The Instigator
Pro (for)
10 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
14 Points

The Moral Argument is Sound

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/9/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,451 times Debate No: 23504
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (86)
Votes (7)





My opponent seems quite familiar with WL Craig and so will have no trouble comprehending this argument,

1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values & duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values & duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.


Objective: valid & binding regardless of human opinion
Moral values: Good & bad, which bespeaks moral worth.
Moral duties: Right & wrong, which bespeaks moral obligation.



My thanks to Pro for the debate, and for picking a topic which, in all honesty, I should have already debated. Given that this is merely a preliminary round, I’ll just address a few quick things, so that we can get down to debating the issue at hand in the next round.


I agree with Pro’s brief definitions as far as they go, though I would also like to add:

Sound - An argument is sound if and only if it meets 2 conditions:

First, the argument structurally (logically) valid - i.e., its conclusion follows from its premises.

Second, that the premises utilised in an argument must be true, or probably true.

Obviously, the structure of Pro’s outlined argument is fine. The major problem will be with the argument’s content, particularly with the first premise, and this will be my main area of contention.


Atheist-friendly (AF) morality - Any moral framework which affirms objective moral values and duties and is compatible with atheism.

Lastly, although I will only refer to moral values, this is simply short-hand, and I mean to include both moral values and moral duties, unless otherwise stated.

Burden of Proof

Another issue relevant to pre-debate is the burden of proof. Given that Pro is affirming the argument, he is the one who has the burden of proof here. This means I need not necessarily refute the argument to win the debate. If Pro cannot justify the argument, the resolution is negated by default. If I can show that certain parts of the argument are implausible, problematic or unjustified, the resolution is also negated. In fact, only with Pro both justifying his argument and defending the argument from rebuttals and/or counterarguments should we even consider the resolution as a viable option at all.

Any attempt to either argue from ignorance or shift the burden of proof in any way will not be acceptable, and voters should judge accordingly.

Obviously, if and when he justifies the argument, it is my duty (ha) to either present a refutation of this justification, or to provide a defeater in the form of a counterargument.

Concluding remarks

With all this in mind, I think we have a solid foundation upon which we can build upon, and I hope we can offer each other and the DDO community both a valuable and interesting exchange of ideas.

Let the games begin.

Debate Round No. 1


Warrant For Premises

Premise 1
If God does not exist, then objective moral values & duties do not exist.

Objective moral values are most plausibly based in a maximally great being, for if a being is ontologically maximally great, then it intuitively follows that his moral nature is maximally great. It is ontologically greater to have a highest moral value than not, therefore God is maximally Good.

Since he's known for defending this argument, William Lane Craig offers,

"Traditionally, moral values have been thought to be anchored in God, who is the supreme Good. Traditionally, God has been thought in theology as the greatest Good or the highest Good or in Latin 'summum bonum.' Other goods are determined by how they relate to God as the anchor or the yardstick or the moral plumb line for value. But suppose God does not exist. Then what is the basis for objective moral values? What plumb line or anchor remains in the absence of God for moral values? In particular, why think that human beings would have objective moral worth on an atheistic view?" [1]

WLC touches upon an interesting idea here, that human worth or dignity is just arbitrary given atheism. Perhaps Con's rebuttal will allow me to expand on this idea.

Christ sumed all of man's moral obligation with two great commands:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." -Mark, 12:30-31

As a Christian, I can selflessly love man because I first tap into the greatest love of all. So given Christianity at least, we have a moral duty to Love humanity, indeed the love we show comes directly from first loving God, the source and standard of Love. Such love is self-sacrificial, which flies massively in the face of whatever naturalism may affirm. For in a purely natural existence, self-sacrifice would be wholly absurd!

Thus it would appear the most preferrable (and arguably the first) form of humanism is Christianity; the worldview that offers secularists a sound basis for the moral obligation they already want to affirm. Given atheism, moral choices are ultimately meaningless since life ends at the grave and there's no plausible ground for objective moral duty. But
given theism, the choices made in this life are so suffused with significance, both eternal and divine. Even the well known atheist Richard Taylor notes that Theism offers a sound basis for moral duty,

"The idea of moral…obligation is clear enough, provided reference to some lawmaker higher…than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations…can be understood as those imposed by God. This does give a clear sense to the claim that our moral obligations are more binding upon us than our political obligations…"

He continues,

"The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, not noticing that in casting God aside, they have also abolished the conditions of meaningfulness for moral right and wrong as well.... Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things as war...or the violation of human rights, are ‘morally wrong,’ and they imagine that they have said something true and significant.
"Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning." [2]

We have yet to hear Con offer his moral ontology, but I suspect it too will fall prey to just another discourse without meaning. For in a truly atheistic world, what justification is there for differential treatment of a species? Running evolution backwards would perhaps yeild a very different set of morals. To think humans are special is just to assert an unjustified bias towards one species over another.

Moral Ontology, not Epistemology
The issue before us is NOT,

〻 Must we believe in God to have moral lives?
〻 Can we formulate an ethics system without reference to God?
〻 Can we recognize the existence of objective morals without reference to God?

Refernce this diagram for clarity,

Everyone, regardless of beliefs, can appeal to their intuition of objective morals; for the bible says God's law is "written on the hearts" of all men-- that means Christian or non-Christian people. Thus the central question about morals concerns their ontological foundation, not how we can know them.

Finally, I'll await Cons rebuttal to contend that it's just not obvious that atheism provides as sound a foundation for objective morals, I'll simply assert for now that our moral sense on naturalism is merely an illusion wrought by socio-biological conditioning.

Premise 2 Objective moral values & duties do exist.

It appears that our moral experience is equal with our sensory experience insofar as we perceive external truths just as we perceive the internal truth of objective morality. For in moral experience we apprehend a realm of objective morals, just as in sensory experience we apprehend a realm of the physical world.

Therefore, there's no more reason to deny moral objectivity than there is to deny the physical world. Literally, if you are skeptical of the objectivity of morals, then you ought to also doubt that you have a head! So in the absence of any type of defeater for both perceptions, we're rational to trust both types of our sense perceptions.

Philosopher Michael Ruse affirms that "the man who says it's acceptable to rape a child is just as mistaken as saying 2+2=5!"

People who fail to see this are simply morally handicapped and there's no reason to allow their impaired vision to call into question what we clearly sense in our moral perception. Thus any arguments for moral nihilism will always include premises which are less obvious. Unless of course we're provided some sort of defeater.

Therefore, since premises one and two are more plausible and obvious, it necessarily and logically follows that God exists. It just seems obvious that objective moral prescriptions requires an objective moral prescriber. What more is plausible a presciber than a metaphysically maximally great Good, who's bestowed the moral law upon our hearts?

1. Defenders Podcast, Existence of God (pt 20)
2. Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (1985)



My thanks to Pro for an excellent opening round. I’ll get straight to the point.

Pro’s case - Justification for P1

P1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values & duties do not exist.

What reasons has Pro given us to accept P1?

The first is that God is the most plausible grounding of moral values. As Pro puts it,

“Objective moral values are most plausibly based in a maximally great being, for if a being is ontologically maximally great, then it intuitively follows that his moral nature is maximally great.”

There are a few problems with this:

Begging the Question - grounding moral values in God fairly obviously begs the question. The conclusion of the moral argument (God exists) is assumed in the justification for P1 (God’s nature is the foundation of moral values). Why? Because using God’s nature as the foundation for objective morals assumes that God exists, which is what the argument has to prove, not assume.

Subjective moral values - Pro asserts that moral values come from God’s nature (Divine command theory), and any moral theory which grounds morality in the nature of a subject (God) is, well, subjective. So, if Pro derives moral ontology from God, then morality, given that it is dependent upon an agent, would be subjective. By contrast, objective moral theory crucially holds that morality is INDEPENDENT of any agent, including God, so P1 seems false by definition (1).

Irrelevance - Lastly, even assuming God’s nature was the best grounding for objective morals, even this wouldn’t substantiate P1. Pro’s first premise is NOT that God is the best grounding for objective morals, but that without God, no such values would exist. These are 2 very different claims, and Pro’s justification here would simply only allow him to affirm the former, while the latter is what P1 actually claims, and cannot be justified by this approach.

As such, Pro’s first justification seems fallacious, false and futile.

The second reason Pro gives is to accept P1 is that moral duties and obligations are absurd, given atheism, and that consistent atheists should accept P1 as a consequence of their worldview. With respect to moral duties:

Atheist moral duties - Irrespective of whether or not atheism is true, I still have moral obligations to other beings, simply because of cognitive abilities like self-reflection and moral intuitions. Thus my duties as a (somewhat) rational being is simply to act in accordance with these principles, in order to be rational. In fact, I would further claim that asking why I should be rational is a self-defeating question for obvious reasons. I see no reason whatever to think that the finitude of life dissolves such obligations. If anything, things like fairness become even more important precisely because life ends at the grave, and there will be no do-overs. Also, as we’ve seen, appealing to God begs the question anyway.

As for the claim that atheists are ideologically committed to P1:

What’s the problem? - I don’t know of any thing even approaching a good justification for this. Many Christian and atheist philosophers alike also recognise that the claim one cannot have justification for objective moral values without God seems totally unproven, if not outright wrong. Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne, for example, repudiates P1:

“Some moral truths are clearly moral truths, whether there is a God or not: it is surely wrong to torture children for fun whether or not there is a God.” (2)

Likewise, atheist philosopher Walter Sinnott-Armstrong seems bemused when confronted with this argument, laughing off the first premise,

“ . . . In fact, many atheists are happy to embrace objective moral values. I agree with them . . . This admission implies nothing about God, unless objective moral values depend on God. But why should we believe that they do?” (3)

Furthermore, secular morality of this kind has been going on for literally thousands of years, with moral philosophy full of atheist moral realists. There is certainly no logical incoherence or even a hint of tension between the belief that atheism is true, and that objective moral values exist. So I ask again, what’s the problem?

Again, Pro’s second justification seems not only very probably false, but plainly absurd.

Third, Pro claims that “it's just not obvious that atheism provides as sound a foundation for objective morals”.

Argument from ignorance - Here, Pro falls fouls of argumentum ad ignorantiam:

“It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is "generally accepted"… In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof.” (4)

As well as this, Pro also again begs the question. Also:

Climbing Mount Impossible (5) - P1 states that if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. This means that Pro must affirm that there is no possible way to account for such morals without God, as this is what P1 entails.

How can Pro justify such a claim, without either passing the buck, or begging the question? I have no idea. He certainly hasn’t even begun this task, let alone completed it, from what we have seen thus far. Even the possibility that atheistic moral realism might be true (given the deductive form of the argument) compels us to reject P1 as simply unproven, if not unprovable.

As the philosopher Stephen Law points out, with regards to P1, the onus is on the theist

“ . . . to show that ALL such atheist-friendly accounts are wrong, even the ones we haven’t thought of yet, and don’t forget, as theists so regularly do, that they needn’t even be naturalistic. (6)

Therefore, unless and until Pro can give us a defeater for atheist-friendly objective moral values, his argument again falls at the first hurdle. Given Pro’s total failure to do this, we are compelled to conclude P1 is flagrantly without warrant.

In conclusion, we can see P1 is clearly unjustified. Not only this, but given some of my responses, it seems P1 is almost certainly false. As such, the resolution is negated.

Justification for P2

P2 - Objective moral values and duties do exist

Moral mirror - The problem I have here is not with the truth of P2, but with its relationship to P1. Pro justifies P2 from an intuitive, prima facie position. The massive problem for Pro is that this itself seems like a denial of P1. Why? Because it is an AF account of morality! In fact, not only is Pro’s reasoning for P2 compatible with atheism , it is almost identical to the justification given by atheist philosopher Peter Cave,

"whatever sceptical arguments may be brought against our belief that killing the innocent is morally wrong, we are more certain that the killing is morally wrong than that the argument is sound… Torturing an innocent child for the sheer fun of it is morally wrong. Full stop." (7)

More than this, it seems ANY justification of P2 which doesn’t beg the question would have to be compatible with atheism by definition. As such, the argument seems to suffer from being either inherently unjustifiable, or necessarily false.


In my first post, I have outlined 8 criticisms of Pro's argument. In order to carry the resolution, Pro must respond adequately to each objection. Many of these, I suspect, are simply unanswerable.


2. Richard Swinburne, Is there a God?, P14
3. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Bill Craig, God? Debate between a Christian and an atheist, P33
5. A play on a similarly titled book from Dawkins
6. Stephen Law vs. Bill Craig, (1:08:30)
7. Peter Cave, Humanism, p.146.
Debate Round No. 2


Rebuttal Overview

Con's rhetorical skills are seemingly impressive. But are his numerous 'objections' as effective as the rhetoric portrays? I'll show that no real objections were offered, but for now note that once a heap of logic terminology is thrown in & supported with nothing more than parlance, the debate moves from substance to emotive expression dressed as rationality. Let me explain.

Warrant for P1

"Begging the Question" Objection

Misunderstood: Begging the question is the informal fallacy, "petitio principii," it's whenever the conclusion of the argument is taken as one of the premises; not when the premise is defended with an ontology. Con only says that "grounding moral values in God fairly obviously begs the question."

He then later admits, "Pro’s first premise is NOT that God is the best grounding for objective morals, but that without God, no such values would exist. These are 2 very different claims..."

Well which is it? Am I begging questions or not? ... Is showing the claim, "God is necessary for objective morality," to be more plausible than not circular? The argument itself doesn't even explicitly ground morals in God, rather that's implicit in it's defense. By showing that God's nature is the highest moral value, which makes him qualified in issuing commands, I've shown God as the basis and most plausibly necessary for objective morality, hence making P1 more plausible. Which is all I have to show.

So how is the argument circular if it doesn't explain moral grounding in God? It only asserts P1 & 2, which merely imply God’s existence but don't propose an ontology. It wouldn't be circular to employ other moral ontologies as a defense for P1 in order to make P1 more plausible, how is the employment of DCT any different?

WL Craig also denotes that moral duty arises in response to an imperative from a competent authority. Who or what else is as qualified to issue moral commands which are valid and binding apart from any subjective opinion? It would appear nothing else is, hence P1. Without God, we're simply left in moral anti-realism; a claim which can be defended by a moral ontology which views God as the moral standard. Con must show how either how this is incoherent, or provide a more plausible ontology. Con's objection is thus confused.

"Subjective Moral Values" Objection

This would be a devastating objection had I been defending God as a subject. But I'm defending God as a maximally great being. If God exists, he would exist in all possible worlds, which makes him not merely a subject of certain possible worlds, but rather an objective feature of all reality by virtue of his maximal greatness. Con's objection is thus a non-sequitur.

"Irrelevance" Objection

How is my defense of P1 irrelevant? All I have to show is that it's more plausible that God is necessary for moral truths. I even quoted WL Craig on why God's existence is necessary for objective morals, Con has yet to respond to both this along with the Taylor saying that to speak of moral obligation is meaningless without reference to God. Con hasn't obliged these arguments, all he's given is an assertion of friendlines towards objective morals.

Con's objection just blindly accuses irrelevancym ignoring the scholars. Will he ignore Leff?

A Divine standard is further articulated,

"... if we are looking for an evaluation, we must actually be looking for an evaluator ... If the evaluation is to be beyond question, then the evaluator & its evaluative processes must be similarly insulated. If it is to fulfill its role, the evaluator must be the unjudged judge ... Now, what would you call such a thing if it existed? You would call it Him." (Arthur Leff, 1975)

Con's objection is thus blind.

"Atheist Moral Duties" Objection

Con argues that our cognitive abilities include objective moral intuition. From a theistic perspective I can coherently agree. But in a non-supernatural world, why think our cognitive abilities are aimed at moral truth value & not merely survival value?

Here he says because rationality dictates duty. But rationality only tells us what is the case, it doesn't tell us what ought to be the case. What's irrational about euthanizing the elderly in order to better preserve healthier people? Mere rational responses to the question reveal hidden presuppositions which are left unjustified.

Now naturalistic evolution seems bereft of objective oughts, insofar as X behaves properly for its survival in its environment, X's traits are passed on. But survival value isn't moral belief value. Indeed altruism, the virtue most expressed by Christ, is wholly absurd on atheism. What's worse, given Darwinianism, we have grounds to very much doubt our moral perception. Hence Con's arguing from a self-defeating perspective.

But he goes on to say morality is special by virtue of short duration, and no do-overs. How? Isn't this subjective in its own right? Plus how is life less valuable if it were 'done-over' anyway? And especially if it were objectively meaningless to 'do' in the first place? Con's objection thus not only undercuts itself but asserts subjectivism.

"What's the Problem" Objection I

I've already given an evolutionary argument against the atheistic appeal to objective morals arising naturally. Indeed the argument proves that the atheist should radically & viciously doubt any moral intuition by virtue of unreliable cognitive faculties.

But given theism, man is made in God's image so that our mental faculties are indeed reliable guides to moral truth among rational truth. How does this not at least 'approach' justification for a theistic moral ontology? Indeed does this even remotely sound "out-right wrong"? At worst the playing field is even, with a preference towards theism; since on atheism we should heavily doubt our moral intuitions.

"What's the Problem" Objection II

Con quotes scholars who are all referring to belief in God as uneccesary for moral truth. I warned Con of making this mistake when I listed what the moral argument does not involve.

So in answer to the question, the problem is that with the ontological non-existent God, we're faced with the ontological non-existence of moral truths. Nietzsche argued, “Moral judgments agree with religious ones in believing in realities which are no realities,” exclaiming nihilism at God’s grave, Nietzsche affirms, “There are altogether no moral facts.

Nietzsche understood; no God = no moral standard = no objective basis for identifying true moral obligation. So I don't argue: no belief in God = no moral standard.., etc. Another non-sequitur.

"Argument from Ignorance" Objection

I offered three unanswered arguments for P1. Con's objection is thus another blind one.

"Climbing Mt. Impossible" Objection

Next round I'll negate Atheistic Moral Platonism (AMP), for now let me say AMP leaves morals floating in an unintelligible way, lacking any adequate foundation. For what does it mean to say 'justice' just exists? A person can be just, but with the absence of people, how can justice itself “exist?” Plus if an abstract 'justice' itself isn’t just, then without people justice can’t exist. But that contradicts the AMP hypothesis!

Furthermore, moral obligation is incompatible with AMP, for suppose duty platonically 'just exists,' how then does that result in obligation? Obligation towards wrong may exist too; why not commit wrong actions? Con's objection is thus unfounded & overly-restrictive; simply see above.


I've run out of room to respond to P2 since Con cluster-bombed the debate with nothing more than nerf-darts; a confused fallacy, 2 non-sequiturs, 2 blind, a self-defeating & subjective objection, & an unfounded refutation of P1.

Moreover, I've further shown P1 to be more plausibly true than AMP. Remember, one needen't show P1 to be neccissarily true just becuase it contains verbage denoting necessary conditions within the premise. For sake of our epistemic position all I need to show is that P1 is more plausibly true.



I initially offered 8 criticisms of Pro’s argument. Remember, one of these alone is enough to negate the resolution. As Pro has only really responded to 6 of them, the resolution is negated already thus far. In fact, I will show in this round that actually none of Pro’s responses to any of my criticisms are remotely effective, and that all my criticisms easily survive scrutiny.

Justification for P1

Pro offered 3 justificatory remarks for P1.

First, he appealed to God’s nature to ground these values, to which I gave 3 responses:

Begging the Question - Pro responded to this:

“The argument itself doesn't even explicitly ground morals in God, rather that's implicit in it's defense.”

But this is false. Just look at what Pro said in R2:

“Objective moral values are most plausibly based in a maximally great being…”

If this isn’t explicit, I don’t know what is.

But even if it were merely implicit, it is still fallacious. To argue that “God's nature is the highest moral value”, one has to first assume that God’s nature (and thus God) exists, which again is what the argument is supposed to prove, for if His nature didn’t exist, how could it account for anything? It is this huge assumption that clearly begs the question.

Indeed, Pro’s source makes my exact point:

“Now, what would you call such a thing if it existed? You would call it Him." (8)

If God existed, it may well be His nature that grounded some sort of morality, but unfortunately for Pro, assuming His existence begs the question.

Subjective moral values - Pro responds that he is defending God as an “objective feature of reality”, rather than a subject.

Pro is just patently wrong here in what basing morality on God’s nature entails:

“there are also universalist forms of subjectivism such as ideal observer theory (which claims that moral propositions are about what attitudes a hypothetical ideal observer would hold) and divine command theory (which claims that moral propositions are about what attitudes God holds).” (9)

In contrast, objectivism holds moral facts to be independent of persons, including God. P1 therefore is false by definition.

Irrelevance - Even if God were a more plausible grounding for objective morality than AF morality (which I don’t believe), this is not the same thing as saying (as P1 does) that without God such values don’t exist. As such, it is totally irrelevant as it pertains to justifying P1.

Also, arguing AF morality is less plausible is irrelevant, given that P1 claims without God, there are NO objective moral values at all. To say that objective morality is now merely less plausible without God betrays what P1 explicitly states, and I suggest Pro read it. As such, Pro commits the fallacy of ignoratio elenchi on both counts (10).

As such, Pro’s first attempt to justify P1 still fails miserably.

The second justification given for P1 by Pro was problems with AF morality.

Atheist moral duties - Pro responds to my point here first by distinguishing between rational and moral oughts. However, if objective moral values exist, then my duties (what I ought to do) are to act in accordance with these values. Doing otherwise would be to partially ignore reality (the existence of these values), which would be irrational. So the rational and the moral ought converge. Such duties become even more imperative given the lack of redemption in a future life. As for Taylor and Craig, I offered reasons why atheists have moral duties in my last round, as evidenced in Pro’s above criticisms of my approach!

Pro then introduces an evolutionary naturalism eroding rationality critique. First, I’m not a naturalist, so this is a red-herring. Second, the idea that survivability and a true picture of the world aren’t strongly correlated is absurd. Surviving depends on my ability to comprehend the means of achieving basic needs. Natural selection would favour rationality as it enhances survivability.

Also, if theism is true, we actually would have reason to doubt our cognitive faculties. False religious experiences, the appearance of gratuitous evil and inculpable non-belief would be just such 3 cases.

Then we come to the supposed dedication of atheists to affirm P1:

What’s the problem - Here I made 3 points to deny Pro’s claim:

A) Factually absurd - justified by Swinburne and Sinnott-Armstrong, among many others.
B) Historically inaccurate - disregards thousands of years of secular morality.
C) Logically unwarranted - no contradiction or even tension between moral realism and atheism.

Unfortunately, Pro totally ignores B) and C) above. Extend arguments.

A) Pro says that Swinburne and WSA are referring to belief in God, not His existence. This is false. Swinburne says:

“ Some moral truths are clearly moral truths, whether there is a God or not . . .” (11)

Clearly, he is referring to God’s existence here, not belief in God.

As for Sinnott-Armstrong, this again is abundantly clear:

“ atheists can coherently believe in an objective morality . . . I do.” (12)

Again, this (and the quote beforehand) evidences atheists totally rejecting P1, rather than being dedicated to it, as Pro asserts. To say that atheists must deny moral realism seems factually absurd and is a claim denied by a plethora of theists and atheists alike. All Pro offers to combat this is a quote from Nietzsche, but Pro and I agree his view on denying moral facts is tantamount to denying the external world (P2), so I’m at a loss at why Pro thinks anything Nietzsche says in this area has any value at all. In any case, it certainly isn’t enough to disregard facts, history and logic.

As such Pro’s second justification likewise crumbles.

Pro’s last justification was that there were no obvious accounts of AF morality.

Argument from Ignorance - This last justification is what I claimed was arguing from ignorance, and Pro does it repeatedly:

“it's just not obvious that atheism provides as sound a foundation for objective morals”

It is simply not up to the atheist to provide an account of objective moral values. Pro’s repeated insistence that I do so is arguing from ignorance by shifting the BoP, which is fallacious, as I warned in R1. But ironically I have actually done so, which Pro has yet to respond to (Moral mirror).

Climbing Mount Impossible - Here, I pointed out that unless Pro could show all AF morality to be somehow impossible, he simply can’t affirm P1.

Pro basically ignores my point here, instead promising to refute AMP. The problem is refuting this will do Pro little good. As Law said, the onus is on the theist,

“ . . . to show that ALL such atheist-friendly accounts are wrong, even the ones we haven’t thought of yet, and don’t forget, as theists so regularly do, that they needn’t even be naturalistic. “ (13)

Pro can’t respond by pointing to faults in one such account. As such, detailing criticisms of AMP, unless combined with criticisms of all other AF moral systems is simply irrelevant. Unless and until Pro can refute all such accounts, P1 is unjustified, regardless of the veracity of AMP. This is why I suspect P1 is almost certainly unjustifiable, and the argument in this form is completely useless.

This completely eviscerates Pro’s last attempt to justify P1.

As such, we can conclude that P1 is completely unwarranted, and given the sustained criticisms of it, almost certainly false.

Justification for P2

Pro drops the moral mirror response. Extend argument.


In order to carry the resolution, Pro must defeat each and every criticism I have outlined. However, as we have seen, Pro has failed to effectively respond to any of these criticisms, in some cases completely ignoring them. In short, Pro has a huge task ahead of him.

8. (P1230)
11. Is there a God?, P14
12. God? A debate between a Christian and an atheist, P36
13. Stephen Law vs. Bill Craig, (1:08:30)
Debate Round No. 3


Warrant for P1
"Grounding values in God" appears to be misleading, adding notions of divinely separable abstract tokens. But my claim is that if you separate God's essence from God, specifically his moral nature, then he's no longer God.

Suppose a possible world in which God refrained from creating, in such a world there would never be other agents capable of moral action, & so no 'contra-Good' would emerge, & so therefore no value scale would exist. Yet God would remain as a supreme reality. This is what's meant as objective. It's not until 'not-Good' emerges that an ontological value frame dawns. And I argue 'the Good' is God, a standard.

Within such a scenario we can colloquially say God is the ontological grounds for morals, but what we really mean is God is (what Plato called) "the Good," the standard from which all other moral events, states, etc are judged against; the very paradigm of what ought to be, if you will.

Any value judgement, as such, requires a standard (which is P1 regarding morals, not a circular statement). I'm not arguing that God is the objective moral value or the duties, rather I'm arguing that God, as the standard, is just as necessary for moral value (& therefore duty) as any standard is necessary for a value judgment.

This is not circular, for if it's not begging the question to argue:

"If the Sun does not exist, then day & night as we know it doesn't exist;
day & night as we know it exists;
therefore the sun exists."

...then likewise it's not question begging to affirm P1.

So Con's objection appears to be misunderstood. He makes this obvious by pointing to my defense of P1, not the argument. But it's the argument he's claiming is circular. How? All I've defended was that God is the standard from which morals are judged. Why? Because if God (so defined as "the maximal moral value by virtue of being the maximally great being, MGB; and by virtue of being a MGB, God's maximal greatness is either exemplified in all worlds or none") exists then we have a necessary condition for distinguishing moral truths. Con's argument is clearly ignorant when he writes,

"To argue that “God's nature is the highest moral value”, one has to first assume that God’s nature (and thus God) exists"

Right, that's why the premise states a conditional: If God doesn't exists, then..., etc: what's the problem? Furthermore I've presented an argument for why we should think God is the standard of moral value, which Con hasn't yet rebutted. Namely, that God is a maximally great being, and since it's greater to be the standard of moral perfection rather than exemplify it, then it's just intuitive to affirm God as such an entity or standard.

Warrant for P2

"Moral Mirror" Objection

Con hasn't given an argument for thinking moral truths fit better in a atheistic framework, he simply asserts they're objective... and 'oh yes, I'm an atheist, we're a friendly bunch, who don't' need to explain morals any further' (*Mao Zedong grins & nods his head*). Jokes aside his reasoning here comes from the idea that the realm of objective morals require no further explanation. Which is also implicit in his "Mt. Impossible" Objection.

Likewise Cave's 'full stop' quote also falls prey to an unjustified affinity towards the objective morals which I've shown to fit in a theistic ontology over any non-theistic one anyway. Cave assumes moral truths needn't require an explanation too. But at best this shows that morals are necessarily true, it does not show they don’t need an explanation.

Many necessary truths have an explanation, e.g.,

necessarily, 2 + 3 = 5 because the Peano axioms are necessarily true.
Necessarily, no event precedes itself because temporal becoming is real, etc...

So Cave's idea that necessary truths can’t stand in relations of explanatory priority to one another is just simply an implausible notion: far cry from a "full stop," and indeed a defeater for Con's assumed Atheistic Friendly morality.

Back to Warrant for P1
"Subjective Moral Values Objection

I affirm God exists necessarily & thus objectively. Con only quotes here that there are universalist forms that include God as a subject whose moral existence is based upon his attitudes.

(Let me just say, this is one of the weakest attempts I've seen in trying to undercut the moral argument... attitudes?)

First, I don't argue that moral values are based in God's attitudes, that's a straw man on Con's quote, rather I argue that moral values are judged from God's very essence-- remove the essence & you remove God; remove an attitude and you still have God. Case closed.

Secondly, though God is a person hood in Christianity, it doesn't follow that a maximally great being [who's greatness is either possible or impossible & therefore exists necessarily if it exists] is best explained in a subjective sense if theism were true, that just seems silly.

"Irrelevance" Objection
I don't argue that God is a more plausible basis for morality in the sense that Con thinks. But what I do seek to show is that it's more plausible that God is necessary for morality. That's what I meant when I said God is a plausible ground for morals, I assumed simple speech wins the character count. So at best we have a semantical misunderstanding here.

I only argue for what P1 proposes; with the non-existence of God, a competent transcendent moral standard & prescriber of moral prescriptions, then there's just no meaningful way to speak of objective values let alone duties.

So if I've shown it's more reasonable to think that God is necessary for moral value & duty, & that it's more reasonable to think objective morals exist, then the theistic conclusion follows necessarily. That's where we're at with the irrelevance objection. Which, if anything, afforded a chance to better clarify the soundness of the argument. For if God doesn't exist, then I affirm moral values; but only subjective values. Hence when Con says "NO objective morals" without God, he's right. But there very well could be subjective morals without God. Yet if morals are objective, then the theistic conclusion is accepted on pain of irrationality.

So I'm not committing ignoratio elenchi since I'm not arguing that objective morals make it more plausible God's existence, that would be a misrepresentation of what I wrote. Rather I affirm P1, that it's more plausible that God's existence is a necessary condition for objective morals, and not subjective morals.

"Atheist Moral Duties" Objection

I have too much to say before I respond to other rebuttals on this objection- extended like Viagra.

"What's the Problem" Objection

I ignore Con's argument from "disregards thousands of years of secular morality" since I specifically warned this is referring to moral epistemology, not ontology. Hence it is irrelevant, I'll continue to ignore it since I don't want to be led down a red-herring trail. But now he says I ignore atheistic moral realism, not so- for I provided an evolutionary argument against such nonsense. To which I'll respond his rebuttal next round.

For Swinburne's & Armstrong's quote see my P2 rebuttal above. For he seems to also think moral truths don't need an explanation. Moreover I don't deny Atheists affirm moral truths! I even said scripture affirms that the moral law is written upon the hearts of all, regardless of beliefs.

"Argument from Ignorance" Objection

I'm not arguing from ignorance since I present good reasons for thinking moral truths are ontologically derived theistically and not atheistically. Con just says, well I don't have to show you're wrong! (Great!)

"Climbing Mt. Impossible" Objection

Con argues from authority (S. Law) without ever opening up an argument himself here. All he does is assert I must refute all possible atheistic ontological accounts of moral realism, without arguing for any. (Regardless there's only a few working ontology's & I took down 2 metaphysical & all natural ones if EAN is true).



As responses go, I admit to being rather dismayed with Pro’s last round. Much of my case was completely ignored, and the points Pro did address were often contemptuously dismissed without any real engagement.

Far from refuting all my points, as he must, I’ll show that Pro has yet to defeat a single criticism of his argument.

Justification for P1

As readers will remember, Pro offered 3 justificatory points to justify P1.

First, that “Objective moral values are most plausibly based in a maximally great being”

I responded:

Begging the question - Pro says that I have misunderstood his point, saying that his claim is conditional:

“if God . . . exists, then we have a necessary condition for distinguishing moral truths.”

Of course, but one cannot then use God to justify P1. But this is exactly what Pro does, saying God is

“the standard from which all other moral events, states, etc are judged against;”

This is pure assertion, without even a hint at an argument. Pro realises that his earlier justification begged the question, and replaced it with an equally fallacious statement. Pro simply cannot use God to establish P1, as this begs the question, and if he doesn’t beg the question, how else can he say P1 is justified by “a maximally great being”?

Second, Pro insists he made an argument regarding a maximally great being , as it is more intuitive for God to “be the standard of moral perfection“. Not only does this fall foul of my 2 criticisms below, but this again is pure assertion. No argument is given. If Pro means that he can prove God via an ontological-type argument, this is irrelevant to the debate, and he certainly hasn’t provided the argument in any case.

Subjective moral values - Pro offers 2 new responses:

First, he says that morality is based in God’s essence, not His attitude.

The problem here is this does nothing to address my point. If God’s essence (rather than His attitudes) is the foundation for moral values, why would these moral values be any less subjective? Emanating from God’s essence, such values would still be dependent on a person, so the objection stands. Also, Pro himself attacked moral Platonism as leaving “morals floating in an unintelligible way, lacking any adequate foundation”, so his appeal to essences is clearly contrived.

Pro’s second remark about God existing subjectively attacks a straw-man. Even granting God’s objective existence would not make morality from His essence any less subjective. Subjective morality usually begins with an objectively existing person, so Pro’s point here is folly.

Again, P1 seems necessarily false.

Irrelevance - Here, Pro attempts to avoid both the problems I set out here, saying:

“it's more plausible that God is necessary for morality.”

The problem that the only way to say God is necessary for morality is to present some sort of argument for it (which he hasn't done, or to discount AF morality (which is his second justification). Pro’s first justification (above) is thus insufficient to affirm P1 and therefore irrelevant to the debate.

It seems then that Pro’s justification is fallacious, necessarily false and even unable to establish P1.

Pro’s second justification was that there were problems with AF morality. Readers will remember I offered 2 responses to this:

Atheist moral duties:
- account of atheist moral duties
- convergence of rational and moral oughts
- finitude of life
- response to Pro’s EAN
- reason to doubt cognitive faculties on theism

These 5 points were totally ignored by Pro. Extend argument.

As for atheists being dedicated to denying objective morality:

What’s the Problem? - I offered 3 points in response to Pro’s claim way back in R2:

A) Factually absurd
B) Historically inaccurate
C) Logically unwarranted

Pro still hasn’t responded to C), nor has he responded to my refutation of his claims about A) in R3, and also dropped the point about Nietzsche - his only defence of this justification. Extend argument.

All he says about B) is that it deals with “moral epistemology, not ontology.” Is Pro really saying that moral ontology has been neglected by thousands of years by AF morality? This is absurd. Utilitarianism, for example, attempts to ontologically ground morality in things like maximising happiness. There are many such systems, and atheists have defended and developed such accounts for 2 millennia. To say that atheists are dedicated to moral non-realism, one simply has to ignore thousands of years of philosophy.

Indeed, Pro even says,

“I don't deny Atheists affirm moral truths”

This contradicts his claim that atheists must deny moral realism.

As such, we can say that Pro’s second justification is unwarranted, false and even denied by Pro himself.

Pro’s last justification was that “it's just not obvious that atheism provides as sound a foundation for objective morals”.

Arguing from Ignorance - I stress again that it is THIS above justification that argues from ignorance, not P1 as a whole. Pro merely repeats that P1 is amply justified, yet it this justification alone I‘m referring to. Pro is yet to respond to this. Extend argument.

Climbing Mt Impossible - Here I argued that as P1 requires that Pro discount all forms of AF morality (i.e. show that it is impossible), his failure to do so means Pro simply can’t affirm P1.

Pro gives 2 responses. First he says that I’m appealing to authority. This is utter nonsense.

I didn’t say P1 is false because Stephen Law said so (which ironically is Pro’s approach when it comes to Nietzsche), which would be fallacious. I simply cited Law’s criticism. If using a scholar’s insight is fallacious (how could it be), then Pro’s own case would crumble, as he quotes extensively from Taylor for example, without commentary of his own. Therefore, his complaint here is wholly contrived and totally wrong. Lastly, Law’s modest point is basically to state what P1 already explicitly states. I’m just showing how P1 creates a challenge Pro can’t ever overcome.

Pro then says he has defeated AF morality. This again is pure fantasy. Pro hasn’t even mentioned most AF systems (e.g. deontology), and hasn’t refuted any, with even AMP (which he promised to refute in this round) not only ignored, but actually semi-adopted by Pro himself.

Pro says that his EAN refutes most AF morality. There are 2 problems with this. First, Pro can’t use the EAN as a silver bullet when I have criticised it on 2 counts and he is yet to respond. Second, EAN is irrelevant. Even if naturalistic evolution meant that all beliefs on atheism (including moral ones) were irrational, it does not follow that objective morals don’t exist. Such a statement commits the genetic fallacy (14).

As such, P1 is completely without justification and almost certainly false.

Justification for P2

Moral mirror - The whole point about the this objection was to show that the atheist can mirror Pro’s justification for objective moral values (P2). If Pro wants to smash the mirror, as it were, he inevitably shatters his own case for P2, as my case is simply a reflection of his.

Pro initially said:

“there's no more reason to deny moral objectivity than there is to deny the physical world” (R2)

Obviously, if Pro can substantiate his belief in morality like this, why can’t I? This is why I mirrored his case to account for morality.

He now criticises this approach, saying my approach assumes “the realm of objective morals require no further explanation”, and that it “simply asserts they’re objective“. Obviously, Pro doesn’t realise here these are his problems. All I did was to mirror his approach. If he now says that my justification for objective morality is flawed, he has unwittingly destroyed P2 of his own argument!

So inept is Pro's argument that he must actually provide an account of AF morality to establish P2 (to avoid question-begging), which actually falsifies P1!


Debate Round No. 4



Only 2 objections are relevant but I extend Con the offer of a debate with remaining objections to P1/2; whether by debate or email. Nevertheless these 2, if rebutted successfully, will lead Con to affirming P1 as by his own admittance he “may” affirm a weak P1. So in order to prove the moral argument sound, all I must do is move that "may affirm" to a "will affirm" (by dealing with the circularity objection) then that "will affirm a weak P1" to a "will affirm a strong P1" (by dealing with the subjective objection). & Since Con already affirms P2, the conclusion follows & the argument is sound by his own admittance.

Begging the Question” Objection

Were it not for his perceived circularity Con would affirm a weak P1,

“If God existed, it may well be His nature that grounded some sort of morality.”

I take “some sort of” to mean subjective, which will be discussed. But now his only reservation here is that he thinks I assume God in my defense of P1. This is not true, for my defense of P1 carries a perpetual conditional:

IfGod, a maximally great being, exists then his moral worth would be maximally great, & so therefore an objective standard of moral value.

Likewise P1 affirms the conditional that if we don’t have God, then we don’t have a moral standard to make moral values objective, & valid & binding regardless of human opinion. As with Leff’s quote,

“Now, what would you call such a thing if it existed? You would call it Him."

All Con needs to do is provide a more plausible standard that's necessary for objective morals. But it seems P1 & thus it’s defense doesn’t prove God—affirming P2 proves God’s existence upon affirming P1. All I must defend in P1 is that God is the moral standard if he exists. Con says this is the petitio principii fallacy though.

Yet in P1 God isn’t used as an affirmation, he’s used as a condition, “God would be necessary for objective morality if objective morality exists." Likewise is this circular, “if food exists, it would be necessary for eating”?

But then I’ve defended God’s necessity for moral truths by stating,

“If one separates God's moral essence from God—i.e., maximal goodness, then he's no longer God. But any objective value judgment requires an objective standard, likewise a maximally great good is just as necessary for objective morality as any standard is necessary for a value judgment.”

I've also presented an argument for why we should think God is the objective standard of moral value: God is a maximally great being, & since it's intuitively greater to be the standard of moral perfection rather than exemplify it, then it follows that God would be the moral standard were he to exist. But morals are objective, which implies there’s a transcendent standard! Con already affirms moral objectivity, so on pain of irrationality the theistic conclusion must be accepted; such is the nature of a deductive argument.

All he says is that we shouldn't’t use God to justify P1. But I’m not—indeed I don’t even need to. I just have to show that God is the moral standard—If God exists, then he is the maximal moral good since he is a maximally great being… Con simply says this is pure assertion… really?

First, any logic taking the form: If ~P, then ~Q; is an assertion. But then my assertion is backed by rational warrant that Con hasn’t negated. Is it logically incoherent that God is maximally good? Con hasn’t shown this. He simply says that an ontological-type argument is irrelevant. How so? I’m arguing for an ontologically maximally great being aren’t I? Plus the argument only relies on the definitionof God from the ontological argument, not its conclusion. Were the MGB definition of God shown to be inadequate I can simply say I argue for a perfect God & so therefore so is his fairness, goodness, etc.

What really matters is if the moral argument is sound. & since all P1 states is a conditional of God & his implication to moral truths, then so far we have no petitio principii. But now Con says it’s in the defense… but that’s not what petitio principii is!

Even so,

Conclusion = God exists

P1 Defense = If a maximally great being existed then it’s moral goodness would be maximally great, which is an objective standard that’s necessary for objective morals.

Subjective Moral Values” Objection
Remember Con would affirm a weak P1 if it were shown that the argument isn’t circular, & since I’ve shown that it’s not; then we’re brought to the only other reason Con doesn’t affirm a strong P1.

Con says moral facts are person-independent, which is true, but persons like we know them. So theistic reflectance is required when we speak of ‘persons’ as we know them. For although God is described as personal, a necessarily existing maximal moral agent isn’t influenced by culture, trend, parental upbringing, etc; like we are: i.e., contingent & less than maximal moral agents. In fact would anyone regard a metaphysically necessary all good agent as on a par with a subjective humanoid like myself?

Con seems to think so, oddly enough, by rejecting the notion that a moral value is objective if based off of God’s maximally great & necessary moral essence... His only grounds to such a rejection is: God’s still a person… ? It seems this last ditch argument is wholly obtuse & narrow-minded.

First, I argued thatmaximal valuebecomes anobjective standardfrom which all other values are judged, hence the objectivity of such a standard just is its maximal value, which is logically based off of a maximally great being; God.

Sure, call God a subject in the sense that He has Qualia like all other minds. But this goes nowhere to show that the values of [less maximal contingent moral agents] cannot be objectively judged from a [maximally great, necessary moral agent].


Con clearly confuses objective good as in God’s mind (like the awareness of moral good or attitudes) but rather I’ve argued ad nauseam that objective good is of God’s mind, or of God.

This “of” is important to grasp—the preposition is used to indicate origin, or source: “a man of good family; the plays of Shakespeare,” the breath of me, the maximal moral goodof God.

Since maximal greatness is, by definition, possible or impossible, & thus necessary if it exists, then any moral goodofGod is maximally great & so too exists necessarily & hence objectively.

If such moral good is maximal, then it’s a standard from which all other morals are judged whence lesser morals arise from other less than maximal moral agents.

AMP wasn’t belabored since Con never responds to my initial questions like what it means for the value “fairness” to just exist, especially since fairness isn’t itself fair; it needs personhood. But if such a personhood is less than maximally great, then the fairness of such an entity would be less than maximally fair, or subjective.

But if God were fair, he would be maximally fair, the highest fair possible, & so the standard by which all other fairness is judged. If I’m only fair to some people but not all, while God is maximally fair, then I’m less fair than maximally fair: here we have an objective value standard.

So the objection that “any moral theory which grounds morality in the nature of a subject is subjective” isn’t true. For although God may have Qualia, it doesn’t follow that his necessarily existing essence isn’t itself an objective moral standard.

On the Christian perspective God has the mental faculties & capacities to constitute 3 triune consciousnesses, or persons; all of whom love each other with maximal goodness, etc: An extraordinary revelation if true! So a Christian seems to have a very sound moral foundation (albeit one we often fail to follow—but Grace is maximally great).


With the misunderstanding of a circular argument out of the way, along with identifying the subjective objection as false, Con should affirm P1. He already affirms P2 so it inescapably follows that God exists... Sound argument!




First, I wish to thank Pro for this debate. While I think it’s clear he ran out of steam by the end of R3, I think we both share a willingness to defend our beliefs, and for that, Pro has my respect.

Unfortunately though, Pro has only addressed 2 of my 8 arguments in his final round. This means that even prior to my final post, 6 of my criticisms stand, and the resolution is already multiply and unequivocally negated. As such, one is simply compelled to vote Con.

In this last round, I’ll engage with the criticisms Pro actually bothered to address and catalogue the criticisms Pro fatally ignored. Remember, even if Pro were to win these points, the fact is that Pro has neglected the vast majority of my case and thus his argument fails anyway.

I’ll follow the familiar format, and try to provide closure on each point in the debate systematically.

Justification for P1

Readers will remember Pro offered 3 justificatory points to affirm P1

The first point Pro made was that “Objective moral values are most plausibly based in a maximally great being”.

I offered 3 responses:

Begging the question - Pro’s first statement here is:

“Were it not for his perceived circularity Con would affirm a weak P1”

This is totally false. I’ve offered 7 criticisms of P1, without even mentioning the epistemological problems or the Euthyphro dilemma. I can’t emphasise enough how absurd I find P1, and was bewildered to read Pro’s statement here.

So why does Pro think I would accept a weak P1? Pro uses my words from R3 to arrive at this puzzling conclusion:

“If God existed, it may well be His nature that grounded some sort of morality.”

There are 2 problems here. First, I’m conceding this merely for the sake of argument (note the tentative “may”). Second, my statement simply isn’t P1. Here’s what P1 states:

“If God does not exist, then objective moral values & duties do not exist.”

While P1 is about the state of affairs would be if God DID NOT exist, my point above (which Pro quotes) is to do with what the case may be if God DID exist. These are 2 completely separate claims. To conflate them as Pro does commits the fallacy of equivocation (15). In fact, if my statement above was identical to P1, the argument would actually commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent (16)! So Pro’s point here is, well, pointless.

Secondly, Pro tries a different tact, repeating what he said in the last round, that God based morality is more intuitive. But I responded to this, saying it was nothing but pure assertion, and that it neglects all the problems I’ve already spelled out with such a moral system. He doesn’t rebut any of this, he just repeats his refuted prejudices ad nauseaum, without even a hint of justification. Extend argument.

Subjective moral values - Readers will remember my complaint here was that any morality dependent on a subject is, by definition, subjective. Therefore, God-based morality is doomed to produce subjective moral values.

Pro’s most recent response is to complain that God is a subject unlike any other:

“For although God is described as personal, a necessarily existing maximal moral agent isn’t influenced by culture, trend, parental upbringing, etc; like we are . . . “

Notice this is wholly irrelevant. If morality is based on a subject, it is subjective. Pro admits God is a subject, so it’s game over. Sure, if God existed, He would be a special kind of subject, but so what? As I already pointed out, ideal observer theory (17) grounds morality in a likewise strange source - a fictitious, perfectly rational being, but it too is still subjective. Case closed.

Pro also dropped my point about his adoption of Platonism. Extend argument.

As I said previously, any moral standard which is dependent upon a person is subjective. As long as God’s essence grounds morality, God-based morality is subjective, and P1 is thus necessarily false.

Irrelevance - Here, I argued that the first justification was irrelevant, as it is qualitatively different from what P1 states. All Pro does is to assert to the contrary, not bothering to engage with any of the points I made in R4. Also:

If God is a conditional, one cannot ground P1 in a maximally great being.

If God is assumed, Pro begs the question.

Either way, Pro’s first justification fails. None of this was addressed by Pro. Extend argument.

As we have seen, the only 2 criticisms Pro did address in his final round were 2 of the 3 above, with even one of these a basic admission of my point.

It is clear that Pro’s first justification fails dismally and my counterarguments stand. The resolution is thus negated.

Pro’s second justification was that there were problems with AF morality.

I responded:

Atheist moral duties:

- account of atheist moral duties
- convergence of rational and moral oughts
- finitude of life
- response to Pro’s EAN
- reason to doubt cognitive faculties on theism

Pro failed to respond to each of these points again. Extend argument.

Pro then asserted that atheists were ideologically dedicated to P1.

All he offered here was a quote from Nietzsche, which I refuted in R3. No response. Extend argument.

I also offered a further counterargument:

What’s the problem? -

Here I offered 3 reasons to think P1 was absurd:

A Factually absurd
B Historically inaccurate
C Logically unwarranted

I also noted that even Pro accepts that atheists affirm moral values.

Pro didn’t respond to any of these points. Extend argument.

As we can see, Pro’s second justification was pretty much jettisoned as early as R3. Given this, we can say with complete confidence that the resolution is negated for a second time.

Pro’s third justificatory point was that “it's just not obvious that atheism provides as sound a foundation for objective morals”.

Arguing from Ignorance - This again was ignored. All Pro did here was repeat the fallacy throughout his last post. Extend argument.

Climbing Mount Impossible - Here, I pointed out that unless Pro could show all AF morality to be somehow impossible, he simply can’t affirm P1.

Pro again failed to engage with my refutation of his latest points in R4, and such, this criticism also survives scrutiny. Extend argument.

Lastly, Pro made some incomplete remarks in R3 about AMP, but never got round to extending them. I’ll take this opportunity to address them. He says:

“For what does it mean to say 'justice' just exists (without persons)?”

There are 2 points I should like to make. First, I hold AMP merely as a possibility, rather than the approach I actually take. I don‘t hold this view myself, but Pro still must rule it out. Second, justice would exist the same way Pro adopts his essentialism - in some Platonic realm. There’s nothing incoherent or contradictory here.

P1 is thus undoubtedly false.

Justification for P2

Moral Mirror - My first point here was actually that one could mirror Pro’s approach to justify objective morality. I responded to Pro’s comments to this in my last round.

My second point was that any non question-begging affirmation of P2 will be Atheist-Friendly by definition, as P2 will have to be justified by a non God-based morality. P2 will therefore necessarily refute P1!

Both of these were completely unaddressed. Extend arguments.


As we can see, Pro justifications are easily disposed of, and 6 of my criticisms here were completely ignored by Pro. I think I showed that all 8 criticisms succeed, but regardless, honesty compels all of us to reject P1 and vote Con, given the contents of the debate.

Pro’s refusal to engage with almost my entire case, and his superficial objections to my criticisms necessitate that the resolution is handily negated. Given the comparative sources, organisation, S/G, as well as the fact that I engaged with every point Pro made, I also think the other points, if carefully considered, must flow my way.

Thanks to the readers in advance.

Vote Con!


Debate Round No. 5
86 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Reason_Alliance 5 years ago
Ah, I should've asked hmmm. That's like when you do something you think is correct (for all you know) and your parents find out and they say it's incorrect & you say well I thought it was correct & they say well if you didn't know you shoulda asked! All the while you thought you did know- sorta like presupposing guilty before proven innocent. Man I hated that growing up. There's gotta be a fallacy for that- I'm going to call it the United Andy fallacy... I'll make ya famous!

I'm game. Copy that- have a good vaca.
Posted by unitedandy 5 years ago
Which is exactly why you should have asked me, particularly when I defended these arguments, what I meant. But either way, it's hardly convenient, given you dropped the arguments.

That's me done. I'm going on holiday tomorrow, so I'll see to the debate when I come back if you're still game. Over and out.
Posted by Reason_Alliance 5 years ago
Morning to you too sunshine!

You may think you didn't imply P1 barring those two objections but I didn't know your intentions behind them. It may just be either an interpretive or literal error, either way I read that quote from you as I saw it. Again, you're free to think otherwise.
Posted by unitedandy 5 years ago
Yep, but you dropped points in R3/4 as well as 5.

All I can say is that nowhere did I say or imply that I accept P1. The quote you attribute to me (correctly) doesn't support your case at all. In any event, the fact that I did carry out these objections should have, at the very least to be curious, and not just assume skullduggery on my part. To do so violates the principle of charity, and amounts to straw-manning of the most desperate kind.

As for calling the objections "weak", many of them were geared towards your justifications for P1. Like I've said, one could avoid a number of the objections easily, but to do so, I'd have to ignore some of YOUR justifications. That these specific objections (2-3 of them) are avoidable is only relevant if you wish to withdraw your justifications which wrought these in the first place. You didn't withdraw them, and so they are still relevant.

As for the general arguments against P1, let's take the first one you didn't respond to (what's the problem). This is a point which has been made by Swinburne, Stephen Law, William Rowe, WSA and others. In fact, it's probably the most obvious objection to P1. To dismiss it as a red herring without explaining why this is so is sheer lunacy. Not to toot my own horn here, but I've actually seen my own version of it adopted on this site in a recent debate, because it's fairly obvious and extremely powerful.

The moral mirror response you gave I answered in R4. You ignored my response.

But all of this is merely a sideshow. You had your opportunity to respond to these points in the debate - you ignored them. But even if somehow 6 concessions were to count in your favour (as some voters inexplicably seem to think), the fact is you didn't even win on the other 2 points. You conceded one of them (SMV), and misunderstood what I was saying in the other (BTQ).
Posted by Reason_Alliance 5 years ago
My rebuttal rounds were up bud. You were free to say whatever you darn well pleased after my final round.

The moral mirror was simply the affirmation of P2 only, I showed this was left wanting since there's many necessary truths that have explanations. This point went untouched & I don't think you understand it.

I don't think you made 8 objections for fun, I think it was a simple debate strategy in order to get me to focus my word count on irrelevancies (or very weak arguments) while really only two critiques were your major concern.

Now that's speculation, I admit. But it turned away from speculation once you implicated the weak affirmation of P1 barring circularity & subjectivism objections.

Your disclaimer isn't necessary insofar as you don't offer irrelevancies along side good arguments while admitting the irrelevancy of the irrelevancies. & then taking it back just to try and win the debate.

I grant that 6 arguments is a lot to concede, so why'd ya do it then wiggle out of your own words?

(& again, ths isn't a soccer match, better to have one really good & thought out argument than a whole bunch of weak ones that are easily refuted, & WHICH I DID REFUTE- I just chose not to respond to your response... which is what happened anyways when you have the final round. I wanted to focus on the main issues... next time, given the 8k character limit, just come to a debate with me with the top issues. 8 are just retarded & you know it... maybe I should write up a disclaimer.)
Posted by unitedandy 5 years ago
So why did you ignore points before this "implied affirmation of P1"?

Why didn't you seek clarification on what I meant in this so called implication when I was simultaneously defending each of these 6 points in the same post? Didn't this register even a hint of a contradiction?

Why did you drop the point of tension between P1 and P2 (moral mirror)?

The fact is (for whatever reason) you dropped the vast majority of my case. If this is due to what you suggest (an honest belief that I'd, I dunno, make 6 frivolous arguments for funsies), I'd say that this uncharitable, denialist and rather silly interpretation of the debate is grounds enough for you to lose anyway. Maybe in our next debate I'll put a big disclaimer:


As Bill Craig puts it, to fail to engage with an argument in a debate context is to tacitly concede the case, and 6 arguments (plus the concession of the subjective values point), is a hell of a lot to concede.
Posted by Reason_Alliance 5 years ago
You affirmed P2, you tried to use it against P1, hence you only denied P1.

The sentence that had the implicit affirmation of P1 barring 2 objections, subjectivity & circularity, is what lead me to believe you didn't take all of your other objections serious. You know where I stand on that issue and I think where you stand on it is just as semantical as you may think my position is...
Posted by unitedandy 5 years ago
I've already answered this, both in the debate, and in a couple of comments down. I never said I accepted P1. The fact that I gave 7 criticisms of it, without even mentioning Euthyphro or epistemological considerations would suggest, nay necessitate, that I find P1 a little bit suspect, even apart from the 2 criticisms. And it still doesn't explain why you dropped my criticism of P2.

If you seriously thought that I was dropping my other other objections to P1 (while I was defending them in the same round), you should have asked me to clarify what I meant. It should have seemed a little strange that on your reading (of what was a perfectly understandable sentence), I was simultaneously dropping and defending these points. To just conveniently assume that I was dropping most of my case is just crazy, and deserving of what happened - you essentially conceding these points.
Posted by Reason_Alliance 5 years ago
That would be true had you not dismissed your other criticisms by implying your acceptance of P1 of the moral argument barring only two criticisms. My only fault was that I took you seriously.

Also I'll never declare victory post-debate. I wouldn't be debating you if I didn't know you were already wrong.
Posted by unitedandy 5 years ago
To be fair, we're talking about 75% of my case that you've ignored. If/when we debate the PoE, I'm pretty sure you'd declare victory if I simply dismissed three quarters of your criticisms, and only addressed a small fraction of your case.

But if your happy for this to be typical debate etiquette, I'll happily set up the challenge, with the stipulation that Pro gets to decide which quarter of the case he finds worthy of a response. Didn't think so.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by KRFournier 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I think Con overreached with too many counter-arguments. I forced Pro to drop arguments, which Con later held against him. Loss of conduct IMO. Pro's arguments were within a modal framework, and Con tried rebutting them outside that framework. Thus, Con's question begging, irrelevance, and subjectivity rebuttals seemed to ignore the ontological nature of Pro's position.
Vote Placed by TUF 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Good debate. Pro failed to prove his first contention. Objective morality exists, and exists for atheists in a way as compelling as for believers. Therefore it cannot be a proof of God. Well-structured debate with effective use of quotations by both sides.
Vote Placed by Cobo 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was a really good debate and the first that I have actually sat down and thought about.I gave argument point to con simply because pro could not really justify P1. Also con use of fallacies was simply amazing at highlighting the flaws. I can say that pro did a great job at defending p2 and p3(This one wasn't that hard to do), but he really couldn't understand atheist moral duties. What also helped con was the BoP. Good luck to both P.S I'm CVB SS until he gives proper explanation in comment
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate was all over the place. But after sifting through numerous claims of logical fallacies on Con's part, I found no justification for secular objective morality that bridges the is/ought gap. Yet Con did not contend that objective morality exists. Therefore Pro's BOP is affirmed. EDIT-Removing Counter.
Vote Placed by Double_R 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con effectively refuted Pros case. Pro claimed that P1 was conditional therefore not question begging. Cons arguments however showed that Pros logic used to conclude P2 is no different regardless of whether there is a God or not. Therefore P1 which states that OMV’s can only exist if there is a God is clearly question begging. Also while I found Cons claims that Pro must refute every argument abusive, Pro certainly did leave a lot of unanswered arguments on the table.
Vote Placed by Aaronroy 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: @ Round 5 The entire debate pretty much had pro tip-toeing on the assumption that objective morals exist in the first place. There wasn't really any sound argumentation on the behalf of objectivity in terms to morality imo