Team Debate: God Exists
This is a team debate. We (Team Con) thank Team Pro for accepting and having time to do this debate. Please do not accept this debate until the 29th of May, 2015. There is an Elo restriction of 2,000 to vote on this debate. There shall be 72 hours per round, with 4 rounds and a maximum of 10,000 characters per round.
God likely exists.
BoP is shared.
God: the immensely great, omnipotent, omniscient, intelligent, transcendent cause of the universe.
Likely: probably; >50% chance of.
Exist: have physical or metaphysical, objective reality.
Note that Pro must attempt to prove God as defined exists, and Con must attempt to disprove it; thus, an argument saying "you cannot ascribe properties to a being unless it exists" is irrelevant.
1. No forfeits.
2. All arguments must be visible inside this debate. Sources may be in an external link or within the debate.
3. No new arguments in any rounds except the opening round.
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere.
5. No trolling.
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (i.e. arguments that challenge an assumption in the resolution).
7. No deconstructional semantics.
8. The BoP is shared -- Pro must argue that God likely exists, and Con must argue to the contrary.
9. Pro must present their case in round one and waive the final round.
10. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.
R1. Pro's case
R2. Con's case, Pro rebuts Con's case
R3. Con rebuts Pro's case, Pro defends, rebuts Con's case and crystallizes
R4. Con defends, rebuts Pro's case and crystallizes, Pro waives
...again to Team Pro for accepting our challenge.
We want to thank our opponents for this challenge. We look forward for an engaging debate.
b. After a maximum of n-1 iterations, the size of set C will become 1. At that point, there's only one cause left in the set. There are absolutely no other causes available that can cause it. Therefore, this single cause must be an uncaused cause. End of proof.
We thank Team Pro for accepting. We shall present our case in this round, and rebut in the next.
For the first contention, we present the transcendental argument against the existence of God, formulated by analytic philosopher Michael Martin, the Professor Emeritus at Boston University . If the universe was caused by an omniscient God, it is natural to suppose that God created logic and the physical laws within the universe. This would mean the universe, logic and science are contingent on God’s existence, i.e. a proposition that God is necessarily existent is entailed from the idea of an omniscient cause of the universe.
Consider logic. Logic presupposes that its principles are necessarily true, but if God caused logic, then logic cannot be philosophically necessary as it is contingent upon the existence of God. If logic is contingent upon God according to deistic assumption, then using logical reasoning to justify God naturally begs the question. “And if principles of logic are contingent on God, they are not logically necessary. Moreover, if principles of logic are contingent on God, God could change them. Thus, God could make the law of noncontradiction false; in other words, God could arrange matters so that a proposition and its negation were true at the same time. But this is absurd. How could God arrange matters so that New Zealand is south of China and that New Zealand is not south of it? So, one must conclude that logic is not dependent on God.” 
Physical laws and science presuppose the uniformity of nature via. special relativity, thus there cannot be violations of such laws. The property of omnipotence violates the uniformity of nature by allowing supernatural actions that violate such physical laws, thus challenging the core assumption of science. If this core assumption can be challenged, there is no reason to believe science can argue for God .
Thus, any justification for the likelihood of God’s existence, philosophical or scientific, would be impossible as God’s existence would challenge the validity of necessary logic and the uniformity of nature. This makes it incoherent to state “God Exists” too, as that statement presumes facts about logic that cannot be changing.
C2) A caused universe is incoherent
a) Requirements for Causation
Physicist Sean Carroll notes two features that allow us to coherently talk about any form of causation whatsoever .
i. Time & the arrow of time (determined by entropy)
ii. Physical laws
Time and the arrow of time are naturally required to speak of causation. Without an arrow of time, it is impossible to coherently speak of a ‘process’ of anything, or a ‘beginning’ of something. The beginning would have to have a fixed point in the arrow of time, without which it is impossible for anything to coherently ‘happen’ over a period of *time* (because there is no time).
For something to ‘occur’, it has to occur with a principle supporting its possibility. Possibility is incoherent without physical laws, as objective properties or actions are incoherent without limitation. It can be illustrated by the paradox of the stone, which admittedly does not disprove omnipotence, but illustrates how physical laws are necessary for anything to coherently have a ‘cause’ or beginning.
Prior to the origin of the universe, there were neither physical laws nor time. Sans these essential features of the universe, to speak of causality is incoherent. That the universe was caused is the primary assumption of deism, and without these properties, a caused universe is incoherent.
Another reason why the universe must be uncaused is the truth of Eternalism. For something to come into being, there must be a state in time where it first doesn’t exist . Under Eternalism change doesn’t ontologically happen and therefore neither does causation . William Lane Craig writes, “[o]n a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang; it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction.” 
Furthermore, the B-theory and eternalism entail lack of coherent temporal ‘change’. J.M.E. McTaggart writes, “Changes must happen to the events of such a nature that the occurrence of these changes does not hinder the events from being events, and the same events, both before and after the change. Now what characteristics of an event are there which can change and yet leave the event the same event? (I use the word characteristic as a general term to include both the qualities which the event possesses, and the relations of which it is a term -- or rather the fact that the event is a term of these relations.) It seems to me that there is only one class of such characteristics -- namely, the determination of the event in question by the terms of the A series.” 
According to general relativity, space is ‘stretchable’. This was confirmed by the Friedmann observations and Hubble’s Law, that were used by Georges Lemaitre to propose the Big Bang theory, that states the universe is expanding, which is shown via. the cosmological redshift . The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin singularity theorem, derived by Arvind Borde, Alan Guth and Alexander Vilenkin, further supports the theory that the universe is expanding .
General relativity also yields ‘eternalism’ or block universe, where the past, present and future are all equally real, and the passage of time is illusory via. the B-theory of time. General relativity models time as a ‘fourth dimension’ of space itself, allowing for the block universe theory to be likely true. Causality cannot be stressed on unless one assumes the presentism ontology of time, which is dubious in light of scientific discoveries supporting eternalism, especially special and general relativity. “Many [scientists and philosophers] have argued against presentism on the grounds that presentism is incompatible with the theory of relativity.” 
If eternalism is true, causation is incoherent. In special relativity, each observer has their own ‘plane of simultaneity’, a small section of three-dimensional space where all events are simultaneous . “Special relativity suggests that the concept of simultaneity is not universal: according to the relativity of simultaneity, observers in different frames of reference can have different perceptions of whether a given pair of events happened at the same time or at different times, with there being no physical basis for preferring one frame's judgments over another’s. ... So, in special relativity there can be no physical basis for picking out a unique set of events that are all happening simultaneously in ‘the present’.”  This entails eternalism. Therefore, temporal change and, thus, causation, are incoherent.
Experiments from quantum mechanics have also vindicated Eternalism. Photons have been entangled through time . An experimenter can choose to entangle photons even when they don’t exist in the present anymore. Other experiments show time is an emergent phenomenon. An outside observer would view the universe as static .
C3) Omniscience is an incoherent property
There is reason to believe Eternalism is true via. God’s nature. God is omniscient, he knows everything possible about the past, present and future. As philosopher David Kyle Johnson argues, for God’s knowledge to be true, there must be the event which makes it true . God’s knowledge about something like, say, a cup on the table is made true by an existing cup on the table. If God’s knowledge had no truthmakers, then his knowledge would be false. What then, makes God’s knowledge about future or past events true? It would have to be the future or past event. However, since the future is causing God’s knowledge it must exist. If the future is non-existent, there are no properties about the future. Making it impossible for God to know anything about it. This entails the future must exist, as well as the past.
Eternalism is therefore implied via. God’s omniscience. As we have shown above, eternalism and a caused universe cannot coexist. Making God’s property of omniscience incompatible with his property of being a creator.
C4) Non-cognitivism of ‘greatness’
With the argument from non-cognitivism, I will attempt to demonstrate that the term ‘God’ does not refer to a coherent concept. The property of ‘greatness’ is inherently subjective, with qualities that determine greatness dependant on the subject.
One requires a standard for this conception of God to be considered omnipotent, i.e. all-powerful, where ‘power’ is the inherently subjective term, or ‘perfect goodness’, where objective perfection must be justified, and, in this case, greatness. For example, in a universe consisting of only a pencil, one cannot call the pencil a ‘sharp’ pencil, since the pencil lacks a standard to be justified objectively as sharp. Similarly, a property such as ‘maximal greatness’ requires a standard to be justified objectively, and sans such a standard, the concept of God as defined is incoherent. Thus, ‘greatness’ faces two basic problems:
1. A standard is required for the term ‘greatness’ to become meaningful.
2. ‘Greatness’, and what basically constructs it, is inherently subjective.
For a being defined according to being great, the initial problem renders God meaningless unless an objective standard is present for greatness to be coherent. The latter renders God’s very nature a matter of subjective decision, thus God’s objective existence is not rationally justifiable, while “existence” depends on objective reality.
An objective standard derived for God must either be (a) internal to God, or (b) external to God. The former begs the question and leads to God being self-defined, the latter is incoherent since God is transcendent, and sans the universe there is nothing which has objective reality except God (if he exists).
Sources in comments.
Rebuttal 1: Transcendental argument against God
R1) Pool table argument
Objection 1: The ‘Law of Causality’
The pool table argument attempts to demonstrate that there is one uncaused cause (UC). The question that follows is obvious--this uncaused cause is a cause of what? This objection holds that the UC may be a cause of anything, but not the universe. The universe having a cause lacks coherence, since causality itself is implausible sans time, since the passage of time is required for anything to coherently ‘happen’. Eternalism also renders temporal change incoherent, since change does not ontologically occur in eternalism, thus time cannot have been caused.
Objection 2: Free Will & Intelligence
Pro asserts that the UC “act[ed] freely”, asserting that there was nothing prior to the cause, thus it had to act freely. This is based on the assumption that the uncaused cause is the cause of the universe, which is dubious in light of objection one. Thus, some aspect of natural laws must have influenced the cause, thus the cause cannot have acted freely or did not necessarily have a form of intelligence.
Objection 3: Predetermined Cause
Pro then argues that, the UC must be free, as the cause cannot be predetermined. The problem is that, Pro is only taking into account predetermination by external causes. However, if the UC is predetermined by its own nature, then there doesn’t need to be anything external to UC. Therefore, the first premise of the subargument is false and by extension the second one is too.
R2) Kalam cosmological argument
a) Causal Premise
Pro’s defense of P1 commits the fallacy of composition, viz. the assumption that since all things within the universe have causes, the whole universe must have a cause. The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that the whole has a property because all parts of the whole have that property, e.g. stating H2O is a gas in room temperature when H2 and O2 are gases at room temperature .
As mentioned, causality maintains coherence only in the presence of time--sans time and natural laws, we no longer have any reason to believe things need causes. Causality of the universe is not required, since hypotheses such as the zero-energy universe remain logically consistent with existing laws, defying the causal principle in the universe’s beginning .
Pro is inconsistent, since their defense of P2 appeals to the Hawking singularity theorem [Pro’s 4. source]. However, scientific laws all break down at singularity, the cannot consistently claim that science justifies P1 .
b) The Universe Began to Exist
The second premise assumes a presentism ontology of time and the A-series to be accurate, since eternalism and the B-series would allow for a non-classical interpretation of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, that would allow the universe to exist as a tenseless four-dimensional block--not one that existed forever, but one that cannot have had a finite beginning in time coherently either, as Craig himself concedes . In other words, the universe would come into existence ex nihilo, but not begin to exist.
As demonstrated in the previous round, eternalism and the B-series are entailed by special relativity , and Craig’s defenses in an attempt to reconcile presentism with relativity have received major criticism .
Pro’s interpretation of the Big Bang is highly flawed--the Big Bang does not state that the universe began to exist, merely that it began expanding 13.8 billion years ago . The singularity model of the Big Bang, to which Pro is appealing, also predicts that the physical laws are not valid at the singularity, e.g. the causal principle .
R3) The fine-tuning argument
a) Fine-Tuned Constants
Pro provides examples of finely-tuned constants, but it seems none of these constants are actually ‘fine-tuned’, thus Pro has flawed speculation. The two examples of fine tuning have to do with the gravitational constant and the likelihood of the universe starting out with low entropy.
Pro’s own source says that entropy is not an example of fine-tuning. Roger Penrose writes, “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? … What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities--but not at final singularities--and this seems to be what confinesthe Creator's choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”  (note that Penrose doesn’t literally mean creator, it’s a thought experiment) Penrose’s assumptions on fine-tuning are also based on the assumption that the universe is closed, but that is dubious in light of observations of the CMBR .
The gravitational constant does not need to be fine-tuned either. For a constant to need tuning, it must first be dimensionless. This means the end result doesn’t depend on the units of measurement you use. The units you use are irrelevant because “[t]hey are arbitrary human conventions.”  The gravitational constant is not a dimensionless constant , thus “depends on the system of units being used and, likewise, is not a universal constant. This is because the unit of mass is arbitrary and G will depend on the choice of units.” 
b) Alternate Explanations
Michael Hurben argues that the constants cannot have been ‘tuned’ to anything else, since their tuning is out of physical necessity . Pro asserts that random chance is ‘unreasonable’, but there is no justification for the same. Thus, I shall demonstrate why random chance is not necessarily unreasonable. In a hypothetical situation, imagine someone tosses a pack of 52 cards sideways, such that they get a curved line of cards--the order they get can always be considered precise, and while it may be improbable that it occurred of random chance or physical necessity, it did. This is primarily because the metaphysical possibility of intelligent design is not justified. Theodore Drange argues a similar analogy using dice to refute the fine-tuning argument .
R4) Intelligent design
a) Genetic Information
The essence of Pro’s argument is that it is implausible for the transfer of genetic information to occur naturally. This is highly flawed. Evolution can also produce new genetic information. Genomes with terminal protein are ‘vehicles’ of information transfer in genes .
According to a study published in the Scientific American, biologists *observed* the creation of new genes and genetic information via. evolution . “In a study in the journal Science, Andersson, Roth and their colleagues demonstrate the process in lab-grown Salmonella enterica. They grew one strain missing a gene key for expressing the essential amino acid tryptophan. The strain needed to rely on another gene, which had a primary job but also a weak ability to take on the missing gene's work. The researchers encouraged the bacteria to duplicate the overworked gene, and its copies gathered mutations—some of which enhanced tryptophan production. At the end of a year's time (3,000 generations later) the bacteria had one gene that did the original job and a second that had evolved a new primary function—manufacturing tryptophan.” 
b) Irreducible Complexity
We have no reason to believe this ‘irreducible complexity’ could not be formed via. abiogenesis and natural selection. The evolution of ATP synthase is an example of modular evolution, during which two functionally independent subunits became associated and gained new functionality . The ATP synthase is thought to have formed early in evolutionary history, at a point where all species with DNA did not necessarily have ATP synthase .
The most widely accepted theory for the origin of ATP synthase is the modular evolution theory. “The modular evolution theory for the origin of ATP synthase suggests that two subunits with independent function, a DNA helicase with ATPase activity and a H+ motor, were able to bind, and the rotation of the motor drove the ATPase activity of the helicase in reverse.” 
As mentioned, new genetic information can be produced via. evolution. The origin of DNA emerged from RNA, and RNA nucleotides have been produced abiotically .
The resolution is negated.
4. W.L. Craig and J.P. Moreland. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, p 183.
15. Victor Stenger. The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning, p 87.
Defense of Contention 1: Pool Table Argument
Please see comments for Pro’s bid to change the format--we accept it, and shall only defend our own case in this round and crystallize. We thank Team Pro for such an excellent and wonderful debate. Note that we also concede the transcendental argument against God.
Ob1: If even one contention of ours is upheld, and all of our opponent’s arguments are refuted, we automatically win the debate.
Ob2: If team Pro has failed to objectively demonstrate even one property of God, they have not affirmed that God exists, thus have failed to fulfill BoP.
C1) A caused universe is incoherent
a) Requirements for Causality
The metaphysical realm is, by definition, that realm that is not bound by any principles, i.e. transcendent to the universe. But, as mentioned, nothing can coherently ‘occur’ without some principles supporting their occurrence and binding it. Pro does *not* object to this.
Furthermore, Pro asserts that there could be another form of ‘timeliness’ sans the universe--but that is ad hoc and highly unlikely. The universe is defined as “all of time and space, and its contents” . Michael Zeilik and Stephen Gregory write, “[The universe is the] totality of time and space; all that is, was, and ever will be.”  Thus, all of time--i.e. any form of passage where events take place that is coherently referred to as ‘time’--is within the universe; thus, an additional form of timeliness sans the universe is highly unlikely.
Pro’s argument is going from the frying pan into the fire. One could ask if the time before the big bang had a cause. If so, then he’s back at the problem he was at. If it was eternal, then nothing could’ve caused time and therefore God isn’t the cause of the universe.
Pro’s own source used to say there could have been “time before the Big Bang” contradicts Pro’s position--the source says, “[L]ow entropy near the Big Bang is responsible for everything about the arrow of time” , and entropy began with the Big Bang . Since Pro *concedes* that some form of timeliness is required for causality, and there was probably no form of timeliness before the universe, God probably can’t exist.
Additionally, causality is not required. Pro argues that it’s incoherent to think of something coming out of nothing--but things aren’t formed ex nihilo because they are bound by physical laws, time, and the First Law of Thermodynamics . An example would be a quantum fluctuation, for instance, with zero energy--a quantum fluctuation originates from either a false vacuum or a state of absolute vacuum, and is an annihilation of a particle and antiparticle, where the energy goes out of existence in a period of less than Planck time, unless the fluctuation’s net energy is zero .
Pro states special relativity is compatible with presentism. Even if this were true, note that we didn’t just argue relativity implies eternalism. If you reread our argument you’ll see we argued quantum mechanics also implies eternalism.
Nonetheless, the attempts to save presentism from relativity fail. Pro’s sources argue we don’t need to accept simultaneity with relativity. However, this doesn’t mean we can accept presentism. Eternalism doesn’t need absolute simultaneity, there are subsets of eternalism that accept an objective present, e.g. moving spotlight theory . Presentism would still have no answer to the experiments that show time is relative.
People who make this argument fail to understand that relative reference frames are a core concept in relativity itself . There should be more of an argument than just “It’s possible there is an absolute reference frame.”
The next argument they bring up is from a blog called “Soulphysics”. He argues that eternalism implies determinateness. Then shows relativity implies no event is determinate. This fails because, eternalism only implies determinate states of time, not determinate events within time. Events within time (length, time, speed, etc.) have indeterminate value, but the temporal state itself doesn’t. If eternalism did make claims about values of said events, it wouldn’t be a philosophical theory at all.
Their next two arguments are essentially the same argument. They’re arguing it’s not reasonable to accept eternalism, because it seems like there is a passage of time. We have answered this somewhat in our first round. Time can be emergent. Within the universe people would experience time, but ontologically time would be static. This idea has been tested and verified by physics . As we stated above there are eternalist theories that have a present and passage of time. Another explanation is that the passage of time is an illusion created by our minds. We know that the passage of time is mental, since we can change how quickly we perceive it via. drugs like psilocybin , and adrenaline . It’s also dependent on how old you are, younger people experience time slower than older people . It’s reasonable to conclude that the passage of time is a creation of the mind itself. By Occam’s razor, we should accept it. We have established the perception of time is mental, it’s simpler to state there is nothing more to the perception of time than proposing an actual passage of time that the mind interprets. The former posits no unnecessary entities.
Next, they argue eternalism doesn’t imply the nonexistence of God. If they were correct, then there must be a way to save causation from eternalism. However, Pro doesn’t make an attempt to argue that. They imply there is without justification. They use a false analogy with a movie, but fail to see that the reason a movie needs to be caused was because there’s experiences prior to the movie. This is incoherent when applying the same standard to the block universe itself. Sean Carroll claiming he doesn’t know what happened before the big bang is irrelevant. Eternalism makes no claims about what was before the big bang at all. Just that all states of time exist.
C2) Omniscience is an incoherent property
Pro here claims God’s knowledge is based on present events. They’re basically claiming God’s knowledge is analogous to a Laplacian demon (a hypothetical demon which knows the present state of every particle in existence can determine the future and figure out the past ).
Science shows this type of knowledge is impossible. Lord Kelvin pointed out that according to the second law of thermodynamics information would have to be lost eventually . Furthermore, modern quantum mechanics is indeterministic, meaning knowing the current state of particles won't get you anywhere in the future. There are certain states which are formed probabilistically .
However, there is a philosophical problem with this. God can only have knowledge of future events in virtue of the present. Pro is arguing that God created the physical universe. Therefore, the first state of the universe wasn’t always in existence (otherwise omniscience would be incoherent), but this implies God wasn’t always omniscient. Prior to the universe, God would only know that he wants the universe to come into existence. If I am going to create a house and have all the blueprints in my mind, do I have knowledge of an actual house? Of course not. But omniscience entails that God should know everything--even that which doesn’t exist. For example, I’m not eating a pizza right now, so God can’t ‘know’ I am, but he is supposed to ‘know’ everything epistemically by omniscience.
The same problem can be derived via. epistemic nihilism, and Munchausen trilemma , viz. nothing can be known for certain without being logically fallacious, thus ‘knowledge’, in nature, is incoherent. The above analogy simply conveys this.
Thus the Laplacian theory of omniscience is false.
C3) Non-cognitivism of ‘greatness’
Pro asserts that ‘greatness’ can be justified objectively, but have failed to specify what is considered *objectively* great. One, for instance, may assert that “he is great”, but one may disagree. It is incoherent to qualify something as ‘great’ objectively--any attributed ‘greatness’ can be challenged, and it is impossible to make an epistemic assertion that something is ‘great’. Thus, it is natural to conclude the term ‘greatness’ is inherently subjective.
Pro also makes the claim that regardless of whether or not the ‘greatness’ of God has a standard, God still exists. But God’s greatness is by definition, thus is objective, so Pro merely begs the question, especially with the moral argument, which basically renders their argument thus:
1. If God exists, God is great.
2. God exists.
3. Therefore, God is great.
But the second premise must hope to justify an objectively great God, which none of Pro’s arguments demonstrate--Pro’s arguments *drop* the property of ‘greatness’.
In their last argument, Pro argues just because God is subjectively great, that doesn’t entail his nonexistence. They give the example with Gandhi. However, Gandhi’s existence is independent of greatness. Since God is ‘great’ objectively by definition, his existence is dependent on his ‘greatness’, and all his other properties.
Here, OV2 can be extended to demonstrate that Pro has *not* demonstrated the property of greatness, thus they have not affirmed the existence of a ‘great’ God, so have not fulfilled BoP.
Forward OV2, thus Pro have not fulfilled BoP with their arguments, while 3 of ours stand. Thus, vote Con. Thanks for a fun debate.
Sources in comments.
We want to thank Team Con for a wonderful debate. We hope that you enjoyed the debate, and hopefully both teams provided thought provoking arguments.
As per the rules, we waive this round, and of course! Vote Pro.
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