The existence of God is unlikely
Second round is for opening statements.
Third round for first rebuttals.
Fourth round for second rebuttals and concluding remarks.
Pro (myself) will argue that the existence of God is unlikely. God will be defined as the omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, eternal creator and sustainer of the universe.
Omnipotent means all powerful.
Omniscient means all knowing.
Omnibenevolent means all loving.
: - )
Thanks Con for accepting this debate. (:
The argument I will be using is an argument from evil. In the God debate, there are two types of arguments from evil against the existence of God. One is the logical argument from evil, which states that it is logically impossible for God and evil to coexist. The other is the evidential or probabilistic argument from evil, which states that it logically possible for God and evil to coexist, but given that there is so much evil in the world, it’s highly unlikely that God exist. I will be using a probabilistic argument from evil NOT a logical argument from evil. With that said, let me begin.
Probabilistic Argument from Evil
P1) If God exist, then gratuitous evil does not exist.
P2) It is likely that gratuitous evil exists.
Conclusion) If it is likely that gratuitous evil exist, then the existence of God is unlikely.
Defense of Premise 1
Premise 1 is true given the definition of God. If God allowed evil that would not bring about a greater good or prevent a greater evil, he would not be morally perfect. In other words, God would only allow a certain evil if he had a good reason for it.
Defense of Premise 2
If I can show that gratuitous evil is more likely to exist than not, then it will be reasonable to accept premise 2. There is much suffering and evil in this world. So much in fact that it makes it very hard to believe there is an all-loving creator deity. There are two types of evil in the world: moral evil and natural evil. Moral evils are actions committed by human beings. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis are what philosophers call natural evils. The moral evils in the world are: genocide, murder, rape, child abuse, animal cruelty, totalitarianism, and slavery. Natural evils in the world are: hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, forest fires, and droughts. All this evil and suffering runs rampant and it seems so pointless. What good could come from allowing Hitler to kill millions of innocent people? What good could come from letting a small child die from starvation? It’s not exactly clear why God, if he exists, would allow these terrible things to happen. Therefore, given the evidence we have, I think it’s safe to conclude that gratuitous evil probably does exist, and because of that, the existence of God is unlikely.
Omnipotent (he can do absolutely anything)
Omniscient (he knows absolutely everything)
Omnibenevolent (he is morally perfect)
And we are basing his existence upon good vs. evil.
God is can do absolutely anything. Therefore, he can violate the rules of logic. If two of his traits contradict each other, no logical inconsistency occurs - omnipotence can be thought of as a buffer in this respect.
Does your head hurt yet? Let's try a visual representation.
Suppose the following:
1. God is completely good.
2. God is completely evil.
3. God is immune to logic (because he's omnipotent).
As long as 3 is correct, 1 and 2 will not contradict each other, and God can be perfectly good and perfectly evil (separately or together, both are fine).
God can also define the rules of morality. If God says drowning kittens is good, then it's good. Obviously, an omnipotent being can make morality objective instead of subjective, so whether we consider something good or evil is irrelevant.
God is not morally perfect because he does moral things. God is morally perfect because he is omnipotent, and anything he does is therefore moral. Might makes right.
Now to address your premises:
Premise 1 is simply incorrect. God is omnipotent, and can therefore create/allow evil whilst still being 100% good. He can drown kittens and yet truthfully claim to never have drowned a kitten. And he can make it the kitten's fault. And we will still regard him as the most righteous being to ever exist, and will teach our children to pray to him and do as he says. And we will spit on the image of the kitten, and call him Satan, and drown ten kittens every year to show how much we hate the kitten called Satan.
If you think I'm being ridiculous here, just consider how the Bible portrays God. The God of the Bible is presented as a Jerk Sue (a person who behaves despicably, yet is still presented by the author as good). Jerk Sues, like all Mary Sues, are typically an indication of poor writing. In order for God to exist, all we have to do is abandon the assumption that our universe is well-written.
Point being, your premise has no basis on which to assert anything about God, because is illogical by nature.
Premise 2 is a given. There's no need to reassert that God could define all that evil as good.
Conclusion doesn't follow anymore.
As for why God would allow evil to exist? Well, he could be all-hating as well as all-loving. He could be bored. Or he could be completely irrational (yet also completely rational - omnipotence, remember?), and thus distributes good and evil randomly throughout the world (but also with absolute precision and planning, because he's rational too).
I think that's enough of a mind screw.
I’m disappointed with Con, because he did not follow the rules that I laid out in the beginning of this debate. I stated specifically that round 2 was for opening statements and that round 3 was for first rebuttals. Con either ignored that or at least was careless and didn’t bother to look at the rules. Instead of coming up with his own arguments in round 2, he jumped right into the rebuttals. This is unfair, and I feel like he should lose points for not even making an argument. However, I’m willing to look past that for now, and will go ahead and respond to his rebuttals.
Con says that God is omnipotent, and therefore he can violate logic with no inconstancy. In other words, God can do things that are logically contradictory. However, this is completely false. That which is logically contradictory is not possible. Period. There’s no way around that. A married bachelor, for example, is logically impossible. Why? Because a bachelor by definition is not married. So to say that God can do contradictory things is simply wrong. I should also mention that divine omnipotence does not mean the power to do absolutely anything. When we say God is omnipotent, we mean that he can all that is logically possible. NOT what is logically impossible like contradictions. In fact, this is actually consistent with the bible. In Hebrews 6:18 it says “it is impossible for God to lie", and in James 1:13 it says “God cannot be tempted by evil.” This all shows that Con is simply mistaken when he says God can do absolutely anything. I would now like to go through some of the objections raised to my argument from evil. Con states that premise 1 is incorrect because God is omnipotent and therefore can create gratuitous evil while still being morally perfect. But this is false. Because if God did create gratuitous evil, then he would not be morally perfect. God would only allow evil if he had a morally sufficient reason for it. If he created unnecessary or pointless evil he would not be an all-loving God. So this objection by him fails. Con states that premise 2 is a given (which means that it’s a known or established fact) and that God could define all of that gratuitous evil as morally good. However, this is again false. If something is good only because God says it’s good, then that means morality is very subjective, and what’s good is only based on the random decisions of God. So if God told us that torturing babies was good, it would be good. But surely this is absurd and nobody believes that’s how morality works. Not even Christians accept this idea of morality. A better view to take on this issue would be that morality is not based on God, but based on what is already good. In other words, that which is good is independent of God. This is the standard Euthyphro dilemma, which shows that morality can’t be based only on God and that there is more to good and evil. Finally, Con says that God could be all-hating and all-loving because he’s omnipotent. But again, as I have already pointed out earlier, omnipotence doesn’t mean the ability to the logically impossible. And of course it’s logically impossible for God to be all-hating and all-loving because it’s a contradiction.
In summary, Con has failed to put forth an argument of his own for the existence of God, and instead decided to ignore the rules laid out in the beginning to go straight into rebuttals. Not only that, but his rebuttals were unsound and failed to refute my argument from evil. This debate feels pointless because now it’s disorganized due to Con breaking the rules. I don’t mean to come off as harsh, but I think Con should forfeit the debate because he ruined it. I’d be willing to debate him again on a new forum, but for now I think I deserve the win because he broke the rules.
I apologise for misunderstanding the instructions; I'm not used to formal debating. However, I would like to remind Pro that, as the instigator, he has burden of proof, and that he loses the debate if he doesn't meet it.
"I should also mention that divine omnipotence does not mean the power to do absolutely anything. When we say God is omnipotent, we mean that he can all that is logically possible."
Pro did not make this distinction in his opening statement. What's more, it doesn't reflect the way the term "omnipotent" is used.
When people say, "John is omnipotent", they mean that John can do absolutely anything without regard to rules, laws, logic or sense.
If John's powers have limitations (e.g. logic), then we would say, "John is nigh-omnipotent," or words to that effect.
As Pro did not make a distinction in his opening statement, I was well within my rights to interpret "omnipotent" however I chose.
"In Hebrews 6:18 it says “it is impossible for God to lie", and in James 1:13 it says “God cannot be tempted by evil.”"
Actually, God can and does deceive people throughout the Bible.
2 Chronicles 18:22
"Behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets."
"And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet."
2 Thessalonians 2:11
"For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."
When you use the terms "all-loving", "morally perfect" and "completely good", you suppose that your idea of what these things should resemble is the correct one. I've already explained how an omnipotent being like God can ignore logic, so I won't repeat the argument. Instead, I'll point out that love takes many forms. God's idea of "love" could be completely messed-up from your point of view, but he's still all-loving as long as that love is absolute and universal.
Pro refutes my counter to premise 2 by supposing that there are abstract rules defining good and evil. What he's failed to realise is that God made good and evil, and can define and/or ignore them at his discretion.
The idea of God is, at its core, that of a supreme being that transcends all limits - be they physical, moral or logical. To impose any system of rules upon such a being violates the very essence of the concept.
An argument from evil can never disprove the existence of God; all it shows is that if God does exist, he is a colossal jerk. Even jerks are morally perfect by their own divine standards.
If Pro wants to disprove God, he needs an argument that addresses God's existence instead of his character.
And no, I will not forfeit.
Thanks Con. Onto the last round.
Con hasn't refuted premise 1 of my argument. The only thing he says is that God's moral perfection could be completely missed up. But by saying God's morality is missed up does nothing to refute my argument. He's just agreeing with me that if some kind of God exist he's either morally indifferent or evil. And therefore we can conclude there is no morally perfect being.
Con says that God made good and evil, and therefore he can define what's good based on his own decisions. This argument begs the question because it asumes that there needs to be a God in order for things to be considered morally good or morally wrong. Con also said that God made evil. But if that's true then the morally perfect God would not exist, and I would win the deabte.
In the first part of his conclusion Con says:
"An argument from evil can never disprove the existence of God; all it shows is that if God does exist, he is a colossal jerk."
I agree with Con that you can't disprove the existence of God by an argument from evil. However my argument from evil wasn't trying to disprove the existence of God. It was only trying to show that the existence of God is unlikely. It wasn't an absolute claim, rather an evidential one. Con says that all an argument from evil can do is show that God is a jerk. But if God's a jerk, then he's not morally perfect. So Con would essentially be agreeing with me that the God we're debating over doesn't exist. And therefore he would admit defeat and declare me the winner.
In the second part his conclusion Con says that if I want to disprove God, I need an argument that addresses God's existence instead of his character.
This is a complete misrepresentation of my argument from evil. Firstly my argument wasn't set out to disprove the existence of God, rather it was about showing God's existence as unlikely. If I was trying to disprove the existence of God I would have used a logical argument from evil not a probabilistic one. I explained the differnce betwen these two arguments from evil in round 2. Secondly the probabilistic argument from evil does address God's existence unlike what Con claims. Simply put what the probabilistic argument from evil tries to demonstrate is this:
if there is an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being, then there are good reasons to think that such a being does not exist due to the fact there are many instances of apparent gratuitous evil.
All of Con's rebutals could be summerised as follows:
#1 God can do contradictory things.
#2 God defines good and evil. Therefore the atheist can't say what is morally right or morally wrong without God.
The first rebuttal fails simply because contradictions are impossible. I gave the example of the married bachelor to demonstrate that.
The second rebuttal also fails because it begs the question. Con hasn't even given us a reason for why we should believe good and evil can only exist if we posit God.
Not only that, but Con broke the rules and didn't even put forth an argument. He just went right into rebuttals carelessly. Because he did that, I think he should lose some credibility.
In this paper I have successfully argued that the existence of God is unlikely. And that Con has completely failed to debunk my probabilistic argument from evil. Therefore we must accept that the existence of God is unlikely.
Pro has misunderstood what I said.
If morality is subjective, then we can never define "morally perfect" because no two people have the same definition. If morality is objective, which is implied by pro's condition that God be omnibenevolent, then God, being the creator of everything, would decide what is moral. Also, being all-powerful, he would have control over said morals.
Basically, the argument from evil is screwed one of three ways:
1. If God is evil "by our definition", then that means morality is based on personal opinion, and a personal opinion is not grounds for refuting the existence of something, either logically or probabilistically.
2. If morality is objective, and if God created/controls the universe, then he must create/control morality, and therefore he is the highest authority on morality, and is therefore morally perfect.
3. If morality is objective but its laws are higher than God, then the God we are describing is not all powerful, and therefore not really "God", making the debate pointless.
I am not begging the question, because I am not asserting the existence of God. This is all hypothetical.
God being a jerk is personal opinion; it's irrelevant under point 1 above, overruled under point 2, and doesn't refer to "God" under point 3.
I reject Pro's assertion that his claim is evidential. Without absolute certainty of what is moral, this debate has no evidence. It would be like arguing against the existence of DNA when we don't yet know where babies come from, and many still believe they're delivered by the stork.
"If I was trying to disprove the existence of God I would have used a logical argument from evil not a probabilistic one. I explained the differnce betwen these two arguments from evil in round 2 [sic]"
This is incorrect. Pro did NOT explain the difference at all, but merely stated he would use one and not the other.
"if there is an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being, then there are good reasons to think that such a being does not exist due to the fact there are many instances of apparent gratuitous evil. [sic]"
There are many reasons why what we define as "gratuitous evil" could exist: we could be mistaken about their morality; they may be necessary or inevitable for life; the downsides of smiting evil-doers could outweigh the benefits; or, maybe, a perfectly good world is just unbearable for people to live in.
1. God can make contradictions, because an omnipotent being can do anything. Pro is attempting to shift the goalposts here.
Also, God himself is a married bachelor. He was married to Israel, yet had no consort. And there's nothing to stop a mortal man from ditching his wife, changing his identity and resuming bachelorhood while still being technically married. A married bachelor is a terrible example of a contradiction, due to loophole abuse.
2. Again, I'm not saying that God exists. However, if God does exist, and he did create everything, and good and evil are objective, then it logically follows that God created them. Thus, if God exists, it doesn't matter what an Atheist's opinion of good and evil is.
Also, Pro, never claim that your argument was successful. That is for the voters to decide.
As I stated in Round 1, I do not believe in God. However, my job was to defeat Pro's arguments. It is my contention that Pro's arguments, while straight-forward, were not precise enough in their definitions and did not adequately address the counter-arguments. Nevertheless, Pro argued well, and for that I thank him.
I leave you with this comic strip, which I found amusing:
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