The Instigator
SarcasticMethod
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Nur-Ab-Sal
Pro (for)
Winning
2 Points

The Abrahamic God exists

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Nur-Ab-Sal
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/5/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 491 times Debate No: 77306
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

SarcasticMethod

Con

The argument will be that the Abrahamic (Judeo-christo-islamic) god exists. I am taking the CON (atheistic) position.

First round is for stating your position and any terms you want to define.

My position is that there is no proof for the existence of the Abrahamic god (hereafter referred to as God with a capital G), and in some respects God is also logically impossible.

Definition of God: He is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, he created the universe, and he judges, punishes and rewards people.

All claims must be backed up by logic (please state your premises and conclusions) and/or evidence (please use sources to provide evidence).

Good luck!
Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

Thanks to Con for this debate challenge.

Con's definition includes an entity with the qualities omnipotence, omnibenevolence, creativity, and judgement. I take it that proof of any extra baggage based on the revelation of religious literature—i.e. that this God also delivered the Israelites from Egypt, or that He became incarnate in Christ—is not necessary.

As such, my argument will be relying only on natural theology—specifically, the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the thirteenth-century Catholic theologian.

Back to Con.
Debate Round No. 1
SarcasticMethod

Con

Thank you for the friend request and debate accept! I hope to have a stimulating conversation with you.

I'd like to open with the classical "argument from evil", an argument probably better named as the "argument from suffering".

P1. In theory, God can stop any suffering (He is omnipotent)
P2. In theory, God wants to stop any suffering (He is omnibenevolent)
P3. Suffering exists
C. God cannot exist
Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

Thanks to Con. In this round, I’ll provide an affirmative case for God’s existence, and then rebut the problem of evil.

I. God’s existence

In his work Metaphysics, Book Theta, Aristotle noted that all being is “distinguished in respect of potency and complete reality” (Aristotle). In other words, he was drawing a fundamental distinction between act or actuality, the present reality of a thing, and potency or potentiality, its inherent possibilities which can eventually be enacted.

For something to change, some potency must be realized within that thing. Aristotle thus deduced what is known as the principle of motion — all potencies must be raised to act by something already in act. In other words, a potency cannot act itself into being; it is simply a possibility and does not exist as anything but an intrinsic power. For this reason, act is ultimately prior to potency — every potency is defined in terms of its direction towards act, and must be raised by something already in act. The transition from potency to act, while commonly known as change, was classically referred to as motion. This term encompassed far more than spatial motion and referred to any kind of change at all.

Aquinas’s argument dissolves into two contentious propositions. First, that all which is moved is moved by another. Second, that the priority of movers cannot extend to infinity. If both of these premises are true, then the conclusion of both Aristotle and Aquinas, that there exists a Prime Mover, follows by necessity.

Let’s take a look at the first premise: that everything which is moved (changed) must have a mover (changer). In the Summa contra Gentiles, Aquinas argues for this proposition with an appeal to contradiction — that “same thing cannot be at once in act and in potency with respect to the same thing” (Aquinas SCG 1.13.9). That which is moved is in potency, for to be moved is to be reduced from potency to act; that which moves is in act, for Aristotle and Aquinas have both already observed the priority of act over potency. Thus, a potency cannot realize itself. Consequently, no thing cannot move itself with respect to the potency; the conclusion follows that all that which is moved is moved by another.

The second premise, that the priority of movers cannot be infinite, requires some clarification. Here, Saint Thomas assumes a hierarchical series of movers, in which “all subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover" (Aquinas ST 1.2.3). Take Aquinas’s example of a hand swinging a stick. The stick only moves insofar as the hand moves, and the hand only moves insofar as the arm moves, only insofar as its muscles produce the motion, insofar as the appropriate neurons fire, and so forth, all simultaneously. In this way, the staff is an instrument of the hand, the hand an instrument of the muscles, and so forth.

Because each moved is only in act insofar as the mover is in act, each element derives its power to continue the hierarchical chain entirely from the prior mover. The hand’s power to move the staff is derived entirely from the arm; the arm’s power to move the hand is derived entirely from the nervous system, and so forth. Each moved has no causal power — with respect to the potency of swinging — without completely deriving it from the prior mover. Thus, there is naturally no potency whatsoever in each element of the chain. Hence, if the movers extended to infinity, we would find no motion at all, as every element in the series has no causal power of its own. Otherwise, we would find a potency realizing itself in the infinitely distant mover.

There are other considerations and rebuttals that Aquinas refutes in the Summa contra Gentiles, but the general conclusion here is that, as he observes, “we must posit some first mover that is not moved by any exterior moving cause” (Aquinas SCG 1.13.20).

But let us now return to the basic metaphysics described above; all that which is moved is in potency with respect to the motion, and all movers are in act with respect to the motion. Because the corporeal things around us have reality, but are changeable in some way, they are composites of both act and potency. But there is a great divide here. A prime mover, unmoved itself, must lack any potency — it must be Actus Purus, Pure Act, the great Scholastic term for God.

Various characteristically Judeo-Christian attributes can be derived from this concept. In Book Delta of the Metaphysics, Aristotle concludes that “all contraries are reducible to being and non-being” (Aristotle). Thus, good and evil, completion and incompletion, power and impotence, and any other “contrary,” are merely derivative of the distinction between being and non-being, or act and potency. For as something is imperfect, it has an absence of perfection — it is a negative quality which is naturally ordered towards its eventual transition into actuality. As Pure Act, the Prime Mover must embody complete being, goodness, power, knowledge, all of which are positive qualities in act.

Now all creatures are in potency in some respect. For God is the only Pure Act — if there were another, there would be some distinguishing quality in act which the other lacks, and this is opposed to the concept of Pure Act. Because the existence of any creature is in potency in some respect, every creature is posterior to act, and therefore ultimately derivative of the sovereign existence, God. We must admit, then, that God is the efficient cause of all creatures.

II. Problem of evil

Con presents a lovely, concise version of the problem of evil, an ancient argument which can be dated back to the philosopher Epicurus. Many theistic philosophers have provided a host of responses to this very challenging and sensitive issue. As Con explained, the problem is with three propositions that the theist holds simultaneously: that God is all-good, that God is all-powerful, and that evil, including suffering, exists. The theist seems to be forced to deny one of these propositions. Let’s take a look at them.

First, we will consider his true premises. It is no question that suffering exists — to deny this would effectively nullify anyone’s credibility. It is also true that God, in His infinite power, could inhibit evil if He saw it suitable. The problem, then, is Con’s first premise, that God’s goodness necessitates His desire to inhibit suffering.

Every creature created by God is good, because every creature is in act simply by existing. Additionally, all creatures derive existence from the most fundamental existence, God, who is the sovereign good. As such, evil is a defect in a creaturely existence, as an absence of goodness which would otherwise naturally belong to it. For this reason, goodness is prior to evil, as act is prior to potency — not in a temporal sense, but a logical sense. There cannot be any evil without there first existing some good wherefrom the evil subtracts.

It is also apparent that nothing acts to simply and directly cause evil. As the privation or absence of goodness, evil has no positive reality and thus cannot be viewed as an end in itself. Having the nature of an end, goodness is always the purpose of an action. Even when a man sins in the most gravely immoral ways, he does it for the sake of his own good, for the immediate fulfillment of his carnal appetites. Much more so, then, must we admit that goodness is the end of everything, the entire world, as intended by God.

It is clear, then, that God permits evil only as it is ordained to this summum bonum, this final good. To use a few examples from Saint Thomas in the Summa contra Gentiles, the good of a predator’s nourishment relies on the evil of its prey’s death. In the same way, the goodness of virtue is shown by the contrasting evil of vice. If God removed the malevolent dragon, we would find no courage in the knight.

Remember that these examples are simply applications of a principle, that all evil is directed towards good. They are not meant to be statements that progress to my conclusion. Rather, they are simply meant to easily illustrate a conclusion which was reached by purely philosophical means: all evil is redeemed in goodness, even when the resulting goodness is not immediately visible.

III. Sources

Aristotle. Metaphysics. Trans. W. D. Ross. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1967.

Aquinas, Saint Thomas. Summa contra Gentiles. Trans. Anton C. Pegis.

Aquinas, Saint Thomas. Summa Theologiae. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province.
Debate Round No. 2
SarcasticMethod

Con

SarcasticMethod forfeited this round.
Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

Unfortunately, Con seems to have forfeited his response to my argument. I'll give him the next few rounds to return. In place of an argument, I hereby extend my argument for the existence of the LORD God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and my redemptive solution to the problem of evil.
Debate Round No. 3
SarcasticMethod

Con

SarcasticMethod forfeited this round.
Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

Aw, come on, man. I was having fun.
Debate Round No. 4
SarcasticMethod

Con

SarcasticMethod forfeited this round.
Nur-Ab-Sal

Pro

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,
And the waves will not
Overcome you.
Do not fear,
For I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name,
You are Mine.


For I am the Lord your God
I am the Lord your God
The Holy One of Israel
Your Savior

For I am the Lord your God
I am the Lord your God
The Holy One of Israel
Your Savior
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)
I am the Lord (do not fear)

When you walk through the fire
You'll not be burned,
And the flames will not
Consume you.
Do not fear,
For I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name,
You are Mine.

;
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Nur-Ab-Sal 1 year ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
I will, however, graduate with a bachelor's degree in public speaking, if that's pretty close...
Posted by Nur-Ab-Sal 1 year ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
I don't have any degree, I just read a lot of books :)
Posted by The_Great_Philosopher 1 year ago
The_Great_Philosopher
Congratulations on the winning argument pro! May I ask if you have any degree or any qualification in this field? I too am very intrigued by such topics :)
Posted by Nur-Ab-Sal 1 year ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
I don't understand your question, and I'd rather discuss this in a PM then on the comments section of this debate.

Each of those can move the will -- that's the entire point. It's not viewed in terms of which is the "strongest," it's a matter of which exerts causal power at all. Aristotelian and Thomistic psychology isn't rigid in causality -- the intellect can move the will, and the will can move the intellect. It's a complex interaction, because human actions are pretty complex. If your sensual appetite is not subordinated to your intellectual appetite, than you will watch pornography. The will moves according to whatever ends are apprehended.

Regarding your last few comments. I don't like working with these vague concepts very much, but free-will is not incompatible with determinism as broadly understood. Also, The Five Ways do not presuppose the PSR; that's an artifact of the later philosopher Leibniz. While medieval philosophers may have agreed with Leibniz's formulation of the PSR, they didn't actively presuppose it for argumentation.
Posted by zmikecuber 1 year ago
zmikecuber
So why can't the atom's potential to be in Y location be raised to actuality by the atom's actual-ness of being in X location?

So which of these things ends up moving the will? If you have all of these things... your desires, your passions, your intellect, God, your beliefs, etc. all tugging on the will, is it the strongest that moves the will? If my desire to watch porn is stronger than my belief that it is immoral, wouldn't I end up watching porn? In which case, it seems like there is no free will and we've reached determinism. On the other hand, if what moves the will is *not* the strongest pull, then it seems like you've undermined the PSR, which the five ways seem to presuppose in some form or another.
Posted by Nur-Ab-Sal 1 year ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
The first part of your comment is totally acceptable. Remember that something cannot be both in potency and act *in the same respect* at the same time. Obviously the principle isn't that a potency in a "thing" must be realised by a wholly other "thing". The principle is that a potency must be raised to act by something already in act, whether this is an atom, a nerve, a limb, an animal, a planet, or a galaxy.

In a very broad sense, the movement of the will can be described as "self-actualisation." But this doesn't mean that the will moves itself from potentiality to actuality. In Aristotelian language, many things can move the will -- the intellect can move the will, the end can move the will, the appetites can move the will, God can move the will, etc. The will in potentiality doesn't move itself to actuality; rather, it is the knowledge of the end that causes the will to will the means. This is dealt with in the Summa Theologica, First Part of the Second Part, Question 9: "that which moves the will"
Posted by zmikecuber 1 year ago
zmikecuber
Why can't a thing which is composed of act and potency, raise it's own potential to actuality? In this case, the potential is not raising itself to actuality. Rather, the actual features of the substance actualize the potential features of the substance.

Also, what about free will? Isn't free will an example of self-actualization? We have the potential to choose option A or B, and something causes us to choose one over the other. Isn't the very definition of free will a sort of self-actualization, which directly contradicts the principle of motion? Unless of course, God is the one causing our choices. In which case, we don't have free will and are merely puppets.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Midnight1131 1 year ago
Midnight1131
SarcasticMethodNur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
dsjpk5
SarcasticMethodNur-Ab-SalTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited several times. This is bad conduct.