The Instigator
Microsuck
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The argument from incoherence is a sound argument for the non-existence of God.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Microsuck
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/30/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,177 times Debate No: 24509
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (4)

 

Microsuck

Pro

Resolved: The argument from incoherence is a sound argument for the non-existence of God.

1. Anything with incoherent attributes cannot exist;
2. God has incoherent attributes;
3. Therefore, God cannot exist.

Clarifications:

For the purpose of this debate, "God" is going to be defined as having the basic general attributes given to the Judeo-Christian God which are, but not limited to [1]:




      1. Eternal


      1. Good


      1. Grace


      1. Holiness


      1. Immanence


      1. Immutability


      1. Just


      1. Love


      1. Mercy


      1. Omnipotence


      1. Omnipresent


      1. Omniscience


      1. Righteousness


      1. Self-Existence


      1. Soverignty


      1. Transcendence.




By "incoherent" I mean that the attributes are contradictory--much like a square circle or an invisible pink unicorn!

Structure

1. Acceptance/clarification
2. Arguments
3. Rebuttals
4. Rebuttals/Closing - No new arguments permitted.

Referneces

1. http://www.blueletterbible.org...
KeytarHero

Con

I accept the challenge. I see nothing wrong with the qualities that Pro has assigned to God. I await his opening argument in defense of his syllogism.
Debate Round No. 1
Microsuck

Pro

I wish to thank my friend, KeytarHero, for accepting this debate. It is certainly a great pleasure to be debating you once again.

Opening Arguments

I will start with the syllogism itself:

  1. 1. Anything with contradictory properties cannot exist;
  2. 2. God has contradictory properties;
  3. 3. Therefore, God cannot exist.
PREMISE 1: ANYTHING WITH CONTRADICTORY PROPERTIES CANNOT EXIST

In the same way a square circle cannot exist, or an invisible pink unicorn cannot exist, God cannot exist. Why can’t a square circle exist? Because its properties (or attributes) are incoherent.

What is a contradiction? A contradiction is two or more propositions which are logically incompatible with one another. For example, X cannot be both true and false at the same time. This is what I mean when I say that God has incoherent attributes or when anything has incoherent attributes.

PREMISE 2: GOD HAS INCOHERENT ATTRIBUTES

I will present four attributes of God that I believe to be incoherent and contradictory.

Omnipotence vs. Omniscient

God is, by definition, all knowing and all powerful.

  1. 1. If God is all knowing, then he knows the future before it occurs.
  2. 2. God is all knowing.
  3. 3. Therefore, he knows the future before it occurs.

The Bible testifies to the fact that God knows the future:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)
“For I know the plans that I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

There are many other verses that can testify to the fact that God knows the future. Now, let’s look at all powerful:

  1. 1. If God is all powerful, then he has the power to change the future;
  2. 2. God is all powerful.
  3. 3. Therefore, he has the power to change the future.

However, it is impossible for you to change the future if you know that it is going to occur. As an illustration, let’s say that tomorrow you know for100 per cent certainty that Obama is going to win the 2012 election in November. As much as you may not like Obama, do you really have any power or any control over this? No. In the same way, God has no control over the future. This is one of the many reasons why I do not believe in the power of prayer because if prayer had any effect at all, then God would be forced to change the future—in other words, whatever happens is going to happen. Not only does prayer have no effect on the future, but God has no power to change it. Either that or God does not know the future which contradicts the basic principles of all power and the basic principles of the Scripture’s definition.

Free will vs. All knowing

The following syllogism is made by Theodore Drange in his 1998 article “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey” (Drange, 1998)

1. If God exists, then he is omniscient.
2. If God exists, then he is free.
3. An omniscient being must know exactly what actions he will and will not do in the future.
4. If one knows that he will do an action, then it is impossible for him not to do it, and if one knows that he will not do an action, then it is impossible for him to do it.
5. Thus, whatever an omniscient being does, he must do, and whatever he does not do, he cannot do (from 3 and 4).
6. To be free requires having options open, which means having the ability to act contrary to the way one actually acts.
7. So, if one is free, then he does not have to do what he actually does, and he is able to do things that he does not actually do (from 6).
8. Hence, it is impossible for an omniscient being to be free (from 5 and 7).
9. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 8).

By free will, I am referring to libertarian free will; in other words, God has the ability to choose his actions. By definition, I you have free will you must have more than one option, each of which is avoidable. Consequently, it is imperative that there must have been a time of uncertainty—a time where you did not know the action that you will choose. Even allowing for a prediction for a decision, you must admit the potential to change your mind before the action is complete. (Barker, 1997)

What are the consequences of this? It means that God either knows his future actions or he does not. Why? A being that knows everything has no “state of uncertainty.” It knows its choices in advance meaning that it has no potential to avoid the action. If he knows his future actions, then he cannot change them (i.e., he has no free will) whereas if God does have free will, then God does not know his future actions (i.e., not all knowing).

CONCLUSION

God cannot exist because his attributes are incoherent. I rest my case and wish my opponent the best of luck.

Bibliography

Barker, D. (1997, August). The Freewill Argument. Retrieved June 2012, 30, from Freedom From Religion: http://ffrf.org...

Drange, T. M. (1998). Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey. Retrieved June 2012, 30, from The Secular Web: http://www.infidels.org...

KeytarHero

Con

I wish to thank Microsuck for the challenge, and am pleased to be debating him again.

It seems self-evident that things with contradictory properties cannot exist. However, there are some properties that seem contradictory which, when you really examine them, are not contradictory at all. Take Pro's example of the invisible pink unicorn. However, it is not contradictory for an invisible entity to be pink or a unicorn (unless I am misunderstanding the analogy). Take Klingon Birds-of-Prey, from Star Trek lore. They are starships that can render themselves invisible to avoid enemy detection. However, once invisible they no longer cease to be starships, and they no longer cease to be green. Once they "de-cloak" (that is, become visible), they are the same green starships that they were before they cloaked. Simply because you can't see something visibly does not mean it doesn't have attributes which you could notice if you could see the entity.

I agree that entities that are logically incoherent, such as square circles or married bachelors, cannot exist. The question remains, is God logically incoherent? I will attack Pro's second premise.

Premise 2 -- God has incoherent attributes

Omniscient vs. Omnipotent

It is true that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. These are great making properties and God, as a maximally great being, has all great making properties (that is, properties that are better to have than not to have), and has them to their maximal extent.

It is true that God knows the future. It is also true that God can change the future, if he wishes. This is not contradictory. This is because God knows all possible futures. For example, take the case of Jonah and the Ninevites. Jonah was instructed by God to go to Ninevah to encourage them to repent of their sins, for they were going to be destroyed due to their wickedness in forty days (Jonah 3:4). God knew this was going to happen, and left alone this would have happened. However, God is also a merciful God. Jonah (eventually) preached to the people of Ninevah, and they repented of their wickedness. Therefore, God had mercy on them and did not destroy them. God knew that He was going to destroy the city if they did not repent, but God being a merciful God spared their city because of their repentance. This can also be seen in the ultimate destination of all mankind. Everyone is on their way to Hell, but they can change their destination if they repent and trust in Jesus for their salvation. God doesn't just know the future, He knows all possible futures.

Now, there are some things that can't change. God knew that He was going to create mankind, that humans would sin, and he would eventually have to send Jesus to save us from their sins. These were decreed by God and could not be changed.

Regarding Pro's analogy, there are ways we could change the election. If you hated Obama and knew he was going to win the election, you could assassinate Obama. Therefore, he would not be alive to take office (and note, I am not advocating the assassination of our president). God does, indeed, have control over the future. But the future is not always set in stone. For example, the reason God has not returned yet (for his second coming) is because he is tarrying, wanting everyone possible to come to repentance so they can spend eternity with him (2 Peter 3:9).

Free will vs. All-knowing

It is not impossible for an omniscient being to be free. Not only does God know what actions he will do, but he also knows what possible actions he would do under certain conditions (such as in the example of Jonah, above). Therefore, premise four in the argument fails. An omniscient being surely knows that actions could have several possible outcomes, and an omnipotent being would not necessarily have to be locked into a particular action, unless he has given his word that the particular action would occur.

This also overlooks the simple fact that an omniscient being would know a particular action will occur, even though a less desirable action may occur. For example, even though God told Jonah he will destroy Ninevah in forty days (due to their wickedness), he definitely knew that they would repent and that he would spare them, before the events even occurred. So in that respect, he does know exactly what will happen even though there is the possibility of different outcomes.

Simply knowing what actions will occur does not mean that God wasn't free to do otherwise. For example, God could have just as easily not created the universe. The fact that he knew ahead of time that he would created it does not mean he wasn't free to create it. It just meant he knew what he would do ahead of time. Just like if you know you're going to go to the mall next Saturday, you are still free to do otherwise. You could have any number of good reasons for not going, or you may just not feel like going that day. The difference is that God, being omniscient, knows for sure what will happen and it won't change (or if it will change, God knows that, too).

Conclusion

God does not have contradictory attributes. His existence is not in question, due to the fact that omnipotence paradoxes and trying to prove God has contradictory attributes simply do not work. God is a maximally-great being, so he has all great making properties to their maximal extent. If he didn't, he would not be God.
Debate Round No. 2
Microsuck

Pro

Thank you, KeytarHero, for your reply.

PREMISE 1: ANYTHING WITH INCOHERENT ATTRIBUTES CANNOT EXIST

This is basically conceded by both me and my opponent. My opponent, and I, both agree that "entities that are logically incoherent cannot exist."

PREMISE 2: GOD HAS INCOHERENT ATTRIBUTES

I have given two examples of contradictory attributes: all-knowing vs. all-powerful; and free-will-vs.-all knowing.

Omniscient vs. Omnipotent

My opponent concedes that God is both all-knowing and all-powerful. I too concede that God, as a MGB, has all great making properties, and has them to their maximal extent.

My opponent states:

It is true that God knows the future. It is also true that God can change the future, if he wishes. This is not contradictory. This is because God knows all possible futures. For example, take the case of Jonah and the Ninevites. Jonah was instructed by God to go to Ninevah to encourage them to repent of their sins, for they were going to be destroyed due to their wickedness in forty days (Jonah 3:4). God knew this was going to happen, and left alone this would have happened. However, God is also a merciful God. Jonah (eventually) preached to the people of Ninevah, and they repented of their wickedness. Therefore, God had mercy on them and did not destroy them. God knew that He was going to destroy the city if they did not repent, but God being a merciful God spared their city because of their repentance. This can also be seen in the ultimate destination of all mankind. Everyone is on their way to Hell, but they can change their destination if they repent and trust in Jesus for their salvation. God doesn't just know the future, He knows all possible futures.

It appears my opponent's way to "resolve" this contradiction is to point out that God knows all possible futures to which I concede. The problem lies not only in the fact that God knows all POSSIBLE futures; but that God, by necessity, also knows the possible future that will happen inevitably. My opponent concedes this point by stating that, "[T]here are some things that can't change. God knew that He was going to create mankind, that humans would sin, and he would eventually have to send Jesus to save us from their sins. These were decreed by God and could not be changed." However, this contradicts free will. For example, if God didn't want to send Jesus, then he had no choice and thus no free will of the concept. Moreover, my opponent concedes that there are things that God cannot change. This means that prayer is pointless becaues God knows the future, he knows all possible futures, and he knows the future that is inevitably going to occur; hence, prayer cannot change the outcome of any situation.

Regarding my analogy, con states that there is one way I can change the outcome -- namely, that I could assassinate him. However, for Obama to win the election that will inevitably occur, it is also required that Obama is alive during the election; hence, I could not assassinate him. (Note, although I dislike Obama, I too will never advocate assassination of our President nor would I ever do such a thing).

Free will vs. All-Knowing.

Con states that it is not impossible for an omniscient being to be free. God knows what actions he will do, but he also knows possible actions that he would do. However, this is incoherent for the same reasons listed above. Although he knows POSSIBLE actions, he knows the inevitable future of his action and cannot in any way change the direction that his action is going to lead to. For example, a million years before the Creation of the Universe, God had no way of stopping the inevitable Creation of the universe and the "fact" that he would have to send Jesus Christ to save mankind.

This also overlooks the simple fact that an omniscient being would know a particular action will occur, even though a less desirable action may occur. For example, even though God told Jonah he will destroy Ninevah in forty days (due to their wickedness), he definitely knew that they would repent and that he would spare them, before the events even occurred. So in that respect, he does know exactly what will happen even though there is the possibility of different outcomes.

Regarding this statement, this is incoherent. My opponent states that God knows exactly what will happen, even though there is the possibility of different outcomes. However, this begs the question -- doesn't God know the exact outcome that is going to happen? If we say that God knows everything, we must also say that he knows all possible outcomes and the outcome that is inevitably going to occur -- hence, God cannot also change the outcome of any event. God is powerless in that regard.

Simply knowing what actions will occur does not mean that God wasn't free to do otherwise. For example, God could have just as easily not created the universe. The fact that he knew ahead of time that he would created it does not mean he wasn't free to create it. It just meant he knew what he would do ahead of time. Just like if you know you're going to go to the mall next Saturday, you are still free to do otherwise. You could have any number of good reasons for not going, or you may just not feel like going that day. The difference is that God, being omniscient, knows for sure what will happen and it won't change (or if it will change, God knows that, too).

God could have just as easily not created the universe; however, the fact that he knew ahead of time prevented him from not creating it. Just like if you know for all certainty that you are not going to the mall next Saturday, you have no free choice and no power to do otherwise.

Conclusion

"[T]he characteristics of God as supplied by Christian theologians are nothing more than meaningless and contradictory concepts wrapped in theological garb." (http://rejectionofpascalswager.net...;)
KeytarHero

Con

KeytarHero forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Microsuck

Pro

Sad that my opponent forfeited. I strongly urge a pro vote.
KeytarHero

Con

KeytarHero forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mark.marrocco 4 years ago
mark.marrocco
While I don't personally believe in "God," your first premise is false, or at the very least deeply flawed.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Yeah, unfortunately I got really busy and wasn't able to finish the debate.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Yeah, unfortunately I got really busy and wasn't able to finish the debate.
Posted by BennyW 4 years ago
BennyW
I think this was well balanced on both sides but the forfeit was unfortunate.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Sorry about that. I got incredibly busy today and wasn't able to get to the computer. I should be able to get a closing argument in.
Posted by Microsuck 4 years ago
Microsuck
A few contentions...but all lining up to prove the main syllogism.
Posted by stubs 4 years ago
stubs
I do understand. If I read your second round correctly, there was only one contention right? I think Keytar can show that is not a problem.
Posted by Microsuck 4 years ago
Microsuck
Stubs, this debate focuses on God's attributes and to see if they are compatible.
Posted by stubs 4 years ago
stubs
If that is the only argument Micro uses then I think Keytar should take this one.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
You're welcome.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by BennyW 4 years ago
BennyW
MicrosuckKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: In terms of arguments I can't say who won bt because of the forfeit pro wins.
Vote Placed by ldcon 4 years ago
ldcon
MicrosuckKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Seemed ample room for Con to poke holes in incoherence=nonexistence, but FF'd.
Vote Placed by K.GKevinGeary 4 years ago
K.GKevinGeary
MicrosuckKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: conduct points go to pro, con ff.
Vote Placed by Contra 4 years ago
Contra
MicrosuckKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited two rounds. So Pro gets the conduct.