The Instigator
Apologician
Pro (for)
Winning
51 Points
The Contender
Freeman
Con (against)
Losing
34 Points

The Existence of God is Possible

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 16 votes the winner is...
Apologician
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/12/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,474 times Debate No: 10093
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (130)
Votes (16)

 

Apologician

Pro

My goal in this debate is not to demonstrate the existence of God, but simply that his existence is _possible_. By God, I mean a being with "the greatest possible array of compossible great making properties." [1]

In order for my opponent to win, he must show that it is God's existence is impossible, that is, it entails a logical contradiction (Like a married bachelor or square circle). All that is required of me is to show that the concept of God is logically coherent (That is, free of contradiction).
_________
SOURCES

[1] - Thomas V. Morris, "Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology" (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1991) 35.
Freeman

Con

Let me begin by thanking Apologician for starting this debate. There is a 2000 Character Limit.

This debate will focus on the properties of the Christian God. Among other things the God of Christianity is said to be both omniscient and omnipotent. [1]

*Case Con*

Contention 1: The properties of the Christian God are logically contradictory.

1. Anything with logically incompatible properties cannot exist. (This is not arguable)
2. Any God that knows the future is powerless to change it, and is therefore not omnipotent.
3. Omniscience is logically incompatible with omnipotence. (2)
4. God is described as having omniscience and omnipotence. (Given)
5. Therefore, God does not exist. (1) (3) (4)

Contention 2: The second and third premises of the first syllogism are valid.

Allow X to represent any possible event in the future. And let us assume for the moment that God is at least omniscient to determine whether or not the addition of omnipotence is possible.

1. God knows that X will occur in the future. (Given)
2. In order for something to qualify as knowledge it must be factually correct. (This is not arguable)
3. The knowledge that X will occur is only factually correct if X actually occurs. (2)
4. The knowledge that X will occur logically necessitates its occurrence. (3)
5. The logical necessity of X occurring precludes the possibility of alternative outcomes. (4)
6. Omnipotence is impossible if alternative outcomes can't occur for a situation. (This is not arguable)
7. Omniscience and omnipotence are logically incompatible. (6)
8. Therefore, God cannot be both omniscient and omnipotent. (7)

---Definitions---

Omniscience- One having total knowledge. http://www.thefreedictionary.com... (This includes knowledge of future events)

Omnipotence- An agency or force of unlimited power- http://www.merriam-webster.com...

---References---

[1] See comments section
Debate Round No. 1
Apologician

Pro

My thanks to Freeman for his response. I shall now point out what I see to be mistakes in his opening argument.

My opponent misunderstands the nature of omnipotence. Omnipotence, as believed by the Christian, is simply the ability to actualize any metaphysically possible state of affairs. Since tasks such as changing the past and the future are logically impossible, God cannot do these tasks because they do not fall under the extent of omnipotence. But this has no bearing on omnipotence whatsoever, for omnipotence has been traditionally understood as the ability to do only things which are logically or metaphysically possible [2] By definition, the future is what will happen. God cannot make an event that will happen not happen, as this entails a logical contradiction [3]

Under an A-theory of time (Which I presume my opponent is presupposing), it is logically impossible to change the future. As such, that type of task does not fall under the omnipotence of God. There are many things that God cannot do, but these are psuedotasks that cannot be accomplished in principle. [4] The inability to actualize logical impossibilities does not mean that God is not omnipotent, as he is still able to do anything that is possible with power.

I thus conclude that my opponent's argument does not hold due to a misrepresentation of the Christian view of omnipotence.

________

FOOTNOTES

[1]. JP Moreland and William Lane Craig, "Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview" (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity. 2003) 528. Also see Thomas Flint and Alfred J. Freddoso, "Maximal Power", pp. 81-113 in Alfred J. Freddoso, ed., The Existence and Nature of God (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983).

[2]. For example, Boethius (480-525 AD)

[3]. Changing the future entails that a future event that is not a future event (P & ~P) which breaks the law of non-contradiction ~(P & ~P)

[4]. God cannot, for example, make a married bachelor or a square circle
Freeman

Con

From what I can deduce thus far it would appear that the debate is beginning to break down over what is little more than linguistic confusion. It is very important that we clear this up before we move forward with any kind of an intelligible exchange. I'm not arguing that God can change the future, as you understand the future. The "future" doesn't get changed, because the "future" entails whatever will occur. By definition, the "future" is unchangeable. [1] However, I am arguing that God, under the broadly accepted Christian conception of God, could in theory use his omnipotence to alter the outcome of events that can occur. [2]-[3] And if God knew that any specific event would occur at a later time he would be unable to change it. Consequently, we have a paradox.

*Case Con*

=========
Contention 1: Regarding the future
=========

The future is comprised of any possible future events. Given this understanding, altering what may happen does not entail any sort of a logical contradiction. For example, a freefalling apple will hit the ground unless someone catches it. And if it could be known that the apple would in fact hit the ground any other outcomes would be impossible. This is why my opponent's argument breaks down. A logical contradiction only occurs when God is claimed to be both omnipotent and omniscient. [4] Therefore, we can safely conclude that the existence of the Christian God is in fact impossible.

---References---

[1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
[2] http://www.newadvent.org...
[3] http://www.religionfacts.com...
[4] Refer back to my first and second syllogism.
Debate Round No. 2
Apologician

Pro

Allow me to elaborate on what I previously meant.

"However, I am arguing that God, under the broadly accepted Christian conception of God, could in theory use his omnipotence to alter the outcome of events that can occur."

That was exactly what I argued against in my rebuttal. The Christian does not believe that God even could in theory use his omnipotence to change the outcome of events (future). As I elaborate below, this is because (On an A-theory of time) changing the future entails a logical contradiction. Thus, the ability to change the future is the ability to actualize a contradiction, a pseudotask that is not a power delegated under omnipotence.

"The future is comprised of any possible future events. Given this understanding, altering what may happen does not entail any sort of a logical contradiction. For example, a freefalling apple will hit the ground unless someone catches it. And if it could be known that the apple would in fact hit the ground any other outcomes would be impossible. This is why my opponent's argument breaks down. A logical contradiction only occurs when God is claimed to be both omnipotent and omniscient."

This simply begs the question by presupposing a scenario that is valid only given God's non-existence. My opponent defines the future as indeterminate, which is simply false given the Christian conception of God. In order for his reductio to work, therefore, my opponent must presuppose a determinate future. Once we see that the future is determinate given the existence of God, any alleged contradiction between the divine attributes vanishes. If the future were determinate (Which must be assumed as part of his reductio), then it is logically impossible to change it. [1]

______

[1]. Given thus understanding of the future, changing the future entails that a future event that is not a future event (P & ~P) which breaks the law of non-contradiction ~(P & ~P)
Freeman

Con

There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding the term future. So, I have altered my second premise of my first syllogism to clear up any ambiguity. It would be a shame to see this debate devolve into quibbling over semantics.

*Case Con: Rebuttals*

"This simply begs the question by presupposing a scenario that is valid only given God's non-existence. My opponent defines the future as indeterminate, which is simply false given the Christian conception of God. In order for his reductio to work, therefore, my opponent must presuppose a determinate future."

My argument doesn't presuppose that the future is indeterminate or that God doesn't exist. This is a highly irrelevant straw man argument. [1] Secondly, what exactly are you trying to argue?

*Case Con*

(The second premise has been altered to avoid ambiguity.)

Contention 1: The properties of the Christian God are logically contradictory.

1. Anything with logically incompatible properties cannot exist. (This is not arguable)
2. Any God that knows that (X) will occur is powerless to make (Y) occur instead, and is therefore not omnipotent.
3. Omniscience is logically incompatible with omnipotence. (2)
4. God is described as having omniscience and omnipotence. (Given)
5. Therefore, God does not exist. (1) (3) (4)

Contention 2: The second and third premises of the first syllogism are valid.

My second syllogism remains unchanged. You can refer back to it in my first round if needed.

=======
Conclusion
=======

There is no logical contraction in altering potential events in the A theory of time. [2]-[3] Therefore, my opponent's only real issue with my syllogism can be rightfully dismissed. I thus conclude that the existence of the Christian God is indeed logically impossible.

---References---

[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[2] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...
Debate Round No. 3
Apologician

Pro

I have several points to make against Con's contention that will in turn make my point clear (per Con's second request). Firstly, however, I have noticed your definition you offered of "future" in the last around is circular.

"The future is comprised of any possible future events."

But this is not at all helpful, since you have defined the future in terms of what is future (You have defined something by itself). This does not tell us what the future is. But let us ignore that and define the future as the set of events that will happen. Secondly, your argument does in fact presuppose an indeterminate future. Elsewhere, you stated that the future was "what may happen." This of course, presupposes that the future is not determinate, and this is what is problematic with your argument. The Christian denies this and affirms that the future is determinate, such that future contingents (Statements about the future) have a definite true value (As opposed to being indeterminate on your view by virtue of not having transpired yet). My argument is thus not a straw man. This brings me to your revised second premise:

"Any God that knows that (X) will occur is powerless to make (Y) occur instead, and is therefore not omnipotent."

On the Christian understanding of the future, (2) is logically contradictory because the future is determinate. Therefore, the task described by (2) falls out of the range of omnipotence. In order for God to actualize (2), he must make an event that will happen not happen, which entails a logical contradiction. Perhaps a simplification will help:

1. God knows the truth values of future contingents
2. Therefore, the future is determinate
3. The future will happen
4. Changing the future is logically impossible (see my previous footnote)
5. Actualizing a contradiction is a pseudotask that does not fall under omnipotence
.: Therefore, Con's argument does not show that omnipotence and omniscience are impossible.
Freeman

Con

I sincerely fail to see how any of what my opponent wrote in his last round is relevant. Notions of the future seem to be hindering our progress in this debate. Consequently, I stopped using the word in my syllogism. Despite this, Apologician is still spending his time attacking the meaning of words that I have already given up.

*Case Con: Rebuttals*

"2. Any God that knows that (X) will occur is powerless to make (Y) occur instead, and is therefore not omnipotent." – Revised premise

"On the Christian understanding of the future, (2) is logically contradictory because the future is determinate." -Apologician

Nowhere in my revised second premise is the word future even used. You've simply spent your energy attacking an argument I haven't put forth.

Altering the "future" may be impossible. However, altering potential events is logically possible. This is where my opponent seems to be equivocating potentialities with future determinates. [1] God, in his omnipotence, could make any event occur. Logically, event (X) (Y) (Z) etc could occur at a future time because they are contingent upon God's will. However, once any outcome (X) is known the possibility for altering that potential to outcome (Y) is logically impossible. [2] Therefore, omniscience and omnipotence are indeed incompatible. (Resolution Negated)

---References---

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[2] Refer back to my second syllogism.

I eagerly await your last round and wish you good luck in the process.

Best,
Freeman
Debate Round No. 4
Apologician

Pro

I am a bit puzzled at the fact that my opponent does not see my argument. Nevertheless, I will try to be as straightforward as possible in my last post.

"Nowhere in my revised second premise is the word future even used. You've simply spent your energy attacking an argument I haven't put forth."

While you do not use the specific term, your argument most certainly does invoke talk of the future. Your contention is that God is not omnipotent because he cannot make an event that will occur, not occur. Notice however, that simply because you do not use the term "future" does not mean you are not using it in your argument. Talk of events that will occur is simply a less obvious way of talking about future events (events that will occur). Thus, on the contrary, your arguments are laden with talk about the future.

You argue that because God cannot make an event X that will occur, not occur, God is not omnipotent. As I have already stated, this entails a logical contradiction, as you seem to admit:

"However, once any outcome (X) is known the possibility for altering that potential to outcome (Y) is logically impossible."

On that basis you argue that omnipotence and omniscience are incompatible. But here you attack a strawman, for you presuppose that omnipotence includes the ability to do the logically impossible -- an assumption the Christian rejects (See my round 2 post).

Since God infallibly knows that X will occur, he cannot make X not-occur. To make X not-occur would be to actualize a logical contradiction. Now, does the fact that X will occur mean that other courses of action are necessarily impossible? No. Here, you commit a modal fallacy. It does not follow from:

1. God knows infallibly that X will occur

that

2. Necessarily, X will occur

Could Y have occured instead of X? Yes, this is true on some possible world C. But in the actual world, X occured instead of Y. To change that is to actualize a contradiction.
Freeman

Con

I understand the argument my opponent has put forward thus far. And I concede that actualizing a logical contradiction would not fall within the realm of omnipotence. However, I don't think that my conception of omnipotence entails any kind of logical contradiction in and of itself.

*Case Con*

I will simply restate my old arguments in one last syllogism. If the voters find it to be unsatisfactory then I would encourage a vote for Pro. If the voters consider my reasoning to be valid then I would strongly encourage a vote for Con.

1. Anything apart from actualizing logical contradictions is possible under omnipotence. (Given)
2. God can make any event occur using his omnipotence. [1]
3. Specific event (X) does not have to occur because God can do anything if he is only omnipotent. [1] [2]
4. Knowing that a specific event will occur with omniscience precludes other outcomes. (See my 2nd syllogism round 1)
5. Omniscience is logically incompatible with omnipotence. [4]
6. God contains logically incompatible properties. [4] [5]
7. Things with logically incompatible properties cannot exist. (Given)
.: Therefore, God cannot exist. [6] [7]

=========
Conclusion
=========

Being able to actualize any event does not entail a logical contradiction. However, a logical contradiction does occur when omniscience and omnipotence are said to coexist. And to say that Omniscience and omnipotence are necessarily compatible simply begs the question. Each is logically possible under its own merits. Nevertheless, they cannot logically coincide with each other, as I have hoped to demonstrate. Therefore, God cannot exist. (Resolution negated)

I wish my opponent the best of luck in this debate and in all of his future debates. :)
Debate Round No. 5
130 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by tBoonePickens 5 years ago
tBoonePickens
parithosh93,

Omnipotence does not include the ability to create a contradiction. Example: no one can create a square circle because they cannot exist because they are a contradiction in meaning. A "rock so heavy that God cannot lift it" is a contradiction because an omnipotent God could lift any POSSIBLE rock. Ergo, to ask God to create the impossible is NOT a limitation on His omnipotence.

If it were a limitation then it would be a limitation on omnipotence itself! In which case, the concept of omnipotence itself would be a contradiction!

BTW, I believe God to be able to transcend logic. Ergo, I believe He could make a rock so heavy that He can't lift it yet at the same time He can!
Posted by parithosh93 7 years ago
parithosh93
god cannot be omnipotent.....say I asked god to create a rock which cannot be moved, if he creates such a rock it means god himself cannot move it, hence he is not omnipotent. If he cannot create such a rock, then how can he be omipotent?
Hence it is not possible for god to be omnipotent.
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
Apologician,
I guess I could play devil's advocate & debate you on a similar topic. Lemme see how I can word it & set it up.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
"Roy, the common definition of omniscience is simply knowing all true propositions." Yes, that's what I said. I didn't know you agreed to "Christian God," but Con nonetheless failed to use "good" as a property, so I think you won the debate.

I'm not sure that all Christians agree to "omnipotence." Some escape the AE via Satan being a force not controlled by God.
Posted by Apologician 7 years ago
Apologician
Pickens, I'm going to stop discussing this over comments, and as I said to Geo, challenge me to a debate if you want to discuss this further.

Roy, the common definition of omniscience is simply knowing all true propositions. It is only the open theist who affirms that omniscience does not include knowledge of future contingents. Regarding your comments, both myself and Freeman agreed early on in the debate to change the resolution from "God" to "Christian God" (see the first few comments).
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
I think the common definition of "omniscience" does not include knowing the future. Omnipotence has never meant the ability to perform a logical contradiction. Thus is then no logical contradiction between omniscience and omnipotence. A god that knows everything and can do anything may always choose to do nothing, along the lines of the Deist God. The contradiction comes from a god being omnipotent, omniscient, and good. Then there are contradictions per the Argument from Evil and the Argument from Non-belief.

Pro did not assert the Christian God in his opening statement, so he could have easily escaped letting Con define God. However, Con didn't take advantage by including "good" in the definition, which would have brought in the standard philosophical disproofs.

Arguments to Pro.
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
Energy/matter cannot be created or destroyed.
Posted by GodSands 7 years ago
GodSands
"Then why did you ask the question?"

The question was not needed, I could have just said what I said, that no human can suggest how God cannot exist. A much easlier humble approach would be, "I believe that God cannot exist." For these reasons... No God cannot exist, full stop. If my God cannot exist, then another God does, which would be the universe. Since it would have created everything. But even that makes not sense, I needed to be created, I am physical like the universe, but the universe gets to be crownd King of everything and is not created? Both physical, both created.
Posted by Kinesis 7 years ago
Kinesis
'The debate will not say how God cannot exist, yet only suggest on human understanding how God cannot exist'

Then why did you ask the question?

Argument to pro, but I'd like to see some evidence that the bible does actually indicate that God's power has limitations. Off the top of my head, in the story of the rich man, Jesus claims that 'nothing is impossible for God' when asked how a rich man could indeed get into heaven. That seems to indicate an all powerful God, not the clipped down version apologists are offering up today.
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
@Geo,
Pantheism in NOT atheism; pantheists are theists. BTW, I can come up with some really great rationalizations on how Pantheism & Christianity aren't really mutually exclusive! ;o)

@ Apologician,
It just seems to be a semantical thing at first glance but it may not be. In your view, there is a physical reality which you also call the universe & a non-physical reality which you call immaterial or abstract. The concept you call reality I choose to call the Universe. I don't make distinctions between these realities because the qualities that make them real are no different. Furthermore, I equate reality with existance: both of these have only one state because their opposites are meaningless.

As the name implies, the abstract realm is a human construct that we use simply to conceptually subdivide the whole that is the Universe. That being said, what you call immaterial or abstarct is a subset of the material because it is an ABSTRACTION of it. It is like a "shadow" of the material world. This being the case, how can we accept that the abstract realm can exist without the human brain? Also, if this is God's realm, why is He limited to this subset?

"There is no such thing as 'outside of logic.' Logic is binding on all of reality, such that it is impossible to transcend it." So then you're implying that God is a subset of logic, right?

BTW, I believe God to be able to transcend logic.
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