The Instigator
Magic8000
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
justin.graves
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

The Evidence Points to Atheism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Magic8000
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/30/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,295 times Debate No: 31906
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)

 

Magic8000

Pro

Resolution: The Evidence Points to Atheism

BOP is shared

Rules:
No Forfeits
No Fallacies
No Insults
72 Hours to Post
8000 Characters Max
1 Week Voting Period
Acceptance in R1
Follow the debate structure

Structure:
Round 1: Pre-debate info and Acceptance
Round 2: My argument + Con's arguments and rebuttals.
Round 3: Rebuttals from both parties
Round 4: Rebuttals from both parties
Round 5: Conclusion, no new arguments or rebuttals. Keep under 1000 characters.
justin.graves

Con

Sounds good. Just remember that the burden of proof is on you.
Debate Round No. 1
Magic8000

Pro

The burden of proof is on both of us. That was in R1 which you accepted.

Magic8000's Non-Cognitivism Argument

  1. God is outside of our understanding and experience

  2. We give meaning to words by our understanding and experience

  3. C. “God” is meaningless (From 1 and 2)

Con probably agrees with 1. It's logically proven if he doesn't. God is usually defined as “Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent” We have no experience of these things in reality. We have no experience of all power or all knowledge.

George Smith says [1]

God is epistemologically transcendent; i.e., it falls beyond the scope of man’s intellectual comprehension. The full nature of god is not merely unknown, it is unknowable. Man’s rational capacity does not allow him to understand the nature of god, and any knowledge that man does possess concerning god is necessarily inadequate in some respect. God, by definition, is that which man cannot

understand.”

Michael Martin writes [2]

In the first place, when terms like “is loving”, “is forgiving”, and “brings about” are applied to God, they seem to mean something very different from what they mean when they are applied to human beings. For example, when we speak of a mother as being loving, we are referring in part to her behavior, and in particular the way she responds to her children. When we say that Jones brought about a fire, we are referring to certain of his bodily actions, such as his carelessly throwing a match onto a pile of paper. But when we say God is loving or God brought about a miracle, we cannot be referring to the behavior or bodily action of God, for He has no body.

Finally, George Smith says [1]

All of the supposedly positive qualities of God arise in a distinctively human context of finite existence, and when wrenched from this context to apply to a supernatural being, they cease to have meaning.


By classic Theistic reasoning, God is perfect, we are not. We can't understand “perfection”. In fact the Catholic Church actually said God is “incomprehensible” and “ineffable” [3]. God is outside the universe, yet what we know and understand is within the universe.
2 is simply known a priori and I don't think it will be disputed. If Con wishes to dispute it, he must provide a meaningful word that doesn't refer to anything that is within our understanding and experience.


If a word is meaningless, any attempt to prove it is useless! This makes atheism the only justified position. As a god can no more exist than any other meaningless thing that doesn't refer to reality such as a “zsgarbub”.


Strongatheism.net writes [4]
...to say, “A God exists” insofar as it attempts to construct itself as a proposition is false because the term “God” does not refer to an actual concept, and therefore to posit such a statement supposing that it does and that this referent exists in reality as something is an untrue positive declaration......
One cannot posit the existence of something if that something means nothing. The term itself, without referring to any specific concept or possible instantiation, holds no actual or even potential place in reality. In truth, it is amusing to note that the theistic position is unwittingly equivalent to the atheistic position, as to posit belief in “God” actually means “belief in nothing” – the stance of atheism.”


The resolution is affirmed
Now to Con for his argumets and response.
[1] George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God (Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1979), Chapter 3.

[2]Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, Chapter 1

[3] 1968 National Catholic Almanac, edited by Felician A. Foy, O. F. M. (Paterson: St. Anthony’s Guild, 1968), p. 360

[4]http://www.strongatheism.net...

justin.graves

Con

BOP is shared, I apologize for the oversight.

I would first like to offer a rebuttal to my opponent's contention which is as follows:

"Magic8000's Non-Cognitivism Argument"

  1. God is outside of our understanding and experience

  2. We give meaning to words by our understanding and experience

3. C. “God” is meaningless (From 1 and 2)" (sic)

I agree with the first point, that God is outside of our understanding and experience. However, the second point is where we run into trouble. My opponent states: "2 is simply known a priori and I don't think it will be disputed. If Con wishes to dispute it, he must provide a meaningful word that doesn't refer to anything that is within our understanding and experience."
There are many objects outside of our understanding that can be proved or disproved. How about "infinity?"

Infinity (N.):

1. a : the quality of being infinite
b : unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity : boundlessness

2 : an indefinitely great number or amount infinity of stars> [1]

Even though we obviously do not have true understanding or experience of infinity, we still use when studying science. Think about it. Pi is infinite, a singularity has infinite density, and there are an infinite number of numbers. We may not understand those things, nor have we experienced them, but that doesn't mean that we can't discuss whether singularities have infinite density or if pi has an end. Those words have meaning, even though we don't have understanding of them, nor have we experienced them, but that doesn't mean we cannot discuss them.

Just because we do not have understanding or meaning of an object or concept does not mean that the do not exist, we can still discuss them and decide whether they are true or false.

Now on to my contention:

My main contention has three parts. Time and Causality, Conservation of Mass and Energy, and The Only Viable Solution

Time and Causality:

At sometime in the past, the universe had a beginning. Everything that is under the constraint of the laws of physics must have a beginning. Isaac Newton's third law says that "Every action must have a positive and equal reaction."[2] Flip it around and you get "Every reaction must have an equal action that caused it." The same goes for the universe, since it is under the bonds of the laws of physics. The universe needed a beginning, but it could not have caused itself, as we will see in the next part of my contention.

Conservation of Mass and Energy:

The Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy states that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed [3]. Since under the Laws of Physics matter and energy cannot be created, the universe could not create itself. It too is under bondage to the Laws of Physics.


The Only Viable Solution:

If nothing under the authority of the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy can cause the creation of matter and energy, the action that created the reaction of the universe, the only viable solution is that something outside of the laws of physics took the action that created matter and energy. The only force or being that is outside of that must be God. By my opponent's own words, God is "Omnipotent."


Omnipotence (N.):
1: The quality or state of being omnipotent

2: an agency or force of unlimited power [4]

Something or someone that has the quality of omnipotence is omnipotent, having no restraints. No restraints such as the Law of the Conservation of Mass and Energy. God is the only Cause that is outside of thelLaws of physics, so He is the only force that could take the action that would cause the reaction of the universe.

Summary:

Every reaction must have an action, so the universe must have had a beginning. The Law of the Conservation of Mass and Energy prevent anyone or anything but an omnipotent being, who would be outside the boundaries of the Laws of Physics, from taking such action. God is the only omnipotent Being. Therefore, God must exist in order for the universe to exist. Since the universe does exist, God must exist.

Sources:

Logic

[1]http://www.merriam-webster.com...

[2]http://csep10.phys.utk.edu...

[3]http://www.lightandmatter.com...

[4]http://www.merriam-webster.com...





Debate Round No. 2
Magic8000

Pro

Non-Cognitivism

Con's objection is based on a misunderstanding of premise 2. The premise is

We give meaning to words by our understanding and experience”

This doesn't mean we need to comprehensively understand or directly experience everything. It just means a word must refer to something that we already understand or experienced. For example, if I say there's a tree the size of a molecule in my back yard, we have no experience or understanding of this tree or trees of this size. However the statement isn't meaningless, because it refers to things that we do have understanding and experience of. While such things like omnipotence refers to power, yet “all power” would remove the human context of power, ceasing it to have meaning.

The reason why Con's response fails is because my challenge was provide a meaningful word that doesn't refer to anything that is within our understanding and experience. The reason we have a concept of infinity is because infinity refers to an unlimited finite. Finite would still have the same context, since it would be within what we experience. If I have 1 computer, I can always imagine one more computer because I've experienced the finite world. Infinity still refers to what we understand and therefore doesn't refute premise 2. Numbers also refer to the finite world. They're just descriptions of material.

Con continues with another objection.

Just because we do not have understanding or meaning of an object or concept does not mean that the do not exist.

The only way this thing can exist is if it has meaning. For instance, does a zsgarbub” exist? Con ignores what I quoted from SA.net which explains why a meaningless thing doesn't exist. I'll quote it again.

“...to say, “A God exists” insofar as it attempts to construct itself as a proposition is false because the term “God” does not refer to an actual concept, and therefore to posit such a statement supposing that it does and that this referent exists in reality as something is an untrue positive declaration......

One cannot posit the existence of something if that something means nothing. The term itself, without referring to any specific concept or possible instantiation, holds no actual or even potential place in reality. In truth, it is amusing to note that the theistic position is unwittingly equivalent to the atheistic position, as to posit belief in “God” actually means “belief in nothing” – the stance of atheism.”

For better understanding, I'll quote this too.

The Strong-Atheist, however, just as the weak-atheist, need not defend their position along the lines of the term “God” being meaningful. If a term refers to no thing which may possibly exist, then obviously the term has no application to reality. Thus, the Strong-Atheist might say that, “God does not exist”, concerning him/herself with “God” as only a word, and not a concept.” [1]

Con's case

Con gives 3 contentions. All together they're basically the first cause argument.

Time and Causality

Con says that “Every reaction must have an equal action that caused it”. This seems self defeating. If every reaction must have an equal action that caused it, then God would have to be caused. Con could claim that God always existed and is outside the laws of physics, so doesn't need any type of cause. This leads to a further problem, creating a special pleading fallacy from Con. If you grant something can exist without a cause and outside the universe, then why not something other than God?

Occam's (or Ockham's) razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. Ockham was the village in the English county of Surrey where he was born.

The principle states that "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily."



In layman's terms

If you have two theories that both explain the observed facts, then you should use the simplest until more evidence comes along"

"The simplest explanation for some phenomenon is more likely to be accurate than more complicated explanations."

"If you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, choose the simplest."

"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."

. . .or in the only form that takes its own advice. . .
"Keep things simple!”
[2]

Therefore using Occam's Razor it's better to say that this uncasued cause was something simpler than God. A particle being an uncaused cause is simpler than an omnipotent, super intelligent, perfect, and conscious creator. Meaning we have no reason to have a God hypothesis.

Conservation of Mass and Energy:

Under the mainstream interpretations of quantum physics, quantum vacuum fluctuations have no cause. They in a sense, bypass the laws conservation [3] [4].

The Only Viable Solution?:

If Con says before the universe there were no laws of physics, then again what makes us think this cause has to be God? No laws before the universe means no conservation of mass and energy before the universe. By Con's own reasoning, the universe can be uncaused without God. Con asserts “The only force or being that is outside of that must be God”. This is an unwarranted assumption and has yet to be proven. It's also an argument from ignorance, if we don't know how something came to be, this doesn't mean God did it. Just like when we didn't know where lightning came from, we thought it was God. Because we didn't know. Con is just pointing to some effects and saying God is the cause. Con has yet to prove this! There's also naturalistic models for the universe coming into existence.

...But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. Keep in mind E=mc^2 shows energy and matter are basically one in the same, they can transform into each other The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus, in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.[5]

Edward Tryon said


The laws of physics place no limit on the scale of vacuum fluctuations. The duration is of course subject to the restriction ΔEΔt ~ h, but this merely implies that our Universe has zero energy, which has already been made plausible.[6]

Tryon's model is falsified, but he set the stage. There's newer updated models that use the same foundations as Tryon. Like Alexander Vilenkin's quantum tunneling model. His model states the universe came from an uncaused quantum tunneling event. [7]

Why should we accept God over the scientific alternatives? There's no reason to assume God when talking about the creation of the universe.

The resolution is affirmed

Back to Con.

Sources

[1] http://www.strongatheism.net...

[2] http://math.ucr.edu...

[3] In the everyday world, energy is always unalterably fixed; the law of energy conservation is a cornerstone of classical physics. But in the quantum microworld, energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion.” Davies, Paul. 1983. God and the New Physics.

[4] “Even in a perfect vacuum—a region of space containing neither matter nor energy—particle-antiparticle pairs constantly appear and disappear....”

https://www.cfa.harvard.edu...

[5] Hawking, Steven. 1988. A Brief History of Time

[6] Tryon, Edward P. 1973. Is the universe a vacuum fluctuation?

[7] http://www.mukto-mona.com...

justin.graves

Con



Just because we do not have understanding or meaning of an object or concept does not mean that the do not exist."
First, tell me what "zsgarbub" means and then we can debate to whether it exists. We can give meaning and concept to words even if we do not completely understand it. The moon for millenia was nothing but a white ball in the sky for mankind, but now we know a lot more about it. Just because you don't completely understand something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, but simply that our puny minds cannot comprehend it. As for the quote... I believe in a concept of God, even if I do not understand it. Meaning that I believe in something that I do not understand, not that I believe nothing. Huge difference.

Do to time restraints, I apologize, I cannot finish this round of this debate. My apologies. I will pick up in the next round.
Debate Round No. 3
Magic8000

Pro


Non-Cognitivism



Con then gives response with the same misunderstanding as his first argument. The moon is within what we experience. As I said before


The premise is



We give meaning to words by our understanding and experience”



This doesn't mean we need to comprehensively understand or directly experience everything. It just means a word must refer to something that we already understand or experienced. For example, if I say there's a tree the size of a molecule in my back yard, we have no experience or understanding of this tree or trees of this size. However the statement isn't meaningless, because it refers to things that we do have understanding and experience of.”



The moon is different from God. The moon is something that we can refer to, since it's within our experience. Appealing to past historical ignorance doesn't work either, since God isn't suppose to be a mere historical event.



Con says he believes in God, but doesn't understand it. He's missing the entire point. God isn't just something that we don't understand -like quantum mechanics- God is meaningless -like a zsgarbub-. God doesn't refer to anything that exists, meaning we have no knowledge of this God. The second God refers to something that does, it would become meaningful. The argument isn't we don't understand God comprehensively, it's we don't understand or experience this thing called God at all. If we can't even know about God at all then God would mean nothing. It seems Con is assuming God is meaningful, but is just not understandable. He's attacking the concept of being fully understood instead of my argument which says he's meaningless because it doesn't refer to anything that is understood.



No one understands or knows what a "zsgarbub" is, but I believe it. Since a “zsgarbub” doesn't refer to anything that exists it is meaningless and doesn't exist. When it finally means something, then we can put it in the category of a possible existent. I must ask Con, is a belief in a “zsgarbub” rational? Because it's the exact same category as “God”.



I find my argument unrefuted. His main objection is based on a misunderstanding of P2.


justin.graves

Con

First off, I would like to thank Pro for his good sportsmanship in the last round since I did not have time to give a sufficient argument. I would appreciate it if all conduct points would go to Pro for his excellent show of courtesy and understanding.

Back to the Non-Cognitivism argument. 1. It occurred to me while I was in bad last night that even if the non-cognitivism argument was valid, it would not invalidate or disprove the existence of a omnipotent, omnipresent being. Instead, it would only demonstrate the finiteness of our minds. 2. This debate is actually about the evidence pointing to Atheism. The Non-cognitivism argument is an attempt to disprove the existence of God rather than proving Atheism. If my opponent could show me reasons why Atheism is true, rather than why God is false, it would be evidence for Atheism as opposed to evidence against God.

Back to my contentions:

"If every reaction must have an equal action that caused it, then God would have to be caused."
God is outside of time and space. If He was not, He would not be omnipotent, therefore not actually being God. If God is outside of time, then there is no such thing as a beginning or an ending. God sees everything totally different then us. Also, "every reaction has an cause" is an interpretation of Newton's Third law, which is part of physics.

"Quantum Vacuum Fluctuations"
OK, I have done a little reading on this nook on the bookshelf of physics, but not much. I can only offer a few questions in response to my opponent's brilliant argument.

1. "Tryon's model is falsified, but he set the stage. There's newer updated models that use the same foundations as Tryon. Like Alexander Vilenkin's quantum tunneling model. His model states the universe came from an uncaused quantum tunneling event." While science changes, God does not. Think about some of the things that have been disproved in science in the last 100 years: Einstein's static universe, Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Haeckel Embryos, and others. Science changes. All of those things I just mentioned used to be used to argue against God. Now, there are not (unless you are a public school teacher, then they are still in the text books."

2. "Sources:
Logic
http://csep10.phys.utk.edu...
http://www.toptenz.net...
http://www.wnd.com...
http://www.talkorigins.org...
Debate Round No. 4
Magic8000

Pro

Conclusion. Keep under 1000 characters

Con bases his objections to my argument on a misunderstanding. He drops almost all of his objections to it for two others. One was already addressed. The main argument for the existence of God that Con used never showed this cause has to be a god. I gave reasons scientifically and philosophically to not postulate a god cause. Con only objects to the scientific reason dropping the philosophical one and never proved this cause must be God.

Thanks to Con and the readers!
justin.graves

Con



Pro's main contention is that if the human mind cannot comprehend or has no experience in an object, than the object's name and word associated with it is meaningless. Admittedly, I seem to struggle seeing exactly what Pro means by this. A Omnibenevolent, Omnipotent, Omniscient being can exist even with this idea in play, the contention only shows that we do not have a word capable of describing it properly.

Summary of my contentions:
1. Every effect must have a cause.
2. Matter and Energy cannot be created.
3. If the universe could not have created itself, only an omnipotent, unrestrained Creator could have created it.

Reminders:
1. Science changes, for all we know neither the law of Conservation of Matter and Energy or the theory of Quantum Vacuum Fluctuations. is right

2. Science that "proved" God didn't exist has been knocked down over and over through the years.

3. I again request that all conduct points go to Pro.

Thank you to my opponent and the readers. Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
"But from P1 and P2, it is inferred that something that refers to something other than reality IS unproveable."

Then it would be a deductive argument, not a circular one.

I would agree that that the statement God doesn't refer to anything that exists can be argued against, but this wouldn't make the premise circular. Just arguable. Maybe the Socrates argument wasn't a good example

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore the universe has a cause

Is 2 circular because you assumed the universe began to exist? And the conclusion says the universe has a cause, but to have a cause it must have a beginning! Is this circular? No, it's just deductive and arguable.

Also premise 3 in your modified argument was already proven in my opening statement under the justification of P1.
Posted by Sui_Generis 3 years ago
Sui_Generis
"P3 says "The word "God" refers to something other than reality", it doesn't say that god is unproveable."

But from P1 and P2, it is inferred that something that refers to something other than reality IS unproveable.

So when you make the statement that the word "god" doesn't refer to something real, you're assuming he's not. The fact that God is real or not real is not self-evident and itself requires defense.

"All men are mortal" IS self-evident. If it was an arguable claim, then that famous syllogism's soundness would at least be open to attack. So, too, is your argument, because you have assumed as a premise which is itself foundational to the debate. If the truth of that premise was widely accepted, then there would be no point in arguing if the evidence points to atheism.
Posted by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
Begging the question occurs when the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true.
http://www.nizkor.org...

P3 says "The word "God" refers to something other than reality", it doesn't say that god is unproveable. The grounds for claiming it's circular can also be used in every argument ever.

1 All men are mortal
2 Socrates is a man
3 Socrates is mortal

Would this argument be circular because premise 1 presupposes all men are moral? Also, the final conclusion is that god doesn't exist, being unproveable is just a plus in meaninglessness.
Posted by Sui_Generis 3 years ago
Sui_Generis
"If a word is meaningless, any attempt to prove it is useless! This makes atheism the only justified position. As a god can no more exist than any other meaningless thing that doesn't refer to reality such as a "zsgarbub"."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this not a petitio principii fallacy?

1. If a word is meaningless, it cannot be proven.
2. A word is meaningless if it refers to something other than reality.
3. The word "God" refers to something other than reality.
------
W56; God cannot be proven.

Yet in premise 3, you have presupposed that God refers to something other than reality--in effect your conclusion.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Magic8000justin.gravesTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct because Con requested such. Argument... "and never proved this cause must be God." The argument question was not about God, but if all evidence points to current atheism being right. Future atheism may well prove to be, but arguing against a (likely) fictional character, does not prove something else to be true.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
Magic8000justin.gravesTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Con gave no compelling argument for the existence of god. In contrast, Pro argued that the concept of "God" is a meaningless one. His argument isn't perfect, but it stood to Con's attempts at rebuttal. Conduct per Con's request goes to Pro. Pro had overall more, and more technical, sources. S&G was about the same.