The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Con (against)
Losing
44 Points
The Contender
KRFournier
Pro (for)
Winning
62 Points

The Following Arguments for the Existence of God are Valid - 1G

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/25/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,038 times Debate No: 8408
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (20)

 

TheSkeptic

Con

Note: the "1G" notation in the Topic title is simply for searching purposes.

[Definition - Existence]
http://dictionary.reference.com.....................
1. the state or fact of existing; being.

*NOTE* I am not debating whether or not a God exists in one's MIND, but rather in REALITY.

[Definition - Valid]
http://dictionary.reference.com.....................
1. sound; just; well-founded
2. Logic. (of an argument) so constructed that if the premises are jointly asserted, the conclusion cannot be denied without contradiction.

*NOTE* Stemming from the second definition, I don't intend for my opponent to create a syllogism. Simply put, my opponent needs to construct an argument of which I can't successfully defeat (of course, this is to the opinion of the voters). Let's try to avoid semantics, and get a good hearty debate going.

Additionally, I require that my opponent argue for whatever deity they are proving with the intent of showing that it is PROBABLE/DEFINITE the deity exists (through their argument). Saying that something is possible does not necessarily mean it exists.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is how the debate will play out:

Round 1: This is my Round 1 for clarifications and guidelines. For PRO, he/she will either state that his following arguments will affirm a specific god (i.e. Christian God, Muslim God, etc.) or a metaphysical supreme being. If my opponent chooses to affirm a metaphysical supreme being, then he/she need to define it's properties (otherwise they'll be nothing to debate). THEN, my opponent will LIST his/her ARGUMENTS with at least a brief EXPLANATION for both (I don't want just a line of titles). Try to not list too many, ranging from 1-3 is preferable.

Round 2 - 4: I will refute his/her arguments and it will go back and forth as such.

I hope we have a good debate!
KRFournier

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for the challenge.

Per my opponent's instructions, I will define the God whose existence I am defending. God is complex and requires a complex definition, so I quote the Westminster Confession of Faith [1]:

-----

There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest, His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

-----

I will put forth one argument as I am certain this single argument will require ever increasing amounts of exposition, and I wouldn't want to compete for space with other arguments. Moreover, I very much enjoy this argument as it is not as well known as the other common ones.

The argument I propose is the Transcendental Argument for God's Existence, or TAG [2], and I stand in affirmation that the argument is valid.

The argument begins with the premise that truth is objective. Truth, being that which affirms reality as it is, is the desired goal of academic pursuit. Debate falls within this pursuit, and it stands to reasons that, if debate is not seeking objective truth, then it is a vain endeavor. For this reason, strong agnosticism and other forms of skepticism are refuted at the outset on the basis that they are self-refuting and lead to absurdity. The claim that truth is not objective is itself an objective truth claim and can only be true if it is false.

To obtain objective truth, academic pursuit relies on the principle that logical reasoning, scientific induction, and moral obligation are all capable of attaining objective truth. In order to do so, these principles, which are often taken for granted, must be abstract and absolute, as anything else reduces to absurdity. If logical reasoning is conventional, then it cannot affirm anything more than conventional knowledge. If nature is not uniform, then science cannot affirm anything more than present observations. If morality is subjective, then it cannot affirm anything more than ethical suggestions. In short, unless these principles are universally binding and abstractly independent from human thought, all debate philosophically leads to utter skepticism.

So, for debate to be intelligible, logic must be necessarily true, the universe must be uniform, and morality must be universally binding. TAG asserts that God (as defined herein) is the necessary precondition for these principles, and is proved via the impossibility of the contrary. This God is the only precondition that can justify immutable logic, uniformity in nature, and moral objectivity, for He is perfectly true, immutable, transcendent, righteous, holy, infinite, and so forth. Without Him, these principles cannot exist in the state in which debate requires them. That is to say, without God, logic becomes conventional, scientific induction becomes unreliable, and morality becomes mere opinion, which brings us back to the problem described in the preceding paragraph.

The result is that any debater attempting to disprove God ultimately relies on principles that can only be justified if his/her position is wrong. To say it very succinctly, God exists because without His existence it is impossible to know anything.

I'll close my opening round here and allow my opponent to offer rebuttals. I'm sure his cross-examination will produce plenty of further discussion.

1. http://www.reformed.org...
2. http://www.butler-harris.org...
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Con

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. He is not only well-versed and rational, but he brings up an interesting argument: TAG. I've no doubt heard about it before - it's recently become the fan favorite among presuppositional apologetics, such as Matt Slick. While it's seemingly convincing at the first onset, in the end it boils down to the level of ridiculousness of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God. Then again, that's just my personal opinion :). But it is true this argument hasn't been seen as much, so it will be a pleasure to debate about it with KRF here.

I accept my opponent's definition of God, and it should no doubt be familiar with the readers (despite it's breathtakingly long description). It is defined to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent (the 4 omni's). He is also described to be tri-une, with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. A very descriptive definition no doubt, and one that is most likely the Abrahamic God most of us are familiar with. From here on out it will be referred to as God for the sake of clarity and of being terse.

Finally, one last thing to note. My opponent's argument is composed of three different parts, each a variation of another. Therefore, I will refute each one accordingly by breaking them up. If I refute them individually, then the argument itself is obviously defeated.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes
====================

My opponent believes that only God can account for logic, or rather logical absolutes. Matt Slick's version of TAG is predicated on this idea, and I'm sure it's the same thing my opponent is arguing for - such as the law of identity. My opponent claims that I can't account for logical absolutes. And you are right, to an extent I can't account for all of them, namely the law of identity. A will always equal A, because this is the behavior of all that exists. By now, my opponent is probably teeming with success. I just conceded that I can't account for a logical absolute! But hold on, not too fast.

While the atheist can't account for logical absolutes, how much better does the theist fare? From what more do they gain by including in a God? Many say, and I suspect my opponent as well, that we derive logical absolutes from the nature of God itself. But there is nothing in it's existence that sheds light to this! For is not God bound to logical absolutes as well?

Not only that, but if we are to assume that God's existence is the focal point of knowledge, then we have serious problems. For theists can't account for several other things of God's attributes. The theist can't account for why God has the attributes he has, and not OTHER attributes. The theist can't account for why God's will is effective instead of ineffective or partially effective. The theist can't account for why God exists instead of not existing.

To add "God" as an explanation is of no use. While the atheist can't account for the consistency of nature, neither will the theist when he adds "God" into the formula. To input a being called god is nonsensical and useless. There is nothing about the existence of God or the truth of it's theology that accounts for logical absolutes. Both the theist and the atheist are stuck on the same platform.

Essentially, TAG is a double standard. While my opponent accuses me of not being able to account for logical absolutes, he himself is not able to account for God's attributes and consciousness - something he purports to be the foundation for logic.

====================
TAG - Uniformity of Nature
====================

As stated in my previous counterargument, existence behaves consistently with itself. Remember, logic does not govern reality in any way - reality in turn governs logic. Logic is descriptive of reality. As such, the uniformity of nature should come as no surprise. I don't really need to reply to this argument again, because it is inextricably tied with the previous argument. To do so would be redundant.

====================
TAG - Existence of Objective Morality
====================

My opponent's claim that morality can't exist without God is unfounded. There have been many philosophers who have argued quite convincingly for their own formulations of ethics. Take Kant for example, who based his ethics on reason alone. However, today I will not take that path. Instead, I argue that objective morality DOES NOT exist. Being a moral nihilist, I agree with my opponent that objective morality does not exist - but what of it? Does a rational mind need morality to think critically? Of course not.

Therefore, this point is moot. We do not need to predicate God's existence to account for objective morality because objective morality does not exist.

====================
Failure of TAG - Non-Unique Proof
====================

Let's suppose all three of my criticisms fail. Even in light of this, my opponent has to pass another obstacle - the non-uniqueness of his argument. As stated before, my opponent has vividly described God in ones that are most familiar with (4 omni's, tri-une existence, etc.). However, he has NOT shown why this particular God is the only one capable of laying the foundations of logic, making nature uniform, and creating objective morality. It can very well be that another god with different attributes can achieve the same feat.

And since there is conceptually an INFINITE amount of possible gods that can fulfill this role TAG is setting out to create, then it does not at all prove my opponent's depiction of God. For of what use do we have of an argument that proves the existence of an infinite - or at least vastly many - amount of "gods"? At best, it could show the downfall of metaphysical naturalism. This is, however, certainly not the resolution of the debate.

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

Well there you go. I have refuted the three main pillars of TAG, and brandished other another argument as well. If he wants to prove that TAG is successful, then he has to somehow account for God's existence and particular attributes. If he doesn't, then he is placing a double standard on the atheist. Something that is a definite no-no.

And remember, even if my criticisms of the three parts of TAG fail, my opponent has to still answer why TAG should prove his description of God, and not any other. With such obstacles in front of him, I eagerly await his response.
KRFournier

Pro

Let me just say, TheSkeptic is a worthy opponent. Not only did he bring his "A" game, he clearly understands the nature of TAG, something many of my previous opponents have failed to grasp. This debate is certainly going to be engaging.

I will defer to my opponent's structure and deal with each of his rebuttals in turn.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes
====================

Thankfully, my opponent does not argue against the existence of logical absolutes in general. This means we can both be rest assured that rational debate can indeed yield meaningful results. We both agree that logical laws are universally binding and can be used to pursue objective truth.

Interestingly, instead of arguing that atheism can account for logical absolutes, he opts instead to show that theism cannot. Fortunately for me, this means I don't have to defend my original assertion against atheism on this matter since my opponent concedes this point. However, it does mean that I need to defend theism in this regard.

TAG follows this flow of logic: Logical absolutes, by necessity, must be abstract and immutable. Being immutable, they must be transcendent, existing outside an ever changing cosmos and within another unchanging reality. Being also abstract, they must also be products of thought. The precondition, therefore, for logical absolutes is a transcendent, unchanging, and rational mind. God meets these preconditions in every way. This goes far beyond the atheist's ability to account for logical absolutes, which cannot account for abstract, immutable entities whatsoever.

My opponent tries to push the problem back on the theist when he says, "The theist can't account for why God has the attributes he has, and not OTHER attributes." It is not necessary to show why God has some attributes and not others, or why he exists. All I must show is that he exists. This is the resolution. I could just as easily say that anyone claiming that logical laws are derived from nature must therefore show why the universe is X and not Y, or why it exists. It is a straw man defense. TAG argues that a particular kind of God must exist. Why he exists or why he is the way he is does not alter the validity of TAG.

====================
TAG - Uniformity of Nature
====================

My opponent and I both seem to agree that logic is absolute and nature is uniform. He says, "existence behaves consistently with itself." While my opponent recognizes this fact, he cannot account for it in his worldview, nor does he try. The universe just is what it is. He assumes it is true (and it usually works in his favor), but he doesn't justify it. The theist has justification. The necessary precondition for order is, once again, a transcendent, ordered, rational mind. It is irrational to assert that order comes from disorder and question begging to simply assert that existence is what it is. Since TAG rationally accounts for principles of scientific inquiry, it remains valid.

====================
TAG - Existence of Objective Morality
====================

My opponent claims to be a moral nihilist. He says, "We do not need to predicate God's existence to account for objective morality because objective morality does not exist." I already argued quite the opposite when I said in the first round, "So, for debate to be intelligible, logic must be necessarily true, the universe must be uniform, and morality must be universally binding." Debate relies, quite often, on moral absolutes. When a resolution argues for "is" or "is not," then we are taking a logical position. But when a resolution states "should" or "should not," then we are taking a moral position.

Take one of my opponent's own debates: http://www.debate.org.... The resolution says, "Prostitution should be legalized." This is a moral position. Granted, he analyzes prostitution from an amoral position within the debate, but he does so in order to prove that prostitution's current status of being illegal is wrong.

The point is that moral nihilism cannot be actively lived out. If there are no moral absolutes, then any statement of moral obligation is meaningless. If ever my opponent files a police report, defends his honor, or refuses to let others copy his homework, he is living in a world in which there are "oughts" and "ought-nots." Even his expectation that I debate rationally is based on morality. If I start denying the law of non-contradiction, he is likely to rebuke me for doing so. And if he doesn't, then I can win using any irrational tactic I choose. Moral absolutes are unavoidable. Theism accounts for these absolutes, and atheism—as demonstrated by my opponent—leads to amorality. So, TAG remains valid for accounting for moral absolutes.

====================
Failure of TAG - Non-Unique Proof
====================

My opponent's final effort is another straw man. He claims that TAG cannot prove the existence of God as defined in this debate since an allegedly infinite number of Gods could account for logical absolutes. Yet TAG does not prove the existence of an infinite amount of gods because not just any God can fulfill the prerequisite of logical absolutes. Only a transcendent, immutable, rational God meets the criteria. It doesn't matter how many gods we fabricate with the same characteristics, since in so doing we are still referring to the SAME god. A rose by any other name is still a rose. So, even if my opponent can make up a million gods, only the ones with the right characteristics fulfill TAG, and of those that do, he's really just giving different names to the same God. TAG is valid, because it does in fact argue for a unique God.

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

My opponent's efforts, as admirable as they are, have not yet succeeded in invalidating TAG. His attempt to show TAG does not account for logical absolutes turned out to be a straw man. His argument that nature is uniform because it just is that way was question begging. His claim to moral nihilism contradicted his actions. Lastly, his argument that TAG does not prove a unique God was based on a non sequitur notion that reimagining lots of gods with the same characteristics somehow means TAG is arguing for infinite gods. The resolution remains affirmed.

And now, I give the floor back to my challenger.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Con

Not only does he respond in quick fashion, but his arguments certainly hold weight. It's great to debate an opponent who doesn't resort to simply reiterating opposing claims.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes
====================

>>>"Being immutable, they must be transcendent, existing outside an ever changing cosmos and within another unchanging reality. Being also abstract, they must also be products of thought. The precondition, therefore, for logical absolutes is a transcendent, unchanging, and rational mind. God meets these preconditions in every way."<<<

My opponent does here what is commonly called the fallacy of division. The fallacy of division "is committed when a person infers that what is true of a whole must also be true of its constituents and justification for that inference is not provided."[1]. For example, look at this following syllogism:

P1 - Humans are made up of atoms
P2 - Atoms can't be seen by the naked eye
C - Therefore, humans can't be seen by the naked eye

The problem is the fallacy of division, of course humans can see each other! Let me break down his argument for you in a simple syllogism as well:

P1 - Logical absolutes are immutable
P2 - Logical absolutes are transcendent
P3 - Logical absolutes are abstract
P4 - Logical absolutes are conceptual (of the mind)
C - Therefore, the mind that conceives of logical absolutes is transcendent, immutable, and abstract.

See what I mean? Fallacy of division, it's hard to spot but it's very common.

>>>"It is not necessary to show why God has some attributes and not others, or why he exists. All I must show is that he exists."<<<

Unfortunately, my opponent has completely passed by this important point I have made. The reason why TAG fails is that it creates a DOUBLE STANDARD upon the atheist. Because while atheism can't account for logical absolutes (since they are axioms), neither can the theist. So that is to say that neither worldview has an answer, which is why TAG fails. And the reason the theist are on the same playing field as atheists is because they say logical absolutes are derived from God (supposedly from his "nature"). However, in turn theists CAN'T account for God's existence or his particular attributes! So if theists can't account for the entity which supposedly lays the foundation for logical absolutes, have they really accounted for anything more than the atheist? Of course not - they just simply pushed it back a step and placed an unnecessary middle man labeled "God". I shall now demonstrate this very important argument in the following sub point:

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes - Theism's Inability to Account for God's Existence/Attributes
====================

As stated before, theists attempt to account for logical absolutes by reverting to God. However, if they account for God's existence of attributes, then what "accounting" have they done? None at all. Therefore, I will show that theists are unable to account for God's existence and his specific attributes:

- The theist can't account for God's existence because they believe he was an uncaused entity. That being so, there is no way to account for WHY he exists instead of not existing. Is it not conceptually possible that in another reality he does not exist? Even if we are to assume that nothing else would exist if he did not, would it still not be conceptually possible in another reality that God does not exist? It very could well be. Therefore, the theist is already stuck at the problem for accounting God's existence. Not very good when you say logical absolutes are derived from God.

- In my opponent's definition of God, terms such as "merciful" come up. But it makes one wonder - why does God have these specific attributes? Why does he not have OTHER attributes instead? Why is he not vengeful instead of merciful, or bitter instead of loving? The problem is that he is supposed to be UNCAUSED, therefore there is no intelligible way for the theist to accommodate for God's specific attributes, emotions, and desires. Effectively, he states that God's nature is random - since it could very well have been otherwise. Is he really saying that logical absolutes are...random?

You see, if my opponent wants to use TAG to give a theistic account for logical absolutes, then he relies on the nature and existence of God. However, if he similarly can't account for God's nature or existence, then what has he done? Absolutely nothing, which is why TAG is not valid at all.

====================
TAG - Uniformity of Nature
====================

This point really doesn't need to be discussed further.

I, the atheist, argue that logical absolutes are axioms, and therefore inherently unaccountable. My opponent states that the theist can account for it via God's nature. As such, this entire discussion throws us back into the previous argument, which does not need to be addressed.

====================
TAG - Existence of Objective Morality
====================

>>>"Debate relies, quite often, on moral absolutes...But when a resolution states "should" or "should not," then we are taking a moral position.<<<"

And what reason do you have to not say these are misguided debates? Let's suppose someone argued we shouldn't watch porn because it is immoral. Can I not intelligibly argue that there is no such thing as immoral, therefore his/her statement is false? Indeed it is - just because many debates focus on ethics does not mean ethics has any foundation.

>>>"Granted, he analyzes prostitution from an amoral position within the debate, but he does so in order to prove that prostitution's current status of being illegal is wrong."<<<

Yes, wrong in the sense that it's an economic waste to make it illegal. Nothing to do with morality, really. And even if I did argue it under the context of morality, so what? Ever heard of devil's advocate :D?

>>>"The point is that moral nihilism cannot be actively lived out. If there are no moral absolutes, then any statement of moral obligation is meaningless. "<<<

This is where it gets tricky. While it's true I don't believe in moral obligations, in the manner they are traditionally thought of, I do partake in a form of moral fictionalism[2]. This basically entails that while we do not believe in the literal concept of morality, I abide by it (and I use this term very sparingly due to character limits) to avoid the harmful effects of a lawless land. I encourage my opponent to do some outside reading on this to get a better feel of what I mean.

>>>"If I start denying the law of non-contradiction, he is likely to rebuke me for doing so. And if he doesn't, then I can win using any irrational tactic I choose."<<<

I'd rebuke you not because it was "wrong" or "immoral" of you, but because it is irrational of you. When did academic mistakes become moral crimes?

There is nothing about moral absolutism that relates to God's existence.

====================
Failure of TAG - Non-Unique Proof
====================

>>>"Only a transcendent, immutable, rational God meets the criteria. It doesn't matter how many gods we fabricate with the same characteristics, since in so doing we are still referring to the SAME god."<<<

Untrue. Can't there be another God who can fulfill the prerequisites of logical absolutes, but be EVIL at the same time? Can't there be another God who is not omnipotent? Can't there be another God who is not omniscient? Definitely so, and they wouldn't be the same god as my opponent defines. A dog and lion can both fulfill the prerequisite of scratching humans, but they aren't the same animal.

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

My character limits are restricting me, so no recap here. It should be quite obvious where my arguments land. I await my opponent's response eagerly.

---References---
1. http://www.nizkor.org...
KRFournier

Pro

I submitted my second round right before bed, and when I woke up this morning I got an email saying it's my turn to debate. TheSkeptic is either quite the night owl or quite the early bird. Either way, his quick reply is much appreciated.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes
====================

My opponent mistakes transcendental argumentation (this is why we call it TAG) for the fallacy of division. The fallacy of division starts from an object O identifying a property P, then erroneously concludes that all the parts of O have P. TAG starts with (for example) logical absolutes, O, identifying their properties, P, and determine the necessary preconditions for O to have P. TAG argues in the opposite direction. To clarify this, I'll expound my case:

Logical absolutes must not change, or they are not absolute. Therefore, it is logically necessary that they exist outside human brains, physical energy, matter, and so forth, because these things are changing. Indeed, the universe is in constant flux. So, in order for immutability to be preserved, it is logically necessary for logical absolutes to be metaphysical.

Logical absolutes are abstract. Therefore, it is logically necessary that they are products of thought. Human thought cannot be the source else logic is no longer immutable (see above). The only thought that can preserve both the abstract and immutable nature of logic is a mind that is transcendent and immutable.

Finally, logical absolutes are necessarily true. Thus, any transcendent, immutable mind must also be rational. The conclusion, based on necessary preconditions, is that a transcendent, immutable, rational mind exists. To confirm the conclusion, remove any one of these prerequisites, and logical absolutes will reduce to absurdity, as I argued in round one.

Thus, TAG accounts for logical absolutes, the very thing my opponent simply takes for granted. There is no double standard here. My opponent asserts that he can invalidate any argument for God's existence, but if he wants all humans including myself to adhere to strict logical standards, then he should be able to account for those standards. Calling logic an axiom only begs the question. If he wants to use logic to deny God's existence, then logical absolutes must be explainable apart from God's existence. Otherwise, he is relying on the very thing he attempts to refute.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes - Theism's Inability to Account for God's Existence/Attributes
====================

My opponent puts a lot of energy into this straw man. He proposes, since I cannot allegedly account for God, I cannot win the debate. He contends that I cannot account for WHY God exists. TAG does explain WHY. God exists BECAUSE he is the necessary precondition for logical absolutes, uniformity in nature, and moral absolutes. This is a veiled attempt to refute TAG by assuming it's already false. This is major question begging.

The same problem applies to my opponent's contention that I cannot account for why God has some attributes and not others. I hate to be redundant, but again, TAG argues for a particular kind of God. The many traits of God are logically necessary. He must be merciful, just, righteous, and holy to account for moral absolutes. He must be self-sufficient, perfect, unchanging, and omniscient to account for logical absolutes. And so on and so forth.

====================
TAG - Uniformity of Nature
====================

Uniformity in nature must be true in order for science to yield objective knowledge. My opponent simply defers his rebuttal in this area to the same rebuttal he uses for logical absolutes. So be it, but if my defense of TAG holds for logical absolutes, then it holds for the uniformity of nature as well. Suffice to say, merely assuming nature is uniform and logic is absolute while also asserting that "logic is descriptive of reality" has the markings of circular reasoning all over it. (Quote is from TheSkeptic's second round)

====================
TAG - Existence of Objective Morality
====================

Combining moral nihilism with fictionalism is like the man that claims he doesn't have a car but uses it when pretending to drive to work. If the car really doesn't exist, then pretending it exists has no effect. If his car does exist, then his claims are self-refuting. My opponent claims that morality does not exist but pretends to be moral in order to "avoid the harmful effects of a lawless land." My opponent will refute this position as soon as he expects anyone else to pretend alongside him. If I shoot him in the leg and take his wallet, to be consistent, he'll just have to accept that I pretended differently. If he seeks justice, then he no longer pretends. Moral nihilism simply can't be rationally lived out in real life.

My opponent's moral theories only serve to strengthen my case. Moral objectivity is the only rational choice, as anything else reduces to absurdity. Since moral absolutes exist, they must be transcendent and abstract, for the same reasons as logical absolutes. Therefore, there must be a transcendent, immutable, perfectly good mind behind them. God, as defined in this debate, fulfills these prerequisites.

====================
Failure of TAG - Non-Unique Proof
====================

My opponent cleverly led me into a myopic discussion here, focusing squarely on the prerequisites of logic. The reason TAG does indeed argue for one kind of God is that TAG also argues from uniformity in nature and moral objectivity. A god that accounts for logic cannot also be evil since such a god cannot also account for moral absolutes. A god that is not omnipotent would be subject to logical absolutes and therefore could not account for them. A god that is not omniscient cannot be perfectly just and fails to account for moral absolutes. Alter the definition of God in this debate and He can no longer meet the necessary preconditions identified in TAG. Thus, TAG does indeed argue for a very unique God.

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

My opponent's rebuttals are wanting. His attempt to use the fallacy of division against the argument for logical absolutes turned out to be fallacious itself. He assumes logical absolutes and uniformity of nature, and uses those assumptions to disprove God, even though he cannot account for these things without God. His argument for moral nihilism only exaggerates the philosophical problems with atheism, thus strengthening theism. Finally, I've shown TAG to argue for a unique God, thereby refuting his non-unique proof. Thus far, TAG remains firmly valid, and the resolution remains solidly affirmed.

Boy, I'm glad I didn't pick more than one argument.
Debate Round No. 3
TheSkeptic

Con

My opponent's reply is equally as quick! It's been a pleasure debating with you KRF, hopefully we can do it more at some other time.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes
====================

My opponent attempts to escape the fallacy of division by simply trying to reword his argument backwards, as if this somehow saves him from a logical fallacy. He states that "TAG argues in the opposite direction", and simply repeats the argument again. The sister sibling of the fallacy of division is the fallacy of composition[1]. It is very similar, and is simply the division fallacy but backwards.

Really KRF? If I somehow was mistaken in my presentation of TAG, then why have you not shown the error in my syllogism I put in the previous round? A quick read will show that it is exactly as you have worded it, it's just in a more clear and precise fashion so we can do away with unnecessary words. And once you put it in a syllogism, it becomes quite obvious that TAG commits a common fallacy.

>>>"...but if he wants all humans including myself to adhere to strict logical standards, then he should be able to account for those standards. Calling logic an axiom only begs the question."<<<

I'm confused KRF, do you know what an axiom is? Calling logical absolutes axioms is not circular reasoning at all. In context of this debate, an axiom is a postulate[2], a statement that isn't proven because it's truth is self-evident. For example, the law of identity is self-evident, because the process of attempting to refute it in fact UTILIZES it's truth! To say that my usage of axioms is circular reasoning is to commit a grave misunderstanding of my argument, and to simply abuse terms.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes - Theism's Inability to Account for God's Existence/Attributes
====================

>>>"God exists BECAUSE he is the necessary precondition for logical absolutes, uniformity in nature, and moral absolutes."<<<

But why are logical absolutes, uniformity in nature, and moral absolutes necessary? My opponent falsely believes these are necessarily true of reality without question. Is he saying that it is conceptually impossible for reality to not exist? He needs to realize that whenever you state something is necessary, it has to be contingent on something - there is no such thing as an unconditional necessity. If you state God's existence is necessary for logical absolutes to exist, then you need to show why logical absolutes have to exist.

>>>"The many traits of God are logically necessary. He must be merciful, just, righteous, and holy to account for moral absolutes."<<<

So even if we are to assume this is true (which you have yet to demonstrate, especially logically speaking), it still does not give us a specific god. Why would this god have to be tri-une, as you have listed? Why can't it be a deistic god? Why can't several gods coexist at the same time?! All these conceptually possible gods can create morality as well, so you have yet to prove the god you are seeking after.

>>>"He must be self-sufficient, perfect, unchanging, and omniscient to account for logical absolutes."<<<

Again, refer to my previous statement. Why must a god be omniscient to account for logical absolutes? Why can't this god be just a slightly less knowledgeable? Why must ALL THE KNOWLEDGE IN THE UNIVERSE be known for him to account for logical absolutes? Again KRF, there are many holes in your argument.

====================
TAG - Uniformity of Nature
====================

Both my opponent and I agree that the success or failure of this argument depends on the previous one. KRF does make an interesting statement, however:

>>>"Suffice to say, merely assuming nature is uniform and logic is absolute while also asserting that "logic is descriptive of reality" has the markings of circular reasoning all over it."<<<

Logic is a MAN-MADE creation. It is simply a language we as humans have constructed to reflect reality in a systematic manner. Logic does not dictate reality, reality dictates logic! This is why logic is descriptive of reality - it attempts to reflect the truth of the world.

====================
TAG - Existence of Objective Morality
====================

>>>"Combining moral nihilism with fictionalism is like the man that claims he doesn't have a car but uses it when pretending to drive to work. If the car really doesn't exist, then pretending it exists has no effect."<<<

A disingenuous analogy at best. A car needs to exist to have any effect in the world. Moral "facts" do not need to exist to have the concept have an effect in the world.

>>>"If I shoot him in the leg and take his wallet, to be consistent, he'll just have to accept that I pretended differently. If he seeks justice, then he no longer pretends."<<<

We can set up a system contingent on the golden rule. Morality have been evolutionary adapted because it helps society function better, leading to an overall better health and life for all. Taking the same concept, we can apply this to our laws and such. We don't have to believe in the existence of moral facts to rationally adapt it.

>>>"Moral nihilism simply can't be rationally lived out in real life."<<<

And this is where my opponent's entire case crumbles. Because EVEN IF it's true moral nihilism would lead to absolute suffering with society in decay, it proves NOTHING of the existence of God. Morality is not a necessary precondition for reality; it is not a necessary condition for the universe to function or to exist. Even if moral nihilism lead to "absurdity", as my opponent claims, it would probably only refer to how we are to live. Having a foundation for morals and having a foundation for reason is two completely different things.

>>>"Since moral absolutes exist, they must be transcendent and abstract, for the same reasons as logical absolutes. Therefore, there must be a transcendent, immutable, perfectly good mind behind them."<<<

Again, a glimpse at the fallacy of division. Why must a transcendent mind be behind transcend laws of logic? By that same reasoning, only a "tasty and fattening" mind can account for a Snickers bar.

====================
Failure of TAG - Non-Unique Proof
====================

>>>"A god that accounts for logic cannot also be evil since such a god cannot also account for moral absolutes."<<<

An entirely erroneous claim. Meta-ethics and logic are QUITE different. Does reality need to function on some basic laws, which we describe as logic? Yes, things such as the consistency of behavior do appear necessary. Does reality, however, need morality? NO - it's very possible that we can have a universe devoid of life, thus meaning morality is nonexistent.

>>>"A god that is not omnipotent would be subject to logical absolutes and therefore could not account for them."<<<

And why is this? Why can't a god who is only slightly less than omnipotence account for logical absolutes?

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

A great debate, though I fear my opponent has severe misunderstandings in how logic, and even certain fallacies, work. He claims that several of my arguments and statements are self-refuting or circular, but it is his own arguments that are so. He abuses the word "necessary" without further thought; doing so will lead him to erroneous conclusions multiple times (as shown). He does not realize that logic is simply a man-made language to describe the consistency of nature.

I am quite displeased, not at my opponent, but at the character limit. I tell the audience to focus their attention on TAG committing a fallacy (my opponent has yet to respond to my syllogism), and the non-uniqueness of TAG. He takes a lot of things for granted - why can only OMNIPOTENT gods account for logic? Why not a god who is only slightly less powerful?

---References---
See comments.
KRFournier

Pro

I thank my opponent for making this a very interesting debate. I would be glad to debate Skeptic again.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes
====================

My opponent appears to be dissatisfied with my expositional rebuttal to his appeals to the fallacy of division. So, here is my round three argument in syllogism:

P1 - Logical absolutes are immutable
P2 - Logical absolutes are abstract
P3 - Logical absolutes are rational
P4 - Immutable entities are transcendent (by impossibility of the contrary)
P5 - Abstract entities are thoughts (by identity)
P6 - Rational, transcendent, immutable thoughts require a rational, transcendent, immutable mind (by transcendental argument)
C - Therefore, there exists a mind that is immutable, transcendent, and rational

The fallacy of division states, "The object O has the property P. Therefore, all of the parts of O have the property P." [1] For example:

P1 - God is immutable
P2 - God is transcendent
P3 - God is mind
P4 - Logical absolutes are a part of God
C - Logical absolutes are immutable

The fallacy of composition states, "All of the parts of the object O have the property P. Therefore, O has the property P." [2] For example:

P1 - Logical absolutes are immutable
P2 - Logical absolutes are abstract
P3 - Logical absolutes are a part of God
C - God is an immutable mind

These fallacies deal with objects and their parts, and are committed when erroneously transferring properties between the whole and the parts, even though certain properties by definition do not transfer in this way. These fallacies rely on the object and its parts already being known. In this debate, the object (God) is the desired conclusion rather than a known premise. To boot, his syllogism from round three omits premises from my arguments. Therefore, his appeal to these fallacies is refuted and my arguments from the previous rounds hold.

Logic cannot simply be dismissed as axiomatic because TAG directly challenges this notion. The whole debate is about accounting for logic. The resolution implies my opponent can refute my argument for God's existence, so I show that God is the only means by each we can account for logical absolutes. His response is to say, "Nope, logical absolutes just are." This is not a refutation by any means. It is ipse dixit. My opponent is begging the readers to accept logical absolutes as axioms so that TAG can be refuted. Hence, question begging.

====================
TAG - Existence of Logical Absolutes - Theism's Inability to Account for God's Existence/Attributes
====================

The straw man defense continues when my opponent says, "My opponent falsely believes these [logical absolutes, etc.] are necessarily true of reality without question." I urge the readers to review my arguments from logical absolutes. I used transcendental arguments to SHOW why these preconditions are necessary. He also asserts that I must show why logical absolutes are necessary. Once again, that was done in my opening round where I argued first for objective truth (to which he did not object). Then I argued that logical absolutes are necessary to obtain objective truth. It is either oversight or intellectual dishonesty on his part, but these issues have already been addressed.

The rest of my opponent's statements here full under the non-uniqueness argument, which I address below.

====================
TAG - Uniformity of Nature
====================

>>>"Logic is a MAN-MADE creation. It is simply a language we as humans have constructed to reflect reality in a systematic manner. Logic does not dictate reality, reality dictates logic! This is why logic is descriptive of reality - it attempts to reflect the truth of the world."<<<

I already argued against logic as a man-made convention in my opening round, as it renders logic no longer absolute. Furthermore, this quote contradicts his earlier assertion that logical absolutes are axioms. He is pulling assertions about logic out of a hat and avoiding the issue at hand. If he refuses to account for logical absolutes or uniformity of nature, then he's arguing from an assumption that nature is what it is and all that there is. In other words, he is using as a premise the very thing TAG challenges. Hence, he is reasoning in circles.

====================
TAG - Existence of Objective Morality
====================

This debate is about the validity of TAG, which includes accounting for moral absolutes. Instead, he denies their existence. If he can achieve this, so be it, but I have shown that moral nihilism and its cousin, moral relativity, reduce to absurdity. Why is it wrong for me shoot Skeptic in the kneecap and steel his wallet? Is it because it inhibits societal function? Why is that wrong? Is it because it inhibits human evolution? Why is that wrong? I could go on, but these questions illustrate the futility of asserting why anyone should behave a certain way if there is no moral objectivity to which we can appeal. Without moral absolutes there is no right and no wrong, just opinion.

My opponent says that refuting moral nihilism doesn't necessarily prove God. Oh, but I did so much more than that. I showed that morality MUST BE absolute through the impossibility of the contrary. Once we are left with moral absolutes, then we are charged with logically accounting for them, just as we did with logic. I used the same transcendental argumentation for moral objectivity that I did for logical absolutes.

Since I have refuted my opponent's theories of morality, only moral absolutes remain. Since TAG has offered the only unanswered attempt at accounting for moral absolutes, TAG remains valid.

====================
Failure of TAG - Non-Unique Proof
====================

My opponent asserts that if TAG cannot prove the existence of a very particular kind of God with perfect accuracy, then it is invalid and cannot be true. This constitutes a straw man by essentially placing an impossible burden on TAG. I contend if TAG validly argues for the existence of God, and all attributes are consistent with the Christian understanding of God, then the resolution stands affirmed.

Multiple gods cannot meet the precondition for immutability. Multiple gods constitute multiple minds, and TAG argues for a single immutable mind. Multiple differing god-minds cannot guarantee immutability in the same way human minds cannot. So, what about multiple identical God's with a single mind? If God IS mind, then multiple identical Gods of one mind would really just be multiple persons of one mind. Oh wait! That's the TRINITY!

A deistic god that does not interact with reality cannot account for absolute logic and morality either. Such a God is inaccessible and would render logic and morality inaccessible as well. The God defined in this debate is personal and reveals himself to his creation. Thus, morality and logic are accessible, allowing us to account for their existence.

A slightly less than omnipotent God would by definition be subject to his creation. He either has authority over reality or he does not. If he does not, then he is subject to logic and cannot therefore account for it. Thus, the necessary precondition for logical absolutes would be a fully omnipotent God. The same goes for omniscience. Only a fully omniscient God can account for logic, otherwise, his knowledge is subject to logic and cannot account for it.

To conclude, TAG does a more than fair job identifying the unique God of this debate, certainly more so than atheism does at refuting TAG in general.

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

My opponent has cited fallacies that do not hold and made several straw man attempts to invalidate TAG. I have refuted these attempts. Therefore, TAG is valid and the resolution is affirmed.

1. http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
2. http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
Nice! I'll see what kind of debate challenge I can come up with.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Absolutely.
Posted by popculturepooka 7 years ago
popculturepooka
I was meandering through old debates and found this one. Wow, it was great!

"Remember, logic does not govern reality in any way - reality in turn governs logic. Logic is descriptive of reality."

Skeptic, are you willing to defend that assertion? Because I kind of want to debate about that....
Posted by Conor 7 years ago
Conor
Nice job, TheSkeptic.
Posted by InquireTruth 7 years ago
InquireTruth
Great debate guys! Hats off KRF, I think TAG is an argument that suits your style.
Posted by thejudgeisgod 7 years ago
thejudgeisgod
I have been officially put to shame haha
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Again, the cursed character limits bog me down from citing sources:

1. http://www.nizkor.org...
2. http://www.answers.com...

Good debate KRF :). However, I do feel a little unsatisfied, as I feel that some points weren't stressed or focused enough. Perhaps we can engage in a similar debate next time, but concentrate solely on accounting for logical absolutes?
Posted by KRFournier 7 years ago
KRFournier
I feel ya, Skeptic. The day DDO supports edits will be a celebration indeed!
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I have yet another error in my previous comment...
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Oh wow, I made a typo when I meant to wrote typo. Muahaha, triple posts.
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