into being by another instant of space-time. The efficient cause of any given instant of space-time is another instant of space-time, and the only necessary conditions of an instant of space-time coming into being is another temporally prior instant of space-time, not god.

In response to Con’s argument, I’d like to first clarify that we’re talking about the plausibility of god as an explanation of the physical universe in light of science, not philosophy, so his argument is irrelevant to the resolution from the beginning. However, I would like to note that his entire argument is predicated on an unjustified assumption. In modal logic, there are logical systems, such as Triv modal logic, where “modal collapse” is achieved. Modal collapse means that all possibilities collapse, entailing that everything which is exists does so necessarily. (Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simulaneity. "A radical re-thinking of quantum gravity".) This entails that there are no contingent objects. In order for Con’s argument to work, he has to assume that a system of modal logic is true where modal collapse does not occur, otherwise his argument is clearly false, as there would be no contingent things. Con, instead of proving a system of modal logic where modal collapse does not occur, has instead assumed that modal collapse does not occur without any proof. Therefore, his entire argument depends on an unjustified assumption. Con must explicate his system of modal logic where modal collapse does not occur and demonstrate this system of modal logic to be true in order for his argument to be sound.


Debate Round No. 2
Dmot

Con

This is my response. I will quote you when necessary. I will number each part of my response to correspond with your paragraphs to avoid having to quote your argument an excessive amount.

1) In response to paragraph 1:

You say: He argues that there is a temporal beginning to the universe, and that god is the best explanation of this temporal beginning”

This is in fact a manifestly false statement. If you search the phrase “temporal beginning” on this page, it only shows up in your arguments and not mine. The term “beginning” does show up in my argument. In
the following context: “
God is not
a necessary explanation for the beginning of the universe per se.”

I clearly do not argue in the way that you claim that I do, hence you are attacking a straw man.

Second point for this paragraph, I did say I support eternalism. It is not directly related to our debate1

In any case, eternalism is not the position that there is no beginning. It is the position that all times are equally real. If I draw a line segment, there is a “first point” on the line in the sense that it is
not circular and it does not proceed in one direction forever. Of course,
eternalism might change our understanding of the beginning, but it is certainly
not a claim that the beginning does not exist. In either case, as I have said
above, whether or not the universe had a beginning is irrelevant to the vast
majority of traditional metaphysical arguments for God’s existence.

As thinkers no less great than Aquinas argue, the universe could have been eternal in the past and still be created. It has to do with his philosophical understanding of the nature of the world as being a combination of act and potency, essence and existence, etc. which is why he thinks it needs a cause.

2) “doesn’t even matter if the explanations I
offer are implausible”

Burden of proof is NOT my main concern in this debate so I won’t dwell on this and don’t want to get caught up in it. I will say this though: if the explanations are very implausible, they aren’t really alternatives to a theistic explanation. That said, my point is to show that science itself not only doesn’t explain what theists are trying to explain but couldn’t. This is what “My Argument” section of my initial argument is meant to show.

3) “Con doesn’t dispute that there is a
95% probability of the universe coming into being, and Con doesn’t dispute that
if god existed, the universe would have a 100% probability of coming into
being.”

I will agree, I misunderstood and thought you were making a different argument. I thought you
were saying that the 95% chance of the universe existing is evidence against God because it would come into existence with a 95% chance without God…no God necessary. That is the argument I responded to in the section above. Yet, you claim that the argument you made is different, hence let me revise my response:

First, it seems like you are making an argument like this:

P1) Science shows us
that the probability of the universe coming into being is not 100%

P2) If God exists, the
probability would be 100%

C) God does not exist.

This argument is valid. However, I dispute both premises without further qualification. Premise 1 is
true in this sense: given the physical reality which does exist (at least this reality if there are others…and
note by physical reality I mean any unified physical system, not necessarily our space-time region which we know to be our universe.), there is a 95% chance of the universe coming into being. This however presupposes an existence of a physical reality governed by specific mathematical laws. To say otherwise
is ultimately incoherent as I eluded to and would be happy to explain further.
Hence, there must be something in existence prior to our universe for P1 to be true (if not temporally, ontologically prior). This however is something which needs a philosophical explanation for its existence. Hence science cannot provide this, nor can it provide probabilities…

As for premise two, it is true with the condition that God wills the universe, of course, if He did not will it, the probability would be 0. On that condition this statement is true in the absolute sense. However, there is another sense in which it is false. If we step outside of the physical system itself and look at it from God’s perspective so to speak (of course by way of analogy), God can “actualize” any
number of possible worlds (assuming God’s existence…which this premise does). In one (among possibly infinite) possible world, there is a 95% chance of the universe coming into being and it does not. In another, there is the same chance, yet this possibility is actualized. From the perspective of the physical system, each possible world is the same, namely 95% chance of a universe appearing.
From the perspective of a God outside of the system and outside of time itself, they are different, as in one the possibility is actualized. If God exists, it is clear which PW He has chosen. This world, in the absolute sense, had a 100% chance of yielding our universe, yet from the standpoint of the physical system itself had only a 95% chance. Hence if God exists, He made a world in which the 95% chance of the universe coming into being would be actual. Since he is outside of the system, the argument works rendering your argument false.

4) This is a philosophical claim about the causal power of space-time. The philosopher must ask: in virtue of what does any point in time have power to cause another point of time? Further, even if it is true that each point in time causes the next, it does not explain the series as a whole. I do not want to get to far afield however as this is clearly entering into a philosophical discussion about time, not about power. My question is: “why does time itself exist” which if not immediately, must ultimately lead us beyond empirical science. Also, as a footnote to my
first point:

1[although
I brought it up to make a point about past times causing the present time. If
all points in time are equally real, it is no good to appeal to a previous
point in time as the efficient cause of the present time…or if one does do
this, it seems as though one has a classic essentially ordered causal series
(due to the obvious simultaneous nature of the causes) which in that case would
have to terminate in a first member, if not a point in time, something with the
causal power to explain the series itself. See here: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com...]

5) Remember, i am not making an argument for the existence of God. I was simply summarizing
two main approaches to show that if they are false, it is NOT SCIENCE which could in principle falsify them. You seem to recognize this as you invoke a philosophical system of modal logic in which the concept of “contingent” is rendered meaningless. I oppose this system for a number of reasons, but, even
if it is correct, it is not modern biology, chemistry, etc. which shows this to
be the case. And THAT is exactly the point of this debate.

Sargon

Pro

I believe that Con has adopted a narrow definition of what exactly the word ‘science” constitutes. Con, based on his objections to my arguments, seems to interpret the strict empirical results of science as constituting “science”, while anything else is taken as philosophy. This is all done to allow Con to say that it’s not science which has refuted his argument, but philosophy. However, I would agree with the scientist Sam Harris in arguing that science should not have such a narrow definition. Harris writes “I am, in essence, defending the unity of knowledge—the idea that the boundaries between disciplines are mere conventions and that we inhabit a single epistemic sphere in which to form true beliefs about the world…. Is there really a boundary between the truths of physics and those of biology? No. And yet it is practical, even necessary, to treat these disciplines separately most of the time. In this sense, the boundaries between disciplines are analogous to political borders drawn on maps. Is there really a difference between California and Arizona at their shared border? No, but we divide this stretch of desert as a matter of convention.”(http://www.samharris.org...). In other words, distinctions between philosophy and science are mere convention, so this does not constitute a sound objection to my argument. In the words of Noam Chomsky, “The status of philosophy as distinct from the sciences or history is artificial. Until the nineteenth century there was no such distinction. You can't answer the question whether Hume or Kant were philosophers or scientists-they were both.“ (http://www.chomsky.info...)

Again, I like to remind the audience of how weak my burden of proof is in this debate. In order to win the debate, I simply have to show that science offers logically possible explanations of the physical universe as opposed to god. It doesn’t even matter if the explanations I offer are implausible; The only thing I have to do is to show that they are least possible. Unless Con can show that the alternatives I have mentioned are impossible, which he has failed to do as of this point, then a Pro vote is justified, as the resolution is upheld.

Con indicates his support for eternalism when he says that “your argument seems to presupose presentism over eternalism which I think in light of modern physics and philosophy considerations is indefensible.” I flipped this argument in the following way; If Con admits that science supports the idea of eternalism, then it would follow that science supports the idea that temporal becoming is an illusion. Since science entails that temporal becoming is an illusion, then it would follow that any argument about god causing the beginning of the universe is false, as the universe simply is at the first instant, but never begins. Therefore, from Con’s own admissions, science helps to establish the implausibility of god as an explanation of the universe.


Con is conflating two different senses of "beginning". When I say that eternalism means that the universe had no beginning, I mean that eternalism entails that the universe had no beginning in the sense of temporal becoming. There can be a first instant of the universe, but this first instant of the universe never comes into being, because all moments in time are equally real. When Con attempts to get around my argument by pointing out that there are theistic arguments which are consistent with the universe being eternal in the past, he is talking about the word "beginning" in the sense of having a first instant or interval of existence, rather than the beginning in the sense that I am talking about. Con has missed an important philosophical nuance.

Con objects to my argument from the WFU by arguing that its prediction of the universe having a 95% chance of coming into being presupposes a space-time which has not been explained by the theory and requires further explanation. First, this is going into a different problem (the origins of the universe), and would not pertain to the WFU problem. Secondly, his standards are clearly too strict; Every scientific theory takes something as fundamental. Einstein's general relativity takes space-time as a given, and the theory of natural selection takes life as a given. Are we prevented from using Darwinian evolution to argue that human life did originate ten thousand years ago because it takes certain things as fundamental Clearly not. Why is it any different from the WFU? It is not a problem to use a scientific theory to establish a conclusion just because this scientific theory takes certain facts to be fundamental and then works from these facts to establish the theory. Thirdly, I have already explained the origins of space-time in my third argument, so these two scientific theories taken together do away with Con's objection.

Furthermore, Con's solution to the WFU problem is not physically coherent. Part of his argument rests on the idea that there could be two universes with a 95% chance of coming into being, and one of these universes is brought into being by god while the other one does not. According to Hawking's cosmology, this does not make any physical sense. If both universes have a 95% chance of coming into being, then they have the same mathematical properties describing them, so they are in fact the same universe under Hawking's cosmology, not different ones. Furthermore, this scenario arguably violates god's rationality. If god does something, then he has a reason for it. However, what reason could god have for choosing one universe over the other, when it has been established that they are both exactly the same? God would be indicating a preference for one thing over the same exact thing, which is illogical, entailing that god is not rational. These two reasons lead me to reject Con's answer as implausible from even a theistic perspective.

Con doesn't object to my third argument as much as he asks conceptual questions about space and time. In response to his first question, an instant in space-time has the power to cause another instant in space-time to come into being through a relationship of sufficient causation. It is obvious that once T=5 exist, then this will inevitably lead to the existence of T=6, so instants of space-time cause each other by way of sufficient causation. In response to the second question, god cannot cause the whole interval of space-time points, because the interval of space-time points is instantiated by each indivudal member, and each individual member is provided with a causal explanation by the scenario I presented.

In his fifth point, Con states that there are arguments for the existence of god, and the resolution cannot be affirmed because science cannot touch on these arguments. While I would agree that there are arguments for the existence of god that science cannot say much about, this does not entail that the resolution cannot be affirmed. The resolution can be affirmed by providing examples where science has shown god to be unnecessary or implausible as an explanation, so it is not pertinent that there are arguments for god which science has little or no imput.























Debate Round No. 3
Dmot

Con

If we are going to redefine science to basically all knowledge, then this debate becomes a debate over the existence of God not about whether science shows God to be false. I posed the question to begin with because I wanted to discuss whether or not modern science, as it is understood by most people, shows God to be unecessary. Also, Sam Harris may be right to a degree but I think there is in fact a crucial distinction: science uses empircal methods to explain how the natural world works, philosophy does not. At least this is a rough distinction that most people would use when considering the difference between science and philosophy. Maybe in the past it wasn't clear whether or not Kant was a philosopher or scientist, but today, it is quite clear the difference. But it would be pointless to get into a debate over what constitutes science vs philosophy. Let's stick with the common definition of each.


Actually, the "beginning" is really unimportant in this debate as I have tried to make clear. There is a focus in debates over God's existence on the beginning in particular. When I say that there are theistic arguments consistent with the universe being eternal, I mean this: whether or not the universe began, had a moment of temporal becoming, always existed, or has finite time but no beginning point, simply is irrelevant as to whether it is caused. There is no nuance I am missing, it simply is irrelevant to the traditional case for God.

There is a common misconception in modern discussion about God that when we ask whether or not God created, we are asking whether or not He caused the universe to come into being from non-being...in that order. God starts the universe off. This is not what is meant traditionally. Traditionally, the question for God is what makes the universe a reality and keeps it a reality rather than a mere hypothetical at every point in time. God is much more like an author than an artchitect. This video from a physicist might be helpful:


I did not say that the WFU presupposed a space-time. This is the second time Con has simply misrepresented what I said. I said that it presuposed something physical. This physical thing could be anything, as long as it is a physical reality. It could in theory simply be the laws of physics. It could be a space-time, but need not be. The point is that in order for there to be any mathematical structure, there has to be something which has that structure...unless we go into a sort of Platonism but I explained in my first argument what problems this would bring to the table. The point is this: the reason there is a 95% chance of the universe rather than a 50% chance has to do with the nature of some physical system. Physics talks about systems in various states...look at the end of the video I posted where this is discussed.


Pro then says that my standards are too strict and lists examples of scientific theories that presuppose things in order to work. I never said there is anything wrong with this. All this means is that it leaves open certain questions. Whatever a scientific theory presuposes, it cannot be used to explain. Since ANY scientific theory presuposes SOMETHING physical, and therefore, from the standpoint of classical theism, something contingent, it follows that whatever the scientific theory is, it can never in principle falsify the traditional case for God. That is the point here: maybe the WFU is correct as science, but it doesn't show God doesn't exist.


Next, Pro misunderstands my response to the WFU. He conflates "universe" with "possible world." http://plato.stanford.edu...

Now, a possible world is simply a description of the way things in reality could be. If Pro holds that the WFU contradicts theism, he is saying that God creating our universe and it emerging 95% chance are incompatible. I argue otherwise...but in order to see if there is a contradiction, we have to assume for this part of the argument that God exists and see if His existing contradicts the WFU argument.

So, a possible world is a way reality could be. Assuming God's existence, possible worlds (PW) are really just ways in which He could create. Certainly, there are a number of possible worlds which have the same physical and mathematical properties that our world does. As is important for this discussion, there are a number of possible worlds where the probability of a universe emerging is 95%. To argue otherwise is to argue that the reality we live in (where our universe had a 95% chance of existing) couldn't in fact exist which is manifestly false if we accept the cosmology in question. Hence, it is certainly a possible world. Now, if there is a 95% chance of something, certainly there is a possibility that the 5% is what is realized...in other words, some of these possible worlds contian no universe like ours. It is not as though these PW simply don't exist, as they clearly do in some manner since they have mathematical and physical properties, namely, the properties in which there is a 95% chance of yeilding a universe(s). So there, by logical necessity given our world exists, has to be a PW where the 5% chance is realized and no universe comes into being. Hence, there is a disjunction here between PW1 and PW2 where in PW1 our universe does exist and in 2, it does not.

Now, fundamentally, both PW have the same initial (if not temporally, ontologically) physical properties. They are in fact identical either early in their history or if not early temporally in the sense of having the same fundamental properties. However, they are different because they have different histories. PW1 and PW2 are both really possible as demonstrated above, both the same in one sense, yet have different histories. Assuming theism it is God who chooses to actualize PW1 or PW2. The one He choses is the one that is real. Clearly it is not PW2, hence it is PW1. Yet there is no contradiction in claiming that His will is always realized and there is a 95% chance of the universe emerging, as we are discussing 2 different things. In the absolute sense, then YES there is a 100% chance of our universe existing, and there is a 100% chance of anything happening because God chose PW1 (including all of its history) to actualize. Yet in the sense of considering the physical reality itself, then there is a 95% chance. There are two different questions: the second only deals with the physical world itself, i.e. secondary causes.

I do object to your argument on the grounds that it involves detailed questions on the philosophy of time and the nature of causal series. I provided a link to discuss the latter.2 Basic points:
if each spacetime point is equally real and occuring simultaneously, as eternalism posits, then it follows that we have an essentially ordered causal series. Each moment of time, at its VERY MOMENT of existence depends on a previous moment in time. So each momement only acts as a cause in so far as it is caused by a prevous moment. Hence each moment is merely an instrumental cause. As discussed in the link I provided, this could not go on forever, or if it did, would need a principle cause of the series. Much to discuss, the point is however this is a philosophical issue that is not as simple as you make it seem.

Second, the question arises even if each moment is casually explained with reference to a previous one: "what causes there to be a physical notion such as time with the causal properties that it has?" This question to the theist is a question about the existence of a contingent reality, one comprised of act and potency, essence and existence, etc. Hence, it requires a sustaining cause.

Finally, pro says: "I agree...there are arguments...that science cannot say much about"

That is the exact point I am making...that the original and traditional case for God, arguably the strongest, rests on metaphysics and not science. As my arguments show, the traditional cosmological and design argument remain untouched by science, hence the case for God remains
Sargon

Pro

Since Con and I spent the last few rounds debating over the minutiae of our arguments, I am going to spend this round taking a step back in order to address some conceptual issues which are vital to deciding who the winner of the debate is. If a voter feels that there is some point Con made in the last round that I did not address in this round, it is for this reason.

Firstly, and at the expense of sounding repetitious, I would like to once again clarify the burden of proof for this debate. The resolution asks if "Science has shown/is about to show God to be an implausible/unnecessary as an explanation". It is fair to interpret "explanation" to mean "explanation of the physical universe" because Con states in R1 that "I want to debate whether or not science has shown or is on the verge of showing that God isn't needed to explain the universe," Therefore, we are debating whether or not science has shown, or will show, that god is implausible or unnecessary to explain the physical universe According to this resolution, I simply have to show that scientific theories allow us to conclude that god is not necessary to explain the universe. This means that if the scientific theories are even logically possible, then they are sufficient to uphold the resolution.

I have presented three scientific theories which explain the universe naturalistically, making god unnecessary as an explanation of the physical univee. These scientific theories were the Hartle-Hawking model, the Carroll-Chen model, and Vilenkin's quantum tunneling model. I argued that these scientific theories are all logically possible because they are all consistent with the laws of physics. Con did not make any arguments as to why these scientific theories are not logically possible, and he did not respond to my reasoning as to why these scientific theories are logically possible. For this reason, the voter should conclude that I have presented three logically possible scientific theories which make god unnecessary, sucessfully affirming the resolution.

An important part of this debate is what exactly constitutes science. Con states that it would be pointless to have a debate over what constitutes science and what constitutes philosophy, but I strongly disagree. Debates over what constitutes science and what constitutes philosophy are incredibly pertinent because a significant portion of this debate comes down to whether or not my arguments against god are scientific or philosophical. I argued that my arguments are scientific because distinctions between philosophy and science are merely artificial conventions rather than a genuine separation. Con objects to this broader definition of science on the grounds that science uses empirical methods to understand the natural world, while philosophy does not. However, I think this distinction is clearly false if we look at the current state of academic philosophy. For example, the philosopher of science Tim Maudlin works in the area of the foundations of space-time, which asks questions about what space-time really is ontologically. He, as a philosopher, is using empirical methods to understand the natural world, but the questions he answers about the natural world are not addressed by scientists, as scientists do not do experiments on the ontology of space-time. Therefore, he must be using empirical methods to understand more about philosophy, not science, entailing that philosophy can also be an empirical discipline. Another relevant example is the area of logic, where the physicist John von Neumann created an entire system of logic based on the empirical findings of quantum mechanics (quantum logic). Logic is an area of philosphy, yet logic has been modified to be empirical, so we again see that the separation offered by Con is a false one.

Con's biggest argument against the resolution is that since there are arguments for the existence of god which cannot be touched by science, then it must follow that science cannot make god an implausible explanation. This argument is a non-sequitur. Even if there are arguments for the existence of god which cannot be touched by science, it does not follow that science cannot make god an implausible explanation, for there are other ways that science can make god an implausible explanation aside from refuting theistic arguments. For example, science can do as I have done and try to show that there are contradictions between physical facts and some attribute of god, establishing the implausibility of god's existence. His (or her) argument fails to take this into consideration.

For me, another big theme in this debate is Con's assumption of certain modal logic theories. Con's argument assumes that there are contingent beings, which are beings that do not exist necessarily. However, as I pointed out, Con has to assume that a system of modal logic is true where modal collapse does not occur in order for his argument to be sound. Con has not provided any justification for a system of modal logic where this does not occur, so the argument is unsound. Furthermore, Con's objections to the WFU argument face a similar problem. Con's objection to my WFU argument involves a thought experiment with two different possible worlds, one which is actualized, and one which is not. Obviously, this thought experiment depends on a modal logic system as well, because if modal collapse is true, then there are no possible worlds, as everything is logically necessary. Con has made unjustified assumptions in his arguments which prevent them from being sound. (I would also like to note that many philosophers of science, such as Quentin Smith in the article "A radical re-thinking of quantum gravity", argue that science has a lot to say about modal collapse and the Triv modal logic system.) A useful guide to reading Con's arguments is to refer to issues relating to modal logic every time he makes an argument based on notions like "possibility" and "contingency".

Another issue that became important towards the end of the debate was that scientific theories always suppose something physical before they begin. While Con did not say that WFU presupposes space-time, I made the statement that "Con says WFU presupposes space-time" because this, in fact, what the WFU presupposes. Perhaps Con did not say it himself, but I was simply substituting "space-time" for "physical structure" because space-time is the physical structure that the WFU presupposes.

The relevant question to ask ourselves is "Does the fact that a scientific theory presupposes some kind of physical reality prevent us from making conclusions based on that scientific theory?". Con and I agree that this is not the case. Therefore, the fact that the WFU presupposes some kind of physical reality, or the fact that general relativity presupposes some kind of physical reality, does not prevent me from making an arguments against the plausibility of god's existence based on them.

In conclusion, a Pro vote is the most justified because I have offered logically possible alternatives to god, affirming the resolution.






















Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Sagey 2 years ago
Sagey
Seems to be an argument between aberrant philosophy (theology) and science.
Science is evidence based, philosophy is subjective ( thought ) based.
In a battle over the most rational, science wins every time.
Thoughts don't beat evidence.
Posted by cosecant 2 years ago
cosecant
If you take the time to read you will enjoy it. Just read... .
Posted by dylancatlow 2 years ago
dylancatlow
Your argument's implications are.
Posted by Sargon 2 years ago
Sargon
< Sargon, your arguments are predicated on the assumption that God is bound by physical laws.

No, it really isn't actually.
Posted by Empiren 2 years ago
Empiren
Two things wrong.
1. There is no argument for the need of god in human society presented by either side.

2. Con and Pro both miss the entire point of science's involvement about the existence of a god.

Science has not proven there is a god. The possibility of one might exist is there, but since science has no actual data to back up the claims it will deem it "implausible." Just like science has no real data on unicorns or hydras, so they deem it implausible. That is the critical point of science. If there is nothing to back up a claim, then it cannot deem it plausible.

Now you can argue that science has a better grasp on the creation of the universe than RELIGION but I believe Con is arguing in the strictly deistic sense. To make the jump to a certain religion would be a huge one.
Posted by Picktherightchoice 2 years ago
Picktherightchoice
I think that science explains how god did everything. Technically god created science so it works both ways. Science and religion dont collide with one another, but help explain the mysteries/wonders of the world
Posted by dylancatlow 2 years ago
dylancatlow
Sargon, your arguments are predicated on the assumption that God is bound by physical laws. Your position is thus circular (since God is omnipotent by definition) and therefore fundamentally flawed.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Miles_Donahue 2 years ago
Miles_Donahue
DmotSargonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro clearly won this debate. Not much else to add.
Vote Placed by Sagey 2 years ago
Sagey
DmotSargonTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were stronger and more supported by evidence and less fallacious than Con's use of the Cosmological Argument, which in itself is fallacious. Principally Con put me out when stating that "because the theist is regarding the laws of nature, the physical universe (even in its very early simple stages) as contingent." Which is false because nature follows the laws of science, so therefor any contingency exist because of the laws of science, which was learned from carefully observing nature. It becomes a circular argument fallacy.