The Instigator
MrJosh
Pro (for)
Losing
17 Points
The Contender
gordonjames
Con (against)
Winning
28 Points

Skepticism Leads to Atheism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
gordonjames
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/10/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,814 times Debate No: 34656
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (9)

 

MrJosh

Pro

First of all, this is my first debate here. I have never been a fan of any formal debating format, but I'll do my best.

It is my position that an application of skepticism necessarily leads to atheism.
Con's position will be that an application of skepticism need not lead to atheism.

Definitions:

Skepticism: A position of doubt; a claim that the truth of a claim is uncertain [1] [2]
Atheism: The lack of belief in a God or gods [3] [4]

Sources:

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2] http://oxforddictionaries.com...
[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[4] http://oxforddictionaries.com...
gordonjames

Con

Assuming that PRO wishes to go first.

I accept the debate.

My position is that skepticism does not necessarily lead anywhere.
Hard work, deep examination and critical thinking lead to well founded opinions and conclusions.

I look forward to PRO's opening arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
MrJosh

Pro

I would like to thank Con for accepting this debate. I hope it will be informative and entertaining, both for the two of us, and also for anyone else who may follow it.

Since we are using the definition of atheism as "without belief," we can say two things: 1) atheism is the starting point, because every infant lacks belief at least until they are aware of the concept of a god. Also, 2) the burden of proof lies with the theist who is making the positive claim that a god exists.

An application of skepticism requires this claim to be doubted until sufficient evidence is presented. There are numerous arguments for the existence of a god, all of which boil down to an Argument from Ignorance or some other fallacy. In the absence of evidence, there is no reason to move past the doubt of skepticism. Therefore, the doubt of skepticism results in one remaining an atheist.

In a way, Con said this in his opening statement when he said, "skepticism does not necessarily lead anywhere." Since a lack of belief is the starting point of every thinking mind, applying skepticism takes us nowhere, leaving us where we started, atheism.

Definitions:

Burden of Proof: the requirement that the one making a claim provide sufficient evidence for that claim [1] [2]
Argument from Ignorance Fallacy: A logical fallacy that assumes the lack of evidence for competing ideas validates one's own ideas. Often in the form of, "I have no explanation for X, therefore, it must have been God." [3] [4]

Sources:

[1] http://www.britannica.com...
[2] http://wiki.ironchariots.org...
[3] http://wiki.ironchariots.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
gordonjames

Con

Thank you to Pro for this debate.
I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Pro states a clear position
“It is my position that an application of skepticism necessarily leads to atheism.”

My position is this
1. Everyone starts off as a natural atheist. Infants do not acknowledge any God.
2. Many skeptics examine the evidence for God and become theists.

Let me start with a quote from one of my favorite scientists.


“Few men speak humbly of humility, chastely of chastity, skeptically of skepticism.”
- Blaise Pascal


Because PRO states that “skepticism necessarily leads to atheism” I need give only one example of a skeptic becoming a theist to refute his point.
I will give several examples that skeptics often become theists
Blaise Pascal - Heavyweight scientist who holds skepticism in high value as a Christian.
C. S. Lewis - Atheistic Oxford professor who became a great apologist for Christianity.
Lee Strobel - Atheistic journalist searched history to disprove Christianity - became Christian
Malcolm Muggeridge - Agnostic journalist, author, soldier, and spy - becomes Christian
Anne Rice - Atheist writer of gothic novels - now Christian
Frank Tipler - Atheist scientist who became a Christian
Nicky Gumbel - Atheist lawyer - now Christian.

For more examples look here http://www.awakeandamazed.com...

Here is example #1

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, and inventor . . . Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method.

Pascal is such an icon of science and so influential in promoting the scientific method that the European Academy of Sciences give many medals in His name to great scientists.
http://www.eurasc.org...


I will stop round one with this example.
This one example proves that PRO is wrong in his claim “skepticism necessarily leads to atheism.”

I am looking forward to where PRO wants to go with this.
Debate Round No. 2
MrJosh

Pro

I thank CON for his reply.

CON stated, "Many skeptics examine the evidence for God and become theists."

I do not question this, but in the context of this debate, what is of importance is why they became theists. Specifically, if they applied their skepticism to the god claims the eventually embraced. For instance, many atheists that are skeptical of god claims are not skeptical of UFO or Bigfoot sightings. They may have been skeptics in one area of their lives, but they didn"t apply it universally.

Blaise Pascal converted after a personal "religious experience." [1][2] This type of experience is neither repeatable, nor verifiable and is not accepted as evidence in any scientific discourse. Clearly Pascal"s scientific rigor and skepticism were not applied to his "religious experience." As an interesting side note regarding Pascal, the argument for God that he developed (Pascal"s Wager) after his conversion doesn"t deal with evidence, but upon hedging your bets upon a particular type of god that is simply assumed [3].

Lewis wrote about "supernatural forces" playing a part in his conversion, which are, by definition, beyond evidence. [4]
Strobel is interesting as he will talk about vast amounts of evidence that led to his conversion, but he doesn't talk about what that evidence is. [5] Also, in his own book, when he is allegedly investigating the evidence for the existence of God, he doesn"t investigate evidence; he talks with others who have allegedly investigated evidence. [6] This isn't skepticism.

Muggeridge, Rice, Tipler and Gumbel were/are not skeptics; their accounts are irrelevant.

Pascal"s case is an excellent example of a skeptic who fails to use his skepticism. Another example is Francis Collins, well known scientist and ex-atheist whose book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, does not provide evidence for of a god, but does explain that Collins converted because he saw a frozen waterfall. [7]

Skepticism requires doubt. There are only two ways to overcome this; providing evidence and shutting off one"s skepticism. CON has provided at least one example of the latter, and I have provided another. The former does not happen, or we would have skeptics converting right and left. Of course, one could claim that the skeptics are refusing to accept evidence, but then they would not be skeptics, they would be cynics.

I would like to thank CON for this debate. He has been patient with me during my first debate and has helped me understand both the mechanics of debating in general and of this website. I would like to wish CON the best of luck in his future debates.

Sources:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.ccel.org...
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[4] http://thenarniaacademy.org...
[5]
[6] The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel
[7] The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Francis Collins
gordonjames

Con

Pro gave some great thoughts and asked some great questions.
These would make a great debate or opinion question in their own right.

The statement we agreed to debate was

It is my position that an application of skepticism necessarily leads to atheism.
Con's position will be that an application of skepticism need not lead to atheism.

I have given several examples where a skeptical mindset led in precisely the opposite direction.

Pascal was skeptical in all areas of life.
He asked the big questions.
When he sought out the evidence he had what you might discribe as a supernatural experience.

Still, it was his skeptic mindset that led him to seek out evidence for God.

C.S. Lewis claims he "was dragged kicking and screaming into the kingdom."
He was both a skeptic, opposed to all things religious, and an atheist.
As he explored what he would later call "the facts of Christianity" he felt he had no choice but to put his fath in Jesus.

Nucky Gumbel, who is now an ordained Anglican priest, wrote that Christianity must be false.
Then as he explored the faith with his lawyer mindset he was compelled by the evidence.

Lee strobel tells his story of looking at the bible in his efforts to dismantle and disprove the Christian claims about Jesus.
He was not only skeptical, but a hostile witness.
He examined the scriptures and was convinced of his need to seek Jesus.

Here are several examples of skeptical and hiostile people who examined the evidence and found it compelling.

Skeptical examination of the scriptures often leads to a strong Christian faith.

Only one example was needed.
Here are a few of the countless examples of skeptics who love Jesus.
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by YYW 3 years ago
YYW
Moreover, Guy_D did improperly award source points because he didn't explain them.
Posted by YYW 3 years ago
YYW
Source points are not awarded on the basis of "who used more." If that were the case, then all one would need to do is post 40 links to win a debate. Source points are only justifiably awarded when there is an overwhelming difference in the quality of sources which can be objectively verified -which was not the case here. Moreover, the two voters who improperly awarded source points in this case (who I mentioned in my RFD) failed EVEN TO OFFER BASIC REASONS for their doing so, hence my counter. Moreover, your RFD (1) demonstrated that you did not grasp the basic logical implications of invalidating examples and (2) was insufficiently explained -i.e. it was ONE sentence long, save your countering my necessary counter to two previous judges improperly awarding source points.
Posted by 4saken 3 years ago
4saken
Anyone who is not blind will see that Pro has more sources here.
Posted by 4saken 3 years ago
4saken
"NO REASONS WHATSOEVER were offered for their being awarded"? Yeah sure!
But Guy_D's source points for Con are obviously acceptable right?
Posted by YYW 3 years ago
YYW
@4saken

Your vote was hilariously awful. Roy, GOP and I are the only ones I think who understood this debate -it was clear that you did not.
Posted by wes 3 years ago
wes
Most importantly and easily, Con can argue that atheism is the rejection of a belief in any god, which is a conclusion that has no solid evidence. I would argue skepticism easily leads to agnosticism, which simply says 'I don't know, and you don't either'.

Fix: Ren" Descartes*
Posted by wes 3 years ago
wes
I believe Con can cover points other than the examples.

For example, the origin of things is yet unexplained by science and may best be explained by the pseudo-idea of the primordial. The big bang requires the axioms of its explosion. Even arguing that quantum fluctuations were the source of the universe begs us to wonder the origin of quantum fluctuations. Any solid explanation wont suffice, because any definite explanation requires definitions, and definitions are things. Thus, we reach the beginning of our conundrum.

I'd also like to point out that true skeptics do not necessarily believe the scientific method is the pathway to absolute truth. Science still relies on specific assumptions that cannot be proven with absolute certainty, just as any other religion. In fact, it's likely that modern science was founded as a result of a religious experience, where Renee Descartes was visited by an angel 1619 and told, the conquest of nature is to be achieved through number and measurement.

God and skepticism simply won't agree. In Islam, for example, one of the greatest sins (i.e. what takes you furthest from God) is to say what God is or what God isn't. Therefore, skepticism will not help you understand what all the Muslims are pointing at when they say God, because you really can't do justice saying anything about it.
Posted by Cornelius 3 years ago
Cornelius
Most of the time it does but, I've met some religious people that are skeptics. Who are apparently skeptical of Evolution.
Posted by MrJosh 3 years ago
MrJosh
No worries, I hope you have a good trip.
Posted by gordonjames 3 years ago
gordonjames
Hey Mr. Josh
Great round 3
I am out of town for a few days but I will try to get my round 3 up promptly.
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by xXCryptoXx 3 years ago
xXCryptoXx
MrJoshgordonjamesTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter 4saken
Vote Placed by YYW 3 years ago
YYW
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Reasons for voting decision: To begin: Counter Magic and Dakotoria's source votes, because they were warrantless (i.e. NO REASONS WHATSOEVER were offered for their being awarded) in this case. Arguments to CON because PRO's responsibility was to demonstrate that skepticism necessarily leads to atheism, which while the meaning of "leads to" was interpreted differently by both debaters (PRO was arguing from a perspective of logical implication, but CON from that of actual persuasion/intellectual progression) PRO's arguments were insufficient to ground his claim. Even still, because of the fact that PRO states his resolution in absolute terms, CON demonstrated its invalidity by charting examples which were exceptions to the "rule" PRO attempted to affirm. Better argumentative structure would have been useful for both sides.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro might have one if he had explained the resolution more carefully in the challenge. He might have said something "skepticism means consistent skepticism" ... but then the resolution would be almost true by definition. Anyway, Con's interpretation was reasonable and only one example suffices to disprove the resolution. Explanations by Cons that the skeptics abandoned skepticism when they converted agree that skepticism does not inevitably lead to atheism.
Vote Placed by GOP 3 years ago
GOP
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Reasons for voting decision: If anything, pro only supported the argument that "skepticism does not necessarily lead to anywhere." Skepticism is not just limited to Atheism; it can also be different forms of theism. I am unable to find a single shred of evidence or reasoning that proves that skepticism leads to atheism exclusively in Pro's argument.
Vote Placed by 4saken 3 years ago
4saken
MrJoshgordonjamesTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Four points to counter YYW's counter (Why are those source votes "warrantless in this case"? And if that is the case, why are Guy_D's source points for Con not countered?). Argument for Pro, as Con's counter examples do not work, Pro's shown that those people shut down their skepticism when they converted.
Vote Placed by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's argument was countered by citing many people who became Christian when they were once atheists. Pro pointed out being an atheist doesn't necessarily mean you're a skeptic. Con never showed any of these people were skeptics, he did assert Blaise Pascal was one. Pascal was really con's only hope, but Pro showed Pascal became a Christian after a religious experience that someone could easily be skeptical of. Sources clearly goes to Pro. He had much more and they were from the books of said people, making them reliable.
Vote Placed by Daktoria 3 years ago
Daktoria
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro shows how the evidence claimed by skeptics is unreliable, so skepticism hasn't been upheld by Con's skeptics who claim to be converted. As Pro says, "Skepticism requires doubt. There are only two ways to overcome this; providing evidence and shutting off one"s skepticism." Con's examples merely claim to have evidence, but never show it. Therefore, they weren't the skeptics they claimed to be.
Vote Placed by Ameliamk1 3 years ago
Ameliamk1
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro made a mistake uusing an absolute for a premise, meaning con only had to provide one counter example to refute the instigation, which he provided.
Vote Placed by Guy_D 3 years ago
Guy_D
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro selected a very challenging topic. Pro's claim requires overwhelming support to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his claim was correct. I'm not sure such a claim can be proven in twenty rounds... let alone a few. Good effort on both sides.